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of palaces, of sceptres, of crowns? Is it to regret the humble crook in your hand, the cottage which covers your head? Do you regret the loss of society, a society whose defects and whose delights are frequently an equal source of misery to you? Ah! phantom of vain desire, will you still present illusion to the eye? Will you still maintain your ground against those solid blessings which the death of Jesus Christ has purchased for us? Ah! broken cisterns, will you still preserve a preference in our esteem to the fountain of living waters ? Ah! great High-priest of the new covenant, shall we still find it painfully difficult to follow thee, whilst thou art conducting us to heavenly places, by the bloody traces of thy cross and martyrdom? Jesus Christ is a conqueror, who has acquired for us a kingdom of glory and felicity ; his death is an invaluable pledge of a triumphant eternity.
Death, then, has nothing, henceforward, that is formidable to the Christian. In the tomb of Jesus Christ are dissipated all the terrors which the tomb of nature presents. In the tomb of nature I perceive a gloomy night, which the eye is unable to penetrate; in the tomb of Jesus Christ I behold light and life. In the tomb of nature the punishment of sin stares me in the face; in the tomb of Jesus Christ I find the expiation of it. In the tomb of nature I read the fearful doom pronounced upon Adam, and upon all his miserable posterity: “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return," Gen. iii. 19. but in the tomb of Jesus Christ iny tongue is loosed into this triumphant song of praise, “O death, where is
thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God wbo giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ," 1 Cor. xv. 55, 57. “Through death he has destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; that he might deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their life-time subject to bondage.”
But if these be our privileges, is it not matter of reproach to us, my brethren, that brought up in the knowledge and profession of a religion which furnishes arms so powerful for combating the terrors of death, we should still, for the most part, view it only with fear and trembling? The fact is too evident to be denied. From the slightest study of by far the greatest part of professing Christians, it is clearly apparent that they consider death as the greatest of all calamities. And with a very slender experience of the state of dying persons, it will be found that there are few, very few indeed, who die without regret, few but who have need to exercise all their submission, at a season when it might be expected they should give themselves up to transports of joy. A vapour in the head disconcerts us ; we are alarmed if the artery happens to beat a little faster than usual; the least apprehension of death inspires us with an unaccountable melancholy, and oppressive dejection.
But those apprehensions : and terrors, my brethren, surprising as they may appear to us, have nothing which ought really to fill us with surprise. If to apply to a man's self the fruits of the death of Jesus Christ were a simple act of the understanding, a simple movement of the heart, a simple acknowledgment of the tongue: if to apply to a man's self the fruits of the death of Christ were nothing more than wliat a hardened sinner is capable of fig. uring to himself, or than what is prescribed to him by an accommodating casuist, you would not see a single Christian afraid of death. But you know it well, the gospel assures you of it, and the dictates of your own conscience confirm the truth, to make application of the fruits of Christ's death is a complication of duties, which require attention, time, labour, intenseness of exertion, and must be the business of a whole life. The greatest part of those who bear the Christian name neglect this work while in health ; is it any wonder that they should tremble when overtaken by the hour of death?
Call to remembrance the three ways in which Christ has disarmed death. He has spoiled the king of terrors, by demonstrating to us the immortality of the soul, by making atonement for our transgressions, by acquiring for us an eternal felicity.
But what effect will the death of Christ have upon us, as a proof of the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, unless we study those proofs, unless we seriously meditate upon them, unless we endeavour to feel their force, unless we guard against the difficulties which the unhappy age we live in opposes to those great principles ?
What effect can the death of Christ have upon us, as a sacrifice offered up to divine justice for our sins, unless we feel the plentitude of that sacrifice, unless we make application of it to the conscience, unless we present it to God in the exercises of a living faith ; above all, unless by the constant study of ourselves, unless by unremitting, by persevering exertion, we place ourselves under the terms, and invest ourselves with the characters of those who have a right to apply to themselves the fruits of this sacrifice ?
What effect can the death of Christ produce upon us, considered as the pledge of a blessed eternity, unless the soul be powerfully impressed with that eternity, unless the heart be penetrated with a sense of what it is ; if we are at pains to efface the impression which those interesting objects may have made upon us; if hardly moved by those great truths which ought to take entire possession of the mind, we instantly plunge ourselves into the vortex of worldly pursuits, without taking time to avail ourselves of that happy disposition, and, as it were, purposely to withdraw from those gracious emotions wbich seemed to have laid hold of us ? Ah! ny brethren, if such be the conduct of the generality of professing Christians, as we are under the necessity of admitting, when, not satisfied with observing their deportment in the house of God, and from a pulpit, we follow them into life, and look through those flimsy veils of piety and devotion which they had assumed for an hour in a worshipping assembly; if such, I say, be the conduct of the generality of professing Christians, their terror at the approach of death exhibits nothing to excite astonishment.
The grand conclusion to be deduced, my brethren, from all these reflections, is not an abstract conclusion and of difficult comprehension : it is a conclusion easy, natural, and which would spontaneously present itself to the mind, were we not disposed to practice deception upon ourselves; the grand conclusion to be deduced from these reflections is this : If we wish to die like Christians, we must live like Christians. If we would wish to behold with firinness the dissolution of this body, we must study the proofs which establish the truth of the immortality of the soul, so as to be able to say with St. Paul, “I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded he is able to keep that which I have committed unto hiin against that day,” 2 Tim. i. 12. Would we wish to have a security against fear at that tremendous tribunal, before which we must appear to receive judgment, we must enter into the conditions of the covenant of grace, that we may be able to say with the same apostle, “ I am the chief of sinners, a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious : but I obtained mercy,” 1 Tim. i. 13. Would we be strengthened to resign, without murmuring, all the objects around us, and to which we are so fondły attached, we must learn to disengage ourselves front them betimes; to place our heart betimes where our treasure is, Matt. vi. 21. that we may be able to say with the Psalmist, " Whom have I in heaven but thce ? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thce," Ps. lxxiii. 25.