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on that part, on that point of it, if I may be allowed to speak so, which is to be investigated and explained ; so that, by a frailty which mankind cannot sufficiently deplore, precision confuseth our ideas, and light itself makes a subject dark. In like manner, there are some efforts of divine love, so detached, from sense, so free from all sensible objects, so superior to even all the means, that religion useth to attract us to God, so eagerly aspiring after an union more close, more noble, and more tender, that the greatest part of christians, as I said before, are not only incapable of experiencing them, but they are also hard to be persuaded, that there is any reality in what they have been told about them.
To be Jesus Christ's in the hour of death by condition, by engagement, and above all by inclination, are the only means of dying with delight. Without these, whatever makes our felicity while we live will become our punishment when we die; whether it be a criminal object, or an innocent object, or even an object, which God himself commandeth us to love.
Criminal objects will punish you. They will represent death to you as the messenger of an avenging God, who comes to drag you before a tribunal, where the judge will examine and punish all
your crimes. Lawful objects will distress you. Pleasant fields! convenient houses! we must forsake you. Natural relations ! agreeable companions ! faithful friends! we must give you up. From you, our dear children who kindle in our hearts a kind of love, that agitates and inflames beings, when nature seems to render them incapable of heat and motion, we must be torn from you.
Religious objects, which we are commanded above all others to love, will contribute to our an
guish in a dying bed, if they have confined our love, and rendered us too sensible to that kind of happiness, which piety procures in this world ; and if they have prevented our souls from rising into a contemplation of that blessed state, in which there will be no more temple, no more sacraments, no more gross and sensible worship. The man, who is too much attached to these things, is confounded at the hour of death. The land of love, to which he goes, is an unknown country to him; and as the borders of it, on which he stands, and on which alone his eyes are fixed, present only precipices to his ew, fear and trembling surround his every step.
But a believer, who loves Jesus Christ with that kind of love, which made St. Paul exclaim, The love of Christ constraineth us, 2 Cor. v. 14. finds himself on the summit of his wishes at the approach of death. This believer, living in this world, resembles the son of a great king, whom some sad event tore from his royal parent in his cradle ; who knows his parent only by the fame of his virtues ;. who has always a difficult, and often an intercepted correspondence with his parent: whose remittances, and favors from his parent are always diminished by the hands through which they come to him. With what transport would such a son meet the moment appointed by his father for his return to his natural state !
I belong to God, (these are the sentiments of the believer, of whom I am speaking,) I belong to God, not only by his sovereign dominion over me as a creature ; not only by that right, which as a master, who hath redeemed his slave, he hath acquired over me: but I belong to God, because I love him, and because, I know God alone deserves my higheșt esteem. The deep impressions, that his adora
ble perfections have made on my mind, make me impatient with every object, which intercepts my sight of him. I could not be content to abide any longer in this world, were he not to ordain my stay; and were I not to consider his will as the only law of my
conduct. But the law, that commands me to live, doth not forbid me to desire to die. I consider death as the period fixed for the gratifying of my most ardent wishes, the consummation of my highest joy. Whilst I am at home in the body, I am absent from the Lord, 2 Cor. v. 6. But it would be incomparably more delightful to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord, ver. 8. And what can detain me on earth, when God shall condescend to call me to himself?
Not ye criminal objects ! you I never loved; and although I have sometimes suffered myself to be seduced by your deceitful appearances of pleasure, yet I have been so severely punished by the tears that you
have caused me to shed, and by the remorse, which you have occasioned my conscience to feel, that there is no reason to fear my putting you into the plan of my felicity.
Nor shall ye detain me lawful objects! How strong soever the attachments, that unite me to you, may be, you are only streams of happiness, and I am going to the fountain of felicity. You are only emanations of happiness, and I am going to the happy God.
Neither shall ye, religious objects ! detain me. You are only means, and death is going to conduct me to the end, you are only the road, to die is to arrive at home. True, I shall no more read those excellent works, in which authors of the brightest genius have raised the truth from depths of darkness and prejudice, in which it hath been buried, and placed it in the most lively point of view. I shall
hear no more of those sermons, in which the preacher, animated by the holy spirit of God, attempts to elevate me above the present world : but I shall: hear and contemplate eternal wisdom, and I shall discover in my commerce with it the views, the designs, the plans of my Creator ; and I shall acquire more wisdom in one moment by this mean than I should ever obtain by hearing the best composed sermons, and by reading the best written books, True, I shall no more devote myself to you, closet exercises ! holy meditations! aspirings of a soul in search of its God! crying, Lord, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory! Exod-xxxiii. 18. Lord dissipate the dark thick cloud that conceals thee from my sight ! suffer me to approach that light, which hath hitherto been inaccessible to me! But death is the dissipation of clouds and darkness; it is an ap--. proach to perfect light; it takes me from my closet, and presents me like a seraph at the foot of the throne of God and the Lamb.
True, I shall no more partake of you, ye holy ordinances of religion ! ye sacred ceremonies ! that have conveyed so many consolations into my soul; that have so amply afforded solidity and solace to the ties, which united my heart to my God; that have so often procured me a heaven on earth; but I quit you because I am going to receive immediate effusions of divine love, pleasures at God's right hand for evermore, fullness of joy in his presence, Psal. xvi. 11. I quit you because .
Alas! your hearts perhaps have escaped me, my brethren! perhaps these emotions, superior to your piety, are no longer the subject of your attention. I have, however, no other direction
to give you, than : that which may stand for an abridgment of this discourse, of all my other preaching, and of my whole: ministry; Love God; be the Lord's by inclination,