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To this Book of Death and Heaven, when it was translated into the German Language, and published at Halle, in Saxony, 17:27.
TO THE READER, HERE is communicated to you a treatise, in which the late pious Mr. Frank, professor of divinity at Halle, found so inueh edification and satisfaction that he engaged an able person to translate it into our German tongue, to make others partake of the same spiritual benefit. This treatise consists of two funeral sermons, which an English divine, wbo perhaps is still living, composed on the death of two eminent persons, which he enlarged afterwards for their publication. The subject of the first is death, taken from 1 Cor. xv. 26. The second is heaven, from Heb. xii. 22. From this last be takes an occasion of flying with his thoughts into the blessed mansions of the just made perfect, by giving us not only a very probable and beautiful idea of the glory of a future life in general, but also an enumeration of the many sorts of employments and pleasures, that are to be met with there.
After the several false notions, people of different complexions have of eternal life, are laid open, the author of the preface goes on and quotes some German authors, who have writ upon that subject, and says at last: I hope nobody will presume to aver this doctrine to have been so far exhaused by those authors, that nothing new could be said upon it. For several learned writers in England, who in meditating and searching after hidden truths, have shewn an extraordinary capacity, prove the contrary; and amongst others there is the treatise, called, The future State, published 1683, by a gentleman whose name is concealed, whicli appeared in French 1700, and is now printed in German with a preface of the famous Dr. Pritius, senior, at Frankfurt ad Mænum. There is among Sir R. Blackmore's Essays, one upon the future beatitudes. The traces of these two English gentlemen are followed by our present English divine I. Watts, who however, in many points has outdone these predecessors, and advanced a step farther in his contemplations.
Though the first sermon contains many elegant passages worthy to be read, yet the latter seems to be a more elaborate piece, because it sets the doctrine of eternal life in a greater light, and enriches it with many probable inferences drawn from the word of God. He proposes his excellent thoughts in most emphatical terms, in that beautiful order and with such a vivacity of style that he keeps the reader in a continual attention, and an eager desire to
It is plain the author's mind was so taken up with the beauty of heaven, that his month could not but speak from the abundance of his heart. There is a secret unction in his expressions, which leaves a sweet savour in the reader's heart, and raises in bim a desire after the blessed society he speaks of. And though the reader should not entirely agree with the author's notions, yet he will not peruse this treatise without a particular edification and blessing. I cannot deny but the author's conjectures may be sometimes carried a little too far, but that doth not prejudice the subject in the least. Be. sides, he is generally so happy as to tind some arguments for his probable notions in the word of God, and to answer very dexterously all the objections that can be made against him.
May the ever-living God give a blessing to this work, and grant that those gweet aud relishing truths proposed in these leaves may make such an impression upon the minds of the readers as those noble truths deserve. May be prevent all the abuse of this delightful subject, and never permit it to be turned into a mere dry or fruitless speculation; but may he inflame every reader with a holy desire after a blessed eternity, and rouze and excite all those, that have not begun yet to tread the path of salvation, to enter into the same without delay, that they may not rest in a mere delightful prospect of the land of Casiaan, oor be for ever excluded by their unbelief from the eternal enjoyment of it.
Given at Halle, July 10, 1727.
The Conquest over Death.
Described in a Funeral Discourse in Memory of the Lady Hartopp, deceased.
THE INTRODUCTION. I persuade myself that none of you are unacquainted with that moumini providence that calls me to the service of this day*. The words which were borrowed from the lips of the dying, I am desired to improve for the instruction and comfort of those that live. They are written in
1 Cor. xv. 26.— The last enemy that shall be destroyed, is death. WHEN a nation hath lain for whole ages under the power of some mighty tyrant, and has suffered perpetual ravages from his hands, what gladness runs through the land, at the sure prediction of his ruin? and how is every inhabitant pleased, while he hears of the approaching dowofal of his great enemy? this is he that has slain my father or my mother, my children, or my dearest relatives, and is still making havoc of the remnant of my friends, while I myself stand in hourly danger.” This pleasure grows up into more perfect joy, when we are assured this is the last tyrant that shall arisc, the last enemy that shall afflict us; for he shall have no successor, and we shall be for ever free. Such should be the rejoicing of all the saints, when they hear so desirable and divine a promise as the words of my text; The last enemy that shall be destroyed, is death.
