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ment, Peaceableness, and that mutual Affection which is the known Character of the Followers of the Holy Jesus, driven and absconded ? alas! they have most of them put on their ætherial Vehicle, and abandon'd the reaking Steams, and smoaky Mists, of this dull and cloggy Clay, to fly among the cælestial Inhabitants; where they are better wellcom'd than among depraved Mortals. Oh! but do not quite leave us, O ye divine Graces; do not utterly forsake those Few who earnestly desire your grateful Company; tho' they are press'd down by Loads of Dirt, and the Weight of those Chains by which they are tyed to their earthly Tabernacles.
And grant, O Father of Mercies, that at last Christendom may become Christians indeed, and we may all let cur Lights shine before Men, that they may see our good Works, and glorify thee our Father, who art in Heaven. ' That every one that nameth the Name of Christ, may depart from all Iniquity. O that we may all understand in this our Day the Things that belong to our everlasting Peace! Amen, Amen.
November 3, 1689. Being the Day on which one Orton of our Cola
VII. Of Death. WHenfoever we think or write of any things
that concern this present Life, we do it with some Sense and Feeling of that about which we are conversant, because we have ourselves expe
rienced them, or the like to them. But when we reason and discourse of Death, we are about what we never have had any Taste of, nor any Idea of our Imagination to which we might apply ourselves to describe it in a right Manner. We indeed see, that after a hard Struggle with a Disease, at last the Corps grows stiff, cold, and fitter for a Grave than those Actions to which before it always was so serviceable ; but as to the immaterial Part the Soul, we have no Notices what is become of it, with what Pangs it parted with its old Companion the Body, what Faculties and Affections it retains, whither it is doom'd, or how it fares with it in that other State ; I say we know nothing of all this by Experience, till it is too late to describe it to others. The Almighty having, ix his unsearchable Wisdom and Providence, thought fit to hide from Men many of those Things which we have the greatest natural Desire of being acquainted withal; to teach us entirely to depend on his revealed Word and Will, to keep us humble and watchful, knowing that if we refuse Moses and the Prophets, Christ and his Apostles, neither would we be persuaded though one rose from the Dead, to tell us by his own late Experience what passes in that other World, how gracious God is to his Children, and how fevere towards incorrigible Offenders. 'Tis sufficient for us that we are sure we must all die, and we know not at all at what Hour our Lord will come to require an Account of our Stewardship; so that we know enough to make us watchful, and always prepared to meet the King of Terrors ; to make us
cautious how we venture on any Sin, in the very Commission whereof we may be snatch'd away to God's dreadful Tribunal. The brute Beasts, who have no Account to render, and so it matters not much when or how they die, do not at all fear or foresee their own Slaughter, though Hundreds of their Fellows be Nain before their Eyes. But, Man has Reason, by viewing other's Mortality certainly to presage his own; and so has all the Obligation imagineable to provide before-hand for what he knows will shortly come to pass. How inexcuseable are we then, miserable Mortals, having Spectacles of Death every Day almost before our Eyes, to put far from us the evil Day! to reckon upon so many Years to come! and thereby to forget a due Preparation till Death seizes, and we are just upon the Brink of Eternity! Oh that we would all wait till our Change come with Job; and, as Horace bids, Omnem crede Diem tibi diluxisse supremum ; that at last, after the Example of 5000 Years Mortality, we would live as those that know not but they may be in another World by the next Morning; that we would improve that Time which is lent us on purpose to work out our own Salvation in so warily, as believing it to be a Talent for which we must be accountable to him who lends it to us ; that we would, at length, be persuaded to labour hard for the few Minutes of this Life, in Hopes of winning a Crown of Immortality ; and not by our careless Behaviour, and customary Sins, provoke God to cut off that Thread of Life which he sees we abuse so much to his Dishonour, and
our own Ruin, We usually esteem it a great Unhappiness to be taken away in the Spring and Youth of our Age, before we have had sufficient Experience of the Folly of Sin, and Goodness of Religion ; when, I believe, 'tis often a Point of the greatest Mercy and Compassion in Almighty God, to cut off some Sinners at first; he foreseeing if he should let 'em to go on they would but augment the Number, and aggravate the Guilt of their Sins, and so plunge themselves deeper into that Lake which burns with Fire and Brimstone ; and inyolve themselves faster in those Flames which will never be quenched. So that it seems in Mercy to be ordered by God that very many Sins soon draw Death after them, and so take away the Sins and the Soul together ; left, if the Authors should be suffered to live long, they would more and more heat the Furnace of God's Wrath againft themselves, and so partake of a fadder Condemnation. For when Men have once abandon'd the Grace of God, and cast off the Suggestions of Conscience, and Mutions of God's Spirit, and given themfelves to Satan, to work all Uncleanness with Greediness, 'tis impossible to do them a greater Kind'ness than soon to take them away, and hurry them to a less Punishment, that they may avoid a greater. Though if this be the best of the wicked Man's Death, 'tis very sad and deplorable. How can any Sinner have a good Countenance, a chearful Look, or one Dram of Comfort and Pleasure, while he is wallowing in those Vices which only wait an Opportunity to turn him into Hell? How can one Smile fit on his Brow who must shortly wait and howl for ever? Much less can any thing yield
Comfort when Sickness seizes him, and the Messenger of the Judge of the World arrests him, and drags him out of this World, from all his old Companions, pleasant Cups, vain Jollity, and bruitish Pleasures, to give an Account of all those Sins which he has been heaping up many Years to his own Destruction. At this Hour what can help, what can any way comfort ? nothing on every Side but Sin, an offended God, an accusing Conscience, an aggravating Devil, and eternal Burnings! Oh the Madness of wretched Sinners! to Court those Lufts, and hug those Sins, which will at last reduce them to such a desperate and intolerable Condition, the Sadness and Horror whereof is unexpressible! But, on the other hand, if we look on the Death of a good and righteous Man, we shall perceive 'tis so far from a Curse, that 'tis his only Rescue out of the Miseries of this frail State, and the Beginning of never-failing Pleasures in the other. This is the Bridge that carries him over from Time to Eternity, from Sorrow to Joy, from Care and Fear, to Peace and Security, from a far Country to his Father's Houfe, from Earth to Heaven. O happy Messenger, may the good Man say when Death seizes him ; welcome thou Ambafsador of my Father, thou Finisher of Sadness, and Fountain of Happiness ! I willingly deliver up the uncertain Tenure of this Carcase into thy Hands, who, I hope, will one Day restore it me freed from those Ills and Maladies, those Achs and Pains, which I now endure by it. Welcome thou blessed Deliverer ! who, I trust will free me from the Clog