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with various lustre. So the sun paints the fairest colours upon the blackest cloud, and while the thick dark shower is descending it entertains our eyes with all the beauties of the rain-bow; a most glorious type and seal of the covenant of, grace, that can give a pleasing aspect to death itself, and spread light and pleasure over the darksome grave.

If we are believers in Christ, death is ours as well as life. These two contrary states may each of them derive peculiar benefits from the new covenant. The christian may be taught so to value and improve life, that he may be not only patient, but chearful and thankful in the continuance of it. This has been made evident in a large discourse already: And yet it must be confessed, that the advantages which death brings to a believer are still greater and more glorious, and this will appear in the following particulars:

I. Death finishes our state of labour and trial, and puts us in possession of the crown and the prize. St. Paul was appointed to die by the sword of Nero, and to end his labours and his race in blood; yet he rejoices to think that his race was just at an end, and triumphs in view of the glorious recompence; 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness. There is a voice from heaven that proclaims the dead happy; upon this account, that their toil and fatigue is come to an end. Rev. xiv. 13. Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, for they rest from their labours, and their works follow them; that is, the prize of everlasting happiness which Christ has promised to his labouring saints. Rev. ii. 10. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. So the weary traveller counts the last hour of the day the best; for it finishes the fatigue and toil of the day, and brings him to his restingplace. So the soldier rejoices in the last field of battle; he fights with the prize of glory in his eye, and ends the war with courage, pleasure, and victory.

II. Death frees us for ever from all our errors and mistakes, and brings us into a world of glorious knowledge and illumination. The vale of death is a dark passage indeed, but it leads into the regions of perfect light. Now we know but in part, says the apostle; 1 Cor. xiii. 12. Now we see but through a glass darkly, then we shall see God and our Saviour face to face, and know them even as we are known; not in the same degree of perfection indeed, but according to our measure and capacity, we shall know them, in a way of vision, or immediate sight, as God knows his creatures, as one man knows his friend, whose face he beholds with his eyes; or as one spirit knows another, by some unknown ways of perception which belong to spirits.

O what a new and unspeakable pleasure will it be to the disciples of Christ, and the ministers of the gospel, that have been tired and worn out in tedious controversies in this world, and sorely perplexed amongst the difficult passages of scripture, when they shall arrive at that region of light and glory, where the darknesses of the mind shall be all scattered, the veil shall be taken off from sacred things, and doubts and difficulties shall vanish for ever!

Alas! What desolation and mischief has the noise and clamour of controversy brought on the church of Christ in all ages! What quarrels and sharp contests has it raised among fellowchristians, and especially, where zeal and ignorance have joined together, and brought fire and darkness into the sanctuary! This has banished charity and love out of the house of God, and made the Spirit of God himself to depart grieved. Surely death carries a considerable blessing in it, as it delivers us from these disorders, these bitter quarrels, and appoints us a place in the temple of God on high, where the axe and the hammer never sound, where the saw of contention is never drawn, where the noise of war is heard no more, but perfect light lays a foundation for perfect and everlasting love.

III. Death makes an utter end of sin, it delivers us from a state of temptation, and conveys us into a state of perfect holiness, safety, and peace. The spirits of the just are made perfect in holiness, when they leave this sinful and mortal flesh, they stand without spot or blemish, without fault or infirmity of greater or lesser size, and appear pure and undefiled before the throne of God; Rev. xiv. 5. Their robes are washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb, and they serve him without sin, day and night, in his temple; Rev. vii. 14, 15. When death carries them away from this world, it carries them out of the territories of the devil; for he has no power in that land whither happy souls go: And all the remaining lusts of the flesh, that had their death's wound given them by renewing grace, are now destroyed for ever; for the death of the body is the final death of sin, and the grave is, as it were, the burying-place of many unruly iniquities, that have too often defiled and disquieted the spirit.

And as the corrupt affections which are mingled with our flesh and blood, and which are rooted deep in animal nature, are left behind us in the bed of death, so when we ascend to heaven, we shall find no manner of temptation to revive them. There is no malice or angry resentment to be awakened there, no incitements to envy, intemperance, or the cursed sin of pride, that cleaves so close to our natures here on earth. When we are encompassed with those blessed creatures, angels and saints made

perfect, we shall meet with no affront, no reproach, no injury to provoke our anger, or kindle an uneasy passion. Most perfect friendship is ever practised there; it is a region of peace, a world of immortal amity.

Nor shall we find any temptation to envy, in that happy state; for though there are different ranks of glorified creatures, yet each is filled with a holy satisfaction, and hath an inward relish of his own felicity suited to his own capacity and state, and they have all a general relish of the common joy, and a mutual satisfaction in each others happiness. Envy, that fretful passion, is no more. In heaven there are no provocations to those unruly appetites, which break in upon our temperance, and pollute our souls.

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Pride and haughtiness of spirit have no room in that blessed world: The superior order of saints, which are nearest the throne, shall not despise the meanest; for the nearer they approach to the perfect image of Christ, the more intense and diffusive is their love. Besides, every saint in glory shall see himself in his own nothingness, and infinitely indebted to divine grace for all things: This shall for ever forbid all vanity and conceit of merit. In heaven we shall see God in the fulness of his glory, and shall have so penetrating a sense of his saving grace, that a creature rescued from hell cannot be proud there.

