A CORDIALL AGAINST THE FEARE of DEATH.

Delivered in a Sermon before the Vniversity of OXFORD, May 28. 1654.

By THOMAS HODGES B. D. Rector of Souldern in Oxfordshire.

[printer's or publisher's device]

OXFORD, Printed by H. H. for Thomas Robinson. 1659.

To his much Honoured Friend Mr WALTER PELL of Alder­manbury in LONDON Merchant.

SIR,

SHould I be blamed for Printing this single Sermon, I desire the great and Universall concernment of the Sub­ject here treated on, the seasonable­nesse of it at all times, especially in these sickly times, after the observation of three generall Fasts for the diseases and mortality in seve­rall parts of the Nation, together with the eminen­cy of the Auditory, to which for the main, it hath been Preached, namely, the two Universities succes­sively, may be my Apology for adventuring it to the presse. And if you should admire my confidence in this manner of addresse to you, I pray you be pleased in part to charge it upon your own account, and to assure your selfe, that your late civilities and favours to me, and respects for me, have encouraged me to this undertaking.

And if the observation hold good elsewhere, which I lately heard from a Neighbour Mr Wilde of Ayno. Minister at a Funerall Sermon, namely, that God in this visita­tion seemed especially to levell at aged persons, having taken away 10 persons of his parish in one yeer, all of them about or above threescore yeers old; when you shall number your own daies, and behold your own face in a glasse, and see how the fields are al­ready white unto the harvest, and consider how the very streets you walke in might in some measure be paved with the skuls of those, who have dyed since you first lived in the City, though you should censure the Preacher as impertinent, yet may you judge the Sermon here presented not altogether im­proper. Tis true indeed, the mention of Death is an unpleasing note in the eares of those usually, who are full of the comforts of this life: I have heard or read of a King, who upon pain of death forbad any to mention Death in his presence; and of a great Queen, who was highly displeased with a favourite, for preaching a Sermon minding her how age had furrowed her face, and besprinckled her haire with its meal: but I hope you have better learned Christ, and sure I am, dare talke of death, and touch this harsh key your selfe; and will not therefore (I perswade my selfe) judge me your enemy, meerly because I tell you the truth.

Now Sir, whilst I preface this Sermon to you, I desire I may Preach to my selfe, and to all that read this Epistle, whether old men or maidens, young men [Page] or children. Let us get oyle in out lamps before the Bridegroome comes; and all things ready for death before death comes: for who now so young, so strong, so good, but there are younger, and stron­ger, and better already in their graves? The Jewes have a proverb, there are skulls of all sizes in Golgo­tha: and the Apostle John tells us, he saw the dead small and great stand before God, Rev. 20.11, 12. Let us not then put farre from us the evill day; but consider, that some sudden blast may blow out the Candle, as well as it may goe out in the socket. Physitians say there are 300 diseases incident to the body of man: but if we escape all other diseases, old age, that incurable disease, reckoned one of the three messingers of Death, will creep upon us ere we are aware, if we do not think of it. Oh! that we could as we dye daily, so get our selves more ready for death daily. Let us meditate often how the two axes of time, day and night, are continually chopping at the root of the tree of every mans life; and how some fruits are blown off the tree, whilst in the bud or green, aswell as some others fall off, when they are ripe; and how some flowers of the field are trod down or crop'd by man or beast, aswell as others stand and wi­ther till they be cut down.

1 Let us know that death is the wages of sin: and forasmuch as all have sinned, it is a Statute enacted by the Parliament of Heaven, that all must dye once, so tis ordinarily: for it is thought, Lazarus dyed twice; and those who shall be found alive at the day [Page] of judgment, shall not dye at all, but be changed. Now if death be our wages, let us Consider, that wages may be payd in any lawfull coyne, gold, sil­ver, or brasse; in any place, the house, street, or field; at any houre of the day, or watch of the night, as the master pleaseth: and so Death may be inflict­ed diverse wayes and manners, at any time, and in any place. Further, know we, that tis a solemn thing to dye, because after death the Iudgment: Eternity treads on the heels of death; so that theres no place here for a second Error.

2 Let us often think of Death. Tis observed that Beasts cannot think of dying: lets shew our selves therefore men, meditate of it, not put far from us the day of Death, that may be a meanes to make us secure: for we read that the wise virgins slumberd as well as the foolish, whilst the bridegroom delayed his coming; and tis observed, that God therefore keeps secret from us the day of death and judgment, that men should watch alway, and be ever prepared.

3 Though we think of death, which the beasts cannot doe, yet let us not slavishly feare it, but therein endeavour to be as the Angels of heaven, who though they understand Death, yet doe not feare it, being out of the reach of it. Consider we may, that the sting of Death, which is sin, is taken out, and our death is the Death of Death to us; that out of this eater comes meat, and out of the strong, out of the bitter, comes sweetnes. Indeed if we looke [Page] upon death as the punishment of sin, as the dissolu­tion of the most excellent creature on earth, as the parting of two old friends and intimate acquaintance, the soul and the body, as an end and period of ser­vice to God and man in the Church and comonwealth on earth, so tis rather terrible than desirable: yet again, if we consider that tis a period to sin and sor­row, an inlet to glory, a dark entry to a lightsome palace, no other than the Portall or entry into the house of God, and the gate of heaven to the godly, and that death is ours, for our benefit and advantage, as well as life; that our death is precious in Gods eyes; and that when we are dead, and our vile bodies in the dust, when the wormes are spread under them, and the wormes cover them, even then are we Gods Jewels; when we are dissolved, then are we like gold melted in the furnace, precious in the eyes of the owner thereof. Lets consider that we goe to our friends and acquaintance, who are gone before us to heaven; yea we goe to God, Christ, and the holy Angels, and all the company of heaven; and though our body and soul part, yet the mysticall union be­twixt us and Christ the Head, continues firme and indissoluble, and we are still members of his body; that death is a sleep after our labour and travell here, and who feares to put off his clothes to goe to sleep in his bed? that Christ our Lord dyed to free us from the slavish feare of death: I say if we consider all these things, we shall not need to be al­way [Page] way in bondage through feare of death. Though death was odious and accounted an enemy to the [...] Hesio. [...]. Gods of the Heathen, yet it hath been welcomed and entertained as a friend by godly Christians: I have heard or read of a godly man, who rejoyced exceed­ingly when he saw the plague spots upon his arme, looking on them as certain signes of his approching dissolution; and of a gracious Gentlewoman, who, being told by a friend, that her change probably was not far off, brake out after such a manner, saying, Now blesse the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me blesse His Holy Name; I would not goe back again for a world, or to the like effect.

