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of them; "but when our sun is once set, then nothing but one long eternal night of sleep remains for us."
But how totally is the scene changed to the christian!
You must not now lament, as those that have no hope, like the heathens, of ever seeing those that are taken away before you again; the beloved child, the dear relation, the intimate friend, the solace of life, that you are deprived of: they are only departed a little before you; soon you will follow, and will recover all you lost, and meet with and rejoin all worthy of your love and esteem, with thousands of thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand besides them, equally, or more worthy.
Neither does death hurt any of our nobler faculties, but will tend to improve them to the
It destroys nothing but what we cannot but long earnestly to be delivered from, in putting an end to this corruptible frame of flesh and blood, the seat of so much pain and torment; but worst of all, one cause of sin and the misery that belongs to it.
We shall rise again with our love of truth
and goodness, and desire of knowledge, especially of the works and ways of God, worthy to be sought into and known; and especially in proportion as we have divested ourselves of all selfishness, and acquired active benevolent dispositions towards others, will be our rank and happiness in that other world.
The variety of situations, relations, and connexions in life, and the different ways in which we go out of the world, will not al ways permit a calm, quiet falling into our last sleep; but where this can take place, the virtuous upright christian, that has faithfully acted his part, will be ready to say to those about him, in the words of an excellent person; "Farewell, my friends all, and leave me to myself. Go you to finish your work and business in life. I shall go to HIM from whom we all came:" the last words of Father Paul, of Venice, one of the most learned, the most pious, the meekest, and most virtuous of men, and the most intrepid defender of the civil and religious rights of his country, and of mankind.
Unto God be glory for all things, and for ever!
O Thou, who alone livest for ever and ever! who, before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth and world were made, art God from everlasting to everlasting!
We, thy creatures of the human race, taken so lately out of the dust and brought into so noble a being, with such capacities and means of endless happiness conferred upon us, cast ourselves down low at thy footstool, desiring thy needful aid, that such unmerited favours, which pass all expression, may not be lost upon us.
Teach us to see and adore the methods of thy gracious moral government over us, that, although constrained sometimes to appear to be severe towards us, yet in thy just displeasure thou always rememberest mercy; that although thou didst ordain death to be the penalty of our first parents' transgression, and from them to pass upon all their posterity, thou didst also appoint that it should not be for the debasement and extinction of our best powers and faculties, but for their improve
Assist us, therefore, we pray thee, our allmerciful
merciful Creator, to make a right use of this awful stop and suspension of life which thou hast ordained, in causing us to return to the dust from whence we were taken; that it may be, as thou kindly intendest it to be, a suitable discipline for frail, unexperienced, and sinful creatures; to check us in our wild career of vice and worldly pursuits; to restrain mad passions and extravagant desires, by feeling thy power over us, and our necessary dependence upon thee.
And blessed for ever be thy name, O thou kind parent of our being, for extending thy goodness to us beyond this state of mortality; in giving us hope in death, by the resurrec tion of Jesus from the dead, that thou wilt not leave us for ever in the place of darkness and the grave.
But, O holy and righteous Father, as for his perfect virtue and obedience to thee, thou hast exalted him, our Lord and Master, and invested him with power over all mankind, as thy instrument, to raise them from the dead and bestow eternal life on his followers, and all holy and penitent men; help us, we pray thee, so to demean ourselves as to
be of that happy number, that we may live again with him in those mansions which thy bounty and goodness have prepared.
And remove from us all fears of death, as thou hast taught us thus to take away its sting and hurtful power, and makest it the means of virtuous improvement and of our highest felicity; that we may have constant pleasure in thoughts of that other world, and be often looking towards it, and may consider death only as a long dark passage to it; and that it may be a continual excitement to us to do thy holy will here, that we may not be excluded from the happy list of those who shall have their part in the first resurrection of the blessed; and may join the innumerable multitudes of thy faithful approved servants, in the triumphant song over death and the grave, and over all sin and misery for ever!
Now unto thee, O Father, &c.
May the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory, &c.
April 20, 1783.