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with joy, and not with grief, for that will be no profit to you.
The good Lord grant that we may all so live, as that we may die in peace, and rest in hope, and rise in glory; for the Lord Jesus' sake.
To whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory, now and for
PREACHED AT THE FUNERAL OF THE REV. DR. WALKER,
VICAR-GENERAL, AND RECTOR OF BALLAUGH.
ST. PAUL's COMFORT IN THE PROSPECT OF DEATH, APPLICABLE TO EVERY FAITH
FUL MINISTER OF CHRIST.
PHII. i. 21.
TO ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST; AND TO DIE IS GAIN.*
THAT is, to me, the motive I have to de
sire to live is the service of Christ; but to die in his service would be my greatest gain.
St. Paul shews, in these words, what a most comfortable prospect of death he had; that he was well assured he should be a gainer by it. He was ready and willing either to live or die, as it should be most for the glory of God and the good of his flock.
It will be well worth our pains to enquire,
ift. Upon what foundation this assurance of St. Paul was founded. And,
2dly. Whether every minister of Christ may not be able to say the same thing, and with some reasonable assurance, if it be not his own fault.
I. We will first enquire, upon what foundation thiscomfortable asurance of St.Paul was built. * See Acts xx. 26. 2 Tim. iv. 8. 1 Theff. ii. 19. Phil. ii. 16.
And, in the first place, he himself tells us, long before this, what was his greatest comfort in life:* I have lived in all good conscience before God unto this day; that is, I ever sincerely followed the judgment of my conscience; I always acted according to the best light I had. When I was a Jew, when I persecuted the church of Christ, when I did many things contrary to the name of Jesus,—I did it through a firm persuasion that it was my duty to do so.
Why, will this justify any one who follows the judgment of a wrong-informed conscience? No, by no means; St. Paul himself tells us it will not. But he tells us, at the same time," that be obtained mercy, even the grace of conversion; because what he had done amiss, he did it, not against knowledge, but ignorantly.
From hence we learn, what a dreadful thing it is to act against knowledge and conscience; -that such are entirely out of the way of conversion, and are too often forsaken of God, and given over to a reprobate mind.
Whereas such as act uprightly are objects of the divine mercy, as St. Paul was, who, through God's grace, became an instrument of the greatest good to the world, and at the same time to himself, so as to be able to say, to me to die is gain. That which makes the sight of death uneasy to flesh and blood, and frightful to others, makes it to me easy and comfortable, and even to be chosen and wished for. What that was, we now come
1 Tim.i. 13.
• Acts xxiii. I.
to consider. He was, in the first place, a fincere lover of God, and a lover of souls.
We have the fullest instances of this in the account of his life, and in the several epistles he wrote; where he is ever and anon expressing his love and gratitude to God for the favours he had vouchsafed himself, and the church thro' his means. I thank Chrift Jesus the Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.
And this, by the way, was the very first subject which this worthy person, and imitator of St. Paul, preached upon, when he entered into holy orders; ascribing to God his ability, his vocation to the ministry, and all his holy purposes and resolutions to discharge his duty faithfully.
How faithfully he performed this, will be better understood by the loss his flock will have of him, than by any words of mine.
To return to St. Paul, and to the other reasons he had, not to be afraid of dying. To me to die is gain!-St Paul might very well say this, when he could make this appeal to his people, and to God:' Ye are witnelles, and God is witness, how holily, and justly, and unblameably, we behaved ourselves amongst you.
This is some comfort for a minister of Christ when he comes to die; when, for instance, he can say with truth, and with thi apostle, I have kept a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man.'
Ci Tim. i. 12.
di Theff. ii. 10.
e Acts xxiv.