And 4ly, that we may not feare the approach of Death, lets prepare and provide daily for his comming; put on the whole armour of God, especially the shield of Faith, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God: Cant. 4.4. this is like the Armory of Solomon, wherein hung a thousand shields, even the shields of the mighty; Keep close to our Captaine Christ, who leads us, and loves us, and laid down his life for us, and ever lives in heaven to make intercession for us; through him we shall doe valiantly, through him we shall tread down our enemies, and be more then Conque­rors over Sin, Death, and the Divel. Lets take heed of every Sin; get and grow in, and act (as we have op­portunity) every grace; labour to be abundantly fruitfull in every good thought, word, and worke; and be sure to be found upon our watch, and upon [Page] our guard when death comes.

And now Sir, to return unto you: having never preached to you from the Pulpit, accept I pray this Sermon from the Presse. You who feare God, do not you feare Death: Let not such a man as you seek to flee; but rather stand in your tent door, ready to meet him, when he comes. To this end be rich in Faith, and rich in good Works: let your own eyes be your Overseers, and your own hands in some good measure your Executors. Be eyes to the blind, feet to the lame; deale your bread to the hungry, cloath the naked, shew your faith by your works. Thus whilst others may be compared to Dives, or to the rich fool in the Gospell, we shall behold you as the wise Merchant in the Parable, who, though you have indeed a great portion in the things of the world, yet are not contented to have the world for your portion: and though you have had your share of the treasures hid in the sands, yet not satisfied therewith, lay up for your selfe treasures in Heaven.

Thus returning you hearty thanks for the favours and respects you have been pleased to doe me, ho­ping since you are reputed a lover of Ministers, you will give a Minister leave still to love and honour you; I shall conclude, praying for you, that when you shall have served your Generation according to the will of God, and fall asleepe, your soule may be received up into Heaven, and your body rest in the Lord; so that when you shall awake in the mor­ning [Page] of the resurrection, and your body and soule be reunited, you may be still and ever with the Lord, which is best of all.

Sir,
This is, and shall be the Prayer of your Humble Servant in the Go­spell of Christ THOMAS HODGES.
Heb: 2.15.

And deliver them, who through feare of Death were all their life time subject to bondage.

IN this and the verse immediate­ly foregoing, we have a rationall account of the Incarnation of the Son of the God; why it was ex­pedient that the Messiah should be Emanuel, the Word should be made Flesh; wherefore the Son of God should become the Son of Man, an everliving and all-quickening Spirit partake of flesh and blood like unto us his brethren, onely without sin, i. e. be of a nature passible and mortall, or obnoxious to suffe­rings and Death: namely, it was for these two ends, 1. That by his death he might destroy our great enemy, there named the Divel, and described to be him, that had the power of Death. And 2ly. That he might deliver us, his own brethren and friends, [Page 2] out of the hands of this cruel tyrant, and out of the mouth of this roaring Lyon, of whom by reason of our sins, we either were, or had just cause to be all our life time afraid, lest we should by him be puni­shed both with temporall and eternall Death.

There are three observations, which I desire to speak to, and which I suppose contain the very mar­row of these words.

1. That tis a grievous bondage to be all our life time in continuall feare of Death.

2. Unbelievers, or those who are out of Christ, either are, or have just cause to be through feare of Death all their life time subject unto bondage.

3. Believers, or they who have part in Christ, and they onely, are delivered and freed by his death from this intollerable bondage.

Of the 1. I shall proceed by these steps,

  • 1. To shew that feare is a bondage.
  • 2. That to fear all ons life time aggravates the bondage
  • 3. That to feare Death all our life time consum­mates the bondage.

1. Feare is a passion, which speaks a man a servant; tis the badge and cognizance of a Servant: whereas Love is the principle and character of a Child: to feare our Lords or our Masters anger is servile, servile est, ac servum arguit, saith Rolloc. in loc. And tis very obser­vable, that Rom. 8.15. the spirit of fear is cal'd a Spirit of bondage, but the spirit of Adoption, or the spirit of Sons, is in the Scripture cal'd a spirit of love, and distinguished from that spirit of feare, or that principle [Page 3] of fear, whereby servants commonly do act, or are act­ed rather, 2 Tim. 1.7. Feare hath torment, sayth the Holy Ghost, 1 Joh. 4.18.

This foul fiend, this torturing Affection was worshipped by the Lacedemonians as a God: I suppose for the same cause that the Romans and In­dians worshipped the Divel, viz. that it should not torment them. And truely they say, Fear was com­monly adored and painted in their Temples with a Lyons head, and so very terrible, not unlike the De­vill, that roaring Lyon, who goeth about continually seeking whom he may devoure: and truly if it be not like the Devill, yet some have said,Cardan. that feare doth invite the Devill to come to us, timor attrahit ad se daemonas. And surely it was not without all cause that Vives said, Nulla est miseria major quàm metus. Burton. There is no greater misery then feare: No greater misery, no rack or torture like it, saith another.

