THE HAPPINESSE of those who Sleep in Jesus, OR, The Benefit that comes to the dead Bodies of the Saints, even while they lie in the Grave, Sleeping in JESUS:
1 THESS. 4.14.
•N the former Verse, the Apostle perswades the Thessalonians not to mourn immoderately for the Saints Departed. He doth not forbid them to mourn, but not to mourn without measure. Reli∣gion doth not abolish natural Affections, but only mo∣de〈…〉hem. Grace doth not destroy, but rectifie Nature; it de∣p〈…〉ot of sense, but teacheth the right use of Senses. And he b〈…〉 divers Arguments to diswade us from immoderate M〈…〉ning.
Because this would bewray our Ignorance of the blessed Page 2 estate of Gods Children after this Life. This is set down, v. 13. But I would not have you to be ignorant, Brethren, concerning them which are asleep.
2. This is to act as hopeless, Heathens, not as Christians. This is put down in the same Verse,—That ye sorrow not even as others, that have no hope. Though Heathens who have no hope of a better Life after this, do mourn immeasurably, yet this doth not become Christians, who have hope in death, and who be∣lieve the Life Everlasting.
3. Because the death of a Saint is not an utter Extinction, and abolition of the man, but only a quiet and comfortable sleep. Verse 13, 14.
4. Because they are so far from being abolished, and utterly extinct, that they are asle•• in Iesus. They are, even while they are in their Graves, at rest in the Arms of Jesus. The Greek is, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, they that sleep by Jesus. But as Groti∣us observes, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 is put for 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, so it is taken, Rom. 4.11. 1 Tim. 5.14. And so it is expressely said, v. 16. of this Chapter, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the dead in Christ. And also, 1 Cor. 15.18. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, They that sleep in Christ.
5. Because at the great day of Judgment, they shall be raised from out of their Graves, and raised to the resurrection of Life, and raised by the power of God, and by vertue of their Union with Christ, v. 14. For if we believe that Iesus died, and rose again, even so, them also which sleep in Iesus, God will bring with him. Even so, That is, as Christ died, and rose again, so shall all that are dead in Christ, rise again, by vertue of their Membership with Christ (For if the Head be alive, the Members must live also) and by the Power of God. The same God that raised Christ from the dead, will raise all that are united to him, and bring them with him at the dreadful day of Judgment.
6. Because Christ will carry all his Saints whom he shall raise, up into Heaven with him, where they shall be for ever with the Lord, in perfect Happiness.
The Text that I have chosen contains three of these Argu∣ments, which I shall sum up in these three Doctrinal Conclusi∣ons.
Doct. 1. That the death of a Saint is nothing else but a quiet, comfortable, and blessed sleep.
Page 3Doct. 2. That the bodies of the Saints, even while they are in their graves, are asleep in Iesus.
Doct. 3. That Iesus Christ will raise the dead bodies of the Saints, and joyn their souls to them, and bring them with him to judg∣ment, and then carry them into heaven, where they shall be ever with the Lord.
That the death of a Child of God is nothing else but a quiet, com∣fortable, and happy sleep.
For the understanding of this I shall answer to three Que∣stions.
Quest. 1. What part of a Child of God is it that sleepeth when he dieth?
Ans. There are some who say, That the soul sleepeth as well as the body, and that when a man dies both Body and Soul lye asleep till the Resurrection. And this they prove from the example of Stephen,* because it is said of him, That he fell asleep. But still the question is, What part of Stephen fell asleep? Not his Soul: For he commends that into the hands of Christ; Lord Iesus receive my Spirit. And he saw the heavens opened, and the Son of Man stand∣ing on the right hand of God ready to receive his Soul immediatly. It was the Body of Stephen fell asleep, but his Soul was presently received by the Lord Jesus into heaven. When a man dies, his body returns to dust from whence it came, but the soul returns to God who gave it,*either to be judged to everlasting happiness, or everlasting misery. Indeed, In one sence the soul may be said at death to fall asleep, that is, It is at rest in Abrahams bosome: But it is not asleep in the Anabaptistical and Socinian sence, so as to lie in a dead Apoplexy or Lethargy▪ neither capable of joy or sorrow, of happi∣ness or misery till the Resurrection. This is a most uncomfortable and unscriptural opinion.
When St. Paul desires to be dissolved and to be with Christ, he doth not desire to lye asleep till the Resurrection, and neither to see, know, or enjoy Christ, but to be made happy with him, and by him.
When Christ promised to the penitent Thief, * That that day he should be with him in Paradice; his meaning was, That he should enjoy unspeakable pleasures with him. Thence the Jews write upon the graves of their dead friends, Let their souls be Page 4 gathered in the Garden of Eden, Amen, Amen, Amen. Selah.
The Souls under the Altar, of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the Testimony which they held, are not in a dull Lethargy without sence or understanding, but cry with a loud voice,*How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our bloud on them that dwell on the earth, &c.
The Souls of just men made perfect in heaven are not asleep, * but enjoy Coelestial felicity. And the soul of Lazarus was immedi∣ately upon his death received into Abrahams bosome, and filled full of consolation.
Polycarpe,* that ancient and stout Champion of Jesus Christ, when he was at the Stake, amongst many other excellent words which he uttered, this was one, That his soul should that very day be represented before God in heaven.
The truth is, This opinion of the Soul-sleepers is as pernicious as the opinion of those who say, That the Soul dies with the Bo∣dy, and riseth with the Body. For this sleep must be either Na∣tural, or Metaphorical; Of the first the Soul is not capable, and the second is nothing else but Death it self. * Therefore Calvin, in his Book written on purpose against these Hypnologists, saith excellently, They that say, that the soul lives when out of the body, and yet deprive it of all sense and understanding,*do feign to themselves a Soul which hath nothing of a Soul in it, and divorce the Soul it self from it self: For the nature of the Soul, without which it cannot any way consist, is to have motion, sence, and understanding. And as Ter∣tullian saith, That Sence is the very soul of the Soul. So much in answer to the first question.
Quest. 2. Is not the death of a wicked man called a sleep as well as the death of a Saint?
Answ. This cannot be denied. It is said of Baasha, Omri, and Ieroboam, who were three wicked Kings, that they slept with their Fathers. But then I answer:
1. That this is but very seldome used.
2. That the death of an ungodly man, though it be a sleep, yet it is not a quiet, and comfortable, but a disquietting and terrify∣ing sleep. As Nebuchadnezzar was much troubled in his sleep, and, as many sick men have very unquiet sleeps, so as they are more sick when they awake than before they slept, so is it with a wicked man. Both good and bad (saith St. Austin) sleep at death; Page 5 But it fares with them as with those who dream in their sleeps: *Some dream of things delightful, and are comforted: Some of terrifying things, insomuch as when they awake they are afraid to sleep again, left their terrifying dreams should return. So (saith he) every man sleeps at death according to the condition of the life he hath led, and ac∣cordingly riseth and is judged. The Souls of good and bad at death have different receptacles; The good have joy and happiness: The wicked, misery and torment. The Soul of the wicked goeth imme∣diately to Hell, where it hath little list to sleep, and his body lieth asleep in the grave. But how? Even as a Malefactor that sleeps in Prison the night before he is executed, but when he awakes he is hurried and dragged to execution. So the wicked man falls asleep at death, but when he awakes, he awakes to everlasting damnati∣on. But a Child of God, when he sleeps the sleep of death, he sleeps in the arms of his Eldest Brother, and when he awakes, he awakes unto everlasting happiness.
Quest. 3. In what particulars may the death of a Child of God be compared to sleep?
Answ. I have already in a Sermon printed (without my knowledge) given thirteen resemblances between death and sleep, and therefore must of necessity here omit them lest I should seem actum agere. At the present I shall only mention these two.
