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examined and tried by the touchstone of divine revelation, John ji 20 “ For every one that doth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to " the light, left his deeds should be reproved Ver 21 But he that " doth the truth cometh to the light, that hisdeeds may be made mani“ fest, that they are wrought in God” That hope, which cannot abide scripture-trial, but links when searched into by sacred truth, is a delufion, and not a true hope : for God's word is always a friend to the graces of God's Spirit, and an enemy to delusion. (3.) Beware of that hope, which stands without being supported by scripture evidences. Alas! many are big with hopes, whocannot give, because they really have not any scripture grounds for them. Thou' hopeft that all shall be well with thee after death: but what word of God is it, on which thou haft -bean caused to hope? Psal. cxix. 49. What scriptue-evidence haft thou to prove that thy hope is not the hope of the hypocrite? What hast thou, after impartial self-examination, as in the light of God, found in thyself, which the word of God determines to be a sure evidence of his right to eternal life, who is possessed of it? Numbers of men are Tuined with such hopes as stand unfupported by fcripture evidence. Men are fond and tenacious of these hopes; but death will throw them down and leave the self-deceiver hopeless. Lastly,Beware of that hope of heaven, which dóth not prepare and dispose you for heaven, which never makes your soul more holy, 1 John iii. 3. “Every man that " hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure " The hope of the most part of men is, rather'a hope to be free of pain and torment in another life; than a hope of true happiness, the nature whereof is not understood and discerned : and therefore it takes down in sloth and indolence, and does not excite to mortification and a hea. venly life. So far are they from hoping aright for heaven; that they must own, if they speak their genuine sentiments, removing out of this world into any other place whatsoever, is rather their fear than their hipe. The glory of the heavenly city does not at all draw their hearts upwards towards it ; nor do they lift up their heads with joy, in the prospect of arriving at it. If they had the true hope of the marriage-day, they would, as the birde, the Lamb's wife, be making themselves ready for it, Rev xix. 7. But their hopes are produced by their floth, and their floth is nourished by their hopes Oh! Sirs, as ye would not be driven away hopeless in your death, beware of these hopes. Raze them now, and build on a new foundation ; left death leave not one stone of them upon another, and ye never be able to hope any more.
Secondly, Hasten, O finners, out of your wickedness, out of your finful state, and out of your wicked life : if ye would not at death be driven away in your wickedness. Remember the fatal end of the wicked man, as the text represents it. I know there is a great difference in the death of the wicked, in respect of fome circumstances : but all of them, in their death, agree in this, that they are driven awily in their wickedness. Some of them die refolutely, as if they
scorned to be afraid. Some in raging despair, fo filled with horror, that they cry out, as if they were already in hell : others in fullen despondency, opprest with fears, infomuch, that their hearts are funk within him, upon the remembrance of mis-spent time, and the view they have 'of eternity; having neither head nor heart to do any thing for their own relief. And others die stupid: they lived like beasts, and they die like beasts, without any concern on their 'spírits abont their eternal state. They groan under their bodily diftress, but have no sense of the danger of their souls. One may with almoit as much prospect of success speak to a stone, as to speak to them: vain is the attempt to teach them, nothing that can be said moves them. To discourse to them, either of the joys of heaven, or the torments of hell, is to plow on a rock, or beat the air. Soine die like the foolih virgins, dreaming of heaven: their foreheads are steeled against the fears of hell, with presumptuous hopes of heaven. Their business, who would be useful to them, is not to answer doubts about the case of theịr souls ; but to dispute them out of their false hopeş. Bur which way soever the unconverted man dies, he is driv?n away in his wickedness. O dreadful case! Oh, let the consideration of fo horrible a departure out of this world, move you to betake yourselves to Jesus Christ, as an all-fufficient Saviour, an Almighty Redeemer. Let it prevail to drive you out of your wickedness, to holiness of heart and life. Though you reckon it pleasant to live in wickedness; you can - not but own it is better to die in it.' And if you leave it not.in time, you shall go in your wickedness to hell, the proper place of it, that is may be fët there in its own bufe. For when you are paffing out of this world, all your sins froin the eldest to the youngest of the in, will swarm about you, hang upon you, accompany you to the other world; and, as so many furies, surround you there for ever
Lastly, o be concerned for others, especially for your relations, that they may not continue in their sinful natural state, but be brought into a state of salvation; left they be driven away in their wickedness at death
What would ye not do to prevent any of your friends dying an untimely and violent death? But alas! do not ye see them in hazard of being driven away in their wickedness? Is not death approaching them, even the youngert of them? And are they not strangers to true Christianity, remaining in that state in which they came into the world? Oh! make haste to pluck the brand out of the fire, before it be burnt to adhes. The death of relations often leaves a fting in the hearts of these they leave behind them ; for that they do not do for their souls, as they had opportunity ; and that now the opportunity is for ever taken out of their hands.
