A Summons TO THE GRAVE OR. The Necessity of a Timely Preparation for DEATH. Demonstrated in a SERMON Preached at The FUNERAL of that most Eminent and Faithful Servant of Jesus Christ Mr. JOHN NORCOT.
Who Departed this Life March 24. 1676
By BENJAMIN KEACH, a Cordial and an unfeigned Lover of the Deceased.
MIC. 7. 2. The good man is Perished out of the Earth.
LONDON, Printed for Ben. Harris at the Stationers Arms in Sweethings Rents, near the Royal Exchange. 1676.
To all Sincere Christians that were the Hearers of this Sermon, but more especially to that poor, afflicted, and sorrowful Congregation, which is in God the Father, and in our Lord Jesus Christ, meeting in Old Gravel-Lane, near Wapping, London.
WHEN I think of that Separation Death hath made between you and your beloved Pastor (my dear Brother) it causes sadness to seiz my spirit; Sure, such Stroaks of the Al∣mighty should bring us upon our Knees; I wish you are not hereafter made more sensible of the Na∣ture of these sore Rebukes, then at present you can be; however let us learn this Lesson by it, not to o∣verprize or value any thing or Person short of Jesus Christ; 'Tis good in all things to labour against in∣ordinateness of affection; We can't, 'tis true, love God too much; nor Christ too much, but we may love Ministers too much, nay, idolize them, esteem them above what is meet, as many in former times have done, or we may esteem them not enough; whe∣ther any of you have bin guilty herein or no, will now I am perswaded be discovered; if duty to God, Page [unnumbered] our solemn Vow and Covenant with God and the Church, and our Love to Jesus Christ, will not make us to know and keep our Places, what may we judge of our selves, or others judge of us: I am not with∣out fears I speak of some in respect of temptations of this kind, I pray God deliver them from it, lest they bring up a reproach upon the good ways of God; You had or would be looked upon all of you, to have a real and cordial love for him that is now taken from you, O then do nothing after his death that would have grieved his soul were he alive; Labour to live in love, and strive to keep the unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace; I having this opportunity, thought it not amiss to give a hint or two of this Nature
And now beloved, as concerning this Sermon, had it not been Preached in part to fulfil the desire of the deceased, I should not have presumed to have taken so weighty a work upon me, especially in the Presence of so many able and worthy Ministers, as I am not so, (the Lord knows, I look upon my self no ways meet, or fitly qualified and capacitated for such a weigh∣ty work I am called to) And truly, brethren, 'tis not any excellency and worth that is in this broken Ser∣mon that is the cause of its Publication, 'tis the de∣sire and importunity of several amongst you, and some others, that hath brought it forth; I do think, nevertheless, for the sake of him at whose Desire and at who'e Funeral it was Preached, you will entertain it though never so poor and mean a work.
I told you what sorrow had seized my spirit, I Page [unnumbered] Preached with a heavy heart, and with a mournful spirit, I know you fate under the hearing of it; alas, I cannot blame you for your mourning, he was a most sweet and choice Preacher, most excellent skill had he to dive into Gospel-Mysteries; he saw, if I may say without of∣fence, as far into a Text of Scripture, as most men now surviving, and as careful in dividing of the Word that every one might have a portion in season; O how sweetly has this Trumpet sounded in your ears, what spiritual joy hath it raised in your hearts! O how powerful in Prayer hath he been! Hath not his prayers and Tears over sinking sinners, tended to melt their Adamant hearts! O the thronging there hath been about him, no marvel he had precious bread al∣ways to break unto the children; he knew how to feed with milk, and how and when to feed with strong meat; It was his delight, I am satisfied, to do his Masters work, and in doing of it, I may say, he loved not his life unto the death.
He is gone to eat the fruit of his labour, and I wish, that all those Choice Sermons you have heard from his lips may not be buried with him, I hope the fruit of them will be seen in your lives; and could some of them be made publick, they might be very serviceable unto the People of God and others in general. I shall at present say no more, but earnestly desiring the Lord to continue the Labourer you have, and send some other in due time amongst you, to the making up that great loss which at present you Page [unnumbered] do sustain, so that sinners may be in the midst of you converted, and true believers strengthned, encoura∣ged and comforted, and all built up together in love, to the end that you may be found without blemish in the day of Jesus Christ, and that it may be so, is the desire, and shall be the Prayer of him
Who is willing to serve you to his Power, for Christ and his Truths sake, BENJAMIN KEACH.
To the READER.
SVpposing thee to be One that was not at this late Funeral; or if thou wert there, could'st not have the opportunity to hear the Sermon (by reason of the straightness of the place, and the multitude of People) and perceiving it is partly for thy sake, the Printing of it has bin so much desired, I thought it might not be unnecessary to offer a word or two briefly unto thee, whether it deserves such a Publication or not, it will come now under thy Censure; however, if thou knowest the Person that taught it, I am satisfied, thou wilt not lose thy expectation, nothing excellent thou dost expect, considering the weakness and shallowness of the Preacher, how shouldst thou; yet if thou hast no∣thing of Prejudice in thy heart against him, from that contemnable apprehensions thou and others have of that he is not wholly without hopes, but that some small pro∣fit thou mayst gain hereby; Let the consideration of the subject prevail upon thee, however to give it the reading; 'tis, you hear, a Summons to the Grave: thou canst never hear too often of death; and sure this Sermon will not offend thee, if thou art one that dost live, Page [unnumbered] I mean, live indeed, in the sight and stedfast belief of a future life, an eternity of happiness or misery; I have read, that Philip King of Macedon, commanded one of his Pages to awake him every Morning and call aloud to him, Sir, remember you are a man: This great Monarch did not disdain to be rouzed every day from sleep with the News of death, though it was but by the Mouth of his poor sorry Page, and shall any of us slight the Message, through want of affection to the Messen∣ger; but perhaps, thou mayst be one that likes neither, may be thou dost not care to hear of the tidings of dying, and art ready to judge them melancholy fools that break their sleep about it; These who are indeed prepared for it, have no cause to be disquieted in thoughts of it; but what wilt thou do when death comes, that hast a guilty conscience; have you not heard of that poor soul, who cried out in horrour and distress of spirit upon his death-bed, O what shall I do, I am so sick that I can∣not live, and yet so unprepared that I dare not die: Remember, that the thoughts of death, when it comes, will abate thy courage, 'twill make the proudest heart to stoop; 'Tis a pretty Passage that I remember of a cer∣tain King of Hungary, who being on a time very sad, his Brother (a Jolly Courtier) would needs know what ailed him, O Brother (said he) I have bin a great sin∣ner against God and I know not how to die, nor ap∣pear before God in Judgment; These are (said his Brother) melancholy thoug••…, and withal made a Jest at them; the King replied nothing for the present but the custom of the Countrey was, that if the Execu∣tioner Page [unnumbered] came and sounded his Trumpet before any mans door, he was presently to be led out to the Place of Exe∣cution; the King in the dead time of the Night, sends the Headsman to sound his Trumpet before his Bro∣thers door, who hearing it, and seeing the Messenger of death, springs in pale and trembling into the Kings Pre∣sence, beseeching him to tell him wherein he had offend∣ed; O Brother (replied the King) you have never of∣fended me, and is this Executioner so dreadful, and shall not I that have greatly and grievously offended God, fear to be brought before the Judgement Seat of Christ; Death amazes none more when it comes, as it doth them who think not of it; the Egyptians used to carry about the Table a Deaths Head at their Feasts; 'tis good in the midst of all our delights and enjoyments, to be put in minde of the Grave; And if this Ser∣mon spake no more power fully to thee then a Deaths-Head to awaken thee, it may be worth thy Pains to read it, God may bless weak endeavors to great advan∣tage; Jesus Christ could make five Barley leaves and two Fishes to feed five thousand men, and yet the frag∣ments that were left might saetisfie many a poor hungry soul: what though thou art afterly served, God can heat it by his Spirit, God can make it wholesom food for thy soul: if thou hast but an appetite I do not much fear thy relishing of it, for though the full stomack loaths the Honey-comb, yet to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
But because I would not weary thee, I shall only now give thee a summary Account of the particular things Page [unnumbered] insisted upon, and then commit thee to God.
