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him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” They will be like the houses of Saul and David, while the former waxeth weaker, the latter stronger.
(3.) At the death of the body, the body of death is utterly destroyed : Heb. xii. 23, “ And to the spirits of just men made perfect." There is not the least remains of it to be seen any more then; then there shall not be the least darkness in the mind, corruption in the will, nor disorder of the affections. When they are taken up into the mount, they are stript of their rags, and clothed with change of raiment, for then Christ says, “ Loose him, and let
4. He dries up all the sorrows of death, wipes away all tears. David was sometimes encompassed with them, but he is now got beyond them all. Death entering the world at the back of sin, has made an universal flood of misery, that covers the face of the whole earth; even the redeemed ones walking to Zion, cannot miss to dip their foot in it, and that often very deep; they are liable to afllictions on their bodies and souls, and all that is theirs ; they are distressed with desertions and hidings of God's face ; they often go mourning without the sun. And what are all these but the arrows of the foiled enemy, wherewith he annoys the Mediator's company in this lower world ; but Christ will also spoil this part of death's game in his kingdom ; he has taken the poison and strength out of these arrows already, that they cannot give a deadly wound; and in a little these Egyptians whom they see to-day, they shall see no more for ever : Rev. xxi. 4, “ And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying : neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away."
5. He brings all his people safe through the valley of the shadow of death : Psalm xxiii. 4, “ Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me.” Death advances at length to the saint as a king of terrors, to loose the soul from the body. They are ready to be affrighted at the sight, but the waters are dried up where they are to pass. It stands before them like a serpent, but the sting of it is gone, they can get no harm of it, “0 death! where is thy sting ?" may the dying saint say; they tread then upon the serpent, while they pass over to the other side ; it casts down the body into the grave, but their more precious part it cannot touch. It is like the storm to Paul; the body, the ship of the soul, is dashed to pieces; but the soul, the passenger, gets safe to land. This is a noble victory got through Jesus Christ.
6. Now, death has nothing of Christ's but the bodies of the saints, not a foot of ground in his kingdom but the grave; and these he will also wrest out of his hand at the resurrection. So, then, at the last day, by the sound of the trumpet, death shall be summoned, in the conqueror's name, to give up its dead; and immediately it shall fling open its doors, and yield all up to him : Rev. xx. 13, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hell gave up the dead which were in them.”
“ Then this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality; then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” Death will held fast by them that are his own, even when they are come out of the grave; but then nothing that ever belonged to it shall any more be about those that are Christ's.
7. In consequence of the absolute victory over death, it shall be shut up, and confined for the ages of eternity to the lower regions, the lake that burns with fire and brimstone: Rev. xx. 14, “ And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire : this is the second death.” As the waters of the deluge, that overspread the whole face of the earth some time, were, by the voice of God, chased away into, and confined in the deeps ; so death, in its whole extent, as comprehending all miseries, greater or lesser, that some time ranged through the earth at liberty, shall be gathered together, and thrown into the place of the damned, there to prey for ever upon its proper objects, the enemies of Christ, the great conqueror.--I am,
IV. To make some practical improvement. This doctrine is of manifold use. I shall drop a few words from it to the profane, and to professors.--I shall address,
1st, Profane folk, who are quite careless about their state and conversation, on whose face death is painted, in the eyes of God and all serious persons. Consider,
1. Yo have neither part nor lot in this victory of Christ's over death, but are yet lying a prey to the devourer. What else means that loathsome conversation of yours ? Psalm xiv. 1–3,—“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God; they are corrupt, they have done abominable works,” &c. What else means it, but that ye are yet rotting in the grave of your lusts? Do not your profane speeches declare your throat to be an open sepulchre; the full liberty your lusts get without control, says ye are not sick of sin, but dead ia it; your want of the sense of religion, your not discerning the voice of God in his word, and having no relish for the sweetuess of it, all these say ye are dead.
2. Awake, and come forth to Christ, in a holy life, else your lot
shall be for ever among the congregation of the dead : Gal. v. 21, “They who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Christ has set ap a kingdom among us, but ye say, Let us break his bands, and cast his cords from us. Remember, if ye continue in this condition, Christ will cast you out of his kingdom, for if death shall be abolished out of his kingdom, be sure such dead souls shall never inherit among the saints, but receive their portion where death bears eternal sway.
2dly, Professors, amongst whom I must reckon communicants. To such,
1. By way of caution, I would say to you,
(1.) Beware of hypocrisy, having a name to live, and yet dead : Rev. iii. 1, "I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” 0! how many are there like some dead beasts, whereof there is nothing good but the skin! Except the form of godliness, and their religious duties they go the round of, there remains nothing but a rotten heart quite estranged from the life of God, and a life full of dead works. Beware of this, for, with the abominable, the hypocrite will also be swept away.
