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PREACHED AT THE FUNERAL OF OLD MRS. MURRAY.
THE HAPPINESS OF THOSE WHO DIE IN THE
FAITH AND FAVOUR OF GOD.
REV. xiv. 13.
BLESSED ARE THE DEAD WHICH DIE IN THE LORD, FROM
HENCEFORTH: YEA, SAITH THE SPIRIT, THAT THEY
made these words a part of her office for the burial of the dead.
Either relation, or friendship, or decency, or custom, fome consideration or other, brings always a number of people together upon these occasions.
And the very occasion itself is apt to make most people more serious and thoughtful than ordinary
And the whole office is designed, and is most proper, to improve our seriousness to the beft purposes, particularly these words I have made choice of for our present meditations; not, I hope, without very good reasons.
For, in the first place, every body who knew the person whose remains now lie before us will, F am persuaded, conclude, that I have not made an improper choice of a subject for this occasion.
If an unblemished character, if a good life, (the best proof of a sincere faith) if a most commendable industry, which yet never hindered her from attending the publick worship; if a peaceable and inoffensive conduct, which appeared in her having scarce an enemy in the world; if a most tender care and concern for her family and relations, and yet a most remarkable patience and resignation to the will of God, upon the loss of so many hopeful children taken away in the bloom of their years; lastly, if an exemplary temperance, which, through the blessing of God, preserved her health, and lengthened her days to an uncommon age; if such virtues as these will justify us in applying the general promises of the gospel to particular cases and persons, I shall not be judged to have misapplied a sacred text to purposes unworthy of a minister of Christ.
But the Church had a further design in the choice of this scripture for this office. She considered the case of the living in that of the dead; as also what generally comes into the thoughts of serious people upon the death of their friends: That now their condition is unalterably fixed ;-they are either
happy or miserable, and sure to be so for ever.
She would therefore have all her members admonished by this so often repeated portion of scripture, fo to lead their lives, as that their friends may have comfort in their death.
An ine would have their friends, as St. Paul exhorts us, not to be overmuch concerned, not to forrow as men without hope, for them ihat seep in Christ; since we have the word of God for it, that such as are dead in the Lord are blessed and happy.
Besides all this, I had in my thoughts a too general delusion of Christians, who are but too apt to hope well for themselves, very often without reason and without fcripture; who hope, who expect, to die in the Lord, in the favour of God, and to be happy when they are dead, without considering what sort of works are like to follow them; as if those awakening words of the God of truth did no way concern us: Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Upon the whole, I did conclude, that certainly here is a good occasion offered us, of considering how this evil may be prevented; how the bitter thoughts of death may be sweetened; how we may be gainers (if it is not plainly our own fault) by that change which we so induftriously avoid; and lastly, how our departurę hence may be matter of * 1 Thess, iv. 13,
• Matth. vii. 14.
comfort, instead of sorrow, to those we leave behind us.
All which I shall endeavour to shew from the words just now read to you; which are introduced after a very remarkable manner: I
VOICE FROM HEAVEN, SAYING, WRITE, (write this that follows, as most worthy to be transmitted to all future generations) THAT BLESSED ARE THE DEAD WHICH DIE IN THE LORD; that is, in the Christian faith, in Christian communion, and in Chriftian charity, accompanied with good works and an holy life; such are certainly BLESSED; THEY REST FROM THEIR LABOURS; they are freed from all the burthens, temptations, and troubles of this mortal life, from outward calamities, and inward forrows; AND THEIR WORKS DO FOLLOW THEM, as witnesses and proofs of the good use they have made of the talents, the life, the health, and all other means of glorifying God, and doing good in their generation; which God has vouchsafed them.
I will not take up your time in proving the very different portions of good and bad men in the state after death; the certainty of which, the happiness of the one, and the misery of the other, being as unquestionable, as that there is a God, and as that this word of his [the Bible] is true.
Both good and bad men acknowledge this. The good hope and pray for a place in the
radise of God; and the wicked confess this, and will be judged out of their own mouths, when they curse their enemies to the pit of hell, as supposing it to be a place of misery and torment.
It will be of more use to consider who may, and who must not, hope to be happy when they die; who are sure to be miserable after this life, and who they are who are as sure to escape the bitter pains of eternal death. Some certainty in this is surely the most desirable thing in this world. It is not I who must pretend to give you this certainty and satisfaction; but God and bis word, you may depend on.
IF THOU WILT ENTER INTO LIFE, faith the God of truth, KEEP
And again, THEY THAT DONE GOOD, SHALL
GO INTO LIFE
AND THEY THAT
EVIL, and have not repented, SHALL GO INTO EVERLASTING FIRE.
You will be apt to say, Who does not know this? Be it so. But then the generality of Christians do not consider, that to say they know this, and yet live as if there were not one syllable of truth in it, must be most provoking to God, and of most dreadful consequence to those that are guilty of such perverseness.
But how shall we know that our faith, and repentance, and works, will be acceptable to