1. Thou hast the certainty of Death amplified, or brieftly enlarged upon.
2. Some awaking Considerations and Motives to a speedy and effectual Preparation for it.
3. Several Directions and Cautions in order to it.
4. You have dying Ministers lamented, or several sad grounds of Lamentation upon that account.
5. Then fifthly and lastly, you have comfort against Death, or how true Christians may stay and support themselves in the hour of death, or in parting with godly relations: and because nothing is more effectual in or∣der to this, then that comfortable assurance of present enjoyment, or being with Christ at that very instant, when the breath leaves us; somthing was offered to confirm the souls immortality, it was but a little which was said, had it been more it would not have bin too much: It was not delivered as it is matter of contro∣versie, to grieve any who are differently perswaded: but as 'tis matter of comfort, suiting with the occasion, that so sorrowful spirits might be consolated, having for several years found the usefulness and sweetness of the doctrine under the like dispensation my self: What is more plainly laid down in holy Scripture then this: and those Arguments that so much establish me in the beleef hereof are many, one is taken from our Sa∣viours own words, Because man cannot kill the soul Mat. 10. 28. If men cannot kill it then 'tis not mortal: As also the consideration of its nature being spirit, might I not reason thus, If the noble part of man somtimes called Page [unnumbered] soul be spirit, then 'tis immortal: but 'tis called spirit in several places: and again, doth not the name of spi∣rit declare its nature: a spirit in its nature is invi∣sible, and its very essence is life, if it should cease to live, if would be spirit no more. Thirdly, the Scri∣pture shews, that at death the body goes one way, and the spirit goes another, namely, to God that gave it: we may judge also of the nature of the spirit or soul of man, if we consider how nothing but God himself can satisfie it, lives upon divine and immortal food, and therefore sure must be of like nature: what does shew more clearly that our bodies are earthly, or made of earth, as the consideration of their being fed, and sustained from the earth, so say I on the contrary hand in respect of the soul; 'tis sed with spiritual and immortal food, ergo such is its nature; but not to trouble you with things of this kinde further, Reader, let it be thy Chief care to prepare for thy eternal state, for be sure it will be but a little while, and thou wilt find either to thy e∣verlasting joy and comfort, or else to thy everlasting wo and sorrow: the truth of this doctrine of the Souls; Im∣mortality, and the effects thereof; And that this broken Sermon may prove, through Gods blessing, someways for thy Souls advantage and profit, is the sincere desire of
Thy Affectionate and Cordial Friend and Servant in the Lord Jesus B. K.
An ELEGY on the Death of that most Laborious and Painful Minister of the Gospel Mr. JOHN NOR∣COT, who fell asleep in the Lord the 24th of this instant March 1675-76.
By B. K.
Another Elegiack POEM by a Young Man that dearly loved him.
AN EPITAPH on his Tomb-stone.
A SERMON •••ached at the Funeral of Mr. JOHN NORCOT, March the 28th. 1676.
I Need not tell you the ground and occasion of this present Meeting; Certain I am this is a sorrowful Assembly: Whe∣ther I am fit to preach or no I can∣not tell, but sure I am ripe to mourn. May I not on this occasion use the words of David upon Ab∣ner's death, 2 Sam. 3. 38. Know ye not that there is a Prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel? Who Page 2 more worthy of honour than those God confers honour upon (and to be employed as Christs Embassa∣dors) to treat in his stead with poor sinners about their eternal estate and condition, is no small dignity; and to be deprived of such a one, what greater ground for grief and mourning? But not to take up your time in a way of Introduction, I shall commend to you that portion of holy Scripture, which shall be the ground of my present discourse;
Psal. 89. 48. What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.
The Psalmist in the verses that doth precede is pleading with God under great afflictions and the hi∣dings of Gods face, upon conside∣ration of the shortness of his dayes: How long wilt thou hide thy self? for Page 3 ever shall thy wrath burn like fire? and ver. 47. Remember how short my time is; as if he should say, Lord I have but a little while to live, my time on earth is short; let me therefore enjoy thy favor: let the remainder of my dayes (the days of my pilgri∣mage) be good dayes: Let me see thy face, have the light of thy countenance; let them not be dayes of sorrow and darkness. From hence note this, That a gracious soul, whilst on earth, desires nothing more than the enjoyment of Gods favor. Communion with God is the onely thing his soul longs and breaths after. They having a sense of the shortness of their dayes, re∣solve to live well and to make good improvement of their time: They would not onely have the full enjoy∣ment of God hereafter, but a sight of his presence and favour whilst here. And indeed those who would live with God in heaven, must first live to God on earth. Now it is Page 4 not thus with the unregenerate, if wicked men have a sight of the shortness of their lives, it hath not this effect upon their hearts; they many times the more pursue their lusts: they endeavor to get as much pleasure as they can, and to gratifie their covetous, ambitious, and car∣nal appetites, and suck out what sweetness they can out out of this perishing world; they resolve to have it as sweet as outward enjoyments can make it; they know no higher or better good then what is earthly and sensual. Oh miserable decei∣ved Creatures, how is their under∣standings darkened, having never attained a saving knowledge of God, nor spiritual relish of his grace and love, nor a sight of his favour and kindness towards them. They are dreadfully involved in Egyptian darkness, they are ignorant of the satisfaction, joy and sweetness that is in him; hence they cry not after God, nor seek after him here, that Page 5 they might be made happy with him hereafter.
But that I may come to the words that I have read to you, in the Text you have a twofold Inter∣rogation or Negative Questions.
1. What man is he that liveth and shall not see death?
2. Can he deliver his soul from the power of the grave? Selah.
The meaning is no man can avoid it, none can escape the grave, what∣ever he be. Many such kind of questions are put forth and thus an∣swered in Holy Scripture. Here are two terms, before I proceed to any observation, that I judge needful to speak to by way of Exp•ication:
First, What is meant by the word soul in this place? Doth the soul go to the grave? I answer, Soul in holy Scripture bears divers accep∣tations; sometimes by it is intended Page 6 one thing, sometimes another; and from hence I judge it is, that so ma∣ny persons miss in their understand∣ings about the noble and superiour part of the Creature.
1. By it is intended the whole man, Gen. 46. 27. And the sons of Joseph which were born him in Egypt, were two souls; all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into E∣gypt, were threescore and ten souls; the like you have in Acts 7. 14. And Joseph called his father Jacob to him and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls; that is so many persons: in Acts 27. 37. all that were with Paul in the ship, are said to be two hundred and threescore and sixteen souls.
2. It is taken for the life of the body, Psal. 7. 5. Let the wicked persecute my soul and take it, yea let him tread down my life upon the earth.
Page 7 3. It is taken for the affections, desire, or heart of the Creature, 1 Sam. 1. 15. And Hannah answer∣ed and said, no my Lord, I am a wo∣man of a sorrowful spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. And in chap. 18. it is said, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David; that is, his affecti∣ons were set and fastened upon him. In many other places, by soul we find some one or more faculty of the soul is intended.
4. It is taken for the stomach, Prov. 27. 7. The full soul loatheth an honey-comb, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
5. By it is meant oftentimes the noble and superiour part of man, di∣stinct from the body; for this see Psal. 19. 7. The law of the Lord is per∣fect, converting the soul; Mat. 10. 28. Fear not them which can kill the body, Page 8but are not able to kill the soul. But probably some may say, if the word soul hath so many various acceptati∣ons, how may we know when the spirit or principal part is in Scripture meant hereby. Answ. I shall brief∣ly lay down three or four Rules, whereby you may know:
1. When you read of soul, as that wherein couversion is wrought, it can intend nothing else save the noble or immortal part; for Con∣version is a change onely of the evil qualities of man's better or superi∣or part; Psal. 19. 7. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Conversion to God changes not the defects and qualities of the outward man. If a man be attended with such and such a disease, or distem∣per before Conversion, he may be truly converted, and yet retain the same diseases; the same lameness, blindness, deafness, crookedness, or what ever other blemish he may have of the like nature.
