THE Great Change: Discoursed of in a FUNERAL SERMON, Occasioned by the Death of Mrs. MARTHA THOMPSON, Late Wife of Captain WILLIAM THOMPSON In WAPPING. Preached by Nathanael Vincent, M. A. Minister of the Gospel.

The memory of the just is blessed.

LONDON, Printed for Tho. Parkhurst at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside near Mercers-Chappel, 1682.

[...]

To his much respected friends, Mr. Robert Thompson the Father, and Mrs. Mar­tha Thompson the Mother, and Cap­tain William Thompson the Husband of the late Deceased Mrs. Martha Thompson.

YOur desires, which also have been seconded by the desires of others, have brought forth this discourse into the World. It is not, I must confess, at all against my inclination to make it Publick; because the deserved Character I gave your Deceased Relation having sounded onely in the Ear, might be soon forgotten; but being Printed, may prove a very good Copy for others to imitate, and write after. How few Saints at this day are exemplary! This is an Age in which those that are Evil wax worse and worse; and many that are gracious are under great languishing and decays. A Christian that grows in Grace, and whose Soul prospers, and whose Conversation is a Conviction to the World, that there is both a reality and efficacy in Religion, is Rara avis in terris; not easily to be found.

I cannot blame your grief that you have lost One who was so dear, and so worthy to be so dearly loved. Onely I would have you remember, That Believers are to weep as if they wept not: they are not to mourn over the Dead as without hope. And Hope being so well ground­ed, will keep Sorrow within due limits. How easily, when [Page] the Sun rises, does its light supply the room of the Stars, whose twinkling light is vanisht! Creatures at best, though they have never so great a Lustre, are but little things: and their absence may be brooked well enough, if the All-sufficient and Gracious God, does but vouchsafe more of his special and reviving presence.

My friends! Turn your Sorrow into a right Channel: God puts those Tears into his bottle, which are shed for Sin; but those which the Sorrow of this World draws from our Eyes as common water, are spilt upon the ground. Sin does best deserve your grief; and the Lord, whose Being and kindness is unchangeable, what ever changes are among the Creatures, is as much to be loved, delighted, and rejoyced in as ever. A curious Cistern has been broken to pieces, I wish you may all have recourse to, and drink more largely of the Fountain of living Waters.

That God would sanctifie the breach he has made, and satiate your Souls with himself, and wean you from this World, and bring you at last safe to his Heavenly King­dom, is the Prayer of

Your much obliged Friend and Servant for Jesus sake Nathanael Vincent.
Job XIV. Ver. 14. latter part. All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come.

THere had been a strange and sudden al­teration in the temporal Estate of Job: so that He who was as good and as great as any of the Sons of the East; nay, a Nonsuch for uprightness and the fear of God, is in an instant spoil'd of all he had, and reduced to extreme poverty. Never Riches did take unto them swifter Wings, and they flew away altogether as an Eagle towards Heaven. Sa­tan from Hell, his Instruments on Earth assaulted Job: and the God of heaven permitted both, for the trial of his Faith and Patience, and the proof of his Since­rity. This change in his outward condition caused him to be deeply apprehensive of another change, which he con­cluded could not be far off. Affliction is called by the name of Death in Scripture, because of its tendency to it; and ought to be lookt upon as an admonition con­cerning it.

In the beginning of this Chapter, Job speaks of Mans frailty in the general: Man that is born of a woman, is of few days: his Days are few; but so are not his Trou­bles, for they are many, his Life is full of them. He is not compared to the sturdy Oak, or the lofty Cedar, which will stand long, if let alone, and must have many a stroak to make them fall. No, no, a flower, a shaddow, [Page 4] are much fitter comparisons. He cometh forth as a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and conti­nueth not. This general Doctrine of Mortality, Job in the Text particularly applies to himself; and truly he is very close in that application. He saw himself changeable, his actual Change he saw as near; and waits for the com­ing of it. All the days of my appointed time, &c.

These Particulars are observable in the Words.

1. There is the practise which Job resolves upon, and that is to wait, which implies a certain Expectation, and a diligent preparation suitable to such a certain expecta­tion.

