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at death. Men are ashamed to express any quarrel against dying ; but there are many things about it that makes us needy of much grace to help to quiet submitting unto it, both in substance, and all circumstances attending it.
2. Safe dying. This is very needful, and it is grace's doing. Many die patiently, as men think, that die not safely. There are no bands in the death of the wicked sometimes, Psal. Ixxiii. 4. Some go out of this life to hell more calmly, than some of the heirs of glory pass to their blessed home. Safe dying, is to die without any hurt to the soul; that when the cage of the body is broken by death, the soul, the bird, may take wing, and fly straight and safe to heaven. Death is the believers, 1 Cor. iii. 22. as well as life. But what have we to do with death, or death with us? It is a black boat, that we must sail out of time to heaven in : and Christ steers the boat, and lands all believers safely on heaven's shore. This is all we have to do with death. And when all the passengers are brought over, Christ will burn this ugly boat: Rev. xx. 14, 15. And death and hell (or the grave) were cast into the lake of fire: this is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the lake of fire. And then in the new Jerusalem, there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away, Rev. xxi. 4. Who would not venture to pass out of this bad world, to that blessed land, under Christ's conduct, though sailing through the gulph of death be unpleasant in itself to us? Men for gain will sail from one end of the earth to the other; through heat and cold, and stormy seas and winds, and manifold perils, in the probable hope of advantage. But believers may be assured, that they shall arrive at their port. Never did a believer in Jesus Christ die or drown in his voyage to heaven. They will be all found safe and sound with the Lamb on Mount Zion. Christ loseth none of them ; yea, nothing of them, John vi. 39. Not a bone of a believer is to be seen in the field of battle. They are all more than conquerors, through him that loved them, Rom. viii. 37.
3. It is very desirable to have an honourable dying. It is a part of the vanity of this world, that many dote upon an
honourable burial. Some respect indeed should be paid to the dead bodies of believers; but honourable dying is a great deal more considerable, than that men call an honourable burial. Our Lord told Peter of his dying, John xxi. 19. This spoke Jesus, signifying by what death Peter should glorify God. That is honourable dying that brings glory to God. Paul is confident of this as to himself : Phil. i. 20. According to my earnest expectation, and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also, Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death. The most honourable dying, is dying for the Lord. This honour is not given to all his saints. All saints die in the Lord, and blessed are they, Rev. xiv. 13. Our desires should be, to be enabled by his grace to bear our dying testimony to Christ and his gospel. There have been strong convictions given to the consciences of sinners, wonderful supports to the hearts of surviving saints, by the honourable dying of some believers. Their example, their words, their very looks and behaviour, in the shadow of death, have been of great use to them that have seen and heard them.
4. It is also desirable to have the mercy of comfortable dying; to have an entrance ministered to us abundantly, into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 Pet. i. 11. The Lord's dealings with his people in this matter, are a great depth. Some that have given most shining evidences of the truth and strength of the grace of God in them, who have spent their days eminently to the Lord's praise, and to the edifying of his body the church, have gone to heaven under a cloud ; others, that were hardly known or regarded in Christ's flock, have gone off the stage triumphantly. No observer can escape the notice of such instances. Therefore we must not say, that consolation in dying is a certain sign of eminency in grace, or of tenderness in walking. It is not very unusual, to see the greatest storm overtake even a strong believer, just as he is putting into the harbour. However, this dispensation of the Lord's grace in granting a comfortable exit, is what we should beg earnestly, and pray for heartily. I believe that there are few Christians so cast down with fears, and clouds, and darkness, but if they could be asa
sured, that all shall be dispelled at death, (and it is sometimes so); and that they should have a clear evening, and strong consolation, in their last hours, they would bear their present sorrows better. Though comfortable dying be not simply necessary to the salvation of a believer; yet it is a blessing more valuable than many others that are more in our prayers. Grace can help to it; and a precious help it is, and we should mind it much in our addresses to the throne of grace.
So much of these times of need, and of the help of grace in them.
There are a few exhortations from this whole doctrine of the helpfulness of grace in a time of need, that I would conclude this text with.
