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6. Believers at death shall gain perfection of their crown; they shall gain at death a of holiness. Here grace was but in cunabuli, blessed eternity. If the saints could have -in its cradle, very imperfect; we cannot the least suspicion or fear of losing their write a copy of holiness without blotting; glory, it would much cool and imbitter their believers are said to receive but primitias joy; but their crown fadeth not away, 1 Pet. Spiritus,—the first fruits of the Spirit,' v. 4. As the wicked have a worm that never Rom. viii. 22. But at death the saints shall dies, so the elect have a crown that never arrive at perfection,—their knowledge clear, fades. Ever, is a short word, but hath no -their sanctity perfect,--their sun shall be ending. Infine erit gaudium sine fine, in its full meridian splendour. They need BERN. 2 Cor. iv. 18, “ The things which not then pray for increase of grace; they are not seen are eternal.” Ps. xvi. 11, “ At shall love God as much as they would love thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.” him, and as much as he desires to have them who can span eternity ? Millions of ages love him; they shall be then, in respect of stand but for cyphers in eternity. This is holiness, as the angels of God.
the elah, or highest strain of the saint's 7. At derth the saints shall gain a royal glory; ever in Christ's bosom. magnificent feast. I told you before what a Quest. How come the saints to have all glorious palace they shall have; but a man this gain? may starve in a house, if there be no cheer. Ans. Believers have a right to all this gain The saints at death shall have a royal ban- at death upon divers accounts: by virtue of quet, shadowed out in scripture by a mar- the Father's donation,—the Son's purchase, riage-supper, Rev. xix. 9. Bullinger and --the Holy Ghost's earnest,—and faith's Gregory the Great understand by that mar- acceptance. Therefore the state of future riage-supper of the Lamb, the stately, mag- glory is called the saint's proper inheritance, nificent festival the saints shall have in hea. Col. i. 12. They are heirs of God, and have
they shall feed on the tree of life, Rev. a right to inherit. xxii. They shall have the heavenly nectar Use 1st. See the great difference between and ambrosia," the spiced wine, and the the death of the godly and the wicked; the juice of the pomegranate," Cant. viii. 2. godly are gainers at death, the wicked are This royal supper of the Lamb will not only great losers at death. They lose four things: satisfy hunger but prevent it, Rev. vii. 16, (1). They lose the world, and that is a * They shall hunger no more.” Nor can great loss to the wicked; they laid up their there be any surfeit at this feast, because a treasure upon earth, and to be turned out of fresh course will be continually serving; it all at once is a great loss. new and fresh delights will spring from God; (2). They lose their souls, Matt. xvi. 26, therefore the tree of life in paradise is said 27. The soul was at first a noble piece of to bear twelve sorts of fruit, Rev. xxii. 2. coin, which God stamped his own image
8. Believers at death shall gain honour upon; this celestial spark is more precious and dignity, they shall reign as kings; there than the whole globe of the world, but the fore we read of the ensigns of their royalty, sinner's soul is lost; not that the souls of their white robes and crowns celestial, 1 Tim. the wicked are annihilated at death, but iv. 7. We read that the doors of the holy damnified. of holies were made of palm-trees and open (3). They lose heaven. Heaven is sedes flowers, covered with gold,” 1 Kings vi. 35: beatorum,—the royal seat of the blessed; it an emblem of that victory and triumph, and is the region of happiness, the map of perfecthat golden garland of honour wherewith tion. There is that manna which is angels' God hath invested the saints glorified. When food ; there is the garden of spices, the bed all worldly honour shall lie in the dust,--the of perfumes, the river of pleasure. Sinners, mace, the star, the robe of ermine, the im- at death, lose all this. perial diadem,then shall the saints' honour (4). They lose their hopes; for though remain ; not one jewel shall be plucked out they lived wickedly, yet they hoped God was
merciful, and they hoped that they should go saints, desire death; it is your ascension-day to heaven. Their hope was not an anchor, to heaven! Egredere, anima egredere! said but a spider's web. Now, at death they lose Hilarion on his death-bed : “Go forth, my their hopes, they see they did but flatter soul, what fearest thou ?" Another holy man themselves into hell, Job viii. 14, “ Whose said, “ Lord, lead me to that glory which I hope shall be cut off.” That is sad, to have have seen as through a glass; haste, Lord, a man's life and his hope cut off together. and do not tarry !” Some plants thrive best
Use 2d. If the saints gain such glorious when they are transplanted : believers, when things at death; then how may they desire they are by death transplanted, cannot choose death? Doth not every one desire prefer- but thrive, because they have Christ's sweet ment? Nemo ante funera felix. Faith sunbeams shining upon them. And what gives a title to heaven, death a possession. though the passage through the valley of the Though we should be desirous of doing ser- shadow of death be troublesome? who would vice here, yet we should be ambitious of be- not be willing to pass a tempestuous sea, if ing with Christ, Phil. i. 23. We should be he were sure to be crowned so soon as he content to live, but willing to die. Is it not came to shore. a blessed thing to be freed from sin, and to Use 3d. Comfort in the loss of our dear lie for ever in the bosom of divine love? Is and pious relations. They, when they die, it not a blessed thing to meet our godly re- are not only taken away from the evil to lations in heaven, and to be singing divine come, but they are great gainers by death,anthems of praise among the angels? Doth they leave a wilderness, and go to a paradise, not the bride desire the marriage day, espe--they change their complaints