Imatges de pàgina
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and dying have this tendency. They walk in the way to heaven themselves, and they would take as many with them as they can, and engage others to follow them, “ where through faith and patience they shall inherit the promises.” Hence do we frequently hear the godly when dying, charge those whom they leave behind, that they so demean themselves, that in the great day, they may have the honor and happiness to stand at the right band of Christ. Let us then put ourselves under the impressions of their example and their charges, that so we may be profiled by them, both living and dying; and let us remember how they behaved themselves for our imitation, and what they said to us for our quickening in the ways of God, as long as we shall continue in the body.

3. Hence how profane and barbarous are those, who evilly entreat the godly while living, and abuse their memory when dead. They have on them the mark of the beast, who makes war with the saints of the Most High. They act contrary to the laws of ingenuity and gratitude, of humanity and religion ; for they vilely behave themselves towards those that they are most indebted to, and evilly requite their best benefactors.

4. Hence the excellency of religion, which brings such honor to the saints, that they should be employed as the messengers of the Lord of hosts, both living and when dead, to deliver those instructions to his people which are of the greatest moment and concern to them.

Finally, Do the sincerely godly, though dead, yet speak to the living, and is one way of it by having their characters and the circumstances that attended their death, improved by others for the quickening of the living to the things which are virtuous and praiseworthy ? This may be a call to me from heaven, to improve the awful and awakening providence of God in the death of that young man we followed to the grave the last week,* the loss of whom we mourn with the bereaved relatives, though not as without hope, baving this sure confidence as far as we are capable to judge, that though this offering was made of early fruit, yet it was ripe fruit, and for him to die was exceeding gain : And this consideration may vindicate what I shall further offer concerning him with this single view, that God may have the glory of his rich grace, and that be being dead, may yet speak to us all, but in an especial manner to our young people, some encouraging, awakening, quickening truths, which o that they might have a suitable impression upon you !

Here then,

1. Let this sudden, awful and surprising providence of God, call upon us all to be ready for death. This providence presents

• He received his death's wound from a fall upon the tine of a fork.

us with an instance of one in health, and under as promising circumstances of life as any of us, in a very sudden and surprising manner called out of time into eternity.* “In the morning he was like grass that groweth up, in the morning he flourished and grew up, in the evening he was cut down and withered." This is God's voice to us herein, trust not to an uncertain and frail life, “ For what is your life? it is even a vapour : we should always live under a realizing sense of this, that we may meet our death very suddenly. “Man knoweth not his time, as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.” Our bodies are fitly compared to “ houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth.” In a word, this providence calls upon us diligently to improve our time, and not to rest easy one minute, unless we have obtained a good hope, through grace, that we are passed from death to life. O let us get into an actual readiness for death, and live in a continual readiness therefor; for we know not when, nor where, nor how we shall meet death. Let us therefore be always ready. When we lie down, let us remember, that we may die before we awake. When we arise in the morning, let us remember, that we may meet death before night; and when we set about any business, that we may be called out of time before we have accomplished it; and that the tools which we improve in our lawful business, God may make them the instruments of our death. O let us from this providence be impressed with such thoughts as these ; and let them have a due influence upon us, to be speedy and thorough in the very necessary work of turning to God, of getting from under the bondage and slavery which we are naturally in to our lusts, and into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. We cannot be too speedy, we cannot be too sure in this matter of infinite concern to us.

But 2. I would in an especial manner improve the dispensation as a very loud call to our young people. O young people, I bring you a message from the dead this day : one of your brethren who lately (we trust) fell asleep in Jesus, being dead will now speak to you, let him have your attention, especially those that belong to the society of which he was a member, unto whom a message from God is now to be delivered.

1. He being dead speaks to you by his example of holy living, and it is to imitate him wherein he followed Christ. Imitate him in his seriousness and devotion ; for he maintained a close walk with God; as a specimen of what he left behind him, will presently show you. Make choice of God for your God in your early days,

* Being hurt on the Saturday evening, and died the Monday following.

and adhere to your choice. Make conscience of secret prayer, and if you would enjoy communion with God, maintain the life of religion, and be much in prayer; this was undoubtedly his daily practice, as far as could be learnt by those that observed him, and that he was no stranger to this, bis pertinency and fluency, his life and zeal in social prayer, even far beyond his years, is a very great evidence. Imitate him in bis bumility and modesty; he was reserved in his conversation, modest in his whole deportment, and in honor would prefer others before him. Like a deep river he passed silently along without noise, not doing any thing to be seen of men. Imitate him in his self-denial, and endeavors to maintain brotherly love; the language of whose conduct was, “Let there be no strife between me and thee, for we are brethren.” He would deny bimself rather than occasion any uneasiness, and herein his moderation appeared. Imitate him in his dutifulness to his parents, whom he obeyed in the Lord with cheerfulness and faithfulness. In a word, imitate him in bis circumspect walk, wherein be adorned the doctrine of God his Saviour, and showed out of a good conversation bis works with meekness of wisdom, Thus follow his example in the things which were virtuous and praiseworthy in him. This he calls and exhorts you to.

