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God;" unless you have passed s from death to life;" unless such an inward and entire change hath passed upon you, you are not ready for the Son of man: and it he should come and find you in that condition, woe, woe unto you! It had been better for you never to have been born at all, than not be born again.
Let me beseech you, therefore, not to rest in names, and forms, and an external religion, which is mere bodily exercise, and profiteth nothing: but cry earnestly to God for regenerating grace: beg him to “ create in you a clean heart," and to " renew a right spirit within you ;" " that ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness," Pray that the Lord would make you“ willing, in the day of his power,” to deny yourselves, and take up your cross, and follow Christ; willing to cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light; willing to receive the Lord Jesus Christ aş your Prince and Saviour; willing to glory in him, as the Lord your righteousness and strength; and to rely upon him, as the sole foundation of your peace with God now, and your hopes of acceptance with God hereafter. If Christ be thus formed in your souls; if he dwell in your hearts by faith ; if you
abide in Christ, and his words abide in you; then you are prepared for any thing; " for there is po condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
and, die when or where you will, you need not doubt, but that, when you are“ absent from the body,'' you shall be " present with the Lord.”
And that is enough, is it not? Why need I multiply advices, when, this one, faithfully followed, will carry you to heaven ? What can you desire more? Yes: we do desire something more than this; we would be glad to die honourably, usefully, comfortably; and wish you would tell us how we may attain to that.' I go on therefore, and add,
2. Keep a conscience void of offence.
Guilt upon the conscience is a heavy burthen at any time, but it is a dreadful weight upon the mind, and a pricking thorn in the pillow of a dying Christian ; for it cannot be concealed that the best saints have their imperfections and miscarriages ; death doth not find them perfectly holy, though it leaves them so : and therefore some of the brightest luminaries of the church, and the most strict and circumspect walkers with God, have desired to die repenting. Now when any guilt has been contracted, by acting contrary to knowledge, conscience, and profession; and it hath not been so speedily and fully repented of as it should be, but the breach hath been left unhealed till the cry is made, “ Behold the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him;" then what will be our confusion, grief, and terror! - What shall I do? where shall I hide my guilty head ? How can I stand before this holy, holy, holy Lord God! I did not expect him, I did not desire him to come so soon. Foolish, wicked wretch! first to commit the sin, and afterwards to neglect it! I cannot, dare not die. Gran
cious Lord, stay thy coming a little longer. What ! refuse me the poor boon of a day, an hour? - Must I go
this very instant, with all this guilt about me? Hast thou forgotten to be gracious, and is thy mercy clean gone for, ever? 0 mercy, mercy,
A very affecting scene this ! Though we may die safely—(for you will remember, I am now speaking to converted persons, to whom God hath granted repentance unto life)—though such may die safely, yet to have our sun set in such a cloud must be dismal and distressing. I pray God none of you may ever feel the anguish of it! The best way to prevent it is, as I said before, to keep a conscience void of offence, if you are at any time betrayed into sin ; and “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” But if you have at any time contracted guilt, do not be easy under it: fly immediately to 56 the blood of sprinkling ;" fall down before the mercy-seat, and do not rise again till he hath smiled, and said, “ Thy sins are forgiven thee; go in peace.”
.”_" And now, little children," says the Apostle, “abide in him; that when he shall appear we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” (1 John ii. 28.)
3. Love not the world, nor the things of the world. I mean,
so as to be unwilling to leave it whenever Christ comes and calls you away. This is sometimes the fault of truly gracious persons, whose treasure is in heaven; yet they are chargeable with an over-eagerness in the pursuit, or an over-fondness in the enjoyment, of worldly comforts. Fancying that they shall never get rich
fast enough, they undertake too much; involve themselves in so many different branches of business, that they are kept in a perpetual burry. This thing must be done, that thing must be done; and they want, if it were possible, to do a thousand things at once. And this extravagant use soon begets an extravagant fondness: they are pleased with their success : and look forward with eager expectation to the day when they shall have got enough, and sit down quietly to enjoy the fruit of their labour. If in the midst of all this bustle Christ comes and knocks, you see confusion and disappointment in their countenances : • What! die, and leave my affairs so, unsettled, and my family so involved ? Die, now that I had just got over all difficulties, and had nothing but profit and pleasure before me? Die, and leave my dear, dear husband, or wife, or child, just as I was beginning to take pleasure in their company?' Then they clasp the beloved object with double ardour to their hearts, and at last are forced away with a visible and very disgraceful reluctance.
Would you die with more credit and comfort, " let your moderation be known unto all men :" “ rejoice as if you rejoiced not, weep as if you wept not, buy as if you possessed not ; use this world as not abusing it, knowing that the fashion of this world passeth away.” Be thankful and cheerful in the enjoyment of what you have ; but remember that you must leave it some time, and may be forced to leave it soon ; and then the parting would be easy : then, if the world should press in upon you in your last moments, and, clinging about you, should attempt to draw you back to earth again, you will
with a noble superiority put it by, and say: “ Farewell, houses, and lands, and trade ! farewell, all my dear relations and friends! very pleasant have ye been to me; but I have dearer friends above, and I long to be among them. I have had a thousand mercies to sweeten life to me, but I have a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better.” If you
would quit the world so easy then, keep it at a distance now :
4. Die daily.
One would think, to look at maný, so busy are they, so merry and so secure; one would think they expected never to die at all; but when a fever, or a mortification, or any other messenger of death presents itself, they are all amazement and distraction. "Oh that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end !" Therefore I said, and say it again, die daily : let death be much in your thoughts, and be every day doing something to forward your preparation for it. Be often anticipating the solemn period : think how you would wish to die ; with what reflections, with what prospects; and cultivate those graces now, which you would wish to exercise then. Accustom yourselves to submission and resignation beforehand; and by repeated acts of self-denial in lesser matters, get ready for that grand trial, when you shall be emphatically called upon to “ leave all, and follow Christ." : The sting of death is sin: let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal bodies, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Watch against it; pray against it; fight against it. Now is the time to