into thankscially if she were to be matched unto the givings,—they leave their sorrows behind, crown? What is the place we now live in, and enter into the joy of their Lord. Why but a place of banishment fror God? We should we weep for their preferment? Be are in a wilderness, while the angels live at lievers have not their portion paid till the court. Here we are combating with Satan, day of their death: God's promise is his and should not we desire to be out of the bond to make over heaven in reversion to bloody field, where the bullets of temptation them; but though they have his bond, they fly so fast, and to receive a victorious crown? do not receive their portion till the day of Think what it will be to have always a smil. death. O rejoice to think of their happiness ing aspect from Christ's face,—to be brought who die in the Lord! To them “to die is into the banqueting-house, and have the ban- gain;" they are as rich as heaven can make ner of his love displayed over you! O yethem.
A BELIEVER'S PRIVILEGE AT DEATH.
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Phil. i. 21. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
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Hope is a Christian's anchor which he payment;" Luke xvi. 25, “Son, remember casts within the veil, Rom. xii. 12, “Re- that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good joicing in hope." A Christian's hope is not things;" but a saint's happiness is in reverin this life, but he “hath hope in his death.” sion; “ The righteous hath hope in his Prov. xiv. 32. The best of a saint's com- death.” God keeps the best wine till last. fort begins when his life ends; the wicked If Cato the heathen said, “ To me to die is have all their heaven here, Luke vi. 24, gain,” he saw mortality to be a mercy : “Wo unto you, rich, you have received then, what may a believer say ? Eccl. vii. 1, your consolation." You may make your " The day of death is better than the day acquittance, and write, “ Received in full of one's birth.” Nemo ante funera felix,
Solon. A queen of this land said, she pre- the Spirit.” It is an inmate that is always ferred her coffin before her cradle.
quarrelling ; like Marcellus, that Roman capQuest. 1. What benefits do believers tain, of whom Hannibal said, whether he did receive at death?
beat or was beaten, he would never be quiet. Ans. 1. They have great immunities.-2. (7). Sin adheres to us, we cannot get rid of Their bodies are united to Christ in the grave it; it may be compared to a wild fig-tree till the resurrection.-3. They pass imme-growing on a wall, though the roots are pulled diately into a state of glory.
up, yet there are some fibres, some strings of I. The saints at death have great immuni- it in the joints of the stone-work, which canties and freedoms. An apprentice when out not be gotten out. (8). Sin mingles with of his time is made free: when the saints are our duties and graces; we cannot write a out of their time of living, then they are made copy of holiness without blotting. This free,—not made free till death. 1. At death makes a child of God weary of his life, and they are freed from a body of sin. There are makes him water his couch with his tears, to in the best reliquiæ peccati,-some remain- think sin so strong a party, and he should ders and relics of corruption, Rom. vii. 24, often offend that God whom he loves ; this “O wretched man that I am, who shall de- made Paul cry out Miser ego homo! "0 liver me from this body of death?" By the wretched man that I am! Hence Paul did body of death is meant the congeries,—the not cry out of his affliction, of his prisonmass and lump of sin. It may well be called chain, but of the body of sin. Now a believer a body for its weightiness, and a body of at death shall be freed from sin; he is not death for its noisomeness. (1). It weighs taken away in, but from his sins; he shall us down; sin hinders us from doing good. never have a vain, proud thought more; he A Christian is like a bird that would be flying shall never grieve the spirit of God any more; up, but hath a string tied to its legs to hinder sin brought death into the world, and death it; so he would be flying up to heaven with shall carry sin out of the world. The Perthe wings of desire, but sin hinders him, Rom. sians had a certain day in the year in which vii. 15, “For what I would, that I do not.” (they killed all serpents and venomous creaA Christian is like a ship that is under sail, tures : such a day will the day of death be to and at anchor; grace would sail forward, but a believer, it will destroy all his sins, which, sin is the anchor that holds it back. (2). like so many serpents have stung him. Death Sin is more active in its sphere than grace.smites a believer as the angel did Peter, he How stirring was lust in David, when his made his chains fall off, so death makes all grace lay dormant! (3). Sin sometimes gets the chains of sin fall off, Acts xii. 7. Bethe mastery and leads a saint captive, Rom. lievers at death are made perfect in holiness, vii. 19, “The evil that I would not, that I do.” Heb. xii. 23, “The spirits of just men made Paul was like a man carried down the stream, perfect.” At death the souls of believers and could not bear up against it. How oft is recover their virgin purity. O what a blessed a child of God overpowered with pride and privilege is this, to be sine macula et ruga,passion! Therefore Paul calls sin, a law in without spot or wrinkle, Eph. v. 27,—to be his members, Rom. vii. 24; it binds as a law; purer than the sunbeams,—to be as free from it hath a kind of jurisdiction over the soul as sin as the angels! This makes a believer so Cæsar bad over the senate. (4). Sin defiles desirous to have his pass to be gone ; he the soul,—it is like a stain to beauty,-it would fain live in that pure air where no turns the soul's azure brightness into sable. black vapours of sin arise. (5). Sin debilitates us,ếit disarms us of our
2. At death the saints shall be freed from strength, 2 Sam. iii. 39, “I am this day weak, all the troubles and incumbrances to which though anointed king :” so, though a saint be this life is subject.