2. That which he waited for, was, the coming of a Change. This Change some refer to the Resurrection, which as it ought most firmly to be believed, so with joy to be thought on. But others with greater pro­bability do understand it of Death, which is a great Change indeed, with reference both to good and bad: with reference to the Bodies, and the Souls of Men. For though the Soul dies not, yet 'tis mightily altered after its separation.

3. This Change Job calls his own Change, or the Change of himself; the Hebrew Word is [...] which is transla­ted Immutatio mei, The Change of me; as if he should say, The Lord by Affliction, has made a Change in my Estate; and shortly by Death he will make a Change in my Person. The things of the World have left me, and I my self shall leave the World quickly.

4. Here is the time of waiting. The time which was appointed him in this World. The Hebrew [...] may be Translated Dies Militiae, the days of my Warfare. Our days are appointed for Combat with our Spiritu­al Enemies; and if being strong in the Lord, we are vigo­rous in the Combat, we are sure to come off Conque­rors.

5 Job is sensible of the danger and unreasonableness of Carnal Security at any time, and therefore purposes every day to be in expectation of his Last Day. All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come.

I raise Three Doctrines from the Words

  • First, That Mans time in this World is an appointed time.
  • Secondly, A Change will come, and put an end to this time which is appointed to man.
  • Thirdly, To be waiting for this Change, is the practise of the Saints, and would be the wisdom of all.

Doctr. 1 I begin with the first, That mans time in this World is an appointed time, Job 7. 1. Is there not an ap­pointed time to man upon Earth? are not his days also, like the days of an hireling? So Job 14. 5. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass. In the hand­ling of this Doctrine I shall,

  • 1. Speak concerning time which is appointed to Man.
  • 2. Shew you who has appointed it.
  • 3. To what end it is appointed.

And then make Application.

In the first place, I am to speak of Time, which is thus appointed unto Man.

1. This time is continually passing. It had a Beginning, it will have an End; and to that end 'tis always hasting, Eternity was before it, and Eternity will be after it. Time is commonly divided into past, and to come; that which is past, is past recalling; that which is to come, may quick­ly be past also. The present time is but an instant, which in the twinkling of an Eye is swallowed up in that which is past away. Those similitudes of a Weavers Shuttle, of the Ships of desire, of an Eagle hasting to the prey, are used [Page 6] by the Holy Ghost, Job 9. 26. to signifie the swift passage of time. Times Glass is always running. Augustine has a pretty observation, I. 2. Confes. c. 23. When Joshua was fighting with the Canaanites, Sol stabat, tempus ibat: The Sun stood still, but Time did not.

2 This time is called a time of sojourning. 1 Pet. 1. 17. Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear. This World is not to be the Eternal Home of any. All that are in it, are hastning out of it. The Wicked shall not long be per­mitted to Sin nor the Righteous to suffer here. The Saints are so wise as to look upon themselves as Strangers, and Sojourners, and Pilgrims. Psal. 39. 12. I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. And the Carnal minded, though they live as if they were to live here always; yet their time is really very short, and some­times much shortned by Sin: they will soon be at their long home.

3 This time is said to be lived in the flesh, 1 Pet. 4. That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. While the Soul of Man is linked to the Flesh, there are sensitive Appetites and In­clinations, which are apt to be eager, and to exceed due bounds. The Senses are doors at which, many things enter, which prove a snare to the Soul; and are made use of by the Tempter to entice and entangle the Heart, and to draw it away from God. Here is great reason for vigilan­cy, lest the pleasing and minding of the body cause the neg­lecting of the Soul, and the ruine of both for ever.

4 This time is stiled the accepted time, 2 Cor. 6. 2. Behold, now is the accepted time: behold, now is the day of Salvation. Now is the time, wherein Man may accept of Christ, and God will accept of Man. Man may accept of the of [...]ers made in the Gospel, and God will accept of returning Prodigal [...] if being weary of the far Country, they come home to their Fathers House, Luk. 15. They that have [Page 7] been guilty of the greatest Sins, and have made themselves most abominable, and foul, and vile; yet, if they look to Jesus, and cry to God, iniquity shall be taken away, they shall be graciously received, and healed: but when Time is ended, not one offer of Grace shall be made more.

