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Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of his saints. — Psalm cxvi. 15. [1807.] We are creatures travelling so fast to death, that every day tells us of some friend gone : at the same time, we are creatures so responsible, that every one, small and great, must stand before God to give account. Death is a vast event : we find Job calling it a " change." In the case of the righteous, it is called entering into peace : Isa. Ivii. 1. — To them death is "gain:" Phil. i. 21. — ot only their lives, but their death is "precious in the sight of the Lord." But of what importance is the death of a saint in the sight of the world ? Is it not as the death of an ascetic ? A minister of Christ must not speak with regard to the sentiments of the world, either in this case, or in any other. Every thing has a littleness in it till it is connected in our minds with God, The beggar Lazarus might not be much thought of, either in life or death ; but we learn from Scripture, that he was one of God's saints ; for, when he died, he was " carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom." To such a man as this, we may say, Be of good cheer, thou art a King's son ! There is a dignity in his person : he belongs to " a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people." — 1 Peter ii. 9. He may die in obscurity, in darkness, but djung ** in the Lord," he shall be safe and happy forever. In answer, therefore, to the question — What is the death of a saint in the sight of the world ? — a minister of Christ, as instructed by the word of God, will answer by saying only. What it is in God's sight. He will say, There is another member of Christ '* taken
J54 ORIGI AL THOUGHTS. from the evil to come." *' Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from henceforth : yea, saith the Spirit,
that they may rest from their labors, and their works, do follow them." It is the servant of God, who, having finished the work he had to do, is called to receive that blessed sentence — " Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."— Matt. xxv. 34. I shall endeavor to show, I. That the death of the saints does not take PLACE BUT BY THE LoRd's SPECIAL APPOI TME T I II. That when it does take place, it is specially DEAR TO him. The " Saints ?" Who are they ? Certainly not all who may call themselves so : otherwise, hypocrites would come under that name. The word saint signifies a holy, or godly person ; one that is so by profession, covenant, and conversation. Though, in the w^orld's vocabulary, the word " saint " is a term of reproach, it is in reality an honorable title, and signifies one that is set apart for God — one, that while he lives in the world, lives above it. Psalm xvi. 3 ; Heb. vi. 10. It is also applied to those blessed spirits who are permitted by God to partake of everlasting glory and blessedness. Rev. xviii. 24. — It is sometimes applied to the holy angels : Deut. xxxiii. 2. — But, in the text, it means those who have received mercy : they are the same whom our Lord calls "blessed," Matt. v. 1 — 12. . They are precious ; they are separated by divine grace, and " called to be saints." Such are precious in their example, as lights in the world : Matt. v. 14 ; in their usefulness ; in their person, and interests : " He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of mine eye :" Zech. ii. 8. — This respects their lives ; but, in their
MORTALITY SWALLOWED UP OF LIFE. 85 death, there appears to be no difference. Many characters shine Hke meteors while they live : such a one was Jehu: '*Come and see my zeal for the Lord !" — But, when you come to the death of such characters, there is something so degrading : death revels in the
'* last end " of the ungodly : it seems to mock, and say, Where are you now ? But not so, the death of the saints ; that cannot take place but by the Lord's special appointment ; and, when it does take place, it is specially dear to him. The death of the saints is precious in the sight of the Lord, as it is timely, and in season : God has ordered the time in wisdom, and in mercy. What ! may some exclaim, ''timely " and ^'seasonable,'" when, perhaps, the saint dies in the midst of usefulness, and when the happiest prospects are presenting themselves ! Can you call this " seasonable ?" Brethren ! It is not for us to know the times and the seasons. Our whole life, when compared to eternity, is but a moment. But, with God, there is no disorder : all things are appointed. If a parent should send for a child from school long before his usual time ; what is this ? If, to fix it in a situation to advantage, though before the expected time, can you wonder ? It is gracious, as regards the subject removed ; and as regards ourselves, it may convince us how little we can build upon creature comforts : the best is but a loan. What do you say to Abel being taken, and Cain spared ? You may be assured that Abel was blessed, and God was determined to plant him in the Garden above, for which he had prepared him. Such providences may also say to us, '* Be ye also ready ;" ye, especially, who have had many warnings : old age may be warned, when youth is snatched away. The death of the saints is specially dear to the Lord;
86 ' ORIGI AL THOUGHTS. for they are his "jewels ;" Mai. iii. 17 ; therefore, they are taken care of, and put into a place of security. They are his choice wheat: therefore they are seasonably gathered into his garner. When the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come." It is said to them — before experiencing blights — " Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord:" there shall be an end of conflict, an end
of sin, an end of sorrow ; they sleep in Jesus ; and precious in the sight of the Bridegroom, is the sight of the. Bride. The saints are honorable in their departure : ** Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable :" Isa. xliii. 4. Jacob was in a post of honor when he exclaimed, "I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord !" He was a dying witness for God, when he gave this testimony of his faith : and it will be a token of our preparation for death, if we can speak the same language ; as many other saints have done. Men, who have never considered what is the high privilege of a saint, in being able to say with St. Paul, " For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens," can never understand the blessedness of those that die in the Lord ; nor that joyful assurance which is an earnest of their inheritance. Such honor belongeth unto the saints : the world can neither give, nor promise, such things. Heb. xi. 13 — 16. The death of the saints is advantageous to them, in bringing them to a place, and point, to which the eye of their faith has ever been directed ! *' They shall see his face ; and his name shall be in their foreheads." Rev. xxii. 4. St. John was commanded to write, by a voice from heaven, saying, " Blessed " — - — Who are
MORTALITY SWALLOWED UP OF LIFE. 87 blessed ? the great, the honorable, the rich ? o ! " Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth !" — They have now exchanged faith for sight, and understand the whole history of the matter : God has taken them in wisdom as well as mercy ; taken them from the evil to come. God has seen fit^to remove them from temptation and toil : the Son, that is come of age, is introduced to his inheritance. And God removes the fear of death ; so that they expire, saying, " O death, where is thy sting ? O grave, where is thy victory ?" ow, Christ's prayer is fulfilled : — " Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am ; to behold my glory."
