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great trust to you whilst you live: you expect him faithfully to keep what you shall then commit to his keeping, and he expects you faithfully to keep what he now commits to you. If you keep his truth, he will keep your soul. "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee," &c. Rev. 3:10. Be faithful to your God, and you shall find him faithful to you. None can pluck you out of his hand; see that nothing wrest his truth out of your hands. "If we deny him, he also will deny us." 2 Tim. 2:12. Take heed lest those
estates you have gotten as a blessing attending the Gospel, prove a temptation to you to betray the Gospel. Religion (saith one) brings forth riches, but the daughter devours the mother." How can you expect acceptance with God, who have betrayed his truth and dealt perfidiously with him?
3. If believers may safely commit their souls into the hands of God, how confidently may they commit all lesser interests into the same hands! Shall we trust him with our souls, and not with our lives, liberty, or comfort? Can we commit the treasure to him and not trust him with a trifle? Surely, if you can trust him for eternal life, you may much more trust him for daily bread. If your prayers for temporal blessings proceed from pure motives, the glory of God, not the gratification of your lusts; your desires after them be moderate, content with that proportion the Infinite Wisdom sees fittest for you: if you take God's way to obtain them, and dare not violate conscience, or commit a sin, though you should perish for want; if you can patiently wait God's time for relief from your straits, and not make any sinful haste; you shall be surely supplied: he that remembers your souls will not forget your bodies. But we live by sense, and not by faith; present things strike our affections more powerfully than invisible things to come. The Lord humble his people for this.
4. Is it the privilege of believers to commit their souls to God in a dying hour? Then how precious, how useful a grace is faith to the people of God, both living and dying! While we live and converse here in the world, all our comfort and safety is from it; for all our union with Christ, the fountain of mercies and blessings, is by faith: "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith." Eph. 3: 17. All our communion with Christ is by it: "He that cometh to God must believe.” Heb. 11: 6. The soul's life is wrapt up in this communion with God, and that communion in faith. All communications from Christ, all quickening, comfort, joy, strength, and whatsoever serves the well-being of the life of grace, are through that faith which first unites us to Christ, and still maintains our communion with Christ; "believing, we rejoice." 1 Pet. 1: 8. The inner man is renewed, whilst we look to the things that are not seen. 2 Cor. 4 18. And as our life, and all its supports and comforts here depend on faith, so in our death, the safety and comfort of our souls then depends upon our faith: he that hath no faith, cannot commit his soul to God, but rather shrinks from God. Faith can do many precious offices for your souls upon a death-bed, when the light of this world is gone, and all joy ceases on earth: it can give us sights of invisible things in the other world, and those sights will breathe life into our souls, amidst the very pangs of death.
Reader, do but think what a comfortable foresight of God and the joys of salvation thou wilt have, when thine eye-strings are breaking: faith can not only see that beyond the grave which will comfort, but it can cleave to its God, and clasp Christ in a promise, when it feels the ground of all sensible comforts trembling, and sinking under thy feet: "My heart and my flesh fail, but God is the strength (or rock) of my heart, and my portion for ever." Reeds fail, but the rock is firm
footing; yea, and when the soul can no longer tabernacle here, it can cast itself upon God, with, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." Oh precious faith!
5. Do the souls of dying believers commend themselves into the hands of God? Then let not the surviving relations of such sorrow as those that have no hope. A husband, a wife, a child, is rent by death out of your arms: well, but consider into what arms, into what bosom they are commended. Is it not better for them to be in the bosom of God than in yours? Could they be spared so long from heaven as to come back again to you but an hour, how would they say to you, as Christ said to the daughters of Jerusalem, " Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children." I am in safe hands, I am out of the reach of all storms and troubles. Oh did you but know what their state is who are with God, you would be more than satisfied about them.
6. Is it the privilege of dying believers to commend their souls into the hands of God? Then as ever you hope for comfort or peace in your last hour, see that your souls be such as may then be commended into the hands of a holy and just God: see that they be holy souls; God will never accept them if they be not holy : 'Without holiness no man shall see God." Heb. 12: 14. "He that hath this hope, (namely, to see God,) purifieth himself, even as he is pure." 1 John, 3:3. Endeavors after holiness are inseparably connected with all rational expectations of blessedness. Will you put an unclean, filthy, defiled thing into the pure hands of the most holy God? Oh see that thy soul be holy, and already accepted in the Beloved; or wo to it when it shall take its leave of the tabernacle it now inhabits! The gracious soul may then confidently say, Lord Jesus! into thy hand I commend my spirit. O let all that can say so then, now say, Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.
CHRIST'S FUNERAL ILLUSTRATED.
"Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified, there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore, because of the Jews' preparationday; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand." John, 19: 40-42.
You have heard the last words of the dying Jesus commending his spirit into his Father's hands. And now the Life of the world hangs dead upon a tree. The Light of the world, for a time, shut up in a dismal cloud. The Sun of Righteousness set in the region and shadow of death. The Lord is dead; he that conquered death, is now himself to be locked up in the grave. All friends and lovers of Jesus are now invited to his funeral. "Come, see the place where the Lord lay." Mark,
1. The preparations made for it, particularly the begging and perfuming of the body. His body could not be buried, till, by begging, his friends had obtained it as a favor from his judge. The dead body was by law in the power of Pilate, who adjudged it to death, as the bodies of those that are hanged are in the power of the judge to dispose of them as he pleases. And when they had gotten it from Pilate, they wound it in fine linen clothes with spices. But what need of spices to perfume that blessed body? His own love was enough to embalm it in the remembrance of his people to all generations: but hereby they manifest, as far as they are able, the dear affection they have for him.
2. The bearers that carried his body to its grave were Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, two secret disciples; both men of estate and honor. None could ima
gine that these would have appeared at a time of so much danger, with such boldness for Christ; that they, who were afraid to come to him (except by night) when he was living, would go openly and boldly to manifest their love to him when dead. But now they are inspired with zeal and courage, when those that made greater and more open confessions have left him.
3. The attendants who followed the body were the women that attended him out of Galilee; among whom only the two Marys and the mother of Zebedee's children (whom Mark calls Salome) are named.
4. The grave, or sepulchre, where they laid him was Joseph's new tomb, which he had prepared in a garden near Golgotha, where our Lord died. Two things are remarkable about this tomb; it was another's tomb, and it was a new tomb. It was another's; for as he had not a house of his own to live in, so he had not a tomb of his own to lay his body in when dead. And it was a new tomb, wherein never man was yet laid. Doubtless there was the hand of Providence in this; for had any other been laid there before him, it might have proved an occasion of marring the credit and the glory of his resurrection, by pretending it was some former body, and not the Lord's, that arose. In this also Divine Providence had a respect to that prophecy, Isa. 53: 9, which was to be fulfilled at his funeral: "He made his grave with the rich."
5. No mention is made of the groans and tears with which they laid him in his sepulchre; yet we may well presume they were not wanting in expressions of their deep sorrow; for as they wept and smote their breasts when he died, Luke, 23:48; so, no doubt, they laid him with melting hearts and flowing eyes in his tomb.
6. The solemnities with which his funeral rites were performed were all suitable to his humbled state. It was, indeed, a funeral as decently ordered as the straits