2. But then to feare all our life time, that aggra­vates the misery and bondage, that makes our lives (& life we use to say is sweet) bitter as death, yea it cau­seth some to chuse (although they make an ill choice) death, rather than life. The day-labourer waits for the even, and then he shall rest; the servant for the end of the yeer, the Apprentice for his year of Jubile, when he is to go out free; and the forethought of liberty sugars the bitter cup of servitude to them. But alas! to be under the terrible bondage of feare, without any hopes or expectation of freedome, or of redemption all our life time, this is a burden which neither we, [Page 4] nor our Fathers were ever able to beare. Nay in death it selfe, I say not that the servant is free from this master; when a man dies, he rather feeles the evill which he feared, than is freed from it. And although we must say, blessed is he that feareth God alway, the Lord of life, with a filiall, child-like, ingenuous feare; yet we may say, miserable is he that feareth death alway, that hard master, that cruel tyrant, with a servile and slavish feare. And so I come to the third and last degree of the bondage.

3. To feare Death all our life time, is a burden and bondage which is intolerable. Under the word Death I shall comprehend (with the generality of interpre­ters) not onely temporall death, which is the separa­tion of the soule from the body; but eternall death also, which is the separation of both soul and body from God everlastingly. Now to feare death al­way is a terrible bondage, quid miserius est, aut fingi potest (said one) quam metu mortis perpetuo trepidare? Death is cal'd by the Philosopher the terrible of terri­bles, the most terrible evill that can be: by Job, the King of terrors. Joh. 18.14. Tis the feare of Kings, as well as mean men; and tis the King of feares: and those who slavishly feare death are the veryest bondmen in the world, qui metuunt mortem illi servi sunt, ac servili conditione, non autem ingenui, ne (que) filii, Rolloc. in loc. and so Theoph. [...]; they that feare death are the servants of death. Not onely his servants we are whom we obey, but his servants and vassals we are whom we feare: [Page 5] and the little finger of the feare of death will be hea­vier than the loynes of all other feares and tyrants whatsoever. The feare of other evills chastiseth us with whips, this with scorpions. Death is an evill, a great evil, and an unavoidable evil, and therefore ter­rible. It is usherd in, and accompanied, and follow­ed with a black guard and train of feares: the way and walke of death is very low and darke: we read of the valley of the shadow of death, Psal. 23.4. and in this valley there is too a Lyon, yea many legions of roaring Lyons, waiting for their prey continually; yea cer­tainly many thousands, if not millions of men, who have gone downe this way, have been sore wounded, yea cruelly slaine here, have lost their lives and their soules here. But more particularly, death will ap­peare ghastly and formidable, if we consider

1. That it has a venomous and deadly sting; tis an old serpent, and has a poysonous sting, the sting of death is sin, and that is terrible. Sin is the edge of the sword of this deadly enemy, tis the poyson of the Dragon, tis a greater enemy to us than death, than the Devill, than Hell it selfe. If sin was not there, we should not die, or we should not need to feare Death, we might easily shake off this viper into the fire, and rid our hands of it, as Paul did of the viper Act 28. and feel no harme; but therefore death is death indeed, and hell hell indeed, because tis the wages of sin.

2. Death will appeare terrible, if we consider who im­powers death primarily, who hath the absolute and [Page 6] supream power of life and death, and from whom death originally hath his Commission, and that is God. The Lord killeth and maketh alive, he bringeth down to the grave and raiseth up, 1 Sam. 2.6. And tru­ly God is a consuming fire: God the supream judge of all the earth, and who cannot erre in judgment, hath passed sentence upon us according to his holy, just, and righteous Law; and tis deaths part but to be an executioner, to execute upon us the judgment written. The avenging justice of Almighty God commands death to seize upon the sinner, and to teare him in sun­der like a Lyon, yea to come hissing upon him like a dragon with the sting of vengeance in the mouth of it: morcem intellige cum ira Dei conjunctam, qualem necesse est extra Christum esse, saith Beza. Tis the justice and wrath of Almighty God which commissionates death to kill,Psal. 90.11. and destroy, and take the spoyle: and of Gods wrath tis said, according to our feare so is thy wrath: our feares may be aboue the wrath of men, but the wrath of God is greater then our feares.

3. Death is terrible, if we consider who has the power of death, i. e. not so much a delegate power, such as Kings & Magistrates have, as a power by consequence; let us call it so: such as an Executioner or an hangman hath over condemned persons to put them to death; and that is the Devil, v. 14. The Devil may be said to have the power of death, either, 1. As a tempter, who seduceth us to sin,James 1.15. and so brings us to death. Sin being finished bringeth forth death. Theophylact tells us, the Devil got the power of death, how? [...], [Page 7] [...]: so he, i. e. peccatum est fortitudo robur (que) mortis: he got it by Sin; Sin is the strength and power of death. Or, 2ly As an Accuser of us unto Almighty God, and urging the Law against us before God, continually soliciting pressing this Iudge to doe iustice upon us, urging God as the No­bles and Courtiers did Darius, against Daniel, Daniel. 6.12.13.15. that he might be cast into the Lyons den: so he, that we might be cast into hell, the den of the roaring Lyon, and out of which we have no hope of deliverance. Or, 3ly he may be said to have the power of death (sicut carnifex habet imperium rotae & patibuli) as an ex­ecutioner hath power of the wheel or gibbet, there­with to torment men, not whom and how he pleas­eth, but condemned malefactors, according to the di­rection and appointment of the Iudge: thus the Devil hath the power of death: and surely tis a dreadfull thing to fall into the hands of this cruel tyrant and tormentor. Death comes to our chamber-doors and to our bedside, accompanyed and guarded with Le­gions of Devils, who all greedily gape for their prey. And so we come to

The 4th and last consideration, in respect whereof death is very formidable or terrible; namely, if we consider the Consequents of death: the second Death followes at the heels of the first, i. e. Hell treads on the heels of death. Death comes riding on a red or pale horse with a drawn sword in his hand, and hell fol­lowes on a black horse with a flaming sword turning every way to cut off all the branches of our tree of [Page 8] life; yea so to cut down the tree of life, as that he leave us neither root nor branch. Ubi coram Deo reatus, ibi protinus Inferi se ostendunt, sayth Calvin: where the soul is yet under guilt before God, there hell stares us in the face: so terrible must death be to those, who are yet in their sins, who are indeed out of Christ. And this is our second observation:

Observa. 2 That unbelievers either actually are, or of right have just cause to be through feare of death all their life-time subject to bondage.

