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• SUPPORT IN DEATH. their fading satisfactions and dying pleasures; but these wil vanish when their poor possessors lie down to die; but thou art my Father and my God, and when my flesh and heart fail be the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. For ever! For ever! How gladsome is the prospect of peace and bliss, where peace and bliss must endure for ever! And is this your animating hope? Glorious hope! Compared with this the wealth of worlds is poverty. Perhaps your thoughts delighted rove over those scenes of never-fading bliss; but death still appears terrible. The dark valley seems so dark, that you dread descending into it, though it is the passage to eternal day.
$ 20. Think then of Jesus's power to save, and to cheer even the solemn hour of dissolution, with a hope so full of immortality, that death shall be swallowed up in victory. He can make pain, sickness, and death, the way of comfort, the way of life. Not only apostles and martyrs, but myriads unknown to the busy world, cheered by his presence, have passed the gulf of death in peace. I have known one who said, “ Blessed be the Lord! the sting of death is gone. I feel that the fear of death is taken away. I wish for death. I think every day, when it is night, I am a day nearer my blessed home.” I have heard another humble disciple of the Saviour say, “ The blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin, and cleansed me. I hope and trust Jesus Christ is my all. He is my supporter, and my all. The nearer I get to my journey's end, I hope the more comfort I find. The nearer I get, the more fear is gone." I have known a young follower of the holy Jesus, when about to quit this world, declare, that she would not on any account change places with her Christian friends; thinking her condition so much better than theirs, because her course was nearer ending. “ I am rejoiced," said she, “ when I think myself worse. I never thought I should be so comfortable on a sick-bed. I am very comfortable. The Lord is my support: I want no other. I know that religion is not a vain thing; I have found that it is not." I have heard another, when gospel consolation was mentioned to him, observe, “ It makes a death-bed pleasant:" and heard the same humble, unlettered disciple declare, “ I am fixed on Christ: he is all my dependence. I believe the Lord is waiting to receive me." These expressions, dropped from dying
DEATH THE COMING OF CHRIST. 363 lips, were not uttered by apostles or martyrs; but were the testimony of plain and humble Christians to the support their gracious Lord imparted. How precious such support! Cheered by it, what is death ? How its terrors dwindle into insignificance! Death thus cheered, is indeed the coming of the Saviour, to call his followers home. The Lord Jesus Christ gave this view of death. “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." How pleasing a representation of that solemn event! Death but the coming of a Saviour. Then what is it to die, but to lean a languishing head on his compassionate arm, and to commit a ransomed spirit to his faithful care? Could he personally appear to take his followers home, who that loves him would fear to die? Ah, could we look into the unseen world, and behold his dealings with his humble flock, what sacred peace and holy ecstasy would the view inspire ! Then we might hear him say to ministering angels, "Go fetch my follower ; let all her trials end. Let disease set the captive free. Let it dissolve the bonds of transient life; let the purchase of my blood ascend to me; and let my promise be fulfilled, Where I am shall ye be also." Yes, death to the blood-bought family of God is the coming of Jesus; and it is his presence that has enabled some to say, Happy, happy; and others to expire with, Victory! Victory! on their dying lips. One to breathe out her spirit, saying, Now I will go to my God; and another to declare, My Saviour has sent his messenger for me, and I wish to go to him.
My fellow-pilgrim, when you read of the supports that others have found, look to him who upheld their fainting heads, for your support in the last struggles of dissolving nature. Cleave to him, and he will not forget you in that awful hour; for he is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
“Come now, be his in ev'ry part!
BLESSEDNESS OF THE PIOUS DEAD.