Page 9 2. When you read of soul as that which rejoyceth in God, delights in God, longs and thirsts after God, lives and feeds upon God and Christ, and united to and hath communion with God, cloathed and adorned with the holy Spirit; it alwayes holds forth the glorious spirit or soul of man: let me onely direct you to one or two Scriptures upon this account, Luke 1. 46. My soul doth magnifie the Lord and my spirit rejoyceth in God my Sa∣viour, Psal. 94. 19. In the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul. Psal. 42. 1, 2. As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God; my soul thirsteth for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear be∣fore him. Psal. 73. 26. My heart and my flesh faileth me, but God is the strength of my soul, and my portion for ever.
3. When you read of soul, as that which men cannot kill or destroy, is alwayes intended this excellent part; Page 10 see Matth. 10. 28. Fear not them that kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
4. Lastly, When you read of soul, as that which lives when the body dies, or is commended into the hands of God at death; you must alwayes take it in those Scriptures for the same.
6. By soul sometimes is meant on∣ly the body distinct from the spirit or immortal part; see Josh. 10. 28, 37. And the king thereof he utterly destroy∣ed, and all the souls that were therein; and they smote the king thereof and all the souls that were therein; and in this sense soul is to be taken in this place. But that I may proceed, a word to explain the other term, to wit, the hand of the grave. By hand, beloved, often in Scripture is meant power, Isa. 50. 2. Is my hand shortned, that it cannot redeem? that is, Have I lost my power to redeem? so Acts 4. 3. My Text thus briefly opened, I shall proceed as most suiting with our pre∣sent Page 11 occasion, to take notice of one Doctrinal Truth from the words▪ which take as followeth.
Doct. That all men must die.
Or thus, That no man whatsoever, can escape the power of the grave.
I shall, God assisting, endeavor to demonstrate and confirm the truth of this Proposition. The holy Spirit doth not slightly pass it by, but puts a Remora to it; viz. that Emphati∣cal signal word Selah, which shews us that this word calls for meditation and our diligent attention; it doth lay a kind of an arrest upon our spi∣rits, not passing from it till we have seriously weighed the matter. What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? Death will be too hard for him, and too powerful to resist; there is no withstanding the strength of this King, he will bring all into subjecti∣on: he is said in Rom. 5. 12, 14. to reign over all, and so he is called the Page 12 terror of Kings as well as King of ter∣rors, he is so to the wicked; and what King hath as many subjects as Death hath? And that I may de∣monstrate it, consider Age cannot rescue any man from the hand of Death; the oldest man must die. All those that lived before the Flood are dead. Methuselah lived nine hundred sixty nine years, Gen. 5. 27. but alass at last the words tell you, and he died; he lived near a thousand years, but at last was forced to subject to the grave.
2. As the oldest man must die, so must the strongest. Sampson was a mighty man, yet Sampson must die. Death will make the stoutest hearts to faint, and the strongest legs to tremble. One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet; his breasts are full of milk and his bones are moistned with mar∣row, Job 21. 23, 24. If any were likely to encounter or grapple with Death, we may suppose that this is Page 13 the man; he who is in his perfect strength, free from distempers; sig∣nified by that word, wholly at ease and quiet: yet alass all will not do, this man was forced to yield, he is made Deaths Captive.
3. The wisdom and policy of man cannot deliver from the power of the grave. The wisest prince that ever late upon a Throne was forced to stoop to the sovereign hand of Death. Wise men die, faith the Psalmist, like∣wise the fool, Psal. 49. 10. In death there is no remembrance of the wise more than the fool, Eccl. 2. 16. The most grave and politick in all ages of the world, after all their famous and deep contrivances, have been over∣come by death.
4. Riches cannot deliver from Death, if it could we should have few rich men die; doubtless they would give their all to save them∣selves from the grave: they would leave but little to Friends or Execu∣tors, could they but bribe Death Page 14 with their Silver and Gold. I have read of one who would make a tryal, and so called for a Bag of Gold, when on a Sick-bed, and laid it to his trembling heart; but presently cried out, Away, away with it; it will not do. Oh my Beloved, Riches will not avail you in the day of wrath, Prov. 11. 4. and as it will not in the Day of Judgement, so it will not in the hour of Death. The brutish per∣son dies and leaves his wealth behind him, Psal. 49. 10. The Cardinal of Winchester, who procured the death of the good Duke of Glocester in the Reign of King Henry the Sixth, was shortly after taken with a grievous Disease; who understanding by his Physicians that he could not live, murmurring and repining thereat, he cried out, (Fie) will not Death be hi∣red? Will money do nothing, must I die, that have so great riches? If the whole, Realm would save my life, ei∣ther by policy I can get it, or by riches I can buy it. But yet all would not do, Page 15 the proud Cardinal must submit to death.
5. As Riches will not deliver from the power of the grave, so likewise earthly power and worldly sovereign∣ty and greatness, cannot do it; all the mighty Potentates and Mo∣narchs, the holy Scripture and ancient Histories acquaint us of, where are they? hath not Death subdued them all? After all their grandeur and pomp they were all cut down by Deaths all-conquering hand, and now their glory lies in the dust. Augustus Cae∣sar one day triumphs in the greatness of his strength, the next day is stabbed to death with Bodkins Herod King of the Jews, one hour is admired as a God, the next hour is made a Feast for Worms, Acts. 12. 22, 23. The great Conqueror Ale∣xander. who subdued he greatest part of the World, is at last over∣come by Death. Death makes no difference between the King in his Royalty on the Throne, and the Page 16 Begger in Rags upon the Dunghill Alexander having received 2 wounds at the siege of great City in India, finding himself to be sore wounded, was in some measure made sensible of his own fragillty; and cried out to his flattering followers, You call me the Son of Jupi•er, but I perceive I am subject to wounds and death as well as other men. Death bringeth down the loftiest looks of man. I have read that in the Library of Dub∣lin there is a Globe at the one end and at the other end the picture of Death, to shew that though man was Lord of the whole Universe, i.e must submit to Death. Thus you see that all the pomp and glory of the world hath been cut down by the power of the grave. But again,
6. As Worldly Dignities cannot deliver from the power of the Grave, so glorious Titles will not do it.
Those Worthies that God confer∣red glorious Titles upon, yea so far Page 17 as to give his own name unto them; to be called gods. One would think that this, if any were the most like∣liest to exempt a man from the grave, and yet it will not do, Psal. 82. 6, 7. I have said ye are gods, but with the same breath adds, ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. But,
7. Eminency in grace and spiri∣tual endowments, or divine qualifica∣cations, will not be able to rescue a soul from the power of the grave. All the Patriarchs of old they are gone; where are all those choice and renowned in grace that we read of, who shined in their day like the stars in the firmament? Oh! where are those Troops of Israelites that excel∣led in patience, chastity, tempe∣rance, holiness and humility? these could not deliver themselves from death. The righteous perish, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away: none considering Page 18 that the righteous are taken away from the evil to come, Isa. 57. 1.
8. Lastly, No spiritual Dignity, Office, or Place, can deliver from the hand of the grave; though a person be never so much in the fa∣vour of God, and honoured by Christ Jesus; though never so laborious for the good of souls, as to be an Em∣bassador of Peace and Minister of the Gospel, yet these will not exempt from death: your Fathers where are they and the Prophets, do they live for ever? Zech. 1. 5.
Thus you have heard the Doctrine made good and confirmed, That there is no man living that shall not see death, or be able to deliver himself from the power of the grave. I shall onely give you two or three reasons of the point, and so proceed to the Application. If you question why all must die, take two or three things for an Answer.
Page 19 1. Reas. Because all have sinned. Sin and Death came into the world together. Death came by the fall in the Garden, 'tis part of the punish∣ment due to us for that transgression; Rom. 5. 12. Wherefore as by one man sin entred into the world, and death by sin, so death passed upon all men; for that all have sinned; the wages of sin is death, Rom. 6. 23. We may cry out in the words of a holy man, O sin, sin, 'tis thou, which by thy just deserts hast caused all the funerals that ever have been. Thus you see all must die, because all have sinned.
