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near to some is perdition! It is the verge of that dark and fathomless abyss on which they so securely tread. What a risk they run! The prize ought to be great which is sought at such a peril. So near to hell! What a position to occupy! But if the sin. ner will repent, and behold the Lamb of God, and yield his heart to the Lord, then he shall be as near to heaven. There shall be but a step between him and it. Some are as near as all that to heaven. It is not a day's journey there. · It is but to take a step, and, follower of Jesus, thou art where no night is, and no sound of moaning is heard, and every tear is wiped away. So near to heaven! How frequent then and fond should be your thoughts of it! All so near ! Then “what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness!" How carefully and circumspectly ought they to walk whose path lies along such a brink !
And since the end of all our opportunities is as near as death, whatever our minds meditate, or our hands find to do, for our own souls, for the good of others, or for the glory of God, let us do it with our might.
44. Why so Loth to Die:
I find within me a strange reluctance to die? and I perceive in others indications of a similar unwill.
ingness. Indeed, it is rare to meet with one who does not participate in this general and great aversion to dying. Now I do not wonder that some are unwilling to die. Nature revolts at death. It is the object of her strongest antipathy. It is not strange, therefore, that mere natural men should be averse to it. Some have nothing to die for. How can it be expected that they should be willing to die? They have nothing beyond the grave to go to. Their pos sessions all lie on this side of it. They have their portion in this life--their good things here. Do you wonder they are reluctant to leave them? To such to die is loss. Death is not theirs, as it is the Christion's; but on the other hand, they are death's. Jesus is not precious to them. How should they be
willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord ?” What Paul esteemed “far better” than life--dying in order to be with Christ -has for them no charm whatever.
But that the spiritual man, the disciple and friend of Jesus, the child and heir of God, should be so strongly averse to death, deserves to be considered strange. We might indeed expect that there should remain some of the reluctance of nature to death, even in the subjects of grace, for Christianity does not destroy nature; but that this reluctance should be so strong, and often so predominant, that grace should not create a desire for death stronger than nature's aversion to it, is what surprises us.
I am sure it ought not to be as it is. Certainly every Christian ought to be able to say with Paul, " having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” However averse to being “unclothed," he should yet be willing to be “clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” Life required an exercise of patience in the saints of old, which seems to have no existence now. "all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.” Then Christian submission was exercised in living. Now, to be resigned to death is the desideratum. Grace had then to make its subjects willing to live. Now it has to make them will. ing to die.
How shall we account for this reluctance ? What if nature in us be strong, is not grace stronger ? Has it subdued our sins, caimed our agitations, allayed our fears, and can it not master this one aversion? Have we made experiment of what grace can do with the fear of death ?
Is it because of the pain of dying that we shrink from it? But how know we that to die is so very painful ? In half the cases of death at least, it does not appear to be so. How many sicknesses we are subject to, whose progress is attended with far more pain! How many surgical operations which men readily submit to, are beyond all doubt productive of more suffering!
Is this world so bright and beautiful that we are loth to leave it on that account? But is not heaven fairer and brighter far? Here there is night; but there none. Here deformity alternates with beauty; but there all is loveliness. Here the alloy prevails; there, there is no mixture-all is
Can it be possible that earth has charms and attractions equal to those of heaven-this earth, which the curse has lighted on, comparable in point of beauty and loveliness to that heaven where God manifests himself, and which Jesus has gone to prepare as the fit habitation and eternal home of his redeemed ? Is it conceivable ? Even the saints who lived under a darker dispensation esteemed the heavenly a better country. Is it the separations which death makes, that render us so averse to die? True, it separates, but it unites also. It takes us, I know, from many we love, but it takes us to as many we love. Leave we a family behind ? But do we not go to one larger, more harmonious, happier? Are we parted from friends by death ? And are we not joined to friends by the same? If we lose a father, do we not find a better father; and if we leave a dear brother, do we not go to one who “is not ashamed to call us brethren ?" More than half of some families have
gone already to heaven. Why should we be so much more desirous of continuing with the part on earth, than of going to the portion in heaven ? Do those you part from need your care and services more than those to whom you go? But is it not safe going, and leaving them in charge of God? Is it not he now who cares for them, and watches over them, provides for them, and defends them? And will he not do it when you are dead and gone? Ah, the parent clings to life, and looks imploringly on death, when he thinks of his loved little ones! What will become of them he asks ? What would become of them now, if they had only you to care for them? It is not your eye that keeps watch over them; nor your arm that is put underneath and round about them; nor your hand from whose opening palm their wants are supplied. It is God's. And what he does by you now, cannot he do without you? Cannot he find other agents and instruments when you are laid aside ? Does he not say of the widows and fatherless children, “ leave them to me?" And will he not be faithful to the trust which he solicits?
Do not children desire to see the face of their father? And are not we children of God ? After so many years of daily converse and communion with him, and after receiving so many tokens of his paternal regard, should you not be willing to go now and see him face to face, whose unseen hand has led, sustained and supplied you hitherto ? It is unnatural in us not to be willing to go to God. We readily go to those we love.
Has home no charm? What man is he, to whom it has not a charm? Who has been long absent from it, and does not languish with desire to reach it?