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distress; whence he calls himself unto that account: 'Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me?' And indeed, the mind on all such occasions, is its own greatest troubler. It is apt to let loose its passions of fear and sorrow, which act themselves in innumerable perplexing thoughts, until it is carried utterly out of its own power. But in this state a due contemplation of the glory of Christ, will restore and compose the mind, bring it into a sedate, quiet frame, wherein faith will be able to say unto the winds and waves of distempered passions, Peace, be still; and they shall obey it.
3. It is the way and means of conveying a sense of God's love unto our souls, which is that alone where ultimately we find rest in the midst of all the troubles of this life, as the apostle declares, Rom. v. 2-5. It is the Spirit of God, who alone communicates a sense of this love unto our souls; it is 'shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.' Howbeit, there are ways and means to be used on our part, whereby we may be disposed and made meet to receive these communications of divine love. Among these the principal is the contemplation of the glory of Christ insisted on, and of God the Father in him. It is the season, it is the way and means, at which and whereby the Holy Ghost will give a sense of the love of God unto us, causing us thereon to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.' This will be made evident in the ensuing discourse. This will lift the minds and hearts of believers above all the troubles of this life, and is the sovereign antidote that will expel all the poison that is in them, which otherwise might perplex and enslave their souls.
I have but touched on these things, as designing to enlarge somewhat on that which doth ensue. And this is the advantage we may have in the dis
charge of this duty with respect unto death itself. It is the assiduous contemplation of the glory of Christ, which will carry us cheerfully and comfortably into it, and through it. My principal work having been now for a long season to die daily, as living in a continual expectation of my dissolution, I shall on this occasion acquaint the reader with some few of my thoughts and reliefs, with reference unto death itself.
There are sundry things required of us, that we may be able to encounter death cheerfully, constantly, and victoriously. For want of these, or some of them, I have known gracious souls, who have lived in a kind of bondage for fear of death all their days. We know not how God will manage any of our minds and souls in that season, in that trial. For he acts towards us in all such things, in a way of sovereignty. But these are the things which he requireth of us in a way of duty.
First, Peculiar actings of faith to resign and commit our departing souls into the hand of him, who is able to receive them, to keep and preserve them, as also to dispose of them into a state of rest and blessedness, are required of us.
The soul is now parting with all things here below, and that for ever. None of all the things which it hath seen, heard, or enjoyed, by its outward senses, can be prevailed with to stay with it one hour, or to take one step with it, in the voyage wherein it is engaged. It must alone by itself launch into eternity. It is entering an invisible world, which it knows no more of than it hath received by faith. None hath come from the dead to inform us of the state of the other world. Yea, God seems on purpose so to conceal it from us, that we should have no evidence of it, at least as unto the manner of things in it, but what is given unto faith bad ivine revelation. Hence those who died and
were raised again from the dead, unto any continuance among men, as Lazarus, probably knew nothing of the invisible state. Their souls were preserved by the power of God in their being, but bound up as unto present operations. This made a great emperor cry out on the approach of death; 'O animula, tremula, vagula, blandula; quæ nunc abibis in loca horrida, squalida,' &c. O poor, trembling, wandering soul, into what places of darkness and defilement art thou going!'
How is it like to be after the few moments, which under the pangs of death we have to continue in this world? Is it an annihilation that lies at the door? Is death the destruction of our whole being, so as that after it we shall be no more? So some would have the state of things to be. Is it a state of subsistence in a wandering condition, up and down the world, under the influence of other more powerful spirits that rule in the air, visiting tombs and solitary places, and sometimes making appearances of themselves by the impressions of those more powerful spirits, as some imagine from the story concerning Samuel and the witch of Endor, and as it is commonly received in the papacy, out of a compliance with their imagination of purgatory? Or is it a state of universal misery and woe? a state incapable of comfort or joy? Let them pretend what they please, who can understand no comfort or joy in this life, but what they receive by their senses, they can look for nothing else. And whatever be the state of this invisible world, the soul can undertake nothing of its own conduct after its departure from the body. It knows that it must be absolutely at the disposal of another.
Wherefore, no man can comfortably venture on and into this condition, but in the exercise of that faith, which enables him to resign and give up his departing soul into the hand of God, who alone is able
to receive it, and to dispose it into a condition of rest and blessedness. So speaks the apostle, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him, against that day.'
Herein, as in all other graces, is our Lord Jesus Christ our great example. He resigned his departing spirit into the hands of his Father, to be owned and preserved by him, in its state of separation. 'Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit,' Luke xxiii. 46. as did the psalmist, his type, in an alike condition; Psal. xxxi. 5. But the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ herein, the object and exercise of it, what he believed and trusted unto, in this resignation of his spirit into the hand of God, is at large expressed in the sixteenth Psalm. I have,' said he, 'set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life; in thy presence is fulness of joy, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.' He left his soul in the hand of God, in full assurance that it should suffer no evil in its state of separation, but should be brought again with his body into a blessed resurrection, and eternal glory. So Stephen resigned his soul, departing under violence, into the hands of Christ himself. When he died, he said, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.'
This is the last victorious act of faith, wherein its conquest over its last enemy death itself doth consist. Herein the soul says, in and unto itself, Thou art now taking leave of time unto eternity; all things about thee are departing as shades, and will immediately disappear. The things which thou art entering into are
yet invisible; such as 'eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor will they enter into the heart of man fully to conceive.' Now, therefore, with quietness and confidence give up thyself unto the sovereign power, grace, truth, and faithfulness of God, and thou shalt find assured rest and peace.
But Jesus Christ it is, who doth immediately receive the souls of them who believe in him. So we see in the instance of Stephen. And what can be a greater encouragement to resign them into his hands, than a daily contemplation of his glory in his person, his power, his exaltation, his office, and grace? Who that believes in him, that belongs unto him, can fear to commit his departing spirit unto his love, power, and care? Even we also shall hereby in our dying moments see, by faith, heaven opened, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, ready to receive us. This added unto the love which all believers have unto the Lord Jesus, which is enflamed by contemplation of his glory, and their desires to be with him where he is, it will strengthen and confirm our minds in the resignation of our departing souls into his hand.
Secondly, It is required in us unto the same end, that we be ready and willing to part with the flesh, wherewith we are clothed, with all things that are useful and desirable thereunto. The alliance, the relation, the friendship, the union, that are between the soul and the body, are the greatest, the nearest, the firmest, that are or can be among mere created beings. There is nothing like it, nothing equal unto it. The union of three persons in the one single divine nature, and the union of two natures in one person of Christ, are infinite, ineffable, and exempted from all comparison. But among created beings, the union of these two essential parts of the same nature in one person, is most excellent. Nor is any thing equal to it, or like it, found in