Billeder på siden


sometimes successfully, but frequently disappointed. And what if thou couldst amass the wealth of the whole nation to thyself, so that all thy mites should increase to talents, alas ! what would this profit, if thy soul is yet a stranger to that religion which is the only preparative for an happy dissolution? A bed of state will not deter the approach of rude and uncivil disease, nor will embroidered curtains repel the shaft of Death; the silver canopy over the face will not inspire thee with one ray of hope to preserve thee from drooping on the prospect of loosing thine all. Couldst thou leave as many millions as thou dost pounds to surviving years, or to charitable uses, it would not in the least open upon thy heart the pleasing prospect of divine felicity; nor bribe the fangs of hell from seizing thy despairing spirit ; would not even purchase thee a more tolerable station in the mansions of the damned, or one moment's respite from thine unutterable

Vain and insignificant wealth can only comfort in health and prosperity, but boasteth not the power of relieving when in the greatest necessity. Yet how many damn themselves by preferring thee, O delusive wealth, to Jesus and his salvation? () God, open the eyes of blind and thoughtless man, that he may be wise to consider his latter end.

Art thou a man of pleasure, and is thine heart in public places of resort? How unworthy then the name of man? How much more excellent are the brutal ranks, which so faithfully answer the several ends of their existence? The very beasts that draw thee to routs and assemblies, and serve to promote thine unmanly dissipation, will bring in their several accusations, and all thine enjoyments will be swift witnesses against thee. Go on in thy life of festivity, let every day be a renewed carnival, and every returning evening produce soine new, some more pleasing revel than the former; shut out from thine impious heart all thoughts of God, of religion, and holiness ; yet know, whoever thou art, that thou shalt die, and God will bring thce to an account for every

moment of time he has allotted thce, and every mercy he has conferred upon thee. If thou livest without God in time, thou shalt also die without him, and be banished from him to eternity.

When disease shall seize thee, and Death presents his envenoned arrow at thy heart, order thou thy couch to be carried to Vauxball, Corneilly's, the Pantheon, or some other haunt of pleasure, and try if thou canst: die with more composure amongst the shouts of madness, and bursts of foolish laughter. "Yea, shroud thee in a mask, and thou shalt see that Death commissioned shall not miss his aim, but amongst the giddy crowd will select his destined victim, and

as soon dispatch thee at the Haymarket or Covent-Gardeir, as if secluded in the lonely desart. Shake off all restraints of derorum, cast the admonition of reason behind thee, cease from the reflection, and become the perfect brute, yet shalt thou find that Death will present objects to thee which shall demand thy attention, and bring thee to thyself again ; for thou canst not fly from his strict researches. '

But what shall we do, seeing Death is inevitable? Do! Shake off the sensual brute, and return to the exercise of reason. Remember that you are endued with intellects capable of reflection; that although you should live brutal lives, you shall not have the privilege of dying like them, but must make your appearance before the eternal God, undergo the scrutiny of infinite holiness, and be judged according to the deeds done in the body, whether they have been good or evil. If thou never bowedst thy knee to the God that made thee, do it now, and beg of him to teach thee to act becoming a rational being, accountable to thy Maker for all thy procedure. Seek his will in the volume of Revelation, so shalt thou be taught that without holiness no man shall see the Lord, and that there is no holiness but what ariseth from a being born again. Therefore ye must be born again, in order to die happy and live for ever blessed Let whoever pleases laugh at the proposition, their impious sneers will yield to thee no manner of excuse, when God shall demand thy spirit. I therefore take my leave of the thoughtless reader by leaving this mementớ with him, “ Remember, () man? that thou must and shalt die." .

I shall now beg leave to address you whom God hath made sensible of the necessity of a Saviour, and of the awful importance of an ever-during existence-Great are your privileges! and great your obligations ! From Death you have nothing to fear; come when it will, it must come to you in a friendly manner; for it shall go well with them that fear the Lord. Mark, take particular notice of that man, whose ways are perfect, whose heart is sincere, and earnestly thirsts after and strives to attain that pleasing conformity to the Divine will, from which our first father fell by transgression ; behold the upright, who is the same in his family or closet that you see him in the church assembly. The end, the death, and death-bed of that man, is peace, and holy serenity, and calın composure, which neither earth nor hell can disturb. This peace, which accompanies the latter end of the christian, is the peace of God, by him bestowed, and by him maintained, and centres in the enjoyment of his såcred presence, and is such a peace as never yet filled the bosom of an unconverted sinner, and therefore absolutely beyond the comprehension of unassisted reason. Life may

be gloomy whilst in the tabernacle. The way may be rugged, and the path uneven, so that the weary pilgrim may come halting to his end; but that shall crown the work, and the peaceful end shall eradicate every sensation of former pain, so that your troubles shall be remembered only as waters that have passed away; and all before you will be pleasing and delightful. A few days of adversity will give place to an eternity of pleasure, an eternity of undecaying comfort being for ever behind, and still to be enjoyed. In all your

afflictions with which an all-wise God sees meet to exercise you, it will be for your consolation to bear their promised end in view. Even in this life they shall bring forth in you the peaceable fruits of righteousness, whilst they are working out for you, according to the beautiful language of inspiration, “ A far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

