« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
strength.” As if he had said, “ Let' my enemies.be ever so secret in their plots, he that keepeth me: neither slumbereth nor sleepeth : the darkness and the light are both. alike to thee. Thou knowėst what passes in their hearts as well as in their cabin nets; and therefore I will not fear what man can do unto me.
Into thine hands I commit my spirit. I know my life is in danger, and am at a loss what steps to take for my own preservation. Gracious God, I throw my life and my all upon thee, and humbly implore thy guidance and protection. And I do this with the greater confidence, for thou hast redeemed me. I have had frequent experience of thy power, and grace, and faithfulness; I have been in great danger before now; but when I was brought low, thou didst help me; and I hope thou wilt again, for thy truth endureth for ever."
And if we were to consider the text only in this view, it holds up to us this very important instruction; viz. That a remembrance of former deliverances should encourage us to trust in God in present or apprehended danger. And from hence I might have taken occasion to recommend an early surrender of your lives to God, with an entire confidence in his care, and a cheerful acquiescence in his disposal. This would cut off a great deal of that distressing anxiety and fear, which now so much hinder the duty and embitter the comforts of life and religion. You would not then be afraid of evil tidings ; your hearts would be fixed, trusting in God. Let your life be long or short, fair or cloudy, " none of these things would move you.” These are circumstances which you have wholly referred to the
God of your lives; and let him determine as he pleases, you will welcome it with a “ Good is the word of the Lord."
I say it might furnish out matter for useful cons templation, if we had only considered the words as implying the committing of our natural life to God's care and disposal; but I believe it would correspond more with the design of the deceased in choosing this text, and be not altogether beside the intention of the Psalmist, to consider it as the language of a dying saint, when he perceives “ his heart and flesh failing," and his strength failing, bis life failing, and that he is just stepping out of time into eternity. He cries out with a strong faith, if not with a loud voice, “Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.”
I. What is iinplied in a dying saint's committing his spirit to God?
II. What encouragement hath he to do so ?
1. I am to show what is implied in a dying saint's committing his spirit to God. It hath much, and very important meaning in it. I shall only mention the two or three following particulars.
1. A deep conviction of the soul's immortality.
I said a deep conviction, because many who profess to believe it, at least who do not openly deny it, live and die without any apparent sense of it. Look at them while they are in health, . and you see them busy, “buying, and selling, and getting gain;" rising early, sitting up late, and making haste to be rich; and when they are rich enough (if ever they think themselves so), when they have “ goods laid up for many years,” they say to their souls, “ Soul, take thine ease; eat, drink, and be
merry;" but not an hour in the day, not an hour in their whole lives, devoted to any serious care or thought about hereafter! Look at them when they come to die, and you may see them busy then, toomaking their wills, ordering their funerals, swallow. ing draught after draught, at every little interval, of nauseous medicine; and, if their disorder be tedious and painful, you may hear them praying (in their way) that God Almighty would release them, and not keep them any longer in so much misery ; but, all the while, not a word about their souls and another world. In short, their whole conduct and conversation, living and dying, proclaims their disbelief, or rather their forgetfulness, of a future state. Hence it is that we are almost daily shocked with the news of some duel or suicide. The brutes (for such they do resemble in life, and wish to resemble in death), I say, those bumán brutes meet with some disappointment in the world, or some mortification, which their proud spirits know not how to bear; they cannot think of living in poverty and disgrace, and instantly fly to a sword, a pistol or a pond, to put an end (as they vainly hope) to their misery and their existence at once. Not so the true believer. As soon as ever he is born again, he perceives himself immortal; he feels cravings which nothing finite can satisfy ; and sees, through Faith's perspective, objects far above, and beyond, the sphere of mortality. He considers the body only as a tenement, designed to accommodate for a few years his heaven-born soul, in its travels through the wilderness; and that the valley of the shadow of death is only a dark passage into eterpity; and therefore he is comparatively indifferent
whether he be just now rich or poor, healthy or sickly. He is so intent upon “ laying up in store a good foundation against the time to come,” that the trifling occurrences of this present time never merit, and seldom gain, his attention. He " rejoices as if he rejoiced not; he weeps as though he wept not; he buys as though he possessed not; he uses this world,” but takes care “not to abuse it, knowing that the fashion of this world passeth away,' and will be succeeded by another more satisfying and permanent; and therefore, when he comes to die, he feels no uneasiness at going away, but with sweet composure cries, “Into thine hands I commit my spirit”—(9.d.) Though I can live no longer in this earthly house of my tabernacle, yet somewhere, and somehow, I am sure I shall live. My spirit was never more alive, scarcely ever so lively, as it is at this instant when my body is growing cold and stiff. I am impatient to quit this prison, where I have been so long confined; and to shake off those fetters, which have so often galled me. My spirit leaps, and sings, at the prospect of its approaching liberty. I shall in a few moments be dead to the world: ever-living Saviour! O let me live with thee.”
2. A preferable concern for his soul.
Not that any good man can be void of all care about his body, either as to his present or future welfare. It was noble faith in Joseph, when he was dying, to give commandment concerning biş bones (Heb. xi. 22); and they who have “the first fruits of the Spirit may groan within themselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the
body.” (Rom. viii. 33.) But, still, the principal concern will be for the soul, to lodge that in safe hands : " But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” (Heb. x. 39.) And it is that which faith bath a special eye to: and therefore, in that awful hour, when so many are concerned only about this vile body, where and when and how it shall be buried, the believer hath other and greater concerns upon his mind : he turns away from these comparatively trifling circumstances, and, with bis eye fixed on God, cries; “ Into thy hands I commit my spirit”-9. d. “ Thou hast taught me the value of a soul, by the price that was paid for its ransom, and the kingdom thou hast provided for its inheritance. If thou, Lord, hadst not given me counsel, I should have sold my soul for a song, as others have done: but if I had, what a miserable plight should I have been in now! What if I had gained the whole world; it would not have been accepted in exchange for my soul. I wish I had been always as sensible of its value as I am now; but, however, I am thankful that I have not totally neglected it. I have endeavoured, though with many imperfections, and with much fear and trembling, to work out' my salvation, and to secure an interest in another world when I am turned out of this; and hope I have not laboured in vain, and spent my strength for nought. I see every thing else going : houses, lands, possessions, and life; all going let them go; none of these things move me; I shall part with
any of them, with all of them, without a sigh, if I can but secure my soul.