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nature, and our tongue the glory of our frame, the one is overwhelmed when it labours to comprehend, and the other forced into silence when it attempts to describe, the objects and glories of immortality. And therefore, without presuming to take in the full meaning of the following words.- But we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him ; for we shall see him as he is.—We may venture to conclude, that we shall hereafter be blessed with an immediate, permanent, and influential vision of the Lord of life and glory ; and such a vision, attended with vital beams surrounding us on every side, transfusing themselves through our whole frame, invigorating the divine life in us, and maintaining and increasing our sensible and intellectual joys, must import complete and everlasting happiness.
Having thus illustrated the remarks founded on the text, I am now to direct you to the proper improvement of so noble and interesting a subject. Let me then entreat your attention to the following
Let us contemplate the power and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, so illustriously displayed in this triumph over death.
It became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to appoint his son the Captain of their Salvation, and to consecrate him to that office through sufferings. He took part of flesh and blood, that he might be capable of dying, and through death destroy him, or weaken, and render ineffectual his influence, that had the power of death, that is, the devil *; who by his temptations, brought sin and death into the world. He died to vanquish the terrors of death, and reconcile our minds to the thoughts and approaches of it. To this work he was set apart by his father and God; and he alone was fit for the work, and worthy the honour of overcoming the king of terrors. And because, for this end, he became obedient to death, even the death of the cross, God has highly exulted him, constituted him Lord both of the dead and the living, lodged the Keys of death, and the invisible world, in his hands, and given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to all his sincere and genuine disciples. He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet, and death, the chief and last of them, be destroyed. These, brethren and fellow-christians, are the reviving truths of
* Heb. ii. 10, 14.
our holy religion : Let us then rejoice in Christ Jesus, and glory in our relation to him, who, by his atoning sacrifice, took away the Sting of death, which is sin, bore in his own body, the penalty denounced against transgressors, and by the influences of his spirit, promotes a holy temper and conversation, which is the only proper qualification for a blessed and joyful resurrection. We are directed to consider him as the Resurrection and the life, who is to come in power and glory to judge the world, the lustre of whose appearance shall penetrate to the deepest grave, and whose voice shall awaken every sleeping saint.Then shall they come forth to join their glorified Head and Saviour, to attend and grace the solemnity of that day, which shall complete bis conquest over death, and terminate his mediatorial kingdom.--Since then we are more than conquerors through him that loved us, let this encrease our veneration for his gospel, which contains the record of eternal life ; and with an eye of gratitude, love, and humble dependence, let us look to Jesus the Lord of life, who, for the joy that was set before him, of being himself highly exalted, and leading on all his good soldiers to conquest and to crowns, overcame the sharpness of death, and is now set down at the right hand of God. Let him be precious to our souls, who is the purchaser and author of eternal salvation.
2. Let us reflect on the difference between good and bad men with regard to the consequences of death.
This conqueror hath dominion over all : Nevertheless, all shall rise again. But oh! with what different appearances, and to what different states ! Some shall awake to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt *. All shall come forth of their graves, but with this awful distinction, They that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation t. With what horror and surprise will the wicked lift up their heads in that tremendous day, and how glad will they be to sink back to rottenness, or even to nothing, from the wrath of the Lamb ! But they must come forth, although their bodies should be so changed, as to be capable of more exquisite pain, and a more lasting duration, than their present frame will admit of. They shall have their part in the Lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death , which shall be executed
* Dan. xii. 2.
f John y..9.
Rev. xxi, B,
with circumstances of terror and anguish, proportioned to their crimes. On the other hand; with what a blooming air and inconceivable transport will the saints lift up their heads in that glorious day! With what unutterable delight will they leave their dusty beds, and survey their empty tombs ; knowing that their warfare is accomplished, and that their Lord, whose approach they hail with the loudest hosannas, cometh to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe ! Having through the grace of Christ, which is sufficient even for the weakest of his servants, overcome and been faithful to the end, they shall not be hurt by the second death*, they shall not die for ever, but enter into eternal rest. And do you believe, brethren, that there will be such a vast difference between the future states of the righteous, and the wicked? I know you believe it. Enquire then, what influence and effect this faith bath upon your hearts and lives ; and which of these two states will be yours. Let me address you in the words of the great Mr. Howe +: “ You can never justify it to God, or your own understandings, to remain in a dubious uncertainty about a matter of so vast consequence as this. Unconcernedness here is the most unaccountable thing in the whole world. Things will come to this issue very shortly with us that either death must, as to us, be swat lowed up in victory, or we be swallowed up of victorious death. With what solicitude should we al concern ourselves to be at a certainty!" If you would desire that strong consolation which the text exhibits, let me urge you to fly for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before youi, to be duily exercising Repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, to redeem your time, and make a wise improvement of the present life. Thus you will finish your course with joy, and wben This earthly house of your tabernacle is dissolved, you will have, a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavenst.