2. Reas. Because God hath de∣creed that all men must die, Heb. 9. 27. And as it is appointed for men once to die, and after that to judge∣ment. Though death be natural and the punishment of our sins, yet we die by Gods appointment. We let in death by our sin, and God causeth death to proceed upon us, to make Page 20 good the justice and severity of his own threatning. I know, saith Job, thou wilt bring me to death, to the house appointed for all living, Job 30. 23. On the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die; dust thou art, and to dust shalt thou return; Gen. 2. 17. 3. 19.
3. Reas. Lastly, Why God will bring all men to the grave; and I shall add no more, Because he would thereby magnifie his glorious Attri∣butes; as first out of infinite grace, commiseration and goodness, he brings his own children to the grave, knowing the miseries, sad afflictions and troubles that doth attend them in this life. Here most times poor Saints, with Lazarus, have their evil things; many are their afflicti∣ons, and this way God takes to deli∣ver them out of them all. Death opens a door to glory to every graci∣ous soul; and secondly God by death prepares the bodies of his Saints for Page 21 eternal bliss and happiness. He brings the body to the grave, that it may be purified and made a glorious and most amiable body; 'tis sown, that it might be raised more glori∣ous, 1 Cor. 15. 42, 43, 44. God doth with the bodies of his Saints, with reverence be it spoken, as they do with their Earthen Vessels in Chi∣na, they bury them in the earth for many years, and when they take them out, the nature and worth of them is far transcendent. 2. The ungodly must die, that God may magnifie on them his own infinite Justice. Death having seized their body, their souls must go to its place, to suffer the intollerable pains and incensed wrath of the Almighty; and that their bodies also, with their souls, when they shall hereafter meet together again, might he made fit fuel for eternal flames to kindle up∣on: for now as they are in this mor∣tal state they cannot endure the terri∣ble wrath of God, but would soon Page 22 be freed of all bodily pain and ex∣tremity, were they cast into that Lake that burns with fire and brim∣stone.
Thus much for the Reasons of the Point; more might be said, but I must hasten to the application.
I have onely four Uses to make of it, as first an Use of Exhortation, secondly an Use of Direction, third∣ly an Use of Lamentation, fourthly an Use of Consolation.
First, By way of Exhortation, Is it so Beloved, must all men die? Can none deliver his own soul from the power of the grave? Must every Mothers child of us take up our Lodging there? Is the dark grave the appointed house for all living? Shall the proudest and loftiest be brought down to the dust? Must that little cool house under ground hold us all? Then poor sinners shall Page 23 I prevail with you to prepare for death? Let me exhort you to look about you and get ready. I remem∣ber, when the Prophet came to good King Hezekiah, Isa. 38. 1. with that doleful tidings (as upon some conside∣ration and circumstances it might then appear to that holy man) he bids him set his house in order, make provision for eternity: and this is the message that is brought to you this day: You must die and not live. And that I might enforce this word upon you, let me lay before you a few Motives and awakening Consi∣derations.
First, Consider what a great fa∣vour and mercy it is that God hath let you and I live so long. Others are long ago cut down and sent to the grave; he hath not it may be gi∣ven many half of those dayes which thou hast had: Look upon this as a mercy indeed, considering thy life was forfeited before thou wert born. Page 24 Sirs we came into the World with the Sentence of death upon us; and if Jehovah had cut us down in our sins many years ago, it would have been but a piece of Justice. And what is the end of God in sparing of us, but that we might be fitted for the place whither we are going. Oh how un∣willing is God to strike the fatal blow, to cut men down before they are prepared for death. He is not willing they should perish, and that is the reason of his patience, long-suffering, and forbearance, sinners lay it to heart.
Secondly, Consider what dread∣ful provocations you and I have gi∣ven him to take us away, and com∣mand death in his name to arrest us. Have we not grieved, burdened, yea even wearied him with our iniquities? Nay, have we not pierced him? May he not cry out, as being pressed as a Cart is pressed that is full of sheaves, Amos 2. 13. Is it not a sad and most Page 25 lamentable thing, thus to deal with a loving and gracious God?
Thirdly, How often hath the Lord called you, and yet you have rebelled? Hath not he stretched out his hand all the day long, and yet you have not hearkned; but have rejected his counsel and cast his word and reproofs behind you; yea, and often resisted his Holy Spi∣rit in the common motions and wor∣kings thereof? Have you not ma∣ny of you refused his Grace, Son, and divers sweet and precious Calls and Offers of Love. And certain I am, you have had many of these in this place, Nay, how many warnings have you had of the near approach of death? Nay, awa∣kening summons to prepare for the grave, as you would answer it be∣fore the dreadful Judge of Heaven and Earth; by my dear Brother that is fallen asleep; whom we shall hear no more? Oh what pains did Page 26 he take with some of you, that so you might be ready? Have not you and I notwithstanding all this hear∣kened to a base deceitful heart, and inticeing and tempting Devil? Have you stouted it out against all Pains and Endeavours used for Spiritual awakenings, and are you yet alive? Then consider how much this calls upon you to be ready to die? Will any dare, that are sensible of the worth of their Immortal Souls, neg∣lect this concern any longer?
4. Consider, That the abuse of Mercy and Goodness will great∣ly aggravate thy misery in the day of wrath: Oh remember what it is to sin against Light, Love, and Pati∣ence. Shall the goodness of God, that should lead to repentance, en∣courage and harden thee in thy ini∣quity? How dost thou think to e∣scape the Judgement of God? Or despisest thou, as saith the Apostle, the rich's of his goodness, forbearance Page 27 and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to re∣pentance; but aftey thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up wrath against the day of wrath and revela∣tion of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man accord∣ing to his deeds, Rom. 2. 4. 5, 6. Sentence is past against a sinner, but because it is not speedily executed, therefore the hearts of men are fully set within them to do wickedly, Eccl. 8. 11. Christ knocks at the door and yet sinners will not hear. Christ may speak of sinners as God speaks of Israel of old, My people will have none of me, Psal. 81. 11. Oh what have you to answer for a∣bused mercy and favour! What What will you do hereafter, when Christ, who waits upon you now to save you, will then turn his face from you in the day of your calami∣ty, and plead against you to con∣demn you? see Prov. 1. 28.
Page 28 5. Consider for Christs sake of those advantages you have had and still have: If some had the like, we may conclude they would have made better use and improvement of them then some of you have done. Hath not God afforded you the Gospel beyond what he hath to divers parts of the world? Nay, what a graci∣ous and powerful ministration of it hath there been continued for some time in this place? You have had helps above thousands, God hath taken much pains with you that have attended upon the word here. Where God gives many talents, he requires the improvement of them; what will become of Jerusalem and Capernaum in the day of Judge∣ment? And hath not Gods spirit striven with you also? Nay, and hath not Conscience endeavoured to awaken you? Have you not had Summons and Calls from thence? Hath not that often re∣proved Page 29 you for neglect of Seasons, flighting of Sermons, and indulg∣ing your selves in iniquity and se∣cret lusts and omissions of duty? Oh! how many sharp checks and re∣bukes have you had from within? Nay, and besides all this, what a∣wakening Judgements to prepare for the grave, have you and I had; dreadful Plague, Fire and Sword: and what further means could God make use of in an ordinary way for allarming and stirring of us up to prepare for our change, aud turning of our souls to himself, and fitting of us for Eternity? And shall none of these work upon you? Shall all means fail? Shall the Gospel be preached in vain? Shall Ministers spend their study, their breath, nay their strength, to no purpose: what will you do then in the end?
6. Do you know that you shall have all these helps continued to Page 30 you? Will God still suffer his holy Spirit to strive with you? Alass, Death may soon have Commission to seize you and carry you into the other world; but should you live, are you sure God will still wait upon you: upon such rebels, who have slighted and undervalued his Grace, Son, and Gospel? Sirs, I must tell you, alluding to that in Genesis 6. which hath often been upon my heart; that the blessed Spirit shall not alwayes strive with man: Means and advantages are like to be taken away. God ere long may say to Conscience, Be still, reprove that man, that woman no more: You may be left to commit wickedness without remorse or trouble. God may give you up to a hardened and sordid heart, to a seared and filthy Conscience, yea, and refuse in mer∣cy to afflict you any more; see Ho∣sea 4. 14. May not he that hath taken away a Minister, an able one, a sweet and precious Labourer, take Page 31 away ere long a sweet and precious Gospel; and what will become of your souls then?
