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Matth. xi. 11. 13. And by the aid and influences of his spirit we may be taught yet further to search into these hidden mines of grace, and bring forth new treasures of glory.
Reflection. Awake, O my soul, and bless the Lord with all thy powers, and give thanks with holy joy for the gospel of his Son Jesus. It is Jesus by his rising from the dead has left a divine light upon the gates of the grave, and scattered much of the dark ness that surrounded it. It is the gospel of Christ which casts a glory even upon the bed of death, and spreads a brightness upon the graves of the saints in the lively views of a great rising day. O blessed and surprising prospect of faith! O illustrious scenes of future vision and transport! When the Son of God shall bring forth to public view all his redeemed ones, who had been long hidden in night and dust, and shall present them all to God the Father in his own image, bright and holy, and unblemished, in the midst of all the splendors of the resurrection ! O blessed and joyful voice, when he shall say with divine pleasure, “Here am I, and the children which thou hast given me:" We have both passed through the grave, and I have made them all conquerors of death, and vested them with immortality according to thy divine commission! Thine they were, O Father, and thou hast given them into my hands, and behold I have brought them all safe to thy appointed mansions, and I present them before thee without spot or blemish.'
And many a parent of a pious household in that day, when they shall see their sons and their daugh
ters around them, all arrayed with the beams of the Son of righteousness, shall echo with holy joy to the voice of the blessed Jesus, “Lord, here am I, and the children which thou hast given me.” I was afraid, as Job once might be when his friends sug. gested this fear; I was afraid that my children had sinned against God, and be had cast them away for their transgression : But I am now convinced, when he seized them from my sight, he only took them out of the way of temptation and danger, and concealed them for a season in his safe hiding-place: I mourned in the day-time for a lost son or a lost daughter, and in the night my couch was bedewed with my tears: I was scared with midnight dreams on their account, and the visions of the grave terrified me because my children were there: I gave up myself to sorrow for fear of the displeasure of my God both against them and against me: But how unreasona. ble were these sorrows ? How groundless were my fears? How gloriously am I disappointed this blessed morning? I see my dear offspring called out of that long retreat where God had concealed them, and they arise to meet the divine call. I hear them an. swering with joy to the happy summons. My eyes behold them risen in the image of my God and their God: they are near me, they stand with me at the right hand of the Judge; now shall we rejoice together in the sentence of eternal blessedness from the lips of my Lord and their Lord, my Redeemer and their Redeemer.' Amen.
Among my papers I have found a speech spoken at a
grave, which I transcribed almost fifty years ago, and which deserves to be saved from perishing. It was pronounced many years before at the funeral of a pious person, by a minister there present, supposed to be the Rev. Mr. Peter Sterry; and the subject of it being suited to this discourse, I thought it not inproper to preserve it bere.
“ CHRISTIAN friends, though sin be entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned; yet it seems
, not wholly suitable to our Christian hope, to stand by and see the grave with open mouth take in, and swallow down any part of a precious saint, and not bring some testimony against the devourer. And yet that our witness may be in righteousness, we must first own, acknowledge, and accept of that good and serviceableness that is in it.
“ For through the death and resurrection of our dear Redeemer, death and the grave are become sweetened to us, and sanctified for us : So that as death is but a sleep, the grave through his lying down in it and rising again, is become as a bed of repose to them that are in him, and a safe and quiet
, hiding-place for his saints till the resurrection.
“ And in this respect we do for ourselves, and for this our dearly beloved in the Lord, accept of thee, O grave, and readily deliver up her body to thee; it is a body that hath been weakened and wearied with long affliction and anguish, we freely give it in. to thee ; receive it, and let it have in thee a quiet rest from all its labours; for thus we read it written of thee, there the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary be at rest.
“ Besides, it is, O grave, a body that hath been sweetly embalmed by a virtuous, pious, peaceable conversation, by several inward openings and outpourings of the spirit of life, by much patience and meekness in strong trials and afflictions : Receive it, and let it enjoy thee, what was once deeply impressed on her awn heart, and in a due season written out with her own hand, a sabbath in the grave : for thus also we find it recorded of our Lord and her Lord, that enjoyed the rest of his last sabbath in the grave.
“But we know thee, O grave, to be also a de. vourer, and yet we can freely deliver up the body into thee.
" There was in it a contracted corruptibility, dishonour and weakness; take them as thy proper prey, they belong to thee, and we would not with-hold them from thee: Freely swallow them up for ever, that they may appear no more.
“Yet know, O grave, there is in the body, consi. dered as once united to such a soul, a divine relation to the Lord of life ; and this thou must not, thou canst not dissolve or destroy. But know, and even before thee, and over thee be it spoken, that there is a season hastening wherein we shall expect it again from thee in incorruption, honour and power.
“ We now sow it into thee in dishonour, but expect it again returned from thee in glory; we now sow it
into thee in weakness, we expect it again in power; we now sow it into thee a natural body, we look for it again from thee a spiritual body.
6 And when thou hast fulfilled that end for which the Prince of life, who took thee captive, made thee to serve, then shalt thou who hast devoured be thyself also swallowed up; for thus it is written of thee, O death, I will be thy plague, O grave, I will be thy destruction. And then we shall sing over thee what also is written of thee, O death, where is now thy sting? O grave, where is now thy victory? Amen.”
Note. A line or two is altered in this speech, to suit it more to the understanding and the sense of the present age.
END OF VOLUME I.