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which keeps it from sinking in despondency, and from drowning in destruction and perdition. “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast,” Heb. vi. 19. This hope is firm even in death itself. “ The wicked is
in his wickedness; but the righteous hath hope in his death,” Prov. xiv. 32.
Those who have had an experience of the love of God, and who are said to be made perfect in love, and have been brought to exercise patience towards God under a daily cross, so as for patience, as James expresses it, to have had its perfect work, and who have come to some degree of perfection in the knowledge of Christ, are called perfect men; and such as love Christ are called upright men, Song i. 4.
Now God bids you attend the sick beds of such, and to observe and watch the end of them; and to take notice if God is not faithful to them, and to the promises that he has made to them. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.”
Nothing short of faith in the Son of God can secure eternal life to men. • He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” John iii. 36. As many as are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham, Gal. iii. 9. And God's blessing is life for evermore, Ps. cxxxiii. 3. Hence believers are said to be blessed in death, for they do not die in their
sins: nor do they die in their flesh, trusting in
life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy,” Acts xx. 23, 24. This is rising higher than internal support on the bed of languishing; it is more than simply the stedfastness of hope, which is an anchor of the soul, that counteracts despondency and keeps the vessel of mercy steady. It is more than dying in peace and friendship with God and conscience; for it is shouting victory in the jaws of death, and
triumphing over the king of terrors, while in the field of action. It is finishing the warfare and fight of faith in the highest pitch of militant glory, and in the enjoyment of the most consummate felicity, promised, expected, or desired, in all the book of God. But there is no one thing in all this account that is strange to you You yourself have, at times, (though but young) for some years experimentally known, felt, and enjoyed every one of them.
“ Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” And, as the death of the saint is precious in the sight of God, it should not be grievous in ours. We are forbidden to give way to immoderate sorrow, because God has made an infinite difference between dying in sin, and dying in the Lord; between the believer and the infidel. The believer dies in faith; this is the revealed end of all. The pious patriarchs, prophets, and saints of old time, “ These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth,” Heb. xi. 13. And it is the eternal decree of God, which was made known to Adam as soon as he fell, and exercised by Abel the protomartyr as soon as he approached to God, that the just man should live by his faith, Hab. ii. 4. Hence it is said that, "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness
that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh,” Heb. xi. 4; Gen. iv. 4. And we are told, in the New Testament, that faith, whether weak or strong, and whether exercised under the old Testament or under the New, comes to the same glorious end; namely, salvation from sin, from Satan, from death, from the grave, and from hell itself.
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of the soul," which is not a temporal, but a spiritual and an eternal one; for, “ Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation. Ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end,” Isai. xlv. 17.
The way to heaven is to follow Christ in the regeneration, Matt. xix. 28. Fear begins it, and love perfects and ends it. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” Prov. i. 7. And, " The end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned,” i Tim. i. 5. Those who begin with fear will soon rise in hope; and where God gives hope there he gives an expectation of glory. “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end,” Jer. xxix. 11. The wise man asserts the same: “My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: so shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul when thou hast found it; then there shall be a reward,
and thy expectation shall not be cut off,” Prov. xxiv. 13, 14. To die in peace, my dear friend, proclaims us in friendship with God; to die in hope is to die in expectation of glory; to be blessed in death, and to die in the Lord, is to have the spring of endless life in the soul when the body is dying; to die in the enjoyment of love is to die stronger than death, and in union with God, Rev. xii. 11; 1 John iv. 16. But to die in joy is above all: joy is the quintessence of love; joy is the overflowings of a loving heart; and this is the highest bliss promised to a dying saint. “ The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their head: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away,” Isai. xxxv. 10. The returning there meant is not coming to the militant church below; for all sorrow and sighing are not banished from her in this life: but Zion above is free from both these, and will never be exercised with them again; for, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be
any inore pain, for the former things are passed away.” Tender
love and duty to mother; my kind respects to your brother and sister; the same to your aunt Hannah, and to your aunt and uncle Matthews; and accept the same yourself.