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has connected it. The principle in some cases may for a long time lie dormant. It is the incorruptible seed of God which at some period or other will spring up and grow; and unless this effect be produced, there can be no evidence of its existence. It must be remembered, that regeneration is the seed and commencement, as well as the fruit and perfection, of all true religion.
4. Fourthly, the gracious manifestations of God to his people, previous to their death, do not afford us any criterion whereby to judge of the degrees of glory and happiness which may be conferred on them in the heavenly state.
He whose ways are "higher than our ways, as the heavens are higher than the earth," may have reasons, unknown to us, for exhibiting his sovereignty in the consolations, and joys, and manifestations of grace, which he occasionally communicates to his people, previously to their death. There may, however, sometimes be reasons which may appear obvious to us. There are cases, in which we might be in doubt respecting the final state of some, were not God to remove those doubts by some peculiar manifestations of his mercy and love. We know that he is the sovereign disposer of his own grace. May he not, therefore, sometimes choose to illustrate his own words, "the last shall be first and the first last?" We are not, however, to suppose that such manifestations denote superior holiness here, or imply that higher degrees of glory will be conferred hereafter. The most established, eminent, and holy
believers, sometimes die without experiencing any peculiar joys. The great and good Archbishop Usher, passed through the valley of the shadow of death, repeatedly exclaiming, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" Many other similar cases might be mentioned. If there are different degrees of glory in heaven, which seems to be intimated in scripture, they cannot be determined by the presence or absence of death-bed joys and consolations. We, brethren, are exhorted to "look to ourselves, that we receive a full reward; to be stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as we know that our labour is not in vain in the Lord." We have, therefore, stronger motives to be diligent in the work of the Lord, and more solid ground on which to form our judgment respecting our future state, than any which can be drawn from the expectation, or the experience of the consolation and joy of religion, in the last days of our pilgrimage. We are required to grow in grace, to go on to perfection, and to be continually making progress in religion. This should be our object as long as we continue in the present world; and for aught we know, there may be progress and advances even in heaven itself. The redeemed and sanctified, may be continually making nearer approaches to what may be termed perfection; like the mathematical line, which may be conceived as infinitely drawing nearer to another line, without ever reaching its actual contact.
5. Finally, one more remark may be added, which obviously arises from a review of the whole subject, namely, that we ought not to procrastinate on the infinitely important concerns of religion.
It is an undoubted truth, that a careless life generally ends in a hopeless death. The voice of God to us is, "Work while it is day; the night cometh, in which no man can work." "Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation." The Holy Ghost saith, '' To-day if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts; lest he swear in his wrath, you shall not enter into my rest; seek the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." But as the Lord has used these commands, arguments, and persuasions, is it probable, or is it scriptural to suppose that he would weaken the impression of these exhortations by constantly receiving sinners when they can insult him no longer? Let it then, be your concern, brethren, now to make your calling and election sure; delay not to seek forgiveness, till you are visited by the angel of death. It is enough for human nature on the bed of death, to struggle with pain and decay. In the contest with the last enemy, it may then be too late to seek forgiveness and peace with God. Secure an interest now in the salvation of the gospel: death may be at hand. Your relatives and friends are taken away on the right hand and on the left; and everything around you is changeable and uncertain. Oh fix your hopes then on the everlasting "rock of ages!" Come to the Saviour without delay; come just as you are, for if you go on to the end of life you will never be better. All power is given to Christ in heaven, and upon earth. He is able to save and able to destroy. Flee then to him as your refuge, "the spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst, come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved. Look to him to grant you repentance, faith, and holiness. Possessed of these graces, you will have evidences of your forgiveness, and be partakers of a meetness for the heavenly inheritance. And soon will death come, as the messenger of peace, from your gracious Redeemer, to summon you to take possession of your mansions in glory, from whence all the consequences of sin will be for ever banished, " and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away."
John xix. 30.
IT IS FINISHED.
It is common for us to pay a particular attention to the last words of good men. Their dying sayings interest and affect us in a peculiar manner and degree. We love to hear their testimony for God and religion; and we rejoice to see the reality of godliness exemplified in their dying supports and consolations. We consider their words, in the immediate prospect of death, as a sort of sacred oracles, of the truth of which we seem to have no doubt. At that awful season, the mind is deeply impressed with the most momentous realities. The God of the spirits of all flesh sometimes inspires the souls of his people with extraordinary communications from himself; so that every word they utter seems to be dictated by the Spirit of Truth. In the Scripture we have the last words of several eminent believers. The patriarch Jacob, when blessing his sons on the bed of death, before "he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost," broke out into this remarkable ejaculation; "I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord :" implying, that he had been