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* are full of fears, and have little hope?" Answ. It must be own. ed, chat saints do not all die in one and the same manner; there is a diversity among them, as well as among the wicked; yet the worst case of a dying faint is indeed a hopeful one. Some die trium. phantly, in a full assurance of faith. 2 Tim. iv, 6. " The time of n my departure is at hand. ver. 7. I have fought a good fight, I
« have finished my course, I have kept the faith. ver. 8. Hence. : “ forth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." They
get a caste of the joys of heaven, while here on earth; and begin the songs of Zion, while yet io a strange land. Others die in a solid fiducial dependence on their Lord and Saviour: though they cannot fing triumphantly, yet they can and will say confidently, The Lord 'is their God. Though they cannot triumph over death, with old
Simeon, having Christ in his arms, and saying, “Lord, now lettest - 66 thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word. For
* mine eyes have seen thy falvation,” Luke ij 29, 30. yet they can say with dying Jacob, I have waited for thy salvation, Lord.' Gen. xlix. 18 His lefc hand' is under their head to support, chem; though his right hand doch noc embrace them : they firmly believe, though they are not filled with joy in believing. They can plead the covenant, and hang by the promise, although their house is not so with God, as they could with. But the dying-day of some saints may be like that day nentioned. Zech. xiv.7. Not day, nor night. They may die under great doubts and fear-; fecring as it were, in a cloud, and going to heaven in a milt. They may go mourning without the sun, and never put off iheir spirit of heaviness, till death firip them of it. They may be carried to heaven through thecon. fines of hell; and may be purpued by the devouring lion, even to the very gates of the new Jerufalein; and may be compared to a Thip almost wrecked in sight of the harbour, which yet gets safe i into her port, ; Cor. iii. 15. " If any man's works shall be burnt, " he shall suffer loss : but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by 66 fire." There is safety amidst cheir fears, but danger in the wicked's Nrongeft confidence; and there is a blessed seed of gladness in their greatest sorrows, “ Light is fown for the righteous, and 66 gladness for the upright in beart," Psal. xcvii. II. : .
Now, saints are liable to such perplexity in their death, because, though they be Christians indeed, yet they are men of alike.paffions with others; and death is a frightful object in itself, whatever dress it appear in: the stern countenance, with which it looks at mortals, can hardly miss of causing them thrink. Moreover, the saints are of all men the most jealous of themselves. They think of eternity, and of a tribunal, more deeply than others do : with them, it is a more serious thing to die than the rest of mankind are aware of. They know the deci its of the heart, the fubtilities of depraved human nature, better than others do. And therefore they may have much ado to keep up hope on a death-bed: while others pass off quietly, like sheep
* to the slaughter; the rather that Satan, who useth all his art to
fupport the hopes of the hypocrite, will do his utmoft to mar the peace,
and increase the fears of the saint. Firally, The bad frame of spirit, * and ill condition, in which death sometimes seizeth a true Christian,
may caufe this perplexity. By his being in the state of grace, he is indeed always halitually prepared for death, and his dying fifily is insured; but there is more requisite to his cetual preparation, and dying comfortably; his fpirit must be in good condition too.
• Wherefore, there are thrée cases, in which death cannot but be very uncomfortable to a child of God. (1.) If it seize him at a time when the guilt of foine particular sin unrepented of, is lying on his conscience; and death comes on that very account, to take him out of the land of the living; as was the cause of many of the Corinthiin believers, i Cor. xi. 30. “ For this cause (namely, of unworthy * communicating) many are weak and fickly among you, and many sleep." If a person is surprised with the approach of death, while lying under the guilt of some unpardoned fin, it cannot but cause a mighty confternation. (2) When death catches him napping. The mighty cry must be frightful to sleeping virgins. The man who lies in å ruinous house, and awakens not till the timber begins to crack, and the stones to drop down about his ears, may indeed get out of it safely, but not without fears of being crushed by its fall. When a Christian hias been going on in a course of security and backsliding, and awakens not till death comes to his bed-side; it is no marvel if he
get a fearful awakening. Lastly, When he has lost light of his saving e interest' in Chrift, and cannot produce evidences of his title to heaven.
It is hard to meet death without fome evidence of a tittle to eternal - life at hand: hard to go through the dark valley without the candle
of the Lord shining upon the head. It is a terrible adventure to launch out intoeternity, when a man can make no better of it, than a leap in the dark, not knowing where he shall light, whether in heaven or hell.
