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the Lord with full purpose of heart. Return unto me and I will return unto you; saith the Lord of hosts. God is ready to fulfil his promise. He will not fail to do it, when the conditions are performed on our part.
If, then, the present favor of the Most High is not enjoyed, we are the cause of this most lamentable deprivation. If he hides his face from us, we make it necessary for him to do it.
do it. If the influences of the Spirit are withholden, we have shut up the heavens and made them as brass over our heads.
Who, then, will lay this to heart, and now return unto the Lord ? Why should not this be a year of unprecedented mercy and of abounding grace to the churches? · Why, beloved brethren, may we not see the visions of the prophets realized, when it shall come to pass that the church shall awake and put on her strength, and deck herself in her beautiful garments; when the watchmen shall list up the voice, and with the voice sing together, and when they shall see eye to eye ;when the waste places shall break forth into joy and sing together ;when the Lord shall make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God? Who will dare to stay this blessing by holding fast deceit and refusing to return? Who, this year, will do his part toward securing such rich spiritual mercies, by his holy obedience, his fervent prayers, and his persevering efforts ?
By Rev. SAMUEL M. WORCESTER,
DYING THE DEATH OF THE RIGHTEOUS
NUMBERS xxiji: 10.—Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.
A MARSHAL of France, mortally wounded in a great battle, exclaimed in madness," I will not die.” He invoked the name of Napoleon, as if the mighty emperor could save him from death. But he died. “No man hath power over the spirit, to retain the spirit: neither hath he
power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war," “What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death ?” Die, we all must. We hear of dying like a hero—like a philosopher-like a man. We also hear of dying like a Christian.
It may be profitable to inquire, why we may wish “to die the death of the righteous."
1. Not because there is no pain in his death.
The separation of the soul from the body, is usually attended with great agonies. Every one has been taught to anticipate suffering, perhaps intense and indescribable, at the termination of life. Death is often styled the king of terrors," and eloquence, both in poetry and prose, has often made its highest efforts in a description of the inevitable hour. God has so ordained it, that there is no essential distinction in respect to physical anguish, between the death of the just and that of the unjust. Although some good men have passed so quietly and calmly into the eternal world, that we might say of them, that “like the morning star,” they "melted away into the light of heaven;" others have suffered pain the most excruciating and intolerable. We are not then to desire the death of the righteous, because we shall thereby obtain any exemption from the struggles, and spasms, and throes of expiring mortality.
2. Neither because there is no suddenness in his departure.
Sometimes a lingering, chronic disease slowly wastes away the system, and the dying man is warned “to set his house in order.” In general, however, whether death comes by the instrumentality of some fatal accident, or by the assault of some destructive disease, it comes unexpectedly, and therefore suddenly. The hour of the dreadful visitation is unknown to all, whether righteous or unrighteous. No vision or angel announces to the child of God that his days are soon to be finished. And melancholy examples show us, that Christians are often found sleeping, when the voice of the Son of Man is heard at their door.
3. The death of the righteous may be desired, not because there are no violent and distressing sunderings of earthly attachment.
The Christian may have many ties, which bind him to life. He may have relations and friends, most near and devoted. Often he leaves a bereaved wife and children to the cold mercies of a selfish world. From these he is summoned away, and it may be under circumstances most trying to the sensibilities of natural affection. The separation is like tearing the heart-strings into shreds.
4. We may wish to die the death of the righteous, not because the chamber of his disease is well furnished with earthly comforts.
The good man is often poor in every thing but piety,--destitute of all treasure, save that which is laid up in heaven. His bed may be of straw or of earth. He may have no cordials to alleviate his bodily sufferings—no earthly friend may give even a cup of cold water to cool the fever of his burning frame. All this, and much more may be true of him; or it may be, that he is surrounded with all the luxuries of affluence. Whether the one or the other be his condition, depends not upon the fact, that he is a good man. He may be a friend of God, whether in worldly circumstances he is like Lazarus or like Abraham.
5. We may wish to die the death of the righteous, not because there is renown in his death.
The "everlasting remembrance of the righteous," is in heaven. Some, indeed, who have died the friends of God, have left a memorial, which gathers fresh glory, as it passes down from generation to generation. But of very many whose death was “precious in the sight of the Lord," it must be said, that they died “unnoticed, unhonored, and unsung.” While the bard and the orator, the painter and the sculptor, have vied with each other in efforts to perpetuate the fame of some splendid miscreant,-a thousand holy men, of whom the world was not worthy, have risen to their thrones of light, without receiving from these heralds of celebrity the passing tribute of a glance. How little of sacred dust sleeps in abbeys and mausoleums! How few are the statues and portraits of the redeemed, in the galleries of sculpture and painting, or in the saloons of the rich and the noble !
