« FöregåendeFortsätt »
summation of which happiness will consist in the pure vision and enjoyment of God himself; who, if he is so good, " to those whose hearts are perfect to"wards him on this earth, that his eyes run to and "fro, to make himself strong for them; if he with"holds no good thing from those that love him in this "world; if he openeth his hand, and satisfieth the "desire of every thing that liveth," even where Sin is mixed with our best services; how great will be the happiness to see and feel His Goodness, when we are exalted into His Presence; to taste of His Love flowing freely, when there is no Sin to come between our Souls and His gracious Countenance—" When "we are brought fully to understand and taste the "depth of the Riches, both of His Wisdom and "Knowledge, and also of His Goodness and long"Suffering; who brought us out of the mire and clay "of our Sins; who set our feet upon the Rock of His "Promises; and ordered our Goings, and comforted "us on our Way, until he brought us into His own "holy Presence?"
My Brethren, I now come to a conclusion of this important subject, with an affectionate sense of the kind attention with which you have favoured me, through a series of discourses, leading to firm consolation, amidst all the Changes and Chances of this mortal life, which the Apostle holds forth to us in the last verse of our luminous Text.
Let me, then, exhort you, to dwell often in the meditations of those Joys, which I have endeavoured to describe; and whilst our eyes are thus lifted towards Heaven and Glory, all that would fetter and bind us down to the vain enjoyment of this world will disappear—Let us bear our view constantly forward to that time when, washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb, we Shall stand before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his Temple; when our happiness shall be complete and without end; " when we shall neither Hunger nor Thirst any more; neither shall the Sun light on us nor any Heat; for the Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne, shall Feed us, and shall Conduct us to living fountains of Waters, and God shall wipe all Tears from our Eyes"—
With the prospect, and sure hope of those Joys before us, may we not each of us for himself say, even in this world—
"What aileth thee, O my soul, that thou art "Fear-strucken and astonished, at the thoughts of "leaving this Earth, and of being manumitted into "perpetual Bliss—Hast thou ever seen a Prisoner, "when the Jail gates were unlocked, who would be "content to sit in his Fetters, rather than be enfran"chised into Freedom? Hast thou ever seen a ma"riner, approaching the Shore amidst Tempest and "Storms, who would launch forth again into the "perilous Main, rather than strike sail, and joyfully "enter into a safe Harbour?"
Thus may we commune with ourselves, even in this world. But supposing ourselves safely translated from its narrow precincts, and caught up to be forever with the Lord; how triumphantly will our gratulations and address then ruu?
Hast thou, O my soul, escaped the dangerous Trials, the vain Pursuits, the vexations and uncertainties of a mortal and suffering Life? Hast thou now gained a refuge from the storm, a place of everlasting rest? Hast thou obtained heavenly Peace and endless Pleasure? Hast thou acquired a Kingdom and Dominion and a Crown of Life? Art thou clothed with the white Robes of heavenly Righteousness? Art thou, that once hadst fallen so low, now advanced to Glory, honour and Immortality, amidst the Angels of Heaven? Does God, the living God, with love unutterable, now smile upon thee? Has He called thee his Child, and spoken eternal Peace, saying, "well done good "and faithful servant, enter thou into the Joy of thy "Lord?" And is this state of happiness secure forever? Shall the love between thee and thy God never decay, but grow and spread and increase; and, when millions of ages are past away, be still new and increase forever?---Surely thou hast made a happy choice, O my soul, to have preferred this weight of glory to all the vanities of a sinful and transitory life! Glory therefore be to thee, O Father, blessed Saviour and holy Spirit, for enabling me to make this happy choice!
We have, at length, by the help of Divine Revelation, arrived at the main object of our Searches; the source of Comfort, under whatever may befall us, sojourners through Time, and as candidates for Eternity.
In treating of the awful mysteries, through which our text has led us, and especially what relates to future events, and the changes and revolutions in the destiny of man, which are yet to come, we may have erred in part; [and we can never be secure against Error, in attempting the explanation of those mysteries which Providence has been pleased to open to us, as yet only in part; and which will never be fully understood, till unveiled to us by the light, to which we shall be admitted in the world to come.
"In the mean time, let us faithfully, and with *' good conscience, according to our best understand"ing, strive to retain the form of sound words and "doctrine, concerning the immortality of the soul; "the resurrection of the dead, a judgment to come, "the rewards and punishments of a future life, over "which Christ's Throne will be established in righ"teousness, and his kingdom and dominion be for"ever."
The Christian Religion has no fruits more precious than those which sweeten our cup of affliction in Life, exhilarate us to combat Death, and assure our hopes of a better world. Natural Religion, and all the other religions which have been professed among men, could go but a short way even in teaching them how to live; but in teaching them how to die, there remained a dismal and dreadful blank. Before the Christian Revelation, Death was only a leap into the dark, a wrench from the precincts of Day, at which the astonished Soul, shuddered and recoiled. But now the Gospel lifts our eye to immortal scenes. It unlocks Eternity before us. It shews us a reconciled God, and Jesus the Mediator seated on his right hand. It teaches, that through his merits, the Just shall live forever, passing from one degree of glory to another, and entering still more deeply into the
Vol. i. B b
beatific vision and enjoyment of God the Father, as their faculties are more and more enlarged and expanded.
Under the Power and Efficacy of this Religion, the feeblest among true Christians will excel in Courage and Philosophy even the boasted Socrates! When all around him is Mourning and Weeping, and Sorrow and Wringing of Hands, the dying Christian, on whom Heaven and Glory begin to shine, will be superlatively raised above all Mortal Weakness, and will comfort even his comforters.1
With these Reflections, and on this Subject of Comfort in Death, I conclude with a grand description of the great and pious Dr. Young—
"As some tall Tower, or lofty Mountain's Brow,
"Detains the Sun illustrious from their height;
"While rising Vapours and descending Shades,
"With Damps and Darkness, drown the spacious Vale:
"Undampt by Doubt, undarken'd by Despair—
"The Good Man, dying, rears his Head, august,
M At that black Hour, which general Horror spreads
"On the low level of th' inglorious Throng.
"Sweet Peace and heavenly Hope and humble Joy,
"Divinely beam on his exalted Soul;
"Destruction gild, and crown him for the skies,
"With incommunicable lustre bright!
And now, O blessed God! Father, Son and Holy Ghost, guide and assist us in our Preparations for this Celestial Bliss; and be our Rock and Salvation through all the Scenes we have to pass towards its attainment. Amen!