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makes death a thousand times more terrible is, that it is the effect of God's anger. Had there been no sin, there had been no death. God, to keep Adam from sin, threatened him with death; but Satan, the father of lies, said he should not die. He ventured on the forbidden fruit, and so by his sin, “death came into the world, and hath passed upon all his children in every succeeding age. Death, then, is the wages of sin;" and carries with it the most awful marks of God's
This is justly called by St. Paul the sting of death :“the sting of death is sin.” It is the consciousness of guilt, and the just dread of future misery, which makes death so very dreadful. Poor thoughtless mortals, neglecting to regard the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, which brings a sovereign remedy, an antidote to death, are unwilling to think of it; they put off as much as possible the evil day; but did they know the love of Christ in dying to disarm death of its sting ; did they consider, that, by faith in Jesus, all the danger of death may be avoided, they would sit down and look death in the face; and wisely consider how they may meet with safety and pleasure, what they can never avoid.
For let it be remembered, that the death of each of us here present is absolutely certain. Our text says, “it is appointed.” It is the firm decree of God, which cannot be reversed. It is the unalterable law of heaven; a law which no sinner can transgress; other laws of God are trampled under feet, but this must be obeyed. We know not when, or how we shall die; but we are sure that we must die. Whether we are high or low; rich or poor; male or female; young or old; it is appointed for us once to die. Possibly, when death comes, we may be very unfit to die ; very unwilling to die; but death wil not delay on that account: ready
or unready, when the hour comes, we must submit: It is said of the wicked—“ he is driven away in his wickedness ;” suddenly perhaps; at least, unexpectedly. It was “ when the rich fool" talked of many years to come, that God 'said to him, “ This night shall thy soul be required of thee !" Wicked men are often violently dragged to the grave, like a malefactor to the gallows. O, what would some great and rich sinners have given for a few weeks, or a few hours of life, if money could have bought them; but death will not be bribed : go the sinner must, “although the physicians help, friends groan, the wife and children weep, and the man himself uses his utmost endeavours to retain the spirit; his soul is required of him, yield he must, and go where he shall never more see the light."
Here let us stop a moment, and apply to ourselves what has already been said.
Is life so short? Then why should we waste it ? Why should we make it shorter by our sins and folly? How much of our precious time is entirely lost! What shall we think of sports and pastimes, cards, and plays, and dancing, which are expressly intended to kill time?— To kill time! Shocking expression to the ears of a Christian! . O had you keard what some dying sinners have said of their murdered time, when time with them was nearly over, you would dread the thought of killing time; rather would you study how “to redeem time;" -and obey the direction of the wise man, Eccles. ix. 10. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." Particularly, be careful to improve holy time, I mean the Lord's day: the day which the Lord has graciously appointed for your spiritual improvement. The abuse of this day is one of the greatest sources of sin and ingi. delity; and the recollection of the neglect of it, is often dreadfully painful to dying people. Be exhorted, then, diligently to regard the means of grace on this day, and improve every sabbath as the most precious portion of a short life.
Is death certain ? Will it surely come, and you know not how soon? Then let it be your first business to prepare for it? This is our Lord's advice: “ Be ye also ready, for ye know not when the Son of Man cometh.” “It is appointed unto men once to die;" once only; now that which can be done but once, should be well done; especially as our eternal all depends upon it. As the tree falls, so it lies : as death leaves us, judgment finds us; if an error happens here, it can never be remedied. Surely then it is the highest wisdom of man to prepare for this great change. Do you ask what it is to be prepared ?. I answer, It is to have your sins pardoned, and your soul sanctified; for " Sin is the sting of death :" if your sins are pardoned, you need not fear to die; and if your soul is sanctified by grace, death will be your gain. This then is your great concern, your immediate business. Fly, instantly fly, to the Saviour's arms. He died that we might live. His blood cleanseth from all sin. He will wash every soul from sin who applies to him for that purpose; and, at the same time, bestow his Holy Spirit to sanctify the soul, and make it meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. Happy for those who are in this blessed state ; they may say, “Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord; so that living and dying we are the Lord's." God grant this may be the happy condition of us all ! Let us now proceed to the second part of this great subject, namely, ETERNAL JUDGMENT,“after death the judgment."
Immediately after death, the Scripture assures us that the soul, separated from the body, appears before God; and by a private, particular, and personal judgment, receives the sentence of eternal life, or eternal death. The Scripture abundantly shows, that the soul subsists in a separate state from the body. Our Lord promised the dying thief that he should be with him on the very day of his death, in paradise; and St. Paul longed to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord; accounting it far better than the highest state of privilege or usefulness in the church.
But the most particular accounts we have in the Scripture of the judgment, refer to the great day, when the dead shall be raised from their graves ; when small and great shall stand before the judge ment-seat of Christ. The glory and grandeur of this day will be far beyond the power of language to express.—“The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised."__"The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, with his mighty angels."
-“ The Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him : then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats.”
Reason itself must allow the necessity of a future judgment. At present, we often see the wicked prosper, while good men are much afflicted. How many murderers, oppressors, and persecutors, escape punishment! But it is inconsistent with the justice of God that it should always be so. “He hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness; when all men shall give an account of what they have done in the body, whether it be good or bad.” Even now conscience testifies to the future judgment, by passing a private sentence on all our actions; and summoning us to appear at the bar of God, to answer for them.
To show how justly and righteously every thing will be done on that occasion, it is said, Rev. xx. 12, “ The books were opened, and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
The book of the Law will be opened. The commandments of God are the rule of men's actions : and, are any “ of the works of the law?" do they seek righteousness by their doings? Let them now appeal to the Searcher of hearts, that they never broke this law in thought, word, or deed; but loved and served God perfectly, without sin, all their lives ; then may they claim life by the law; but this is impossible. No man living will be justified in this manner; but the law will for ever condemn all who have broken it, yet have neglected the great salvation revealed in the gospel.
The book of the Gospel will be opened. In this blessed book “the law of faith" is revealed; "the righteousness of God by faith, is revealed to faith ;' it is declared that he that believeth in Jesus shall be saved; and happy will it be for those who are found true believers; who, having known their ruined and helpless state by the law, have fled for refuge to the grace of the gospel; and, believing in Jesus
for righteousness, are “ found in him."
Besides these, the book of God's remembrance will be opened. God, who knows all our actions, and all our secret thoughts, records them in his book. Nothing done by man, whether good or bad, is forgotten; for it is written, “that he will bring every secret thing into judgment;" and “that for