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thereby the advantage of your fellow-labourers, who were at work before you in the vineyard. God, in the course of his providences, hides Come of his faints early in the grave, that they may be taken away from the evil to come. An early removal out of this world prevents much sin and mifery: and they have no ground of complaint, who get the residue of their years in Inamanuel's land. Surely thou fhalt live as long as thou hast work cut out for thee, by the great Master, to be done for him in this world; and when that is at an end, it is high time to be gone.
CASE VIII. " I am afraid of sudden death." ANSW. Thou may indeed die fo. Good Eli died suddenly, Sam. iv, 18. Yet death found him watching, ver. 12. “ Watch therefore, for ye know « not what hour the Lord doth come,” Matth. xxiv. 42. But be not afraid, it is an unexpreflible comfort, that death, come when it will, can never catch thee out of Christ; and therefore can never feize thee, as a jailor, to hurry thee into the prifon of hell. Sudden death may haften and facilitate thy paffage to heaven, but can do thee no prejudice.
CASE JX. “ I am afraid it may be my lot to die wanting the “ exercise of reason.” ANSW. I make no. question but a child of God, a true Christian, may die in this cafe. But what harm? There is no hazard in it, as to his eternal state: 'a disease, at death, may divest him of his reason, but not of his religion. When a man going a long voyage, has put his affairs in order, and put all his goods aboard; he hiin self may be carried aboard the ship sleeping: all is safe with him, although he knows not where he is, till he awaken in the thip. Even fo the godly man, who dies in this case, may die uncomfortably, but not anfofely. Case last.
“ I am naturally timorous, and the very thoughts of “ death are terrible to me.” Answ. The less you think on death, the thoughts of it will be the more frightful: but make it familiar to you by frequent ineditations upon it, and you may thereby allay your fears. Look at the white and bright side of the cloud: take faith's view of the city that hath foundations: fo thall you see hope in your death. Be duly affected with the body of sin and death, and frequent interruptions of your communion with God, and with the glory which dwells on the other side death: this will contribute much to remove flavish fear.
It is pity saints should be so fond of life as they often are : they ought always to be in good terms with death. When matters are duly considered, it might well be expected every child of God, every regenerate man, should generously profess concerning this life, what Joh did, chap, vii. 16. I lothe it, I would not live always. In order to gain their hearts to this desirable temper, I offer the following addicional considerations.
First, Consider the sinfulness that atterds life in this world. While ye live here, ye lin, and see others finning. Ye breathe infectious air. Ye live in a peft house. Is it at all strange to loche such a life? (1.) Your own pilgrim's fores are running on you. Doch not the sin of your nature make you groan daily? Are you noc sensible, that though the cure be begun, it is yet far from being perfected? Has not the leprosy got into the walls of the house, which cannot be removed without pulling it dowo? Is not your nature lo vitiate, that no less than the feparation of the foul from the body can root out the disease? Have you not your fores with qut, as well as your fickness within? Do ye not leave marks of your pollution, on whatsoever passes through your hands ? Are not all your actions tainted and blemished with defects and imperfections? Who else then should be much in love with life, but such whosc sickness is their health, and who glory in their fame? (2.) The loathsome fores of others are always before your eyes, go where you will. The follies and wickedness or inen are every where conspicuous, and make but an unpleasant scene. The finful worid is but an unsightly company, a disagreeable croud, in which the most loathsome are the most numerous. (3.) Are not your own fores ofttimes breaking out again, after healing? Frequent relapfes may well cause us remit of our fondness for this life. To be ever itruggling, and anon falling into the mire again, makes weary work. Do ye never wild for cold death, thereby effe&ually to cool the heat of these lusts, which so often take fire again; even after a flood of godly forrow bas gone over them? (4:) Do not ye fometimes infect others, and others infect you? There is no fociety in the world, in which every member of it doth not sometimes lay a stumblingblock before the rest. The best carry about with chem the tinder of a corrupt nature, which they cannot be rid of while they live, and which ie liable to be kindled at all times, and in all places; yea, they are apt to inflame others, and become the occasions of linning. Certainly these things are apt to imbitter this lite to the faints.
