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chosen the words of St. Paul, which have been just read as our text; a choice which I have the rather made, as the whole volumes of inspiration contain no words more evangelically comfortable, or suitable to our present situation; and, as I trust, the same words, and the reflexions thereon arising, which, through God's grace, I have found experimentally efficacious to pour balm into my own wounds, while yet fresh and bleeding, will, through the same grace, be acceptable and effectual among you, in the like circumstarfces!
The text naturally divides itself into the following heads; each of which will afford subject-matter for at least one discourse
1st Considerations on death; the nature and cause of his awful terrors; and how, through divine assistance, to combat and conquer them; to allay our sorrows for our departed friends, and prepare for our own departure.
2d. The certainty of a resurrection of the body from the grave; shewing that death is but a temporary evil; and that our sorrow should not be without hope, as others who have no belief in the resurrection of the dead.
3d. The certainty of a future judgment, and the award of an eternity of happiness to those who
sleep in the Lord, or in the faith of the Gospel
"For them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with "Him, and so we shall be forever with the Lord!"
4th. That, from all these considerations, the devout Christian may not only overcome the fear of death in himself, but derive an abundant source of conso
lation for the death of others—according to our apostle, who,in the sweetest accents of evangelical sympathy and love, in the last verse of our text—calls us to "comfort one another with the hopes, after Death, "and a Resurrection, of being forever with the "Lord!"
I proceed now to the first head of discourse as pointed out in the text, namely—" Considerations on "death, and how, through divine assistance, to sub"due and overcome his mighty terrors"—and Oh! Thou almighty fountain of all wisdom and grace, and Heavenly fortitude, aid me with thy divine spirit, that the great and awful subjects, which I am to handle, may not suffer through my feeble endeavours; but give me, for the sake of Jesus and his Gospel, to follow, with clear and unembarassed view, the steps and arguments of thy divinely enlightened apostle, who is every where superlatively instructive and sublime, -but especially when he opens to us the prospects of a future world! Lo! he stands, though with his feet on earth, his eye stedfast on Heaven, considering death, not as a tyrant sent to disturb our peace; but as a messenger of God, employed to " dissolve our earthly "house of this tabernacle that we may be clothed "upon with our house, which is from Heaven."—
"For we know," says he, in another place*, "that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dis"solved, we have a building of God, an house not "made with hands, eternal in the Heavens? For "in this [earthly] house we groan, earnestly desir
• 2 Cor. V. 1. 2. VOL. I. X
M ing to be clothed upon wkh our boose which *4 is from Hearten."
Brethren! when I read this passage, from cor blessed apostle, in conjunction m hh our text, as well as many others expressive of the true spirit o€t~mi-. the Christianity; I am doubtful 'as saith aa dd commentator) whether most to admire the exalted temper of the apostles and first followers of Christ: or to deplore the low and desponding spirit cf the modem professors of Christianity—so heavenly and magnanimous were the former! so earthly and abject the latter! The former were always raising their affections to things above—to their " bouse not made with hands, «4 eternal in the Heavens;" the latter too often immuring themselves deeper and still deeper within the waSs of their " earthly house of this tabernacle!"
And whence comes this difference be*Aveen the truly primitive and modern spirit of professing Christians 'i Whence, brethren, but from what the apostle suggests? The former considered the present life only *%% pilgrimage, and this whole world as but an inn, or short refreshing place, in their way to the regions of immortality and glory! They looked upon their passage fhrther as a scene of perils—a passage through a vafley of sorrow and tears—and that, for the trial of ibf'tr &t*h *tk! exercise of their hope, they were called U> * tstMtttA warfare with enemies both within and wrthout thrn. The soul they considered as their truly befk-t m\ immortal l«ut, worthy of all their care—The bfldy but 9» of an inferior nature—a tabernacle, a telit, a cottage, an earthen vessel, a mere temporary abode, or rwthef the prison-house, of the soul; in
itself more brittle than glass, decaying and constantly mouldering away, subject to diseases, pain and every vicissitude of the surrounding elements. And thus, daily considering the vanity and the emptiness of earthly things, their affections were more and more weaned from this world. They became impatient of the dross of body; their souls penetrated by faith through the clouds of this mortality; and they obtained some foretaste of the immense good things laid up for them in a world to come. They acquired some just and ravishing conceptions of that building of God, that house not made with hands, that celestial body, with which the soul was to be united (for the nourishment of their hope and the exercise of their charity) in the mansions of glory—And therefore, far from being awed or terrified at the separation of the soul from the body, or apprehensions from the dissolution of their earthly tabernacle, and of its dust mixing again with its kindred dust; they groaned earnestly within themselves, waiting for the adoption, that is the redemptioix of the body, that they might be clothed upon with their heavenly house, " and so be forever with the Lord."
But can we say, brethren, that this is the general temper of those who call themselves Christians in the present day? Can we say that we are always looking forward to our future end? Or rather do we not keep ourselves blind to the future, ignorant of our destiny, or without any gueSses concerning another world? We rather wish to consider the present as our only world, and death as an everlasting sleep—a total Annihilation of, perhaps, soul and body! Wherefore, if we think of an approaching dissolution, we sorrow, as men having no hope, beyond the narrow precincts of the grave. If any dark glimmerings of another world intrude upon our quiet, we strive to stifle the divine sparklings in the soul, and hate to converse with the God within us, .or think of any future state. And thus, far from rejoicing at the notices nature gives of an approaching dissolution of our mortal part; Jar from groaning earnestly to be clothed upon with our immortal house, and meeting death in the full hope of glory; I may appeal to yourselves, whether the very name of death be not as a thunder-stroke to us! We starde, we turn pale, we tremble before him as the king of terrors —and, at his approach, we cling faster and still faster to this evanescent speck of earth, loth to let go our hold. Few, too few, consider death in the right view, as a welcome messenger sent from God to summon the soul (if, peradventure, prepared) to heaven and glory. Few consider that, although his marks are sure, he shoots not an arrow but what is directed by the wisdom of our adorable Creator. In this view we consider him not; but, on the other hand, we consider him as a cruel tyrant, come to disturb our repose, to rob us of our joys and to separate us from all that we hold dear. We look upon him as the merciless ravisher of parents from children, and children from parents; wives from husbands, and husbands from wives. We view him as the despoiler of our fortune, breaking in upon all our busy projects and best prospects; tearing us from our dearest friends and relatives, levelling our fame and proudest honours with the dust, turning our beauty into deformity, our strength into rotteness and our