Every unbeliever may be named magor-missabib, feare round about: within him are feares, when all is calme, and there are no fightings without.

Foure sorts of men there are in the world, whose condition is a condition of feare. 1 Minors or children, and servants or vassals, who are under hard Masters. 2. Such as are weake and of no strength, and yet have many powerfull and revengefull enemies. 3. Poore debtors, who owe millions, who have nothing to pay, and yet have creditors, who will not abate them a [...]arthing or mite. And fourthly, malefactors or trans­gressors of the Law, who are obnoxious to justice, and so lyable continually to punishment for the breach of the Law.

Now the condition of unbelievers may be likened to all these, and therefore must needs be a condition of feare.

1 And at best, he is under the Law as a schoolmaster, yea as a taskmaster too, who requires of him difficul­tyes and impossibilities, demands brick and gives no [Page 9] straw, and he is, or ought to be afraid of being beaten daily. Then he is a servant, yea a slave to sin, the worst master, the greatest tyrant in the world: he is as Paul said of himself Rom. 7.14. Carnall, sold under sin, as to his unregenerate part: or as tis said of Ahab, 1 Kings. 21.25. he is one that sells himselfe to worke wickednes: being a servant of Sin he is made a servant of death; and serves him daily with feare and trembling, as oft as he thinks of him: yea he is carryed captive by the Devil at his pleasure, so right is that, quàm multos habet Dominos qui unum non habet? How many Lords and Masters hath he that hath not one, that is, God, for his Lord and master?

2 An unbeliver is weak, and of no strength, and yet hath many potent enemys to grapple withall. 1 he hath one omnipotent enemy, and that is God, one who is said to be angry with him every day, Psalm. 5.5. & 11.5. and to hate him, who whets his sword, and bends his bow, and pre­pares for him the Instruments of Death. And surely tis a fearfull thing to be a child of wrath, and to be lyable daily to fall into the hands of this living God, as ones deadly enemy; and yet this is the state of un­believers. Again, all the Angels in heaven, and all the creatures in heaven and earth, and all the Devils in hell are his enemys: they all stand ready some nearer & some farther off the Iudges bench, as it were saying, Away with such a fellow from the Earth, he is not worthy to live. He that kills thee may think he doth God good Service. An unbeliever (like Cain) may feare every one that meeteth him, lest he should slay him.

[Page 10]3. He is extreamly indebted unto the Justice of God, and is never able to pay a farthing; and God will one day say (if he live and die in this state) take him, and bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the dungeon, into utter darknesse: verily he shall not come out thence, untill he hath paid the uttermost far­thing.

And 4ly, he is a transgressor, a malefactor: God looks on him so, in the womb and from the womb; as soon as he comes into life, he is lyable to the law, sentence, and punishment of death: he is (as we say) a dead man in law, as soon as he begins to live.

Yea, and that which aggravates his bondage and misery is this, that he knows of no reprieve, no not for a day, or hour, or moment; death and hell may seize on him every minute: behold as it were a fla­ming sword with a twine-thread hangs over his head continually, so that all his honors, sweet pleasures, wealth, is nothing to him, if his eyes be but open to see his misery: his head is as it were alway upon the block, and death is ready with his axe, for ought he knows, to sever soul and body every moment; and (if he die presently) he knowes not what will become of his soul to eternity, or he knows that the Devills will come and fetch away his soule: he looks on death quasi aeternae mortis exor­dium. C. Alap. on death temporall as but the begin­ning or inlet into eternall death; he enters into the prison of hell, as never hoping to come out againe. If the eyes of his understanding be enlightned, he [Page 11] sees Legions of Devills ready to fly upon his soule, before his soule goes out of his body, reaching after and catching at his soule, before his friends begin to scramble for his goods, or the wormes to feast them­selves with his flesh.

To conclude this, an unbeliever hath just cause to feare death, as one that will deprive him of life, and all that he accounted happinesse; and as a Serjeant sent to arrest, attach, and hale him to prison and judgment, and so deliver him up to the Devill, and the torments of hell for ever.

And now if any be troubled at these sayings, and say in their hearts, this is a hard saying, who can bear it? who then can be saved? I answer, our Lord Jesus Christ dyed to deliver all those, that will come to him for Salvation, from the feare of death, under which they were before time held in bondage: and so we come to treat of our 3d and last observation.

All true Christians, or those who are justified by faith Observ: 3 in Christ, are by him, and especially by his death for them, or his dying for them, freed from being all their life time through fear of death subject unto bondage.

1 They are delivered, they do not slavishly feare death temporall and eternall, or they ought not so to doe. 2 They are delivered by Christ, and 3 by Christ dying for them.

1 True Christians do not, or need not slavishly to fear death. I know nature is averse to, and trem­bles at dissolution; and the pure and holy nature of Christ did (with submission to his fathers will) de­cline [Page 12] suffering, and feare dying; and it is sufficient for the servant that he be as his Master. A naturall, ordinate, moderate feare of death a Christian may have, but yet he doth not slavishly feare death or hell; he knows the one cannot hurt him, and the o­ther hath nothing in him: a haire of his head shall not fall to the ground, and not so much as the smell of hell fire shall ever passe on him. Christians have no need to fear death: it can (let it do its worst) but kill the body, it cannot cast body or soule into hell fire; and wherefore then should Christians feare it? the shell, the body may in death be broken or worm-eaten; but the kernell, the soul, that is untouched, the wormes cannot touch that. Besides, death is a hiding place or Sanctuary to Christians for a time, till all the sore calamities of this miserable world are over­past; and men in distresse do not fly from, but to places and cities of refuge. Againe, they may look on death as a period of all evill, as a forerunner, as an in let to all blessednesse, a darke entry leading them to the father of lights: they find death in the Inven­tory of their good things, 1 Cor. 3.21, 22. For all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, Revel. 14.13. or life, or death. Even so saith the Spirit, Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord. Alacres accedunt ad mortem, tanquam ad aerumnarum termi­num, & melioris vitae exordium, Corn. Alap. They approach death cheerfully, as the end of their trou­bles, and the beginning of a better life.

