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They are waiting to welcome his arrival in the kingdom of their Redeemer, where they shall meet in bliss unspeakable, never to part again. In the most trying hour, under dilpensations the most afflictive, he remembers, and he experiences, the consoling influence of the Spirit of God. He finds Him to be, what He was announced to be, the true Comforter. From that Spirit he receives unfailing supplies of supporting and strengthening grace. The fruits of that Spirit he still finds to be joy and peace. He hears the words of his Saviour ; Let not your heart be troubled: and reposes with unclouded serenity on His love. His patient endurance becomes thankful acquiescence: and his holy calmness is at times exalted to joy unspeakable, and full of glory.
4. The religious man is delivered from the fear of the last enemy, Death. Through fear of Death ungodly men are all their lifetime subject to bondage (j). From this thraldom, thraldom which renders life itself a burthen, the servant of God has been rescued. His fetters are broken. Before him Death stands disarmed of his terrors. What though the approach of Death excites tender solicitude for those whom the dying man leaves behind ? He knows that the Power, who has protected (3) Heb. ii. 15.
him, is able also to protect them. He listens to the promise of his Lord: Leave thy fatherless children; I will preserve them alive : and let thy widow trust in Me (k). He liftens ; and anxiety is at an end. What though the approach of Death be accompanied with temporary alarms at the prospect of standing before his Maker? The heart of the Christian is foon re-established. He remembers that he is to stand before his Maker, not in his own righteousness, but arrayed in the imputed righteousness of his Redeemer. He knows that he shall be complete in Chrift; that he shall thus be without fault before the throne of God ();
Şin, the sting of Death, is taken away. The gloom which overhangs the val. ley of the shadow of Death becomes the twilight of an eternal morning. The grave
is the gate of heaven. The moment which extinguishes mortal existence is the commencement of everlasting life. He longs to bid adieu to pain and sorrow : he longs to be united to the glorified spirits of the just whom he loved on earth, to join the innumerable company of faints and angels ; to behold his Redeemer face to face; to be blessed in the presence of his God. It is thus that the righteous fall afeep!
(1) Jer. xlix. 11.
(1) Col. ii. io. Rev. xiv. 5.
s. There yet remain various circumstances, which attend the religious man in the ordinary course of his life, and contribute no small accessions to the daily amount of his happiness. By the integrity and the kindness of his conduct, for integrity and kindness are among the genuine fruits of true religion ; he is on many occasions placed beyond the reach of those who may be desirous of injuring him. Who is be that will barm you ; who is he that under common events will be able to bring you into trouble; if ye be followers of that which is good? In domestic life has not the religious man, and he alone, grounds for expecting permanent harmony and affection ? Will not his friends, selected from
among those who love their God, be found tender and faithful ? Will not his intercourse with them be equally a source of improvement and of delight? Will not the general temper of his mind be cheerful ferenity ? Free from the dominion of ambition, of avarice, of anger, and of other disorderly passions, he descends quietly and contentedly along the stream of life ; little molested by many of the usual causes of uneasiness, and at a distance from many of the ordinary occasions of danger. From the common boun. ties of Providence he derives higher satisfaction than other men, And he has continua! experience of blessings, which the wicked neither relish nor perceive. The interchange of day and night, the vicissitudes of revolving seasons, return to him with renovated joy. They present to his view the Author of all things, the Supreme Object of his gratitude and love. The contemplation of the works of God, meditation on the wonders of redemption, recollection of paft mercies, devout anticipations of future glory: these are subjects which occupy and expand his heart, and cause it to overflow with that
of God, which passeth human understanding, Great peace have they who love Thy law, o Lord. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee; because he trusteth in Thee. Godliness bas the promise of the life which now is, as well as of that which is to come (m). The ways of religion are ways of pleasantness; and all her paths are peace.
II. I proceed to apply the instruction, which
be drawn from the text, to perfons of three different descriptions.
1. I would first address those who are de
(92) Psalm cxix. 165. Ifaiab, xxvi. 3.
1 Tim. iv. 8.
445 If the ways of religion are ways of pleasantness and peace; the opposite paths of ungodliness must be paths of misery. What faith the Scripture? The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot reft; whose waters cajt up mire and dirt. There is no peace, faith my God, to the wicked (12). Do you doubt the truth of this declaration of the Omnia fcient ? Consider the unrighteous. Do such men appear to you to be happy? Are the tempers of their minds, are their views, their plans, their secret reflections, such as are likely to give birth to inward tranquillity and comfort? If they seem to enjoy peace, is it not the tranquillity of folly, the security of ignorance, the stupor of unconcern, the deadness of a conscience past feuling, the judicial infatuation of a reprobate mind? Is it not the peace of a mariner who knows not that a plank has started in the bottom of his.vessel? Is it not the peace of a traveller who thinks not that the bridge on which he crosses the gulf is about to sink from beneath his feet? Is it not the peace of a criminal, who foresees not that the hand of justice waits but for the close of day to arrest him in his bed, to hurry him to trial and execution? Is the conduct of the wicked such as is adapted to
(n) Isaiah, lvii, 20, 21,