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5. The upper world is the world of peace and love, Abraham's bofom. There are gone thither before us our godly acquaintances, whom we once looked on as the excellent of the earth, the lofs of whofe fociety was heavy; we will get it there again. The holy angels will be loving and lovely companions. He who en earth died for us while enemies, how loving and lovely will he appear there, where we shall be perfect? God is love itself, and there his infinite love will be difplayed in an inconceivable manner.
Laftly, Chrift paffed the ford before you, has altered the nature of the waters, Rom. viii. 34. and caused them to abate; and now he bids you follow, for that there is no fear, Cant. ii. 10, IL. Keep the eye of faith on Chrift, who forded the waters of death before you, and that will be a mean to abate the terror.
Thirdly, Familiarize death to yourself, Job xvii. 13, 14. Do not keep at a distance from it in your thoughts. I would not have the terror of death rob you of the comfort of life; but it is the greateft folly for a man to wind up himself so in the comforts and amufements of life, as to debar the ferious thoughts of death; and can serve no end, but to bring fudden and remedilefs ruin; for whether men will think of death, and prepare for it, or not; it will be in on them at length. And what we must meet with, it is beft to acquaint ourselves with before. Therefore,
1. Be frequent in your taking a view of the other world, with the help of the profpect of the word, to be looked through by the eye of faith. Be often as it were getting up to the top of Pifgah, thence to view the promised land. You cannot get thither for a trial, to come back again, Job xiv. 14. but there is a map of it drawn in the Bible, by confidering of which you may be brought acquainted with it.
2. Be often viewing the paffage thereto. The Jordan of death runs betwixt it and this our wilderness, and by it is the paffage we must all take. We will not get
an effay made of it, that we may mend at one time what we marred at another; there is the more need then to look well and often to it before we enter in, which we know not how foon we may be obliged to.
Laftly, Let your hearts be habitually difpofed to thefe views, to notice the many memorials of them that Providence has furnished. There are ftill fome dropping off into that world, fome young, fome aged. What is every winter, but an emblem of death; and every fpring, but an emblem of the other world and the refurrection? Yea every night is the grave of the former day, as the following day empties the grave again.
Fourthly, Raife comfortable expectations from death. View the day of death in the light wherein our text fets it, and behold it as a good day, the beft day.
1. Expect it as the day that will better your condition, however heavy that is now, Pf. xvi. 9. Though ye have many heavy days in your life, partly from your own corruption, partly from the corruption of others; partly from the holy hand of God for trial, partly from the devil feeking your deftruction; look to the day of death, as what will fet all to rights, and bring in to you what heart can wifh. The day of death to a child of God is his marriage day, Mat. xxv. the day wherein the traveller comes home from abroad to his Father's house, the day wherein he is past his minority, and enters to his inheritance.
2. Expect it as the day that will establish dition, Rev. iii. 12. Your condition is wavering and uncertain now, Pfal. xxx. 6, 7. Sometimes your foul's cafe is profperous, but ere you are aware it is all wrong again; fometimes washed fair and clean in the fountain, anon ye are lying in the mire again; fometimes ye have your feet on the neck of your corruptions, anon they trample you under foot; fometimes ye can raise one of the fongs of Zion, anon the harps are quite out of tune, hanged on the willows. Sometimes your outward condition is fmiling; but that lafts not, it turns
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gloomy, and troubles break in perhaps from all quarters together, the fprings of your comfort run bitternefs, and your worldly comforts are dried up one after another. But look forward to the day of death, as what will end all ungrateful changes.
Fifthly, Work your heart to, and entertain a regu lar defire of death. The day of death is certainly to a child of God an object of defire; the apoftle profeffeth it, Phil. i. 23. "I defire to depart, and to be with Christ;" and that in the name of all the faints, 2 Cor. v. 2. "For in this we groan earneftly, defiring to be clothed upon with our houfe which is from heaven." And it is a piece of good preparation for death.
Quef. What is the regular defire of death?
