Page images
PDF
EPUB

SERMON XXXVI.

The last enemy destroyed.

1 Cor. Iv. 26. The last enemy that all be destroyed is death.

MELANCHOLY death must again be the subject of our media tations. This gloomy theme should not be dwelt upon so long, but it is absolutely necessary we should foon enter the lifts and held a conflict with it, hence it is an instance of the highest wifdom to be in readiness for the combat. If there be an enemy who will surely attack us, whom we can neither appease nor avoid, it would be the extremity of folly to neglect preparation for the engagement. And would it not manifest a sound judg ment and a good understanding, seeing his assault is not to be efcaped, to enquire whether there be any method by which he may be overcome? I must now speak of that which will soon close my mouth in the profoundest filence, and you must hear of that which will shortly stop your ears. And we shall nei. ther speak nor hear any more till the last trumpet shall sounds and the bright morning of the resurrection open.-

intent upon

Was the dread pomp of a funeral presented before us, the f. lent proceflion, the fad train of mourners, the berieved friends taking a final last look, groaning out a farewell, eyes and hearts

the gasping grave, the hollow murniurs of the fal. ling clods sending forth a doleful sound, a discourse on death might then have a double force, and make the impreflions deep. Altho' this painful appearance is not at present pafling in review, yet it is an object fo frequent, that we must, me thinks, always bear upon our minds the image. As by an immutable statute of heaven, it is appointed unto all men once to die, therefore a proper consideration of death can scarcely at any time be needlefs or impertinent. Are there any here who can object and say, that reflections apon our mortality are vain, for men are naturally too fenfible hereof and too much dread the name? If this were just, there would be no need of such a pious aspiration handed down to us in the divine oracles : “O that they were wise, that they understood this, * that they would consider their latter end." Notwithstanding death is certain, and preparation for it of the greatest impor. tance, yet, alas ! how few, how very few lay it seriously to heart; how few are engaged to have its power destroyed before it flay them? While it is the king of terrors to the world, many remain ignorant of its chief injury, thinking it hath done its utmost when the connection between the soul and body is dissolved, considering not that the everlasting separation of both from the fountain of blessedness is still infinitely greater For what is temporal when compared with eternal death? To think of the separation of those near and dear companions, the soul and body, of the debasement and horrors of the grave, the bed all fench and putrefaction, the coverlit crawling worms is fad and melancholy. They are very unwelcome and dismal thoughts to the minds of finners, but what follows after is inconceivably more dismal, and inexpressibly more terrible.

But is there no escape from this destroying enemy? Must all become his prey? And shall he still triumph and pass un.

Sanquished ? Our text affords here an answer of sweet joy and the (trongest confolation, that this universal destroyer fhall be destroyed.--" The last enemy that fhall be destroyed * is death." Tho he is an enemy, and the last enemy, yec his conquest and destrudion is certain. This is a precious hope and a transporting consideration, that tho' he hath and will reign long, yet he will not reign always. This our glori ous Saviour and all conquering king hath done, and will infallibly accomplish. Thus the captain of our falvation hath declared, “O death, I will be thy plague, O grave, I will “ be thy destruction." His arm is almighty, and he goes forth conquering and to conquer. And the last enemy he will vanquith and fubdue is death. But in leading your attention particularly thro' this subject, we shall endeavor to fhow,

First, how death is an enemy.

Secondly, establith this truth, that this enemy fhall be destroyed.

First, let us confider this chief of all enemies. It is usual for the sacred volume to employ fenfible images to communicate to our minds spiritual ideas. Hence our ruin by fin, and recovery by the redeinption of Christ, are often exhibited to us in warlike or military terms. Thus Satan is said to lead us captive; Christ is stiled the captain of our salvation ; sin is fpoken of as bondage,chains, imprisonment; religion, as liberty, freedom, deliverance, victory, &c. Therefore all obstructionsand impediments which interrupt our patiage to everlasting blessed ness and felicity, are denominated enemies. Death is repres fented as the last of these enemies, because he is the last with which we have to engage in this world, and it is the last which will be deltroyed. For he never will be compleatly and perfectly conquered until the resurrection, when he must surrender up all those lig hath confined in his cold prison for thousands of ages. He himself must then die and cease fore. ver, for after this event there will be no more death. Dut in this world he reigns and triumphs, and will hold his dominion as long as it endures. Death is an enemy to the whole bu. man nature ; an enemy to every individual of the race cf man; an enemy to the body; an enemy to the soul ; an enemy to the finner; and an enemy to the faint.

[ocr errors]

First, he is an enemy to the body. This curious machine, which was fearfully and wonderfully made, he renders it as though it had never been. He removes the pins of this grand tabernacle, and reduces it to its primitive dust. This glorious frame, which had been long in rearing, and on which the pains and labour of years had been expended to bring to maturity and perfection, is in an instant tumbled into ruin. So that in which we much delighted, and from which we entertained the highest expectations, immediately is made fo disagreeable to us, that our friends with it buried out of their fight. What care, attention and toil doth it take to rear such a creature as man? and when finished in our fond apprehensions and fitted for service and usefulness, then does death quickly blast our hopes, and destroy in a moment the labour of a number of years. Truly it may be faid, “ All felh is as grass, and * all the glory of man as the flower of grass, the grass wither. "eth and the flower thereof falleth away." How fuperior and noble a creature doth death destroy? To day the body is

beautiful, all the parts performing their several functions; the · heart moving, ihe lungs playing, the blood circulating, the

fpirits fine, but tomorrow death comes, touches fome muscie or nerve, disconcerts some wheel, casts an invisible particle of infection into the inspired air, and all stands ftill. We breathe, we speak, we think, we act no more. Our pulse ceates to beat, and our eyes to behold the light. Our ears will hear the voice of melody no more

our strength is gone ; our natural warmih is turned into an earthly cold, and our comelineis iutu ghasily deformity. This mighty change doth death perform. The pince cannot regist him by his majesty, nor the strong by his might. Commanders must here obey, and conquerors are here conquered. The rich cannot bribe him, the learned ora. tor with all the profusion of his eloquence cannot persuade him to pass bim by, nor can the skilful physician fave himfelf from the mortal stroke. All have linned, all must die. “Duft we -- are and to dust we must reçurn."

Secondly, Death is also an enemy to the soul. The body and soul in their orignal formation were designed to dwell perpetually together. Therefore these intimates have the strongest inclination and attachment to each other. The separation cannot be made but by the unnatural violence of a cruel enemy. Yea, the foul of the faint clings to the body. They, who poffefs the fullest assurance of a translation to glory, feel great desires that the body should be taken along. The apostle himself “Did not desire to be uncloathed, but rather to “be cloathed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of “ life.” That is, be translated at once into the celestial late without the horrid pains of a diffolution. A feparation was terrible even to the human soul of Christ himself, hence he ear. nestly prayed that this cup might pass from him. Therefore we have perfe& assurance that death, as death, must be unwelcome as it is unfriendly to every creature. It is a natural evil in itself, abhorred by soul and body. There is no principle in human nature, on which there can be grafted a reconciliation. The highest degree to which grace can raise the faint in this life is only a submillion to the divine will, and to say, * Not my will but thine be done.” Death is still hated as an enemy, though there is a sweet acquiescence in the will of heaven. The faint most willing to die, wills not death; and all his willingness to die is merely as the reconciliation of a fick man to the hateful prescriptions of the physician that he anay obtain health.

Thirdly, io the guilty, unpardoned, and unrenewed finner

1

« PreviousContinue »