And when the painful struggle's o'er,
Now raise your eyes, and look beyond the gloomy vale of death. The Scriptures teach you, that to the believer death is gain.mı Death is yours. That last enemy, through heavenly love, is constrained to become a friend. Death will end your labours and your dangers; will conclude your trials, and reward your toils; will bring the crown of victory, and satisfy your longing desires for immortality. Of those who sleep in Jesus it is said, “ Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” “I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which do man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God, which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made thein white in the blood of the Lamb."'p Of that abode it is said, “ And I saw no temple therein : for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."î “ And there shall be no more curse : and there shall be no night there: and they shall reign for ever and ever."? In the sweet prospect of this inheritance, a dying saint exclaimed, “ I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." Another, who loved his Master, said, “ How thankful am I for death, as it is the passage through which I go to the Lord and Giver of eternal life. These affictions are but for a moment, and then comes an eternal weight of glory."
$ 21. Come, survey that happier land. It is the blissful rest which God prepares for you, if you are his. It is the blest abode where saints and angels meet. It is the happy
(m) Phil. i. 21.
(0) Rev. xiv. 13.
(9) Rev. xxi. 22, 83. (T) Rev. xxii. 3-5.
(s) 2 Tim. iv, 6-8.
HEAVEN THEIR REST.
365 place where all the family of Jesus shall see him as he is; and in his presence spend eternal ages.
Think of that happy world as that which God prepares. There Jesus declares are many peaceful dwellings." He has said, “ In my Father's house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you." Those happy mansions God, your gracious Father, for his family prepares. This sweet, this cheering fact, his own word declares. It is said of Abraham, • He looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and Maker is God." Of others eminent for piety it is said, “ They desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city." What must that abode be, which a God of love provides for those he condescends to own! How rich must be the inheritance which God himself prepares! How immense the love, which leads him thus to take delight in the happiness of ransomed penitents !
In a passage, if possible, still more delightful, it is said, by the Lord Jesus himself, “ Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Here God appears the Father of the family that is bound for heaven; and a Father so interested in their happiness, that to give them a kingdom above is pleasure even to him. Gracious God! can it be that such is thy interest in the happiness of those poor penitents thy love has ransomed from eternal death! Oh what heights, and depths, and breadths, and lengths of love are thine! O what vileness is ours, if we do not love thee with all the grateful fervour of affectionate hearts !—Ah, let us repeat the charming words once more, “ It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." And will he give that kingdom as the completion of his amazing designs of love? And is he pleased to give you the kingdom? Ah, what must be that heaven, which such a God, which such a Father, gives, and delights in giving, to those he loves with an everlasting love! Surely we may exclaim, O vile ungrateful hearts, to love this heavenly friend no more! O vain deluded minds, to see one attraction in any thing beneath the sun, while such a kingdom waits our coming!
(1) John xiv. 2.
(0) Heb. xi. 13-16.
(u) Heb. xi. 10.
366 HEAVEN THE CHRISTIAN'S HAPPY HOME,
That gracious God, who thus blesses bis humble friends, will bless them in the abode his love prepares with all the comforts of his presence. Of them, when fixed there, his word asserts, “ Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters." “ Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain : for the former things are passed away."y
Oh, happy, happy they, who thus rest in the presence of their God! They have done with the dark services of time; and all they love, and all they wish, all that a vast eternity requires, to inake it one blest scene of unmingled joy, they find in God. Oh, happy end to life's short pilgrimage! 0 happy abode! Why does not every follower of the Lamb, with longing, ardent, restless desires, wait for that peaceful home?
$ 22. There too the disciple of Immanuel shall rest with him. That gracious friend has said, " If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour." " I go to prepare a place for you. I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also."a Happy state! There the declaration of his word will be fulfilled, “ So shall we ever be with the Lord." Sweet is this prospect to them that love their Lord. To be where their Redeemer is, is all the anxious heart can crave, and all the rising soul can wish. While wandering through the wilderness of time, the Christian may feel that much which is strange and solemn must open on the soul, when starting forward into vast eternity; but to be where the Saviour is, this is enough-this must be well.
(.r) Rev, vii. 15–17.
(a) John xiv. 2, 3
(y) Rev. xxi. 3, 4.
(3) John xü. 96. (ó) i Thess. iv. 17.