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angels and archangels ; nor seek to anticipate the joys of the life to come. Our conversation is not in heaven, nor are we looking to our Redeemer from thence; nor do our souls thirst, nor our flesh long after the living God.
But, on the contrary, like unweaned babes, we hang upon the breasts of this earth. We suck poison out of it to our very souls. We cleave to it --we walk-nay, we grovel upon our bellies here, as unclean beasts*, instead of lifting our eyes to heaven with the holy pride and ambition of angels !
Hence, then, comes our fear of death, because we seek to have our portion in this world, and not in the world to come ;, never considering what comfortable words Christ tells us, that “ if any man keep “ his sayings he shall never see death ;" for Christ hath slain death, and “ brought life and immortality “ to light by the gospel.”
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the grave; but our union with Christ gives us the victory. If we die in the faith of Jesus, death is only a sleep in his bosom-and the grave is only the vestry-room, where we enter (as we said before) to
Among other books, having taken up the works of DRUNNOND of Hawrburnden, daring my first days of mourning for a beloved wife ; his Cypress Grove, arrested my attention, and was so congenial to my reflexions and state of mind, that in the composition of this sermon, which was the work of but two days, many of his impressive and sublime sentiments, got such strong hold, and so mixed with my own, that I never wish to separate them, nor to vary the sermon a single tittle from the words in which it was delivered; for this would be to mangle it, and perhaps destroy, that strength and weight of argument, which made it so acceptable to an attentive and a flicted audience.
put off the old rags of our mortality, to be clothed upon anew, and to come forth, fresh and refulgent, in the rich dress and embroidery of Heaven.
It shall be my endeavour, (ye mournful brethren and sisters) in my subsequent occasional discourses before you, from this luminous text, to examine and weigh, in the scales of Religion, Reason, and Philosophy, those good things, commonly so called, by which too many are drawn (as already expressed) to
hang upon the breasts of this world, and to suck “ poison from them to their very souls;" I shall further strive to offer such considerations, as, under divine grace; may disentangle our thoughts, and wean our souls from too great an attachment to the things of this world, and send them forward to another world, in earnest longings after immortality; anticipating the joys above, and seating ourselves by faith in the company of angels and arch-angels; having our conversation in heaven, looking for the coming of our Lord, and panting to be with him forever!
FIRST PREACHED, DECEMBER 8, 1793.
1. THESS. CHAP. IV.
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning
them which are asleep, &c.
The first head of discourse," from this luminous text, viz. How, through divine assistance, we may subdue the Fear of Death, hath been partly handled in the foregoing Sermon. Let us now resume this head, and strive to get footing beyond Death and the Grave, on the shores of an Eternal World—Oh how ravishing, how divinely glorious, how resplendently bright, will our prospects then become, “ shining more and more unto the perfect day,” as we proceed in our view, through the grand scenes of a Resurrection and future Judgment; provided only, that, in pursuing this view, we are supported by Faith, and animated with Hope-that, through the atonement of Christ, in that day “when he shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God, when the dead in Christ shall hear his voice, and rise first; we shall be awakened, with them, and caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,"
be placed on his right hand, in the great day of his power, and receive the joyful sentence—“Well done good and faithful servants! depart ye,” amidst the hymns and hallelujahs of the heavenly hosts, into the kingdom“ prepared for you from the foundation of the world, and so be forever with the Lord!"
But although it be hard to recall ourselves from those rapturous views and anticipations of glory; we must, nevertheless, strive to return, for a while, to this side of the grave, to this valley of sorrow and tears, “ and take unto ourselves the whole armour of God, in order to fight the good fight, to wrestle against principalities, against powers, against (death and] the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, &c.* This contest, and our victory in it (through the grace given us) are necessary, before we can reach those Joys, on the other side of the Grave, which fade not away!"
But, did I say, “hard to recall ourselves?” Let me now correct myself, and say, no! For when we consider that our passage through this valley of the shadow of Death, is the appointed way to the Land of Life; and that we are now proceeding to seek such arguments, as may dispel our sorrows, allay our miseries, and strew our path, in this
with Hope and Comfort;-I trust, that to recall ourselves will not be attended with any insuperable difficulty; nor indeed be a very hard task! In the preceding Sermon, the main causes of our fear of Death were generally stated, viz.
Ephes. chap. vi. 12, 13.
Ist. Want of faith in Christ, and the strict union of our souls with him, through the grace of his holy spirit.
2d. An overweening attachment to what are called the good things of this world.
3d. Want of consideration, and of due reflection on the shortness of our time; with the uncertain tenure, and perishable nature, of all our enjoyments here.
4th. Doubts, real or pretended, instilled into us and cherished (by means of a vain and superficial philosophy; "wise above what is written,”) concerning a future state of existence; and whether the change of our present condition in this world will be for the better or worse, in the world to come?
Let us now proceed to a further examination of those causes, and particularly the second,* “ our overweening 'attachment to what are called the good things of this world; which springs from a false estimate of them, and a vehement desire to hold uninterrupted possession of them.
Respecting this estimate, and for the sake of clearer method, mankind may be considered, more or less, under two classes; viz. one, by far the most numerous, consisting of those, whose condition of life subjects them to labours, and sorrows, and cares, and distresses, and sufferings, both as to body and mind; which, in their consideration, leave the small alloy of good things, in their cup, almost tasteless
See p. 62 of the preceding Sermon, respecting the first cause...“ Want of Faith,” &c.