1. The death of a Child of God is called a sleep, *because he is thereby layed to rest. The Scripture calls their graves, their beds of rest. And the Apostle tells us, That they which dye in the Lord rest from all their labours. They are at rest from all corporal and spiritual evills.
First, From all corporal evills.
1. From all sicknesses, diseases, pains, and all other bodily in∣firmities. * Death is that great Physitian which will cure Gods peo∣ple of all diseases at once, and for ever. Thus the blind and lame man said one to the other at the Stake: *Bishop Bonner will cure thee and me this day.*
2. From all worldly griefe and sorrow. For at death all tears shall be wiped from their eyes, and there shall be no more sorrow, Rev. 21.4.
3. From all laborious and painful employments; Martha shall have no more need to complain of Mary, nor shall the Page 6Prophets of God waste their bodies by preaching. Ipsa cessabunt misericordiae spera ubi nulla erit indigentia, nulla miseria.
4. From all the wrongs, injuries, and persecutions of the wicked world. In this life they are mocked, scoffed, and perse∣cuted, but when death comes, they are like a man above in the upper Region, where no winds nor storms can come.
5. From the evils to come upon the wicked world. Thus St. Austin was layed to rest immediately before Hippo was taken by the Vandals. Luther, before the Wars brake out in Germany, and Paraeus before Heidleburgh was sack'd by the Spaniards.
Secondly, From all spiritual evils.
1. From the hurt of the Devil and his temptations. Death puts them above his reach, so as he shall not be able to hurle one fiery dart any longer at them.
2. From evil company, and evil examples. In this life the Wheat are mingled with Chaff and Tares, and cannot but hear the name of the Great God blasphemed and dishonoured, which is a great vexation to them, * as it was to Lot in Sodom. But at death they shall be separated from all chaff and tares, and shall never hear God dishonoured any more.
3. From Divine desertions. In this life God many times withdraweth the light of his countenance from his sinning Chil∣dren, which is more terrible to them than death it self: For if his loving kindness is better than life,* then his frowns are worse than death. But after death the light of Gods countenance shall shine perpetually upon them, and never admit either of a cloud, or Eclipse.
4. From the very being and existence of sin. The death of the body frees them perfectly from the body of death. Death drieth up the bloudy issue of sin, * root and branch. As sin at first begat and brought forth death, so death at last destroyes sin, as the worm kills the tree that bred it. Therefore St. Austin saith, Plus resti∣tuitur quam amittitur. More is restored to a Child of God than he lost in Adam: For Adam had only a power not to sin, but he by death hath an impossibility of sinning. Sin was Obstetrix mortis, a Midwife to bring death into the World, * and death is Sepulchrum peccati, a Sepulchre to bury sin in. Insomuch as death is now become not so much the death of the man, as of his sin and misery.
2. The death of a Child of God is called a sleep, propter spem resurrectionis. To intimate unto us the assurance of a Resurre∣ction. * Thus Christ saith of Lazarus, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth, but I go that I may awake him out of sleep. Death is nothing else (saith St. Chrysostome) but a temporary sleep.* Sleep is a short death, and death a longer sleep. As he that goeth to sleep, sleeps but for a certain time, and awakes in the morning out of sleep: So he that sleeps the sleep of death, when the Trump of God shall found, shall awake, & arise out of his grave as out of his bed in the morn∣ing of the Resurrection: St. Austin saith, That the Scripture saith of those that are dead, that they are but asleep, because of the cer∣tain hope of a Resurrection, by which they shall speedily be awakened from the sleep of death, and raised out of their Sepulchres as out of their beds. Hence it hath formerly been, and still is a godly cu∣stom amongst Christians when any of their religious friends die, to say of them, They are not dead, but Obdormi•nt in Domino, They are asleep in the Lord. And this they do for the comfort of their Relations, and to create in them a contempt of this present life, and a sure and certain hope of a Resurrection unto life everlasting.
Before I make use of this, I shall speak something to the se∣cond Doctrine.
That the bodies of the Saints, even while they are in their graves, are asleep in Iesus — They that sleep in Iesus.
This is a very excellent and singularly comfortable expressi∣on, worthy to be seriously weighed and considered. For the un∣derstanding of it I will shew,
First, What it is to sleep in Iesus.
Secondly, What glorious benefits and advantages come to the bodies of the Saints by this priviledge.
1. What it is to sleep in Iesus. This expression signifieth two things.
1. That a true Saint dieth a Member of Christ, united to him by a lively saith. * He is one that abideth in the Faith till the last gasp, and (as the Apostle saith) dieth in the Lord; that Page 8 is, engraffed into the Lord Iesus Christ.
2. That he doth not only die in Christ, but continueth a mem∣ber of Christ, and united to him even while he is in the grave. For this Text speaks of all Saints departed from the beginning of the World — So also they that sleep in Iesus; that is, They that are now in their graves, and are there asleep in Jesus. The like phrase is used, 1 Cor. 15.18. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. The Apostle speaks of such who had been long in their graves, and yet all that while were asleep in Christ. The bodies of the Saints in the grave, though turned to dust, are yet notwithstanding united to Christ, and Members of his Body; and though separated from their Souls, yet are not separated from Christ: Even as the Body of Christ, while in the grave, was even then united to his Divine Person. Though soul and body were separated one from the other, yet neither of them were separated from the Divine Person. So the Body of a man in Christ, though separated by death from his Soul, yet it is not separated from Christ. Though it say to Corruption, Thou art my Father, and to the VVorms, Thou art my Mother, and my Sister, yet it may say also to Christ, Thou art my Brother, and to God, Thou art my Father. And therefore the Saints, even while they are in their graves, are said to be Christs, 1 Cor. 15.23. — Afterwards they that are Christs at his coming. And are said to be dead in Christ, 1 Thes. 4.16. Not only to die in Christ, but to be dead in Christ; that is, to continue in Christ even while dead. And that they do so, appears fur∣ther by these two Reasons:
Reas. 1. Because the Union between Christ and a true Christi∣an is spiritual and everlasting.
1. It is spiritual, and therefore needs no vicinity of place to preserve it. A Husband and Wife, a Father and his Child are really united together, though a thousand miles distant.
2. It is everlasting, Hos. 2.19. I will besroath thee unto me for ever, &c. Herein it exceeds the Union between a Man and his Wife, which is only till death them do part. But the Union between Christ and a true Christian is not separated by death: Once in Christ, ever in Christ, Joh. 8.35.
Reas. 2. Because Death is Christs purchase,* and part, of the Saints Ioynture. The Apostle tells the Corinthians, All things Page 9 are yours, whether Paul, or Apollo, &c. or life or death, &c. and ye are Christs, &c. These words teach us these two lessons:
1. That Death is part of the Saints Magna Charta as well as Life. Death is the Believers rich Portion, and peculiar privi∣ledge.
2. That Christ hath purchased death for his children, as pro∣perly as life. He hath made over death for their joynture, and rich portion, as much as Paul, Apollo, or Cephas, nay, as much as hea∣ven it self. Christ hath altered the nature of death, insomuch as that now it is become our best friend next to Iesus Christ: For we shall never be rid of sin, nor perfected in grace, nor see God face to face till we dye. It is become a gate to heaven, an outlet to all misery, and an inlet to everlasting happiness. Now then if Death be Christs purchase, and a part of the Saints Ioynture, with∣out doubt, it doth not separate us from Christ, for then it would be but an ill purchase, and joynture, obtained not for our good, but our great hurt, contrary to the express words of the Apostle, and also contrary to Rom. 8.28. All things work together for the good of those that love God. Et mors praecipue, and especially Death, as St. Austin saith.
The second thing propounded, is, To shew what those glorious benefits and advantages are, which the bodies of the Saints enjoy while they are in their graves asleep in Jesus.
