« AnteriorContinuar »
without hope. They can follow them no farther in their thoughts than to the grave where their bodies are deposited, to moulder in dust and corruption. And to follow them so far and no farther, must create nothing but dark, gloomy, painful thoughts, sensations and reflections. But those who believe that their departed friends have left nothing but their bodies in the grave, and that their spirits have ascended to God, and enjoy all the blessedness of heaven, can follow them in their thoughts, and contemplate upon them in the state of the blessed, with a mixture of sorrow and joy. They may sorrow on account of their own loss, and rejoice on account of the gain of their friends. Mourners are extremely apt to err in their feelings and conduct. They love to remember their friends as they were before they died, and not as they are after death. They follow them in their thoughts to the grave, and no farther. There they often find a melancholy luxury in bemoaning and lamenting their own loss. This makes many so fond of depositing their dead in tombs, that they may often go and see their bodies; and this same luxury led the Egyptians to embalm the bodies of the dead. But Abraham acted a wiser part, in burying his dead in the dust, out of sight. If mourners would enjoy the consolation which the gospel affords them, they would much oftener carry their thoughts to heaven than to the grave, and follow the departed spirits of their pious friends to the mansions of bliss, and rejoice with them in their o holy and happy state. It is one of the peculiar bene
ts which christians may derive from being bereaved of christian friends, that such bereavements tend to turn their attention from things seen to things unseen, and from things temporal to things eternal; which is suited to make their hearts better. A similar benefit may those who are not christians derive, from the removal of their christian friends and connections. They especially need to have their attention arrested and fixed upon death, judgment, and eternity. Unchristian parents may derive benefit from the death of their christian children; unchristian children may derive benefit from the death of their christian parents; unchristian brothers and sisters may derive benefit from the death of their christian brothers and sisters; unchristian husbands may derive benefit from the death of their christian wives; and unchristian wives may derive benefit from the death of their christian husbands. The death of the godly is very instructive, both to the godly and ungodly. It is profitable not only to mourners, but to others, to regard the death of the godly, whose spirits have left this world and taken possession of their heavenly inheritance. It is more instructive to see a pious person die in peace, than to see a sinner die in distress. And it is more instructive to contemplate upon the departed spirit of the godly, than to contemplate upon the departed spirit of the ungodly man. This every good man and every bad man may know to be true by experience. 5. If death immediately transmits the soul to a state of everlasting happiness, or misery, then death is a most solemn and interesting event to both the dying and the living. Death among all ages and characters and conditions of men, is such a common and frequent event in this dying world, that but few seriously consider it, and lay it to heart. They generally view death as carrying men to the grave only, and leaving them there, and not as transmitting their immortal souls to a state of endless happiness or misery. They regret the death of a great man, or of a good man, or of a useful man, because they see the loss that a family, or a circle of friends, or the public have sustained ; but they overlook the solemn and interesting consequences of death to the soul that is transmitted into eternity. In common cases, the death of a single individual is of little consequence to the living in this world; and they are little affected to see one and another laid in the grave. But if they would consider that death carries the separate soul to its long home, and determines its happy or miserable condition to all eternity, every instance of mortality would make a deep impression upon the minds of the living. It would admonish every one of the worth of his soul, and the vast importance of preparing for his future and eternal state. When any person looks upon a corpse, he may see himself as a dying creature, and learn that his body must crumble to the dust, and his soul ascend to his supreme and final Judge, and receive a sentence of eternal life, or eternal death. We are all dying creatures, living in a dying world, and daily admonished of our dying hour, by daily seeing the dying and the dead. We are in a more solemn and interesting situation, than any other intelligent creatures in any other part of the universe, because we have more to gain or to lose than they, in the space of a very few years, or a very few days. We are all under a sentence of mortality, and we know not how soon any of the aged or middle-aged, or the young, may be called to close their probationary state, and exchange this for another world. A late instance of death here, admonishes all to stand in the posture of servants waiting for the coming of their Lord. The deceased * was in the morning of life, and undoubtedly had many reasons in her own mind for desiring to live; but God had
