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“ How blest the righteous when he dies !
When sinks the weary soul to rest,
How gently heaves the expiring breast !
So sinks the gale when storms are o'er ;
So dies a wave along the shore.
Light from its load the spirit flies ;
How blest the righteous when he dies !" See! friends stand weeping around him. The beaded drops of death are gathering on his brow. What heavenly smiles play over his pallid features! What joyful whispers issue from his quivering lips! He has nothing to dread, but everything to hope. The blood of atonement is on his conscience. The spirit of adoption is speaking in his heart. He sees the last enemy approaching; but he is spoiled and vanquished. He walks in the dark valley; but he hears the voice of his Shepherd, and grasps trustfully the staff and the rod. He hears the roaring of the flood; but bright forms are beckoning, and sweet voices are calling, from beyond. He treads the chilling waters; but he feels the rock beneath his feet, while ministering angels haste to meet him, and sainted spirits “ compass
him about with songs of deliverance.” 0! the transition is only a passage to paradise, a birth into a better world, an introduction to a noble life
" When the soul, from sorrow freed,
Hastens homeward to return,
Angels sing—A child is born !" The work is finished, and the laborer retires to his rest. The journey is ended, and the traveller enters his home. The voyage is
and the seaman leaps upon his native shore. The warfare is accomplished, and the victor goes singing to his reward. It is the racer grasping his well-earned garland ; it is the heir receiving his long-hoped-for inheritance; it is the king going forth to the festival of his coronation.
Death is presented to us here as the common lot of our kind. David “was laid unto his fathers." We travel no unfrequented path. It is “ the way of all the earth.” Adam himself returned to his dust; and all his posterity constitutes but one long funereal train, ever marching to its own burial. Every tick of the clock opens a
new sepulchre. One human body sinks into the earth every second, sixty every minute, nearly four thousand every hour, nearly ninety thousand every day, more than six hundred thousand every week, more than two millions every month, about thirty millions every year, about three billions every century; and not less than a hundred and fifty billions—perhaps a hundred and seventy-five billionsma multitude which no mind can grasp-have disappeared in that all-devouring vortex since the first funeral was celebrated in sight of the gate of Paradise. Some forty or fifty have fallen asleep since we began this enumeration; and in thirty years more, a number equal to the entire present population of the globe, (amounting to ten hundred millions,) will have mingled with the dust. We shall not rest alone in the sepulchre. All the great and good of earth await us theresharers of the same mortality, expectants of the same resurrection. There is Abel, lying in his blood beneath his altar; and Noah, resting where they placed him, in the renovated earth, fresh from its diluvian baptism; and Abraham with his cherished Sarah ; and Isaac with his beloved Rebecca; and Jacob, brought up from Egypt to bo laid beside his Leah-all reposing in the cave of Macpelah, before Mamre; and the pilgrim bones of Joseph in Shechem; and Aaron in Mount Hor; and Moses in Mount Nebo; and Joshua in Mount Ephraim; and Samuel in his house at Ramah ; and the life-giving skeleton of Elisha, mingling with common dust. And the tombs of the prophets are filled with holy forms; and the sepulchres of the kings boast their royal tenantry; and the mangled corse of Stephen sleeps tranquilly; and the shattered head of James the Just is fearless of the fuller's club. And there, among the blessed sleepers, is Paul from the block; and Peter from the cross; and Polycarp from the stake; and Luther, safe from the rage of Rome and hell; and the heroic victims of the Inquisition ; and the noble martyrs of Smithfield; and the Wesleys, the Fletchers, the Whitefields, the Summerfields, who have filled the world with their fame ; and the Paysons, the Bascoms, the Olins, the Newtons, whose virtues still survive them, like the odors of flowers fresh fallen ; and many a dear companion, with whom we have walked hand in hand along the rugged path of life, and stood side by side in its fierce battles; and eyes that looked on us so lovingly, closed in their long sleep; and tongues that made the music of our households, hushed till the resurrection; and ears before us,
that drank in the charm of our discourse, insensible till they thrill to the trump of God; and hearts that beat in unison with ours, still and cold, till they quicken with the pulse of immortality! All these have gone
and we haste to join them in the narrow house of hope. Our times are in God's hand; we know not when he may call us from the field, but we know that he will not call us too soon, nor leave us too long. “The graves are ready for us "--God prepare us for our graves !
