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fool. Notwithstanding this, "there is a time to be born, and a time to die;" and a single moment beyond this fixed time, we cannot pass." "Behold! (said God to his servant Moses), the day is come that thou must die!" From the sentence of God, and the daily execution of it, I am constrained to say to myself, "Behold! the days come (always coming!) that thou must die! And how do I know what day that will be? The day is as uncertain with me, as it is certain with God. What can I do in this solemn uncertainty? Surely, as I know not which day, my interest is to be ready every day. This was the conduct of one of the wisest and best of men, the Apostle Paul. Some might wonder at his mysterious conduct, of voluntary suffering for the Truth's sake, and might be ready to suggest, you will expose yourself to sufferings till it will be your death!" What then?" Death is no formidable object to me," saith he; No!" I protest, by your rejoicing, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, "I DIE DAILY!" Think not that I fear to expose myself to sufferings and death for Christ's sake; for, I assure you, the cause I am engaged in is so noble-the Lord, whose I am, and whom I serve, is so dear to me-and Death is so familiar and interesting in its consequences to me, that I die daily. Whatever I think to do in a dying hour, that I wish to do every day. I put myself in dying circumstances, and realise my departure, and try, daily try, to learn to die. That is,
First, "I DEPOSIT MY SOUL IN CHRIST'S HANDS DAILY." This is the very thing, I think, I shall do in a dying moment; this is a part of dying work. This, therefore, is daily work. Suppose, this hour, the agonies of death were upon me, I should cry, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" Thus did Stephen, when he saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at his right hand.
"I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have COMMITTED to him against that day." This is his language. Lord Jesus, I have a soul liable to error and sin -exposed to the poison of the world, and the assaults of fallen spirits. This soul is immortal: if it is undone here, in my last hour, it is so for ever. I know not but this day, devils may be forming peculiar plans for my ruin; and, withal, it may prove my dying day. Whose arm but thine can shield and sustain me? My soul is my all! I dare not, therefore, trust it in any other hands than thine; in any other hands it cannot be safe; in thine it cannot but be so! I therefore seriously, humbly, and with confidence of its safety, "commit" it to thee, in believing and fervent prayer. Thus I begin this day, as I hope to act in my last day. This part of the Christian's daily work may receive a familiar illustration:-When my mother was within a few hours of eternity, she felt all the pangs of parental pity and concern agitating her breast! and expressed herself to this effect:-"I have two children, whom I dearly love. They are both young and helpless. Their father regards them not, Poor infants! What will
become of them when I am gone? In whose hands shall I leave them? My dear sister, said she (who stood by her bed-side), will you give me your word, that you will take care of my little ones? You are near in blood; you love my children." "I will, my dear sister," she replied, "I will take care of them; make yourself easy, leave them with me." "Well," said my dying mother," then I will commit them to your care. Now I am easy."-So says the Christian: I too must depart this life. My mortal body must return to dust. But I cannot part with life, comfortably or safely, until I have committed my immortal soul into safe hands. Jesus Christ is God over all, blessed for evermore. He can forgive the sins of my soul, and make it holy and happy. Lord Jesus, take charge of this immortal part! This dear jewel-my soul! He invites he promises acceptance: I leave my soul in his hands. There it is deposited. Now I am easy. This is dying-a necessary, profitable, and pleasant duty! Who would not wish to die daily?" Into thy hands I commit my spirit, for thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of Truth!" If this was revealed as my dying day, I should,
Secondly, "ATTEMPT TO RESIGN ALL THE INTERESTS OF EARTH." Death cannot be pleasant, so long as strong attachment to any mortal good reigns. What we supremely love, we never can consent to be separated from. Yet dying is a separation of the person from his nearest relatives! his dearest friends! his circle of acquaintance his favourite business! his most pleasing plans and prospects of earthly felicity! This is part of our daily task. To turn our eyes away from those earthly objects which most engross our attention and affection-to withdraw our inordinate regard to close our eyes on the world-utter the hard, the parting word, "farewell!" Rise in the morning, Christian, and thus die! Ye husbands and wives, parents, children, friends, I think I see you entering your closets, shutting your door, and on your knees, giving up each other, in the wisest resignation, to the Supreme will. Here, Lord, says an affectionate husband, father, friend, I know I must one day, leave my wife and companion, and children. I desire to realize and inure myself to the work, before the time comes. I give up the partner of my joys and sorrows, my dear offspring! beloved friends and relatives, I this morning resign my worldly affairs as a dying creature. "My times are in thy hands!" I know not the hour when the Son of Man cometh. When the time of my departure is at hand, I desire to have nothing to do but to exclaim, in the language of the happy Apostle, "I am ready to be offered!" O! pleasant meeting between Death and such a Christian! Death is come, and I am ready! The other week I made an appointment to go and see a certain dear friend. An intimate acquaintance was to call for me. He did so. No sooner did I see him, but I cried, "I am ready!" May this be the case when death gives me a call! And what can tend to promote this readiness more than dying daily?
