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“ Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." Psalm xxiii. 4.
A child is afraid of going into the dark, alone; but if his father goes before, and holds him by the hand, he dares to follow. Only, he keeps close; and he is glad to hear his father's voice, as well as feel his hand.-So let us follow Jesus, who has visited the tomb before us.
"And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.”
Psalm lv. 6.
Not from thy chastening hand, Heavenly Father, would I flee; for there is love in every correction of thy rod. Not from my post of service would I flee, though it may be a bed of languishing; for here Thou are glorified; and Jesus is near, to help and comfort. Not from the Church of the saints on earth would I flee, though the company of saints above be sweeter; for here I may edify them, and they me. But from a vain world, under the tyranny of Satan; from the disorders of the visible Church; from a narrow mind, which understands so little of Divine Mysteries; from a cold heart, that retains so little of Divine Love; from the infirmity of wandering affections; from unbelieving fears; from this body of death--I would pray,
"Good Lord, in thine own time, deliver me !-and, till thy time shall come, let me seek rest nowhere but in Thee!"
Return, then, unto thy rest, O my soul!
"O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also, when I am old and gray-headed, O God! forsake me not; until I have showed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come." Psalm lxxi. 17, 18. To proclaim the love of Jesus, is the delight of every saint; and, blessed be that Saviour! age, which is weak in other things, need not be weak in prayer and praise. Words may be few and feeble: but "Hallelujah," from a dying believer, is like Heaven opened for a moment, to make us feel what Heaven is.
Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended." Isaiah lx. 20.
No gradual rising from the early darkness, to the dawning, and onward to mid-day; no declining sun, no slowly-lengthening shadows, twilight, and returning night; no clouds intervening, no eclipses; but, "sacred, high, eternal noon.”
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present
time are not worthy to be compared with the
glory which shall be revealed in us."
Romans viii. 18.
Look away from the distracting fear of death, lest Satan should tempt you by that fear. Turn away your eyes from suffering, and your ears from what Satan would whisper. How can you tell, or any one else, whether the act of dying will be, to you, hard or easy? You are not to know any thing about it. Fix the eye of faith on Christ. Help us, Lord, by thy free Spirit, to do so, that we may depart in peace!
"For we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." 2 Corinthians v. 1.
The manner of dying is very various; and it is foolish for us to attempt to fancy what kind of death we shall die. The body is compared to a tent. Hezekiah, under a sudden and excruciating attack of sickness, says, "Mine age is removed as a shepherd's tent;" blown away by a hurricane. With others, the tent is taken down, a pin at a time; and folded up.-Now a wise believer does not inquire, after what manner he is likely to die : but he looks beyond death, to the house preparing for him above, founded on the Rock of ages.
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing."
2 Timothy iv. 6—8.
It is the "love of Christ's appearing" that sets the humblest believer, in some sense, on a level with this exalted Apostle and Martyr. For the poorest among Christ's genuine disciples, there is laid up the undeserved reward, the free gift, of a crown of righteousness.
"There remaineth, therefore, a Rest to the people of God." Hebrews iv. 9.
A Rest; or, a "keeping-of-Sabbath." When we have been peculiarly favoured on some Lord's Day, with communications of love, and joy unspeakahle and full of glory; this was a glimpse and earnest of the Everlasting Sabbath above;―vouchsafed, in order to quicken our pilgrim-steps, as we go on from strength to strength.
"O long-expected Day, begin;
Dawn on this world of woe and sin!
Other passages, suited to the circumstances of the dying believer, might be given at full length, with a few remarks: but a simple reference to them must suffice. Read Psalm xvii. 15. lxxiii. 25, 26. Matthew xxv. 34-40. Luke ii. 29, 30. xxiii. 43. John x. 27-30. xi. 25, 26. xiv. 2, 3. Romans viii. 31-39. 1 Corinthians xv. 49-58. Ephesians ii. 4-7. Philippians i. 21-23.
1 Thessalonians iv.
2 Timothy i. 12. Hebrews xii. 22-24. 1 John iii. 1, 2. Revelation vii. 15-17. xiv. 13.
xxi. 3, 4. xxii. 3—5.
It will have been observed, by those who attend the death-beds of pious persons, that, toward the closing scene, a single verse, quoted from the Inspired Volume, comes with peculiar authority and consolation to the inmost soul. It seems, at such a time, as though the Holy Ghost were speaking more intimately, in His own words, to the departing spirit.
May the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus!
RICHARD WATTS, CROWN COURT, TEMPLE BAR.