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prison, of a traveller from his inn, of a scholar from his school-"The time of my departure is at hand. I long to depart." Call it a sleepSleep is inviting to the wearied labourer, who has borne the burden and heat of the day.
They sleep in Jesus, and are bless'd,
Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.
You have to die. But the sting of death is removed-for "The sting of death is sin-and he bore our sins in his own body on the tree.". Death stung him, but as it is fabled of the bee, left its sting in him. It is harmless now. It may terrify, but it cannot injure.
You have to die. But God promises to be with you there. "For he hath said, I will NEVER leave thee nor forsake thee"-and therefore be assured he will not leave you in this time of need. To this the promise is peculiarly made: "I will be with him in trouble." Hence, David triumphs, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me:"
You have to die. But the soul will be immediately disposed of infinitely to your advantage. Death will carry you from the same vain world, the same vexing world, the same defiling world -as Elijah's chariot carried him. Death will carry you to the same rest, to the same fulness of joy, to the same glorious company as Elijah's chariot carried him. Absent from the body, you are present with the Lord.
You have to die. But the body will certainly follow. Though you do not take it along with you, but leave it in the grave, it shall not be lost there. He will come and inquire for your dust. It is redeemed-" And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness; but if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."
You have to die. But by death you may glorify God more than by such a removal as Elijah's. It affords opportunity to display the influences of divine grace under suffering, to bear witness to the goodness of the master you serve; to commend the ways of godliness; to convince some, to encourage others. One dying Christian has often made many in love with death. While witnessing such a scene, they have been ready to say, "Let us go away, that we may die with him."
It matters therefore little how the believer departs from this world to a better.
-But it is always worthy of our observation. "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace."
And whether he ascends to heaven in a whirlwind, or be removed by a fever, or a dropsy, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his."
THE PUNISHMENT OF ADONIBEZEK IMPROVED. But Adoni-bezek filed: and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes. And Adoni-bezek said, "Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gather ed their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me.—Judges i. 6, 7.
DESTRUCTION had long been denounced upon the inhabitants of Canaan, for their sins. At length the measure of their iniquity is full; and the Jews are appointed to be the executioners of the divine vengeance. But Moses dies before they enter on the dreadful task. Joshua succeeds him, and becomes the scourge of this devoted race. But even he dies before the complete reduction of the promised land. Immediately after his death, Judah and Simeon assemble their forces, and attack the enemy at Bezek, and gain a dreadful victory. They slew a thousand men, and took Adoni-bezek prisoner. On this bloody tyrant they inflict a punishment, as singular as it was severe" They cut off his thumbs and his great toes." This drew from him the words which you have heard. "And Adoni-bezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me."
This passage of scripture is a picture. Let me hold it up to view, and call upon you to mark the principal contents of the representation. And,
I. I see in it the instability and uncertainty of
worldly greatness. Look at this man-and behold in what slippery places God sets the mighty and noble. How great was he in the fieldwhere armies fled before him; how great in the palace-where a number of vanquished princes fed under his table-But behold him now-dethroned, insulted, dismembered; and his present extremity of wretchedness, imbittered by the recollection of the prosperity that once crowned his head. "And seekest thou great things to thyself? Seek them not. Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day will bring forth.
From the eagerness with which mankind pursue the distinctions of life, we would conclude, not only that they were very valuable in themselves, but that no kind of precariousness attached to them. We would suppose that they were able to ensure durable possession: and God, who in his word always gives language to actions, tells us, "Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations: they call their lands after their own names." But let not the strong be secure; let not the honourable be vain: let not the rich be high-minded. Connect certainty with the motion of the wind, or the waves of the seabut O, do not trust this treacherous, this changeable world. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. Riches make to themselves wings, and fly away. Man being in honour abideth not; he is like the beasts that perish. "" What is all history, but a narrative of the reverses to which all earthly things are liable, however firmly established they
once appeared to be; of the revolutions of empires, the destruction of cities; of the mighty put down from their seats, of counsellors fed away spoiled, of politicians disgraced, generals banished, and monarchs put to death?
II. I see in it that judgment overtakes the sinner in this life. Nor does Adoni-bezek stand alone as an instance of the present punishment of sin. Behold Adam and Eve driven out of Paradise. See the flood sweeping away the world of the ungodly. See the smoke of the cities of the plain: remember Lot's wife-she looked back, contrary to the divine command, and she became a pillar of salt. The servant of Elisha enters his master's presence-tells a lie-and goes out a leper as white as snow. Ananias and Sapphira utter a known falsehood before the apostle, and are both instantly numbered with the dead. And -of such importance is truth, to the welfare of the community-and so hateful is it to the Supreme Being that not only are all liars to have their portion in the lake, which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death-but in these instances we see "hell from beneath, moved to meet them at their coming!
It may, however, be necessary to observe, that this is not always the case. The misery of the sinner is principally reserved for a future world, and we are now in a state of probation. But God would confirm our faith in his adorable providence. If all sin were punished here, we would look no farther: if no sin, we should not easily believe in the power, the holiness, the truth of God. He, therefore, sometimes signally interposes; and will be known by the judgments which he executeth: "So that a man shall say,