« VorigeDoorgaan »
this only time of our probation, which the heart and affections must undergo; even from a death of sin to a life of righteousness. 6 Marvel not that I said unto you, ye must be born again," said our Lord to the Jewish doctor, in discussing the moral part of the mystery. To all such as are not thus renewed and sanctified, justified, and purified, in the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness, even the blood of Christ; death is death still; his sting is still pointed, and con. sequently the last penalty of our nature will only be a prelude and foretaste to those inexpressible horrors of the second death,” wherein the sin. ner shall be banished from the presence of God to all eternity, with the worm that never dieth, and the fire that never shall be quenched.
To this awful state every year, every day, every hour, brings you a step nearer. The fad. ing and falling leaf, must, if he thinks at all, fill the mind of the sinner with unmingled bitterness and dismay. No longer then, I beseech you, by the mercies of God, which are ever open to the returning penitent, no longer continue a prey to such dismal forebodings. You have the remedy in your own hands. Apply it by repentance and faith. Burst the chains of sin, and pray for grace, to be made free with the liberty of the children of God. So shall you assert that importance which the Gospel would confer upon you, in the scale of God's rational creation in the generations upon earth: and in those to come, ye shall have a name better than of sons and daughters.
To you, my brethren, who are living upon the hopes and promises of Christ's religion, if “ to live be Christ, to die will be gain.” If, by faith and holy obedience, your hearts and affections are transferred to a more durable state of existence, and your treasure be in heaven, you will not be disposed to complain, that “the fashion of this world passeth away,” and that “ here you have no continuing city.” If you look daily for “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God,” you will not be dismayed at witnessing the dismantling of your earthly house of this tabernacle. If, as “the outward man perisheth, the inward man be renewed day by day," you will long “to be clothed upon with your house from heaven,” that mortality may be swallowed up of life. Looking for. ward and hasting to the coming of the Son of God, you will hail the time of your departure, as an event which is to release you from a world of sin and sorrow, and to transplant you, through his abundant merits, into the paradise above. Thus transformed by the power of divine grace, daily and habitually implored, cherished, and improved, you will be enabled to adopt the language of pious resignation, and to say, with an eminent saint, long since departed in the true faith of Christ :* “Lord show mercy to me, and let not death be terrible, and then take thine own time. I submit to it. Let thy will be done." And when the enemy is upon you, and you are passing the dark valley of the shadow of death, you will be enabled to add in the same delightful strain, “ God hath heard my daily petitions, for I am at peace with all men, and he is at peace with me: and from that blessed assurance, I feel that inward joy, which this world can neither give, nor take away."
THE CHRISTIAN'S TRIUMPH OVER
PSALM xxiii. 4.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I will fear no evil : for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
It is plain, that none other than a sincerely good man could utter, and what is more, could feel such a measure of holy confidence in the guardian power and goodness of God, as breathes forth in these pathetic words. So awful a thing is death, so revolting to weak and timid nature the bare thought of the dissolution of this earthly tabernacle, that we may well suppose that a power not our own is necessary to grapple with it, a faith, “ which is the gift of God ;" a faith such as those illustrious worthies of old possessed, as Gideon, Barak, Sampson, Jeptha; David also, and Samuel, and the Prophets ; who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens, who “ all died in faith ;" the faith in short of the Christian who is called upon by the nature of his profession to die daily, to carry death as it were about with him, daily to feel and handle the edge of this all vanquishing weapon; no less a faith, I say, than this is requisite, if we would in any comfortable measure subdue the fear of death, and not start at the occasional risings of the thought within our breasts.
How then shall that man support himself under the apprehensions of death, who is called upon naked and unarmed, to meet him; to surrender up himself, his possessions, his hopes, and his prospects; his all at the call of death? The worldling, who has lived in total and habitual forgetfulness of God all his life, must needs shrink back when he is about to enter the mazes of this dark valley, without a guide to direct his steps,