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I shall reign without a rival: and Sin and Death shall sit, the one on my right band, and the other on "my left, in my kingdom.'---But he cried Victory too soon: for early on the third day the great Captain of our salvation revived, burst open the gates of death (“ for it was not possible that he should be holden of them”) spoiled principalities and powers, and declared to all the world that he had destroyed death, and him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. At that time, bore the sins of many ;"
“ the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all;" and therefore Death came armed with a most dreadful sting, which he thrust with a malignant fury into the heart of our blessed representative: and fearful work it made; it threw him into such an agony, that he sweat as it were great drops of blood. He was exceeding sorrowful, and sore amazed, and prayed with extraordinary vehemence, “ Father, if it be possible, let this cup. pass from me." However, he took the cup and drank it: he permitted death to exhaust its venom upon him; he let him kill his body, and lock it up in his gloomy 'prison : and then, the Judge being sa tisfied, and the law fully answered, there could be no further demands upon him: accordingly, by that same power by which he laid down his life, he took it again, and, ascending up on high, “ led captivity captive;" and every believer that hath died since, bath found the blessed influence of that decisive victory. As he was “delivered for our of fences,” so he “rose again for our justification” (Rom. iv. 25.) “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit: for the
law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. viii, 1, 2.) When Death comes to such, he first puts on an air of stern severity; produceth a warrant from: the law, the purport of which is, “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die;" and then, seizing them by the throat, cries, “pay me what thou owest."-"Friend" (cries the believer, not at all dismayed), “ thy me-h naces are ill applied: what the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law, but we are not under the law, but under grace. And who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth, who is he that shall con. demn? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."-This it was made the deceased say, “ Dying in Christ is pora thing :" and at another time," Next to Jesus Christ Death is the best friend a Christian hath, because it puts an end to all sin, and so removes the cause of all misery at once." Who can help admiring the wisdom and mercy of the appointment, that as, sin brought in death, death should carry out sin ; that when death kills the body of a saint, it should kill itself? This then it is that enables the Chris, tian to triumph over death, to smile in death, and, with his last quivering breath to say,
" O Death! where is thy sting?"
If I had not encroached too much on your time already, I should now proceed to make some im, provement of this awful subject, and providence, We are all so closely pursued by this last and most formidable enemy, and no possibility of escaping, that it is an acknowledged part of wisdom to be in
a constant readiness for an assault. Indeed, it is hard to conceive 'how we can have any enjoyment of life, till we are got above a slavish fear of death. Will you then indulge me a few minutes longer? I may never have an opportunity of addressing you'all again. - Some of you will possibly send for me,' to attend you in your last moments; and I don't know how soon that messenger may come. I wish to find you then composed and cheerful, rejoicing in hope of approaching glory. In order to it, let me beseech you, 1. To make sure of the death of sin.
For that, you see, is the cause and sting of death. It is that which makes dying so dreadful. Every sib you' commit now, will be a tborn in your pillow then. We may say of sin in general, what Solomon says of intemperance; “ Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth its colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright: at the last it biteth like'a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” (Prov. xxiii. 31, 32.) It carries a fair face, and a smooth tongue, but conceals a dagger underneath. Though the pill be ever so much sugared and gilded over, it is rank poison notwithstanding; and however sweet it may be in the mouth, depend upon it you will one day pronounce it to be ten thousand times more bitter than wormwood or gall.
46 Take heed, therefore, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day ; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb. iii. 12, 13.) “ Mortify your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uneleanness, inordinate affection, evil con
cupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which thing's sake the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience.” (Col. iii. 5, 6.) If you will not be the death of sin, sin will be the death of you.
It hath slain its millions already, and is still insatiable. It is digging a grave for you now; and, if not timely prevented, will plunge you into all the horrors of the first, the second, and eternal death. Let not sin reign in your mortal bodies. Now is your time to get it down, and cast it out. If you leave it till your faculties are enervated by sickness, you will probably die in your sins; and then-I need not say what, then-you know the dreadful consequence.
2. Make sure of the life of grace.
It is not enough to die unto sin, but you must also live unto righteousness. We are all naturally dead in trespasses and sins; and in this state thou. sands perish eternally ; and in this state we should all perish for ever, if the God of all grace had not mercifully called to us, “ Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee life.” And when this call, like that of “ Lazarus, cone forth,” is accompanied with a divine power and energy, the dead hear the voice of the Son of Man, and live. And this new life, which grace brings into the soul, shall never, never be extin. guished. So says the Author and Finisher of our faith: “ I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die.” (John xi. 25.) Don't be
easy till you have some convincing evi. dence that you are born again; that Christ is
formed in your souls ; that you are ingrafted into this true Vine;, and that you do indeed live, Op rather that Christ liveth in you; and that the life that you live in the flesh, is by the faith of the Son of God. Then you need not be afraid to die at any time, or in any manner. Christ, by overcoming death, made the conquest easy to all his faithful followers. If you are enlisted under his banner, and are true to your colours, you cannot miscarry. “Because I live,” says Christ, * ye shall live also."
3. Look forward to a life of glory.
Such a life we are encouraged to hope for: when all the infirmities and imperfections of the present state shall be entirely and for ever done away; when we shall have no more of these melancholy calls to weep over the dying or the dead; for God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes; and there shall
more death, neither sorrow nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.
“ Behold, I shew you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: (for the trumpet shall sound;) and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed, For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."