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" And I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth : Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours ; . and their works do follow them.' Rev. xiv. 13.
CHRISTIANITY is the religion of ciples which it teaches, and the holiness. As it has God for its au- excellence of the precepts which thor, and the salvation of men for it enjoins. The very design of the its object; and as the means that revelation of mercy that is contain it einploys for the accomplishment ed in the sacred Scriptures, is in of all the purposes for which it is subordination to the glory of God intended, are worthy of him who the production of holiness of heart, loreth righteousness and hateth and propriety of conduct, in those iniquity, -it may well be denomie who are to be made partakers of the nated, a holy religion. This epi- salvation which it declares.
« For thet is, indeed, usually bestowed the grace of God that bringeth salupon it, both by those who own its vation," saith the Apostle Paul, authority, and submit to its requi- “ hath appeared to all men, teach sitions, and by those who only yielding us that, denying ungodliness a courteous obedience to the exter. and worldly lusts, we should live nal forms of worship which it pre- soberly, righteously, and godly, in scribes. Upon the most superficial this present world; looking for that examination of the subject, it will blessed hope, and the glorious applainly appear that the religion of pearing of the great God, and our Jesus Christ is not more distin. Saviour, Jesus Christ: who gave guished from the cruel and volup- himself for us, that he might ree tuous superstition of the Pagans deem us from all iniquity, and pue and Mahometans, by the posses- rify unto himself a peculiar people, sion of those evidences which es- zealous of good works." It is tablish its truth and authority, painful to think that vast multithan it is by the purity of the prin- tudes, who style themselves Christ.
VOL. XXI. NO. XI.
ians, show but too plainly, by their of peace with God, and of safety habitual conduct in life, that they and comfort, and that they exare unworthy of the title which change a condition of sin and sorthey wear. He who examines the row in this present evil world, for character of the doctrines and pre- an uninterrupted enjoyment of a cepts of religion, as they are de- holy felicity in heaven.
These tailed in the pages of Holy Writ,
comprise within themand carefully considers the lan- selves the substance of all the guage and actions of the majority of others that might be offered with a mankind in Christian countries, design to illustrate the truth which will, indeed, be astonished at the is contained in this portion of Scripvast incongruity that exists between ture; but as the Holy Spirit hath the profession and the practice of judged it fit to communicate, as anmany who are called the disciples other ground of consolation to the and servants of Jesus Christ. As afflicted Christian-a declaration, it is of great importance that we which, when taken in a wide and form correct conceptions of the na. general view, embraces the most ture and tendency of the principles important considerations—it is our of the religion which we profess to duty to endeavour to ascertain the receive and believe, a concise re- nature and extent of the informview of the doctrines of Scrip. ation which it conveys. This sinture on these points, may not, even gular expression," and their works in these days, that are usually do follow them," is remarkably considered as enlightened, be alto- concise and emphatical, and is calgether unnecessary or improper. culated to present to our minds the Having already attempted, on a most interesting subjects of reflecformer occasion, to offer some ex- tion. Even upon a very slight replanation of the first part of the view of it, we may discover that it verse, which has been chosen as points out to us the existence of an the subject of some reflections on intimate and inseparable connection the death of good men, and inquir. between the actions of men in this ed into the nature of the descrip- world, and their condition in a fu. tion which is given of those who ture state of being. From other are pronounced
• blessed” at their places of Scripture, it is plain that death, and also stated a few reasons the conduct which wicked men why those persons “ who die in pursue, while they live upon the the Lord" may be said to be “hap- earth, possesses a material influpy" when they depart out of this ence in determining the character world, it may now be expedient to of their situation in the eternal make some observations on that world; and from this particular part of the verse which adds an- portion of sacred writ, it is also other reason of comfort to the saint evident that the works of good under the pressure of his troubles men, in this state of sin and sufferin life, and in the prospect of his ing, are connected, in a peculiar dissolution, to those that have been manner, with the degrees of holiformerly noticed. It is said, with ness and felicity which they shall be regard to those “ who die in the permitted to enjoy in heaven. The Lord,” that they are “ blessed; for doctrines, then, which are fairly they rest from their labours, and deducible from the expression that their works do follow them.” We is now under our consideration, have already mentioned, as the when it is taken in connection with reasons why they are pronounced other declarations of Scripture on
happy," that they die in a state this subject, may be viewed as
possessing such an extended and the character, and unalterably fixes important character as will justify the destiny, of every individual. us in attempting to explain and As soon as they quit this mortal enforce them in a series of general, body, a sentence of condemnation though succinet observations and will be passed against the workers reflections. From the words, " and of iniquity, and a full and authentheir works do follow them," viewtic acquittal from all the accusations ed in their relation to the rest of which the law of God, or the malice the verse in which they stand, and of the devil, can bring against them, to the ordinary doctrine of Scrip- will be pronounced in favour of the ture on the condition of men after true saints and servants of the their death, we may draw the fol- 'Most High ; and the respective lowing conclusions.