How unhappy were Christians, if they could not [Page 13] dye? they would not live alway. It is enough say they, (with Elijah, a little altered) take away our lives, 1 King. 15.4. that we may be better with our fathers; nay, that we may be ever with the Lord, which is best of all. Vitam habent in patientia, mortem in desiderio: they are pa­tient of life, or content to live, but desirous to dye. Of old it was grown to a kind of Proverb, soli Chri­stiani mortis contemptores: Christians were the men who contemned death. In the Martyrologie we find Justus and Pastor, the one of seven, the other of nine yeares of age, offering themselves to Martyr­dome for Christ. A godly man dies willingly, though at the stake, saying with the first Martyr Stephen, Lord Jesus receive my Spirit: Act. 7.59. but tis obser­ved by some, that the rich fool dyed unwillingly, this night (saith the text) do they require thy soul of thee; he would not dye, but he must.Luk. 12.20. gr.

Farther, Christians are freed by Christ, and by his dying, from the slavish feare of death and hell, or temporall and eternall death. For

1 Christ hath destroyed him that had the power of death, i. e. the Devill: non quod personam, aut sub­stantiam diaboli destruxerit, & annihilârit, sed quia ejus regnum & imperium destruxit, Corn. Alap. He hath not destroyed or annihilated the person or sub­stance of the Divell, but he hath destroyed his King­dome and Empire. Christ hath despoyled the De­vill of that right or power, which he sometimes had by permission or sufferance from God, to tempt and torment them, by reconciling them by his death un­to [Page 14] God. Now since Christ hath made our peace with God, the Devils power to tempt us in this life is much limited and restrained, if we be in Christ; and his power to torment us after death is totally aboli­shed. He hath delivered us from the power of Satan, Act. 26.18. from the power of darknesse, Col. 1.13. Ita prostratus est (saith Calvin, speaking of the De­vill) ut pro nihilo habendus sit, ac si nullus foret: the Devill is so vanquished, as if he signified nothing now, as if there was no Devill at all as to believers. And Christ conquerd the Devill, beat him out of his Kingdome and Empire, which he sometimes had over us his Subjects, with his own weapon; he slew him as it were with his own sword: hostem suis ipsius armis confecit Christus, saith Beza. Christ by death overcame him that had the power of death: when he hung upon the crosse,See Colos: 2.15. & Ephes. 4.8. he spoiled principalities and powers; and when he ascended up on high, he led captivitie captive, and made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them. The Devill first got his pow­er to torment us with death temporall and eternall, and with the fear and horror of both, by tempting us to sin; and by that meanes tyrannized over man, put­ting him to death cruelly and malitiously: but now Christ became sin for us, our sins were laid upon him, and he died for our sins, and by his death over­came the Devill: the great Leviathan did bite at the flesh of Christ, or his humane nature, sed captus fuit hamo Divinitatis, but he was caught by his divinity, as with a hook: yea the divine power of Christ is [Page 15] such a hook in his nostrills, that he can and will hin­der him from tyrannizing over and tormenting (as formerly he did) those that are Christs. And truly, the Devil hath justly forfeited his power for his malice against Christ, and his presumption in setting upon Christ, the Captain of our salvation, when he once appeared but in the Similitude of sinfull flesh.

2. Because Christ hath destroyed the power and dominion of Sin; he hath by his death taken away the condemning power, and purchased the Spirit to destroy the commanding power of Sin in his; so that sin shall no more raigne in our mortall bodyes, Sin shall no more have dominion over us, since Christ dying for sin hath condemned Sin in the flesh.

3. That Christ hath delivered true Christians from the feare of Death, appeares, in that he hath freed them from the damning power of the Law: the strength of sin, as to its condemning power, is the Law; but Christ in this regard, as to those that are Christs, hath nayled the Law to his crosse: yea the law was not made for a righteous man, sayth the Scripture, 1 Tim, 1.9, and such are justified persons by the death of Christ. Farther, tis said against such there is no law, Gal. 5.23. and that we might be yet delivered from all our tormenting feares, hear what the Apostle Paul sayth, Rom. 8.1. There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ.

4 In that Christ by his death hath abolished death to the godly, I had all-most said Name and Thing, he hath taken away the sting of death, he hath beat out [Page 16] the teeth of this evill and venemous beast. Death came with open mouth upon Christ, like a roaring Lyon, as he went down that way, but Christ hath slaine the Lyon, and now out of the eater comes meat, and out of the strong comes sweetnes, to them that are Christs the bitternes of death is past; any child of God may now play upon the hole of this Aspe death; tis now to them a sleep, a change, a gathering to their fa­thers:Revel. 20.6.14. v compared. and it hath been observed, that in the Revela­tions sometimes it doth not goe in account as worthy of the name of death; for then the death of the Soul in hell, which is cal'd the second death, should have been cal'd the third death: but if it be any thing, we are assured 1 Cor. 15. that it shall be destroyed, death is swallowed up of victory, v. 54. and Revel. 20.14. we read, that death and hell were both cast into the lake of fire and brimstone: so that those that are Christs need not feare either the one or the other.

5 In that Christ by dying hath procured the keyes of hell and death to be laid upon his shoulders, and none of his shall goe into the chambers of death, till he open the door; and that he will not doe, untill he hath made and perfumed their beds for them, and un­till it is the best time for them to goe take their rest: and as for hell, ye may be sure he will bar and bolt the gates of hell, so that Christians need not feare it, they shall never goe thither.

Besides, Christ will redeem them from death, by a glorious Resurrection of their bodyes at the last day.

And now if any say in their hearts, what then, must Christians for ever cast of all feare, and rejoyce in it as their portion, purchased for them by the sufferings and death of Christ?

