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short time were more vain and trifling than ever. With a dying man who is conscious that he has lived without God and without Christ in the world, there is such an amazing interest at stake, that he will naturally grasp at a hope that he may be saved. When death stares us in the face, a hopeless state is intolerable. Hence the dying man will be constantly looking about him for evidence that he is a believer, and will be very liable to obtain a hope without
When hope is once acquired, many things will conspire to strengthen it. It may be succeeded by great joy. The idea that one is safe will naturally render him happy. And this false joy by re-action will strengthen his hope. Friends who are about the sickbed, if pious or not pious, will be glad to see the sufferer happy, and will be tempted to do their utmost to strengthen and confirm his hope. And if pious, unless peculiarly faithful, they will be liable to aid his delusions, and strengthen his refuge of lies.
He thinks his passions subdued by the grace of God, when in fact they are only tamed by the paroxysms of disease. The appetites do not demand unlawful gratification, for they have for the present ceased their operation. The patient imagines that he has ceased to love the world, when in fact he is only beaten off from its embrace by the rage of disease. Because he is constrained to abandon the cares, the pleasures, and the vexations of life, and is led to think much on the subject of death and judgment, he presumes that he has become heavenly-minded.
As the words of the lips are little to be relied on, and are not spoken of in Scriptures as full evidence of piety, it is difficult to suppose that a dying man should be able to apply to his piety any very decisive tests. He cannot mingle with the ungodly and show us that he hates and reproves their vile conduct. He cannot engage in trade or business, and so prove to us that he will not be hard and dishonest in his dealings. He cannot know the miseries of those around him, and show his benevolence by flying to their help. He cannot mingle with God's people in the sanctuary and the place of prayer and conference, and show us that he loves the people and worship of God. He is not exposed to temptation, and cannot prove to us that he has a religion that can overcome the world, and stand against the influx of iniquity.
In one word, a sick and dying man can bear but little of the fruits of holiness. He cannot give us the same evidence that a person in health can in the same time, which leads me to observe, 6. That the time is so short generally in which we can observe
the exercises of a sick and dying man, that whatever the case may be, our hopes cannot rise very high. If one in health, without any special event of providence to alarm him, become the subject of awakening conviction and hope, still we at first rejoice with trembling, and often many months elapse before we lose all our fears that he may return again to a state of stupidity. And our apprehensions must be greater still in the case of one whose exercises commenced while he stood on the verge of the grave.
7. The fact that so many have appeared well in the sick and dying chamber, while death was seen to hang over them, but have on their recovery lost their impressions, and appeared even worse than ever, has rendered suspected the exercises of the sick and dying bed. It is true that we have no authority to say that God may not do more for those who die than for those who recover. This matter we must leave with God till the last day. Very few persons have failed to witness one or more instances in which recovery to health has disappointed high hopes of piety. In some cases all doubt was gone, and if the patient had died, there had been the firmest confidence of meeting him in heaven; and still on his return to health, a few weeks made him careless, and the morning cloud and the early dew were dissipated. With very many facts like these before our eyes, how is it possible but that every prudent man should admit with caution the validity of those hopes of heaven, that are generated upon the death-bed. And now what use shall we make of all this? I
If death-bed repentances are so doubtful, then delays in matters of religion are imminently dangerous. To-morrow, perhaps, you betake yourself to the sick-bed, and it proves your death-bed. There is something said to you on the affairs of your soul, and it may be that you are serious, and finally begin to hope that you shall live in heaven. But that hope may prove a spider's web, and you may lean on it and perish. Your friends may think you gone to heaven, but they may find, when the last day has come, that you are on the left hand. Attend to religion now in health, and then when you die we shall have hope of you, and comfort in you. Now, if you want advice we can give it, but on the dying-bed, if we call on you, you will be too weak to receive instruction, and we can only pray for you, and perhaps let you perish.
THE FATHER THE PROTOTYPE OF THE SON.
JOHN XIV. 8, 9.
Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?
THE doctrine which our Lord here intended to teach is evidently this, that in himself dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. It was impossible to know him and not know the Father, to see him and not see the Father. In him the divinity was embodied, and thus, in the only possible way, brought down to human view. He was God manifest in the flesh. In no other case was it possible that any man should see God.