For answer to this, you must know, That as soon as ever the soul departs out of the body, the body presently loseth all its beau∣ty and comliness, and becomes a rotten and stinking carkass; It goeth down to the house of rottenness, to the dungeon of dark∣ness, and is layed in the cold earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes. And yet even then it hath a six-fold benefit, by being asleep in Jesus.
1. Though the body be turned to dust, yet that very dust is pre∣tious in Gods sight.* As the death of the Saints, so also their dust is precious to God. There is a twofold dust that God loves.
1. The dust of Sion.
2. The dust of his Saints.
First, The dust of Sion, Psal. 102.13, 14.
Secondly, The dust of the Saints. The golden Ore in the Mine is not so pretious to us, as this golden dust is to God. Iob tells us, That out of the earth comes the dust of gold; * but I may truly say, Page 10 That in the earth there is golden dust, even the dust of Gods Saints. As Balaam saith concerning the people of Israel,*Who can count the dust of Iacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? So may I say, Who can sufficiently express the love that God bears to the dust of Iacob, and to the bodies of his people, while in their graves? The Apostle tells us, *That neither life nor death is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Iesus our Lord. God loves the bodies of his Saints as well as their souls, and their bo∣dies when turned to dust. That very dust is part of Gods election, (for God hath elected the bodies of his Saints unto eternal life, as well as their souls) and it is part of Christs Redemption, and the Spirits Sanctification. O what a comfort is this to a dying Child of God! Though all his friends will forsake him when brought to the grave (the Husband will leave his dear Wife, and the Children their dear Father) yet God will not forsake him, but go down to the grave with him, and the watchful eye of his provi∣dence will be over his dust and ashes. And as Rispah kept the dead bodies of Sauls seven Sons, *and spread a Tent over them, so as the birds of the air could not hurt them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night. So will God keep the dead bodies of his Saints, and spread the Curtain of his protection over them, and as he took care of them while they were in the sepulchre of their Mothers wombe, so he will also take care of them while they are in the sepulchre of their Mother earth. He that loved them in Sepulchro uteri, will love them in utero Sepulchri.
2. They that sleep in Iesus have this benefit by it, That Christ by his burial hath sanctified the grave, and sweetned it, and perfu∣med it, insomuch, that though in its own nature, it be as loath∣some prison, a house of rottenness, and a place of terrour; yet to a man dead in Christ, the nature of it is altered, and to him it is as a soft bed, wherein he is laid down quietly to take his rest, and there to remain asleep, free from all cares, fears, and troubles till the Resurrection of the dead. Though the grave in its own na∣ture be a dreadful place, a stinking charnel-house, and a rotten prison to the wicked and ungodly, where they lye waiting for the Great Assizes; yet to the Children of God, Christ hath made it a Magazin and Store-house to keep their bodies safe till the great Resurrection. And he hath also made it a beaten and plain way to heaven. Christ Jesus himself went to heaven thorough the Page 11 grave, and so must we and all the Godly. We must first put off the rags of Mortality, before we can put on the robes of Immorta∣lity. To a wicked man, the grave is a thorough-fare to hell, but to a man asleep in Jesus it is a passage to heaven, where Christ is. And if St. Austin was willing to go even thorough hell to Christ in hea∣ven, much more may we be willing to go thorough the grave to him.
3. They that sleep in Iesus have this benefit also, That by their Union with Christ, and by the watchful Providence of God, there is a substance preserved, so as they are not utterly extinct, and an∣nihilated by death, but something of their bodies remain unde∣stroyed. There is nothing utterly, totally, and finally destroyed in a Child of God by death, but sin and misery. The rotting of the body in the grave is but as the rotting of the Corn in the earth, as the Apostle saith, 1 Cor. 15.36. The Seed is cast into the earth, and there it dieth, and rotteth, but is not utterly extinct, but rot∣teth in the ground, that it may be quickned again: So the bodies of the Saints rot in their graves that they may be raised again, and made like unto the glorious body of Iesus Christ. And this is another reason why the death of a Child of God is called a sleep, because as a man asleep is not extinct, no more is he in the grave. There is a substance preserved, and as David saith of an afflicted righteous man, * that God keepeth all his bones, not one of them is broken: So God keepeth the dust and ashes of his Children, so as they shall not be utterly and totally consumed.
Object. But is there not a substance preserved also in the bo∣dies of the wicked?
Answ. It is true, Their bodies are not utterly destroyed, but remain, not by vertue of their Union with Christ, but preserved by the Almighty power of God as a terrible Lord, and severe Iudge, and re∣main, as in a prison, till the great day of Judgment, in which they shall appear before Christ, and then be condemned to hell. Happy were it for a wicked man if his body were annihilated by death, (as it were happy for a Traytor if he died in Prison, and escaped hanging.) But herein consisteth the difference between him and a man asleep in Jesus, A man out of Christ is not properly pre∣served in the grave, but rather reserved by the power of Christ to be afterwards tormented in hell: But a man in Christ is not on∣ly reserved, but by vertue of his Union with Christ, Page 12 and preserved to enjoy Eternal glory with their souls at the Great Day of Judgment.
4. He that sleepeth in Jesus hath this benefit also, That though his body lieth rotting in the grave, yet his soul is all the while in heaven, where it enjoyeth the glorious presence of God, and of his Saints and Angels: I say, his soul, which is his best half, which is the Man of man, is in heaven. Indeed, his body, which is but as the Box and Carkass, is in the grave; but the substance and Iewel is in heaven.
Object. What benefit doth the body in the grave gain by his souls being in heaven?
Answ. I gains this double benefit:
1. If his Soul be in heaven, it is certain the Body will come thi∣ther at last: For it is but as the shadow to the substance, and if the substance be in heaven, the shadow will undoubtedly follow.
2. Though the Soul be in heaven, yet it can never be perfectly and compleatly happy till it be reunited to the Body. For God made the soul to be the form of the body, and to dwell for ever in it: And if it had not been for Adams transgression, the body and soul should never have been separated. This separation is the fruit of sin, and therefore the soul in heaven hath appetitum unionis, a desire to have this breach made up, and to be united again to his body, because he shall have a more perfect and com∣pleat being with it than without it. The Scripture tells us, That it waits for the redemption of his body,* and that it prayeth that God would accomplish the number of his Elect, that so they may again be joyned to their bodies, and have Coronam perfectam & publicam, a publick and perfect Crown of glory. The souls in heaven (saith Bernard) pray for their bodies in the grave; They are not like the chief Butler, who forgat Ioseph when he was re∣stored to his former dignity. They remember they have bodies still in the grave, which were companions with them in the ser∣vice of God, in Prayer, and Fasting, and suffering afflictions for Christ. And they know, that by reunion with them their hap∣piness will be much increased; and therefore they cannot cease pra•ing for them, and Christ will in due time come in glory to raise them up unto everlasting life.
A fifth benefit that accrueth to the body that is asleep in Jesus, is, That Christ himself cannot be perfect till it be raised from the Page 13 dead. As a natural body cannot be perfect without all its mem∣bers, no more can Christ mystical, as head of his Church, be perfect till every member of his body be glorified. Therefore it is said, Eph. 1.23. That the Church is the fulness of him who filleth all in all, which is to be understood of that voluntary condition, where∣unto Christ hath subjected himself in being the Head of the Bo∣dy, that is, his Church. So that as a natural body is maimed and imperfect if the least member be wanting: So is Christ, as Head of his Church, maimed and imperfect till all the bodies that are asleep in Iesus be reunited to their souls, and received into glory for ever with Christ.