Death comes to us as a very humiliating event. David “ ruption;"
so must we. These tabernacles must be dissolved. These curious frames are destined to decay. The worms will one day feast upon their fair and delicate proportions, and revel amid the ruins of the soul's descrted tenement. The beaming eye, the blooming cheek, the sinewy arm, the vigorous constitution, the most athletic specimens of physical humanity, must bow to the inevitable decree" Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” But not forever! “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though, after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in any flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my veins be consumed within me.” “ If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time [in the tomb] will I wait, till my change come — [my change from corruption to incorruption.] He shall appoint me a set time, [for waking,) and remember me. He shall call, [from above,] and I will answer him (from beneath.] He will have a desire to the work of his hands." God will not forget his saints, nor leave them in the sepulchre. At the summons of the archangel's trump, “ his banished ones » shall return to the joys of a blessed resurrection. « For we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God; when Christ, who is our life, shall
then shall we also appear with him in glory.” Our hope of a resurrection is founded chiefly upon the fact of his resurrection. He rose as our leader, and “became the first-fruits of them that slept.” His resurrection was the resurrection of our nature, and a pledge of the resurrection of the race. He is “the head of the body," of which every individual believer is a member; and the rising head must surely draw the members after it. Thus, accurately, he is “the resurrection and the life," and we are “risen together with him”-“begotten again to a lively hope by his resurreotion from the dead." As
the champion of our redemption, he travelled into the dominions of Death and Hades, spoiling principalities and powers; and when he returned from their demolished thrones, he brought with him the keys of all their prisons; and in due time he shall descend to unlock every dungeon, and set at liberty them that are bound, and swallow up death in victory. “ Them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him;” and what rapturous greetings — what shouts of celestial welcome—when all the angels shall descend with songs of jubilee, and the disembodied souls of all the saints that have passed into paradise shall come down from their blessed abodes,
" Again to visit their cold cells of clay,
Charmed with perennial sweets, and smiling at decay." Here, beloved brethren, is your incentive to labor, and your encouragement to hope. Merely to witness such a scene, would be a thousandfold reward for all the service you can ever render your generation by the will of God. To stand off on some neighboring planet, and behold with immortal eyes the mighty procession and the magnificent coronation, were an ample indemnification for all the toil, and pain, and sorrow, and sickness, and weariness, and anxiety, and temptation, and persecution, and disappointment, and bereavement, and thousand-fold affliction, that all the faithful of every nation and every age have endured, even if all were wrung into the cup of a solitary servant of God. But 0! you are not to be uninterested spectators-you are to join the host and swell the triumph. It is for
66 the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, and with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God;" it is to gather your precious dust he shall send forth his angels to explore the cemeteries and sound the seas; and you, with all the subjects of the first resurrection, “ shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall you ever be with the Lord.”
In view of such an issue, with what holy zest and fervor should we devote ourselves to the service of our generation by the will of God! Our vocations may differ ; our aims should be identical. We are here to benefit our race and glorify our Creator. He who does neither, by no means answers the end of his existence. He defrauds both God and man, and God and man will hold him to a stern responsibility for the perversion of his powers and privileges. 0, Heaven! what wasted talents are treasured up for judgment! and who can bear the fierceness of Thine anger, augmented by the curses of rnined
souls, undone through his delinquency! The indolent and the vicious shall never be able to estimate the evil of their influence, till they awake in bell; and the wailing voices of eternity shall be ever preaching to them the infinite desert of their misdoing, and the infinite calamity of their loss!
“But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things which accompany salvation, though we thus speak.” Some of you, at least would that I could say all !-have formed a proper estimate of life and its aims, of death and its issues. You have fixed your standard for time, and cast your fortune for eternity. You, especially, my beloved brethren, who minister at the altars of God, must often have felt a solemn significance in these mutual relations of life and death. Yours is a holy and blessed work. It shall sanctify your talents, ennoble your virtues, and give you a record with the man after God's own heart. There is a dignity in it which immeasurably transcends all earthly engagements. You are servants, but you are servants of God. You are shepherds, but you are shepherds of His flock. You are stewards, but you are stewards of His household. You are builders, but you are builders of His temple. You are workers, but you are workers together with Him. You are messengers, but
your message was brought from heaven upon the wings of a thousand seraphim. You are detained awhile from paradise to seek the aliens over a blasted world ; but fidelity to your high commission will prove your surest passport within the cherubguarded portal. A life of toil is before you, but there is an eternity of bliss beyond. Your path, amid the briar and the thorn, leads to the delectable mountains. “ They that sow in tears shall reap in joy; and he that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Among ministers, especially, “ no man liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.” Heaven and earth have claims upon us. The present and the future are alike interested in our labors. Men demand our energies—the blessing of our sanctified influence in their behalf; while the eyes of witnessing angels range over our solemn assemblies, and departed friends from paradise stoop to listen to our vows. Let us magnify our office! Let us conceive worthily of our sublime vocation! Let us study to approve ourselves, both to God and to man, as workmen that need not be ashamed !
And O! to die after having done faithfully a work so great and