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him, to cast itself upon him, that he may be a Father and a Friend to it. But,
II. What warrant or encouragement have gracious souls to commit themselves at death into the hands of God? I answer, Much every way; all things encourage and warrant their so doing : for,
1. The God, to whom the believing soul commits it. self at death, is its Creator, the Father of its being: he created and inspired it, and so it hath the relation of a creature to a Creator; yea, of a creature now in distress, to a faithful Creator: "Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as to a faithful Creator.” 1 Pet. 4:19. True, this single relation, in itself, gives no encouragement to a creature that has sinned : " It is a people of no understanding, therefore he that made them, will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them, will show them no favor.” Isa. 27: 11. But now, grace brings that relation into repute : holiness ingratiates us again, and revives the remembrance of this relation ; so that believers only can plead this.
2. Again, as the gracious soul is his creature, so it is his redeemed creature ; one that he hath bought, and that with a great price, even the precious blood of Jesus Christ. 1 Pet. 1:18, 19. This greatly encourages the departing soul to commit itself into the hands of God. "Into thy hand I commit my spirit ; thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” Ps. 31:5. Lord, I am not only thy creature, but thy redeemed creature ; one that thou hast bought with a great price: for my sake Christ came from thy bosom, and at the expense of his precious blood redeemed me, and wilt thou at last exclude me? Shall the ends both of the creation and redemption of this soul be lost together? Will God form such a soul, in which are so many wonders of the wisdom and power of its Creator ; will he, when sin has marred the frame and defaced the glory of it, recover it to himself again, by the death of his own dear Son; and after all this, cast it away? "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit:" I know thou wilt have respect to the work of thy hands; especially to a redeemed creature, upon which thou hast expended so great love.
3. Nay, this is not all; the gracious soul is his renewed creature. This lays a firm ground for the believer's confidence and acceptance; not that it is the proper cause, or reason of its acceptance, but is the soul's best evidence that it is accepted with God, and shall not be refused by him, when it comes to him at death : for, in such a soul there is a double workmanship of God, both glorious, though the last exceeds in glory. A natural workmanship, in the excellent frame of that noble creature, the soul; and a gracious workmanship upon that again ; a new creation upon the old; glory upon glory." We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” Eph. 2:10. The Holy Ghost came down from heaven on purpose to create this new workmanship, to frame this new creature; and indeed it is the chief of all God's works of wonder in this world, and must give the believer abundant encouragement to commit himself to God. By this we are made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Col. 1:12. It is also the design and end of Him that wrought it: "Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God.” 2 Cor. 5:5. Had he not designed thy soul for glory, the Spirit would never have come down to sanctify it: surely it shall not fail of a reception into glory, when it is cast out of this tabernacle: such a work was not wrought in vain, neither can it ever perish. Sanctification so roots itself in the soul, that where the soul goes, it goes: gifts indeed die; all natural excellency and beauty depart at death, Job, 4:21; out grace ascends with the soul; it is a sanctified when
a separate soul. And will God shut the door of glory upon such a soul, that by grace is made meet for the inheritance ? Oh, it cannot be !
4. As the gracious soul is a renewed soul, so it is also a sealed soul ; God hath sealed it in this world for that glory, into which it is now to enter at death. All gracious souls have those works of grace wrought on them, which evince their title to glory; and many the Spirit helps clearly to discern their interests in Christ and all the promises. This both secures heaven to the soul in itself, and becomes also an earnest or pledge of that glory in the unspeakable joys and comforts it produces in the soul. "Who hath sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” 2 Cor. 1: 22. How can the soul that hath found all this, fear a rejection by its God, when at death it comes to him ? Surely, if God have sealed, he will not refuse you ; if he have given his earnest, he will not shut you out.
5. Moreover, every gracious soul may confidently cast itself into the arms of its God, when it goes hence, with, " Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit;" forasmuch as it is in covenant with God, and God stands obliged by his covenant and promise to such, not to cast them out when they come unto him. As soon as thou didst become his by regeneration, that promise became thine, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Heb. 13:5. And will he leave the soul at a time when it has more need of his support than it ever had ? Every gracious soul is entitled to that promise," I will come again, and receive you to myself.” John, 14:3. And will he fail to make it good when the time of the promise is come, as at death it is? It cannot be. When he sees a poor soul that he hath made, redeemed, sanctified, sealed, and by solemn promise engaged himself to receive, coming to him at death, firmly depending upon his faithfulness, saying, as David, 2 Sam. 23:5, Though, Lord,
there be many defects in me, "yet thou hast made a covenant with me, well ordered in all things, and sure ; and this is all my salvation, and all my hope ;" how can God refuse such a soul? How can he cast it off, when it so casts itself upon him ?
6. But this is not all; the gracious soul sustains many intimate and dear relations to the God into whose hands it commends itself at death. It is his spouse, and the consideration of such a day of espousals may well en. courage it to cast itself into the bosom of Christ, its head and husband. It is a member of his body, flesh, and bones. Eph. 5:30. It is his child, and he its everlasting Father. Isa. 9:6. It is his friend : Henceforth (saith Christ) I call you not servants, but friends." John, 15: 15. What confidence may these, and all the other dear relations Christ owns to the renewed soul, beget in such an hour as this! What husband can throw off the dear wife of his bosom, who in distress casts herself into his arms ? What Father can shut the door upon a dear child that comes to him for refuge, saying, Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit ?
7. The unchangeableness of God's love to his eople gives confidence that they shall in no wise be cast out. They know Christ shall be the same to them at last as he was at first; the same in the pangs of death as in the comforts of life: "having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” John, 13:1. He doth not love as the world loves, only in prosperity ; but they are as dear to him when their beauty and strength are gone, as in their greatest prosperity. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. Rom. 14:8.
Now consider all these things, and weigh them both apart and together, and see whether they amount not to a full evidence of the truth of this point, that dying believers arc warranted and encouraged to commend their souls into the hands of God; whether they have not every one of them cause to say, as the apostle did, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day.” 2 Tim. 1 : 12.
INFERENCE 1. Are dying believers only warranted and encouraged thus to commend their souls into the hands of God ? How sad, then, the state of all dying unbelievers ! Such souls will fall into the hands of God, but that is their misery, not their privilege : they are not reposed by faith in the hands of mercy, but fall by sin into the hands of justice : not God, but the devil is their father. John, 8:44. Whither should the child go but to its own father? They have not one of the above-mentioned encouragements to cast themselves into the hands of God, except the mere relation they have to him as their Creator, and that is of no avail without the new creation. If they have nothing but this to plead for their salvation, the devil hath as much to plead as they. It is the new creature that brings the first creation into repute again with God.
Oh dismal, oh deplorable case! A poor soul is turned out of house and home, and knows not where to go; it departs, and immediately falls into the hands of justice. Little, ah little do the friends of such a one think, whilst they are honoring his dust by a splendid and honorable funeral, what a state the poor soul is in, and to what fearful straits and extremities it is now exposed! He may cry, indeed, Lord ! Lord! open to me, Matt. 7:22; but to how little purpose are the se vain cries! Will God hear him when he crieth ? Job, 27:9.
2. Will God graciously accept, and faithfully keep what the saints commit to him at death ? How careful then should they be to keep what God commits to them, to be kept for him while they live! You have a great trust to commit to God when you die, and God commits a