Anf.1. For the matter of it, it lies in thefe three things. (1.) A defire of it as the paffage to uninterrupted communion with God in Chrift, Phil. i. 25. Sometimes it arifeth from the faints want of communion with God, which being uneafy does rightly make death defirable, as that which would make up that want, and fecure against it any more for ever; fometimes from the fenfe of the fweetnefs of that communion, Cant. viii. 6. But the enjoyment of God being a part of man's chief end, death is defirable as a means to it.
(2.) A defire of it as the paffage to perfection in holinefs, Phil. iii. 14. Thus the man defireth it that he may be free of fin, and put beyond the poffibility of finning more, Rom. vii. 24. that he may be in capacity to ferve the Lord without marring or wearying of the work. This is the main part of man's chief end, and therefore death must be defirable as a means thereto.
(3.) A defire of it as an entrance into reft. The reft of death is promised to the faints for their comfort in all their heavy and reftlefs circumftances, Ifa. lvii. 2. And therefore it must be desirable under that confideration. It is very natural for the toffed in a ftorm, to be defirous to be afhore, for the weary labourer to defire to have ease, and for the Christian to
defire his eternal and perfect reft, Job vii. 2.
2. For the quality regulating it, it must be accompanied with entire refignation to the will of God, Mat. vi. to. We must in our defire of it even on these accounts be refigned to the will of God.
(1.) As to the time, we must never be peremptory as to that, but wait the time prefixed of God, Job xiv. 14. He will keep us no longer in life, than he has ufe for us either in the way of doing or fuffering; and we must be content to wait his time for our admittance into uninterrupted communion to perfection of holinefs, and into reft; and to be peremptory for rest at our time, and refolved to suffer no more, while yet God dischargeth us not is devilish, and expofeth to eternal fuffering, as the centry deserting his poft is defervedly fhot to death.
(2.) As to the way and manner. There are many ways of going out of the world, we muft leave it to the Lord, which will be the way for us; whether the way of lingering fickness or fudden death, natural, or violent by the hand of man. I think, if God fhould refer it to us, we fhould refer it back to him.
SECONDLY, Sinners, and all whofoever would have the day of death better to you than the day of your birth, improve life for that end. To fum up your duty in a word, as you have already heard, (1.) Let it be your great care and concern to get the favour and friendship of God thro' Chrift, by taking hold of God's covenant of free grace, uniting with Chrift the head of it, through faith in his name. (2.) Lead your life a life to the honour of God, studying to please him in all things. Renounce your own will, and your own corrupt affections, and wholly give up yourselves to him, to be ruled by him, and governed by his laws. (3.) Live ufefully for men. Lay out yourselves to promote the fpiritual and temporal welfare of all ye have accefs to in your ftation. By thefe means, and no other way, ye will obtain the good name, by which your dyingday will be better to you than your birth-day.
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TO HIM AT THE LAST DAY; WITH THEIR DISTINGUISHING CHARACTER, AS ENTERING INTO HIS COVENANT NOW, CONSIDERED.
The substance of feveral Sermons preached at Etterick in May 1730.
PSALM 1. 3.
Gather my faints together unto me: thofe that have made a covenant with me by facrifice.
L OOKING forward to the other world, we will see a great gathering to come, a gathering of faints, and a gathering of finners; what part we shall have in these, depends on the entertainment we now give to the gathering unto Christ, in the covenant; they that will not now be gathered to Christ in the bond of the covenant, will then be driven from him, and gathered with finners into the pit; they that gather now to him in that bond, will be gathered to him in glory then. Gather my faints together unto me: thofe that have made a covenant with me by facrifice.
This pfalm certainly relates to the coming of Chrift for judgment, ver. 3. Our God fhall come, and fhall not keep filence; a fire fhall devour before him, and it shall be very tempeftuous round about him.' But whether to his firft coming, to abolish the ceremonial law, fet up the fimple gospel-worship, and to judge, condemn, and take vengeance on the formal superstitious Jews, destroying their temple, and ruining their kingdom; or to his fecond coming to judge the world, is a question. I think it is plain it relates to both, the former as an emblem, pledge, and type of the other: and thus we find them ftated by our Saviour himself, Matth. xxiv. Only the coming of the Judge is expreffed in terms, directly and immediately looking to