To improve this glorious proposition, let us consider these four things, with a reflection or two upon each of them :
I. How death appears to be an enemy to the saints.-II. Why it is called the last enemy, or the last that shall be destroyed. III. How it is to be destroyed, and what are the steps or gradual efforts towards its destruction.-IV. What are the advantages that the saints receive by the destruction of this last enemy.
Section I.-Death an enemy even to good men.--The first enquiry is, how, or in what sense death appears to be an enemy to the saints? That it is in general an enemy to human nature, is sufficiently evident from its first introduction into the world; for it was brought in as an execution of the first threatening given to Adam in paradise, Gen. ii. 17. In the day thou eatest thou shalt die. It came in as a punishment for sin, and every punishment in some respect opposes our interest, and our happiness. When it seized on man at first, and planted the seeds of mortality in his nature, he then began to be deprived of that peace and health, that vigour and immortality which he possessed before his fall, till at last it brought him down to the dust; and ever since, all the sons of Adam have found and felt it an enemy to their natures.
* Nov. 9, 1711, the Lady Hartopp died, and this discourse was delivered at Stoke-Newington, Nov. 25, following.
To sinners indeed it is an enemy in a more dreadful sense, and its attendants are more terrible a thousand-fold. For besides all the common miseries of the flesh which they sustain, it delivers over their spirits into everlasting misery; it finishes their reprieve and their hope for ever; it plunges them at once into all the terrors of a most awakened conscience, and cuts them off from all the amusements and cares of this life, which laid their guilt and their conscience asleep for a season. Death consigns over a sinner to the chains of the grave, and the chains of hell together, and binds and reserves him a prisoner of despair for the most complete torments of the second death.
But I would confine my discourse here only to believers, for it is with respect to them this chapter is written. I know death is often called their friend, because it puts an end to their sins and sorrows; but this benefit arises only from the covenant of grace, which sanctifies it to some good purposes to the children of God. It is constrained to become their friend in some instances, contrary to its own nature and its original design : But there is reason enough, if we take a survey of its own nature, and its present appearances, to call it an enemy still, upon these following accounts:
1. Death has generally many terrible attendants and forerunners when it comes ; terrible to nature and the flesh of the most exalted christians.
Here, should I begin to describe the long and dismal train of death, the time would fail me. Shall I mention the sickness and the pain, the sharp anguish of the body, and sometimes the sharper methods of medicine to relieve it, all which prove useless and vain in that day? Shall I recount the tedious and uneasy hours, the tiresome and sleepless nights, when the patient longs for the slow return of the morning; and still when the light breaks, he finds new uneasiness, and wishes for the shadow and darkness again ? Shall I speak of the dulness of the natural spirits, and the clogs that hang heavy upon the soul in those hours ; so that the better part of man is bound and oppressed, and shut up, and cannot exert itself agreeable to the character of an intellectual being? Besides, all the designs of the mind are interrupted and
broken in death; all that the saint intended to do for God, is cut off at once, and his holy purposes are precluded, which often adds to the trouble of a dying christian ; Ps. cxlvi. 4. When man returns to his earth, in that very day his thoughts perish.
Shall I put you in mind of the sighs and sorrows of dearest friends that stand around the bed all in tears, and all despairing! Shall I speak of the last convulsions of nature, the sharp conflict of the extreme moments, and the struggling and painful efforts of departing life, which none can know fully but those that have felt them, and none of the dead come back to give us an account? Is it possible for us to survey these scenes of misery, and not to believe that the hand of an enemy has been there? The bodies of the saints are the temples of the Holy Ghost, and the members of Christ; I Cor. vi. 15, 19. Death murders these bodies, these members of the Lord, and ruins these temples to the dust, and may well be called their enemy upon this account.