Lastly, The body by being asleep in Iesus, hath this great bene∣fit, That though it lieth rotting in the grave, yet it resteth in hope. This was Davids comfort, Psalm 16.9. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoyceth, my flesh also shall rest in hope. There is not a member of Christ, but when he is breathing out his last breath, may use Davids words with Davids comfort — My heart is glad, my glory rejoyceth, and my flesh also (which is shortly to be put into the grave) shall rest in hope, in a forefold hope:
- 1. That it shall rise again.
- 2. That the same body shall rise.
- 3. That it shall rise by vertue of its Union with Christ.
- 4. That it shall rise to glory everlasting. And this leads me to to the third and last Doctrine.
That Iesus Christ will raise the dead bodies of those that sleep in him, and raise them as their Head and Saviour, and bring them with him to Iudgment, and then carry them into Heaven, where they shall be ever with the Lord.
All these particulars are comprehended in the words of the Text — God will bring with him. But before he brings them, he must first raise them. The bodies of the Saints shall not al∣waies dwell in the dust; * therefore the Prophet Isaiah calls upon them to awake and sing, Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust. A strange expression! Is there any cause of rejoycing for those who dwell in dust? Yes; Awake and sing ye which dwell in dust, for the Earth shall give up the dead which are in it, and the Sea also. As the Whale cast up Ionah on the shoar, so shall the Sea cast up Page 14 her dead. When Ionah was swallowed up by the Whale, one would have thought he had been utterly lost, yet God did but speak a word to the Whale, and he cast him on the dry land. The grave to an Atheistical eye is like the belly of the Whale; and an Atheist is ready to think, that the Child of God is utterly lost. But when the Trumpet shall sound, and the Arch-Angel speak the word, the Whale shall cast up Ionah; the Sea shall give up her dead, and the Earth also, for they are but Gods Stewards, unto whom he hath betrusted the bodies of his Saints, and when God calls them to give an account of their Stewardship, they will give in a most faithful account, and will not leave one body behind. They are but tyring-houses or with-drawing rooms for a while; they are but sleeping-places. And as a man when he goeth to sleep ho∣peth to awake again in the morning; So do the Saints of God fall asleep by death with a sure and certain hope of a Resurrecti∣on from the dead. So then, All that sleep in Jesus shall rise again.
And they shall arise with the same bodies, (the same for sub∣stance, though not for qualities) otherwise it were no Resurrection, but a new Creation.* Christ tells us, That all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth. The Apostle tells us, That this mortall body shall put on immortality,*and this corruptible body shall put on incorruption. This was Iobs comfort upon the dunghill, *That with these very eyes he shoould see his Redeemeer. And it cannot stand with Gods Justice, that one body should sin, and another be condemned, and one body serve him, and another be crowned. The same body then shall rise.
And rise by vertue of its union with Christ. This is hinted in the Text — For if we believe that Iesus died, and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Iesus will God bring with him. By the same power by which Christ raised up himself, by the same power he will raise all that are by the Spirit united to him: For he is the Husband of his Church, and the Husband will raise his Spouse. He is the Shepheard and King of his Church, and the Shepheard will raise his Sheep, and the King his Subjects; and therefore he is called the first fruits of them that sleep.* As the first fruits did sanctifie the whole lump: So by Christ's Resurrection all that die in the Lord are sanctified unto him, and assured of their resurrection by him. * And it is said, As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive; that is, all that are in Christ shall Page 15 be raised by the power of Christ, as their Head, and as their Merciful Saviour and Redeemer. If the Head be above the wa∣ter, the Body cannot be drowned, but will rise after it. And let me add.
It shall rise after a most Glorious manner; *It is sown in Cor∣ruption, but it shall be raised in Incorruption. It is sown in dishonour, but it shall be raised in Glory. It is sown in weakness, but it shall be raised in power. It is sown a natural Body, but it shall be raised a spi∣ritual body. For Jesus Christ in his Incarnation assumed our Bo∣dies, as well as our souls, and at his Death, suffered for us, in his Body, as well as in his Soul. Our Bodies are united to him, and Members of him, Temples of the Holy Ghost, and Instru∣ments in his Service, as well as our Souls. And therefore he will glorifie our Bodies, as well as our souls, and make them like un∣to his own Glorious Body. It is impossible to set out all the Glo∣ry that God will bestow upon the bodies of his Saints, at the great Resurrection. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath in en∣tred into the heart of man to conceive what God hath prepared, even for the bodies of those that love him. Some part of this Glory I have discovered already in a Funeral Sermon in Print, and therefore shall now forbear to mention it.
The Bodies of the wicked shall come out of their Graves, as out of their Prisons, as so many Malefactors, to appear before an Angry Iudge. They shall come out of their Graves, as the chief Baker did out of Prison, to be executed in Hell for ever. They shall rise with great Fear and Trembling, and shall call to the Rockes and Mountains, to hide and cover them from the wrath of the Lamb. But the Bodies of those who sleep in Jesus, shall rise out of their Graves, as out of their Beds, with great Ioy and Rejoycing. They shall come out of their Graves, as Ionah out of the Whales Belly, as Daniel out of the Lions Den, as the Chief Butler, who came out of Prison, to be restored to all his former Dignities, and as Ioseph, who after his Release out of the Go•l, was made Lord of Egypt. So shall the Bodies of the Saints be raised out of their Graves, to be made like unto the Angels, and to have their Faces shine like the Sun in the Firmament,* and to be crowned with ever∣lasting Glory.
Now the Dead in Christ, thus raised, Christ will bring with him, at the great and dreadful Day of Judgment, and he will cause Page 16 them to sit with him in his Throne, as he sits with the Father in his Throne, Rev. 3.21. and he will advance them to be Iudges of all the wicked and ungodly, and not only of wicked men, but of the wicked Angels; I say to be Judges, as coassessors with Christ, and Approvers of his Sentence. * This is a high Preferment, not proper (as the Papists think) to the Apostles, and such who have left all for Christ, but common to all the Saints of God, who are such indeed and in Truth. I deny not, but that the Apostles shall have eminentiorem Thronum, a more eminent degree of Glo∣ry then other Saints. But yet this Honour of judging the world, is common to all Saints, to the least, as well as to the greatest. They that now are judged and condemned by the wicked of the world, shall one day, sit with Christ in his Throne, and judge their Iudges, They that are now tempted, buffeted, and som∣times foy•ed by Satan, shall one day be Judges of him and all his Angels.
Now after the Day of Judgment is finished, Christ will carry up all that sleep in him, with himself into Heaven, where they shall be ever with the Lord in perfect Happiness. So much for the explication of the three Doctrines.
Let us not mourn immoderately for the death of our Godly Friends and Relations. This is the Use which the Apostle would have us to make. * Mourn we may, but not as the Heathen, who have no hope. Let us remember, that the death of a Child of God is nothing else but a comfortable and blessed sleep; that he goes to the Grave, as to his Bed, and there lieth free (as a man asleep) from all Cares and Troubles, and at rest from all his Labours, that even while he is in the Grave, he is asleep in Iesus, and there continueth a Member of his Body; that his very dust is precious in Gods sight, and part of Gods Election, Christs Re∣demption, and the Spirits Sanctification. That by vertue of its Union with Christ, his body while in the Grave, is not utterly ex∣tinct, but there is a Substance, not only reserved, but preserved, to be raised to everlasting Glory. That Christ hath so perfumed the Grave, as that it is nothing else to him, but as a Tyring-house, and withdrawing-Room. In a word, that he lieth down in his bed till the Morning of the Resurrection, and then he shall put on Page 17stolam immortalitatis, the Garment of Immortality, and his vile body shall be made like unto the Glorious Body of Iesus Christ. Let us comfort one another with these words: Let us not weep im∣measurably for those from whom all Tears are wiped away, but let us consider their unspeakable g•in. Death hath put an end to all their temporal and spiritual evils, and opened a door for them to everlasting Happiness.
