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Prince of mercy and life, who having vouchsafed thee a sight of his salvation, graciously intends to take thee into his rest, and to receive thee into that glorious peace which reigns above in heaven.
PRAYER AND MEDITATION,
Por a Christian Soul, which strengthens itself against
the Fears of Death, by meditating upon our strict and inseparable union with Jesus Christ by his Holy Spirit, and upon the first fruits of our blessed immortality.
O ALMIGHTY and merciful Lord! the Son of Righteousness, and Fountain of living waters! Drive away from me the dark shadows of death, and quench all the fires that it kindles in my soul. Thou hast not only died for me, but thou art pleased to live in me, to the end I may one day, live for ever with thee. Thou hast not only chosep me, of thy pure mercy, to be thy brother (thy sister) and thy child, but thou hast made me a member of thy mystical body, flesh of thy flesh, bone of thy bone, and hast caused me to partake of thy Holy Spirit. God hath given thee the spirit without measure, that of thy fulness we might all receive, and grace for grace, John i. 16. By the means of this blessed and infinite Spirit that dwells in my soul, I am united to thee in a nearer and more perfect manner, than the tree is to the root from which it springs, or the child to its mother that nourisheth it in her womb, or the members of the human body are to the head that animates them. The ties that unite me unto thee, O glorious Saviour ! are more lasting than the heavens and earth. As nothing can pluck me out of thy hand, so nothing can banish me out of thy heart. Whether I live or die, I am thine, my Lord and my God, and nothing can separate me from thy love.Death can take me out of the world, and snatch nie from the enubraces of my dearest friends ; but it can never separate me from thy Holy Spirit, the soul of my soul, and the light of my life, which cannot be put out by all the envious blasts of the prince of darkness : on the contrary, it will bring me nearer to behold thy face, to rest in thy bosom, and will unite me with thee for ever. Lord, to whom shall I go ? Thou bast the words of eternal life. Thou art the inexhaustible Fountain of wisdom, my hope, my treasure, my glory, and mine only happiness. O faithful and unexceptionable witness! I should be worse than an infidel, should I call in question my salvation and thy glory, since the Father hath not spared thee for me, though thou art his only beloved Son, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person. Since, thou, O merciful Redeemer! hast willingly suffered a shameful death upon the cross, and shed thy precious blood to wash away my sins, and satisfy for my offences, and since thy Holy Spirit is come into my heart, to sprinkle it with that precious blood, and to seal me for the day of redemption. O glorious Spirit of my Saviour, that rests upon me, although thou shouldst enable me to speak with the tongue of angels, I could not sufficiently express the wonderful operations that thou producest in
my soul. Thou kindlest there an holy fire, which like that of thy altar, never dies. Thou formest in me a white stone, wherein is a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it. Thou givest ine to eat of that hidden manna, that food of angels, which the world knoweth not. Thou bearest witness with my spirit, that I am a child and heir of God, and joint heir with Jesus Christ the King of kings : and thou not only sealest unto me the pardon of my sins, but thou purgest my conscience from dead works to serve the living God, Heb. ix. 14. Thou not only causest me to cry Abba, Father, but imprintest in my heart the glorious image of this heavenly Father. Thou
art both the seal of my adoption, and the earnest of mine incorruptible inheritance, prepared for me in heaven. Thou hast not only given me certain hopes of a glorious and eternal life, but thou hast already begun it in my soul, granting me a foretaste of it. Thou both causest me to behold the light of thy grace, and makest it enlighten my understanding. Thou not only vouchsafest me the favour of beholding from this valley of tears thine heavenly kingdom, but givest me to taste of its fruits. I am not yet come to the fountains of water springing up into everlasting life, but I taste the streams and rivers that flow through my heart. [ am not yet in thy holy paradise, but thou hast caused paradise to be in me. Thou hast filled me with a joy unspeakable and full of glory, and hast bestowed upon me the peace of God that passeth all understanding. O living and quickening Spirit, which the world