This act of offering should be daily! If we do not, we shall find our earthly ties increase and strengthen. Ah! deceitful world! I'll rise in the morning, and this shall be my first lesson in the day, to die! Thus will I sing,
Now I forbid my carnal hope,
My fond desires recal;
Pressing trials I may meet. Difficult duties may call for uncommon exertions-friends may slight and forsake me-enemies may grow more enraged, and temptations more strong-persecution may attempt to affright, and poverty may threaten to crush me-health may give place to sickness, and the dearest relatives bid adieu to the world! What then? "None of these things move me, nor count I my life dear to me, so that I may finish my course with joy." Godly friends depart; but dying daily is resigning them, and realizing the moment of following them!-I daily meet with trials: but I die daily; and that is a realization of the desired period of all trials. I will take no anxious thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself: sufficient unto the day, is the evil thereof." I now intend to live by the day; I am altogether uncertain of the morrow. Perhaps to-morrow I may be in heaven! I know not, however, to the contrary. Nay, I will not stay presuming on the morrow, but calmly resign all now; for even "this day, Lord Jesus! I may be with thee in paradise." "I protest by your rejoicing, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily"-to sin; does sin affect a dead man? Is a dead man affected by sin?" How shall I, who am dead to sin, live any longer therein ?" to natural attainments; to moral self; or all my works of holiness; to relative self; and to the world. The praise of friends elates, and the censure of enemies depresses me; I would daily die to both. In the phrase of "dying daily," there is included,
Thirdly. "The cultivation of a daily SUPERIOR regard to another world." A believer has to do with two worlds-heaven and earth. His abode on earth must be short, and, at the same time, he knows not how short. This uncertainty he wisely improves, to wean his heart from the place where he is not sure of living a year, a month, a week, a day, an hour, or even a minute! In this just view of his time-state, is it possible that he should exclaim with Peter, "let me build a tabernacle here?" No, surely! He rather takes the words of the wise, and urges his soul to "arise, and depart, seeing this, is not his rest!" The nature of the present state compels him to utter the wise man's repeated text, with a considerable emotion of mind-" All is vanity and vexation of spirit!" The rich, the gay, and the vain, he perceives and pities, in their delusion. He hears them whisper, "soul, thou hast goods laid up for many years." And he can hardly forbear to exclaim, "Thou fool!-this
night thy soul shall be required of thee!" He sees all ages and ranks, quitting this world! He knows they carry nothing away, in their hands, with them." He perceives the painful reluctance, with which they leave all mortal good, and learns to moderate his esteem of those things, from which he may be rent the next breath he draws? From which he may be rent, did I say? Rather, from which, "he desires to depart, and be with CHRIST, which is far better." He has learned from those inspired testimonies, which are his counsellors, that the glorious world towards which he aspires, has joys, has honours, which never fade. He looks towards that happy world, and sees "His God, the Judge of all! Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant! The spirits of just men made perfect, and an innumerable company of angels." He realises "a number that no man can number," harping with their harps!" This world of light and love, holiness and bliss, draws his best esteem and affections, and by faith in the world above, he triumphs over this PRESENT evil world. Hear this good soul, as he rises from his early prayer:
This world's a dream, an empty shew;
When shall I wake and find me there.