"Sin is the seed sown, crowned with grace, yet he is weak, though and trouble is the harvest reaped.” Eurip, anointed a spiritual king. (6). Sin is ever Life and trouble are married together; there restless, Gal. v. 17, “ The flesh lusts against is more in life to wean us than to tempt us.
Parents divide a portion of sorrow to their dead that die in the Lord, they rest from their children, and yet leave enough for themselves, labours.” What needs working when they Job v. 7, “ Man is born to trouble,”—he is have their reward? What needs fighting, heir to it,-it is his birthright,—you may as when the crown is set on their head! They well separate weight from lead as trouble rest from their labours.—4. Suffering. Befrom the life of man, Quid est diu vivere, lievers are as a lily among thorns; as the nisi diu torqueri ? Aug. King Henry's em- dove among the birds of prey. The wicked blem, a crown hung in a bush of thorns ; have an antipathy against the righteous, and there is a far greater proportion of bitterness secret hatred will break forth into open viothan pleasure in this life, Prov. vii. 17, “I lence, Gal. iv. 29, “ He that was born after the have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and flesh, persecuted him that was born after the cinnamon.” For one sweet ingredient there Spirit.” The dragon is described with seven were two bitter ; for the cinnamon, there heads and ten horns, Rev. xii. 3. He plotwere myrrh and aloes. A man's grace will teth with the one, and pusheth with the other. not exempt him from troubles, Gen. xlvii. 9, But at death the godly shall be freed from “ Few and evil have the days of the years of the molestations of the wicked; they shall my life been.” Though he was a godly pa- never be pestered with these vermin more, triarch,--though he had met with God, Gen. Job iii. 17, “ There (viz. in the grave) the xxxii. 30,-he named “the name of the place wicked cease from troubling.” Death doth Peniel, for I have seen God face to face,” to a believer, as Joseph of Arimathea did to -yet he had his troubles ; “ Few and evil,” Christ, it takes him down from the cross,
and &c. There are many things to imbitter life gives him a writ of ease; the eagle that flies and cause trouble, and death frees us from all. high, cannot be stung with the serpent ; death -1. Care. The mind is full of perplexed gives the soul the wings of the eagle, that it thoughts, how to bring about such a design, flies above all these venomous serpents here -how to prevent such an evil : the Greek below.–5. Temptation. Though Satan be a word for care, comes from a primitive in the conquered enemy, yet he is a restless enemy, Greek, that signifies “to cut the heart in 1 Pet. v. 8. He walketh about ; the devil is pieces.' Care doth discruciate the mind, always going his diocese, he hath his snares waste the spirits; no such bitter bread as the and his darts ; one he tempts with riches, bread of carefulness, Ezek. xii. 19. Care is a another with beauty. It is no small trouble spiritual canker which eats out the comfort of to be continually followed with temptations ; life ; death is the cure of care.—2. Fear. Fear it is as bad as for a virgin to have her chastity is the ague of the soul which sets it a shak- daily assaulted; but death will free a child of ing; 1 John iv. 18, “ There is torment in God from temptation, he shall never be fear.” Fear is like Prometheus's vulture, it vexed more with the old serpent.
After gnaws upon the heart.