What a beautiful climax! what an ascent of blessing is here, springing from a source so unpromising! That affictions which whilst in this tabernacle should be called light, may to inexperience appear something strange ; yet lighť they are in comparison of the weight of judgment due unto sin's demerit ; light in comparison of the unspeakable sorrows actually sustained by our adorable Lord and Saviour ; and light in comparison of that vast weight of glory, which God, our almighty Father, takes occasion by them to work out in our behalf. Nor is it less strange to hear our affiction, whieh frequently attends us from the cradle to the tomb, represented but as for a moment; yet, when compared with that perpetual felicity so fast approaching, life, though drawn out to the age of Methusalem, sinks into nothing. Yet even this light affiction, which is but for a moment, shall work for us a far-more-exceeding--and eternal weight of glory.--Here is a weight of glory instead of light afflictions great weight of glory--a greater weight of glory-a far greater weight of glory; far greater than we can ask or think of, or in any way

deservera far more greater weight of glory than could ever have been obtained by the most perfect legal obedience-a far more exceeding greater weight of glory-and, to crown all-a far more exceeding greater eternal weight of glory." To set forth the issue of the saints afflictions, this elegant apostle has exhausted the power of language. Further he could not go; eternity must discover the l'est. Let patience then have its perfect work, and let contentment be the object of your pursuit; it is no matter what bitter ingredients are mingled in your cup; it is the prescription of Infinite Wisdom, and therefore must be salutary. But Death is awful; you know not how to bear the

thoughts of dying. Why should the weary have any objection to laying him down to rest? or the hungry beggar to his entering into the barqueting house. Death is indeed a dark · and gloomy porch; but it is the gate of thy Father's house: and will not the loving, the longing child venture through a few moments gloom, in order to get, at the dear embrace of a father so loving and compassionate.--You must pass the gate, in order to enter the mansion that so long has waited your arrival: and your Lord, your blessed friend and forerunner hath taken care to remove out of the way every thing noxious and finally hurtful; he shall vouchsale bis amiable and lovely presence in the mounts of straits and valley of thy fears; and shall make thy Death perfectly safe and salutary, perhaps ever desirable and easy. To the saint of God, for the most part, the bitterness of Death is past before Death itself arrives, so that upon its arrival he does not find it to be that terrible and tremendous thing to die which he once apprehended. O my God, vouchsafe me thy sensible presence in my last hours, then shall I esteem my Death an inestimable benefit, and my last hours the most precious of mv temporal life; and even with my dying breath I will magnify the precious name of Jesus my beloved.

Once more, let me recommend it to you, as you wish to live honourably and to die in comfort, to cultivate those tempers and principles that are likely to have your approbation on a Death-bed. I am either greatly mistaken in respect to the nature of Christianity, or some people of eminent rank in the church of Christ must undergo a very great revolution in the temper and disposition of their minds, before they are likely to have a comfortable Death: an angry, a revengful, an implacable tempér very ill agrees with the genius of the gospel dispensation, and with our character, as followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, who, with his dying breath cried out, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Let this ever be remembered, that it is not a well-informed head, and clear knowledge of gospel truth, which can diffuse either peace through the heart, or imprint the image of Jesus upon the soul, if a sanctified heart, if heaven y tempers and dispositions of inind are wanting. The one may indeed give you the name, but it is the other that gives you the nature of a Christian. It has been a melancholy observation, in which I am afraid there is but too must justice, that some professors, most eininent for gospel knowledge, are most remarkably deficient in regard to the spirit of Christianity, and think indeed that they ought to behave ill to those who are less dear in their doctrinal sentiments, or have the unhappiness to differ from them in some favourite article. But what an unfavourable idea is this likely to give infidels

of even the gospel itself, as they are glad totay hold of every ble; mish in the Christian character, and to charge the blessed gospe with the defects of its abettors. I freely confess, that if I had not been favoured with some acquaintance with the nature, power, and spirit of the gospel myself, what I have seen of the spirit and conduct of professors, must unavoidably have fixed on my heart an indelible disgust against revealed religion in general; therefore it is easy to account for the unhappy increase of Deists and Free-thinkers, so observable in Britain at this period. There is such a thing as saying without doing; as defending the truths of the gospel in word, and denying them in the spirit of our whole conduet; ought not then every lover of gospel truth to look well to his spirit and conversation, lest he should effectually injure that blessed gospel which he desires to promote, and which alone can yield him peace and composure in his dying moments.

There is no way so likely to soften the tempers, and regulate the passions of man, as to cultivate an acquaintance with Death-bed solemnities, and strive to keep an approaching eternity in view. It is only in proportion to this that we can either think or act becoming the Christian. This habit of mind, conversant with eternity, has many peculiar advantages connected with it, and is of the greatest utility in the religious life: such as making afflictions, which otherwise would seem long and severe, to appear what they really are, but light and momentary: naturally leads us into such an acquaintance with our own personal weakness, that we can bear with the weaknesses of others, and exercise forbearance even to our greatest enemies; makes the honour of religion, the peace and tranquillity of the church, and the spread of the Redeemer's glory the first objects of our pursuit; in comparison of which all other concerns will seem but light and trivial. Besides that familiar acquaintance with it which in the issue shall make Death itself desirable and easy; which is rarely the case with those, who are but little given to bear in mind the solemnities of their dissolution. The pilgrim cannot forget his native country, nor the exile the house of his fathers; how then can it be that the Christian under the exercise of grace shall forget the land of his inheritance?

The following little Tract was written within the immediate views of Death, and when eternity made very awful impressions on the heart of the author. The mode of it was chosen with a view to make it more entertaining, whilst it conveyed the necessary instruction to the mind. The substance of it notwithstanding is taken from facts, which have fallen under his own observation, and it is hoped that, through the divine blessing, the truths conveyed in it will produce their evidence in the believing heart. I trust I can say that

« ForrigeFortsæt »