knoweth not? thou strengthenest me in such a manner, that death shall no longer be able to make me afraid. Thou hast united nie for ever to the Prince of Life, and art in me a seed of immortality, a principle of glory, and an inexhaustible source of happiness. Thou art in me to dwell with me for ever; therefore thou shalt fill up in me the measure of thy most signal favours. My faith, borne apon thy wings, hath got a sight of the kingdom prepared for me from the foundation of the world; but shortly I shall see with mine eyes the inexpressible beauties of that celestial country, that flows with the milk of the purest and sincerest joys, and with the honey of the sweetest and most exalted consolations. Thou hast given me a foretaste of the fruits of the tree of life; but when I come into thy paradise, I shall be for ever filled with its delicious fruits. Thou hast already caused some drops of thy heavenly dew to fall upon my heart; but then thou wilt make me drink of the rivers of thy immortal delights. At present, in my painful passage, in the midst of my groans and tears, I gather a few ears; but when I come to my celestial inheritance, I shall reap my hands full with songs of triumph. Here upon earth I see God, as in a glass, darkly; but in heaven I shall behold bin face to face, and shall be satisfied with his likeness. My Lord and My God! who by the infinite merits of thy death hast purchased for us this spirit of life, and hast set upon my soulsuch an authentic sealof my salvation, such a precious earnest of thine eternal bliss, I feelin me the motions and endeavours of this new man that struggles to leave this body of darkness and death, to enter into the light of the living Lord Jesus! since thou hast made me a partaker of thy Holy Spirit, enlightened me with thy heavenly light, caused me to know the way of life, and hast given ine to taste of the heavenly gift, and of the powers of the life to come; since thou hast vouchsafed to me the first fruits of thy glory, and I already feel heaven in my soul; since I behold thee with the eyes of my faith, embrace thee with all my affections, and that thou dwellest in my heart, perfect in me the work of thy grace, and crown me with thy glory. Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. Amen.
The eighth Consolation. Death delivers us from all
the miseries which we daily suffer. THERE are certain pictures with two faces; the one side represents most frightful and bideous objects, the other the most beautiful and pleasing that can be iinagined. This is the true image of death; and in this manner it ought to be painted. For we may consider it as a skeleton, with a fearful countenance, and iron hands, that ravish from us our possessions and honours, tear us from ourselves, and drag our bodies into a loathsome sepulchre. If we look upon death in this view, we cannot but tremble and fear. But we may also look upon
it as a powerful deliverer, that unlooses all our fetters, breaks our chains, and lists up our souls to the highest glory and happiness. If we consider it in this light, there is nothing more lovely than death, nothing more worthy our adnjiration.
I have hitherto endeavoured to show how a believer, shall fortify and comfort himself against the fears of death: but now my pen attempts a nobler theme, and with the assistance of heaven, I shallundertake to prove, not only that death is to be expected without apprehension, but that it is to be embraced with an holy joy; that is, to be desired, not feared. To speak properly, I shall offer no more consolations against the fears of death; for I hope to make it appear, that death itself is to be looked upon as the greatest of all consolations.
To attain my purpose, I shall give you a picture in miniature, of all the dreadful miseries and misfortunes from which death delivers us; and then I shall endeavour to paint in lively colours, or rather, I shall faintly chalk out to you, the blessedness and glory into which it ushers us.
Man's lifeand misery are twin-sisters. They are born at the same time in all the children of Adam ; they also die together at the same instant, in true believers. Man begins his life weeping and crying, and ends it with sighs and groans. We come into the world all covered with blood, and we go out of it covered with the cold sweat of death. If a child cries not as soon as it is born, we judge it to be dead; and when a sick person ceases to groan and complain, we say that he is departing. So thal our crying is a token of life, and the end of our groans an infallible sign of our death. Wretched man! How miserable is thy condition! Thy best friends rejoice at