Secondly, Consider the misery and trouble that attend it. Reft is delirable, but it is not to be found on this side of the grave, Worldly troubles attend all men in this life. This world is a fea of trouble, where one wave rolls upon another. They, who fancy themselves beyond the reach of trouble, are mistaken: no state, no stage of "life, is exempted from it. The crowned head is furrounded with thorny cares. Honour many times paves the way to deep disgrace: riches, for the most part, are kept to the hurt of the owners. The fairelt role wants not prickles; and the heaviest cross is sometimes found wrapt up in the greatest earthly comfort. Spiritual troubles attend the faints in this life. They are like travellers in a cloudy night, in which the moon sometimes breaks out from under one cloud, but quickly hides her head again under another: no wonder they long to be at their journey's end. The sudden alterations the best frame of spirit is liable to, the perplexing doubts, confounding fears, short-liv'd joys, and long-running forrows, which have
a certain affinity with the present life, must needs create in the saints a desire to be with Christ, which is best of all."
Lastly, Consider the great imperfections attending this life. While the foul is lodged in this cottage of clay, the necessities of the body are many; it is always craving. The mud-walls must be repaired and patched up daily, till the clay-cottage fall down for good and all. Eating, drinking, sleeping, and the like, are, in themselves, but mean employments for a rational creature; and will be reputed such by the heaven-born soul. They are badges of imperfection, and, as such, unpleasant to the mind, atpiring unto that life and immortality, which is brought to light through the gospel: and would be very grievous, if this state of things were of long con. tinuance. Doth not the gracious foul often-find itself yoked with the body, as with a companion in travel, unable to keep pace with it? When the spirit is willing, the fleth is weak. When the foul would mount upward, the body is as a clog upon it, and as a stone tied to the foot of a bird attempting to fly. The truth is, O believer! thy soul in this body is, at beit, but like a diamond in a ring, where much of it is obscured: it is far funk in the vile clay, till relieved by death.
I conclude this subject with a few directions how to prepare for death, so as we may die comfortably. I speak not here of habitual preparation for death, which a true Chriftian, in virtue of his gracious state, never wants, from the time heis born again and united te Chrift; but of actual preparation or readiness in respect of his circumstantiate case, frame, and difpofition of mind and spirit; the want of which makes even a saint very unfit to die.
First, Let it be your constant care to keep a clean conscience, a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward man, Aasxxiv. 17. Beware of a standing controversy betwixt God and you, on the account of fonie iniquity regarded in the heart. When an honest man is about to leave his country, and not to return, he settles adcompts with those he had dealings with, and lays down methods for paying his debts timeously; left he be reckoned a bankrupt, and be attacked by an officer, when he is going off. Guilt lying on the conscience is a fountain of fears; and will readily fting severely, when death ftares the criminal in the face. Hence it is, that many, even of God's children, when a dying, are made to with paffionately, and delire eagerly that they may live to do, what they ought to have done, before that time. Wherefore, walk closely with God, be diligent, ftrict and exact in your courie; beware of a loole, careless, and irregular conversation: as ye would not lay up for yourselves, anguis and bitterness of spirit, in a dying hour. And because, through the infirmity cleaving to us, in our present state of imperfection, in many things we offend all, renew your repentance daily, and be ever washing in the Redecmer's blood. As long as ye are in the world, ye will need to wash your feet, John xiii. 10.
that is, to make application to the blood of Christ, aņew, for purging your consciences from the guilt of daily miscarriages. Let death find you at the fountain; and if so, it will find you ready to answer its call.
