« PreviousContinue »
does the prospect present?-the one with patience and resignation, with magnanimity and fortitude, submitting to the will of God, receiving the dispensation as from the hand of a merciful creator, of a wise and affectionate father, who loves him, studies his good in every thing, and knows what is fit for him, better than he possibly can do himself, and accordingly the language of his heart is, “ Father, if it be thy will, let this cup
pass from me; nevertheless, not my will, but “ thine be done.” Such a person can say, upon the best ground, “ the Lord is on my side, I will “ not fear."
But how widely different is the situation of the wicked man, of the man who is loaded with a guilty conscience-if he looks up, behold the dread tribunal of an offended God, who is ready to take vengeance upon him, ready to pronounce the irreversible sentence of condemnation—if he casts his eyes downward, what do they meet but the place of torment, the just reward of his sins, opening its mouth to swallow him up?_if he look around for relief from creature comforts, even that resource too has failed. Trouble surrounds him on every hand, his hopes are blasted, his wishes disappointed, his enjoyments taken away -he is deprived of every support, miserable comforters are all his past joys, they have left a mortal sting behind—and all within is storm and tempest, with this horrid aggravation, that his present misery is but the beginning of sorrow, that he stands exposed to “ the sting of the “ worm that dieth not, and to the fire which is
not quenched." I now proceed to consider the still greater difference of situation between the righteous and the wicked arising from a calm and quiet conscience in the former, and a troubled and guilty one in the other, when both are placed in the near prospect of death, and of a future and eternal state.
« Let me die the death of the righteous, and my
latter end be like his," was the prayer of a very wicked man; and what stronger argument can be adduced for living a religious life, than the mixed apprehension and desire contained in such an exclamation? Though the wicked of the world may, in the abundance of health and affluence, and in their pride of heart, hold in derision the people of God, as a set of weak, poor spirited, despicable creatures, as the off-scourings of mankind—yet when matters come to the test of a death bed, when this world is withdrawing with its delusive enjoyments, and an eternal world disclosing all its awful solemnities then find, if
past life with
you can, the haughty despiser of God and religion? then find the scornful railer and scoffer at things sacred, then find the cruel mocker and persecutor of the righteous man :-no! the search will be vain : the language of Balaam will then be the language of the most obdurate sinner; and “ ( that I had lived the life of the
righteous," will, when it is too late, be the fervent prayer of the guilty, perishing soul. Let us now contemplate the blessed state of the dying christian. He looks back
his joy and satisfaction; he with pleasure beholds a principle of love to his God and Saviour, to have been the prime mover and director of all his actions—and that the glory of God was the chief end at which he aimed, and to which all his other views and ends were entirely subservient. He looks back with gratitude and delight to that happy period, when God of his infinite mercy
“ called him from darkness into his marvel“ lous light;" when unmerited, unsolicited love, laid hold upon him, while he was yet“ in the gall “ of bitterness, and the bond of iniquity,” and rescued him from the jaws of destruction, which“ laid “ his help upon one mighty to save, and deliver“ ed from going down to the pit.” And how inexpressibly sweet, and comfortable, and refreshing does he find such meditations! He looks back
with a holy transport on those delightful moments of fellowship and communion he has enjoyed “ with the Father, and with his son Jesus
Christ," in prayer, in meditation, in communicating, upon the gracious returns of
the gracious returns of prayer which he has from time to time received, upon the gracious manifestations of the light of God's countenance, which have revived his soul in the midst of troubles and difficulties. He looks back like. wise
upon his failings and imperfections, his sins and his short-comings; but, blessed be his exalted Redeemer, he can look back upon these without terror, for he is washed, and purified, and sanctified in the blood of atonement and seeing much is forgiven him, he loves the more, he adores and admires the riches of free grace the more he looks back upon sin as a vanquished slain foe, and consequently unable to do him any farther harm; and beholds death, the enemy he is about to encounter, deprived of the power of doing him harm, and divested of all his boasted terrors, by having his sting plucked out; and if such is the christian's present happy situation, if such is the joy which results from a retrospect of his past life, how infinitely more exalted the joy and happiness of looking forward; this presents to his view a bright, an eternal day without a clond-the full
and complete enjoyment of every wish, and
every desire--the uninterrupted possession of an“ in“ heritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that “ fadeth not away.” The final end of all sorrow; and pain, and disappointment--the final end of all darkness and doubt the final destruction of sin, and death, and hell—the commencement of never-fading bliss, an immortal “ crown of glo
ry, which God the righteous judge shall give “ him in that day.” The perfect felicity of this state, eternity alone can disclose, “ for eye “ hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it “ entered into the heart of man the things which “ God hath prepared for them that love him.” Thus, my dear friends, “ the righteous hath hope “ in his death,” all is calm and serene, all is peace and joy, and in this happy tranquillity he expects the glad summons, which is to usher him into the glorious presence of his heavenly Father, where the blessed sentence of approbation waits him : “ Well done, thou good and “ faithful servant, come, inherit the kingdom “ prepared for thee from the foundation of the « world."
But let us, on the other hand, view the dismal situation of the guilty man in the day when God