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found him, and partook of his salvation by faith, and was led by his Spirit. This is the God whom he entreats to “ bless the lads.” To him he commits them, and with him he leaves them. I may not enlarge further on scenes peculiar to Jacob' and his family. Enough has been said to lay a foundation for a few observations, which I hope, by the blessing of God, may not be unprofitable to this congregation.
1. See here, Brethren, in what peace a real Saint can die. Yes, a Saint. To the reproach of the present age, the term is much despised; but it is the proper Scripture term for a good man; one, who is not only moral, honest, decent, and humane, but a lover of the holy God: one, who is separated from the wicked world; a stranger on earth ; a believer in the Angel of the Covenant his Redeemer; and a citizen of heaven even here, in faith, hope, and love. See such a one, in old age, just expiring. He recommends his dear children and his grand children to the God whom he had served. He fears not to leave the world : He has not a wish that can tie him to the earth any longer. He is going home, the child to his Father, from vanity to fulness, from a life of uncertainties to satisfying and eternal enjoyments. He cannot have a wish for his family, but that they may walk before the same God, who had conducted him all his days : They would find this to be their true wisdom and happiness. He gives a cheerful testimony to this God, as being true to his promises; and reflects with satisfaction on his faithfulness and goodness, which had all along attended himself. He has nothing now to do but to wait for his happy dismission,
Brethren, In all ages it is thus that Saints testify the goodness of God; and you never find any of them in their last moments repenting that they had served God, or accusing him as not true to his promises. The unconverted die in stupid sullenness, or in vain presumptions, or in anxious worldliness. In their end you may see the difference of their spirit from that of the children of God.
I wish we may hence learn, that there is a reality in the Christian religion, in the faith and the holiness of the Saints. It will be no pleasing reflection to you, in your last moments, to think you have despised the love of God and true religion. Nor will it profit you merely to say with a wicked man of old, “ Let me die the death of the righteous.” Live their life, seek God now in Christ that
find him. You will then be able to say at last,“ My heart and my flesh faileth, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.”
2. “ Before whom my fathers walked.” It is worthy of observation what, in his last moments, is Jacob's idea of a good man.
He does not say my fathers were honest, generous men. Alas! It is the deep and general folly of these later ages to set God aside, in men’s notions of a good life; and to mean nothing more by a good man than one who is moral, and has some amiable qualities. This has been the character of many a profane, graceless, impious, wretch. It is an unspeakable injury to true religion to represent things thus. How many even read not the Scriptures; how many attend not to any right ideas of their doctrines, and the worship of God, and the faith of Christ and true humility! They catch at some ideas of generosity, of civil and social virtues, which doubtless are amiable and laudable, but which, without godliness, are insufficient to form the character of a good man. How long will it be ere you give up such ruinous notions? How long will you imagine that these qualities can entitle you to the favour of God? Cease to build your hopes on these sandy foundations : Learn from the Scriptures, that to be fit to die you must " walk before God,” love, trust, serve, and delight in him, reverence and fear him. The Bible is the oldest book in the world, and in it
find Enoch and Noah are characterized as walking with God. Religion, Brethren, differs from other things, the growth and improvement of which depend entirely on human cultivation. It comes from God: And this old language used in describing a good man is the right one. He, who "walks with God,” is not only honest and moral; but fears God, and sets him before him, in all his ways. Oh! see to this, Brethren, and deceive not yourselves by false representations, however fashionable. Learn, from God's word, how to form your ideas of a good man; that you may, through grace, become such yourselves; lest
see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.”
3. The solemn manner in which holy Jacob mentions his fathers Abraham and Isaac as walking before God, naturally points out to us the advantage of having had godly parents and ancestors. Are there any here with whom this is the case ? You have then both heard and seen what true religion is. You are prepared, from family-observation and ex
perience, to answer the abusive objections usually made against godliness. You know what it is; how awful, and yet how amiable; how pleasing, and yet how instructive. Remember you will have to give an account of the TALENTS* intrusted to you in this respect. Of what solid examples of real goodness, of what careful instructions, have you had the advantage! Then, what prayers have been made for you by your pious fathers and mothers ! Could you not see how earnestly, how affectionately they longed for your conversion ; with what pleasure they looked at every opening sign of your fearing God; how they grieved to see you backslide ?
Ye, who have had these advantages, or now have them, remember the God before whom your fathers have walked, or are now walking, and seek to know him also for yourselves. When you hear stories told and believed, on all hands, of the follies and absurdities of godly men, you have an advantage over those who have not had your opportunities. You cannot be carried away with such prejudices. You know better, from what you have seen at home. And, if you have seen the faith, hope, and charity of the Gospel in your fathers or near relations, exemplified in life and death, say, are not you convinced that they were in the right; that godliness is no fantastic thing; but the highest wisdom ? Do not you believe that, their peace, and joy, and serenity, and moderation, and charity had a just foundation? Do not you believe that God was with them, and influenced them by his Holy Spirit? And whereas, they always told you, that it was not
* See Matth. XXV. 15-30.
of themselves, but by grace that they were what they were, that they knew themselves altogether unworthy sinners, saved only by Jesus ; see you not that it is your duty to seek for the same heartfelt conviction of sin, the same lively faith in Jesus, and the same new birth unto righteousness which formed their christian character? An ignorant and idolatrous admiration of your fathers, without following their steps, will profit you nothing. You should look higher, and see, what the real doctrines are which, in them, brought forth such fruit, and what the real influence of the Divine Spirit is, for which they prayed so constantly, and directed you daily to seek. You have had living sermons in your own family, which demonstrate to you the divinity of true religion; and you should be both quickened and encouraged to seek the same grace for yourselves.
Even those, who cannot trace such "marks of divine influence in their fathers, may yet see and know, and have abundant opportunities of learning, from the case of others, what true religion is. Look at those whom you have seen or heard of; unquestionably holy men in life and conversation; men, who, in the language of the patriarchs, and of the Text, have “ walked with God.” Inquire what their principles are. You will find them all to agree in the confession of their own natural wickedness, and in the renouncing of their own righteousness, and in trusting alone to the “ Angel who redeemed
“ them from all evil.” They all fear and love the Lord God through Christ the. Mediator. The FRUITS of a holy life any one may see: The PRINCIPLES of christian doctrines, whence they proceed,