This, this, is dying daily! Go on, my dear Christian! go onDaily lose sight of things temporal, by the overpowering sense of things eternal!" As for the honours, riches, and pleasures of earth, -take them, ye earthly minded!
What sinners value, I resign;
Lord, 'tis enough, that thou art mine!
O my God! help me this day, to weigh anchor from these mortal shores, and die, to all, but Thee!
But a FOURTH particular, enters into the meaning of the apostle, namely,
A pleasing realization of death, as a MEANS of attaining the utmost of our wishes.
Death in itself, is by no means to be viewed as a blessing. It is, in itself, a penal evil." Sin entered into the world, and death by sin." Death, therefore, is styled our enemy. It separates us from all we love on earth. It tears the soul from the body, to which it is united by one of the closest of unions. It often pulls down this frail tabernacle, with a gradual hand, and makes us suffer (compared with others), twenty deaths in one! Can death, then, be desirable? Not for itself, surely; but as a means to a noble end. As a rough and painful way, to the end of all my wishes; and though rough, it is a short way. Before I am aware, I shall cease from all toilbe delivered from all pain-and gain the summit of joy. Ah! who would not willingly die, to arrive
Where I shall see, and hear, and know,
All I desired, or wish below;
Where every power finds sweet employ,
In that eternal world of joy.
In this view, the apostle said to the Corinthians, "Death is yours." And thus to view it daily, is to die daily. In this noble and arduous work, I have reason to cry, "Lord, help me!"
Death must be viewed as an eternal adieu to error and mistake, to pollution and guilt, and every imperfection of a regenerate soul. It is a final separation from all personal, social, and public woe; from all the fears, pains, doubts, and languors, of the Christian's warfare; from all afflictions from God; temptations from Satan; trials from the world, and evils of the heart. Death introduces us into all the knowledge, holiness, honour and felicity of heaven. Shall I, then, shrink from it? Lord help me to spring forward to meet it as the joyful porch into immortal joys! So to do, is to die daily, indeed! Complete blessedness then will meet you, O ye of little faith; “for blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." They enter into rest. "To die is gain." O, realize this blessedness every morning, every day, dear Christian, and then, dying will not seem to you" as if some strange thing had happened to you."
This important duty includes in the
Fifth place. A daily regard to the STATE and FRAME of the soul. 1st. The state of the soul. Am I a Christian indeed? will often occur to the soul. He will examine, as a dying man, into the evidences of his regeneration. As in the view of death he will inquire into the judgment and supreme attachments of the soul. Its desires, and prime pursuits, will be scrutinized; the man will deal impartially in this duty, for he considers himself as if he were then dying. And the more solemnly and particularly he searches himself, the more he will be satisfied, and willingly and closely realize his departure. Am I a true penitent? Do I confess and forsake my sins? Do I repent of the sinful actions of my life, and evil tempers of my heart? Am I grieved for my depraved nature, as the fountain of unbelief, pride, self-righteousness, and rebellion against God? Am I a believer in Christ? Do I believe in the divinity of his person? The glorious suitableness of his offices? and the perfection of his work? Do I believe in his meritorious atonement, sufficient to clear me from all my debts? And do I rely on this alone for that purpose? Do I believe in the grandeur, perfection, and worth of the righteousness of Christ? And that it is "a free gift upon all that believe (weak or strong believers) unto justification of life? Is my entire reliance on this for divine acceptance, and a title to heaven? And is my expectation of teaching, sanctification, comfort, and perseverance in holiness, resting on the divine Spirit? If so, then this is the name wherewith Jesus shall be called, "the Lord my righteousness;" and with that upon my soul, I would not fear a thousand deaths. "Whom he justifies, them he also glorifies."