Let these Doctrines serve as a Precious Antidote to all the peo∣ple of God against the fear of Death, and of the Grave. Why should we fear that, which if it should not happen, we should be superlatively miserable? as the Apostle saith, If we had hope only in this life, we were of all people most miserable; And therefore when there was a Rumour spread concerning St. Iohn,* that he should ne∣ver die, he himself, Ch. 21.23. rectifieth the Mistake; yet Iesus said not unto him, he shall not die. As if he should say, God forbid I should be so miserable, as never to die. Though a man in Christ could live for ever in this world, and be alwaies young, rich and healthful, yet he would account himself most miserable, because while he is here, he is absent from Christ, who is his Life, and from God, who is his Happiness, and full of sin, which is his great∣est Burden. And therefore as Iacob rejoyced, when he saw the Chariots which should carry him to his Son Ioseph, so should the People of God rejoyce, when Death approacheth, which will carry them to Christ. And as God said to Iacob, Fear not to go down to Egypt,*for I will go down with thee, and I will also surely bring thee up again: So, methinks, I hear God saying to all his Children, Fear not to go down to the House of Rottenness, for I will go with you, and tarry with you, and watch over your dead As•es with the eye of my Providence, and will surely bring you out again, and raise you unto Eternal Glory.
Let us not look upon Death, as presented unto us in Natures Looking-Glass, but as it is set down in a Scripture-dress. Nature presents Death in a terrible manner: The Philosopher cals it, of all terrible things,*most terrible. Iob cals it the King of Terrors, It is terrible three manner of waies.
1. Because it is a Separation between two dear and ancient Friends, the Soul and the Body, who having lived long together, Page 18 are very loath to part asunder. There is nothing more contrary to Flesh and Bloud, then the separation of the one from the other.
2. Because it is the Fruit of sin. * For the wages of sin is death. Had Adam never sinned, we never should have died; By one man sin entred into the world,*and death by sin, and this makes it terrible.
3. Because of the After-claps of Death. For after Death comes Iudgment,* and after Judgment, everlasting Salvation, or ever∣lasting Condemnation. This makes Death very terrible to those who have the guilt of sin upon them unrepented of, and who are under the just fear of Everlasting Burnings, and indeed to all men out of Christ, death is of all terrible things most terrible, as you shall hear in the next Use.
But to you that are in Christ, the sting of death is taken away, and it is become of all desirable things, most desirable; It is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, * as the Apostle saith; It is much far better. It is nothing else but a quiet and placid sleep; a putting off our cloaths and going to bed till the Morning of the Resurrection. There∣fo•e Austin saith, That a Child of God should be as willing to die, as to put off his Cloaths, because Death is nothing else to him, but a putting off of his Body (which is Animae Vestimentum, the souls Garment) and a departure from Misery to everlasting Happi∣ness, a le•ting the Soul, as a Bird, out of the Cage of the Body that it may flee to Heaven.* Death to a Child of God is the Birth-day of Heavens Eternity, a putting off of its Earthly Tabernacle, and a going to a House made without hands, eternal in the Heavens. It is an uncloathing of himself, that he may be cloathed upon with his House which is in Heaven. It is a going to his Fathers House, where he shall enjoy perfect and perpetual Happiness.
There are 10 Springs and Fountains of Consolation to a true Saint against the fear of Death.
1. When he dieth, though his Body be laid in the Grave, yet his Soul is immediatly received up into Heaven, his best part is at the Instant of Death blessed and happy.
2. His Body at death doth not die, but only sleepeth (as Christ said of dead Lazarus) and is at rest, and is asleep in Iesus, even while it is in the Grave, and is part of that man who is a Mem∣ber of Christ, and under the Care and Love of God.
3. His Soul, though it be in Heaven, can never be perfectly and Page 19compleatly happy, till his Body be joyned to it.
4. Christ himself, as he is the Head of his Church, can never be perfect till his Body be raised from the dead, and crowned with a Crown of Glory.
5. Christ hath conquered Death for him, he hath not only sweetned and sanctified it, but conquered it, according as it was fore prophesied, — I will ransom them from the Power of the Grave,*I will redeem them from Death; O Death I will be thy Plagues; O Grave I will be thy Destruction. He hath led Capti∣vity Captive,* and death is one of those Captives, as well as the Devil. He hath disarmed Death, and taken away the Sting of it, so as to a man in Christ, death is a Serpent without a Sting. It is like the Viper which skipt upon S. Pauls Hand, * which did not at all hurt him. It is like the Brazen Serpent, which though it had the shape of a Serpent, yet it hadnot the Nature of it, but was a healing, not a stinging Serpent. So is death to a Child of God. It is so far from hurting of him, that it is now by Christs death, become his greatest Advantage, and he may triumph over it, and say with the Ap. O Death,*where is thy Sting? O Grave, where is thy Victory? the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the Law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Iesus Christ.
6. There is this Spring also of Consolation against the Fear of death, because he that hath an Interest in Christ, cannot die sud∣denly, though he die never so suddenly, that is, though he die ne∣ver so suddenly in regard of time, yet he can never die suddenly in regard of Preparation. For he is alwaies habitually fitted, and pre∣pared for Death, he is justified by Faith, and sanctified by the Spirit, and is above the hurt of damnation: For there is no Con∣demnation to those that are in Christ.* He hath not his Graces to seek, when he comes to die, which is no little Happiness.
7. He can never die miserable, though he die never so miserably. Though he die upon a Dunghil, or in a Goal, or upon the Gal∣lows, or at a stake, wheresoever, and howsoever he dies, he dies happily. * For so saith the Apostle, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord. They are blessed, though they die upon a dunghil. Though Stephen was stoned to death, yet he died happily; for while he was stoning, he saw the Heavens opened, and Christ rea∣dy to receive him. Though Lazarus was starved to death, yet he died blessedly, because the Angels carried his Soul into Abrahams Page 20 B•som. Though King Iosiah died in War, yet he died in peace. A man in Christ dieth in the Arms of Christ,* and though he dieth never so miserably, as to his outward condition, yet he may sing a Nunc dimittis with old Simeon,*Lord, now lettest thou thy Ser∣vant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy Salvation.
8. There are 3 Expressions which the Scripture useth concern∣ing death, which are singular Fountains of Consolation against the Fear of it.
1. The Apostle S. Peter cals it 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, * 2 Pet. 1.15. I will en∣deavour that〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉after my Decease, &c. Death is no∣thing else, but an Exodus out of Egypt, unto our Heavenly Cana∣an. It is not a dying, but a Transmigration, a passage from the Valley of death into the Land of the Living.
2. The Apostle S. Paul cals it 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Phil. 2.23. I desire to be dissolved,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that is (as Grotius interprets it) That my Soul may return to God from whom it first came. Others say, It is a Metaphor taken from Mariners, who are said to loose from the Haven, when they depart from the shore. Death is nothing but a hoysing up of Sayl (as it were) for heaven.
3. Old Simeon cals it A〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Now Lord lettest thou thy Ser∣vant depart in peace.* The Greek Word signifieth a Release, and dismission out of prison. Thus it is taken, Acts 16.35, Acts 5.40 Luke 23.17. And it holds forth these two Lessons.
1. That the Soul is in the Body as in a Prison. Therefore the Greek Words for the Body, are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 quasi 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, vin∣cio. And Petrarch saith, That he that glorieth in the strength of his Body, glorieth in the strength of his Prison. And when Plato saw one of his Scholars overcuriously pampering his Body, * he said to him, What do you mean to make your Prison so strong? The Soul is in the Body as in a Prison, in 3 Respects.
