« הקודםהמשך »
figuring to himself, or than what is prescribed , sion: it is a conclusion easy, natural, and to him by an accommodating casuist, you which would spontaneously present itself to would not see a single Christian afraid of death. the mind, were we not disposed to practise deBut you know it well, the gospel assures you ception upon ourselves; the grand conclusion of it, and the dictates of your own conscience to be deduced from these reflections is this : If confirm the truth, to make application of the we wish to die like Christians, we must live fruits of Christ's death is a complication of du like Christians. If we would wish to behold ties, which require attention, time, labour, in- with firmness the dissolution of this body, we tenseness of exertion, and must be the business must study the proofs which establish the of a whole life. The greatest part of those truth of the immortality of the soul, so as to who bear the Christian name, neglect this be able to say with St. Paul, I know whom work while in health ; is it any wonder that I have believed, and I am persuaded he is atle they should tremble when overtaken by the to keep that which I have committed unto hour of death
him against that day,' 2 Tim. i. 12. Would Call to remembrance the three ways in we wish to have a security against fear at that which Christ has disarmed death. He has tremendous tribunal, before which we must spoiled the king of terrors, by demonstrating appear to receive judgment, we must enter to us the immortality of the soul, by making into the conditions of the covenant of grace, atonement for our transgressions, by acquiring that we may be able to say with the same for us an eternal felicity.
apostle, I am the chief of sinners, a hlaspheBut what effect will the death of Christ mer, and a persecutor, and injurious; but I have upon us, as a proof of the doctrine of the obtained mercy,'I Tim. i. 13. Would we be immortality of the soul, unless we study those strengthened to resign, without murmuring, proofs, unless we seriously meditate upon all the objects around us, and to which we are them, unless we endeavour to feel their force, so fondly attached, we must learn to disengage unless we guard against the difficulties which ourselves from them betimes; to place our the unhappy age we live in opposes to those heart hetimes where our treusure is, Matt. vi. great principles ?
21, that we may be able to say with the What effect can the death of Christ have Psalmist, Whom have I in beaven but thee? upon us, as a sacrifice offered up to divine jus- and there is none upon earth that I desire betice for our sins, unless we feel the plentitude sides thee,' Ps. Ixxiii. 25. of that sacrifice, unless we make application of It after we have exerted our utmost efforts, it to the conscience, unless we present it to we still find our frail flesh anu biooi conGod in the exercises of a living faith; above plaining at the prospect of approaching dissoall, unless by the constant study of ourselves, lution ; if the heart still repines at the burd unless by unremitting, by persevering exer- necessity imposed upon us of dying; let us tion, we place ourselves under the terms, and strive to recover confidence, not only against invest ourselves with the characters of those this apprehension, but likewise against the who have a right to apply to themselves the doubts which it might excite against our salfruits of this sacrifice ?
vation. This fear oi death is, in such a case, What effect can the death of Christ produce not a crime, but an infirmity. It is indeed a upon us, considered as the pledge of a blessed melancholy proof that we are not yet perfect, eternity, unless the soul be powerfully im- but it is not a blot which obliterates our Chrispressed with that eternity, unless the heart be tianity. It is an expression of timidity, not of penetrated with a sense of what it is ; if we mistrust. It is a calamity which prevents our are at pains to efface the impression which enjoying all the sweets of a triumphant death, those interesting objects may have made upon but not an obstacle to prevent our dying in us; if hardly moved by those great truths safety. Let us be of good courage. What which ought to take entire possession of the have we to fear? God is an affectionate friend, mind, we instantly plunge ourselves into the who will not desert us in the hour of adversi. vortex of worldly pursuits, without taking time ty. God is not a cruel being, who takes pleato avail ourselves of that happy disposition, sure in renderiog us miserable. He is a God and, as it were, purposely to withdraw from whose leading characters are goodness and those gracious emotions which seemed to have mercy. He stands engaged to render us haplard hold of us? Ah! my brethren, if such be py. Let us not distrust his promise; it has the conduct of the generality of professing been ratified by the most august seal which Christians, as we are under the necessity of suspicion itself could exact, by the blood of the admitting, when, not satisfied with observing spotless Lamb, which is sprinkled, not ou the their deportment in the house of God, and threshold of our doors, but on our inmost from a pulpit, we follow them into life, and conscience. The exterminating angel will relook through those flimsy veils of piety and spect that blood, will presume to ajm no stroke devotion which they had assumed for an hour at the soul which bears the mark of it. in a worshipping assembly; if such, I say, be After all, my dearly beloved brethren, if the conduct of the generality of professing the most advanced Christians, at the first Christians, their terror at the approach of grimpse of death, and in the first moments of a death exhibits nothing to excite astonish- inortal distemper, are unable to screen themment.
selves from the fear of death; if the flesh murThe grand conclusion to be deduced, my murs, if nature complains, if faith itself seems brethren, from all these reflections, is not an to stagger ; reason, religion, but especially the abstract conclusion and of difficult comprehen- aid of God's spirit, granted to the prayers, to
the importunities ascending to heaven from the ly meditations, which formerly occupied the lips of such a Christian, dissipate all those ter- oul, disclose the grand object of religion, and rors. The mighty God suffers himself to be the bed of death is transformed into a field of overcome, when assailed by supplication and victory. Many of your pastors, Christians, tears. God resists not the sighs of a believ- have been the joyful spectators of such a trier, who trom his bed of languishing stretches umph. out his arms towards him, who entreats him to May all who hear me this day be partaksanctify the sufferings which he endures, who ers of these divine consolations! May that implores his support in the agonies of death, invaluable sacrifice which Jesus Christ offerwho cries out from the centre of a soul tran- ed up to his father in our behalf, by cleansing sported with holy confidence, * Into thine hand us from all our guilt, deliver us from all our I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, fears! May this great High Priest of the O Lord God of truth,' Ps. XXXI. 5. Receive new covenant bear engraven on his breast all it, O my God. Remove from me those phan- these mystical Israelites, now that he is en. toms which disturb my repose Raise me up, tered into the holiest of all! And when these take me to thyself. Teach my hands to war, foundations of sand, on which this clay taberand my fingers to fight. Draw me, I shall run nacle rests, shall crumble away from under after thee.' Kindle my devotion; and let my our feet, may we all be enabled to raise our infamed desires serve as a chariot of fire to departing spirits out of the ruins of the world, tra isport me to heaven. The clouds, thick- that they may repose in the mansions of im. ened around me by • Him who had the power mortality! Happy, beyond expression, beof death,' are scattering; the veil which cov- yond conception happy, to die in such sentiered eternity insensibly withdraws; the un ments as these! God of his infinite mercy derstanding is convinced; the heart melts; the grant it may be our blessed attainment! To flame of love burns bright; the return of ho- I him be honour and glory for ever. Amen.