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he have been excusable in withholding his love and service from the God of Israel.
Consider only one passage of scripture ; “whosoever therefore shall confess me before men” with sincerity, “him will I confess before my father and his holy angels.” Is not this an encouragement ? Has it not the force of a thousand arguments? You will remember what Christ has subjoined to this promise ; “whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in the glory of his father and of the holy angels.
THE BLESSEDNESS OF DYING IN THE LORD.
REVELATIONS, xiv. 13.
And I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.
It is a common thing to call this and the other person happy while living and enjoying an abundance of the good things of this world. But here the inspired author of this book informs us, that he was directed by a voice from heaven, the abode of truth and holiness, to write the dead happy. Not indeed all who die, but a particular class, or description of the dead. < Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.” These words very naturally lead to two inquiries, which are of great importance to us who are soon to become the
of death. If there be any thing which will render us blessed, how important is that to every child of Adam ! Our
I. Inquiry is what is meant by dying in the Lord.
II. Why such as die in the Lord are pronounced blessed.
1. What is meant by dying in the Lord. Under this head, I shall notice a number of particulars.
1. In these words it is taken for granted that there are those who die in the Lord. Whatever is to be understood by dying in the Lord, it is plainly implied in the text, that there are those who die in him and are blessed.
2. Dying in the Lord is the very circumstance which constitutes them blessed. To die in him, is a state essentially necessary in order to die happy. And this blessedness is, in the text, restricted to those who die in the Lord.” If all who die be entitled to this blessedness, there would be no propriety in limiting this blessing to those who die in the Lord. Or if dy. ing in the Lord, was a state common to all who die, the mode of expression must appear equally improper; evidently tending to hold up a needless distinction, where, in fact, there is none. That there are those who die in the Lord and are blessed, and that there are others who do not die in the Lord, are truths lying on every page of revelation, and generally admitted by those who receive the gospel as the word of God. Yet while these solemn truths are admitted, we have great reason to fear, that they are realized but by few. Were they realized, might we not expect a more general inquiry, what is implied in dying in the Lord, and more concern and engagedness to secure this blessedness? But it is natural to the fool who saith in his heart there is no God,” to say there is no such thing as religion, and to live and act, as if he had nothing to hope from it, nor to fear from the want of it. But. listen to
this voice from heaven, which assures you of the reality of both. I now proceed to show particularly what is implied in “dying in the Lord.”
It is well known to every one, in any measure acquainted with the scriptures, that Lord is a title frequently given to Christ. It is said, “ that all power is given to Christ that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living ;" “ That every tongue shall confess him to be Lord;” and we 'read of “ being in Christ;" “ of the dead in Christ,” all which expressions make it natural to understand the term, Lord in the text, as having a particular reference to Christ. And when the dead in the Lord are spoken of, it is natural to understand the same by it, as when we read of the dead in Christ ; and being in the Lord at death, the same as being in Christ. And thus it is generally understood, and doubtless justly. What then is it to die in Christ? This, as already observed, is the same thing as being in Christ when we die; and no man is in Christ at death, unless he was so in life. Being in Christ then implies a change in the temper and feelings of the heart. Mankind are not naturally, in the sense of scripture, in Christ, and cannot die in him without a change in their state. The Apostle therefore expressly informs us, that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature,” but no man can be properly called a new creature, nor can it be affirmed of him, “that old things are passed away, and that all things are become new," when his temper of heart, his views, and his tenor of life are unchanged. They therefore, who are not thus changed, are not new creatures, nor are they in Christ, in the scriptural meaning, whether living or dying. And it is well known, that be: ing new creatures, believing in Christ, being in Christ, and being born again, are all used to express the christian character, in distinction from those who are not christians. The christian is called " a follower of Christ,” whose spirit, he imbides, whose example he imitates, and by whose laws he is governed. While there are others, who in the course of their lives, are actuated by a different spirit, who really are, and who really act in opposition to his laws and example. The Apostle tells us, “that he who loveth is born of God, and that he dwelleth in God, and God in him.” The truth contained in these words is, that a spirit of divine love dwells in saints, by which they are united to God. Living in the exercise of this temper, is living in Christ, and dying in possession of the same, is dying in Christ in the sense of the text. Let it then be remembered, that dying in Christ is the consequence of living in him. A change of heart, a change from sin to holiness, is essential to dying in the Lord. Let no man then expect this blessedness without holiness. This will bring us to our
II. Inquiry, which is, why such are pronounced blessed. They who live in Christ, are happy above others in a variety of respects; but at death they are biessed in an emphatical sense. In life they are blessed above others, in having their hearts reconciled to God, to his government, to the dispensations of his providence toward them and theirs. They derive much satisfaction from contemplating the works of God;