In our ideas of the Supreme Being, if our views are correct, we conceive not of a being possessed of locality and visibility, but of attributes dwelling in one incomprehensible, and infinite mind, whose duration applies to every point of time, and whose presence to every portion of space. When we think of him, or pray to him, we conceive of a junction of every great and amiable attribute. We worship a cluster of perfections which, as to the mode of their existence, lays the foundation for the distinction of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It will be my object to show that these perfections, which, when associated, constitute the object of our worship, were all found in the Savior, were attached to the man Christ Jesus, and prove him to be truly divine. If in him some of these attributes are less conspicuous than others, it is because his connection with human nature, and the point of time at which we view him, rendered it difficult, if not impossible, that such attributes should be developed. Every perfection which it was possible that he should exhibit clearly, was exhibited, and all others which enter into our ideas of God, are said to belong to him, and are inferrible from what he did. The truth at which I aim is this; If we find in Christ Jesus every attribute of Jehovah, and if these attributes appear not to be borrowed but to belong to him as originally his own, it is our duty to own his divinity, and worship him as our Lord and our God. I notice how freely the Scriptures ascribe to the Savior these attributes.
For instance Omniscience. The most superficial observer of the history of the Lord Jesus Christ cannot fail to have noticed how perfectly naked and open to his inspection were all creatures and all things. Peter came to him to inquire respecting their obligations to pay tribute. Our Lord, it is said, prevented him, i. e. he knew his errand and anticipated his request. He sent him to the sea, and directed him to angle for a fish which had swallowed a piece of money, and would be at the shore ready to be taken when Peter should cast in his hook. Here was displayed in one act intuitive knowledge of the natural and moral world, such as can belong to none but God.
When, in fulfilment of an ancient prophecy, he would enter Jerusalem amid the hosannas of the multitude, he sent two of his disciples to bring an ass which they would find tied in a certain place, and whose owner was friendly to their Lord, and would readily send his beast to do him honor. Here was exhibited an omniscience which can belong to none but God.
So while Nathaniel was under the fig-tree he saw him. He knew of the sickness and death of Lazarus, although he was at a distance, and had received no intelligence of these events through any human communication. When he would eat the passover, he knew that a man friendly to his religion would go for a pitcher of water, and would meet the disciples whom he had sent to prepare for the feast, and offer them for this purpose an apartment of his house. He knew the hearts of all about him; that the scribes and pharisees had come to catch him in his words; that the disciples were contending for superiority, and that Judas had it in his heart to betray him.
Omnipresence, as distinguished from omniscience, was an attribute which could not be displayed in connection with humanity without bringing the latter into doubt. If at the same moment that he was teaching the multitude on Mount Olivet, he had also been known to be in the same employment by the sea of Galilee, his cotemporaries would have doubted whether he had a human as well as a divine nature, or would have believed that there were more than one Messiah; and either of these errors would have been dangerous. Hence we are not to expect to see in the history of his life any evidence of this attribute, but must learn that he possessed it from what he says of himself, or from what inspired writers say of him.
His Almighty Power is conspicuous in every part of his history. The waves of the sea were calm at his word; he created bread to
feed the multitude; every disease yielded to his touch; devils were dispossessed at his bidding; and the lame, the deaf, the blind, and the dumb were relieved at his command. His voice waked the dead, restored the dying, and fed the living. Of his almighty power there cannot be a doubt with such as credit his history.
And we see some traces of his sovereignty, although this attribute is evidently concealed by the very design of his incarnation. He came to teach the truth, to save men's lives, and not to destroy them; to explain, rather than cloud the purposes of heaven. Still in many things that he did he concealed his motives, and gave no account of his purpose. He performed cures in Capernaum, and not in Nazareth, where he was bred, and where they claimed a right to his mercy. He blasted the innocent fig-tree because it did not yield him fruit, while yet the time of figs was not come. He scourged the market-men from the temple, and refused to tell them by what authority he acted. He selected his apostles from the fishing-boat and the shop of the tentmaker, passing by the scribes, and pharisees, and lawyers. And in all his distributions of grace, he chose whom he would to love and follow him, and left, whom he would to perish.
He acted with an independence which bespoke him the sovereign Lord of his own kingdom. He took counsel of none. His own apostles he made acquainted with his purposes no farther than was necessary for their comfort and usefulness. Many of the most decisive steps relative to his kingdom he appears to have taken without giving any indications that he acted by a wisdom not his own, or a power not his own. His infinity, his eternity, his ubiquity, and his spirituality, as they are properties of divinity, were in a measure concealed by his humanity, or were attributes which could not be clearly exhibited in a point of time. We know that he possessed them all, but we gather this knowledge from the testimony of Scripture.
His wisdom, which forms the connecting link between his natural and moral attributes, was conspicuous in all he did. His very enemies acknowledged that he taught as never man taught. We think we see a supernatural wisdom in all his plans, in the clearness with which he exhibited truth, the promptness with which he answered every question, the acuteness with which he silenced his opponents, and the success which attended all his movements. A wisdom more than human, his enemies being judges, guided all the operations of his kingdom.
His holiness he displayed in his own perfect obedience to the