I answer

1 That Christians ought, notwithstanding all that hath been said, to feare God with an awfull, reveren­tiall feare, and to have Reverend thoughts of him, and demean themselves reverently before him, as becomes dust and ashes; especially when he manifests himselfe to, and before them, either in his holy word and ordinances, or in his extraordinary workes and Providences. So Moses said,Heb. 12.21. I exceedingly feare and quake, when God came down on Mount Sinai:Isa: 66.2. Philip. 2.12. and to him will I look (sayth God) that trembles at my word.

2 Christians ought, notwithstanding all that hath been said, to take heed lest they fall, to worke out their Salvation with feare and trembling: they ought to serve their Master in heaven with feare and trem­bling. My flesh trembleth for feare of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments, psal. 119.120. i. e. they ought to haue a watchfull, carefull, heedfull feare, that they doe not offend or displease God at any time: we must not cast overboard such a Religious feare, as made Noah build an Arke, for the saving of him­selfe and his house; but as for such feares, as like Ionah, shall occasion such stormes and tempests, that though we row hard, and tugg hard, yet we cannot bring the vessel safe to shoare, let it be cast out.

3 Yet I say, that Christ hath freed them by his ho­ly [Page 18] life and innocent Death, from anxious, distracting, perplexing, tormenting feare, either of temporall or eternall death. Such a feare as may make them fly to God, as may consist with love to God and goodnes; such a feare of his goodnes and mercy, as consists with hope in his mercy; such a feare they have, and may, and ought to have, and yet be good Servants, and no base spirited or base principled slaves; and yet be lov­ing Children, and not bastards, no unworthy base spirited Children.

Yea lastly, So far as they are unregenerate, the feare of sufferings may be a bridle to lust, and a spur to duty; yea they may make use of the threatnings in the word to deterre them from offending, and as a Motive or meanes to keep close to the way which is called holy: we find that God used a Commination even to Adam in Innocency in Case of disobedience, In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely dye, Gen. 2.17.

Again, if any say further in their hearts, how can this man save us? he did not save himselfe from the feare of death, and how can he save others? and if we read Math. 26. from v. 38. to 42. and Heb. 5.7. we may haue cause to think, that Christ himselfe feared death; and then how could he deliver us from it?

I answer, that Christ did feare death; but that his feare was not inordinate, that it was principally the wrath of God, the terrors of the Almighty, which made him pray with strong cryes and teares unto God. He did conflict with death in its full strength; with the Serpent with its sting and poyson in it: Christ [Page 19] endured the paine of sense in the garden, when he said, my soule is exceeding sorrowfull even to the death; the paine of losse, when he was crucifyed on the tree, and cryed out, my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? where, though the grace of vision was for a time withdrawn from Christ, yet the grace of union and unction still continued the same. So that as Christ entred into the first degree of the first death, his soul and body were really separated, but not into the se­cond, i. e. his body did not see corruption: so he enterd only into the first degree of the 2d death: the light of Gods countenance was hid towards him for a while, as it were under a cloud, but God did not wholly forsake him, nor was he totally separated from God. And truely, God heard the prayer of Christ, that prayer of his upon the crosse,Luk. 23.46. Father into thy hands I commend my spirit, i.e. saith one, Father, if I dye, yet deliver me from the power of death, de­liver me out of death, preserve and restore my spirit again:D. Hd. and accordingly he had within 3 daies a glori­ous Resurrection in answer to his prayer.

I know there are, who take [...] to signifie a reverentiall or religious feare; and so make the sense of Heb. 5.7. where tis said, that Christ was heard [...], to be, he was heard for his great piety and devotion, and not that he was saved from, or out of the thing which he feared, namely out of death, implying that Christ feared death: but therefore Christ feared it so much, that we might not fear it so.

If any farther examine me, what is the Reason then that good men oftentimes are so unwilling to dye, and so fearfull of death? we read of good He­zekiah, that at the tidings of death, he turned his face to the wall, and wept sore.

I answer, 1 concerning Hezekiah, that he was at this time childlesse, and that might seem a dismall thing, for his Sun to set so long before night, and to have no hope of rising againe in his posterity. 2 That he had newly made a glorious Reformation, and knew not but that after his decease the worship of dead Idols might revive againe, to the great dis­honour of the living God, whom he served. 3 He might feare lest his being taken away at such a time, and by such a violent disease (tis thought by some it was the plague) might open the mouths of his enemies to triumph and say, that this evill was therefore come upon him, because he had broken down their Altars. 4 Possibly he himselfe might upon the sudden look upon this message of death, as a messenger bringing him tidings of Gods displea­sure, and for this cause he might weep at the newes of death.

And secondly, as concerning other good men or women, who have feared Death, I answer 1 that of right they ought not to fear it. Christ hath set open the prison doors, and if they use the meanes, they may be free from their feares; tis their igno­rance of their strength in Christ, and deaths weak­nesse, which makes them fear death. If the children [Page 21] of light be kept ever in darknesse, and not see that there are more for them then can be against them, they will be afraid of death and his followers: or 2ly, it may be they neglect to put on the whole armour of God, when they grapple with principalities and pow­ers, and particularly with the power of death; or they go out rashly in their own strength, without seeking of auxiliary forces from heaven to help them; or it may be they do not use their shield of faith in Christ, who by death overcame death; and there­fore it is that they are overcome for a while of the fear of death. Or lastly, as tis said of Gad, so I may say of these, a troop may overcome them, Gen. 49.19. but they shall overcome at the last; and though their hearts faile them for fear in the beginning, yet they shall be as Da­vid, and as the Angel of the Lord strengthning him; they shall be couragious, and more than conquerors in the conclusion, over death and hell, and all their feares of them:

And now if on the other side we see any wicked men, children of the Devill, who seem to us undaun­ted at death;Job. 41.33. who seem to us like the great Levia­than, concerning whom ye know tis said, upon earth there is not his like, who is made without feare.