1. Because the Soul is hidden in the Body, as a man is hidden in a Prison. As Plato saith of Vertue, That if a man could see it with corporal eyes, he could not but love it. So may I say of the Soul; If a man could see the Beauty, Glory and Excellency of it, he could not but admire it, and highly value it. But it is hidden in the Body as in a Prison.
2. Because the Soul is hindred by the Body, and that Three waies.
1. It is hindred from Heaven. For whilst we are in the Page 21 body, we are absent from the Lord, and we cannot be with Christ, till we be dissolved. And this is truly a Prison where∣in a man is absent from his best Friends and Acquaint∣ance.
2. It is hindred from Heavenly Operations. For the Body takes up all the time from the Soul; as the Lean Kine of Pharaoh devoured the fat, so the Provision for the Feeding and Cloathing of the Body, eats up the time that should be spent about the Soul. It is with the Soul and Body, as it was with Abraham and Lot. Abraham had his Cattel and his Servants, and Lot his, so that the Country was too nar∣row for them. So the Soul hath her work, and the Body his, and there is hardly time enough for both; so as the one must needs hinder the other, and they never will be well till separated. The Cloath is too short to cover them both. And this must needs be a great Bondage when the Hand∣maid shall be preferred before her Mistress, Hagar before Sarah.
3. It is hindred in all its Heavenly Operations. For the Bo∣dy weigheth down the Soul. As a Bird that hath a stone ti∣ed to its Leg, is weighed down that it cannot fly aloft. So is the Heavenly Soul in the best Christian depressed by the Body, that it cannot mount aloft in Prayer and other Holy Exer∣cises. The Soul and Body are like a pair of Scales, the more the one is up, the more the other goeth down. As Sauls Armour was a Burden to David, so is the Body to the Soul. The Body is quickly tired in the Service of God. The Spirit is willing, but the Flesh is weak, like a strong man up∣on a Jadish Horse, &c.
3. Because the Soul is defiled by the Body, as a man in a Nasty Prison. God gave man a Heavenly Soul, and an Earthly bo∣dy, that the Heavenly Soul might lift up the Earthly Body to∣wards Heaven: But now it fares quite contrary. Our earthly Bodies have weighed down our heavenly Souls, and made them earthly and sensual. Tamdiu versata est Anima in Ta∣bernaculo, ut ipsa versa est in Tabernaculum. The Soul hath lived so long in a Body of flesh, that it is (as it were) fleshi∣fied, and bodified. The Soul looks through an eye of flesh, and every thing seems fleshly to it. It is diverted by the Page 22 Body from its true End. The true End of the Soul is to know God, to love, fear and serve him. But the body diverts the Stream, and turns the Soul to serve men, and to provide for back and belly. And therefore it may fitly be called the Souls Prison.
2. It holds forth this Lesson also, That Death is the Souls Goal-delivery. It is the letting of it loose from its Bonds and Fet∣ters. Its is setting it at Liberty, like a Bird escaped out of a Cage. Now Lord let thy Servant depart; that is, be set at liber∣ty from the prison of my body.
9. There is this Comfort also against the fear of death, That Iesus Christ is gone to heaven on purpose to prepare a place for the dead bodies of his Saints, and he will come again, and raise them up, and take them to himself, that where he is, there they may be also, John 14.2, 3. Therefore he is said to go into Heaven as a Forerunner, Heb. 6.20. Whither the forerunner is for us entred. Now a forerunner supposeth some that are to follow. Christ is entred before, to take up Lodgings for all that are asleep in him, and hath (as it were) written their several Names upon their several Lodgings, as is intimated, Heb. 12.23. To the Church of the first-born, which are written in heaven; and keeps them empty till they come to Hea∣ven to fill them, as is hinted, 1 Pet. 1.4. — Reserved for you in hea∣ven. Therefore we are said to fit with him in heavenly places, because he went up to take possession of it for our use, and benefit, and fits there in our Nature, and as our Head, not as a private Citizen of Heaven, but as a Representative of all the Elect of God, and will ere long come down, and take them up to himself, and so they shall ever be with the Lord.
10. The last Spring of Consolation against the fear of death is, That Death will put a perfect and perpetual end to all his Miseries, whether spiritual or corporal (as I have shewed) and open a door to infinite and unexpressible happiness for ever and ever.
Let these ten Considerations be made use of, as precious An∣tidotes against the flavish fear of death.
The woful and miserable condition of those, who die in an un∣regenerate condition, in their sins unrepented on, and whose bodies Page 23 lye in the grave •not asleep in Iesus, but asleep in sin; to these men death is of all formidable things most formidable. It is a most cruel, biting, and devouring Serpent with eight Stings.
1. To a man out of Christ, death puts an end to all his outward con∣tentments, to all his riches, honours, and pleasures, to what∣soever a wicked man accounts his Heaven, and his happiness; and this must needs be as a stinging Serpent to him. * We read of Mi∣cah, that when the men of Dan stole away his Gods, he fol∣lowed them crying, and they turned back, and asked him what aileth thee? he answered, ye have taken away my gods, &c. and do you say to me, what aileth thee? When a wicked man dies he looseth all his Gods, For he maketh his riches, honours and pleasures his gods, and no wonder the memory of death is so bitter to him.
2. It deprives him of all his hopes.* For when a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish, and the hope of unjust men perish∣eth. The righteous hath hope in death. His Motto is, Dum ex∣piro, spero. But a wicked mans hope perisheth at death, and gives up the Ghost, Job 11.20. His Motto is Dum expiro, despero Death puts an end both to his
- Earthly and Heavenly
1. To his earthly hopes A wicked man builds Castles in the air, and promiseth great matters to himself, and saith, as the Rich man, *Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God saith to him. Thou fool, this night thy Soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided. Death dasheth all his earthly hopes; and that which is worse,
2. Death dasheth all his Spiritual and supernatural hopes. A wicked man is ready to nourish in himself a presumptuous hope of Heaven, and doubts not but that he shall be saved; but when he comes to die, all his hopes of Heaven perish, and are as a Spiders web, easily swept away, Iob 8.14. The Lord rejecteth his vain confidence, Jer. 2.37. Now this is a misery above expression, for a man to be disappointed of his eternal hopes.
3. Death puts an end to all the sweetness, pleasure and profit that is in sin. There are two things in the Serpent, sin. The speckled Page 24 black, and the sting in the tail of it. The pleasures of sin for a sea∣son, and the eternal pains attending it. A man out of Christ while he is alive and in health, sucks out the carnal sweetness that is in sin, it is as honey to his mouth. But when death comes, the sweetness of sin vanisheth, and nothing remains but the sting and torment of it. Even as a Thief, as long as he is unfound out, lives merrily upon what he hath stolen, but when he is found, and cast into Prison and condemned to be hanged, then he feels nothing but bitterness and sorrow. So it is with a wicked man; As long as he is in health and in prosperity, he takes great delight and content in sinning, but when he comes to be attached and arrested with Death, then the misery and cursedness of sin appears before him. Then he begins to say, Where is all the carnal pleasure I once took in my sinfull courses? No∣thing now remains but the Sting. Momentaneum quod delectat, aternum quod cruciat. That which delighted me was but momen∣tany, but that which will torment me, is eternal.
4. Death must needs be a stinging Serpent to a man out of Christ, because it puts Conscience into office to wound and torture him. The great design of a wicked man in health is to blind, or bribe his Conscience; but death puts it into office, and sets it on his proper Throne; and Conscience once awakened becomes a biting Serpent, and a gnawing worm, never suffering him to be at rest night nor day. Sin is like a piece of wood, which while it is in the water seems very light, floating on the top of it, but when it comes to the shoar, ten men can hardly stir that, which one man before might have carried which way he lifted. While a wicked man is in health and in prosperity, his sins seem light to him, but when he comes to the shoar of Death, then they begin to be heavy, then Conscience, like a Mastive Dog, flies in his face, and his sins appear in their ugly colours, with all the aggravating cir∣cumstances, and sting him exceedingly.
