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which ended in his diffolution, he said, “ Let all who « come to inquire after me, be allowed to see me, I “ought to be an example of religion, dying as well as Fc living ; and Christ shall be magnified in my body, “ whether it be by life or by death.” “Let me die " the death of the righteous, and let my last end be “ like his.” But in order to this it will be necellary
III. To examine the condition upon which this privilege is suspended, and which is obviously here implied; “ For fo an entrance shall be ministered “ unto you abundantly, into the everlasting kingdom “ of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Chrift.” There are two things which it will be proper for us briefly to premise. First, There are cases in which Christians may be affected all through life by bodily causes, having fomething morbid and atrabilarious in their constitution, which subjects them to various changes and des pressions with which religion has no concern. There is no reasoning from these instances. Secondly, It is not for us to determine what God may do in particular cases; for he does not always deal with his people according to their desert; he is slow to anger and ready to forgive. Nevertheless he has given us a rule by which we are to walk ; and has wisely eltablished a connection between duty and privilege. And I am persuaded that there is not an individual in this affembly, who would not rationally and scripturally expect to find one course of life attended with a more favoured and happy death than another; nor can there be much dispute in determining the nature of
this course; this being one of those cases in which men are very nearly agreed. It would be well if their knowledge and their practice equally harmonized; but, alas ! what ignorance and infidelity cannot make us deny, sin and the world can make us neglect ! this course requires, that you should habituate your.. selves to familiar thoughts of Death. This will dislipate the terrors which arise from distance and imagination ; this will break the force of surprise ; this will turn a frightful precipice into a gentle slope. He who can say, “ I die daily,” is the most likely to die comfortably. It requires, that you should loosen your affections from the world. A gentle breeze, a flight effort will bring down the tree around which you have dug, and whose larger roots you have cut off. And the less powerfully you are attached to earth ly things, the more easy will be your separation from them. This is the man to die, whose mind advances with his time ; who feels himself a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth ; whose treasure is in heaven ; and who views dying as only going home. It requires, that you should obtain and preserve the evidences of pardon ; without these you cannot be fearless and tranquil in the near views of eternity, fince after death is the “ judgment.” It requires you to keep a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man. Is he in a condition to die, who has lived in the practice of some known sin, and in the omission of some known duty ? Is he in a condition to die, who has worn a mask of hypocrisy, which will now drop off and expose him in his true character ? Is he in a condition to die, who by artifice, unfair dealing, grinding
the faces of the poor, has amassed gain which will difhonour him if restored, and damn him if retained ? It requires us to live in the exercise of brotherly kindness and charity. Of all we do for Him, nothing pleases him more than this, this we know he will acknowledge in the day of judgment, and why not in the day of death ? « Blessed is he that consider“eth the poor : the Lord will deliver him in time of « trouble.” “ The Lord will strengthen him upon “ the bed of languishing : thou wilt make all his bed “ in his fickness.” Many are praying for him ; the widows and the fatherless cry, and their cry entereth “.the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” It requires an attention to religion in your families.' I pity that father, who will be surrounded when he dies with children, whose minds he never informed, whose dispofitions he never curbed, whose manners he never guarded; who sees one an infidel, another a profligate, and all irreligious. I know that you are not answerable for the conversion of your offspring, but you are responsible for the use of all proper means ; and if these have been neglected, you will plant your dying pillow with thorns; whereas if you have seriously and perfeveringly attended to them, your dying repose shall not be disturbed by want of success; but you shall be able to say, “ Although my house be not fo with God, “ yet hath he made with me an everlasting covenant, “ ordered in all things and sure'; for this is all my
salvation and all my desire, although he make it not “ to grow.":"; .
In a word, it requires you to live in the strenuous cultivation of practical and progressive religion. “ And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your “ faith, virtue ; and to virtue, knowledge ; and to s knowledge, temperance ; and to temperance, pa“ tience ; and to patience, godliness; and to godli6 ness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kind. 66 ness, charity. For if these things be in you, and « abound, they make you that ye shall neither be * barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord 6 Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is 56 blind, and cannot see far off, and hath forgotten “ that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore 56 the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your “ calling and election sure ; for if ye do these things " ye shall never fall : for so, an entrance shall be min
istered unto you abundantly, into the everlasting “ kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”.
My Brethren, If there be fuch differences among Christians in dying, we may be assured that there will be inequalities in heaven. If there be such diversities in the order of their admission, who can suppose they will all be upon a level as soon as they have entered? There are various ranks and degrees among our fel. low-servants and elder brethren, thrones and dominions, principalities and powers. The works of God on earth and in the visible heavens are distinguished by:a pleasing variety ; “ All Alesh is not the same. “ flesh : but there is one kind of flesh of men, anoth« er flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of “birds. There are also celestial bodies and bodies. “ terrestrial ; but the glory of the celestial is one, “ and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is "fone glory of the sun, and another glory of the
“ moon, and another glory of the stars ; for one star “ differeth from another star in glory. So also is the 6 resurrection of the dead." Let us therefore “ look to ourselves that we receive a full reward.”
It is impossible to close without asking you in the presence of God, What preparation have you made for a dying hour ? Surely you do not expect to live here always ; you know that you must die ; and if ever you think of it, you cannot help wishing to die in peace. But can you hope to conclude in comfort, a life paffed in guilt ? “ Be not deceived ; God is not “ mocked : for whatsoever a man foweth, that shall “ he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh, shall “ of the flesh reap corruption : but he that foweth to “ the Spirit, fhall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” You are not in a state to die even saFELY. You have only heard what you have to lose. To you no entrance will be administered.
But I address myself to Christians; and call upon you to think much of a dying hour. The care of dy. ing well, will influence you to live so. Value things according to the views you will have of them, when you look back from the borders of the grave. You fee the blessedness we speak of does not depend upon genius, learning, earthly riches, worldly distinctions. But some things have a favourable influence over a dying hour; value, leleet, pursue thefe. By fuch a death, regulate your plans of living. Be piously ambitious ; feek after fpiritual profperity ; be rich in faith; be filled with the fruits of righteousness; give all diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end. Happy is the man who is no longer “ in bon