I say either 1 that the Devill it may be hath blin­ded their eyes, that so he might lead them into the bottomlesse pit, before they so much as feare or fan­cy it. He is so subtle, that he will not torment them before the time, that he may be more sure to tor­ment them to all eternity. Again, they may oft­times [Page 22] perhaps have a hell in their consciences, whilst they seem to us to be in a fools paradise. If they feel no fear of death temporall or eternall, tis surely because they are dead in their sins and trespasses, and their consciences are seared with a hot iron. I am perswaded the soule of the boldest wicked man on earth was never so fearlesse all the time that it was in the body, but that when it sees it must go out of the body, and goe into hell, it feares and trembles to go forth: how free and jolly would it deem it selfe, might it but abide in the prison of the body for ever? but to say no worse of such, these dye desperately, but the righteous hath hope in his death.

Use. And now are these things so, is fear so terrible a bondage, and especially the fear of death and hell; and are all out of Christ lyable and obnoxious to this horrid and hellish slavery, and that all their life time; oh that this truth might be to every one that hears it, and is out of Christ, like the handwriting upon the wall to Belshazzar, that it might fill him with fear, and that he might go home full of fear, and that his feares (like some ghost) might haunt him, and give him no rest, whilst he continues in his na­turall, unregenerate condition. I desire this Doctrine may scare them, but not hurt them.

And you who are indeed (and know it) subject to this grievous bondage, the feare of death and hell, I desire you would go to the hart, and hare, and such like fearefull creatures; that you would consider, and learn their wayes, and be wise.

[Page 23]1 They are very cautelous and watchfull. Tis said of the hare, that she sleeps with her eye-lids open. Let us be vigilant and circumspect, and keep a con­stant guard upon all the wayes and inlets of sin; for sin, fear, death, and hell, all enter in at the same port or door.

2 Fearfull creatures are very nimble to fly from danger. Let us fly from sin as from the face of a ser­pent; remembring alway, that the sting of death is sin.

3 Fearfull creatures get hiding places, to which they run and are safe: the Hart that is animal timi­dissimum, a most fearfull creature, hath a hiding place on the tops of mountains; hence that expressi­on Psalm. 18.33. He maketh my feet like hindes feet, and setteth me upon my high places: and the stony rocks are a hiding place for the coneys, Psal. 104.18. Let us get a hiding place in that Rock, that is higher then our selves, in the Lord Christ, and then we need not fear that mighty hunter, the Devill, when he pursues us. Lets hide our selves in the clefts of this rock now, and then we shall not need one day to call for the rocks to fall on us, and for the hills to cover us. Be convinced that by nature we are dead in sins and tres­passes, come to Christ by a true and a lively faith, this is the way to passe from death to life: live in, and to, and for Christ much for the time to come, and you need not fear temporall and eternall death; for surely you have eternall life abiding in you. Fear God with all your hearts, with a filiall fear, this will pro­voke you to diligence, and obedience, and watchful­nesse, [Page 24] and then you shall not, you ought not to fear with a slavish fear, what death or the Devill can do unto you: time at mortem, qui Deum non timet. Let him feare death, who feareth not God. What shall I say more, get abundance of love to God, and good evidences of Gods love to you; and Love, both this and that, is as strong as death: and then having two such strong and mighty champions with you and for you, you need not fear death, come when he will, for you are more then his match. And so I come to Apply the third and last observation.

Use Infor. Are Christians thus delivered from the slavish fear of death temporall and eternall, then this may informe us 1 that Christians are the freest men in the world; they are not in bondage, no not unto death: they were not borne free, nor with a great summe of moneys obteined they this freedome, but the Son of God hath made them free, and therefore they are free indeed. Againe 2ly, hence we may be informed, that Christians are the valiantest and most couragious champions in the world. If thus they are not a­fraid to look death in the face, of whom then should they be afraid? they may by grace do what tis said the horse doth by nature, even mock at fear, when it cometh. We may say as David doth, the Righteous is hold as a Lion. A righteous man may say with Da­vid, Psal. 3.6. I will not be afraid of 10000s of people, that have set themselves against me round about: or as in Psal. 46.2. Although the earth be removed, and the mountaines cast into the midst of the Sea, I will not [Page 25] fear. Although the greater world fall, this lesser world need not shake or be moved. And so we are here taught 3ly, the great Blessednesse of Christians in miserable times: these are the happy men and wo­men in times of war, plague, famine. Miser Christia­nus videri potest, non potest inveniri, he may outward­ly seem miserable, he shall never be truly miserable.

Are ye by Christ freed from the slavish fear of death temporall and eternall,Use 2 then let not such men as you be terrified at the newes of the approach of death; and be not unwilling to die, when the God of our lives calls for you. When once good old Simeon had got his Saviour in his armes, he presently sings his Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace. Luk. 2.29. Re­beckah, that went so willingly with Abrahams ser­vant to Canaan, to be Isaacs wife, may rise up in the day of Judgment and condemn us, if we hang back, when our bridegroome the Lord Christ comes or sends for us. She went to an earthly Canaan, we to a heavenly; she went to Isaac, a type of Christ, we to Christ himselfe; she to Sarahs tent, we to Abrahams bosome; she to a moveable tent or Tabernacle, we to Mansions, to a building that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God himselfe; she went from her own kindred and fathers house, to live and die in a strange country, we go to our own country and fa­thers house, to dye no more, death shall no more have dominion over us.

