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1. - Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord;” since they have encouragement to commit their departing spirits to God, and such assurance that he will receive them. It is a privilege to be permitted to lodge our souls with God now, when innumerable evils compass is about, and we are called to wrestle, not only with flesh and blood, but with " principalities and powers, and spiritual wickednesses in high places !” to have leave to say of the Lord, " He is my refuge and my fortress; my God; in him will I trust;"—to be permitted to make the Most High our habitation; and to shelter ourselves from impending storms in the chambers of the divine perfections and promises :-it is indeed a privilege, which we ought to be more thankful for than we
But to have the same encouragement and the same assurance of a welcome reception and safe custody of our spirits, when they are forced to quit their present habitations, and launch out into an unknown, at least untried, state ;-amidst all the desolations death makes among our outward comforts, to be freed from all uneasy and distressing concern for our souls;- to know where to secure them beyond the reach of death or danger !-- to have a secret intimation, that when they are sent from the body they shall be present with the Lord;” that as soon as they depart, they shall be " with Christ, which is far better:"_this is a privilege indeed. No wonder that such are not afraid of dying: no wonder we so often see a sinile upon the countenance of dying saints. : “ What should I be afraid of?" say they : “ death can only kill the
body, and crumble it into atoms: I have no further occasion for it just now; I have a protector, a friend, in heaven, and into his hand I commit my spirit."
Who doth not secretly wish, “ Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his?" But this suggests another head of improvement;
Acquaint now thyself with God, and be at peace.” For what a deplorable case would you be in,
should go out of the world committing your spirits into Godis hand, and when you expected a free adınission into heaven, find the door shut, and after loud and repeated knocking, to be sent away with an “I know you not whence you are !” How mortifying ! how fatal! Do not, therefore, depend upon the transactions of a death-bed, as if your going off with a “ Lord, have mercy upon me,” in your mouths, would be a sufficient passport to heaven. Depend upon it this will not do. God will not receive such presumptuous and unready spirits. Now, if you will commit your souls to him, your sins, numerous and heinous as they are, shall not hinder his acceptance of them. He will receive you graciously, and heal your backslidings, and love you freely. He will sprinkle clean water upon you, and make you clean from all your filthiness; and from all your idols he will cleanse you ; and he will pour out his Spirit upon you, and cause you to walk in his statutes ; and ye shall keep his judgments, and do them. And then, when you come to commit your spirits to him at death, you need not fear a repulse: he will readily own them for his; put them among his jewels; and give you an
them that are sanctified. But if you like not to retain God in your knowledge, and say to the Almighty, “ Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways;"--jf you will have nothing to do with God as long as you can possibly live without him, what can you expect, but that, when fear cometh as a desolation, and destruction as a whirlwind, and distress and anguish come upon you, and you beseech him again and again to receive your spirits, he will reject your petitions with disdain, and hurl you into outer and everlasting darkness ? Consider this, ye that for
- Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.”
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."
To conclude. Let us rejoice in the prospect, and long for the approach, of that glorious day, when the grave shall restore the bodies that are committed to it, and God will restore the spirits that are committed to him, and body and spirit, being once more united, and each of them freed from their respective imperfections, “ shall be caught up together in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” “ Behold, I shew you a mystery :
we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound; and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this
mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory ? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law ; but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.”
AT THE FUNERAL OF MISS JANE LAKE ;
WHO DIED OCT., 1772, AGED TWENTY-FOUR.
PSALM XVI. 11.
If our thoughts had not been directed towards heaven before, the death of our young friend would have led them thither. It had been our delightful employment for several Sabbaths past, to contemplate the perfection and perpetuity of the heavenly blessedness. The greatest part of it she heard, either here or at home; and it was but a very, very few minutes before the pains of death came upon her, that she expressed great satisfaction in the thoughts of hearing the remainder that afternoon. But O how much better was she entertained ! Only a few hours, and she knew-it were a poor thing to say she knew more than any of us-Only a few hours, and she saw God 6 face to face," and knew “ even as also she was known.”
In those sermons, which she wished so much to hear, you remember we attempted to guess a little at some particulars of the pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore. We had before spoken of the pleasure it must give to be admitted into the immediate presence of God ; to
“ behold with open face the glory of the Lord;” and how