Nevertheless, the state of the saints, in their death, is always in itfelf hopeful. The presumptuous hopes of the ungoilly, in their death, cannot make their state hopeful; neither can the hopelesness of a fait make his state hopeless: for God judgeth according to the truth of the thing, not according to men's opinions about it. Howbeit the faints can no more be altogether without hope, than they can be altogether without faith. Their faith may be very weak, but it fails not; and their hope very low, yet they will, and do, hope to the end. Even while the godly seem to be carried away with the streams of doubts and fears; there remains still as much hope as determhes them to lay hold on the tree of life, that grows on the
banks of the river: Jonah ii. 4." Then I said, I am cast out of thy ; * sight: yet I will look again towards thy holy temple." .."
USE. This speaks comfort to the godly against the fear of death. A godly man may be called a happy man, before his death; because, whatever befal him in life, he fall certainly be happy at death. You
who are in Christ, who are true Christians, have hope in your end; and such hope as may comfort you against all those fears, which arise from the con Gideration of a dying hour. This I fhall branch out, in answering some cases briefly.
CASE I. The prospect of death (svill fome of the saints fay) is uxeasy to me, not knowing what shall become of my family, when I am gone. ANSW. The righteous hath hope in his death, as to his family, as well as to himself. Altho? you have little for the present, to live upon; which has been the case of many of God's chosen ones, 1 Cor. iv. it. We (namely the Apostles, ver. 9.) both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are huffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place: and tho' you have nothing to leave them, as was the case of that son of the prophet's, who did fear the Lord, and yet died in debt which he was unable to pay; as his poor widow represents, 2 Kings iv. I. yet you have a good friend to leave them too; a covenanted God, to whom you may confidently commit them, Jer. xlix. II. “Leave thy father. “ leis children, I will preserve them alive, and let thy widows trust in “ me.” The world can bear witness of signal settlements made upon the children of providence; such as by their pious parents have been cast upon God's providential care. It has been often remarked that They wanted neither provision nor education. Mofes is an eminent inítance of this. He, albeit he was an outcast infant, (Exod. ii. 3.) yet was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyprians, Acts vii. 22. and be. came king in Jeshurum, Deut. xxxiii. 5. O! may we not be ashamed, that we do not securely trust him with the concerns of our families, to whoin, as our Saviour and Redeemer, we have committed our eternal interests! . ; · CASE II. “ Death will take us away from our dear friends; yes, " we Thall not see the Lord in the land of the living, in the blesed " ordinances.” ANSW. It will take you to your best friend, the Lord Christ. And the friends you leave behind you, if they be indeed persons of worth, you will ineet them again, when they come to heaven: and you will never be separated any more. If death take you -away from the temple below, it will carry you to che ten ple above. It will indeed take you froin the streams, but it will let you down by the fountain. w If it put out your candle, it will carry you where there is no night, where there is an eternal day.
CASE III. " I have so much ado, in time of health, to satisfy my. ~ felf, as to my inzerest in Chrift, about my being a real Christian, " a regenerate man; that I judge, it is almost impossible I should die “ comfortably.” ANSW. If it is thus with you, then double your diligence, to make your calling and election fure. Endeavour to grow in knowledge, and walk closely with God; be diligent in self-examination; and pray earnestly for the Holy Spirit, whereby you may know the things freely given you of God. If you are enabled by the power and Spirit of Christ, thus diligently to prosecute your spiritual concerns ; izhough the time of youà life be neither day or night, yet ut evening time, it may be light. Many weak Christians indulge doubts and fears about their spiritual state, as if they placed, at least, some part of religion in this impudent practice : bute towards the period of life, they are forced to think and act in another manner. The traveller, who reckons he has time to spare, may stand still debating with himself, whether this or the other be the right way; but when the sun begins to fet, le is foreed to lay aside his scruples, and resolutely to go forward on the road he judges to be the right one, left he ly all night in the open fields. Thus some Christians, who perplex themselves touch, throughout the course of their lives, with jealous doubts and fears, content themselves, when they come to die, with such evidences of the safety of their state, as they could not be satisfied with before ; and, by difputing less against themselves, and believing more, court the peace they formerly rejected, and gain it too.