Consider (for I speak to those who are passible and mortall, and to whom no day can bring a privi­ledge, [Page 26] nor place be a Sanctuary from the arrest of death, no though our breasts be full of milk, and our bones of marrow) consider I say 1. that death can but bruise our heel, he cannot break our head: when death hath killed the body, he hath done all. God sayes to this destroying Angell or Messenger of his, when he hath taken away the life of our bodies, stay now thine hand, it is enough, put up thy sword into the scabbard: and therefore do not fear death, for the sword of death is like the sword of the magistrate, he beareth it indeed not in vain, but to be a terror to evill doers, and a praise to them that do well. 2. Death will cure thee of thy body and soul diseases: The long-sick writ upon his grave stone, hîc ero sanus, here I shall be well. And as for sin, the disease of thy soul, death will perfectly cure that leprosie, and stop that blou­dy issue, and be the death of that body of death with­in thee. 3. As the fining pot for silver, and the fur­nace for gold, so shall the grave be to our drossy bo­dies: our bodies (like the China dishes) after they have been buryed for some generations under ground, shall be taken up, and made vessels of honour, fit for our masters use in heaven. The soul is now indeed a Pearl, but set in clay; but at the Resurrection, in the day when God makes up his Jewels, when he takes them up out of the dust and dirt, he will then set them in bodies of gold, yea in bodies like the Sun; for we shall be made like unto the glorious body of Christ, Phil. 3.Revel. 1.16. last. And his body is like the Sun, when it shineth in its full strength. 4. Death is the beaten road to ever­lasting [Page 27] life: Christ the King of heaven and earth went this way; and it may suffice Christians to walke to heaven, even as Christ walked, in and by the way of death. 5. Consider, Death is Christs messenger, he will not run before he is sent; he is Christs Angel or Minister, sent out for the good of them, who are heires of Salvation. In the 2 King. 6.32. we read, that when Jehoram sent a messenger to take off Elisha's head, the Prophet bid shut the door, for (saith he) is not the sound of his masters feet behind him? But let us use death kindly, and not handle him roughly at the door; but rather say, turn in, turn in my Lord, for is not the sound of his and our Masters feet, is not the sound of Christs feet behind him? 6ly and lastly, con­sider that so long as thou art slavishly afraid of death and judgment, thou art either not a son, or surely a son under age; thou art not made perfect in love. I shall never think my soul in good case (said one) so long as I fear to think of dying. And Luther in a Ser­mon on Luk. 21.25. saith, that untill we can from our hearts desire the day of judgment, we cannot say boldly that we are Christians: he would therefore have us pray to God for this day, thus, fac, si fieri po­test, ut hâc horâ veniat. I desire it may come, even this very hour.

But yet truly I think that the house of our soul may sometimes lie so unswept and out of order, that we may be for a season willing that our Lord and hus­band should delay a little his comming. But tis our duty, and let it be our study and endeavour, to set the [Page 28] house of our soule in order daily, not knowing but that any day we may dye, and not live.

To this purpose lets meditate often on death; thus lets die daily, thus lets acquaint our selves with it, and prepare for it, and so shall we be at peace, and so shall we not be afraid. We read in the Gospell of one mad man, who lived among the tombs; the world think all mad that do so,Joh. 19.41, 42. compared with Math. 27.59.60 although but by meditation: and yet we read that devout Joseph of Arimathea had his tomb in his garden, where he probably used to walk. And oh that my people were wise, Deut. 32.29. that they would consi­der their latter end, were some of the last words of Moses. This is the way to prepare for death; and watchfulnesse and preparation may prevent a surpri­sall, may turn death into a sleep: the longer and more we watch for death, our sleep and rest will be the sweeter. In vita vigilant justi, ideo in morte dicuntur dormire, August: the righteous watch whilst they live, and their death is a sleep. And what weary long waking man is afraid of a sound and sweet sleep?

Use last. And so I come to the last Use of the Doctrine. If Christians ought not to fear death neither temporall nor eternall, of whom or what then should believers be afraid?

Let us not fear the Devill; he is an enemy, but a conquered enemy, but an enemy bound in chaines; he is a Lyon, but led in chains, and so muzled, that a child of God need not fear him.

Lets not fear the day of judgment; tis a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord; tis the day of [Page 29] Redemption of our bodies. Let it be the object of our hopes, not of our feares. Lets not fear the world, not all the evill the men of the world can do unto us; let us march on in the way of truth and holinesse; and that although the whole world should be against us, although our dayes should prove daies of darknesse, of clouds, and of thick darknesse, daies of rebuke and blasphemy to us: yet let us Christians, whether Pro­phets, or Prophets children, or professors of the Gos­pell, which is the truth, and the Doctrine according unto godlinesse, let us be zealous and couragious for truth against error, and for holinesse against profane­nesse; let us quit our selves like men, and be strong; let us stand up to and for the truth, our hearts never once failing us for fear of what may come upon us; no not if it should come to a worship the golden Image, or be cast into the fiery furnace: cōsidering (as one saith) that Dei miles nec in dolore deseritur, nec in morte finitur, Gods souldier is neither deserted in sufferings, nor ended in death. And again, quanto plus tormenti, tanto plus erit gloriae: the more torment, the more glory. For although we must not have amorem mer­cenarium, yet we may have amorem mercedis, though not a mercenary love, yet a Respect to the recompence of reward.

Let us know, that although tis a blessed thing to dye in the Lord, yet tis a more glorious thing to dye for the Lord. Let us therefore look unto the cloud of witnesses of the martyrs of Jesus, who have gone be­fore us, either in the Primitive, or in the Marian times; [Page 30] yea let us look unto Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith, Heb. 12.2 who for the joy that was set before him, endu­red the crosse, and despised the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of God, from whom he came into this world, that he might deliver us out of the hands of all our enemies, that we might serve him without fear, [...], i. e. saith Dr H. [...] in safety, in holinesse and righteousnesse all the daies of our lives.

To conclude all, In all our qualms and faintings of heart, lets endeavour to revive and encourage our selves with this soveraigne cordiall and Antidote, that it was one great end wherefore Christ took upon him flesh and blood, which could suffer and dye, that so by his death and resurrection he might not only rescue one day our bodies after death from the power of the grave, giving us a glorious Resurrection unto eternall life; but also might by his victorious death on the crosse destroy our Arch-enemy the Devill, who had the power of death, a deadly power, or a power to kill, and deliver us, who through fear of death o­therwise ought, and should have been all our life time subject unto bondage.

FINIS.

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