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5. The upper world is the world of peace and love, Abraham's bosom.
thither before us our godly acquaintances, whom we once looked on as the excellent of the earth, the loss of whose fociety was heavy; we will get it there again. The holy angels will be loving and lovely companions. He who on earth died for us while enemies, how loving and lovely will he appear there, where we shall be perfect? God is love itself, and there his infinite love will be displayed in an inconceivable manner.
Lastly, Christ passed the ford before you, has altered the nature of the waters, Rom. viii. 34. and caused them to abate ; and now he bids you follow, for that there is no fear, Cant. ii. 10, 11. Keep the eye of faith on Clirist, who forded the waters of death before you, and that will be a mean to abate the terror.
Thirdly, Familiarize death to yourself, Job xvii. 13, 14. Do not keep at a distance from it in your thoughts. I would not have the terror of death rob you of the comfort of life; but it is the greatest folly for a man to wind up himself so in the comforts and amusements of life, as to debar the serious thoughts of death ; and can serve no end, but to bring sudden and remediless ruin; for whether men will think of death, and prepare
for it, or not; it will be in on them at length. And what we must meet with, it is best to acquaint ourselves with before. Therefore,
1. Be frequent in your taking a view of the other world, with the help of the prospect of the word, to be looked through by the eye of faith. Be often as it were getting up to the top of Pilgalı, thence to view the promised land. You cannot get thither for a trial, to come back again, Job'xiv. 14. but there is a map of it drawn in the Bible, by considering of which you may be brought acquainted with it.
2. Be often viewing the passage thereto. The Jordan of death runs betwixt it and this our wilderness, and by it is the passage we must all take. We will not get
an efsay made of it, that we may 'mend at one time what we marred at another ; there is the more need then to look well and often to it before we enter in, which we know not how soon we may be obliged to.
Lastly, Let your hearts be habitually disposed to these views, to notice the many memorials of them that Providence has furnished. There are still some dropping off into that world, some young, some aged. What is every winter, but an emblem of death; and every spring, but an emblem of the other world and the refurrection? Yea every night is the grave of the former day, as the following day empties the grave again.
Fourthly, Raife comfortable expectations from death. View the day of death in the light wherein our text sets it, and behold it as a good day, the beft day.
1. Expect it as the day that will better your condition, however heavy that is now, Pf. xvi.9. Though ye have many heavy days in your life, partly from your own corruption, partly from the corruption of others; partly from the holy hand of God for trial, partly from the devil seeking your destruction ; look to the day of deash, as what will fet all to rights, and bring in to you what heart can wish. The day of death to a child of God is his marriage day, Mat. xxv. the day wherein the traveller comes hoine from abroad to his Father's house, the day wherein he is past his minority, and enters to his inheritance.
2. Expect it as the day that will establish your condition, Rev. ii. 12. Your condition is wavering and uncertain now, Psal. xxx. 6, 7. Sometiines your soul's case is prosperous, but ere you are aware it is all wrong again ; sometimes wathed fair and clean in the fountain, anon ye are lying in the mire again ; sometimes ye have your fect on the neck of your corruptions, anon they trample you under foot ; sometimes ye can raise one of the songs of Zion, anon the harps are quite out of tune, hanged on the willows. Sometimes your outward condition is smiling ; but that lasts not, it turns A a 2
gloomy gloony, and troubles break in perhaps from all
quar. ters together, the springs of your comfort run bitterness, and your worldly comforts are dried up one after another. But look forward to the day of death, as what will end all ungrateful changes.
Fifthly, Work your heart to, and entertain a regu. lar defire of death. The day of death is certainly to a child of God an object of desire; the apostle professeth it, Phil. i. 23. “I desire to depart, and to be with Chrift;" and that in the name of all the saints, 2 Cor. V. 2. “For in this we groan earnestly, defiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.” And it is a piece of good preparation for death.
Ques. What is the regular defire of death?