2. Death acts like an enemy, when it makes a separation between the soul and the body. It divides the nature of man ia halves, and tears the two constituent parts of it asunder.
Though this becomes an advantage to the soul of the saint through the covenant and appointment of grace, yet to have such an intimate union dissolved between flesh and spirit carries something of terror in it; and there may be an innocent reluctance in the nature of the best christian against such an enemy as this : therefore St. Paul, in 2 Cor. v. 4. does not directly desire to be uncloathed, but rather to be cloathed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life; that is, to be translated at once into an immortal state. The soul and body have been long acquainted with each other, and the soul has performed alınost all its operations by the use of the senses and the limbs : It sees by the eye, it hears by the ear, it acts by the hands, and by the tongue it converses. Now to be separated at once from all these, and to be at once conveyed into a new strange world, a strange and unknown state both of being and action, has something in it so surprizing, that it is a little frightful to the nature of man, even when he is sanctified and fitted for heaven.
And as the soul is dismissed by death into a state of separation, so the body, like a fallen tabernacle, is forsaken, lies uninhabited and desolate. Shall I lead your thoughts back to the bed where your dear relatives expired ? and give you a sight of the dead, whose beauty is turning apace into corruption, and all the loveliness of countenance fled for ever? The body, that curious engine of divine workmanship, is become a moveless lump: Death sits heavy upon it, and the sprightliness and vigour of life is perished in every feature and in every limb? Shall we go down to the dark chambers of the grave, where each of the dead lie in
their cold mansions, in beds of darkness and dust? The shadows of a long evening are stretched over thein, the curtains of a deep midnight are drawn around them, and the worm lies under them, end the worm covers them.
A saint is no more exempted from all these frightful attendants of death than a sinner is. Those eyes that have been perpetually lifted up to the God of heaven in prayer, lie closed under ground. "That tongue that has spoken much for God in the world, lies silent in death. Those bands that have ministered to the necessities of the saints, and those feet that have gone often to the house of God, death has confined them in his chains. Those natural pow ers that have been active in the service of the gospel, can speak, can move, can act no more. But I need not recite these things to you, the images of them are too fresh and painful, and sit too heavy upon your remembrance.
3. Death is an enemy to the saint, so far as it hinders him from the enjoyment of his perfect heaven, for it keeps one part of him in the grave for many years or ages.
Let us think of the dust of the ancient martyrs, the dust of the apostles, and the holy prophets : Let us look many ages backward to the dust of David, and Abraham, and Noah, to the dust of Adam, the first of men: How long have their souls waited in heaven, as it were in a widowed estate? How long has their flesh been mingled with common earth, and laid confined under the bands of death, useless to all the glorious purposes of their formation and their being? A tedious extent of time! Four or five thousand years, wherein they have done nothing for God in the body, and in the body received nothing from God? For death hinders a believer from some of the business of heaven, and some of the blessedness of it.
1. From some of the business of heaven : It is only the soul that is then received to glory, and dwells there alone for a scason, while death keeps the body prisoner in the grave; it is only the soul that glorifies its Maker in that'upper world, the world of spirits, for the flesh lies silent in the dust: The grave cannot praise thee, deati cannot celebrate thee, O Lord; Isa. xxxviii. 18. The body is redeemed with the blood of Christ, as well as the soul, but death puts fetters upon it, and forbids it to serve its Redeemer.
2. The believer is restrained also by death from some of the blessedness of heaven; it is only the soul enjoys the delight, and that too only in its abstracted nature, and "pure intellectual capacity; it is cut off by death from all that rich variety of pleasure which rises from its communion with so noble a frame as the body of man is. It has no senses to receive the satisfactions that arise from the material part of heaven: It has vo eyes to behold the glorified flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ; no ears to hear his