Secondly, Be always watchful, waiting for your change, “Like
unro men that wait for their Lord, that when he cometh and “ kpocketh, they may open unto him immediately,” Luke xxi. 36. Beware of Numbering and peeping, while the bridegroom tarries. To be awakened out of fpirirual flumber, by a furprizing call to pass into a another world, is a very frightful thing: but he who is daily for the coming of his Lord, shall comfortably receive the grim messenger, while he beholds him ushering in Him, of whom he may confidently say, This is my God, and I have waited for him. The way to die comfortable, is to die daily. Be often essaying (as it were) to die. Bring yourselves familiarly acquainted with death, by making many vifits to the grave, in serious medications upon it. This was Job's practice, chap. xvii. 13, 14. I bave made my bed in the darkness. Go thou, and do likewise; and when death comes, thou Shalt have nothing ado but to ly down. - I have said to corruption, thou art my father; to the worm, thou art my mother and my sister.” Do thou say fo too; and thou wilt be the fitter to go home to their house. Be frequently reflecting upon your conduct, and considering what course of life.you wish to be found in when death arrests you: and act accordingly. When you do the duties of your station in life, or are employed in acts of worship, think with yourselves, tbat, it may be, this is the last oppertunity; and therefore act as if you was never to do more of that kind. When you ly down at night, compose your spirits as if you was not to awake, till the heavens be no more. And when you awake in the morning, consider that new day as your laft; and live accordingly. Surely that night cometh, of which you will never see the morning; or that morning, of which you will never see the night. But which of your mornings or nights, will be luch, you know not.
Thirdly, Employ yourselves much in weaning your bearts from the world. The man who is making ready to go abroad, busies himself in taking iềave of his friends. Let the mantle of earthly enjoyments hang loose about you, that it may be easily dropt, when death comes to carry you away into another world. Moderate your affections towards your lawful comforts of life: and let not your hearts be too much taken with them. * The traveller acts un. wisely, who suffers himself to be so allured with che conveniencies of the inn where he lodgeth, as to make his necessary departure from it grievous. Feed with fear, and walk thro' the world as pilgrims and trangers. Likeas, when the corn is forsaking the ground, it is ready for the sickle: when the fruit is ripe, it falls off che tree easily : fo, when a Christian's heart is truly weaned from the world, he is prepared for death, and it will be the more
easy easy to him. A heart disengaged from the world is an heavenly one: and then are we seady for hcaven, when our heart is there before us, March. vi. 21.
Fourthly, Be diligent in gathering and laying up evidences of your title to heaven, for your support and comfort at the hour of death. The negled hereof mars the joy and consolation which fome Chrifrians might otherwise have at their death. Wherefore examine yourselves frequently, as to your fpiritual state; that evidences, which ly hid and unobserved, may be brought to light and taken notice of. And if you would manage this work successfully, make folemn serious work of it. Ser apart some time for it. And, after earnest prayer to God, through Jesus Christ, for the enlightning influences of the Holy Spirit, whereby ye may be enabled to understand his own word, to discern his own work in your souls; litt yourselves before the tribunal of your consciences, that ye may judge yourselves in this weighty matter.
And in the first place, Let the marks of a regenerate fare be fixed, from the Lord's word: and have recourse to fome parricuJar text for that purpose; such as Prov. viii. 17. “ I love them that love me.” Compare Luke xiv. 26. “ If any inan come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Psal. cxix. 6. “ Then shall I not be afhamed, when I have respect “ unto all thy commandments. Pfal. xviii. 23. I was also uprighe “ before him: and I kept myself from mine iniquity.” Compare Rom. vii. 22, 23. “ For I delight in the law of God, after the in. "" ward man: but I see another law in my members warring against “ the law of my mind, &c. 1 John iii. 3. And every man that hach “ this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure, Matin.
3. Bieffed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of “ heaven. Phil. iii. 3. For we are the circumcision which worship for ferve) God in the Ipirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” The sum of the evidence arising from thefe texts, lies here. A real Christian is one who loves God for himself, as well as for his benefits; and that with a supreme love, above all perfons and all things: he has an awful and impartial regard to God's commands: he opposeth and wrestlech against thar fin, which of all others moft easily besets him: he approveth and loveth the holy law, even in that very point, wherein it strikes against his moft beloved luft: his hope of heaven engageth him in the study of universal holiness; in the which he aims at perfection, though he cannot reach it in this life: he serves the Lord, not only in acts of worship, but in the whole of his converlation; and as to both, is fpiritual in the principle, motives, aims, and ends of his service : yet he fees nothing in himself to trust to before the Lord: Christ and his fulness is the stay of his soul; and his confidence is cut off from all that is nos Christ, or in Christ, in point