awards of each of these classes of In the first place, then, we may persons will be openly declared observe, that it is a certain truth and ratified in the presence of asthat men are to be judged after sembled angels and men, at the day their death, by the works which they of judgment. “ God," saith the have done while they lived upon Scripture, “ hath appointed a day, the earth. God is the righteous in the which he will judge the governor of the world, and he will world in righteousness, by that bestow an impartial recompense
whom he hath ordained, upon every man, according to the whereof he hath given assurance nature and the qualities of his con- unto all men, in that he hath raised duct. Even in the present life we him from the dead.” Our works discern many striking indications will follow us beyond the confines of the exercise of that justice and of the world, and appear as evidence, equity, which, in the end, will af- either for us against us, ford an ample retribution, both to at the bar of almighty justice. the good and the bad. Although The whole train of our thoughts, the wicked often flourish like a words, motives, and actions, will green bay-tree, cast their roots deep pass in review before our own reinto the soil, extend their branches, collections; and will either justify and hang forth their blossoms, they or condemn us in the tribunal of are sometimes suddenly torn up our consciences, as well as in the from the earth as with a whirlwind, presence of the eternal judge. and laid in prostrate ruin on the The most trifling and minute part ground, which they once of our conduct, will, at the last day, shadowed with their stately magni- undergo a scrutiny as severe and ficence. The most holy and up- exact as that which will try the right servants of God may frequente most important actions of our lives. ly be depressed and afflicted, but “ God shall bring every work into they are also sometimes elevated judgment, with every secret thing, into prosperity and honour, while whether it be good or whether it be their very enemies are compelled evil,” in the day when God shall to acknowledge that God has inter- judge the secrets of man by Jesus posed his power to succour them Christ. “ For we must all appear in their adversities, and to advance before the judgment seat of Christ, them to eminence of place, and dig. that every one may receive the nity among men. It is not in this things done in his body, aceording world, however, that either the to that he hath done, whether it wicked or the righteous receive be good or bad." The judge who the full reward of their actions. is appointed to determine the award The moment of death ascertains that is due to the character of our
dispositions and conduct, possesses guises with which men endeavour infinite knowledge, wisdom, and to cover their intentions, both from power. We cannot conceal any themselves and others; from the thing from his observation, for he instances of apparent piety, zeal, is omniscient. We cannot disguise benevolence, and fortitude, which the enormity of our offences from they exhibit now and then, to the his penetration, for he searches the admiration of the world, we might hearts, and tries the reins, of the justly fear that the spectacle that children of men, and he knows would in that case present itself to their most secret thoughts and in- our eyes, would be of the most tentions. We cannot elude the loathsome and revolting descripvengeance which is the reward of tion. The human heart is most 'bur crimes, for he is the Lord ingeniously wicked, and is prone God omnipotent, who reigneth over to indulge itself in all manner of all; and we cannot charge him sin and folly, under the specious with the exercise of any undue se pretext of cherishing a desire to verity in his proceedings against cultivate the growth of the most us, for the Lord is a God of judg. laudable and excellent feelings and ment, by whom actions are weigh- dispositions. It is indeed certain, ed; and, as the righteous and so- that every man who is born into vereign ruler of the universe, he the world, possesses a heart which can fall neither into error nor in. is deceitful above all things, and justice in the administration of his desperately wicked. Until he is government.