John xvii. 24. — ow, they enter into his courts : " Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve .him day and night in his temple." Rev. vii. 13 — 17. ow, they see the fulfilment of all the promises ; now, they see the face of God : " Blessed are the pure in heart ; for they shall see God," (Matt. v. 8,) " and his name shall be on their foreheads." God has made a distinction, a real difference in them here below : so it is said, (Ezek. ix. 4,) " Set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and that cry for the abominations that are done in the midst thereof:" and Rev. vii. 3, the angel was commanded, '¦ Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads." But hereafter, " They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament." Dan. xii. 3. " Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out : and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is ew Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from mv God: and I will write upon him my new^ name." Rev. iii. 12. To under-
88 ORIGI AL THOUGHTS. stand fully the meaning of these promises, we must wait for their fulfilment : but we may say in anticipation, " As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness : I shall be satisfied, when I awake with thv likeness." There is a great mistake which is often made. People are very anxious to know how their friends depart : i. e. they are very anxious about a mere circumstance : now, instead of this, we should be anxious to know how they lived. Tell me not how a man died, but how he lived. If we have fought the Lord's battles — if we have run with patience the race set before us — we may be very easy about the mere circumstances of death. Saint Paul said, " 1 have fought a good fight, I have finished my course ; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of glory that fadeth not away." If we can say thus, we may be very easy about dvino; hours, and leave them to God. If clothed with the garments of salvation, we need not be anxious
as to the time or manner of our summons ; but say with David, in the twenty-third Psalm, " Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil : for thou art with me ; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me :" which was wonderfully experienced by the Christian brother* whose loss we have so much cause to lament. You will all allow that he lived in the Lord, and I am well convinced that he died in the Lord. We must all die ; but neither preacher, nor hearer, has this truth sufficiently impressed upon his mind : but if we are of those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb, we shall indeed be blessed, whether called sooner or later to pass through the valley of death. My dear hearers, let us consider what a privilege it ? The Hon. and Rev. W. B. Cadogan.
MORTALITY SWALLOWED UP OF LIFE. 89 is to be — what the world scorns — a Saint ! The point is not, whether we die in pain and misery, or more quietly : it is not, whether we die in joy or sorrow, in poverty or affluence : these are mere circumstances : the grand question is — What is our state before God ? Many of the saints have had great conflicts in their dying hours : our blessed Saviour expired under agony, and after suffering the hiding of his Father's face : — but to die, commending his soul to God, as Christ did, is what every Christian should desire. There is one question which may be put to the ancient and modern heathen : — " Can you tell me how to meet death ?" What can you say to the purpose on this subject ? Whatever does not meet such a case as this, is mockery : — it is a lie ! To an awakened man, who has not received God's remedy, death is the most dreadful evil ! — But how precious is the Gospel, when it puts death into the rich inventory of a Christian ! *' All things are yours ; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come : all are yours ; and ye are Christ's ; and Christ is God's." 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23. How should we contend, not for the " letter," but for the " spirit"
of the Gospel, that can make even death a blessing to us! What a miserable nnistake does the world inake in saying that melancholy is the effect of Gospel truth ! If death were only to happen to the saints, there would be some color for such a sentiment. But " death reigneth from Adam to Moses." Man is a sinner, and therefore a sufferer, whether he believes the Gospel or not. " Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints :" here is solid rock. We should commit the article of death to him : it is his affair more than it is ours : too many judge of death by their senses : a
90 ORIGI AL THOUGHTS. weak believer, seeing others fear, is apt to say, " What if my faith should fail, when I come to die !" I repeat it, leave this article of death to Him to whom it belongs : He has said, it is precious in his sight. Get more acquainted with him who has conquered death, and every other enemy of his people. Death is only a servant whom the Lord will send for every one of us. If you are seeking Gospel privileges, confess they are realities ; and assert that you have found them so. To him that testifieth, " Surely I come quickly,'' we should be ready to echo back, with the Church, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." [Preached at Long- Acre Chapel, Wednesday, Jan. 25, after the death of the Hon. and Rev. W. B. Cadogan, who died Jan. 18, 1797, aged 46.]
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