Rejoice then, ye poor feeble christians, that have been long wrestling with your indwelling sins, and maintaining a holy and daily fight, with strong and restless corruptions in your nature: Lift up your heads at the thoughts of death, for the day of your redemption draws nigh; Luke xxi. 28. Death is your deliverer. It is like the angel that Christ sent to Peter, to knock off his fetters, and release him from the prison; it may smite and surprize you, and it has indeed a dark and unlovely aspect; but its message is light and peace, holiness and salvation.

IV. Death is ours, for it takes us away from under all the threatenings of God in his word, and places us in the actual possession of the greatest part of the blessings, that God has promised us. The saints that are dead are thus described; they are those, who through faith and patience, inherit the promises; Heb. vi. 12.

Whilst we are in this life, there are many threatenings in the bible that belong to the saints as well as to sinners. I shall mention that great and general one that is annexed to the covenant of grace; Ps. lxxxix. 30. If the children of Christ forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; then will I visit their transgression with a rod, and their iniquity with stripes; but when

death has conveyed them into the presence of their heavenly Father, they shall forsake his law no more; there are no more transgressions for the rod to correct, the stripes of chastisement cease for ever; and their Father, and their God, shall be angry

no more.

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The best part of the promises are fulfilled when a soul arrives at heaven. The promise of the resurrection of the body yet remains unaccomplished indeed; but every separate spirit in heaven waits for it with full assurance of accomplishment. have found," says the holy soul, "so many rich promises of the covenant fulfilled already, and I am in the possession of so many divine blessings that God once foretold, that I am well assured that my God is faithful who has promised, and the rest shall be all fulfilled."

V. Death raises us above the mean and trifling pleasures of the present state, as well as delivers us from all present pains, aud brings us into a world of perfect ease, and superior and refined delight. It divides us from the pains and pleasures, that we derive from the first Adam, and sets us in the midst of superior blessings, which the second Adam has purchased for us. We shall hunger no more, we shall thirst no more, neither shall the scorching heat of the sun light upon us, or any painful influence from the elements of this world: The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed us with celestial food, suited to our purified natures, and lead us to drink full draughts of unknown pleasure, which is described by living fountains of water. We shall see God himself, the original beauty, and the spring of all delight: We shall see our Lord Jesus Christ, the most illustrious copy of the Father, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and God himself shall wipe away all tears from our eyes; Rev. vii. 16, 17. Though the wages of sin is death by the appointment of the law of God; Rom. vi. 23. yet this very death is constrained to serve the purposes of our great Redeemer; and it brings us into the possession of that eternal life, which is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

VI. Death not only gives us possession of promised blessings, but it banishes all our fears and doubts for ever, by fixing us in a state of happiness unchangeable. They that are once entered into the temple of God on high shall no more go out of it; Rev. iii. 12. For they are established in the house of God, they are as pillars there, they become a part of that vast and living temple, in which God dwells for ever in all his glory.

Death is ours; for it finishes our fears, it fulfils our wishes and our hopes, and leaves us no more room to fear to all eternity. When we behold the face of God in righteousness, and awake

out of this world of dreams and shadows, in the world of happy spirits with the likeness of God upon us, we shall find sweet satisfaction; Ps. xvii. 15. I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness. Death leaves a saint, as it were, but one thing to wish or hope for, and that is the resurrection, or the accomplishment of this text in its completest sense, viz. that their bodies may awake out of the grave with the likeness of Christ upon them, and be made conformable to his glorious body, in vigour, beauty, and immortality.

VII. Death is a happiness to a christian; for it divides him for ever from the company of sinners and enemies, and places him in the society of his best friends, his God, and his Saviour, his fellow-saints, and the innumerable company of angels. O how sorely has the soul of many a saint been vexed here on earth, as the soul of Lot was in Sodom, with the conversation of the wicked! How have they often complained of the hidings of the face of God, of the absence of Christ their Lord, and the sensible withdrawings of the influences of the blessed Spirit!

There is a great partition-wall betwixt us and the happy world, whilst we are in this life; the veil of flesh and blood divides us from the world of spirits, and from the glorious in habitants of it. With what surprizing joy, shall a poor, humble, watchful christian, that has been teased long, and long tormented with the company of the wicked, enter into that illustrious and blessed society, when death shall break down the partition-wall, and rend the veil of flesh and blood that divided him from them, and kept him at a painful distance! "It is better, infinitely better, shall the departed soul say, to see God without the medium of such ordinances, as I have used on earth: It is better to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord Jesus. It is better to ascend, and worship in the midst of the heavenly Jerusalem, and amongst that blessed assembly of the first-born, than to be joined to the purest churches on earth, or to be enga ged in the noblest acts of worship, which the state of mortality admits of. Farewell sins and sinners for ever: Temptations and tempters, farewell to all eternity. And ye my dear holy friends, beloved in the Lord, my pious relatives, my companions in faith and worship, farewell but for a short season, till you also shall be released from your present bondage and imprisonment by the messenger of death: Fear it not, for it is your Lord, and my Lord, your Saviour and mine, who sends it to release you from all the evils which you have long groaned under, and to bring you to our Father's house, where the businesses, the pleasures, and the company are infinitely agreeable and entertaining."

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