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The Happy Death of the Righteous,
DELINEATED IN A
S E R M O N, Delivered at Langdon, (N. H.) on Sunday, the 15th day of Janu.
ary, 1804, at the Funeral of Mr. JOHN WHITE, who died with the Consumption, on the 13th instant, aged about 40 years.
BY ABNER KNEELAND,
Ministering at Langdon, and at large. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." Fob. " When I awake, I shall be satisfied with thy triumph." David.
REVELATIONS XIV. part of verse 13. BLESSED ARE THE DEAD WHICH DIE IN THÈ LORD! FROM HENCE FORTH SAITH THE SPIRIT, YE4, THAT THEY MAY, REST FROM THEIR LABORS; ETYEIR WORKS DO FOLLOW THEM.
I WOULD just remark, that I have given this text as it stands in the marginal reading, believe ing it to be better adapted to the original meaning, differing a little from our translation, which reads thus : " Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth : yea, saith the Spirit,” &c. which seems to carry an idea, that
those who then died in the Lord, and from that | time forward were more blessed, than any of the dead that had gone before them.
But the true meaning of the text appears to be this ; " Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord :" that is, all that ever did, do now,or ever shall die in him ; " From henceforth, saith the Spirit :” that is, from the time that they die in the Lord and forward; " Yea, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them."
In discussing this subject (having made this brief explanatory remark) I shall endeavor to shew,
I. What we may understand by dying in the Lord.
II. Set forth the blessedness of those who die in the Lord.
III. I shall speak of the labors which they rest from.
IV. Treat of the works that do follow them. And,
V. Conclude by an application of the whole, and a few usual addresses suited to the present occasion.
I. What may we understand by dying in the Lord? Jesus saith, “ He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." John vi. 56. Now we may observe, that to be, or dwell in Christ, is to have Christ dwell in us, which causes a perfect union between us and him.
But what shall we understand by eating Christ's flesh, and drinking his blood, so that he may dwell in us, and we in him? This I conceive to be believing in him, so that by a living faith, our souls do feed upon him, and he gives us to have life in ourselves, even as he hath life in himself. As he saith, “ He that eateth of this bread shall live forever.” (ver 58.) And as it is certain that these mortal bodies must die, so it is certain that they cannot feed on Christ, until this mortal shall have put on immortality : but as the soul is immortal, it may ced upon that immortal food which giveth life.
Thus we may see the necessity of living in the Lord, or Christ, in order to die in him.And to live in him, is to have that faith in him, which worketh by love, purifieth the heart, and overcometh the world. To esteem him as the chiefest among ten thousands, and the one altogether lovely. To imitate him in all his imit. able perfections. To walk in all his commandments blameless. To have the love of God shed abroad in the heart. To die unto sin ani to live unto righteousness. To crucify the oli man in the flesh. To put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new m:in, even Jesus. Christ.' To do good unto all men, especially unto the household of the faithful. To seek peace and pursue it. To feed the hungry, clothe the naked, relieve t'ie oppressed, visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and a life unspotted before the world. And finally to do unto all men as you would wish them to do unto you under a change of circumstances.
All this is included and comprehended, in what we understand, or ought to understand, by being converted from sin unto holiness, and being brought out of nature's darkness into God's marvellous light ; which are certainly implied in living or dwelling in Christ, which is absolutely necessary, in order to die in him.
2. And as life is very uncertain, no age, sex, or condition in life, exempting a person fronı the cold arms of death; this also shows the im. portance of being always prepared for whatever may await us, by constant examination, meditation and prayer, living near to Goil, not stag:
gering concerning his promises, knowing that he who hath promised is not only able but willing to performi,
3. Although it is not certain, but that God may see fit to pour out his spirit and grace, and convert the sinner on a death-bed, or even in a dying hour; yet are we certain that we shall be in a capacity to attend to those gracious calls at such a period as this, when the pangs of death are hanging heavy upon us, and we expecting every moment to launch into eternity, and can see nothing before us but horror and amazement ! or if we should be so happy as to embrace the Saviour, even on a death-bed, we should be but a child in knowledge and grace; far behind those who have travelled on from one degree of grace unto another, and loved 'not their lives unto the death, that they might receive a crown of life.
4. I would not be understood, that any person can go to Christ, live in him, dwell in him, sleep in him, and finally die in him, unless God hath given him eternal life in Christ, not for any works of righteousness that he hath done, or ever can do, but according to his abundant mercy; but being assured of this, that is, that God hath given us all eternal life, and this life is in his Son (for there is no respect to persons with God :) Let us therefore, lay hold on the hope which is set before us, and run with patience, and fight valiantly the Christian warfare, that we may come off conquerors through him who ath loved us, and died for us; that we may be
the praise of his glory, even a kind of first
fruits unto holiness, and share the blessings of those who die in the Lord.
II. I come, Secondly, to set forth the blessedness of those who die in the Lord.
And as I am only to speak of the blessedness of the dead, I must pass over the many blessings which the saints enjoy in this life, such as union and communion with God, and a wellgrounded hope, which is like an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast; which entereth into that which is within the vail, where Jesus our forerunner hąth entered for us ; which buoys them up above all the vanities, affictions, losses, crosses and disappointments in this life : And finally the comfort and consolation the righteous do enjoy, even when they are brought upon a death-bed, and are about to bid adieu to the things of time and sense ; when they can say, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth : and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet, in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my reins be consumed within me." Job xix. 25-27.
I say, I pass by all these, and begin to speak of the blessedness of the righteous, which commences at their death, and will appear more and more glorious, until the whole counsel of God is carried into effect.
1. Those who die in the Lord are attended by guardian angels, who stand ready to convey their spirits into the realms of bliss, while their bodies are conveyed to the silent grave, the