Lastly, Let the servants of Christ be calm and resigned, in the view of their own death, and when their pious friends are removed.
One would think there should be no occasion, for such an exhortation as this, to any who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and have peace with God through him. One would. naturally suppose that in the fulness of their hopes and joys, they would desire to depart, and it would be necessary frequently and strenuously to urge them to wait patiently for the coming
* Rev, ii. 11. ^ Hlowe's works, vol. II. page 422. 2 Cor.v.1.
One wonld think that instead of sorrowing, as those who have no hope, for them that sleep in Jesus, they should rather rejoice for the victory they have gained and the honour to which they are advanced. But alas ! such is the unreasonable and unhappy influence which present things have upon our minds, such is the weakness of our faith and hope, so languid is our love to Christ, and so injudicious our affection to our friends, that we are loth to remove ourselves, and unwilling to part with them. God knew it would be su. He knoirs our frame, and remembers we are dust, and therefore pities us, and has laid in such a stock of encouragements in his word, to counteract the bias of nature, and to correct the errors of sense. Let us then, brethren, enter into the spirit, and admit the force of them. Remember, that although the combat may be sharp, and the apprehension grievous, yet the victory is sure. The enemy has been otten vanquished, and it is only a single feeble effort he can possibly make. Fear not, says the Redeemer, I am he that liveth and was deud, and am alive for evermore, and have the keys of death and the unseen world. Fear not this formidable enemy. He has slain his thousands; slain, did I say! rather, he bus obtained some little advantage to his own irreparable loss and their everlasting gain. Though he strips you of the body, yet, to allude to St. Paul's words, you only part with it for a season, that you may receive it for ever*, improved and beautified, and no more to see corruption. Let every sincere christian, endeavour, from such considerations, to reconcile his mind to the approaches of death, and wish to encounter this last enemy, as a brave soldier does to enter upon an action, which he has the greatest reason to believe will finish the war, put an end to all his fatigues, perils, and terrors, and bring repose, honour,ʻand reward. Frequently meditate, () christian, on that glorious morning, when thou shalt awake, burst the bands of death with sweet and inexpressible surprise, arise with ten thousands of thy fellow-saints, and meet thy Lord with songs of triumph, and everlasting joy upon your heads. Then shall he applaud thy resolution and labour, fidelity and patience, before his father, the angels, and the assembled world, and give thce a Crown of glory, that fadeth
Let these considerations also support our minds when our pious and valuable friends are removed.
* Philem. verse 15.
In this view the apostle urges them, If we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even them also which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him; the dead in Christ shall rise first, and the saints, then alive, being changed, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. IVherefore comfort one another with these words*. And surely no words can be more full of consolation. Our pious friends departed, have gained the victory, and are present with the Lord. And though we are left behind in a world, which is, at best, a tiresome place, and less desirable since they were removed from it; yet we hope ere long to be restored to them, to converse with them upon more agreeable and advantageous terms, and spend an eternity together. If we are followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises, God will quickly call us to come up to them, and send a convoy of angels to fetch us to the world of spirits; and perhaps the first objects we may meet with there, may be some of our most intimate friends, sent to congratulate our safe arri. val, and conduct us to the appointed mansions. And oh! with what joy and transport shall we meet them, and be welcomed by them. The small space of time the separation has continued, and in which we have known the sorrow of living without them, will endear them to us, and increase our bliss. Especially when we consider that there is no fear of another separation, that the Destructions of the enemy are come to a perpetual end t, and that death has yielded up all his power ever to divide us more.
Let me particularly apply these consolations to you, my friends, on occasion of the sore breach, God has made upon you. What joy has it already been to your late worthy and pious pastor, to meet so inany of his flock in the regions of the blessed, to whom he administered these precious consolations in their last moments, and smoothed their passage to heaven! What joy will it be to him to receive one and another of you, who have obeyed the gospel, to be partakers of his felicity! What a delight will it be to him to receive your thanks, for all his Jabours of love for the good of your souls, and join with you in adoring that grace, which wrought effectually for your salvation; to which grace, you well know, he constantly ascribed his abilities and success! What joy will it afford you to meet him there ; to inform him more fully than you can now do, what pleasure and improvement you bave received from
* 1 Thess. iv. 14—18. compared with 1 Cor. xv. 51, &c. + Ps.ix. 6.