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God it were day!" or, "Would to God it were night!" for they have no rest day nor night, and none they can expect: but the smoke of their torments riseth up for ever and ever. Thus,
it is the apprehension of future wrath and vengeance, as the due desert of our sins, which makes death so exceedingly terrible and stinging to a guilty soul.
III. I shall close up all with Three brief INFERENCES.
i. If sin and guilt be the sting of death, LET US BEWARE, THAT WE ADD NOT MORE POISON TO THIS STING, by adding more sins and iniquities to our past crimes.
Remember, every sin which thou committest will make thee more afraid to die. And, in what dreadful perplexities and agonies of soul wilt thou be, when thy guilt shall stare thee ruthfully in the face, and thy conscience exclaim against thee! and, yet, inexorable death will wait no longer, but cut thee off in the midst of all thy fears and horrors, and thrust thee down to hell, there to undergo more than ever thou couldst fear or imagine.
ii. If sin be the sting of death, then, certainly, THE ONLY
WAY TO DISARM DEATH, IS, BY CLEANSING THYSELF FROM SIN.
Wash thy polluted soul, in the tears of an unfeigned repentance. Sprinkle thy guilty conscience, with that blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel. Then mayst thou breathe out thy soul with comfort, when all that death can do unto thee, is, to change thy hopes into full fruition and enjoyment.
iii. HOW UNSPEAKABLY HAPPY ARE THOSE, TO WHOM THE STING OF DEATH IS TAKEN OUT BY THE DEATH OF CHRIST!
In his body, death struck his sting so deep, that he left and lost it there and, like some venomous creatures, that die as soon as they have stung, animámque in vulnere ponunt, that mortally wound themselves, whenever they do less wound others; so, death, darting its whole sting into Jesus Christ, to wit, the sins of all the world that believe, which were all imputed unto him when he himself bare our sins in his own body on the tree, hath ever since been a harmless, disarmed thing; not able to hurt them, how grim soever its aspect be. Yea, this last
enemy is reconciled unto them, and become one of their party; and they may, with triumph, say, as the Apostle doth, whether life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs: death shall do them the greatest and most real kindness which they can receive; for, as death was brought into the world by sin, so sin shall be abolished out of the world by death: yea, death itself shall abolish death; and bring us into that state, where our life shall be deathless and our holiness sinless.
And this brings me to speak of the Resurrection, by which this victory over death is completed; which will, therefore, be the subject of the ensuing discourse.