7. Do you know for certain the Gospel shall be continued to this Land? Be you sure you shall hear the joyful sound? Let me tell you my thoughts freely, though I pre∣tend not to a spirit of Prophesie; yet mark what follows: I tremble to think what is coming upon us as a punishment of our sins. I fear, Beloved, the Gospel is a going. Ephraim hath grey hairs here and there, though he know it not; and grey hairs are a sign that our morn∣ing or best days are gone; second∣ly, they commonly bring a wrink∣led face, or a decay of Beauty; our goodness, like Ephraims, are even like the morning dew: thirdly, they bring feebleness, or a decay of strength: fourthly, they shew that death and mortality draws near. We have heard, some of us, that Page 32 he was grey a great while ago; I doubt he is white, by this time. There are sad symptomes upon us, I know not how soon we may have cause to cry Ichabod, because the glory is departed. Are we not in danger to be over-spread with Po∣pery, Confusion, and Darkness; for if the Gospel should continue, and Gods people resolve to do their best, by their prayers and pri∣zing of it, to hold it fast; yet are you sure you shall have Ministers to prcach unto you? Many have been taken of late away, and one at this time before your eyes is gone, a faithful and able one; whom now you shall hear no more. But should there be Ministers and opportuni∣ties, yet you may be left to your selves, to ripen for Hell and ruin? Nay, Is not Christ already crying over you, as he did over Jerusalem; Oh that thou hadst known in this thy day the things that belongeth to thy peace; but now they are hid from Page 33 eyes; Luke 19. 42. Oh that these things might take hold and touch your Conscicnces.
8. Consider of the shortness and uncertainty of your dayes? Alas, what is your life, you know not how soon death may come and knock at your doors, or look in at your windows? It may be some of you have had many years, but this consider of, you know not how few the rest may be behind; you have no promise from God, no lease or assu∣rance that you have one year more; where hath God told you that you shall? nay one half year? You can∣not assure your self you shall have one month, no not one week, no not one day. You may be stricken by death before you return home. Boast not thy self of too morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth, Pro. 27. 1. Many that are young, hope that they may have many years; the child thinks to be Page 34 a youth, and the youth to be a man, and a man till he is full of dayes: But alass, they consider not how brittle they are; they do not lay to heart the uncertainty of their lives. David desired to know his end and the measure of his days, that he might know how frail he was, Psal. 39. 4, 5. Many do not take a right measure of their dayes, they measure not by a lawful Rule. What say some, my Father and Grandfather lived to a good old age, and I hope to attain to their years. Others measure by their present health; they are not disea∣sed nor sickly; but of a good health∣ful Constitution: but alass, this is no sure Rule, thou mayest not∣withstanding all this be quickly in the grave; such sometimes death makes to stoop on a sudden, they go many times before sickly per∣sons. Others measure their dayes by their present strength, they fear not death upon that account; yet Page 35 they die as you have heard; though wholly at ease: these do not go by the Kings Standard neither. Let me tell you what is a right and true measure for your dayes, account them then by the morning dew and flower of the field. Man that is born of a woman, saith holy Job, is but of few dayes; he cometh forth like a flower and is cut down: and flieth a∣way like a shadow and continueth not. Job 14. 12. Naturalists tells us of a plant that lasts but for a day, this plant thou or I may be. The Hea∣then hath observed that the Rose grows old in its very budding. Man∣kind is like Jonah's Gourd, that came up in a night and perished in a night. Nothing fades sooner than a flower, oh measure thy dayes by that and by the vapour that appear∣eth for a little while and then va∣nisheth away; the Spiders Web, the Swift Post, the Weavers Shut∣tle, or a Ship under sail. Persons never so rich or great, never so Page 36 beautiful, never so weak of strong, wise or foolish, vertuous or vicious, as thou hast heard must die. May not the thoughts of this move thee to a preparedness for the grave?
9. Consider how you have loy∣tered hitherto and lost much of your precious time which God hath lent you to prepare for the grave. Upon the improvement of your pre∣sent time doth your eternal happi∣ness depend, and if it be squander∣ed away, what will become of your immortal and never dying souls? If a man hath much work to do, work of the weightiest concern that must be done, or the man undone: business that would take up all his day, and it should so fall out that he had lost the morning, nay above half his day; would it not concern him to set about the work with all his might, so as if possible to do two hours works in one; lest the Sun go down before the work is fi∣nished. Page 37Redeem the time, because the days are evil, Eph. 5. 16. Alas Sirs, are not the shadows of the evening upon some of you? the Lord help you to lay it to heart. Do not think the whole work of your lives can be done upon a Dy∣ing Bed. Oh consider Old age is unfit for labour, and it is folly with a witness to think 'tis time enough to sow when thou shouldest reap. Delays proves the ruin of many thousands; The night cometh, saith Christ, when no man can work.
10. And lastly, Consider what will become of your precious souls, if death takes you before you are ready; for it will not stay for you: Will he be bribed or perswaded to come another time? I remember a young Maid in the Countrey that was sick, and as she grew near her end, she cried out to be spared one quarter of a year, one month; but when that would not be granted; Page 38 rather than fail, one week: but die she did, greedy death will have no denial. Oh what a sad sight is it to see a Christless soul a dying! When death sits upon your trem∣bling lips, and you not prepared, what would you give for peace and pardon then? When pale death comes upon thee like a sturdy Ser∣geant, and doth arrest thee in the name of the great King of Heaven and Earth, he will hale you along; to prison you must go. Death comes upon a wicked man like a hungry Lyon, tearing their souls from their bodies; to such he is in∣deed the King of Terrors: He comes on them like a fiery Serpent, with his venomous sting; with which he wounds them and lays them a bleeding to all Eternity. Oh to have the soul dragged out of the body and cast into hell, is of a dreadful and amazing Conside∣ration. With this I shall conclude the Use of Exhortation.
Page 39 The next is an use of Direction to poor sinners and all others that would be prepared for the grave, if this be so.
First, Doth not some poor soul hear say, Oh what shall I do that I may be prepared for the grave? Have you a heart, a mind, a desire indeed to be fitted for that hour? Then in the first place labour to get a full sight and sense of your sins, and of your lost and undone conditi∣on by nature. Oh what a misera∣ble creature hath sin made man, or rather man by sin made himself? That must needs be the greatest e∣vil, that deprives man of the great∣est good. God is mans chief good, sin deprives man of this good; sin makes man hated or God, and cau∣seth man to resemble Satan; who is the opposite of God. The car∣nal mind is enmity against God, this enmity must be removed, Un∣less Page 40 a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God, John 3. 3.
Secondly, Labour to get Bro∣kenness of heart, oh strive to melt in the sight and sense of your iniqui∣ty. Sinner what hast thou done, wilt thou sin away thy mercies, sin away thy Ministers? Gods hand is lifted up, we are under sore rebukes of the Almighty, though I fear few are sensible that it is the fruit of their transgressions. May we not say with the Prophet, No man repent∣eth him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? Jer. 8. 6. God ex∣pects and looks for tears of Repen∣tance, A broken and a contrite heart is a sacrifice that he will not despise. If you are not broken in the sense of the odious and abominable na∣ture of sin, broken into pieces now, you are like to be broken with hor∣ror under the weight of the punish∣ment hereafter. Oh! Is it not bet∣ter to be smitten and broken in a Page 41 way of mercy, in order to healing; then to be broken in a way of wrath and judgement, when there will be no help nor cure for you.