We have seen the dark side of the cloud looking towards ungodly men, passing out of the world : let us now take a view of the bright side of it, shining on the godly, as they are entring upon their eternal state. In discoursing this subject, I shall confirm this doctrine, answer an objection against it, and then make some practical improvement of the whole.
For confirmation, let it be observed, That although the passage out i of this world by death, have a frightful aspect to poor mortals; and to miscarry in it must needs be of fatal consequence ; yet the following circumstances make the state of the godly in their death, happy and hopeful.
Firsi, They have a trusty good friend before them in the other world ; Jesus Christ their best friend, is Lord of that land to which death carries them. When Joseph sent for his father to come down to him to Egypt, telling him, God had made him Lord over all Egypt, Gen. xlv.9. and when Jacob saw the waggons Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob revived, ver. 27. He frankly resolves to un. dertake the journey. I think, when the Lord calls a godly man, out of this world, he sends him such glad tidings, and such a kind invitation into the other world ; that if he had faith to believe it, his fpirit must revive, when he sees the waggon of death, which comes to carry him thither. It is true indeed, he has a weighty trial to undergo; after deaih the judgment. But the case of the godly is altogether hopeful; for the Lord of the land is their husband, and their husband is their Judge: The Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son, John v.22. And surely the cafe of the wife is hopeful, when her own husbarid is her judge ; even such a husband as hates putting away. No huiband is so loving and fo tender of his fpoase, as the Lord Christ is of his. One would think, it would be a very bad land, which a wife would not willingly go to, where her husband is the ruler and judge. Moreover, their Judge is the Advocate, 1 John ii, 1. “ We have an “ Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." And therefore they need not fear their being put back, and falling into condemnation. What can be more favourable? Can they think, that he who pleads their cause, will himself pass fentence against them : Yet further, their Advocate is the Redeemer; they are “ redeemed " with the prcious blood of Christ," 1 Pet. i. 18, 19. So when he pleads for them, he-is pleading his own cause. Though an advocate may be careless of the interelt of one who employs him ; surely he will do his utmost to defend his own right, which he hath purchased with his money: and fhall not their Advocate defend the purchase of his own blood? But more than all that, their Redeemer is their head,
and they are his members, Eph v. 23, 30. Though one were fo fully as to let his own purchase go, without standing up to defend his right, yet surely he will not quit a limb of his own body. Is not their case then hopeful in death, who are so closely linked and allied to the Lord of the other world, who hath the kzys of hill tind death.
Secondly, : 'hey shall have a fase pallage to another world. They muft indeed go through the valley of the shadow of death; but tho' it be in itself a dark and shady vile, it thall be a valley of hope to them: they shall Qui br driven thro’is, but wolk brois; as men in perfect safety, who fear no evil, Pfal. xxii 4. Why should they fear? They have the Lord of the land's Safe conduct, bis pals sealed with his own blood, namely, the bleed covenant, which is the faint's death-bed comfort. 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.“ Alrhough my 6 house be no: fo with God, yet he hath made with me an ever. +66 lafting COVENANT, ordered in all things and furt: for this is « all my salvation, and all my defire, although he cause it not to
grow.” Who then can harm them? It is tafe riding in Chrift's chariot (Cant. iii. 9.) both thro' life and death. They have good and honourable attendants, a guard, even a guard of angel. These encamp about them in the time of their life: and surely will not leave chem in the day of their death. These happy miniftering fpirits are attendants on their Lord's bride, and will doubtless convey her safe home to his house. When friends in mournful mood stand by the saint's bedfide, waiting to see him draw his laft breath'; his soul is waired fór of holy ongels, to be carried by them into Abraham's hofom, Luke xvi. 22. The captain of the saint's fal. vation is the captain of this holy guard ;' he was their guide even unto death, and he will be their guide through it too. Plal xxiii. 4. * Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, " I will fear no evil; for thou art with me. They may without fear pass that river, being confident it fhill not overflow them; and may walk through that fire, being sure they shall not be burnt by it.
