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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 ир
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 se. paration 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 redemption 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; far 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 startle, 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
very names into oblivion. We behold him dealing with others as with ourselves, neither sparing the young nor the old, the feeble nor the strong, the rich nor the poor, the beggar in his rags, nor the proudest ruler in his purple. We find him neither to beregardful of our pride, nor to be soothed by our flattery, tamed by our intreaties, bribed by our benefits, softened by ourlamentations, nor diverted by accident or length of time. His weapons of destruction are numerous, and we are unable to draw one of them from his gripe: A thousand ministers of vengeance attend his call— Sword, pestilence, famine and fell disease; the air, the earth, the sea, the fire, and the beasts of the field, are the executicners of his will against man; and, more dreadful to tell, man himself—monstrous depraved man–becomes the minister of death against his fellow-man! With scorns and with wrongs, with imprisonments, with torments, with poisons and deadly engines of destruction, man preys upon man, at thy call, O death, and heaps up thy vast triumphs! Hence it is that thou art so terrible, and that we startle at thy name, and tremble at thy approach. Yet still, by the due use of reason, enlightened by the blessed considerations and doctrines of our text, after the example of the apostles and saints and pure proffessors of Christianity in every age, death might be disarmed of his sting and spoiled of his victory!
If to die were only the lot of a few, we might repine and startle at the partial decree. But since no age that is past hath been exempted from his strokes, nor shall any age that is to come; why should
we, with unavailing sorrow and unprofitable
stubborness, think to oppose the universal decreo
_" Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return ?" • Let us think what millions have trod the path of death before us, and what millions are yet to follow! Let us think of the instability of all things, temporary and sublunary! Even kingdoms and mighty empires have submitted to their fatal periods! Great cities lie buried in the dust! Proud towers and pyramids, the wonders of the world and the pride of ages, are overthrown and trampled under fooi! Holy temples and altars, and those also who have ministered before them, have shared the general doom! And this great fabric of the world itself, the sun, the moon and the stars, shall submit to death, or a change similar to death; yet, like the body of man, peradventure, to be renewed again, and kindled up into fresh and everlasting lustre !
Since, then, the most solid and sumptuous works of man, and even this glorious creation, the work of God himself, are doomed to changes, to decay, and to death ; what are we, poor earthlings and creatures of a day, to hope for an everlasting continuance amidst this transient and perishable scene? Or why should we be afraid when our change draws near?
The true reason is " Our want of faith in God and union with Christ Jesus, through the grace of his divine spirit.” We do not imitate those blessed saints and first followers of Christ, who are described in our text, by striving to disentangle our souls and thoughts from this world, and to send them forward in earnest longings after heaven and immortality. We do not scat ourselves by faith, in the company of
angels and archangels ; '
nor seek to anticipate the joys of the life to come. Our conversation is not in heaven, nor are we looking to our Redeemer from thence; nor do our souls thirst, nor our filesh long after the living God.
But, on the contrary, like unweaned babes, we hang upon the breasts of this earth. We suck poison out of it to our very souls.
We cleave to it -we walk-nay, we grovel upon our bellies here, as unclean beasts*, instead of lifting our eyes to heaven with the holy pride and ambition of angels !
Hence, then, comes our fear of death, because we seek to have our portion in this world, and not in the world to come; never considering what comfortable words Christ tells us, that " if any man keep “his sayings he shall never see death ;" for Christ hath slain death, and “ brought life and immortality “ to light by the gospel.”
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the grave; but our union with Christ gives us the victory. If we die in the faith of Jesus, death is only a sleep in his bosom—and the grave is only the vestry-roum, where we enter (as we said before) to
Among other books, having taken up the works of DRUMMOND of Huwthorndon, during my first days of mourning for a beloved wife; his Cypress Grove, arrested my attention, and was so congenial to niy reflexions and state of mind, that in the composition of this sermon, which was the work of but two days, many of his impressive and sublinie senti. ments, got such strong hold, and so mixed with my own, that I never wish to separate them, nor to vary the sermon a single tittle from the words in which it was delivered; for this would be to mangle it, and perhaps destroy, that strength and weight of argument, which made it so acceptable to an attentive and afflicted audience.