Thirdly, Labour so get an in∣terest in Jesus Christ. Oh that this opportunity might have some ten∣dency this way! Unless ye be∣lieve that I am he,saith Jesus Christ, you shall die in your sins. Soul never rest and be satisfied, till thou canst say with Thomas, My Lord and my God, John 20. 28. Can you still stand it out against such precious patience and offers of grace? Will you not yet open to Christ? Shall he call and cry to you and will you give him no en∣tertainment? Can you close in with a better friend? How long hath he stood knocking at the doors of your hearts? Was he not graci∣ously calling upon you the last Lords day? and now in mercy he is giving you another knock. Oh Page 42 fear lest he depart! Is he not ready to take his farewell of you? Have you not let him stand till his head was wet with the dew, and his locks with the drops of the night? Sinner, sinner, hasten to him, and open the door, do'st not hear that love∣ly voice that was spoken to the blind man, Be of good comfort, rise, he calleth thee, Mark 10. 49. It may be you will ask where? I'll tell thee, if thou art a weary and burdened soul, that feelest the weight of thy sin, there is a preci∣ous word spoken for thy sake, take hold of it; Matth. 11. 28. Come unto me all you that are weary and hea∣vy laden, and I will give you rest; take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. Oh the sweetness of that word, take it and receive it down.
Fourthly, Labour in the strength of Christ to oppose every sin. See that there be no sweet morsel hid, Page 43 no Dalilah, no pleasant nor profita∣ble lust spared. O cry with David, Search me, O Lord, and try my heart; prove me, and know my thoughts; Psal. 139. 23.
Fifthly, Take heed you do not sin against Light. Neglect no Conviction either of Sin or Duty, if you would be prepared for the grave: Then shall I not, saith Da∣vid, be ashamed, when I have re∣spect to all thy commandments; Psal. 119. 6.
Sixthly, Never be satisfied un∣til you have all your sins subdued. Sin must be crucified, or the soul must die, Rom. 8. 13. To this I might add (for I cannot enlarge) make it your business also to get your sins pardoned; so that you may have the feeling sense of the forgiveness of them in your own hearts.
Page 44 Seventhly, Labour after a pure Conscience. What will stand your souls in greater stead, when you come to die than this? Paul's great care and endeavour was, to keep a Conscience void of offence towards God and toward men, Acts 24. 16. I must tell you, An accusing Con∣science will be a bad Death-bed Companion. I remember what our dear Friend spake to me in the time of his Sickness. Oh Brother, said he, a good conscience is the best refuge. That was his rejoycing, al∣luding to that Text, 2 Cor. 1. 12. the testimony of his conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity; not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God he had his conversation in the world. It matters not who re∣proach us, if Conscience doth not? Conscience, as I told some of you lately, will be your best friend; if a friend, a friend indeed, a friend in adversity; a friend at death, and a Page 45 friend in the day of judgement. Oh what would some men give for such a friend? But if Constience be an enemy, he is the worst of enemies. Conscience is a secret enemy, an enemy that is privy to all we have done; he knows all our thoughts, yea those secret lusts and evils, that lie in our hearts; and he will not be flattered. He will tell the truth and all the truth. Conscience will lay all open in the dreadful day of Ac∣count before Angels and Men, Rom. 2. 15. Holy Job resolved to hold his integrity fast and not to let it go; his heart should not reproach him as long as he lived, Job 27. 5, 6. Sincerity of heart and a good conscience will be a good sanctuary at the hour of death. The Lord help you to lay these things to heart. I might give you more di∣rections which I am forced to omit, because of time. Onely this, if thou wouldst be prepared for the grave, take this one, which was Page 46 not then delivered; which I am sor∣ry I did omit.
Eightly, Beware of resting in the form of godliness without the power. 'Tis an easie thing to conform to the outward part of Religion; to take up Ordinances and come into Churches: but oh what will become of the foolish Virgins. Sinners in Zion ere long will be afraid, and fearfulness will surprize the hypocrites. Many of you heard those excellent soal-searching Sermons of your dear Pastor now deceased on 2 Tim. 3. 5.
Oh that you would labour to call them to mind! and those upon a well-ordered Conversation; from Psal. •50. and the last verse. What pains did he take with you, that you might not deceive your selves and miss at last of eternal life? I think there was never more formality amongst Christians and carnality amongst Professors in the Churches, than in these dayes: No marvel if God bring a day of dreadful tryals and afflictions upon us, that those that are approved, may be made manifest. Trem∣ble sranners, for God is a coming forth to refine his people; he will search Jerusalem with candles; Zeph. 1. 12. And woe to them that are at ease in Zion; however you appear now to men, your sins ere long will find you out.
I now must come to the third Use, which must be an Use of La∣mentation; and indeed I know not well how to enter upon it, my heart is full. Is it so? Must all die? Can Page 47 none deliver their own souls from the power of the grave? Must Husbands die, dear Husbands? Must Fathers die, yea tender Fa∣thers? Must Friends, our dearest Friends die? Ministers, nay, our choice and godly Pastors, must they die too? Oh greedy Death! oh cruel Tirant! Oh that ever we sin∣ned! This may well be for a La∣mentation. Samuel died, and Is∣rael made great Lamentations for him. Your Samuel is gone, but no asking for him again, he can∣not come. In Acts 8. 2. it is said Devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
O spare me a little, you have lost one who laboured to do the work of his generations in faithful∣ness. Let me lay down some grounds that we have for a La∣mentation.
Page 48 1. Oh it's grievous to loose a god∣ly Preacher, a Pastor, a faithful La∣bourer. 'Tis a day of Mourning, my soul as well as yours is full. A∣las there is but few of them! We have need of more, and Lord do'st thou take away these we have?
2. But if any should say we have many yet left behind, I must say not many such, who make it their main work and business to bring souls to Jesus Christ. There are but few who naturally care for the Flock: Few preach Christ for Christs sake, that are willing to spend and be spent for his Name sake; like our dear Brother, now with the Lord. May I not say with Paul, some preach Christ out of envy, and some of strife; onely with this variation, Are there not many who preach Jesus Christ not sincerely, but have self and sinister ends at the bottom. But to leave Page 49 that, however, if God proceed and go on after this rate to take our Preachers away, there will be few enough ere long.
3. You have not onely lost a Pa∣stor, a Shepherd, a tender one, but you have lost a Father. Many of you must follow your Father this day to the grave. You have many Instructors in Christ, yet not many Fathers. He hath been an Instru∣ment through the Word and the o∣peration of the Spiri• in his Mini∣stry, to beget many of you to Je∣sus Christ. May you not cry out with Elisha when Elijah was taken up from him, My father, my fa∣ther, the horsemen of Israel and the chariots thereof; and he saw him no more, 2 Kings 2. 12. He is now gone, you will hear him no more, see him no more. This golden Trumpet is now stopped, you will hear it sound no more.
Page 50 4. Consider the time in which God hath taken him away, when the harvest is white, or when the fields are ripe to harvest; when many sin∣ners are ready to be brought in to Jesus Christ. The loss is great, oh how shall it be repaired? How shall the harvest be gathered in, when the chief Labourer in this field is gone?
5. Ministers are and fitly may be compared to Pilots; the Church to a Ship passing through a trouble∣some Ocean, amongst many Rocks and Sands; and when such die, how shall the poor Marriners steer, e∣specially, considering the danger∣ous and grievous stormes that do now appear: is not this a ground of lamentation▪
6. Ministers are compared to Shepheards, that are to keep the flock and watch over them to take Page 51 care of the tender lambs; and let me tell you, ravenous wolves are a∣broad, yea and the cunning Fox, nay as crafty Foxes as ever were in the world; and the Shepherd being gone, may we not fear that which will follow; is not the flock in dan∣ger to be scattered.
7. Ministers of the Gospel may be compared to Captains, to encou∣rage us in our spiritual warfare, and now alas your Leader is gone, he is taken from you, and are we not surrounded with enemies? May we not say with Leah in another case, Gen. 30. 11. a troop cometh; a troop of troubles, a troop of afflictions, a troop of temptations, a troop of mi∣series and persecutions; I wish im∣prove not a troop of division to the scattering of us: the Lord I hope will prevent it.
8. Ministers of the Gospel are com∣pared to Trees, the trees of the Lord Page 52 are full of sap. Psal. 104. 16. the lip of the righteous feed many (saith Solomon; and this was a fruitful tree. Oh the sweet fruit it did bear, most precious fruit it yielded us for many years. Oh what good have many gathered out of the branches thereof. But now alas it is (cut down) it will bear fruit for you no more; you shall hear him pray no more, preach no more, and is not this a ground of lamen∣tation.
