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Thus, satisfied of the safety of my state, I shall wish to be in my dying day. Therefore, let me attend to this part of dying daily. O Lord! may I ever come to this interesting and pleasing conclusion, "Truly, I am thy servant."
But when brought into a safe condition, the Christian who dies daily, will regard each day, the frame of his soul. He will aim at a spirituality of mind, in which he hopes death will overtake him. He will ask, am I in a frame I should like to die in? He is made alive, by the Divine Spirit; but he would be lively too. He will long and pray, for that unwavering faith-fervent love-stedfast hope, and holy zeal, which he desires to feel in dying circumstances. He will endeavour each day, to live by faith in Christ; if guilt settles on his conscience, he will apply to the Great Atonement, with renewed exercise of precious faith-ingenuous confession of, and repentance for the sin. He will watch against all obstacles to his peace. Espe cially his besetting sin. Against the love of unlawful objects, and inordinate regard to lawful ones. He will regard the temper of his mind, with a wise and wary conduct: and attend to the duties of his calling, with circumspection and diligence. "His diligent soul will be made fat." His spiritual attention to spiritual objects, his esteem of them, and affection for them, will be "life and peace!" This regard to the state and frame of his soul, is part of the work of dying, and this he will aim at daily. May I, be so ready, to meet my final summons!
The second general remark on these words, is, the manner of expression used by the apostle. He speaks with vehement emphasis. I protest, I swear by your joys and mine, that I die daily. The mode of expression shows, that he did not fear sufferings and death. No! indeed, I do not, as though he had said, I suffer willingly. For Christ sake, I am killed all the day long, that is, liable to death. Nor do I shrink back, with unbelieving dread or mean cowardice. No, I meet my perils magnanimously, and far from fearing death, I die daily!
It shews-2dly, How strongly the apostle believed in the resurrection of the dead. It appears to me, as he would say, undeniably evident, that the dead will rise. I am fully persuaded of its truth and importance. I therefore stand in jeopardy every hour. therefore am a volunteer in sufferings for Christ. For "what advantageth me if the dead rise not?" But they do. Christ has risen, as the evidence and model of our resurrection. There is nothing terrible in the grave to me. It must resign my body again! I shall be "raised in glory!" And in this state of mind, and the truths which create, and maintain it, I glory. I exult in the gospel which inspires such hopes, joys, and prospects! and protest, solemnly, that in the experience of them, I daily die, and feel, as it were, my future departure! Joyful hour! No day shall pass, without anticipating its weighty and permanent consequences!
Attend, THIRDLY, to the "consequences" of such a daily pro
cedure. How it would influence our present happiness! To walk daily, as on the borders of endless joys! To view them as every moment, as on the most rapid advance towards us. And to pre
pare, as if we knew this to be the day of entrance into our "Lord's joy!" O! how would this raise the dejected! Support the sufferer! Animate the tempted! and turn the poorest cottage, into a temporary heaven. How would it encourage the dispirited, in keeping the end of his troubles from every adversary, in constant view. What ease would it give the throbbing breast, rent with inward conflicts and heavy exercises. It would lessen our mental pangs. It would impel the drooping Christian to take his harp from the willow, and arise and utter a song, not very dissimilar to the seraphic Watts,
O glorious hour! O blest abode!
But the happy consequences, would appear, further, in the effect of such a temper on our respective duties. What vigor would it put into our private devotion, family worship, and attendance on public ordinances, to consider yourself bound to do to day, what you desire to do, when "there is but a step between you and death?" How would it, through grace, keep the heart, when transacting the various business of the day! and lead you to buy and sell and act, as if the hour you finish the matter, you should "depart in peace!" Thus dying daily, how profitably would it affect the tongue-the temper-and the whole deportment.
Another season, it would very materially affect I mean, FOURTHLY, The season of death. The Christian overtaken thus, would not be painfully surprised. No, because, " when his Lord cometh, he does not find him sleeping." O! death, you are no stranger to me; I have conversed with you daily. It is no small satisfaction to me, that I have endeavoured to realise thee, 0, death! as my friend. I have considered all thou canst do to me! The worst thou canst do to me, is to dispatch me quick to heaven. All hail! Death, Christ, and Glory!" O death where is thy sting?" Long did I feel it, in a guilty conscience; but this day, I have applied to the precious Redeemer, "whose blood cleanseth from all sin." The mortal blow, I have this day looked for. It is now come. My soul is in safe hands. I have daily resigned worldly interests. I have, on the whole, habitually preferred the world above. I have been accustomed to view death as desirable, being the way to my father's house. I have daily inspected the state and frame of my soul-lived on Divine Mercy and a Divine Saviour -watched against the hindrances of my peace" Come Lord Jesus, come quickly!" for I die daily.
ON VISITING the sick POOR.
THE great principles which should actuate the Christian, in doing good to the souls and bodies of his fellow-creatures, are, FAITH in the Redeemer, COMPASSION for the ignorant and the miserable, LOVE to God, and ZEAL, in promoting “the kingdom of Heaven" on earth.
Many persons confine their notions of CHARITY to the gifts of food and raiment, money and medicine. But, it is evident that a man may "give his goods," yea, "ALL his goods to feed the poor, and have not charity," or love. Such charity often springs from motives of bigotry, vain glory, and Pharisaic pride. "The Gospel of salvation," received in faith, purifies the heart from these debasing motives, gives a right direction to our exertions, and imparts consistency to our sympathy: producing an enlightened zeal, it enlarges its sphere of action, and feeds its flame. I pity the person visiting a poor sick man, whose first inquiry is, " are you a Churchman or a Dissenter?" Whether he be a Pagan or a Papist, a Jew or a Mahometan, a Churchman or a Dissenter, a saint or a sinner, a Deist or an Atheist, he is a fellow-creature in distress. He is "poor and needy," capable of receiving temporal relief and spiritual instruction. Pity, relieve, instruct, console him. This principle and conduct is justified and enforced by our Lord's answer to the question, "Who is my neighbour?" In which he exhihits the good Samaritan, administering relief to a Jew, whilst "The Levite passed by, shutting up the bowels of compassion." Do we admire the amiable Samaritan? Let us pray for grace to do more than admire it more than commend it-even to comply with the Saviour's injunction, "Go thou and DO likewise."