(2.) Beware of apostacy, Christ will pursue his victory, and thereforo whoso draweth back, his soul shall have no pleasure in him, Heb. x. 38; they that draw back leave Christ's camp, and join his enemies, and they will be involved in their ruin with a double destruction, as runaways.
2. By way of application to your case on the back of this communion, I would ask you,
(1.) Have you got nothing at this feast from the conqueror to set you a step forward to the victory, the spiritual victory? Blame whom or what thou wilt for it, a dead state, or at least a dead frame is the true cause; and therefore repent. If thou be mourning and humbled under it, it is a sign of some life; pursuo under Christ's banner and thou shalt obtain the victory.
(2.) Have ye sped, and got some victory over the body of death? be not secure, and sit not down on that ye havo attained, for death is not yet swallowed up; therefore pursue.--I shall only add,
3. By way of exhortation to duty from this point.
(1.) Be lively Christians, as those that are alive from the dead through Jesus Christ; keep grace in exercise, let not the holy fire go out; watch against duadness creeping in on your souls, yield not to it, for that were to yield to death, that must be swallowed up.
(2.) Join issue with the Conqueror, in pursuing the victory in your own souls. There is a noble Captain on your head; under his conduct, then, fight the good fight; let mortification be your
daily work; while one last remains, ye must never give over; make no truce with them, or any of theirs, but resolve to pursue these fruits of death, till death be swallowed up in victory.
(3.) Join issue with the Conqueror, in pursuing the victory in the world, especially in the places where ye live. Do your utmost, by word and example, to awaken a dead world ; take care of the young generation; and as ye love their souls, remove the stumbling-block of your divisions out of their sight, which threatens the ruin of religion in this parish : when the members of the body are all going asunder, falling off from one another, it is an evidence death is working in that body; and it has made much sad work in the land and country-side already.
(4.) Believe this truth with application, in all your endeavours after holiness. That is the true method of sanctification, using the mean appointed of God, and believing the promised success. If ye will not believe, ye shall not be established.
(5.) Be weaned from the world, and long for the day when death shall be swallowed up in victory; Phil. i. 23, “ Haviug a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better. Were we eager in the battle, we would readily long for the day of complete victory.
Let all be stirred up, and exhorted from this,
1. To get and make sure their interest in this victory purchased by Christ in this battle. Come to Christ, and make sure your interest in him ; alas ! what will it avail you that Christ has purchased this victory for you? It would be promising-like in this case, if ye be raised up from spiritual death, or if ye be wrestling against the remains of it.
(1.) O love the Lord, come see the field of battle, where the Lord lay, and love him, John xiv. 13. Whom will yo love, if not him that died for us?
(2.) Hate sin, and seek the destruction and extirpation of it; set yourselves against the body of death. Ye have here—what nay excite you to it, for it was your sin that gave death its power, and furnished it with weapons against Christ-You may encourage yourselves in the contest, for victory is certain, for death is already vanquished in some sort: Rom. vi. 6, “ Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Christ.” Christ himself is engaged in the pursuit of the victory with you, and for you.
3. Patiently bear your troubles, weaknesses, and distresses, that hang about you, for these workings of death will be quickly over.
4. Join not yourselves with the congregation of the dead. Beware, (1.) Of dead company, making them your beloved companions, for "a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” (2.) Renounce dead
works, as an impiety towards God, and unrighteousness towards men. (3.) Beware of a dead case and frame, that is, to be cold, stiff, motionless, of the colour of clay, as men that are in a withered, lifeless, spiritual condition.
Lastly, Let heaven and eternal life be the main thing ye have in view, and are in quest of, saying, There is my rest, and there must I be.
THE SUITABLE IMPROVEMENT OF SAINTS' FORMER EXPERIENCES.
SERMON X I.
2 Kings ii. 14, And he took the mantle of Elijah, that fell from him, and smote the
waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah ? Among all the elders who have through faith obtained a good report, there is none more remarkable than Elijah the Tishbite. He was a person altogether extraordinary. In his exercise and experience he was singularly distinguished. His translation was a striking loss to the church of God; it was, however, not irreparable; his exercises were, in some measure, patterns to the people of God in after ages; his experiences were powerful encouragements to a following of him who through faith and patience inherited the promises; and, what was of still greater importance, Elijah's God still lived, and, as being the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, was to be the object of hope and confidence to his people in all generations. In all their straits he was to be looked to, and inquired after, for his presence with them, and his blessing upon them. Thus, we see, was Elisha exercised in the verse before us; for when overwhelmed, and in perplexity, “He took the mantle of Elijah, which fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah ?!!
This verse shews us,
1. What Elisha did. (1.) He took Elijah's mantle, that fell from him ; God so ordered, that it fell in Elisha's sight for his comfort, that he might have it as a token of the spirit of Elijah resting on him. He willingly takes it up: he did not say, What avails the mantle now, when it is not above Elijah's shoulders? No; that
• Delivered August 16, 1713.