9. Saints and Ministers of the Gospel are the interest of the Na∣tion, City, or Place where they live. Was not Lot the interest of Sodom? I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither, Gen. 19. 22. Till Lot was gone, fire and brim∣stone could not come upon that mi∣serable City. Oh what love hath God to the poor Preachers of righ∣teousness. But again, Was not Jacob the interest of Labans fami∣ly? Page 53 How did God bless him for Jacobs sake? The like might be minded of Joseph to the Egyptians▪ Ye, saith our blessed Saviour, are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. To whom did he speak but to his Disciples, his holy Apostles, that he sent forth to preach glad tydings of great joy unto the Na∣tions. I might shew you wherein they are the interest of the place where they are, but I must hasten: Take onely two or three brief hints.
1. They stand in the gap or in the breach. Ours is a great one, the Lord look upon us. They plead with God: When Moses hands are up Israel prevails, and when he lets down his hands Ama∣lek Prevails, Exod. 17. 11. Oh how doth he cry out for a provo∣king generation. When Jehovah cries, Let me alone, that I may de∣stroy them, Exod. 32. 10. Oh, saith Page 54Joshua, what wilt thou do for thy great name? If thou wilt not forgive their sin, saith Moses, blot me out of thy Book▪ Nay▪ though God pro∣mised to make of him a great Na∣tion, yet he still lifts up a cry for them, Exod▪ 32. 10, 11, 32.
2. They are the interest of the Nation where they are, by coun∣selling, warning, and admonishing.
3. By their holy and exemplary conversations. Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small rem∣nant, we should have been as So∣dom and should have been like unto Gomorrah, Isa. 1. 9.
10. Ground of Lamentation, is because sin usually is the cause why God removes his faithful Embassa∣dors. He sends to treat with sinners about the concerns of their souls. I wish this stroke be not in judge∣ment to some of your souls. The Page 55 Message they bring is often slight∣ed, and thereby sinners slight and reject the King himself. They cry and lift up their voice like a trum∣pet, fore-warning of danger; but none lays it to heart. They spend their strenght and weaken their bodies for the good of sinners souls; but sinners slight it▪ Nay, if they should sweat drops of blood it would not do, it would not work in them remorse of Conscience and repentance unto life. Well, saith God, now I'll wait upon thee no more, him that you despised and contemned, or neglected to hear, or whose counsel you did not re∣gard, you shall hear no more. The taking 〈◊〉 of faithful Preachers is one of the greatest judgement that can come upon sinners. But alas, it may not onl• be for the sins of the ungodly world ••on unconvert∣ed sinners, but a punishment upon Professors and Church Members▪ for their inquiry; they may not prize Page 56 the mercy nor walk worthy of the blessing. They may not carry it as they ought to do to the Labou∣rer that is amongst them: They may grieve and wound his heart by their disorderly walking; and God may from hence be provoked to take him a way. Nay they may on the o∣ther hand overvalue him, they may idolize their Teachers and look up∣on them above what is meet; though sinful, yet 'tis possible to eye man more than God by man. God may remove them. Upon this account the Apostle speaks of some that had mens persons in admirati∣on. I am satisfied there is too great extreams in the world. We should have a care we do not re∣ceive the Truth for the sake of a man, or to please men, because such and such says it; but out of Love to Jesus Christ, and because God hath commanded it. Beloved, it may not be amiss to lay these things to heart, 'tis good to hear Page 57 the Rod and to know who it is, and for what it is appointed. I do not charge any in particular.
11. And lastly, Here is cause of lamentation, because evil and dark dayes many times follows the remo∣val of Gods Worthies. When God take away so many faithful ones, what may we expect to look for. I might give divers instan∣ces of the sad effects, or what hath followed the taking god∣ly persons & sincere La∣bourers a∣way*. But I am afraid I have been too tedious already, re∣member what the Page 58Prophet saith, The righteous peri∣sheth, and no man layeth it to heart; Merciful men are taken away; and none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. Isa. 57. 1.
Thus much by way of Lamenta∣tion and Consolation.
I have onely one Use more, which shall be in the fourth place by way of Comfort and Consolation.
1. Must all dye, the godly as well as the wicked? Is the Grave the place prepared for all Living? Must Fathers, Husbands, Wives, Children, Ministres, and the dear∣est Friends we have dye? How shall we then comfort our selves against death? If thou art a Beleiver, I I have a word of comfort for thee; there is none I am sure for Christless Souls.
Page 59 2. Consider death cannot hurt thee; it cannot hurt those that are Believers, because it hath lost his sting. Death may hiss but cannot hurt: Nothing makes death terri∣ble to an ungodly man but it's Sting. The sting of death is sin, but this is taken away from Belie∣vers by Jesus Christ. Oh death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? 1. Cor. 15. 55, 56.
2. Death cannot hurt a Belie∣ver, because it cannot bring an annihilation of the body, though it bring an alteration upon the stare and condition of the body, yea and though the body be dissolved to dust, yet it shall not be lost, it shall rise to life again.
3. Death cannot dissolve or break that blessed union there is between Jesus Christ and believers. Though it may separate soul and bo∣dy, yet it cannot separate either Page 60 from Jesus Christ, and the soul im∣mediately will be in a more glori∣ous enjoyment of Christ; and though the body for a while must lie in the grave, yet that dust is precious dust in Christs sight.
4. Consider Death cannot keep the body long under its power, nor keep soul and body apart; 'tis but a little while and they will meet a∣gain. Death and the Grave are conquered enemies. Saints by faith can now, through Jesus Christ tri∣umph over them, and shall have a compleat, a full Conquest, over a short space.
5. Death has not power to cast into hell, if Conscience condemns thee not, if the Word convicts thee not, if God passeth not the Sen∣tence upon thee, Death has no power to do it. Death can but bring to the grave, 'tis sin that cast∣eth the soul into hell.
Page 61 6. Consider Death is thine, that is, 'twill be for thy profit and ad∣vantage every way. Remember that sweet word of Paul to the Co∣rinthians, 1. Cor. 3. 22. Whether Paul or Apollo, or Cephas, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours; it will be every way for thy good. Con∣sider what freedom thou wilt gain thereby. 1. It will free thee from a body of sin and death, that often makes thee go with a sorrowful heart. Oh! hath it not oft made thee to cry out with St. Paul, Oh wretched man that I am, who shall de∣liver me from this body of sin and death? Oh what is a greater trou∣ble to a Child of God than in∣dwelling sin? He cannot do the things he would do. But now comes death and frees thee of all these soul perplexities and disquiet∣ments. Sin makes a Saint to groan, being burthened; but now thou shalt grieve Christ and his spirit, Page 62 nor thy own soul no more. Is not this that a poor Saint longs for?
2. 'Twill free thee from a poor crazy, diseased, or distempered Bo∣dy. There will then be no crying out of back or bone, nor head not heart any more; 'twill be with thee as with the Church in the glorious day to come, Rev. 21. 4. There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.
3. It will free thee from an evil and wicked world. Oh what a de∣filing, ensnaring, and bewitching world is this? What hinders us of our joy and peace in Christ more than it? What greater vexation to us? Oh how many precious Saints are clogged and imprisoned by the cares of the world, which ma∣ny times is ready to choak the seed of holy desires after Christ: But Page 63 by Death thou shalt be delivered.
4. It will free thee out of the hands of presecutors. Thou wilt, (with our dear Brother) be out of their reach then: they shall not dis∣quiet thee, imprison thee, nor tor∣ment thee any more. There, saith Job (speaking of the grave) the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest; there the priso∣ners rest together, they hear not the voice of the oppressor, Job 3. 17, 18.
5. Death will free thee from an envious raging and tempting Devil. He will have not more power to di∣sturb thee, accuse thee, nor by his cursed suggestions, to vex and per∣plex thy soul; no, nor any other ways to hurt or annoy thee. O will not this be to thy great advan∣tage? Who would be unwilling to die, that hath an interest in Jesus Christ?
