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before us, it is almost impossible, unless we have the fear of God, that we should not be tormented by the fear of death. This may be said of the boldest, but great courage is as rare as any

other great virtue; the greater part of mankind do not possess it. Most of us are afraid often ; our usual absence of fear arises only from the absence of danger. We are afraid of sickness when we really think that it threatens us, because we are afraid of death; and any thing else which should bring death equally near to us, would be regarded with equal terror.

And indeed this is very reasonable, if we do not fear God; for what courage, or what strength, or what wisdom can guide and support us in the hour of death and of judgment? We are going to that state in which we have no friends and where we have laid up no treasure. We have no friends, because even if many of our earthly friends have died before us, yet we know full well that they cannot help us ; either they have found one friend who is no friend to us, or else they are as destitute of friends as we are. In the darkness of that unknown world, the greater light does not dim the less, but it makes them visible. He who beholds Christ in death, beholds with Him also an infinite multitude of friends: the sky is as it were thick set with stars, one star differing from another star in glory, but all glorious ; first the holy angels, then God's earthly children, Christ's redeemed who have gone before us. But if the greater light be hidden, the lesser lights vanish also; and not the faintest glimmer of the smallest star relieves the infinite void. We need not carry forward our thoughts to the judgment; death itself with its awful darkness and loneliness is appalling enough to us, if we have not learned to fear Christ.

But fearing Him we lack nothing, nothing in earth or heaven, in life or in death, in time or in eternity. That one most saving and most holy fear, the dread of His displeasure, the dread of not having Him for our friend and our Saviour, frees us of necessity from all fear besides. Nothing shall in anywise hurt us; for we are then Christ's. And the fear of Christ is but another expression for the fear of sin. If we would dread that as the great danger, and shun temptation to it as the true infection, the infection which we really do give to one another, without any exaggeration of foolish fear; then we shall taste, without unwillingness or restraint, how gracious God is to us. We do each other far more harm when we are well than when we are sick; our laughter and our health and our enjoyment have in them a far surer and far wider spreading contagion than our weakness and our bodily disease. Fear this real infection—use precautions against it; carry about you, and never be for an instant without them, the drugs or scents which will preserve you from it.

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You are moving about amidst deadly sickness, the touch and the breath of infection are daily upon you; each has the disease in him, adding fresh poison to that of his neighbour. Yet those who would fly with the utmost cowardice from the fancied danger of the presence of bodily disease, even in the same neighbourhood, are bold and careless in the very midst of spiritual sickness; they infect and are infected daily. For this nevertheless there is a true security, not to be obtained by cowardice but by faith; the security of trusting that the Lord is gracious; that blessed are they who trust in Him, and that they who fear Him lack nothing.

June 6, 1841.




Psalu cxix. v. 176 or last.

I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost ; O seek thy servant,

for I do not forget thy commandments.

ONCE more, after a separation of unusual length, we are here assembled; not all of us indeed, nor the largest part of our numbers, but yet we here form a congregation ; the church in our house, if I may use such an expression, is come again into existence, bringing with it to all its members their various duties. And if we remember what cause has kept us apart so much longer than usual, and what circumstances of most unwonted solemnity marked or followed the time of our last dispersion, we shall all see that never did it more become us to make haste as it were to offer ourselves before the Lord; to utter our confessions, our prayers,

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and our vows, that at once and without any delay we may be His church, not in word only but in power, assembled into one congregation to promote His glory, and the salvation of our own souls.

Well therefore do the closing words of that Psalm which was read this afternoon in our service, become us all to use in the deepest earnest this day. They are that mixture of confession, of entreaty, of holy resolution, which should meet in our prayers. “I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost,” is the confession; “O seek thy servant,” is the entreaty; “I do not forget thy commandments,” is the penitent and holy resolution. Without some such resolution either conceived or expressed, there could indeed be no acceptable because no true prayer. To say, “I have gone

, astray like a sheep that is lost,” would be mere mockery, nay it would be like a horrible glorying in sin, if there was not at the same time in the heart the good purpose, “I do not forget thy commandments.” But because that good purpose will not of itself prevail, but we should ever have to repeat in spite of it our confession of having gone astray like a sheep that is lost, therefore the entreaty for help is well interposed between them, and we say and must say ever, “O seek thy servant.” May thy help change my weak purpose into a strong and victorious resolution, that I may


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