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thus implanted in Chrift, the day of your death will be better than the day of your birth.
2. Ye whose main care it is in the course of your life to please God, Col. i. 10. as a wife is to please her hufband, and a servant his master, and one his friend and benefactor, 1 Pet. ii. 9. Are you so disposed, that you dare not please men, at the expence of his displeasure, Gal. i. 10.? Have you renounced your own will, as to your duty, and as to your lot? Have you laid afide the pleasing of yourselves, and your own lufts, that that is no more the scope of your life, but to please God, Rom. xv. 1, 3.? Is it the scope of your life, to please him in doing and in bearing?. And wherein ye see you have displeased him, are ye displeased with yourselves, confess, mourn over it, apply to the blood of Christ, and long for the day when ye shall displease him no more? If so, the day of your death will be better than the day of your birth; you will be pleafed for ever.
3. Ye whose business in the world is to serve your generation in real usefulness to others, as ye have accefs in your several stations and relations, Ads xiii. 36. Are you so disposed, as that, out of regard to the God above, you dare not be mischievous and hurtful to ou thers, even when it is in the power of your hand, Job xxxi. 21,--23.? Do ye look upon uselessness for God or men in the world, with a horor; and upon yourselves but as stewards of your time, gifts, substance, opportunities of usefulness, for which we must give an account to God, and therefore lay out yourselves to improve your talents, and do good thereby? Has the warm influence of divine grace opened your shell of felfishness, wherein ye sometime lay snug, careful for nothing but your own sweet felf; and brought you out with a public spirit to be useful in God's word as ye have access? with a benevolent disposition to do good to mankind ? If fo, the day of your death will be better than the day of your birth. And therefore I exhort you to the folslowing duties.
First, Be First, Be mortified to life, and abate of your fondness for it. There is nothing in the world we naturally stick to more closely than life, Job ii. 4. But certainly there is a necessity of being mortified to it, to have our desires after it deadened in a regular way, Luke xiy, 26. “ If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Without question, there may be a too great eagerness for life, which is finful in all, and moft unbecoming faints.
Quef. How far should we be mortified to life?
Answ. 1. So far as not to quarrel the unalterable statute of death, Heb. ix. 27. Sin brought in death; by it mankind forfeited life. Many ills it brought into the world, but a short life in this world was really the least ill that it brought in. We see this ftatute was just, that it has been exactly observed from generation to generation: our hearts should comply with it, say. ing, Even fo be it, and should have no grudge against it. Why should the rocks be removed for us? 2. So far as not to desire, though it were at our
option, to stay always in this world, Job vii. 16. That is certainly an unmortified defire of life, to with this life were eternal to us; and a habit of it argues a graceless state. It was a profane tale of a cardinal of Paris, that he would be content to forfeit his part of the happiness of heaven, if he might live here for ever. Grace in the heart certainly mortifies men to this life; they that are born from above, will certainly defire to be above; they that are united to Christ, will certainly desire to be with him; and therefore the Christian course is a coming up out of the wilderness, where, though they must sojourn for a while, they will not defire to fix their abode, Cant. viii. 3.
3. So far as to be content to part with it at God's call, Luke xiv. 26. God is Lord of our life, he has set each of us in our post in life, to stand till he give order to relieve us. As we quarrelled not his setting
us on the stage of life by our birth ; fo we should be content to come off again when he calls us by death. The time, way, and manner of our leaving it, we should leave contentedly to his disposal.
Lastly, So far as never to desire to live just for livings sake, but for the solid advantage of life. This life is such a mass of vanity, that it is not defirable for itfelf, but some circumstances that attend it. So we may desire to live to honour God in the world, and to be useful, Ifa. xxxviii. 19. And if we should be laid by from usefulness in the way of doing, we may be content to live for usefulness in the way of suffering. But life is not to be desired stript of all manner of useful. nefs; for that is to make ourselves, nct God, our chief end. Now to mortify you to life, cor,sider,
(1.) The uncertainty of it; it is but a shadow, you know not how soon it may be gone ; a vapour, that may vanish ere you are aware. I may say then, as Prov. xxiii. 5. “ Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?” What folly is it to let the heart too fondly out on that which in a moment one may lose, and every moment hangs at uncertainty? It is surely wisdom to fit loose to that which we are never fure of.