renewed in the spirit of his mind, In the second place, we may ob- by the power of divine grace, he serve, that the good works which has neither inclination nor ability to are said to follow the saints into the do those things that are acceptable eternal world, prove them to be in to God, and that are congruous to a state of grace and of friendship his holy law. « Without faith it is with God. A pure fountain sends impossible to please God," saith forth clear and salubrious waters. the Apostle of the Gentiles, and, Good works do not make a man in perfect consistency with this good; for we must be sanctified by declaration, another inspired
writer the power of Almighty grace, bem reasons in the following mạnner : fore we can perform those works “ Yea, a man may say, Thou hast that are really good and acceptable faith and I have works. Show me in the sight of the Divine Majesty. thy faith without thy works, and I Some actions may be extr ly will show thee my faith by my useful to society that are of no works. Was not Abraham our value whatever in the estimation father justified by works, when he of the supreme Lawgiver, because had offered Isaac, his son, upon they do not proceed from a right the altar? Seest thou how faith intention of spirit. It is the motive wrought with his works, and by from which our conduct flows, that works was faith made perfect? And constitutes its true character in the the Scripture was fulfilled, which determination of the divine law, and saith, Abraham believed God, and that distinguishes between those it was imputed unto him works that are good in their own righteousness, and he was called, nature, as well as advantageous to the friend of God.” mankind, and those works that are True faith is the gift of God, good in the sight and judgment of and is the source and spring from the heart-searching God.
which all those works that are were to strip off those various dis really good do flow.
who is endowed with this excellent enabled to perform while they live principle, endeavours, in the strength in the world, will follow them to the of divine aid, even amidst much judgment seat of Christ, and will weakness, temptation, and corrup- there appear as authentic evidences tion, discouragement and opposi- of their union to the Lord Jesus, tion from his spiritual enemies, to and of the participation of his Holy make the law and will of his Fa. Spirit which they have received. ther who is in heaven both the “Without”-apart or separated from rule and the measure of his actions ; "me," saith the Saviour of the to mortify the corrupt propensities world, " ye can do nothing.” The of bis nature, which tend to draw inspired apostle affirms, that " if him aside from his duty to God, to any man have not the spirit of himself, and his fellow creatures ; Christ, he is none of his ;" and we and to perform those offices which learn, from the same authority, that the precepts of Christianity enjoin, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, although they be often repugnant peace, long-suffering, gentleness, to his inclinations, feelings, and goodness, faith, meekness, temper. prejudices. The love of Jesus ance; against such there is no law, Christ constrains him to deny him. And they that are Christ's, have self on many occasions, to forgive crucified the flesh, with the affections the outrages which others commit and lusts." against his peace, his honour, and In the third place, we may obe bis happiness; to avoid the taking serve, that the saints will enjoy in of offence at bis neighbours and heaven a felicity proportioned to brethren, even when he has receive the nature and extent of the suffer, ed just cause of displeasure from ing which they endure in the pretheir conduct; to forget injuries and sent world for the sake of God, and insults ; to promote the welfare of of his cause and truth among men, his bitterest enemies ; to advocate It is consistent with the wisdom the cause of truth, and to extend its and equity of the divine administram influence, by exhibiting to the world tion of the affairs of the world, that & quiet and holy example of living; those who suffer for righteousness and to mourn in secret over the sins sake should not lose their reward. and hypocrisies of the professors of The Supreme Ruler of the Universe religion; the impiety and profligacy conducts the government of his of wicked and profane individuals; works on the most just and regular and the general prevalence of ini. principles. He will not always to. quity and corruption among men lerate the existence and the trie in the earth. The same principle umphs of iniquity in the earth, neiinduces him to sacrifice his worldly ther will he permit the perpetual prospects, his ease, and even his continuance of those afflictions and life itself, on certain occasions, for temptations which distress the good the sake of truth and righteous and the virtuous. It is admitted, Dess; and it teaches him to bear that the most bitter calamities with quietness and fortitude the which befal the church of God, or painful trials which he must expe. any individual member of it, are, nence from the ebullitions of the in the inscrutable wisdom of divine ignorant pride and false zeal of pre- grace, employed as means of adtended Christians, and from the vancing the glory of the Eternal open persecution, or the secret en. Name in the world, and of promote mity, of the men who lie in wickede ing the real welfare of every one ness. Those works of faith and who is called into the fellowship of labours of love which the saints are the saints, according to the pure