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that the body, which was given to the soul for its palace, is become by sin its grave and loathsome sepulchre, far more noisome than that of Lazarus; and that death is like the voice that calls upon us,
Lazarus, come forth.” Faithful souls, you see then, that as Samson carried away the gates of the city of Gaza, and transported them to the top of the hill, so hath Jesus Christ, our true Samson, transported and carried the gates of death to the highest pitch of glory; thereforę, whereas before we looked upon it with horror as the entrance of hell, now we may behold it with confidence and joy, saying, as Jacob did of Bethel, “ This is the gate of heaven."
Seeing, therefore, that this is the nature and condition of Death, I find that men give it too much advantage ; for we should not offer to say, that such are dead, whom God hath admitted into eternal life; because the qualification should be derived from the chief and noblest part: as it is in nature, there is no generation without corruption; and we commonly say, that it is a generation, whien the thing engendered is more excellent than the thing corrupted ; on the contrary, that it is a corruption, when the thing corrupted excels the thing that is engendered. For this reason our change and removal out of this world should rather be styled a life than death : though our body dies and rots in the earth, our soul revives and mounts up to heaven; and this mortal life, which we leave with the world, is nothing in comparison of that life which we shall enjoy with Christ and his holy angels. God is named the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob : “ Now he is not the God of the dead, but of the living,” Exod. iv. Matt. xxii.
I may also without any figure afirm, that death, in respect to the body, is no real death, but a kind of sleep; as it is said in the prophet Daniel, “ Many sleep in the dust of the earth,” ch. xii. And in Isaiah, that“ the just sleep in their beds." Therefore our Saviour, speaking of Jairus's daughter, declared, “ The child is not dead, but sleepeth,” Matt. ix. And of Lazarus his friend,“ Lazarus our friend sleepeth, and I go to awake him." Beloved, if thou art of the number of such as Christ loveth, thy death will be but a kind of sleep of a short continuance, and of a few days; the Lord will raise thee up again : “ for the hour cometh, and is already, that the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall revive," John v. During this life the assaults of Death are no better than light skirmishes; the most sensible and most dangerous blow that it strikes, in appearance, is when it separates the soul from the body; but the last and most final encounter, that will put end to all disputes, will be at the day of judgment, when Jesus Christ will appear from heaven, with the host of all his immortal angels and saints, to encourage us to the encounter. He will come with the encouraging voice of an archangel, and the last trumpet shall sound. Then Death will endeavour to keep us still in its black prisons, and our bones will be found without life and motion ; but the Spirit of God shall breathe upon these dry bones, and will cause them to revive. As when the prophet Jonas was three days and three nights in the belly of a whale, God commanded the fish to vomit him up again upon the ground; thus, when we shall have made so long our abode in our graves as God. hath appointed in his wisdom, Death shall be forced to restore all that it hath swallowed. And as Daniel came ont of the lions' den by break of day, those savage beasts baring done him no harm; thus, at the break of the last day, at the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, we shall all go out of Death's deep dens; and, as if God had sent an angel on purpose to shut the mouth of this old lion, we shall then find that it bath done us no harm. Instead of devouring us, it will prove a faithful keeper of our bones. The faithful then may speak to Death in the language of the prophet Micah,
" Rejoice “ Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I shall fall, I shall rise : when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me,” Micah vii. 8. As Moses said to Pharaoh, “We will go into the wilderness to sacrifice to our God; we will go out of thine Egypt with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds; there shall not a hoof be left behind,” Exod. X. Thus we, in an holy confidence, may talk with Death,
Maugre thy rage and fury, we will go up to heaven to sacrifice to our God immortal praise ; we shall get out of thiy fetters; we, our wives, our children, our brothers and sis. ters, our parents and friends, all the people of God, whom thou dost at present keep in a close restraint. Not with standing the infernal attempts of thine inhuman power, there shall not remain so much as an handful, no, not so much as the least grain of our ashes, behind us.'