There is a mistrust- death hath shot its darts at us, the devil ful fear,—a fear of want; and a distracting shall have done shooting his ; though grace fear,—a fear of danger ; and a discouraging puts a believer out of the devil's possession, fear,-a fear God doth not love us. These only death frees him from the devil's temptafears leave sad impressions upon the mind; tion.—6. Sorrow. A Cloud of sorrow ganow at death a believer is freed from these thers in the heart, and drops into tears, Ps. torturing fears; he now knows he is passed xxxi. 10, “ My life is spent with grief, and from death to life; he is as far from fear, as my years with sighing.” It was a curse, the damned are from hope; the grave buries a Gen. iii. 16, “ In sorrow thou shalt bring Christian's fear.-3. Labour, Eccl. i. 8, “ All forth.” Many things occasion sorrow ; sickthings are full of labour.” Some labour in ness, law-suits, treachery of friends, disthe mine ; others among the Muses ; God appointment of hopes, loss of estate, Ruth liath made a law, “In the sweat of thy face i. 20, “ Call me not Naomi, call me Mathou shalt eat bread,” but death gives a be- ra :” “ I went out full, and the Lord hath liever a quietus est; it takes him off from his brought me home again empty." Sorrow day-labour, Rev. xiv. 13, “Blessed are the ' is the evil spirit that haunts us; the world
is a Bochim; Rachel wept for her children ;/ is a dormitory or place of rest to the saints, some grieve that they have no children, and where their bodies quietly sleep in Christ, others grieve that their children are unduti- till they are awakened out of their sleep by ful. Thus we spend our years with sighing; the trumpet of the archangel. it is a valley of tears, but death is the funeral QUEST. 2. But how shall we know that of all our sorrows, Rev. vii. 17, “ And God we shall gain all this at death, to be freed shall wipe away all tears." Then Christ's from sin and trouble, and to have our bodies spouse puts off her mourning; how can the united to Christ in the grave? children of the bride-chamber mourn, when Ans. If we are believers, then we gain all the bridegroom shall be with them? Matt. ix. this at death. “To me,” saith Paul, “ to 15. Thus death gives a believer his quietus die is gain :" to me, quatenus, a believer. est; it frees him from sin and trouble ; though Are we such? Have we this blessed faith? the apostle calls death the last enemy, 1 Cor. Faith, wherever it is, is operative. Lapidaxv. 11, yet it is the best friend: “ To me to ries say there is no precious stone but hath die is gain.”
virtutem insitam,--some hidden virtue in it: Use 1st. See here that which may make a so I may say of faith, it hath some secret true saint willing to die; death will set him virtue in it,-it anchors the soul on Christ,out of gun-shot,-free him from sin and it hath both a justifying and sanctifying virtrouble ; there is no cause of weeping to tue in it,-it fetcheth blood out of Christ's leave a valley of tears; the world is a stage sides to pardon, and water out of his sides to on which sin and misery are acted. Be- purge,-it works by love,-it constrains to lievers are here in a strange country, why duty, it makes the head study for Christ, then should they not be willing to go out of the tongue confess him, the hands work for it? Death beats off their fetters of sin, and him. I have read of a father who had three sets them free. Who goes weeping from a sons, and, being to die, left in his will all his gaol? Besides our own sins, the sins of estate to that son who could find his ring others. The world is a place where Satan's with the jewel which had a healing virtue. seat is; & place where we see God daily dis- The case was brought before the judges; the honoured. Lot-who was a bright star in a two elder sons counterfeited a ring, but the dark nighthis righteous soul was vexed younger son brought the true ring, which with the unclean conversation of the wicked, was proved by the virtue of it, whereupon 2 Pet. iii. 7. To see God's sabbaths broken, Iris Father's estate went to him. To this his truths adulterated, his glory eclipsed, is ring I may compare faith: there is a counterthat which wounds a godly heart. This feit faith in the world, but if we can find this made David cry out, Ps. cxx. 5, “Wo is me ring of faith which hath the healing virtue in that I dwell in Mesech, that I sojourn in it to purify the heart, this is the true faith the tents of Kedar!" Kedar was Arabia, which gives us an interest in Christ, and where were Ishmael's posterity; this was entitles us to all these privileges at death, a cut to David's heart to dwell there. O to be freed from sin and sorrow, and to have then be willing to depart out of the tents of our bodies united to Christ while they are in Kedar!
II. The bodies of believers are united to 3. I should now come to the third privilege Christ in the grave, and shall rest there till at death, the souls of believers pass imme. the resurrection. They are said to sleep in diately into glory. Where I shall lead you Jesus, 1 Thess. iv. 14. The dust of believers to the top of mount Pisgah, and give you a is part of Christ's body mystical. The grave short view of the glory of heaven.