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of God's sovereignty in decreeing the character and conditions of all mankind from eternity, feel and speak and act just as God fore-ordained, and has foretold, that they would feel and speak and act; and of course all their objections are so many arguments in favor of the doctrine they disbelieve, deny and oppose. They must, therefore, become cordially reconciled to the doctrine, or the doctrine will cause them to stumble and fall and perish.
2. In the view of this subject, we may see that real saints have a permanent source of comfort, to which all who disbelieve and reject the gospel are entire strangers. The men of the world have no assurance that God has chosen them to salvation, set them apart for himself, and will guard and guide them to and through death unto eternal life. While God is preserving their lives and granting their requests, he is sending leanness into their souls. Both prosperity and adversity are preparing them for a painful death and miserable eternity. They are without God, without Christ, and without hope in the world. They are all their life time subject to bondage through fear of death, which may drive them away in their iniquities, and sink them in hopeless ruin. These are the wicked, who have no solid nor lasting ground of peace. They are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. They are utter strangers to that peace which passeth all understanding, and which is a constant source of solid happiness to the righteous, whom God claims as his own, and takes special care of through life, through death, and through every period of their existence. Paul was one whom God had set apart for himself, and he could confidently say, “ I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him, against that day. And he was no less confident of the per
. petual peace and security of his fellow christians; for he says to them, “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” These great and precious promises comprise all the blessings which christians need in this life, and which they can enjoy in the life to come.
3. Since God claims all real christians as his own, and always takes a gracious care of them, they ought to make their calling and election sure to themselves. They are absolutely secure in his view, and they ought to be absolutely secure in their own view. He has given abundant evidence of their security. He has from eternity chosen them to eternal life. He has
shed abroad his love in their hearts, and sealed them unto the day of redemption. He has given them great and precious promises of his love, his care, and protection. He has cared for them, guided and guarded them against innumerable seen and unseen dangers. He has given them the spirit of adoption, and enabled them to cry Abba, Father. He has commanded them to examine themselves whether they are in the faith ; to prove their own selves; to know their own selves; to keep their hearts with all diligence; and to repel all the fiery darts of the wicked one. These injunctions they ought to obey; and if they had duly obeyed them, they would have made their calling and election sure. But how many real christians neglect this duty, involve themselves in doubts and fears, and walk in darkness and see no light! This argues something wrong in their hearts, for which they can find no good excuse. If they plead the deceitfulness of their own hearts, this will not excuse them. If they plead the hidings of God's face,
. this will not excuse them. If they plead the multiplicity of the cares and concerns of life, this will not excuse them. °If they plead the diverse and contradictory opinions among ministers and others, this will not excuse them. Or if they plead the subtilty of the great deceiver, this will not excuse them. They have the law and the testimony; that is, the word of God, by which they may and ought to try themselves, and gain a full assurance of hope. They have no right to refuse to be enlightened and comforted, while they hold the Bible in their hands, and sit under the preaching of the gospel. They are chargeable with ingratitude, for what he has done for them and said to them. They dishonor religion by their doubts and fears. They deprive themselves of that peace and comfort which they ought to enjoy. They unfit themselves for every religious duty, and for a peaceful and joyful death. It is high time to awake out of sleep, for now is your salvation nearer than when
you believed. 4. If the death of saints be precious in the sight of the Lord, then it ought to be precious and desirable in their own sight. They ought to live in hope, and not in fear of death. Job did not wish to live alway, but waited patiently until the appointed time of his death should come. Paul said he died daily. He lived in the desire, as well as in the expectation of his dying hour. And he says, that not only he, but his fellow christians viewed death as a precious and desirable event. "For we know," he confidently declares, " that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with
our house which is from heaven. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labor, that whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him." They gave diligence to make their calling and election sure; and they did make it sure, that they were elected, and set apart for God and accepted of him. Hence they could adopt the language of the apostle and say, we are now ready to be offered, and the time of our departure is at hand. We have fought a good fight, we have finished our course, we have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for us a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give us at that day: and not to us only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. God views the death of his saints as precious, and he has made rich provision for them, that they may view it as precious. He has placed death among his covenant blessings; and it is only for them to make sure their title to them, and they may be certain not only of a safe, but of a peaceful and precious death. If christians would only keep themselves in the love of God, and live by that faith which makes future things present, and invisible things visible, they would always stand in the posture of faithful servants waiting and hoping for the coming of their Lord.