higher and stronger reasons for putting an early period to her days. Though he determined to call her away from her family and friends, yet he graciously granted her seasonable warning and premonition of her approaching dissolution, which awakened her serious attention to the concerns of her soul. She soon found she had a depraved and obstinate heart, which led her to contend with God, and to oppose his terms of salvation. This involved her in anxiety and distress for some time. She found that all her seekings and strivings were of no avail in the sight of God, who condemned all her selfish desires and efforts to escape destruction. At length her struggles subsided, and she enjoyed inward light and comfort, which created a lively hope of future and eternal happiness. Her joyful views of God and divine objects continued, and rather increased than languished, till her dying hour. If she was not deceived, her departed spirit has reached the kingdom of heaven. But be this as it may, we know that she died in peace to herself, and in peace to others. Her peaceful death manifested the truth, the reality and importance of the christian religion, which can remove the gloom of the grave, spread light through the dark valley of death, and point the path to heaven. Surely the gospel of Christ, which can produce such happy effects and impressions on the mind of a feeble, guilty creature in the trying hour of death, is worthy of all acceptation to those who have yet to die. How many on a sick and dying bed would have willingly given the whole world, if they had possessed it, for the consolations of the gospel. How can any hope to die in peace and safety, who neglect to accept the great salvation provided for and offered to sinners in the gospel of Christ! He says to every sinner, “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” This is a blessed promise of everlasting life to dying believers, and a virtual denunciation of everlasting ruin to dying unbelievers. Christ will as certainly fulfil his threatening to unbelievers, as his promise to believers. Let believers rejoice, and unbelievers tremble, in the prospect of death and eternity. Your bodies will soon be lodged in the grave, and your naked spirits fixed in heaven or hell. “Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.” “If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.”
As the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. —Isaiaa., xxxii. 2
This chapter begins with a prophecy of the Messiah, and of the happiness which the godly should enjoy under his reign. “Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness; and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place; as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” This is a just and beautiful description of Christ, who protects and comforts his weak and weary followers, while passing through the storms and tempests of this wearisome world. How agreeable is a screen from the wind How pleasant is a covert from the tempest! How regaling is water to the thirsty! How delightful and refreshing is a shade in the heat of the day! These are lively figures to represent the comfort which all true saints find in Christ. He is truly like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land; and such is this world to all who are passing through it to their eternal rest. They find great need of comfort in their weary pilgrimage, which they never fail to find in the Divine Redeemer, in whom all fulness dwells. This then is the agreeable truth to be illustrated: That saints may always find comfort in Christ, in this wearisome world. I shall show, I. That this world is wearisome to saints. And, II. That they may always find comfort in Christ, when they are weary of the world. I. I am to show that this world is wearisome to saints.
They are crucified to the world and the world to them, by the cross of Christ. They view the world in a different light from the men of the world, who have their portion in this life. Their treasure is in heaven, and they are only passing through this world to take possession of it. Those scenes and objects, therefore, which are enchanting to others, are wearisome to them. For they love not the world, nor the things of the world, because they love God supremely, and have chosen him for their supreme portion. Saints in all ages have had a disrelish to the world, and found it a wearisome place. Jacob said, “few and evil have the days of the years of my life been.” Job said, “I am weary of my life.” Paul groaned under the heavy burdens he endured. And all saints ever since have found the journey of life wearisome. It is not the complaint of a few severely afflicted and disappointed christians, but the voice of universal experience, that this is a wearisome world to the children of God. But to make this more plainly appear, I would observe, 1. That this is a laborious world. Solomon says, “all things are full of labor.” This is strictly true. All the necessary conveniences and ornaments of life require labor. Employment was originally enjoined upon man. But since the apostacy, servile labor has become a burden. The care of the body and the cultivation of the mind require exertions which are a weariness to the flesh. There is no lawful employment but what may be, and sometimes ought to be, pursued with so much activity and diligence, as to weary either the body or mind, or both. Our Lord, who never deviated from the path of duty, pursued his work with diligence, and labored even to wearimess. And all who mean to be obedient to God, rack their bodies and minds in the labors of life. The sun every day sets upon millions of faint and weary laborers. This is a tiresome world to all, but especially to saints who are the most diligent and laborious in the duties of life, and who desire leisure for retirement and meditation. They are weary of laboring for the meat that perisheth, and wish for nobler employments, which admit of no interruptions and create no WearineSS. 2. This is a troublesome world. Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward. There is no place on the face of the earth free from trouble. Trouble attends every stage and condition of life. Storms and tempests, wars and famine, and a multitude of other calamities, are continually filling the world with troubles. And besides these, there are innumerable private and personal troubles, such as pains, losses, disappointW. Ol. III.