Death can do them no harm. It cannot even hurt their bodies: for tho? it separate the foul from the body, it cannot separate the body from the Lord Christ. Even death is to them but fcep in Jefus, i Theff. iv. 14. They continue members of Christ, though in a grave. Their duit is precious dail, laid up in a grave, as in their Lord's cabinet. They lie in a grave nello wing; as precious fruit laid up to be brought forth to him ai tlie resurrection. The husbaudman has corn in his barn, and corn lying in the ground: the latter is more precious to him than the former; because he looks. to get it returned with increase. Even so clie dead bodies of the saints are valued by their Saviour: they are sown is corruption, to be raised in incorruption; sown in dishonour, raised in glory, 1 Cor. xv. 42, 43. It cannot hurt their foals. It is with the loals of the saints at death, as with Paul and his company in their voyage, whereof ** are full of fears, and have little hope?” Answ. It must be owned, chat faints do not all die in one and the same manner; there is a diverlity among them, as well as among the wicked; yet the worst case of a dying faint is indeed a hopeful one. Some die triumphantly, in a full asurance of faith. 2 Tim. iv. 6. " The time of * my departure is at hand. ver. 7. I have fought a good fight, I " have finished my course, I have kept the faith. ver. 8. Hence“ forth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." They get a taste of the joys of heaven, while here on earth; and begin the songs of Zion, while yet in a strange land. Others die in a folid fiducial dependence on their Lord and Saviour: though they cannot sing triumphantly, yet they can and will say confidently, The Lord is their God. Though they cannot triumph over death, with old Simeon, having Chrilt in his arms, and saying, “Lord, now letreft " thou thy fervant depart in peace, according to thy word. For " mine eyes have seen thy salvation,” Luke ij 29, 30. yet they can say with dying Jacob, I have waited for thy salvation, Lord.” Gen. xlix. 18 His left hand is under their head to support them; though his right hand doch noc embrace them : they firmly believe, though they are not filled with joy in believing. They can plead the covenant, and hang by the promife, although their house is not so with God, as they could wish. But the dying-day of some faints may be like that day wentioned. Zech. xiv. 7. Not day, nor night. They may die under great doubts and fear-; letting as it were, in a cloud, and going to heaven in a mit. They may go mourning without the sun, and never put off iheir pirit of heaviness, till death frip them of it. They may be carried to heaven through the con. fines of hell; and may be purnued by the devouring lion, even to the very gates of the new Jerusalem; and may be compared to a Thip almost wrecked in light of the harbour, which yet gets safe into her port, i Cor. iii. 15. “If any man's works fhall be burnt, " he shall fuffer lofs : but he himself thall be saved, yet so as by
fire,” There is safety amidst their fears, but danger in the wicked's strongest confidence; and there is a blessed seed of gladness in their greatest forrows, “ Light is sown for the righteous, and 64 gladnels for the upright in heart," Plal. xcvii. u.
Now, saints are liable to such perplexity in their death, because, though they be Christians indeed, yet they are men of alike, paffions with others; and death is a frightful object in itfeif, whatever dress it appear in: the fiern countenance, with which it looks at mortals, can hardly miss of causing them ihrink. Moreover, the saints are of all men the most jealous of themselves. They think of eternity, and of a tribunal, more deeply than others do : with them, it is a more serious thing to die than the rest of mankind are aware of. They know the doc its of the heart, the fubtilities of depraved human nature, better than others do. And therefore they may have much ado to keep up hope on a death-bed : while others pass off quietly, like theep