5. Death puts an end to Gods patience, to the day of grace and mercy, and to all the means of Salvation. For there is no repent∣ing in the grave whither we are going. This life is a day of grace and Salvation. Now Ahashuerosh holds forth his golden Scepter. Now the Hour-glass of patience is running, the draw∣bridge is let down, and the white Flag of mercy is hanged out; but when Death comes, the white Flag is taken down, the Hour∣glassPage 25 run out, the Draw-bridge taken up, the day of grace and patience at an end. Et qui fluvios sanguinis nunc dabit guttam aqua in Inferno negabit. And he that will now give us rivers of his blood to wash away our sins, will not in Hell give us a drop of water.
6. A man out of Christ hath also this unhappiness, that whensoever he dieth, he dieth suddenly, though he die never so leasure∣ly; Suddenly in regard of preparation, though not in regard of time, For he dieth like the Foolish Virgins, having his Oyl to buy, his graces and evidences for Heaven to get, which is no little misery. For Death is a time of spending, not geting, whether you consider the Soul, or the Body. And as that man is in a sad condition, as to his outward estate, that hath laid up nothing in health to maintain him in sickness; So he is in a sadder, as to his eternal estate, that is unprovided at Death of a Stock of Grace, and Scripture Cordials. This man dieth suddenly though he die never so leasurely.
7. He dieth miserably, though he die never so happily; though in his bed, and in his old age; though buried in great pomp, yet dying in his sins he is cursed at death, and cursed after death.
8. Lastly, and especially, because Death opens a Door to end∣less and easeless miseries. It is gaudiorum finis & malorum omnium principium, The end of all his joy, and the beginning of all his misery. If Death were an utter extinction, and annihilation it were not so terrible; but herein is the terrour of it, because it lets the Soul out of the Prison of the body, to go to the ever∣lasting Prison of Hell. Death is Gods Sergeant to arrest a wicked man, and after arrest to carry him to the Iudge, there to re∣ceive the sentence of Condemnation, and after that to be deli∣vered over to the Gaoler, to be carried to the fiery Prison of Hell, there to remain for ever. It deals with every wicked man as it did with Dives, it carrieth him a Tenebris ad Tenebras, from the darkness of sin, to the darkness of Hell. All these particulars shew unto us the woful and miserable condition of those who die out of Christ.
Let us all labour so to live, that when we come to die, we may Page 26 be sure to sleep in Iesus. For all the ten forementioned Foun∣tains of consolation, against the fear of Death, belong only to those who sleep in Jesus.
Quest. What must we do that we may be made partakers of so great a happiness.
Answ. We must do two things.
1. We must labour to get into Christ while we live, and we shall be sure to die in Christ when we die, and sleep in him when in the grave. We must make it not our 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, but our 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, not our ultimum, but our primum quaerite. Not our last, but our first and chief work to get out of the Old Adam into the New Adam, out of the root of abomination, into the root of acceptation by a Christ-appropriating Faith. For it is the great office of justi∣fying Faith 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 (as Chrys. saith) to bring us into the possession of Jesus Christ. We must be willing to part with all our goodly Pearles to buy this Pearle of price. We must account all things but dung and dross (all creature excellen∣cies, all Church-priviledges, and all civil righteousness) and suffer the loss of all things that we may gain Christ.
2. We must labour to get a Death-enduring assurance of our in∣terest in Christ. The reason why many of Gods children are so unwilling to die, is, because they do not know their title to Christ, and the happiness of those that die in him.
Before Old Iacob knew his Son Ioseph to be alive, he received no comfort by his being alive. Before Mary Magdalene knew the person with whom she discoursed to be Christ, she was not revived by discoursing with him. Before a child of God knows that Christ is his, and hath purchased Death for his great advan∣tage, it is impossible for him to embrace it with comfort. This then is the second work of every good Christian, and the work of his whole life to get a Tribunal proof assurance of his being in Christ.
Quest. How may a man know that he hath an interest in Christ?
Answ. By three Texts of Scripture.
1. By 2 Cor. 5.17. If any man be in Christ he is a new Creature. He that is inwardly and outwardly renewed (renewed in every part though imperfectly in every part) may assure himself of his interest in Christ.
2. By Rom. 8.1. There is no condemnation to them that are in Page 27 Christ Iesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. A man may have flesh in him, and yet be in Christ, but he that walks after the flesh and makes provision for it, to fulfill the lusts of it hath no share in him. But he that walks after the Spirit, and is led by the Spirit, and is spiritually minded, may be assured of his interest in Christ.
3. By Gal. 5.24. They that are Christs, have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts. They that make it their work to crucifie not only the flesh, but the affections and lusts of it, and are alwayes crucifying and mortifying it, are in a Gospel-account esteemed as c•ucifiers of the flesh, and do crucifie it (desiderio & conatu, though not actu) in their desires and indea∣vours, though they cannot while in the body perfectly subdue it; and may be confident that Christ is theirs, and they are Christs, and that Christ Jesus shall be to them in life and death advantage.
THat you may be the better encouraged to make it the work of your whole Life, to gain Christ, and an Assurance that you have gained him; let me set before you the example of this ex∣cellent Lady (the Lady Anne Waller) for whose funeral we are here met this night. Of whom I may truly say as Nazianzene* of his Sister Gorgonia, That we need not fear lest we should exceed in praising her too much, but rather lest we should be de∣ficient in praising her too little. It is not my custom to speak much in commendation of the Dead; But something I must crave leave to speak at this time, not so much for her commen∣dation (for she hath no need now of our Eulogies) but for our imitation.
I shall not at all mention her birth and noble extraction, nor meddle with any thing that concerns her in her natural and ci∣vil capacities; but only speak something about her Piety and Godliness; which indeed is the truest Nobility. She was (as Saint Iohn stiles the Lady to whom he wrote his second Epistle) an Elect Lady; whether you take Elect, for a choise and preti∣ous Lady, or for one who was elected by God from all eternity unto Page 28 life everlasting: She was one who made Religion her business, nor (as some Ladies do) her Idle hour, but her daily labour: One who sought first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, making it Her care to walk before God in truth and uprightness of heart, and to keep a Conscience void of offence both towards God, and towards man. She was early conversed to Iesus Christ, and that she con∣tinued stedfast in Faith and Holinesse to her lives end, appears by these following Demonstrations.
- SHE WAS
1. A diligent attender upon Gospel Ordinances, delighting much in the House of God, and preferring the Word of God above her ap∣pointed food. A constant Writer of Sermons, and wrote them in her Heart as well as in her Book, and her life was an exact Commen∣tary upon the Sermons she heard. She hath a large Book in Fo∣lio written with her own hand, wherein under several Heads of Divi∣nity, she hath registred the Observations of her reading both out of the Scriptures (which were her delight) and out of the Writings of our best Divines, and out of her own experiences.
2. Very conscientious in observing the Lords Day. Her custom was after Sermon both in the Morning, and Afternoon to retire into her Chamber, and to call before her her maid-servants, and such boyes as served in the House, to give account what they had heard; helping their memories wherein they failed, clearing up the sense of what was delivered, wherein it might seem ob∣scure unto them, exhorting and pressing them to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, concluding all in Prayer with them.
3. Very careful in receiving the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ every Moneth, if she were not hindred by indispen∣sable necessity. And in her preparation thereunto she was most diligent. For help herein she had made a Collection of the best Rules and Directions she could get about that Subject.
4. Taught of God not onely notionally, but experimentally to live by Faith. For she met with many trials in her outward estate, both when a Wife, and when a Widdow. But by Faith in Jesus Christ, she was more than Conquerour over them all.
