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AT THE FUNERAL OF MRS. SUSANNAH MURRAY.
THE TRUE FOUNDATION OF COMFORT ON THE
DEATH OF FRIENDS.
I Thess. iv. 13, 14,
I WOULD NOT HAVE YOU TO BE IGNORANT, BRETHREN, CONCERNING THEM WHICH ARE ASLEEP, THAT YE SORROW NOT EVEN AS OTHERS WHICH HAVE NO HOPE. FOR IF WE BELIEVE THAT JESUS DIED, AND ROSE AGAIN, EVEN SO THEM ALSO WHICH SLEEP IN JESUS (TAAT IS, IN THE FAITH OF JESUS] WILLGOD BRING WITH HIM."
HIS is the mighty difference which death
makes betwixt true Christian believers, and infidels, or libertines.
When they first come to die, the are able to say with St. Paul, I know whom I have believed; they resign their souls into the hands of God, who is able to keep them; trusting in his mercy and goodness, and promises, in Jesus Christ, both at the hour of death, and in the day of judgment.
And their friends, which they leave behind. them, HAVING HOPE IN THEIR DEATH, con
• See Prov. x. 7. xi. 7. xiv. 32. Jer. xviii. 12. Ephes. ï. 12. Heb. vi. 18, 19. 2 Tim. i. 12. 1 Pet. i. 21. I John ü. 3.
sider them as freed from the miseries of this life, and as gone to a much better:-With which considerations they endeavour to afsuage their grief, and to bear with patience and resignation the chastisement which God, in his wise and good providence, has thought fit to lay upon them, to be sure for their good, if it is not their own fault.
On the other hand, they which HAVE NO HOPE; that is, no knowledge of what must come hereafter, no faith in God's word; or have not regarded it; these, when death approaches, are either stupid, or hardened, or given over to a reprobate mind, a mind void of judgment; or, if their consciences are not feared, they are under the greatest perplexities, fears, and astonishment, at what may very soon be their portion; and no mortal man can tell what to say to comfort them.
And such friends as they leave behind them are either overwhelmed with sorrow for what may too likely be their lot; or they part with them with despair of ever seeing them again; or they blame themselves for having not done all that was in their power to keep them from the pit of destruction.
So very great a difference does death make, both with regard to the living and the dead, betwixt Christians and Infidels, betwixt good and bad livers.
Now; the great design of the subject I have chosen, being to comfort all Christians upon
the death of such persons as have been very · dear to them; I would from hence take occafion to exhort you all, good Christians, to take care to lay a sure foundation of comfort for yourselves, and for those you shall leave behind you.
This is to be done by a TRUE REPENTANCE, and by an hoLY LIFE; these being the fruit and effects of a true and saving faith.
Whoever promises you pardon and peace upon any other terms, does but deceive himself and you, to his own and your eternal ruin.
And yet nothing is more common than to hear people speak their comfortable hopes of their departed friends, though they have lived in sin, and have left no sign of virtue and piety behind them, only because they were become serious at the sight of death, which the most abandoned sinners can hardly choose but be.
St. Paul's commission from Jesus Christ himself was this :-That he should preach (and accordingly he did) every where, that men should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
Here you see, (Christians) here are works to be done after men have repented. And then if we add our Saviour's words, the night cometh when no man can work; we shall easily see what a madness it must be, to trust the great concern of our salvation to a death-bed repentance. • John ix. 4.
We must not indeed limit the mercies of God, nor discourage people from confessing and detesting their fins, and unfruitfulness under the means of grace, even at their last moments. But then this is only what can be said to them after all, -They having not done works meet for repentance, their case must be left to the uncovenanted mercy of God, who, under the law of Moses, reserved to himself certain cases, for which no sacrifices were to be offered by his prieit.
The will of God is, That all who are called Christians should honour him in their lives, and should improve the graces he bestows upon them ; should crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts, that they may be meet to be partakers of the inheritance with the saints in light.
And if people will deceive themselves either with the bare name of Christians, or will depend upon a faith, which does not purify the heart, or trust the care of their fouls to those they leave behind them, they will run the greatest hazard of being shut out of paradise when they die.
To prevent this as much as possible, and that we may all have comfort in the death of our friends, I would apply myself,
First; To such of my own order as hear me, and to whom Jesus Christ has committed the care of the souls which he has purchased with his most precious blood; and