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« Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I shall fall, I shall rise : when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unio me,” Micah vii. 8. As Moses said to Pharaoh, “We will go into the wilderness to sacrifice to our God; we will go out of thine Egypt with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds ; there shall not a hoof be left behind,” Exod. X. Thus we, in an holy confidence, may talk with Death, • Maugre thy rage and fury, we will go up to heaven to sacrifice to our God immortal praise ; we shall get out of thy fetters; we, our wives our children, our brothers and sisters, our parents and friends, all the people of God, whom thou dost at present keep in a close restraint. Not withstanding the infernal attempts of thine inhuman power, there shall not remain so much as an handful, no, not so much as the least grain of our ashes, behind us.'
When the Son of God shall appear in his glory, from heaven, he shall consume all Death's trophies and monuments with irresistible flames ; so that it shall happen to this imperious enemy of mankind, as it happened to the kings of the Amorites mentioned in the Israelitish history, Josh. x.
24. Joshua suffered them to live until he had returned from - his victory; and when he had perfectly overcome all his
enemies, he commanded them to be brought forth, and gave orders to his captains to tread upon their necks; and with his own sword he dispatched them, cast them into a cave, and caused great stones to be rolled at the entrance of it. Thus shall our true and celestial Joshua deal with Death; he suffers it to reign while he is gone to pursue his enemies; for the last enemy that shall be destroyed by him is Death. When he shall have perfectly pursued all other enemies, he will crown all his victories with a glorious end, and accomplish the church's triumph, by causing us to trample upon Death, that shall be cast into the bottomless pit, whereof the entrance shall be shut up for ever, Rev. X. Then shall be
accomplished accomplished this glorious prophecy, “Death is swallowed up in victory,” i Cor. xv. For the Spirit of God assures us, in express terms, “ That Death shall be no more.”
By what we have said, it may easily appear what is become of the rope thrice twisted by the devil, with an intent to strangle there with all mankind. The Son of God hath cut in pieces the first of these unhappy ties by an almighty power; by the Spirit of sanctification he loosens the second by degrees; and by the last he draws us to himself, and then he burns and consumes it altogether. Therefore we have no reason to fear an eternal death, nor to tremble when hell opens its wide jaws. If we resist the devil, he fleesaway from us, James iv. At last we shall trample him under our feet, Rom. xiv. It is true, that the sad and doleful effects of the spiritual death commonly draw out of us many a sad groan and tear, whilst our souls remain in this sinful flesh. We are already got out of the tombs of corruption and sin, but yet bear about us, as it were, our winding-sheet, and some odd reliques of our natural misery. But we have this consideration to comfort our drooping spirits, that Christ will shortly give the same order from heaven to us as he did for Lazarus, “ Loose him, and let him go,” John xi. So that instead of the corruption of our nature, that is so incommodious to us, he will invest us in a state of glory, incorruption, immortality, and perfect happiness. In relation to the natural death, we may justly say, that our Lord and Saviour hath freed us from all the fears that it might cause in us. So that it is my judgment, that we may not only affirm, that we have not the least apprehension of it, but we may expect it with confidence : for if we be truly of the number of the faithful, and God's adopted sons, we hope, desire, and rather hasten Death's arrival, by our most earnest and passionate wishes.
What I have already declared in this chapter might satisfy any Christian soul, and furnish it with sufficient considerations to strengthen it against all apprehensions from Death. Now, as one who wants to buy stuffs in a slop, when he cheapens such as are slight and of small value, casts his eye only upon a piece or pattern, and by that judges of the rest ; but when he intends to purchase a rich tapestry of great value, he desires to view and consider every part one after another, and make an estimation of the value and beauty of every corner; so I judge that the wise and religious reader will desire now, that as I have discovered to him, in gross, the body of Consolations against the Fears of Death, I should, in the next place, unfold the bidden excellencies, produce every part of them by degrees to his contemplation, and with my pen make him take notice of all the rarities.