When the Son of God shall appear in his glory, from heaven, he shall consume all Death's trophies and monuments with irresistible flames ; so that it shall happen to this imperious enemy of mankind, as it happened to the kings of the Amorites mentioned in the Israelitish history, Josh x. 24. Joshua suffered them to live until he had returned from kis victory; and when he had perfectly overcome all his enemies, he commanded them to be brought forth, and gave orders to his captains to tread upon their necks; and with kis own sword he dispatched them, cast them into a cave, and caused great stones to be rolled at the entrance of it. Thus shall our true and celestial Joshua deal with Death; he suffers it to reign while he is gone to pursue his enemies; for the last enemy that shall be destroyed by him is Death. When he shall have perfectly pursued all other enemies, ke will crown all his victories with a glorious end, and accomplish the church's triumph, by causing us to trample upon Death, that shall be cast into the bottomless pit, whereof the entrance shall be shut up for ever, Rev. x. Then shall be
recomplished this glorious prophecy, “Death is swallowed upin victory." 1 Cor. V. For the Spirit of God assures as,' in express terms, “That Death skall be no more."
By what we have said, it may easily appear what is become of the rope thrice twisted by the devil, with an intent to strangle therewith all mankind. The Son of God hath cut in pieces the first of these unhappy ties by an almighty power; by the Spirit of sanctification he loosens the second by degrees; and by the last he draws us to himself, and then he barns and consumes it altogether. Therefore we have no reason to fear an eternal death, nor to tremble when hell opens its wide jaws. If we resist the devil, he fleesaway from as, James in. At last we shall trample bin under our feet, Rom. xiv. It is true, that the sad and doleful effects of the spiritual death commonly draw out of us many a sad groan and tear, whilst our souls remain in this sinful flesh. We are already got out of the tombs of corruption and sin, bat yet bear about us, as it were, our winding-sheet, and some odd Feliques of our natural misery. But we have this consideration to comfort our drooping spirits, that Christ will shortly give the same order from heaven to us as he did for Lazarus, “ Loose him, and let him go,” John xi. So that instead of the corruption of our nature, that is so incommodious to us, he will invest us in a state of glory, incorruption, immortality, and perfect happiness. In relation to the natural death, we may justly say, that our Lord and Saviour hath freed us from all the fears that it might cause in us. So that it is iny judgment, that we may not only affirm, that we have not the least apprehension of it, but we may expect it with confidence : for if we be truly of the number of the faithful, and God's adopted sons, we hope, desire, and rather hasten Death's arrival, by our most earnest and Passionate wishes.
What I have already declared in this chapter might sa
tisfy tisfy any Christian soul, and furnish it with sufficient considerations to strengthen it against all apprehensions from Death. Now, as one who wants to buy stuffs in a shop, when he cheapens such as are slight and of sniall value, casts his eye only upon a piece or pattern, and by that judges of the rest ; but when he intends to purchase a rich tapestry of great value, he desires to view and consider every part one after another, and make an estimation of the value and beauty of every corner; so I judge that the wise and religious reader will desire now, that as I have discovered to him, in gross, the body of Consolations against the Fears of Death, I should, in the next place, unfold the hidden excellencies, produce every part of them by degrees to his contemplation, and with my pen make him take notice of all the rarities.
From whence proceed the Fears of Death.
care the causes of the disease, before he prescribes a remedy; and as an experienced surgeon searcheth the wound before he puts the plaster to it; thus I judge it necessary to seek with diligence from whence the Fears of Death proceed, before we shall appoint remedies to the faithful souls : for when we shall perfectly understand the nature of the disease, and its principal causes, we shall, without difficulty, be better able to assign a convenient remedy; when we shall have searched the wound, and washed it clean, we will, : with God's assistance, pour into it the true balm of Gilead.
1. We have just reason to accuse ourselves of too much unmindfulness of death. We do not meditate so often as. we should upon the misery and frailty of our poor decaying