6. We may wish to die the death of the righteous, not because he dies without enemies.
Seldom does the upright man escape the calumnies and aspersions of the malignant; however pure his motives and unexceptionable his conduct, it is rare that the most pious citizen of any community goes down to his tomb with unanimous benedictions upon his soul and his memory. It does not silence the tongue of detraction; and the grave is not the burial-place of enmities.
They who die in the Lord, may leave behind them a legacy of virtuous example. Though dead, they may yet speak to many thousands of their fellow men. And even if no monuments preserve the record of their existence upon the earth, they may live for ages in the silence of useful influences. Still it is a humiliating fact, that their “good” is often carefully "interred with their bones,” while their real or alleged "evil lives after them,” in the hearts and upon the tongues of slanderers and liars.
7. We may wish to die the death of the righteous, not because he has confessed Christ before men.
A profession of religion hardly affords a presumption in favor of piety. Who, alas! may not contrive to obtain access to the holy ordinance of the Lord's supper?-A Judas as well as "a beloved disciple,” may have a name in the churches. I proceed to say that
8. We may wish to die the death of the righteous, not because he anticipates a future retribution.
Many have died in great agonies of remorse, who would have died like the brutes that perish, if they had not had an anticipation of the realities of eternity. There was within them a fearful looking for of judgment. They could not die like Hume, whose last hours are reported by his companions to have been full of gayety; or like Mirabeau, the leading demon of the French Revolution - who exclaimed: “I am going to die. When we come to this, we must bind the head with fillets, perfume ourselves, crown ourselves with flowers, and sleep tranquilly the last sleep!” He expired, it is said, “with a convulsive laugh!" Fellow-traveller to eternity, may I ask you,—whether Hume died as a philosopher, or as a fool ? Died Mirabeau as a sage, or, as a savage ?
Far different, in any circumstances whatever, is the anticipation of a future retribution by the righteous man. Yet this anticipation is often distressing to his soul, from his consciousness of guilt and unworthiness. Hence he fears death: and “through fear of death,” he may be “all his life-time subject to bondage.”
9. Neither may we wish to die the death of the righteous, because he may be willing to die.
Men who have no love of God, and no good hope of heaven, may be willing to die. Bereavement, or the failure of ambitious schemes, or the loss of property, or the shame of disgrace, or pain of body, or hope of posthumous renown, or moral stupefaction, or unauthorized expectations of felicity, may make men willing to die. How strange, then, that any should be satisfied with a mere willingness to die, as if such a state of mind in a dying friend were an evidence of favor with God! Surely it is not this, which should inspire a wish to die the death of the righteous.
10 Nor should we wish to have our last end like his, because he may have a confident expectation of happiness in heaven.
The unrighteous, as well as the righteous, may “have hope in his death." There can be no doubt, that many, in their last hours, are deluded by phantoms of the imagination, which they call visions of glory. Often have individuals, when supposed to be past recovering, sung in raptures of the heaven which they saw in prospect. They longed for a release from the body. Yet some of these have unexpectedly regained their health.—What became of their piety? of their willingness to die? of their transporting assurances “of an eternal weight of glory?"_their subsequent years were years of sin, and they died without hope and without God. But if they had departed at a previous period, their death would have been proclaimed as a triumph of faith!
In relation to this point, there are words of Christ, which ought to be sPIRIT AND LIFE to each one of us. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils ? and in thy name done
wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I NEVER KNEW YOU: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Must not these have died in a confident expectation of “awaking to everlasting life ?" And h ) tremendous their "shame and everlasting contempt!"
The true Christian may have an assurance of faith. Thousands of believers have found the Savior - precious” to their departing spirits. As the shadows of the grave were deepening around them, their eyes have beamed the full glories of the city, which hath the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb for the light thereof. - Such may be the last end of the righteous: or it may be, that from a constitutional infirmity of body or of mind; or from the operation of disease; or from a deep and constant persuasion of personal sinfulness; or from want of confidence in the "exceeding great and precious promises ;"_"an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ," may have no other hope than that which fears and trembles.--The good man's sun inay go down in clouds, or it may set in glory.
Why, then, may we wish to die the death of the righteous ? Having specified and illustrated some of those considerations, which do not afford a sufficient reason for such a wish, I shall now answer the question directly and explicitly. And
1. He is prepared to die. He has complied with the terms of salvation. He has had godly