5. Since God claims saints as his own, and takes peculiar care of them both living and dying, it infinitely concerns sinners to become saints, and live a holy and devout life. They are born to die, as well as saints. They, as well as saints, need the favor and blessing of God both in this life and in that which is to come. But it is impossible that they should secure the favor and presence of God in life and in death, without becoming reconciled to him upon the terms of the gospel, and living a pious and obedient life. Without piety, they cannot enjoy God in life, in death, nor in eternity. Without holiness no man can see the Lord. All their interests for time and, eternity are suspended upon their becoming saints in this world, and living in obedience to the commands of God, which he has given them for their good. Hence Moses in his dying address to his people said unto them, “ Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, to do all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for
you; because it is your life.” Who would not wish as Balaam did, that he might die the death of the righteous ? Who would not wish to enjoy a peaceful death and a blessed immortality? But these infinitely desirable and important blessings are promised
to the saints only, and upon the saints only will they ever be bestowed. The enemies of God must become his friends, before they can enjoy his favor, and his loving kindness, which is better than life. How many in a dying hour have bitterly lamented their neglect of making their peace with God, till all hope was lost! God sincerely and ardently desires that sinners would become reconciled to him, that their death might be precious in his sight. “O,” says he, “ that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!”
6. If God takes peculiar care of saints in life, and often gives them a peaceful death, then their death ought to be peculiarly regarded as very precious and instructive. A peaceful death is not very often to be seen. Many more die in darkness, than die in light. Many more die in fear than die in hope. Hope in death is one of the peculiar favors which God graciously grants to his saints, whom he claims as his own. Hence says Solomon, " The wicked is driven away in his wickedness; but the righteous hath hope in his death.” It is only the path of the just that shineth more and more unto the perfect day; and when such as have shone in life shine in death, their death is precious and peculiarly instructive, and deserves uncommon notice. This God requires.
This God requires. “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace.” It displays a strong and lively faith in God, to meet the king of terrors in hope, without dismay. Such a death can hardly fail to give a realizing and impressive sense to relatives, friends, and all surrounding spectators, of two of the most interesting objects in the invisible world, the future blessedness of the righteous, and the future misery of the unrighteous. How precious and instructive was the death of David, whose last words were, “ Although my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: this is all my salvation, and all my desire.” How precious and instructive was the death of pious Siineon, when he could say in the exercise of a lively hope of future blessedness, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation!” The peaceful death of saints is very precious and instructive to surviving christians. It reminds them of their duty, confirms their faith, and brightens their future and eternal prospects. The peaceful death of the godly does not appear so precious to the ungodly; but nevertheless it may make as deep and salutary impressions on their minds. It carries the most sensible conviction to the consciences of all who are destitute of vital piety, that they are VOL. III.
unfit to die, unfit for heaven, and fit only for the everlasting society and state of the incorrigible enemies of God and of all good, which is awfully alarming. It must be owing, therefore, to the fault of both saints and sinners, if they do not lay to heart every peaceful death of the godly, and derive instruction and benefit from every such solemn scene that they are called to witness. It gives them a visible demonstration of the eternal separation of the righteous from the wicked.
7. If God claims all real saints as his own, and takes peculiar care of their death, which is precious in his sight, then pious mourners have ground of support and consolation under the bereavement of their pious relatives and friends. They may be assured that God guarded and guided them through life, was with them in the hour of death, and has received them into his presence, where is fulness of joy, where sin and sorrow shall no more reach them, and where all tears shall be for ever wiped from their eyes. This is what he has promised all the righteous he will do for them. And this is what he is every where doing for the righteous, when he calls them to pass through the dark valley of the shadow of death. This ought to satisfy pious mourners, who are lamenting the death of relatives and friends, whom they deemed near to God, and knew to be dear to themselves.
These observations may apply to the late instance of mortality in this place. One who professed to be pious, and was viewed by others to be pious, has early finished her course, and gone the way of all the earth.
We are incompetent judges of the real, and much more of the eminent piety of others. Christ was a perfect judge of piety in both these respects. He distinguished Peter, James and John, among the twelve, and John among the three. But without making any such distinction, we may be allowed to hope that the deceased was one whom God called his own, and whose death was precious in his sight. If this was the case, her pious friends (and she undoubtedly had such) have ground of consolation in her death, and in all the circumstances of it. These were somewhat peculiar and trying. Her disorder was singular and slow, and distressing in its operation. It bid defiance to all the efforts made to remove it. She suffered a thousand deaths in the apprehension of one, for she lingered long on a dying bed. But if she was a child of God, he ordered all these circumstances in wisdom, goodness, and covenant faithfulness; and they were adapted to do her good, to do good to her husband, and to all her relatives and friends. They have been called to pass
* Mrs. Patty Metcalf, the wife of Mr. Nathan Metcalf.