« AnteriorContinuar »
which have no hope: for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." He observes of such as have no hope, that they are the persons most apt to be dejected with grief upon the departure of their friends. But as for us, who live by hope, and believe in God, and consider that Christ suffered and rose again from the dead for our sakes, who abide in Christ, and expect to rise again in and through him; what reason can we have either to leave this world with unwillingness and reluctance, or to bewail the case of those who have left it, as lost and desperate? Surely our Lord himself hath well encouraged us by saying, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." If we believe in earnest on Christ, let us give credit to his promises; and since the tenor of them hath assured us, that we shall not die for ever, let us go to Christ, when he calls us with all imaginable cheerfulness, with whom we are to live and to reign for ever. We should really therefore consider death no otherwise than as a necessary passage to life immortal; inasmuch as we cannot arrive at our eternal mansions without leaving these temporal ones; and should therefore, I say, look upon our departure hence, as a short and a transient journey to our everlasting abode. Who then would not hasten to a change so much for the
better? Who would not desire, with the greatest fervency of spirit, to begin it with the soonest, to be fashioned again in the likeness of Christ, and so to enter upon the participation of his heavenly glory? The apostle hath proclaimed to us; "Our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body." This our Lord himself hath encouraged us to expect and hope for, where he prayed his Father, that we might be with him, and share with him the glories of his heavenly kingdom: "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
14. The man who expects admission to the mansions of Christ, and to heavenly glory, will be quite out of character if he be found in mourning and lamentation; his faith and his firm dependence upon the performance of his Master's promises, should rather make his removal hence the subject of joy and triumph to him. Thus we find that Enoch pleased God and was translated into heaven; as the holy scripture witnesseth concerning him, saying, "and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." It should farther be considered, that the world hates a christian, as such; and wherefore then should a christian be fond of that which hates him ; and not rather follow Christ, who hath given him so great a proof of his love, by undertaking to redeem him? St. John has pronounced upon this subject with great vehemence, and warned us against being seduced by the lusts of the flesh into an irregular love of the world. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." Wherefore, my beloved brethren, it will become us to resign ourselves entirely to the will of God, with courage and constancy, and to prepare ourselves for any portion which he shall be pleased to allot us: we should lay aside all cowardly apprehension of death, and think only of that life and immortality to which it leads us: We should shew the power of our faith, by bearing the departure of our dearest friends without undue emotion; and when it shall please God to call us, in our own persons, to himself, we should gladly receive his summons, and follow him with cheerfulness and without delay.
15. This is a conduct at all times fit for the servants of God; but at no time more fit than now; when the world is hastening to its period, and is already surrounded with various evils, which are the harbingers of its approaching catastrophe. We, therefore, who observe them begun, and know .that worse are coming, should esteem it our privilege and advantage to be removed out of the way of them.—Should the walls of your house be bulging, through length of time, and threaten its sudden fall, would you not make all the haste you could to get out of it? Should a storm arise when you are out at sea, and forebode a wreck to you, would you not crowd your sails, and make with all speed to harbour? The world, my brethren, gives you as plain prognostics of its end approaching, though not so much from the length of its continuance, as from having reached its appointed period; and will you not then give thanks to God and congratulate your own felicity, when you are permitted to make your retreat betimes, and to escape thereby the shocks and terrors of its dissolution?
16. Finally, we should ever carry it in our thoughts, and improve it into a standing principle, that we have solemnly renounced the world, and therefore, whilst we continue in it, should behave like strangers and pilgrims. Hence we should thankfully welcome that happy day which is to fix us, each, in our proper habitation, to rescue us from the various embarrassments of the world, to disengage us from its perplexities and snares, and to restore us to a state of paradise, and to the kingdom of heaven. Who amongst us, if he had been long a sojourner in a foreign land, would not desire a return to his native country? Who, when he had begun to sail thither, would not wish for a prosperous wind to carry him home with expedition, that he might the sooner embrace his friends and relations? We now should account paradise our proper country, as we have already begun to reckon the patriarchs our fathers; and therefore should be fond of hasting to the sight of that country, to the embraces of our parents and our friends. There friends, and parents, and brethren, and children, without number wait for us, and long to congratulate our happy arrival; they are in secure possession of their own felicity, and want only the accession of ours to finish and complete it. How great must we then conceive will be our common joy upon the transport of our meeting together in those blessed abodes? How unutterable must be the pleasures of the kingdom of heaven, which have no allay from any danger of their discontinuance, but are sure and immutable for evermore, as having eternity added to the highest degrees of bliss? There we shall meet with the glorious choir of the apostles; with the goodly company of the prophets; with an innumerable multitude of holy martyrs, who, agreeably to the commands of Christ, have wrought their several works of righteousness, and are honoured