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find that be trusts to a broken reed, which will bend under bim. There is nothing (as I have observed in the former chapter) but the testimony of a good conscience, and the hopes of the favour and love of God, that is able to bear a man up under the weight and pressure of any great calamity; much less will any thing else be a sufficient support at the hour of death. We shall then be stript of all the pleasures and enjoyments of this world; of all tliose things in which we are now apt to place so great a confidence: and, unless we are fortified with the shield of faith, und the breastplate of righteousness; unless we have put on the Lord Jesus, and are cloathed with the robes of his righteousness; we shall be left naked and defenceless, to encounter death with all its terrors. The sinner, how much soever be may now trust in the multitude of his riches, and strengthen himself in his wickedness, must then give up all his dependencies, and descend into the regions of darkness, not only without hope, but (what is yet more terrible) with dreadful expectations. Of what infinite mo.
ment then is it to all of us so to live, that when the time appointed for our great change shall come, we may meet death without fear and horror; and, with an humble confidence, look up to God in an assured hope of his mercy in Christ Jesus !
A good life is indeed the sure pledge of a happy death. As it fills our minds with joy and satisfaction while we live, far surpassing all the pleasures of sensual gratifications; so, when we come to die, it gives us that peace of God, which pusseth all understanding. When a man in his last hour can look back upon a life well spent, and can say with king Hezekiah, Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight; Isaiah xxxviii. 3. what an unspeakable satisfaction must it be to him ; how mild and calm will death then appear! and with how little concern will he receive its summons ! with what cheerfulness will he then take leave of this world, and all that was dear to bim in it! And how contentedly will he quit his earthly tabernacle when he considers, that he is to exchange it for a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens! I say, what an unspeakable comfort must it be to a dying man when he is entera ing into the valley of the shadow of death, to have before him a bright prospect of life and glory; to find the light of God's countenance shining upon his mind, and the comforts of his Holy Spirit cheering and refreshing his soul; to be able to look up to God with a filial confidence, and, with a hope full of glory and immortality, to resign his soul into the hands of his Maker; not doubting, but his heavenly Father, whom he has faithfully served in this world, will take care of him, and reward him in the next; and that the same infinite power and goodness, which has carried him safe through this vale of tears and misery, will conduct him in his passage to a blessed eternity! Oh, how far more happy must the death of such an one be, than the most envied state of the greatest mortal! who would not wish to die the death of the
righteous, and that his last end may be like his ! especially,
If we consider, in the next place, the miserable condition of a wicked man, when death approaches. But how shall I describe the agonies and convulsions of mind, which a despairing sinner labours under in his last hour ! who can express the anguish and torment that he feels, who is under the terror of death and damnation! The spirit of a man, says Solomon, will sustain his infirmity ; but a wounded spirit who can bear? Proy. xviii. 14. The most exquisite pains and torments of the body are nothing, compared with what a dying sioner feels from the stings of his guilty conscience.
With what shame and confusion does he then look back upon the actions of his past life! How does he tremble and stand confounded, at the remembrance of those sins which were once the darling abjects of his guilty desires! and what an horrible dread overwhelms his mind, when be considers that he is entering upon that unchangeable state, from which he knows there is no redemption ! that he
is going to give an account of a life, which he cannot reflect upon without self-condemnation and remorse, and for which he is justly afraid he shall in a few moments, be consigned to endless misery and torments ! how does he blame himself, when his conscience reproaches hin for having spent that time insignificantly, or wickedly, which was given him for noile and excellent purposes, that he has neglected the great and important work of his salvation, and been dead to all the calls and invitațions of God's Holy Spirit; that, instead of laying up in store a good foundation of bope and comfort against the day of trouble, which is now come upon bim; he has heaped unto himself a dreadful load of guilt, which is ready to sink hiin, with its intolerable weight!
O wretched man! what wouldst thou give, were it in thy power to recall those precious moments which thoy hast lavished away in sin and vanity! how dost thou wish that thou hadst known in time the things that belong to thy peace! but alas! they are now