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- But what is all this to some of you, my brethren? Let me speak freely; and do not consider me as your enemy, because I tell you the truth. Who of you have not frequently been at the grave of a neighbour, a friend, a relation ? Sometimes you have been deeply impressed there. But how soon did the impression wear off ; and you renewed your pursuit of the world, as eagerly as if you had never heard, never seen, never felt that all was vanity and vexation of spirit.
What do you think of your own grave? Perhaps the thought never enters your mind ; or if it does, you deem it an impertinent and hateful intruder ; and you drive it from you, as you would a serpent. Some of you have been led down very nearly to the grave, by perilous accident or disease. And how did it appear?
Did it not seem an awful thing to enter an invisible and changeless state ? not turn your face to the wall and weep? If ever you prayed, was it not then ? 66 O spare me a little, that I may recover strength, before I go hence and be no more. Where now are the confessions and vows of that hour? Perhaps the very scene is rendered disagreeable by your apostasy from your convictions—you endeavour to forget it—and you shun the Christian, and the Minister you called in, because they are now witnesses against you.
Here is an awful case, And what can you do? If you wait, the
know you must enter it.
You may play the infidel : you may deny the truth of the Gospel ; but it is useless to deny that you are on the borders of the graveyou may reason about it; you may look
and curse God and your King. But you cannot escape. Per
haps you would be shocked to be unburied; but this is not likely to be your case. You may have a good grave—a much better grave than many of your neighbours; and it will afford your body ease; and in this sense, the clods of the valley will be sweet about you. But is there not a spirit in man? Where will your soul be while your body is resting in the grave? Yea, and how is the body to be disposed of at last ?
The Lord Jesus will raise you, as well as his people; but his agency will have a very different principle. The resurrection of the godly will be performed by him, as their Lord and Redeemer, under the administration of grace; but the wicked will be raised by him as the Ruler and the Judge, under an administration of law ; for they are under the law, and not under grace. They refused the ransom, and died in their guilt; and the grave received them as criminals in charge bound over to justice--for as many as are under the law, are under the curse; and as they live, and die, so they rise the same.
There is also a difference in the bodies revived. What the bodies of the righteous will be, you have heard: but they that sow to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption. The evils attached to your bodies will not be left in the grave, but will cleave to them for ever; and they will inherit the seeds of disease and the principles of deformity; and they will have the same raging appetites and passions—but all unindulged.
The conditions following also differ. of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” “Marvel not at this : for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the
66 And many graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life ; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." Thus both the chief butler and chief baker were released at the same time, and from the same confinement-the one to be advanced, and the other to be executed. The grave, to the believer, is an avenue to heaven. It is the dresschamber, in which the Church puts on her beautiful garments, to arise and meet the Lord in the air. But to others, it is the condemned cell in which the malefactor is lodged till he is led out to punishment. That can hardly be called a deliverance, that releases a man from a bad condition and consigns him to a worse.
It would be well if the bodies of the wicked could remain where by death they are deposited : but this is impossible. The bodies—those bodies which you have so indulged, so pampered, so adorned; the bodies which death delivers to the worms, the resurrection will deliver to the flames !
And where are you now? Take the hemp or the steel, and destroy yourself. Ah! this too is impossible. The soul is instantly before God. You have got rid only of one part of you. And even the part you have demolished, will be re-animated and rendered invulnerable—and you shall seek death, but shall not find it; and shall desire to die, but death shall flee
— But why do I thus address you? It is that, by awakening your consciences from a fatal security, I may in time dispose you to ask, “What must I do to be saved ?" I am sure of this, that I would not have enlarged upon your awful condition had I not believed that there is hope in Israel concerning this thing;
and that none of you are excluded from it unless those who exclude themselves. But so it is. The Saviour stands before you in all the combined forms of power and of pity. He is able-he is willing to save unto the uttermost. Seek him while he may be found.
him while he is near. Wait for no qualifications to recommend you to his gracious notice. He requires none. If Paul and Silas were here, they would say, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Plead not, as an objection, your unworthiness. This should only increase the earnestness of your application. Behold the number and the character of those who have obtained mercy. Read his word; and hear him not only allowing, but inviting and commanding you to approach, with the assurance, “ him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.” Obey his voice. Commit yourselves into his hands. And you shall never come into condemnation, but shall pass from death unto life. And though even then, if you wait, the grave is your house, it will only be a peaceful and temporary residence to sleep in : and you will finally enter another house, a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
THE CHRISTIAN, IN HEAVEN.
“ Who hath brought life and immortality to light through the
Gospel.—2 Tim. i. 10.
DID the heathen then know nothing of life and immortality before? They had their schools and their philosophers. Some of them acquired great distinction and fame. Their sagacity and learning were deep and extensive. They were enriched by a long succession of preceding discoveries and improvements. In the various arts and sciences they much excelled ; and he that would see a fine piece of statuary must fetch it from the ruins of Greece and Rome. But, as to the things of God, we are assured by one who was well qualified to judge, “ They were vain in their imaginations : their foolish heart was darkened. And professing themselves wise, they became fools.”
They had indeed their surmisings concerning a future state ; they brought forward some strong probabilities in its favour; and, aided in their reasonings by hints of unacknowledged tradition, some fine and worthy sentiments escaped from them. But they never taught life and immortality as a doctrine ; they never employed it as a principle and motive. They had no authority to publish it to others; and not one