Obrazy na stronie

giveness. Do not think it enough to have a Christian burial when you die, if you have not also a Christian expectation. You may be laid by the evergreen tree-dear emblem of immortality, your interment may be accompanied with a Christian service; but that emblem and that service have no application to you. By custom and courtesy you may find a Christian burial; but will you be likely to find a Christian resurrection? Do not trust to your own feelings, but ask your curate that question: and "today if ye will hear his voice" effectually, remember the day when his voice shall pass over you unheard except by those around, "seeing many things, but thou observest not." (Isai. xlii. 20.)

Or it may be your lot, however uncommon, to feel on this head already more than enough, with an immoderate sense of unfitness and want of preparation for the great event, like David when he exclaimed, "O spare me a little that I may recover my strength, before I go hence, and be no more seen," (Ps. xxxix. 15,) not meaning his corporeal strength, which signifies nothing against death, but his spiritual strength,-the strength of faith which he indicates elsewhere, as in the 61st, the 77th, and several other Psalms; that you may say with him, "As for me; I am like a green olive-tree in the house of God: my trust is in the tender mercy of God for ever and ever." (lb. lii. 9.) So may you take pleasure not only in infirmities (Cor. II. xii. 10) with St. Paul: but even in your own death. Yea, God himself will also be pleased with the same, as it is written, "Right dear in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." (Ps. cxvi. 13.) "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked." (Ezek. xxxiii. 11.) Therefore may one say with Balaam, whatever one might think of his example, "Let me die the death of the righteous," (Num. xxiii. 10,) that my Maker may feel some complacency in his workmanship; and "the work of his hands," in him:

[ocr errors]

"Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands." (Job. xiv, 15.) The effectual connexion, or it may be said almost, the coincidence between death and judgment ought never to be forgotten. We ought not to forget, that after our last glance in this world the next will be in another, and that the two perceptions of death and judgment will come upon every one apparently in as quick succession as two sails passing on the sea, as two birds following in the air, as two drops falling on the earth. And if one could but apprehend these two great occurrences in the same close order, as they deserve, it is likely that we should be more earnest in our preparation for the last mentioned. At the same time, if the respite or interval of the grave be not considerable to others, it may be to those who are prepared for the consequence, and wholesome likewise in respect thereof, though an heavy dispensation in itself, by operating at once both as a sedative and an alterative in the human subject.

As a sedative, the dispensation of death is essential to a state of happiness and everlasting quiet, by allaying the ferment necessarily produced in our minds and souls during a turbulent existence on earth. Even at present, in this state as it is, we should be goaded to madness by the effect of care and conscience on our frail spirits, if such effect was not occasionally changed or superseded by soothing rest. How sweetly does an hour glide away

in the morning before the business of the day beginshow hardly does it trot on toward the conclusion! Just so it is with the whole of our earthly existence: its dawn is delightful; its meridian a sowing of cares, which is reaped in our declining days: so that nothing short of death can rid us entirely of the bitter fruit.

As an alterative or corrective death is an essential means whereby to let our ill-humours escape. For, besides the forementioned unpleasantness, there are also

many obliquities both in mind and disposition even for the regenerate or true Christian to be rid of: these constituents of his, death will also disperse for him, with the rest; and in short, from that period our life shall rise again altogether new. "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power." (Cor. I. xv. 42.) For if " by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned;" (Rom. v. 12;) yet," (as the wise woman before mentioned continues,) yet does he (that is, God) devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him." (Sam. II. xiv. 14.) "And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." (Cor. I. xv. 49.)



As every subordinate disease in the body is an effort of nature to restore its health in some respect; and as even the dissolution or amputation of some part is often calculated to preserve the rest in union, so our corporeal death, a general disease and total dissolution of this earthly tabernacle, is calculated under the influence of God's Holy Spirit to remove all sores, foibles, and fallacies out of the way, and to prepare for the restoration of both body and soul in a higher state of health even than that which they enjoyed at their creation, before they had fallen, or that death had ever entered into the world by sin. Then will the offspring of Heaven be freed from all impressions that do not originate with itself. Those morbid habits with which it has been infected will be put off with its disordered frame. "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit to God who gave it."

Through the communion of soul and body, or in preciser terms, through the mutual subjection of all its constituents severally to each other, as well as of both its parts or both sets of constituents, severally and collectively, to external influence whether good or evil, the human subject can never be wholly free from suffering, nor can either part of it enjoy the freedom it may happen to have entirely,

so long as another part shall remain subject to the last mentioned evil influence. As there can be no security for a man's person, if there can be bodily health, while the affections are subject to corroding care, and the mind is a prey to false apprehensions; so neither for his spiritual and intellectual sanity while the body is full of corruption. "For we know (says St. Paul) that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now and not only they, but ourselves which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." (Rom. viii. 22, 23.) It is therefore evident, that previous to this redemption or renewing of the body the soul itself must be unsettled; and the first fruits of the spirit would be to St. Paul, or to any other so endowed, like new wine in old bottles without such redemption; a reunion with the Tree of life being as necessary to our renewal and salvation in one respect as in another. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you," (John vi. 53,) says the Institutor of that sacrament. "For as in Adam (i. e. in the old state) all die, even so in Christ (i. e. in the new state begun by him) shall all be made alive." (Cor. I. xv. 22.) "Verily, verily, I say unto you, (says he,) Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John xii. 24.) And St. Paul in his forecited discourse on the resurrection appears to treat it as a solecism or absurdity, to expect a renovation of the subject without this process. "Thou fool, (says he,) that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die." (Cor. I. xv. 36.) Even those who shall survive at the last day according to him must be changed. (Ibid. 51.) It is appointed unto men once to die at least; if they have no time to sleep upon it, dying as it were on the day of resurrection.

In that day shall we be like its Author, the Author

of the resurrection ;— "for we shall see him as he is." (John I. iii. 2.) We shall be like him not only in a divine Spirit, but also in a glorified body, through the effect of this change. "For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him" (Tim. II. ii. 11, 12) after all our trials. "THANKS BE TO GOD: WHICH GIVETH US THE VICTORY THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST!" "O Death, where is thy sting?

(Cor. I. xv. 55.)

O grave, where is thy victory?"




"Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead ?"

ACTS xxvi. 8.

MEANING to deduce from these words a discourse on the last or general resurrection, I think it necessary to premise of the accident itself, that the same consists in two forms or species, one for the present, and one for a future state; instances of the former having been hitherto the more numerous; as of a young Shunamite raised by Elisha, (Kings II. iv. 35,) of Lazarus by Jesus, (John xi. 44,)"though Jesus himself baptized not personally," (Ib. iv. 2,) of Tabitha, by his Apostle, Saint Peter, (Acts ix. 40,)-of Eutychus, by St. Paul; (Ib. xx. 10;) not to mention others, who are similarly risen for the present: while of the latter species, or the risen for futurity, only one has appeared," which is Christ the First Fruits:" (Cor. I. xv. 23 :) who "being raised from the dead, dieth no death hath no more dominion over him." (Rom. vi. 9.) And it is of this latter species, or of the resurrec


« PoprzedniaDalej »