A S a wise and discreet physician usually examines with Il care the causes of the disease, before he prescribes a remedy ; and as an experienced surgeon searcheth the wound before he puts the plaster to it; thus I judge it necessary to seek with diligence from whence the Fears of Death proceed, before we shall appoint remedies to the faithful souls : for when we shall perfectly understand the nature of the disease, and its principal causes, we shall, without difficulty, be better able to assign a convenient remedy; when we shall have searched the wound, and washed it clean, we will, with God's assistance, pour into it the true balm of Gilead,
1. We have just reason to accuse ourselves of too much unmindfulness of death. We do not meditate so often as we should upon the misery and frailty of our poor decaying
nature. We acknowlege it, I confess, with our tongues, that our life is but a breath in our nostrils, a vapour that soon disappears, a shadow that quickly vanishes away ; but in the mean time we flatter ourselves in our hearts with more pleasant thoughts and desires, as Herod, that men should look upon us as so many little gods, Acts xii. We suffer ourselves to be deceived by the flattering insinuations of our corrupted flesh, and by the delusive suggestions of the old serpent, that whispers to us, as to our first parents, " You shall not die,” Gen. iii.
2. We commonly affirm, that Death is inexorable ; nevertheless, for the most part, we live as if we had made an agreement wich Death, and had secret intelligence with the grave, Isa. xxii. Death approaches with feet of wool, without noise ; we imagine, therefore, that it never will come near us; as that wicked servant in the Gospel, Matt. xxiv. who concluded, from his master's delays of coming, that he would not come at all. We hate and abominate the sight of all things that represent unto us any appearance of Death, or that call to our minds its remembrance. If at any time its image come in our way, we turn from it our eyes, and banish out of our fancy all imaginations of it, as of a most odious and deceitful illusion. Death seizes upon us before we have welt thought whether we be mortal or no. Therefore we are surprised and astonished at its approaches ; and we become like the foolish Israelites, who trembled and fled before Goliath, because they were not accustonied to behold him.
3. We depend too much upon second causes. We look upon death as a thing that happens by chance, or as an evil that may be prevented, or at least put away for a time; whereas we should be fully persuaded, that God hath determined and appointed, not only death itself, but also all the causes and means by which it commonly bappens. Therefore we are often filled with displeasure, and seduced to
murmur and repine against God. We grin and bite the stone, instead of adoring' with all humility that wise hand that cast it. In a word, whenever Death comes to us, we are ready to say to it, as the devils to our Saviour, “ Wherefore art thou come to torment us before the time?” Matt. viii.
4. We are too much tied to this earth; we are so united to the world, that we would willingly make here our abode for ever; and cannot abide to hear that Death will remove us. Our lusts have no bounds, and we often spend ourselves in the pursuance of these miserable advantages. When we draw nearest to the end of our life, and of our mortal race, it is then that many are most earnest to make large provisions of worldly vanities. We build stately dwellings, and sumptuous palaces, at the very moment when we should think of nothing but building our tomb, and repairing our windingsheet. We have so violent a passion for all the enjoyments of this life, that to separate us from them is to pluck out our hearts, and to tear in pieces our tender bowels. When Death comes to our bed-side, and offers to pull us out, we are ready to say, as the sluggard in the Proverbs, “ A little sleep, a little slumber, and a little folding of the hands,” ch. vi. When our divine Bridegroom knocks at our gates, we are scarce willing to abandon our delights, as the spouse in the Canticles. What ! saith the worldling, must I leave my sumptuous palaces, my pleasant dwellings, and my delightful gardens ? Must I relinquish all this rich tapestry, these precious moveables, and all these rare and exquisite ornaments, that enrich my parlours, chambers, and closets? Must this unmerciful Death divest me so soon of all offices and dignities, and hinder me from a full and peaceable enjoyment of all these riches and treasures ? Must it ravish from me in an instant all my delights and satisfactions ? Is there no remedy ? but must I be plucked from the embraces of my be. loved wife, from the sight of my dear children, and from the