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be overwhelmed with horror, when his mind was difordered with a fense of guilt? When remembrance brought his former life to view, when reflection pierced him to the heart, darkness would spread itself over his mind, Deity would appear an object of terror, and the fpirit, wounded by remorfe, would difcern nothing but an offended Judge armed with thunders to punish the guilty. If, in the day of health and prosperity, these reflections were so powerful to embitter life, they would be a fource of agony and despair when the last hour approached. When life flows according to our wishes, we may endeavour to conceal our fins, and fhut our ears against the voice of conscience. But these artifices will avail little at the hour of death. Then things appear in their true colours. Then confcience tells the truth, and the mask is taken off from the man, when our fins at that hour pass before us in review. Guilty and polluted as we are, covered with confufion, How fhall we appear at the judgment feat of God, and answer at the bar of eternal justice? How shall dust and afhes ftand in the presence of that uncreated Glory, before which principalities and powers, bow down, tremble and adore? How fhall guilty and felfcondemned creatures appear before Him, in whose fight the heavens are not clean, and who chargeth his angels with folly? This is the fting of death. It is guilt that fharpens the fpear of the king of terrors. But even in this view we have victory over death, through Jefus Chrift our Lord. By his death upon the cross, an atonement was made for the fins of men. The wrath of God was averted from the world. A great plan of reconciliation is now unfolded in the
gofpel. Under the banner of the crofs, pardon is proclaimed to returning penitents. They who accept the offers of mercy, and who fly for refuge to the hope fet before them, are taken into favour ; their fins are forgiven, and their names are written in the book of life. Over them death has no power. The king of terrors is transformed into an angel of peace, to waft them to their native country, where they long to be.
This, O Christian! the death of thy Redeemer, is thy strong confolation; thy effectual remedy against the fear of death. What evil can come nigh to him for whom Jefus died? Does the law which thou haft broken, denounce vengeance against thee? Behold that law fulfilled in the meritorious life of thy Redeemer. Does the sentence of wrath pronounced against the posterity of Adam found in thine ears? Behold that fentence blotted out, that handwriting, as the Apostle calls it, cancelled, nailed to thy Saviour's cross, and left there as a trophy of his victory. Art thou afraid that the cry of thy offences may rise to heaven, and reach the ears of juftice? There is no place for it there; in room of it afcends the voice of that blood which speaketh better things than the blood of Abel. Does the enemy of mankind accufe thee at the judgment-feat? He is put to filence by thy Advocate and Interceffor at the right hand of thy Father. Does death appear to thee in a form of terror, and hold out his fting to alarm thy mind? His terror is removed, and his fting was pulled out by that hand, which, on mount Calvary, was fixed to the accurfed tree. Art thou afraid that the arrows of divine wrath which fmite the guilty, may be aim.
ed at thy head? Before they can touch thee, they must pierce that body, which, in the fymbols of divine inflitution, was this day held forth crucified among you, and which at the right hand of the Majefty in the heavens, is for ever prefented in behalf of the redeemed. Well then may ye join in the triumphant fong of the Apoftle, "O death! where is thy fting? O grave! where is thy victory ?"
In the third place, Jefus Chrift gives us victory over death, by yielding us confolation and relief under the fears that arife in the mind upon the awful tranfition from this world to the next.
Who ever left the precincts of mortality without cafting a wifhful look on what he left behind, and a trembling eye on the fcene that is before him? Being formed by our Creator for enjoyments even in this life, we are endowed with a sensibility to the objects around us. We have affections, and we delight to indulge them: we have hearts, and we want to bestow them. Bad as the world is, we find in it objects of affection and attachment. Even in this waste and howling wilderness, there are spots of verdure and of beauty, of power to charm the mind, and make us cry out, "It is good for us to be here." When, after the observation and experience of years, we have found out the objects of the foul, and met with minds congenial to our own, what pangs must it give to the heart, to think of parting for ever? We even contract an attachment to inanimate objects. The tree under whofe fhadow we have often fat; the fields where we have frequently ftrayed; the hill, the scene of contemplation, or the haunt of friendhip, become objects of paffion to the mind, and up
on our leaving them, excite a temporary forrow and regret. If these things can affect us with uneafinefs, how great must be the affliction, when ftretched on that bed from which we fhall rife no more, and looking about for the last time on the, fad circle of our weeping friends! How great must be the affliction, to diffolve at once all the attachments of life; to bid an eternal adieu to the friends whom we long have loved, and to part for ever with all that is dear below the fun! But let not the Chriftian be difconfolate. He parts with the objects of his affection, to meet them again; to meet them in a better world, where change never enters, and from whofe blissful manfions forrow flies away. At the refurrection of the juft; in the great affembly of the fons of God, when all the family of heaven are gathered together, not one perfon fhall be miffing that was worthy of thy affection or esteem. And if among imperfect creatures, and in a troubled world, the kind, the tender, and the generous affections have fuch power to charm the heart, that even the tears which they occafion delight us, what joy unspeakable and glorious will they produce, when they exist in perfect minds, and are improved by the purity of the heavens!
Christianity alfo gives us confolation in the tranfition from this world to the next. Every change in life awakens anxiety; whatever is unknown, is the object of fear; no wonder then that it is awful and alarming to nature, to think of that time when the hour of our departure is at hand; when this animal frame shall be diffolved, and the mysterious bond between foul and body shall be broken. Even the vifible effects of mortality are not without terror; to
have no more a name among the living; to pass into the dominions of the dead; to have the worm for a companion, and a fifter, are events at which nature fhudders and ftarts back. But more awful still is the invifible scene, when the curtain between both worlds fhall be drawn back, and the foul naked and difembodied appear in the presence of its Creator. Even under these thoughts, the comforts of Chriftianity may delight thy foul. Jefus, thy Saviour, has the keys of death; the abodes of the dead are part of his kingdom. He lay in the grave, and hallowed it for the repofe of the juft. Before our Lord afcended up on high, he faid to his difciples, " I go to my Father and to your Father, to my God "and to your God;" and when the time of your departure is at hand, you go to your Father and his Father, to your God and his God.
Enlightened by these discoveries, trufting to the merits of his Redeemer, and animated with the hope which is fet before him, the Chriftian will depart with tranquillity and joy. To him the bed of death will not be a fcene of terror, nor the last hour an hour of despair. There is a majefty in the death of the Christian. He partakes of the spirit of that world to which he is advancing, and he meets his latter end with a face that looks to the heavens.