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believing, or not minding, these important truths, that will make them of more or less concern to us.
If God has determined to deal with us when we die according to our works done in the body, which works will follow us whether we will or not, either to plead for, or condemn us ; then these things will come to pass, whether we believe, whether we think of them or not.
No thoughtful Christian, one would hope, would flatter himself, that his time, his repentance, his salvation, is in his own hands. To-day, faith the spirit, if you will hear his voice, his call, harden not your hearts. This then is the time of trial, of grace, of repentance, of mercy, and of securing our salvation.
No wise man, therefore, will, if he can poffibly help it, lose the fight, the thoughts of death; it being that which must determine his fate for ever. And what an astonishing thing it must be, to be surprised, either in a course of sin, or in the midit of pleasures, or in an utter forgetfulness of God, you have already heard!
Since all our hopes consist in dying in the Lord, the great concern of our whole life ought to be a preparation for death. And then you
will strip death of all its terrors; you will consider it as a most righteous fentence, passed upon you (as it is upon all mankind) for our sins. And that a willing submission
to this sentence will be accepted of God, in union with that of Jesus Christ, as a full satisfaction for all the lins you have repented of. That, therefore, (if it has not been your own fault) death will be no more an evil to you, than the release of a prisoner, than the calling home of one who had been banished, than the putting an end to the miseries and afflictions of a mortal life, and the giving a man a passport to a much better world.
This will be the consequence of a true Christian faith, supported by an holy life. And this, I persuade myself, is the happy condition of our deceased friend.
Some perhaps would take it ill, that a person of so private a life and character should be proposed as an example and pattern to those of her sex.
I would only desire such as think so, at their return home, to read the last chapter of the Proverbs of Solomon. There they will find the character, the praise, and properties of a good wife.
And they that were acquainted with this good woman, will be surprized and. pleased with the very many singular instances in which she exactly followed the pattern there set her.
Would to God the age would bear to be advised to follow that pattern so well as she has done!
Let us now return to ourselves, and seriously consider, That we are in this life in a
state of trial; that this trial is for eternity; that our present life is continued to us only that our nature may be mended, and that we may be made capable of that blessedness which we were created for.
Let us farther consider, That we shall rise out of our graves just as we go in, either the objects of God's mercy, or of his wrath; that happy is he whom death finds rich in good works, no matter what his outward condition has been till then; and that miserable, very miserable, must be the condition of that man, whom death overtakes, either doing evil, or doing nothing that he should do.
Believe it, Christians, for a certain truth, that when you come to die, your thoughts will not be, What a figure have I made in the world; how pleasantly have I passed my days; how plentifully have I lived; what pleasures have I enjoyed; what rare friends have I had; what an estate have I gotten; and what wealth do I leave behind me!
No, no. But such as these following will be your dying reflections, if you do not stifle them: How have I spent my life; how have I employed my time and my health; how have I improved the talents with which God intrusted me; what good have I done in the world; have I brought up my children in the fear of God; have I been kind and helpful to poor and needy people, according to my ability; have I been true and just in my deal
ings; ings; have I lived in the fear of Cod, and worshipped him both in publick and private, according to my ability; and lastly, have Í taken pains to be doing something good all my life, pursuant to that sentence of God, passed upon me, and upon every soul of man, whether rich or poor, In the sweat of thy face Malt thou eat bread?
These, I say again, will be the thoughts of fuch as die in their right mind. And to fuch whose consciences cannot answer for them, that something like this has been the tenor of their past life; to such as have led an unthoughtful, fearless, useless, sinful life, and are just going into eternity, what arguments can be thought of to comfort them?
Believe it, believe it, Christians, that when that day comes, the stoutest heart amongst us cannot, without the utmost astonishment, bear the thoughts of being shut out of heaven.
And now; if you have attended to what has been said, you will see reason not to be overfond of a world and its pleasures which you must leave so very soon; nor to omit those opportunities that God has put into your power of doing some good in your generation, those good works which will fo very foon stand you in stead, and witness for you, that you have not been an useless part of the creation, an unprofitable servant, whose fen-tence is already passed, and dreadful to be thought of.
c Gen. ii. 19.
Some are apt to think themselves much overlooked by Providence in this world, not considering, that the blessedness of the next world will make them sufficient amends. Others are (as they think) so happy, that they wish never to die. But believe it, my Chriltian brethren, believe this important truth, which I would leave with you, as never to be forgot, that our happiness or misery does not begin till after we are dead.
May God give us all grace to think of this, with the seriousness of Christians who hope for salvation; that we may die in peace, and rest in hope, and rise in glory, for Jesus Christ's fake. To whom, &c.