2. He being dead speaks to you by some passages out of his diary, which I shall recite to you. He kept a diary some short time, a practice justly to be recommended to the people of God, as serving several very good purposes. But take the reasons wbich be bimself gives for his coming into such a practice. He inquires, “Why should I put pen to paper to write down my experiences, or the dispositions of my soul? Have there not been many excellent Christians that have lived without this course ?” He answers, “Yes, but it may be they could not write, or had strong memories to retain things, but neither of these are my condition, therefore I think it needful, yea my duty to do so. Others have said that it is of great use, and I have found it so, by my own experience, for having when I was in a good frame wrote something, and when in a dead frame looked it over, I believe that it affected me more than the writings of any other would bave done ; tbis encouraged me to write : has there been pains taken with me to learn me to write, and shall not I improve my advantages ? I have had this practice set before me by the example of others, and by advice, and I believe that Christians wbich have been most excellent and holy, have practiced this course." See also what have been his experiences, what bis resolutions, what his observations with respect to God's providential dealings with him, and what the arguments he has used with himself, to keep bimself in awe of sinning, and to enlighten and enforce his resolutions for duty, in two or three paragraphs which I shall transcribe out of his diary. I find him writing thus.

" May 1725. I had the striving of God's Spirit with me in more than an ordinary manner, and I did resolve to seek God and embrace the mercy offered to me in the gospel; to this end I set apart a day for prayer with fasting, to implore the favor of God, and that he would accomplish within me, the whole good work of his Spirit, and the work of faith with power. I was then very earnest and importunate at the throne of grace, and could use such expressions as these, Bless me, even me, O my God. Lord, I lie here at thy foot, a poor creature, a condemned malefactor, here I am resolved to lie and wait for a blessing : Lord I will not depart, except thou bless me and bestow thy grace upon me.'"

Afterwards he complains of coldness, of deadness, and dullness, and then speaks of God's visiting him with affliction, and thereby quickening him, and he has such a passage as this to excite him to a close walk with God.

" I have had many warnings to forsake the foolish, and walk in the ways of understanding : they were the last words of a dear grandmother to me,

0 Timothy, be sure you serve God whatever you do.' Now O my soul how wilt thou dare to meet her in the day of judgment, if thou dost refuse and turn a deaf ear to this counsel !"

He has such a remark as this upon a special providence of God towards him.

“ November 19, 1725. Upon firing off a gun it broke into many pieces, and wounded me in the hand and head, which was a sudden surprise to me, and made me cry out, O Lord, if thou hadst not upheld me, I had sunk into the depth of wo and misery!' This stroke was a great awakening to me, and I believe that the impressions of that blow will never wear off, for they were such as I am not able to utter. O my soul, thou art under strong obligations to serve God who hath spared thee.” And he adds. “ Now I am in a confused perplexity about my state.” He complains of being troubled with atheistical thoughts, and very solidly answers his own objections, and resolves his doubts.

He has not wrote much, but what he has, is very full of the life of Christianity ; but so much he has wrote, that I find I must forbear to transcribe after him, without I exceed due bounds; but one paragraph more I cannot but insert.

He writes, “ January 3, 1726–7. I find by experience, that to have much of this world upon my hands, is a great bindrance to a life of communion with God. I find that often thinking of God, Christ and sin, is a great help towards hating sin, and getting a sight and sense of it. I have lived a sinful life, sinning against the commands of God, and against light, love and grace, and against many obligations and resolutions to a better life.

For near ten years of my life past, I have purposed to leave off my sins by repentance, and to give up myself to God in an explicit covenant, but always have put off the present tiine, thinking with myself, the next week, or the next month, or the next year, I would give up myself to God, I would begin a holy lise ; but I have neglected it under many loud calls and warnings, until having not long since been awakened by the motions of the Spirit in and with the word, read and preached, I set apart a day for prayer with fasting, to humble my soul before God for the sins of my life past, and to beg for mercy, I took up such resolutions as these :

Whereas I have formerly rushed irreverently into the presence of God, I resolve for this week to think of some awakening subject, to warm my heart before prayer, and to refrain from some sins I had een guilty of.' At the end of the week, I found upon examination, that I had broke my resolutions : Then I thought that it was a dreadful thing to make resolutions before God, and O dreadful to break them! Then I inquired, whether I had best let drop, or renew my resolutions. I inquired, 'Soul, badst thou best be saved, or damned, live or die eternally ?' Oh horrid, vile creature! if thou dost never begin a holy life, thou wilt never live such a life: And then I considered, that though I bad in some measure broke my resolutions, yet they had been a bridle in a great measure to restrain me from sin: I then renewed my resolutions, and made them stronger, and have found them of great use to me.”

Thus much of his diary; and by it, you see what care he took to maintain a life of religion : You see how close and severe he was upon himself; what benefit he found by bis resolutions, and of what service bis diary was to him; and by this he being dead speaks to you, that you imitate his piety ; that you guard against what he complains of himself for; and that you endeavor to profit by what he has written for your instruction and encouragement in the ways of God.

I pass on,

3. He being dead speaks to you, by the manner of his death, which was awful and sudden; and will awaken and quicken you, unless you are in a very hardened, sleepy and secure frame. O let not this providence pass without suitable impressions made upon you, and proper reflections made by you. O be hereby quickened to-day, even while it is called to-day, to secure the everlasting interest of your precious souls; for you know not what will be on the morrow. He who is now in the eternal world, was as likely, but a little more than a week since, to have continued in this earthly house of his tabernacle, as any of you ; and the Lord only knows whose turn amongst you may be the next, nor how soon it may be. O therefore get ready, lest that hour should come

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