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grave, at the resurrection, by Jesus Christ our Lord, the instrument of his singular kindness and benevolence to mankind.
I need not to say that the subject is most interesting to all of us. If
any thing to be suggested to you from it, may make us serious by attending to the great business of this our short probationary state, preparatory to that which will never end ; and to aid and confirm us in a steady course of piety and virtue, which alone can qualify us for it,—this our religious assembling of ourselves will have answered its
What is that death, the conquest over which is here represented as the subject of so great triumph?
There could be no hesitation or difficulty in the answer to be given here, if the plain and direct language of the scriptures had been attended to. But it has happened, through the prejudices instilled into us from our cradle, we are made to believe, that to die is not to cease to live, but to go on to live in a separate state in another world. But when the all-bounteous
Creator, after teaching his new-made creature, man, his duty, wherein his own happiness was concerned, added this awful sanction to it:-" In the day that thou eatest thereof” (that thou presumptuously violatest my laws) " thou shalt surely die;" (Gen. ii. 17.) and after his daring transgression pronounced the sentence, (iii. 19.) “ Thou shalt return unto the ground, out of which thou wast taken : for dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt
:” our common ancestor, Adam, would not then speculate and refine upon
his Maker's words, as his too ingenious sons have done since, and
suppose himself compounded of two parts, so separate and distinct from each other, that the superior part might live without the other ; but would surely conclude, that his whole frame was to be dissolved, and the life which had been so lately bestowed upon him, be taken back by him who gave
it. This hapless state of our nature, to lose our being in death, has in all ages affected and filled the minds of men, who had no other than nature's light, with sadness and melancholy thoughts. The ancients called death, of all dreadful things the most dreadful. The fear of it is surely most natural to those who
see no ground to look for any thing beyond it. For who would wish to lose this fair existence, and perish for ever, if possible to be avoided ? These apprehensions of it are also increased by the sad circumstances accompanying it—to take a final leave of all that is agreeable to us in this world ; to quit houses and lands, with a thousand pleasing scenes and enjoyments; but above all to bid adieu for ever to dearest relations and friends, never to see them more ;the solemn sorrowful parting, often increased by preceding painful sufferings, to be succeeded by darkness, utter oblivion, and nothing.
II. Our inquiry proceeds: How came we into such a wretched condition ?-for it is appointed to all men once to die.
And here divine revelation, which alone could inform us, gives us a very explicit and instructive account, worthy of the moral Governor of the world.
It teaches us, that by the sin of our first parent we are all brought into a state of death: He having transgressed the holy law of God, and becoming mortal thereby, subject to death, all his posterity became mortal too.
Rom. v. 12. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men."
1 Cor. v. 22. “In Adam all die.” It is not in consequence of
sins of our own that we die; whether we are virtuous or vicious, it is all the same in this respect; it makes no difference, we must die. This is the constitution under which we are born. The first moment we begin to live, we tend towards death, we begin to die.
But our heavenly Father did not intend that his rational creatures, on whom he has bestowed such powers and capacities, and those so much improved by some of them, should be for ever lost in death, though he has permitted it to tyrannize over the whole human гасе. .
And formidable as it is in itself, he has converted it into a blessing, and made it one of the means of the greatest possible good to us, by its being conducive to our deliverance from the dominion of sin and the world, and to bring us back to virtue and our duty; which is true happiness, and the foundation of it for ever..
For what more effectual cure can there be
to human vanity, to prevent our setting our affections on earthly things? what more powerful motive to check and stop the exorbitant range of ambition, the insatiable hunt after false pleasure, than to know and to feel that the objects we are pursuing, if we could obtain them, are but for a moment? that you may enjoy them to-day, but cannot possess them long; and that if you place your heart upon them you are miserable;
miserable ; for you are sure to lose them soon, and the unvirtuous desire will remain your torment for ever whilst it lasts ?
Death and its usual attendants, sickness and pain, lead us also to sobriety of mind and thoughtfulness, becoming rational accountable creatures. The calm pause and freedom from the impressions of worldly things, which frequent diseases, the preludes to our dissolution, bring along with them, teach us our insufficiency
for our own happiness, and our necessary dependence on him that made us: “They afford leisure to be good,” as one beautifully expresses it; give time and opportunity to inquire after God that made us; his will and designs in placing us here, in such a mixed state of painful and pleasurable sensations, for so short a space; to find out those rules and lessons of