The general exhortation is this, Learn not only to submit as to what is determined, and that you cannot alter ; but to be heartily content with this wise dispensation of God about your need and his grace, as a contrivance becoming his wisdom, and levelled at your good: As,
1. That our necessities are so many, so great, and so unavoidable ; and yet there is a sufficient supply provided for them. The new creature is the most needy creature of all God's creation. The Lord hath framed the new creature in a singular way, and for a singular use and end. All other creatures have their being from God, and have that being continued by God in the common course of his wise and powerful providence. But the new creature is not only of and from God, but it is wrought, and hath its being in Christ Jesus, and its life is continued by a continual gracious efflux from him; for without him the new creature can do nothing, Joho xv. 5. Let not such a thought arise in your heart, (or if it arise, give it no entertainment), Why hath God made this new creature so needy a creature as it is ? Surely he might have done otherwise. He made the first Adam in another state. He was made perfect in soul and body immediately. His state was perfect; he needed little, and all at hand. But the new creature is framed weak and necessitous. The difference is as great betwixt the first Adam, and a Christian at his regeneration, as betwixt perfect Adam, and a young babe
newly born, or a child conceived in the womb. Yet the Lord hath made provision of grace sufficient for all these necessities. And he loves the glory of his grace so, and takes so great delight in giving of his grace, that he not only lets the heirs of this grace fall into the common pit of sin and misery with others, and sometimes deeper than many of them that are left, that his grace may be glorified, in loving them out of the pit of corruption, as Hezekiah's word is, Isa. xxxviii. 17. ; (for all that are converted, are plucked out of their natural damnable state, by a mighty act of the love of God, Eph. ii. 4.); but when he hath pulled them out, he sets them down in his kingdom of grace, in so indigent and weak a condition, that they may glorify him by begging and believing, and he may glorify himself in giving of his grace to them. Who should find fault with this wise way?
2. Be satisfied, that this grace which is your supply, is all in Christ Jesus, and not in your own hand. Since Adam fell, and ruined himself and all his posterity, by having his and their stock in his own hand, and sinning it away; the Lord in mercy hath resolved never to intrust a mere man again with his own stock ; but hath lodged all the grace his people are saved and supplied by, in Christ's hand. And there it is safe. Adam was created perfect, and had a sufficient stock to have enriched himself, and all his offspring ; but he was left to his free will, and so came on it. This is an eternal disgrace to man's free will. What must the free will of a sinner be able to do, when the free will of perfect sinless man opened the door to sin, and death, and ruin, upon the whole world of mankind ? It is therefore graciously and wisely provided, that free will shall have no hand in the salvation of sin, pers, (and indeed free will to good, is but a vain name, usurped by willing and wilful slaves of sin); and that in its stead, the free grace of God in Jesus Christ shall be, and do all in all. But we are so proud, that we would fain have somewhat in our own hand; and are so used to sense, and unskilful in believing, that we can hardly reckon that our own, that is not in our possession, and at our disposing. But, in this order, the Lord consults the interest of his glory, and the security of our salvation, and daily supplies, by lodging our all in Christ's
hand; who is able to keep it safely for us, and ready and willing to give forth of it to us, according to our real necessity.
3. Be satisfied with this, that the special times of our need are not usually known to us before they come. There is none of the people of God, nor of the children of men, that usually know twenty-four hours before, what temptations and trials they may meet with. We know we may be tempted; but we know not when, nor how, and in what part, the adversary may assault us, or with what weapons. We know we may be afflicted: but we know not with what rod, nor when. We know we must die ; bụt we know not how, nor when. There is a foolish and sinful curiosity in our nature, that raiseth desires to know future things, concerning ourselves. It were well, if men were duly desirous to know from the word, what their eternal state shall be. But in other things that may befal us in time, it is dangerous curiosity to be inquisitive. People imagine, that it would be of great advantage to them to foreknow future events, as to themselves. But I am sure it would be a great disadyantage, and what you would quickly repent of. If the Lord should reveal to any of you, and set in a clear light before the eyes of your mind, all the particular providences, trials, and afflictions, and temptations, you are to meet with in seven years time to come; what a dread would it be you! You would soon beg that it might be forgot again. It is a great deal better for us, that future things that belong to God, are secret and kept from us; and that we are led un believing, and come to the waters in our way to heaven, one after another, and get through them, by the gracious conduct of our blessed guide, Christ. He will give no Christian a particular and exact map of all his way, and stages, and entertainment, in this wildernessjourney to heaven, though our Lord hath fixed them all in his decree. Should it not be enough for us, that he will lead us well and safely; that no water shall drowu us; that he will never leave us, but be with us wherever he leads us, and will bring us safe home at last to his Father's house?
4. Be satisfied with this part of his wise order, that this supply of his grace to help in time of need, must be come for. Not only that we may come for it, which is a great privilege;