(2.) The unsatisfactoriness of it. Every period of life, however promising it may be at the entry on it, will leave you disappointed in your progress in it, and coming off from it, Eccl. i. 8. There is nothing in it or about it, that belongs not to the other life, wherein the heart of man can find a rest. Still the bed is shorter, ftretch it as ye will, than that ye can lie on it.
(3.) The finfulness of it. There is none liveth, and finneth not. That indeed makes life defirable to finners, that since they cannot part with their fins, they cannot think to part with life neither; for that then all occafion of satisfying their lufts is cut off for ever. But certainly it must mortify saints to life, that they cannot have it, but there is finning with it, 2 Cor. v. 4. Rom.
(4.) The troubles of it, the many afli&ions and trials that attend it. These indeed should not make us impatient to be away, like Jonah, chap. iv. 8. For they are our trials we are put upon for the other world, which we are resolutely to bear with patience and refignation, and so discover the reality of the grace of God in us. But they may well be allowed to mortify us to this life; for that is one of the ends they are sent for, to be as gall and wormwood laid on the breast to
And the wisdom of providence is to be adored in that, ordinarily towards the end of life, trou. bles come on thicker than they were wont, as in the case of our Saviour.
(5.) There is a better life than it abiding you in the other world, Heb. xi. 16. The faith of the palace in heaven would mortify one to the cottage of clay here; for why should they be fondly addicted to their present state, whom a better state is awaiting? It is our conversing so little with heaven that makes us so fond of the earth. Were we viewing the promised land more, with faith's prospect, we would be more disengaged from this wilderness-world.
Lastly, The state of imperfection inseparably attends this life; that there is no getting beyond the former, till ye get beyond the latter. You may struggle as you will towards perfection, and if you be real saints, you will do it, Phil. iii. 14. from an inward principle not managed by the prospect of the event; but you
will never reach it, till this life. be at an end. Rise up as oft as ye will, wash and watch; ye will fall again and defile yourselves, till the day of death put an end to that weary
work. Secondly, Be not frighted at death, nor afraid with any amazement, If. xxxv. 4. To make a jest of dying argues contempt of God, and secret desperation; to be careless and unconcerned about it, a carnal security that will have a frightful awakening. To be in deep concern about it becomes all; but to be frighted and
put into disorder by the view of it, is unbecoming faints. To allay that terror,
1. Consider, that in the day you embraced Christ in the covenant, you certainly did it in view of your dying, to lay down measures for eternity. Why then should ye be frighted at that which ye have been thinking of and preparing for before ? Leave that to them who have been carelessly dreaming away their life time.,
2. Death, tho' a grim messenger, is Christ's messenger of good to you,
to carry you away in peace, Luke ü. 29. It is like the waggons that Joseph sent to bring Jacob into Egypt to him. And faithi's ear opened, would hear the voice to the dying Christian, saying, as Gen. Ixvi. 3, 4. “I am God, the God of thy father; fear not to go down into Egypt. I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again.” It is such a call as Peter had from Christ to come to him upon the water. And however boisterous the wind and black the water may be, there is no fear of sinking to the ground; only believe.
3. In your struggles against fin, and wrestling with temptations, have ye not sometimes looked wiftly for death's relief ? Rom. vii. 24. Cant. viii. 5. Have ye not comforted yourself in the prospect of cold death's drowning out quite those passions and lusts, that have so often taken fire again after a flood of godly sorrows going over them? Why then should you be put in a fright and disorder at the view of its approach ?
4. It were inconsistent with God's honour, and the glory and dignity of Christ, to put off his friends and followers, with that kind of life he gives them here, Heb. xi. 16. One may be confirmed in this, confidering 1 Cor. xv. 19. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men moft miferabie." Therefore of neceflity all their loffes must be made up in the other life. Why then should saints be angry at their blessings, and be frighted at the Lord's coming to accomplish all his promises ?