Imatges de pÓgina
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means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." It is, then, most true that no one may deceive himself by trusting in the death of Christ, so long as his conscience condemns him of wilful sin; but it is equally and as absolutely true, that no man can rest his trust in that atonement upon the possession of a sinless consciousness. The grace of faith is a gift specially meted out to the necessity of those who are in neither of these states; but in that middle condition in which a heart, sincerely converted, clings with all its grasp to the atonement of the Cross. This is its only safety against the malignity of the devil, the power of temptation, the infirmity of our manhood, and the flexible treachery of our own will. The full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice of the Cross is the only stay of the soul, from the hour of its sincere conversion to the change which shall make us to be "pure even as He is pure." Let us, therefore, guard with all watchfulness and prayer against every consent of the heart in any thing of evil. Let us withdraw ourselves by the whole power of our will, through the help of the Holy Spirit, from all communion with "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." What then may come upon us is from without. It is not our sin, but our scourge; permitted to try and to humble us.

1 Phil. iii. 13 and 11.

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Even though we fall, as saints have fallen, yet let us not cast away our trust. When trust is gone, hope is dead; and where there is no hope, there can be no repentance: for where there is no love, there can be no contrition; and love cannot survive the death of hope; for the loss of hope is despair, that is, the fear of certain perdition, fearful looking for of fiery indignation." Therefore it is that Satan strives above all to destroy in us the power of faith, hope, and love, the three blessed gifts of grace infused by the Holy Ghost in our regeneration. If these can be destroyed, and their spiritual antagonists implanted and matured in the soul, it matters not what we profess or practise. The revealed object and the productive source of these three virtues of the Spirit is the atonement of the Cross. Let us hold fast by this; and they will be replenished by a perpetual effluence of His Divine love, streaming into our souls, and drawing them back, as by a tide, unto Himself. He has so united us unto Himself, that when He died for all, we died together with Him; and because He liveth, we shall live also. His life and His death are inseparably ours. Death has done its worst against us already upon the Cross. And "our life is hid with Christ in God." Let us, then, strive to say to our own heart, in the words of a saint now in His kingdom: "While

there is life in thee, in this death alone place all thy trust; confide in nothing else besides; to this death commit thyself altogether; with this shelter thy whole self; with this death array thyself from head to foot. And if the Lord thy God will judge thee, say, Lord, between Thy judgment and me I cast the death of our Lord Jesus Christ; no otherwise can I contend with Thee. And if He say to thee, Thou art a sinner; say, Lord, I stretch forth the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my sins and Thee. If He say, Thou art worthy of condemnation; say, Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my evil deserts and Thee, and His merits I offer for those merits which I ought to have, but have not of my own. If He say that He is wroth with thee; say, Lord, I lift up the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between Thy wrath and me." Let this be our confidence. The love of God in Christ; the love of Christ in dying; the death of Christ upon the Cross; lifted up for us; a perpetual sacrifice; one, spotless, all-prevailing; ever fresh, ever full of life; infinite in price, virtue, and power. In life and death, in our last agony, in the day of judgment, be this our only stay, our hope, our all.

1 S. Anselmi Admonitio morienti, Opp. p. 194.

SERMON XIX.

THE FEARFULNESS OF DEATH.

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PSALM lv. 4.

My heart is sore pained within me, and the terrors of death are fallen upon me."

In the version of the Psalter used in the Prayerbook, this verse stands with a more homely and expressive simplicity, "My heart is disquieted within me, and the fear of death is fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and an horrible dread hath overwhelmed me." The fear of death is upon all flesh. It is no sign of manhood to be without it. To overcome it in the way of duty is courage; to meet death with patience is faith; but not to fear it is either a gift of special grace or a dangerous insensibility. No doubt great saints have been able to say, “I have a desire to depart." And many have rushed to

martyrdom, as to the love and bosom of their Lord: but for the rest, the multitude of His flock, who are neither wilful sinners, nor to be numbered among saints, the thought of death is a thought of fear. We see that, on the first feeling of their having so much as set foot in the path leading to the grave, even good men feel the "terror of death,"" a horrible dread," which makes every pulse to beat with a hurried and vehement speed. Their whole nature, both in body and in soul, trembles to its very centre; and their heart is "disquieted," "sore pained," within them.

Now why is this? Let us try to analyse the feelings which swell so tumultuously, and to separate them into their distinct elements; that is, let us see what are the causes or reasons of this "fear of death."

1. The first must needs be a consciousness of personal sinfulness. A sense of unfitness to meet God, our unreadiness to die, a multitude of personal faults, evil tempers, thoughts, and inclinations; the recollection of innumerable sins, of great omissions and lukewarmness in all religious duties, the little love or gratitude we have to God, and the great imperfection of our repentance;—all these make us tremble at the thought of going to give up our account. We feel as if it were impossible we could be saved. Shame, fear,

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