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If after we have exerted our utmost efforts, we still find our frail flesh and blood complaining at the prospect of approaching dissolution; if the heart still repines at the hard necessity imposed upon us of dying ; let us strive to recover confidence not only against this apprehension, but likewise against the doubts which it might excite respecting our salvation. This fear of death is, in such a case, not a crime, but an infirmity. It is indeed a melancholy proof that we are not yet perfect, but it is not a blot which obliterates our Christianity.
It is an expression of timidity, not of mistrust. It is a calamity which prevents our enjoying all the sweets of a triumphant death, but not an obstacle to prevent our dying in safety. Let us be of good courage. What have we to fear? God is an affectionate friend, who will not desert us in the hour of adversity. God is not a cruel being, who takes pleasure in rendering us miserable. He is a God whose leading characters are goodness and mercy. He stands engaged to render us happy. Let us not distrust his promise ; it has been ratified by the most august seal which suspicion itself could exact, by the blood of the spotless Lamb, which is sprinkled, not on the threshold of our doors, but on our inmost conscience. The exterminating angel will respect that blood, will presume to aim no stroke at the soul which bears the mark of it.
After all, my dearly beloved brethren, if the most advanced Christians, at the first glimpse of death, and in the first moments of a mortal distemper, are unable to screen themselves from the fear of death; if the
flesh murmurs, if nature complains, if faith itself seems to stagger; reason, religion, but especially the aid of God's spirit, granted to the prayers, to the importunities ascending to heaven from the lips of such a Christian, dissipate all those terrors. The mighty God suffers himself to be overcome, when assailed by supplication and tears. God resists not the sighs of a believer, who from bis bed of languishing stretches out his arms toward him, who intreats him to sanctify the sufferings which he endures, who implores his support in the agonies of death, who cries out from the centre of a soul transported with holy confidence: “Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth,” Ps. xxxi. 5. Receive it, O my God. Remove from me those phantoms which disturb my repose. Raise me up, take me to thyself. “ Teach my hands to war, and my fingers to fight. Draw me, I shall run after thee.” Kindle my devotion; and let my enflamed desires serve as a chariot of fire to transport me to heaven. The clouds thickened around me by him who had the power of death, are scattering; the veil which covered eternity insensibly withdraws: the understanding is convinced ; the heart melts; the flame of love burns bright; the return of holy meditations, which formerly occupied the soul, disclose the grand object of religion, and the bed of death is transformed into a field of victory. Many of your pastors, Christians, have been the joyful spectators of such a triumph.
May all who hear me this day be partakers of ļhese divine consolations ! May that invaluable sacrifice which Jesus Christ offered up to his Father in our behalf, by cleansing us from all our guilt, deliver us from all our fears ! May this great Highpriest of the new covenant bear engraven on his breast all these mystical Israelites, now that he has entered into the holiest of all ! And when these foundations of sand, on which this clay-tabernacle rests, shall cruinble away from under our feet, may we all be enabled to raise our departing spirits out of the ruins of the world, that they may repose in the mansions of immortality ! Happy, beyond expression, beyond conception happy, to die in such sentiments as these! God of his infinite mercy grant it may be our blessed attainment ! To him be honour and glory for ever. Amen.