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wrath beneath which Christ's great soul was bowing ; yet, had it pleased our dying Lord to answer the taunt, I can fancy him bending from the cross to say, “I am doing a great work so that I cannot come down ;” I have a world to save, therefore I cannot save myself ; without shedding of blood is no remission. Poor scoffer ! no cross for me, no crown for thee.
Well may we say with Moses, I will turn aside, and see this great sight. What spectacle so wonderful, so affecting? Behold, how he loved us! Around that cross let faith fling her eager, joyful arms. Embrace it. Oh! clasp it with more than a lover's ardor ; in life and death, cling to it like a drowning man, whom the waves cannot tear from his hold.
In making our peace with God, Christ had a great work to do. It is finished ; and ours, like his, closes not save with life. We may sometimes think of an aged Christian as one seated on the bank of Jordan in the serene evening of a holy life, waiting the summons, looking back on the world without a regret, and forward into eternity without the shadow of a fear. We fancy him, by the eye of faith, piercing the thick mists that hang over death's dark flood, and as he descries the “shining ones” walking on the other shore, we fancy him stretching out his eager arms and crying, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove, that I might fly away and be at rest !” But the picture is more beautiful than true. In working out their salvation with fear and trembling, in carrying forward, through the help of the Holy Spirit, the work of sanctification, God's people will feel the need of watching and working to the very end. The corn shakes when it is ripe; the fruit drops when it is mellow; the Christian dies when his work is done. I see him, as a soldier, dying in harness, fighting on to the very last gasp ; as a servant, he may be found, up to the very hour of his Master's coming, putting the house in order. Though the more work done now, the less there is to do at a less suitable time, it occasionally happens that the death-bed of the believer is the scene of his hardest fight, and of Satan's fiercest temptations. Nowhere has the roaring of the lion sounded more dreadful than in the valley of the shadow of death. And it is sometimes with sin as with the monster of the deep, when to the cry, “Stern all,” the men who have buried their lances in its ample sides, seize the oars, and pull rapidly out of the sweep of that tremendous tail that beats the ocean till it sounds afar, and churns the blood-stained waves into crimson foam. Men of undoubted piety have found sin's dying to be sin's hardest struggles. It happens with the kingdom of heaven as with a city the violent take by force; the hardest fighting may be in the breach, the battle may rage fiercest where the city is entered, and just when the prize is to be won.
We can leave the cares of our death to God; our business is with present duty. Our work is not finished, while with some of us it may be little more than begun. And I may address the most advanced and aged Christian, in God's words to Joshua, Thou art old and well stricken in years, and yet there is much land to be possessed. Sin has still more or less power over you, and it should have none; your corruptions have suffered a mortal wound, but they are not dead ; your affections rise upward to heaven, yet how much are they held back by the things earth ; though your heart turns to Christ, like the compass needle to the pole, how casily is it disturbed, how tremblingly it points to him; your spirit has wings, yet how short are its flights, and how often, like a half-fledged eaglet has it to return to its nest on the Rock of Ages ; your soul is a garden where Christ delights to walk when the north and south winds blow, to exhale its spices, yet with many lovely flowers, how many vile weeds grow there. With a great work to do, and little time to do it, and that little most uncertain, there is much need to work, the Spirit aiding, heaven helping us. Work, work while it is called to-day, looking for your rest in heaven. Oh, how far short is our holiness of the holiness of heaven. So much imperfection, so many infirmities cleave to the best of us, that I sometimes think that a change must take place at the moment of death second only to that at the moment of conversion. There is much sin to be cast off, like a slough, with this mortal flesh. Saw we the spirit at its departure, as Elisha saw his ascending master, we might see a mantle of infirmity and imperfection dropped from the chariot that bears it in triumph to the skies. I have thought that there must be a mysterious work done by the Spirit of God in the very hour of death to form the glorious crown and copestone of all his other labors; and that, like the wondrous but lovely plant which blows at midnight, grace comes out in its perfect beauty amid the darkness of the dying hour. How that is done I do not know. It takes one whole summer to ripen the fields of corn, and five hundred years to bring the oak to its full maturity. But He at whose almighty word this earth sprung at once into perfect being, with loaded orchards, and golden harvests, and clustering vines, and stately palms, and giant cedars, man in ripened manhood, and woman in her full-blown charms, is able in the twinkling of an eye, ere our fingers have closed the filmy
· orbs, or we have stooped to print one fond last kiss on
the marble brow, to crown the work his grace began. With him one day is as a thousand years, and a thou sand years are as one day. He shall perfect that which concerneth you. He shall bring forth the headstone thereof, with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Now, THEREFORE, UNTO HIM THAT IS ABLE TO KEEP YOU FROM FALLING, AND TO PRESENT YOU FAULTLESS BEFORE THE PRESENCE OF HIS GLORY WITH EXCEEDING JOY, TO THE ONLY WISE GOD OUR SAVIOUR, BE GLORY AND MAJESTY, DOMINION AND POWER, BOTH NOW AND EVER, AMEN.