Page 295. Frequent and constant in her private Devotions, both in pray∣ing, reading and meditating at set hours.
6. A fixed Star in the Firmament of Gods Church, not like a little Child tossed to and fro with every Wind of doctrine, but rooted, built up, and stablished in the Faith, and in the Ortho∣dox Truths of Christian Religion.
7. Abundantly charitable to all in want and necessity, especially to such who feared God, and had his Image upon them. Yea she was ready (as the Apostle saith) even above her ability, to distribute to the Necessities of the Saints. For being advised by a Friend, (who well approved of her Gracious temper and frame of Spirit) to take care of her self, and to remember her debts, and other oc∣casions she had to discharge, she did with much Affection and •ears s•y, That she could not eat her Bread with comfort, while the Ser∣vants of God were in hunger and nakedness.
8. A Lover and Honourer of pious and painful Ministers. Upon the Close of the Late unhappy Wars, so soon as she had a Liber∣ty to return to her Estate and place of Adobe near Oxford, and when her Estate (through the Calamity of those times) was at a low ebbe, the first thing she did, was more then she could well do, her poverty abounding unto the Riches of her Liberality) to provide and maintain at her own cost (in effect) a preaching Mi∣nister there (the poor old Incumbent being superannuated, and unfit to serve the Cure, though he received the Profits of the Place.) Upon her remove from thence to her Husbands Habi∣tation, immediately after she was setled there, she fell to worka∣gain, and set up a Lecture in the Parish, which was continued by the ablest Ministers thereabouts, until it received Interruption by the Troubles which befel her Husband. This good Affection to the advancement of the Gospel, and Gospel-Ministry, she sealed up in her last Will, by a Legacy of a considerable sum to be distribu∣ted to poor Ministers.
9. Of a publick spirit, not to be numerated amongst the sinners, but mourners in Sion, for the sins of Sion. She was one that sought the welfare of the Israel of God, and was as solicitous and thought∣ful about the Concernments of Christ and his Gospel, as about her own, if not more then her own.
10. A very prudent Dady, a Credit to her Profession, of very good Understanding and Iudgment in the things of God, able by her Page 30 wise and Christian Counsel, to comfort, and build up others; which she frequently did, insomuch that many have blessed God for the Advice they received from her.
11. Eminent in the Discharge of all Relative Duties (in the con∣scientious performance of which, the power and Beauty of God∣liness doth especially consist.)
She was careful to keep up the observation of Family-duties twice a day, and of catechising the Children and Servants once a week, commending those who were forward, admonishing and repro∣ving those that were tardy and averse, and imposing little Penal∣ties upon them, payable to the poor, and by all the waies she could, endeavouring to win them to the Service of God.
As a Daughter, she was very obedient to her Parents, insomuch that her Mother did once publickly say, a little before her death, That she was the Child who did never disobey or displease her in all her Life.
She was an excellent Mother, bringing up her Children in the Nurture and Fear of the Lord, and walking before them as an Example of Piety and Humility.
As a Mistress, she was wonderful diligent in training up her Servants in the waies of God; insomuch, as that she was a means of the Conversion of two of them; one of them acknowledged it upon her Death-bed; the other yet living (a sober Christian) will confess the same.
She was excellent and transcendently eminent in her Relation as a Wife, insomuch that her Husband saith of her, as the Wise man of the Virtuous woman, That her Price was far above Rubies, that his heart did safely trust in her, that she did him good and not evil all the daies of her life, that she stretched out her hand to the poor, yea she reached forth her hands to the needy. That she opened her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue was the Law of kindness; that her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praiseth her, and saith, many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Let her own works praise her in the gates. The Truth is, she was a Lady of ten thousand, and they that knew her intimately, will confess that I do not hyperbolize, and they that knew her not, will I hope, believe that I dare not (standing in this place, as Gods Ambassador) give flattering titles, for in so doing, my Maker would soon take me away.*
Page 3112. And lastly, as she lived, so she died, she lived holily, and died happily. Her last sickness was long and violent, wherein, though she was never heard to let fall one word unbeseeming the mouth of a blessed Christian, yet she would often charge her self for complaining, though inforced thereunto by the extremity of her p•ins. But yet in the midst of all her Anguish, she ceased not to testifie her Faith in God through Christ, as her only Anchor-hold and supportation, exhort∣ing with a powerful sweetness those about her, and her relations when they came to her, to make sure of that Interest, and to apply them∣selves to the Service of God with all faithfulness and diligence, which was that that would bring them peace at last.
Towards the end of her Sickness, she took occasion to speak to some Friends that were about her Bed, touching an unhappy difference between her Husband, and one of his Sons (wherein she had been most injuriously defamed, as a person that had done ill Offices be∣tween them, and contributed Fuel to that Flame) professing in the presence of that God before whom she was to make her Account, that she was innocent from the thought of such an Offence, and that no car∣riage of his, had ever so far transported her, as to make her to desire, much less to endeavour any thing that might be to his prejudice. And that she desired his good and welfare, with the same heart, as if both he, and the rest of the Children had been all her own. (I give you her own words.) The day before her death, she challenged her Husband to speak, whether she had ever instigated him against his Son, or done any thing to keep up that difference. And he did then (as in the presence of God) clear her, and avow this Truth, That she had many times made his peace, and brought him to a reconciliation with him (once with Tears) but never had done him any ill Office.
One thing I must add of mine own knowledge; That this Excel∣cellent Lady was much troubled in her life time with the slavish fear of death. I told her then out of mine own frequent experience, that they that were so much afraid of death, while living, and thereupon, were careful to prepare for it, would be free from the fear of it when they came to die. And it happened accordingly: For though she had not those ravishing Ioyes which some somtimes have, yet she had such a Calmness and quietness of mind, and peace of Conscience, that she could chearfully and most willingly surrender up her s•ul into the hands of her Redeemer.
In the l•st day of her sickness, it pleased God in some measure to Page 32 allay the extremity of her Pains, and to afflict her only with short∣ness of Breath (which increased upon her to her last) but her under∣standing was clear, and her Speech free a few moments before her Departu•e. She continued throughout the day in an admirable compo∣sed, quiet and serene frame of Spirit, and wholly gave her self to glorifie God, and to exhort all others to do the like, and to give up them∣selves to his Service.
A Reverend Minister coming to visit her, she entertained him with a chearful Aspect, and desired him, to search and examine her heart, what way of wickedness he could find in it, and pressed him to deal freely and plainly with her, and not to spare her. (I deliver her own expressions) His discourse was comfortable to her. She complain∣ed of the sinfulness of her Nature, and the wickedness of her heart, but still with a Confidence in the Merits of her Saviour, upon whom alone she rolled her self. After that, she desired him to pray by her; which he did, and she heard him with an unmoveable stilness and Attention, giving him thanks when he had done. She continued in the same Heavenly Temper with many Gracious Expressions, until about eight of the Clock that night, and then finding (as we had reason since to suppose, though she made no shew of it) that her death was ap∣proaching, she requested the minister to pray by her again; he hap∣pened to be somthing long (though contrary to his Intention) when towards the latter end, she made a sign unto him, which he taking notice of, and thereupon concluding, she said, I thank you Sir, and forthwith bowing down her head, within a few Minutes delivered her bles∣sed Soul into the hands of her heavenly Father.
Thus she lived, and thus she died, and thus being dead, she yet speaketh; and now is gone to that place where she hath no more need of Prayers, but all her Prayers are turned into Hallelujahs. The Lord give us Grace so to imitate her holy Life, that when we come to die, we may die in Christ, and when layed in the Grave, may sleep in Iesus, and in the Great Resurrection, may both in Body and Soul be taken up into Heaven, to be for ever with the Lord in per∣fect Happiness, Amen.