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them in the funeral train ; and as though they were of a nature different from us, and as though we had some prerogative over the dead, we return home, and become candidates for their offices. We divide their riches, and enter on their lands, just as the presumptive mariner, who seeing a ship on the shore, driven by the tempest, and about to be bilged by the waves, takes his bark, braves the billows, and defies the danger, to share in the spoils of the wreck.
A prudent man, contemplates the death of his friends with other eyes. He follows them with a mind attached to the tomb; he clothes himself in their shrouds; he extends himself in their coffin ; he regards his living body as about to become like their corpse; and the duty he owes to himself inspires him with a gracious sorrow on seeing in the destiny of his lamented friends, an image of his own.
But why should the thought of dying excite sorrow in a saint, in regard of whom the divine justice is disarmed, and to whom nothing is presented beyond the tomb but inviting objects ? The solution of this difficulty associates with what we said in the third place, that the death of persons worthy of our esteem should excite in our hearts the sentiments of repentance.
III. It is a question often agitated among Christians, that seeing Jesus Christ has satisfied the justice of the Father for their sins, whes
they still die? And one of the most pressing difficulties opposed to the evangelical system results from it, that death equally reigns over those who embrace, and those who reject it. To this it is commonly replied, that death is now no longer à punishment for our sins, but à tempest that rolls us to the port, and a passage to a better life. This is a solid reply: but does it perfectly remove the difficulty? Have we not still a right to ask, Why God should lead us in so straight a way? Why he pleases to make this route so difficult? Why his chariots of fire do not carry us up to heaven, as they once took Elijah? For after all the handsome things one can say, the period of death is a terrible period, and death is still a formidable foe. What labours, what conflicts, what throes, prior to the moment! What doubts, what uncertainties, what labouring of thought before we acquire the degree of confidence to die with fortitude! How disgusting the remedies! How irksome the aids ! How severe the separations! How piercing the final farewells! This constitutes the difficulty, and the ordinary solution leaves it in all its force.
The following remark to me seems to meet the difficulty in a manner more direct. The death of the righteous is an evil, but it is an instructive evil. It is a violent, but a necessary remedy. It is a portrait of the divine justice God requires we should constantly have in view, that we may so live as to avoid becoming the victims of that justice. It is an awful monument of the horror God has of sin, which should teach us to avoid it. The more submissive the good man was to the divine pleasure, the more distinguished is the monument. The more eminent he was for piety, the more should we be awed by this stroke of justice. Come, and look at this good' man in the tomb, and in a putrid state ; trace his exit in a bed of affliction to this dark and obscure abode; see how
after having been emaciated by a severe disease, he is now reserved as a feast for worms. Who was this man? Was he habitually wicked? Was he avowedly an enemy of God? No; he was a believer; he was a model of virtue and probity. Meanwhile, this saint: this friend of Christ, died : descended from a sinful father, he submitted to the sentence, Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Gen. iii. 19. And if those remains of corruption were subjugated to a lot so severe, what shall be the situation of those in whom sin reigns? If the righteous be saved with difficulty, where shall the wicked appear? If the judgment of God begin at his house, what shall the end be of those that obey not the gospel. 1 Pet. iv. 17, 18.
The law imposed on us to die is, therefore, a requisite, but indeed a violent remedy; and to corres, pond with the design, we must drink the cup. The death of those who are worthy of our regret, ought to 'recal to our mind the punishment of sin ; and to excite in us that sorrow which is a necessary fruit of true repentance.
These are the three sorts of sorrow, that the death of our friends should excite in our breast. And so far are we from repressing this kind of grief, that we would wish you to feel it in all its force. Go to the tombs of the dead; open their coffins ; look on their remains ; let each there recognise a husband, or a parent, or children, or brethren ; but instead of regarding them as surrounding him alive, let him suppose himself as lodged in the subterraneous abode with the persons to whom he has been closely united. Look at them deliberately, hear what they say: death seems to have condemned them to an eternal silence; meanwhile they speak ; they preach with a voice far more eloquent than ours.
We have taught you to shed upon their tombs tears of tenderness : hear the dead, they preach with a voice more eloquent than ours. “ Have you forgotten the relations we formed, and the ties that united us? Is it with games and diversions that you
lament our loss? Is it in the circles of gaiety, and in public places, that you commemorate our exit ?"
We have exhorted you to shed upon their tomb tears of duty to yourselves. Hear the dead ; they preach with a voice more eloquent than ours. They cry, Vanity of vanities. All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. The world passeth away, and the lusts thereof. Surely man walketh in a vain shadow. Eccles. i. 2. Isa. xl. 6. 1 John ii. 17. Psa. xxxix. 7. They recal to your mind the afflictions they have endured, the troubles which assailed their mind and the deliriums that affected their brain. They recal those objects that you may contemplate in their situation an image of your own ; that you may be apprised how imperfectly qualified a man is in his last moments for recollection, and the work of his salvation. They tell you, that they once had the same health, the same strength, the same fortune, and the same honours as you ; notwithstanding, the torrent which bore us away, is doing the same with
you. We have exhorted you to shed upon their tombs the tears of repentance. Hear the dead ; they preach with an eloquence greater than ours : they say, “ that
sin has brought death into the world; death which separates the father from the son, and the son from the father ; which disunites hearts the most closely attached, and dissolves the most intimate and tender ties. They say more : Hear the dead-hear some of them, who, from the abyss of eternal flames, into which they are plunged for impenitency, exhort you to repentance.
Oh! terrific preachers, preachers of despair, may your voice break the hearts of those hearers on which our ministry is destitute of energy and effect.—Hear those dead, they speak with a voice more eloquent than ours from the depths of the abyss, from the deep caverns of hell ; they cry, Who among us shall dwell with devouring fire ? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings ? Ye mountains fall on us ; ye hills cover us. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, when he is angry. Isa. xxxiii. 14. Luke xxiii. 30. Heb. x.31. Hear the father, who suffering in hell for the bad education given to the family he left on earth. Hear him by the despair of his condition ; by the chains which
oppress him ; by the fire which devours him ; and by the remorse, the torments, and the anguish which gnaw him, entreat you not to follow him to that abyss. Hear the impure, the accomplice of your pleasure, who says, that if God had called you the first, you would have been substituted in his place, and who entreats to let your eyes become as fountains of repentant tears.
This is the sort of sorrow with which we should be affected for the death of those with whom it has