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wise and good man ought to stand affected towards life and death, He ought not to be servilely attached to the one. He has no reason abjectly to dread the other. Life is the gift of God, which he may justly cherish and hold dear. Nay, he is bound by all fair means to guard and preserve it, that he may continue to be useful in that post of duty where Providence has placed him. But there are higher principles to which the love of life should remain subordinate. Wherever religion, virtue, or true honour call him forth to danger, life ought to be hazarded without fear. There is a generous contempt of death, which should distinguish those who live and walk by the faith of immortality. This is the source of courage in a Christian. His behaviour
ought to shew the elevation of his soul above the present world; ought to discover the liberty which he possesses, of following the native sentiments of his mind, without any of those restraints and fetters which the fear of death imposes on vicious men.
At the same time, this rational contempt of death must carefully be distinguished from that inconsiderate and thoughtless indifference, with which some have affected to treat it. This is what cannot be justified on any principle of reason. Human life is no trifle, which
men may play away at their pleasure. Death, in every view, is an important event. It is the most solemn crisis of the human existence. A good man has reason to meet it with a calm and firm mind. But no man is entitled to treat it with ostentatious levity. It calls for manly seriousness of thought. It requires all he recollection of which we are capable; that with the proper disposition of dependent beings, when the dust is about to return to its dust, we may deliver up the spirit to Him who SERMON IX.
ON THE HAPPINESS OF A FUTURE STATE.
(Preached at the Celebration of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.)
REVELATIONS, vii. 9.
After this I beheld, and, lo! a great multitude,
which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.
In this mysterious book of Scripture many revolutions are foretold, which were to take place in the church of God. They are not indeed so foretold as to afford clear and precise information concerning the time of their coming to pass. It would have been, on many accounts, improper to have lifted up too far that awful yeil which covers futurity. The intention of the Spirit of God was not to gratis fy the curiosity of the learned, by disclosing to them the fate of monarchies and nations, but to satisfy the serious concerning the general plan, and final issue, of the divine Government. Amidst those distresses which befel Christians during the first ages, the discoveries made in this book were peculiarly seasonable; as they shewed that there was an Almighty Guardian, who watched with particular attention over the interests of the church which he had formed, who foresaw all the commotions which were to happen among the kingdoms of the earth, and would so overrule them as to promote, in the end, the cause of truth. This is the chief scope of those mystic visions with which the Apostle John was favoured; of seals opened in heaven ; of trumpets sounding; and vials poured forth. The kingdom of darkness was to maintain for a while a violent struggle against the kingdom of light. But, at the conclusion, a voice was to be heard, as the voice of many waters and of mighty thunderings, saying, Allelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth! The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign for
Such is the prospect with which the Divine Spirit, at intervals, enlightens, and with which he finally terminates, the many dark and direful scenes that are exhibited in this book. In closing the canon of Scripture, he, with great propriety, leaves upon our mind deep impressions of the triumphs of righteousness, and of the blessedness of the redeemed. After this I beheld, and, lo! a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.
These words present a beautiful description of the happiness of saints in heaven; a subject on which it is, at all times, both comfortable and improving to meditate. On this day in particular, when we are to commemorate the dying love of our Saviour, we cannot be better employed than in contemplating what his love hath purchased ; in order both to awaken our gratitude, and to confirm our attachment to him. The sacrament of the Supper is the oath of our fidelity. Let us dispose ourselves for celebrating it, by taking a view of the rewards which await the faithful. I shall, for this end, in several observa
Rev. xix. 6.XI, 15.