Page 64 6. Thou wilt hereby also be freed from all the discords and trou∣bles that rise amongst Brethren. The unworthy and disorderly lives of Professors shall sadden thy heart then no more. This was that which worried and grieved the blessed A∣postle, Phil. 3. 18. Our dear Bro∣ther is set at liberty from all these things, disorders in the Church, no loose walking of Members thereof, will burden nor trouble him again.
7. Nay and Death will free thee of all that trouble that riseth from those inward becloudings and hide∣ings of God's face. It will never be night with the soul any more; thou wilt then be with Christ and be∣hold his face with joy for ever.
8. And lastly, Thou wilt also be freed of all thy toilsome pains and labour, of what nature soever it be. Page 65 O how good is rest to a weary soul? Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them, Rev. 14. 13.
But then once again, Consider what a blessed state thy soul will be in at death. If thou art a true Be∣liver, thou shalt not onely have hereby a negative good, it will not simply a freedom from all those sorrows and troubles thou hast heard, but thy soul shall immedi∣ately receive transcendent joy with Jesus Christ. For me to live, saith Paul, is Christ, and to die is gain. The advantage the soul receives upon this account, made Paul so much desire to de∣part and be with Christ; which he says is far better, Phil. 1. 21. Pray observe his words, he doth not say it will be gain to him when he rises again, no, but to die Page 66 is gain*. I shall receive more joy, more consolation, more of the ful∣ness of God and Christ (as if he should say) when I die, then I can whilest I am in this body.
Mind that passage in 2 Cor. 5. 1. For we know that if our earthly Page 67 house of this tabernacle were dissol∣ved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Compare this with ver. 6. Therefore we are always con∣fident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. The Apostle doth not say we know when this earthly house is broken down and raised up again, we have a building with God, eternal in the heavens. (Pray consider it) but plainly when it is dissolved, when it is turned to its dusty crums: (We have) that is our souls, he can intend nothing else. By (we) he means their better part, which he compares to an in∣habiter, and the body to the house or tabernacle in which it dwels. Oh what an excellent thing is the soul of man over the body.
And now beloved, That the soul or better part is capable of being separated from the body, and in Page 68 its seperate state from the body, capable of glorious enjoyments of God and high raptures of joy with Jesus Christ, doth appear most e∣vident from that passsage of the A∣postle in 2 Cor. 12. 1, 2, 3. It is not expendient for me doubtless, to glory, I will come to vissions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, whether in the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth: such a one caught up to the third hea∣ven. ver. 4. says, he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeaka∣ble words, which is not lawful for a man to utter. The soul or spirit then it appears may be seperate from the body. I from this place thus argue,
1. If the soul or spirit of man be not capable of being seperated from the house of clay or earthly tabernacle, then Paul might have boldly and safely have said the whole man was taken up, a soul and Page 69 body together, and not one with∣out the other, because it is impos∣sible to seperate them: but since Paul says he knows not whether in the body or out of the body, he plainly shews what opinion he was of.
And then secondly, I may from what he says, reason after this man∣ner, viz. If the soul in its seperated state from the body, be not able or capable to enjoy or take in heaven∣ly comforts or consolations of Jesus Christ, Paul might boldly and Po∣sitively have said he was taken up in the body, because however he was caught up, whether within or without the body, he heard and saw unexpressible things; he had high and soul-filling raptures of joy. The Lord Jesus promised the pe∣nitent Thief that he should (that is his chief or better part) be that day with him in Paradice. Lord Jesus (saith Stephen) receive my Page 70 spirit. O what a blessed thing it is to die in Christ? O what a happy estate is our friend in, the gain is exceeding great. Some may say what doth a godly man gain by death?
I answer, First, They gain a glorious place, heaven, the glo∣rious Paradice of God, the Man∣sions of glory that are in our Fa∣thers House! Who is able to con∣ceive what a glorious place heaven is? But then,
Secondly, They shall enjoy glorious company too. They shall be with Jesus Christ, have his com∣pany, in whose presence there is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there be pleasures for evermore; be with Christ, holy Angels, and glorious spirits of just men made perfect. O what a blessed state and condition of soul have they gained that are gone thither!
Page 71 Thirdly, we shall gain sweet peace. 'Tis not onely peace in Christ (that Gods people have as their portion here) but it shall be peace with Christ. A Woman that has a dear Husband who is gone to Sea, he is it may be in an∣other Countrey, yet she hears from him, receives tokens of love, she has much satisfaction of the sted∣fasteness of his love, cordialness of his affection; in this she has peace and comfort, but alas what is this peace to that when he comes home, when she has him, enjoys his company? O we shall see Christ, enjoy him, yea lie in his arms to all eternity. Enter thou, saith Christ, into the joy of thy Lord. That joy is too much to enter into us, therefore we must enter into that. Mark the perfect man and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace. He has peace In death, peace beyond Page 72 death, yea and peace to all etrer∣nity.
And now one word more parti∣cularly to you that have lost your Pastor: Your loss I must confess is great (though he hath gained here∣by) and it may be some of you are crying out, What shall we do? Beloved, you must labour for a quiet frame, strive for contentedness of heart; 'tis the Lords hand upon you, 'tis what he has done; re∣member David, I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it, Psal. 39. 9.
2. Consider also your loss is not so great, but God is able to re∣pair it and make it up to you, though you may not see which way it can be done, let it be your care to wait upon God; cry to him, look up to the Lord of the Harvest, and patiently wait to see what he will do for you.
Page 73 3. To support you under this sore affliction, Consider the great Shepherd of the Sheep never dyes, he lives for ever; and sure he that dyed for the Sheep whose own Sheep they are, will take care of them; he will feed them and pre∣serve them from danger, Isa. 23. 1, 2, 3. The Lord is my Shepherd, saith David, I shall not want: He maketh me to lie down in green Pa∣stures: he leadeth me besides the still waters: he restoreth my Soul: he leadeth me in the paths of Righte∣ousness, for his Names sake. And from hence he takes courage, Yea, though I walk thorow the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Oh what a blessed thing it is to have confidence in God, and to have such a Shepherd; the keeper of Israel never slum∣bers nor sleepeth.
And now to conclude one word to dear Relations, and to comfort us all un∣der the present dispensa∣tion.
1. Consider death shall not seperate us long, we shall see one another again over a short time, he is gone but a little before; let us think upon that glorious Meeting we shall have ere long in the Air, read 1 Thes. 4. 13, &c. I would not have you to be ignor∣ant, Brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope; for if we believe that Jesus died, and Page 75 rose again; even so them which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him: for this we say un∣to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep: for the Lord himself shall descend from hea∣ven with a shout, with the voice of the Arch-angel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are a∣live and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord: where∣fore comfort one another with Page 76 these words. What can I speak that may be more seasonable for comfort, then that which the holy Spirit hath left upon record, upon that very ac∣count it will be but a little while and we shall see him a∣gain, we shall have a joyful meeting and never part more.
O therefore be quieted, consider what you have heard what death is to a Be∣liever.
Shall not our Friend go to rest? Alas he hath labour∣ed hard, and O how sweet is this rest to him. When a Page 77 man hath worked hard all day and wearied himself, how willing is he to go to bed at night? Alas he is but gone to sleep, to take sweet and quiet rest until the Morn∣ing.
2. Shall not we be will∣ing he should have inlarge∣ment to be freed out of Pri∣son. Alas our Souls are as it were but in Prison whilst we dwell here below in these Houses of Clay; Death as a Porter opens a door into that Glorious Palace above He is but gone home to his Fathers House, and how earnest was he to depart, that Page 78 he might be present with the Lord.
3. Shall not he eat the fruit of his labour, he that sow∣eth in tears shall reap in joy, those that go forth weeping bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again rejoy∣cing and bring their Sheaves with them.
4. He having overcome, shall not he receive the Crown? Paul having fought the good fight of faith, knew there was laid up for him a Crown of Righteousness: To him that overcometh, saith our Saviour, will I grant to Page 79 sit with me in my throne. even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father an his throne, Rev. 3. 21.
5. And now in the last place and to shut up all, con∣sider, uncertain is thy life, and mind; you know not but that in a very few dayes you may go after, it will not be long be sure, and thither we all must go: For, What man is he, that liveth and shall not see death? Shall be deliver his Soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.
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