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in this World, that no Man must expect to escape them all; nay, there are a great many Troubles which are insupportable to human Nature, which there can be no Relief for in this world. The Hopes and Expectations of a better Life are in most Cases, the safest Retreat. A Man may bear his present Sufferings with some Courage, when he knows that he shall quickly fee an End of them, that Death will put an End to them, and place him out of their reach. For there the Wicked cease from troubling, and there the Weary be at rest; there the Prisoners rest together, they hear not the Voice of the Oppressor; the Small and Great are there and the Servent is free from bis Master, Job, iii. 17, 18, 19.
So that in many Cases the Thoughts and Expectations of Death is the only. Thing that can support us under present Sufferings; but while the Thoughts of Death itself are terrible to us, this will be a poor Comfort. Men who are under the Sense of Guilt, are more afraid of Death than they are of all the Evils of this world. Whatever their present Sufferings are, they are not so terrible as Lakes of Fire and Brimstone, the Worm that never dieth, and the Fire that never goeth out. So that such Men, while they are under the Fears and Terrors of Death, have nothing to support them under present Miseries, The next World, which Death puts us into the Possession of, is a very delightful Prospect to good Men; there they see the Rewards of their Labour, and Sufferings, of their Faith and Patience. They can suffer Shame and Reproach, and take joyfully the Spoiling of their Goods; since these light Afliktions, which are but for a Season, will work for them a far more exceeding and eternal Weight of Glory. But Men who are not prepared to die, while they are afraid of Death,
can find no Relief in the Thoughts of it, and therefore want the greatest Support that we can have in this Life against the Sufferings of it. The sooner we prepare to die, the sooner
we are delivered from the Fears of Death; and then the Hope of a better Life will carry us.chearfully through this World, whatever Storms we meet with.
3dly, Since we must certainly die, it makes it extremely reasonable to facrifice our Lives to God, whenever he calls for them; that is, rather to chuse to die a little before our Time, than to renounce God, or to give his, Worship to Idols, or any created Beings, or to corrupt the Faith and Religion of Christ. There are Arguments indeed enough to encourage Christians to Martyrdom, when God calls them to suffer for his Sake: The Love of Christ in dying for us, is a fufficient Reason why we should chearfully die for him ; and the great Rewards of Martyrdom, that glorious Crown which is reserved for such Conquerors, made the primitive Christians ambitious of it. It is certain there is no Hurt in it : Nay, that it is a peculiar Favour to die for Chrift; becaufe those Persons who are most dear to him, were crowned with Martyrdom. But our present Argument shews us, at what an ealy Rate we may purchase fo glorious a Crown ; for we part with nothing for it: We die for God, and we muft die whether we die Martyrs or not.
And what Man then, who knows that he must die, and believes the Rewards of Martyrdom, can think it so terrible to die a Martyr ? No good Christian can think that he loses any Thing by the Bargain, to exchange this Life for a better ; for as many Years as he goes sooner out of this World, than. he should have done by the Course of Nature, so many years he gets sooner to Heaven; and, I fup
pose, that is no great Loss. It is indeed a noble Expression of our Love to God, and our entire Obedience and Subjection to him, and of a perfect Trust in him, to part with our Lives for his Sake: But what can a Man, who knows he must die, do lefs for God than this; to part with a Life which he cannot keep, willingly to lay down a Life for God, which would shortly be taken from him, whether he will or not?
4thly, This shews us also, what little Reason we have to be afraid of the Power of Men. The utmost they can do, is to kill the Body; a mortal Body, which will die whether they kill it or not : Which is no mighty Argument of Power, no more than it is to break a brittle Glass ; nor any great Hurt to us, no more than it is to die, which we are all born to, and which is no Injury to a good Man. And therefore our Saviour's Counsel is very reasonable, Luke xii. 4, 5. Be not afraid of them wobo kill the Body, and after that have no more that they can do, but I forewarn you whom you shall fear: Fear him, which after he bath killed, hath Power to cast into Hell, yea, I say unto you fear him.
This is very reasonable, when the Fear of God and Men is opposed to each other, which is the only Case our Saviour supposes. No Man ought foolishly to fling away his Life, nor to provoke and affront Princes, who have the Power of Life and Death : This is not to die like a Martyr, but like a Fool, or a Rebel. But when a Prince threatens Death, and God threatens Damnation, then our Sa-viour's Counsel takes Place, not to fear Men, but God. For indeed God's Power in this is equal to Mens at lealt, Men can kill, for Men are mortal, and may be killed ; and this only is for a mortal Creature to die a little out of Order: But God can kill
too, and thus far the Case is the fame. It is true inoft Men are of a Mind, in such a Cafe, rather to trust God than Men, because he does not always punish in this World, nor execute à fpeedy Vengeance. And yet when our Saviour takes notice, That God kills as well as Men, it feeins to intimate to us, that such Apoftates, who rather chuse to provoke God than Men, may meet with their Deferts in this World : For no Man is fecure that God will not punith him in this World; and Apoftates of all others have least Reason to expect it. Those who renounce God for fear of Men, are the fitteft Perfons to be made Examples of a sudden Vengeance. But then when Men have killed, they can do no more ; they cannot kill the Soul. And here the Power of God and Men is very unequal; for when he has killed he can cast both Body and Soul into Hell-fire. This is a very formidable Power indeed; and we have Reason to fear him : But the Power of Men, who can only kill a mortal Body, is not very terrible ; it ought not to fright us into any Sin, which will inake us obnoxious to that more terrible Power which can destroy the Soul.
сн. А Р. III. Concerning the Time of our Death, and the pro
per Improvement of it. ET us now consider the Time of our Death,
Now when I say the Time of our Death is una certain, I need not tell you, That I inean only it is uncertain to us, that is, That no Man knows when he shall die, for God certainly knows when we Thall die, becaufe he knows all Things; and
therefore with respect to the Fore-knowledge of God, the Time of our Death is certain.
Thus much is certain as to Death, That we must all die; and it is certain also that Death is not far off, because we know our Lives are very short. Before the Flood Men lived many hundred Years : but it is a great while now since the Psalmist observed, that the ordinary Term of human Life had very narrow Bounds set to it; The Days of our Years are threescore Years and ten; and if by reason of Strength, they be fourscore Years, get is their Strength, Labour and Sorrow, for it ts foon cut off, and zoe fly away Psal. xc. 10. There are some Exceptions from this general Rule, but this is the ordinary Period of human Life, when it is spun out to the greatest Length; and therefore within this Term we may reasonably expect it; for in the ordinary Course of Nature, our Bodies are not made to last much longer.
Thus far we are certain : But then, how much of this Time we shall run out, how soon, or how late we shall die, we know not; for we see no Age exempted from Death: Some expire in the Cradle, and at their Mother's Breasts; others in the Heat and Vigour of Youth; others survive to a decrepit Age, and, it may be, follow their whole Family to their Graves. Death very often surprizeth us, when we least think of it, without giving us any Warning of its Approach; and that is Proof enough, that the Time of our Death is unknown and uncertain to us.
But these Things deserve to be particularly difcourfed; and therefore with reference to the Time of our Death, I shall observe these four Things ; not so much to explain them, for most of them are plain enough of themselves, as to improve them for the Government of our Lives.