To pay a cold, formal visit, with a little temporal relief, requires no other qualifications than strength to walk, and a few shillings in the pocket. This is needful; but it is not the "one thing needful," a due attention to the soul !-A soul, perhaps, viewing God through the medium of aggravated guilt, deep depravity, erroneous opinions, bodily disease, and obscure dispensations of Providence. We wish, therefore, that the VISITERS of the sick should know "the Gospel to be the power of God to salvation." This will qualify them speak a word in season to him that is weary."
"The word in season," must be " the word of God, the word of his grace, the word of salvation." The Gospel is the sovereign remedy for a soul distressed by a guilty conscience and a diseased
body, producing "the peace of God," which is medicinal; and often removes the only obstruction to health-a troubled mind. "For," as Solomon observes," a cheerful heart does good, like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones." How important, then, is the Gospel to a sick, distressed, and dying sinner, to inspire hope in the mercy of God, for pardon; faith in the atonement and intercession of Christ, as the way of access to him in prayer; confidence in the promises, for support in affliction; and patient resignation to the promises of God, as regulated by uncontrollable power, unerring wisdom, and all-sufficient grace towards penitent sinners!
A visiter of the sick, who reads suitable portions of Scripture to them, and "rightly divides or distributes the Word of God," may, with a blessing, soon teach the sufferer to say, with 66 a companion in tribulation," this," this was my comfort in my affliction-thy word hath quickened me. It is GOOD for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy STATUTES."
"The poor you have always with you," said our compassionate Redeemer; and if they constitute so large a part of the community, and claim the attention and assistance of the rich; much more do the poor in sickness, want, and mental distress, demand pity and help from ALL who can afford it.
The word of God enjoins the duty of visiting "the widow and fatherless," especially in their affliction;" and affords encouragement to a cheerful discharge of the duty. "Blessed is he that considereth the poor and needy; the Lord shall deliver him in the time of trouble."
The time of sickness and distress is favourable to instruction. The mind is roused, opened to conviction, made desirous of relief. Relief administered to the body conciliates esteem, and prepares the sufferer for friendly advice. "Blessed are the merciful: and if the soul be more valuable than the body, the exercise of mercy to the souls of men, is mercy of the noblest kind. Our assistance to the body, by food and raiment, money or medicine, should always be subservient to the Gospel. This kind of charity may prepare the way of the Lord," by accompanying it with reading the Word of God, edifying and seasonable conversation, and fervent prayer to the God who alone can "heal our disease and forgive our sins."
"To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction," is one part of "pure religion." Many attend to it without any religion; others make it the whole of religion; and too many, who "know their Lord's will, do it not;" never visit the sick, but transfer the duty solely to ministers, and seem to make it no part of religion. And why are ministers the only persons who should visit the sick? Why does the private Christian say, 66 I pray thee have me excused." One has no time to spare from business. This plea is generally false. No time! Do we not see you visiting the healthy, who invite you to dinner and to tea? No time? Is all thy time
filled up by business? Do you not waste more time than would be required for the sick? No time! And what will you think of your neighbours, when you are sick and distressed, if they neglect you, and plead the same excuse?-Let them, therefore, divide this "labour of love" with others; and say, with a spirit of humble dependence, to those of less experience, "The cause which is too hard for thee, bring it to me."
Many persons, old and young, are well qualified for this work; and equally disposed to perform it; but "silver and gold, have they none" to spare: or not sufficient to relieve the necessitous.
A fund, replenished by the liberality of many, will easily supply them. From this fund the ministers of God also may be assisted, who otherwise may often complain, "to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not.”
Let no one think I am pleading for the negligence or selfishness of ministers. No, it is their duty and privilege, to visit "the house of mourning;" to exhort, convince, counsel, and “to comfort them that mourn." It is the duty of ministers, but not of ministers only. They alone are unequal to the work. They have sufficient work without it-" care for the churches," and the large circle of ministerial duties, sufficient to "fill an angel's hands." Let ministers, however, attend to the most difficult cases of mental distress; and be" instant in season and out of season," in works of mercy and liberality.
The visitors will feel their obligation to be faithful to such benevolent funds, by distributing the money, after strict inquiry, without partiality;-faithful to the souls they visit, by adapting conversation to their capacities and necessities; selecting portions of the Scriptures; and offering suitable prayers to God on their behalf.
They will join prudence to faithfulness; and let their visits be seasonable, short, condescending and sympathising. I need not add, that whilst they exercise faith on the divine care, to shield them from infectious disorders, they should be equally careful to guard their own health from the consequences of presumption.
And as it is the prerogative of God to give efficacy to means, a spirit of dependence and prayer should accompany their benevolent efforts.
In all your visits, let the SAVIOUR "have the pre-eminence." Speak of his "redemption, his atonement, and his grace. Repeat his invitations to the weary and heavy laden." Mention his promises to the penitent, believing, and praying soul. Relate to them your own experience of the truth of the promises, and the all-sufficiency of divine grace.
Be not discouraged by the ignorance, and ingratitude;-the impatience, or even the enmity to "Spiritual things," which you may witness. PERSEVERE-in showing "your readiness to every good WORD and WORK." "In the morning sow thy seed; in the evening,