CASE IV. “ I am under a fad decay, in respect of my spiritual. «? condition.” ANSW. Bodily consumptions may make death easy; but it is not so in fpiritual decays. I will not say, that a godly man cannot be in such a case, when he dies; but I believe it is rarely so. Ordinarily. (I suppose) a cry comes to awaken sleepy virgins before death come. "Samson is set to grind in the prison, until his locks grow again. David and Solomon fell under great spiritual decays; but, before they died, they recovered their spiritual strength and vigour, However, bestir ye yourselves without delay, to strengthen the things that remain: your fright will be the less, that ye awake from fpiritual sleep, ere death come to your bed-fide: and your ought to lose no time, seeing you know not how soon death may seize you.
CASE V. « It is terrible to think of the other world, that world « of spirits which I have so little acquaintance with." ANSW. Thy beit friend is Lord of that other world. Abraham's bofom is kindly, even to these who never saw' his face. After death thy soul becomes capable of converse with the blessed inhabitants of that other world The spirits of juft men made perfect were once such as thy spirit now is. And as for the angels, howsoever they be of a superior nature in the rank of beings, yet our nature is dignified above theirs, in the man Chrift: and they are, all of them, thy Lord's servants, and so thy fellow-fervants
: CASE VI. “ The pangs of death are terrible.” Answ. Yet not so terrible às pangs of conscience, caufed by a piercing sense of guilt, and apprehensions of divine wrath, with which, I suppose thee to be not altogether unacquainted. But who would not endure bodily fickness, that the soul may become found, and every whit whole? Each pang of death will set fin a step nearer the door; and with the. last breath, the body of sin will breath out its last. The pains of death will not last long; and the Lord thy God will not leave, but support thee, under them..
CASE VII. “ But I am like to be ciit off in the inidst of my days." ANSW. Do not complain, you will be the sooner at home : you have
tereby the advantage of your fellow-labourers, who were at work before you in the vineyard. God, in the course of his providences, shides fome of his faints early in the grave, that they may be taken away from the evil to come. An early removal out of this world prevents much sin and misery: and they have no ground of complaint, who get the residue of their years in Immanuel's land. Surely thou fhalt live as long as thou hast work cut out for thee, by the great Mafter, to be done for him in this world ; and when that is at an end, it is high time to be gone.
CASE VIII. “ I am afraid of sudden death." ANSW. Thou may indeed die fo. Good Eli died suddenly, 1 Sam. iv, 18. Yet death found him watching, ver. 12. “ Watch therefore, for ye know « not what hour the Lord doth come,” Matth. xxiv. 42. But be not afraid, it is an unexpreffible comfort, that death, come when it will, can never catch thee out of Christ; and therefore can never seize thee, as a jailor, to hurry thee into the prison of hell. Sudden death may hasten and facilitate thy passage to heaven, but can do thee no prejudice.
CASE IX. “I am afraid it' may be my lot to die wanting the " exercise of reason.” Answ. I make no question but a child of God, a true Christian, may die in this case.' But what harm? There is no hazard in it, as to his eternal state: 'a disease, at death, may divest him of his reason, but not of his religion. When a man going a long voyage, has put his affairs in order, and put all his goods aboard; he himself may be carried aboard the ship sleeping: all is fafe with him, although he knows not where he is, till he awaken in the thip. Even fo the godly man, who dies in this case, may die un. comfortably, but not anfofely.
Case last. “ I am naturally timorous, and the very thoughts of " death are terrible to me.” Answ. The less you think on death, the thoughts of it will be the more frightful; but make it familiar to you by frequent ineditations upon it, and you may thereby allay your fears. Look at the white and bright side of the cloud: take faith's view of the city that hath foundations: fo fhall you see hope in your death. Be duly affected with the body of sin and death, and frequent interruptions of your conumunion with God, and with the glory which dwells on the other side death: this will contribute much to remove Navish fear.
It is pity saints should be so fond of life as they often are: they ought always to be in good terms with death. When matters are duly considered, it might well be expected every child of God, every regenerate man, should generously profess concerning this life, what Joh did, chap, vii. 16. I lothe it, I would not live always. In order to gain their hearts to this desirable temper, I offer the following additional considerations. ..
Forft, Consider the linfulness that atrends life in this world. While ye live here, ye lin, and see others finning. Ye breathe