(1.) A desire of it as the passage to uninterrupted communion with God in Chrift, Phil. i. 25. Sometimes it ariseth from the saints want of communion with God, which being uneasy does rightly make death desirable, as that which would make up that want, and secure against it
any more for
sometimes from the sense of the sweetness of that communion, Cant. viii. 6. But the enjoyment of God being a part of man's chief end, death is desirable as a means to it.
(2.) A desire of it as the passage to perfection in holiness, Phil. iii. 14. Thus the man defireth it that he may be free of fin, and put beyond the posfibility of finding more, Rom. vii. 24. that he may be in capacity to serve the Lord without marring or wearying of the work. This is the main part of man's chief end, and therefore death must be desirable as a means thereto.
(3.) A desire of it as an entrance into rest. The rest of death is promised to the saints for their comfort in all their heavy and restless circumstances, Ifa.
And therefore it must be desirable under that consideration. It is very natural for the tossed in a storm, to be desirous to be afhore, for the weary labourer to desire to have ease, and for the Christian to
desire his eternal and perfect rest, Job vii. 2.
2. For the quality regulating it, it must be accompanied with entire refignation to the will of God, Mat.
We must in our desire of it even on these accounts be resigned to the will of God.
(1.) As to the time, we must never be peremptory as to that, but wait the time prefixed of God, Job
He will keep us no longer in life, than' he has use for us either in the way of doing or suffering; and we must be content to wait his time for our admittance into uninterrupted communion to perfection of holiness, and into reft; and to be peremptory for rest at our time, and resolved to suffer no more, while yet God dischargeth us not is devilish, and exposeth to eternal fuffering, as the centry deserting his post is deserva edly shot to death. (2.) As to the way and manner.
There are many ways of going out of the world, we must leave it to the Lord, which will be the way for us; whether the way of lingering sickness or sudden death, natural, or violent by the hand of man. I think, if God should refer it to us, we should refer it back to him.
SECONDLY, Sinners, and all whosoever would have the day of death better to you than the day of your birth, improve life for that end. To fum up your duty in a word, as you have already heard, (1.) Let it be your great care and concern to get the favour and friendship of God thro' Christ, by taking hold of God's covenant of free grace, uniting with Christ the head of it, through faith in his name. (2.) Lead your life a life to the honour of God, studying to please him in all things. Renounce your own will, and your own corrupt affections, and wholly give up yourselves to him, to be ruled by him, and governed by his laws. (3.) Live usefully for men. Lay out yourselves to promote the fpiritual and temporal welfare of all ye have access to in your station. By these means,
no other way, ye
will obtain the good name, by which your dyingday will be better to you than your birth-day.
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TO HIM AT THE LAST DAY; WITH THEIR DISTINGUISHING CHARACTER, AS ENTERING INTO HIS COVENANT NOW, CONSIDERED.
The substance of several Sermons preached at Etterick in
Psalm 1. 3. Gather my saints together unto me: those that bave
made a covenant with me by sacrifice. LOOKING forward to the other world, we will see
a great gathering to come, a gathering of faints, and a gathering of finners; what part we fhall have in these, depends on the entertainment we now give to the gathering unto Christ, in the covenant ; they that will hot now be gathered to Christ in the bond of the covenant, will then be driven from him, and gathered with finners into the pit; they that gather now to him in that bond, will be gathered to him in glory then. Gather my faints together unto me: those that have made a covenant with me by facrifice.
This psalm certainly relates to the coming of Chrift for judgment, ver. 3. "Our God fhall come, and shall not keep filence; a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempeftuous round about him. But whether to his first coming, to abolifh the ceremonial law, set up the fimple gospel-worship, and to judge, condemn, and take vengeance on the formal fuperfti. tious Jews, destroying their temple, and ruining their kingdom ; or to his fecond coming to judge the world, is a question. I think it is plain it relates to both, the former as an emblem, pledge, and type of the other: and thus we find them ftated by our Saviour himself, Matth. xxiv. Only the coming of the Judge is expreffed in terms, directly and immediately looking to