5. This Time when once ended, more Time will never be granted. Death puts a stop to Time; and immediate­ly we enter upon Eternity. The end of all things is at hand, 1 Pet. 4. 7. Time will end quickly. There are several truths which God has confirmed with an Oath; as that In blessing, He will bless his people; that the Ʋnbe­lieving shall never enter into his rest: And among other truths, this is one thus confirmed, That there shall be time no longer, Rev. 10. 6. If it had been possible to be ob­tained, the Rich Man in Hell would rather have begg'd for an Inch of Time, than a drop of water. Presently af­ter the Dissolution, the Gulph is fixed, the Gates both of Heaven and Hell are shut so fast, that the happiness of the one, the misery of the other, must needs be unchange­able.

In the Second place I am to shew you, by whom Mans Time is appointed: 'Tis by that God, who is the Ancient of days, who is from everlasting to everlasting; who is Lord of Time, and Lord of All. He determines Times, as well as the bounds of our habitations, Acts 17. 26. In Him all men live, and move, and have their being; and Life can last no longer, than he affords his gracious Visitation to preserve it. Time is in the hand and power of none but God.

Three things here observable.

1. 'Tis the Lord that vouchsafes to man the time he has; and this is an argument of his Good will to him. We read not of any Time that was granted to the Apostate Angels; [Page 8] assoon as they had sinned, they were not spared, but cast to hell without delay, 2 Pet. 2. 4. No space was given them to Repent; no Time allowed to cry for Pardon▪ no ground at all appeared for hope of reconciliation and recovery.

2. He orders and appoints the time he gives, for such and such uses; this Talent he requires should be employed. not according to the Lusts of Men, but according to his own will, 1 Pet. 4. 2. Time is too precious a thing to be idly wasted and lavish'd in Sins service. To throw away our Gold or Jewels about the streets, is not so per­nicious a folly, as to be prodigal of our Time. He has work enough to do with his Time, that is to work out his own Salvation: and this is the main business for which Time is given.

3. 'Tis the Lord who sets bounds and limits unto mans Time, and it expires at his pleasure. When he says to those who were formed out of the Dust, Return unto your dust again, immediately they must obey; they that are the greatest Princes, must here be perfectly subject. Their breath, when God calls for it, goes forth, as well as the breath of others; They return to their earth, and that very day their thoughts perish, Psal. 146. 4. The Apostle would have Christians sensible, that they live at Gods will, and no longer than he wills; and that the present life they live, is but a vapour, which appears for a little while, and then vanisheth away. Jam. 4. 14, 15.

In the Third place, I am to tell you, to what end Time is appointed. The end of Time, that is, its Expiration; The end of Time, that is, the Design of giving it; is not at all understood by the most of men.

1. Time is appointed for seeking; Now is the Time in which our Lord Jesus comes to seek and to save that which is lost. He seeks after them that are straying, and [Page 9] have lost themselves in the Wilderness of this World, that he may bring them safe home. Now is the Time also for man to seek what is so highly worth finding. He is to act the wise Merchant, and seek the Pearl of great price, Matt. 13. 46. which will both enrich, and beauti­fie, and save the Soul which is possessed of it. He is to seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call upon him while he is near, Isa. 55. 6. Now the face and strength of God shall not be sought in vain.

2. Time is appointed for making Peace. When the Ene­my is dreadful, his Wrath intollerable, his Power irresisti­ble, certainly Peace is desirable. Now though God be such an Enemy, and that most justly an Enemy; yet he is forward to be at peace; he beseecheth us to be reconciled, 2 Cor. 5. 20. He tells us, that he is ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy to all that call upon him: Now is the Time to obtain Mercy, to believe in Jesus the Peace-maker: and if we will believe in this Mediator, God will be no longer a Foe, but a Friend; nay, a Father: and being justified by the blood of Christ, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

3. Time is appointed for conversion and healing. They are now called to return, who have fallen by their iniquity, Hos. 14. 1. How loud, how frequent are these Calls! what earnestness is used to make Sinners willing and obe­dient! The Lord protests solemnly by his own life, that he has no pleasure in their Death, Ezek. 33. 11. As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house [...]f Israel? And if such Calls to turn, are hearkned to, [...]ncere Converts, though before never so ungodly, shall be loved freely, their Souls healed and saved.

4. Time is appointed for working. That was a just rebuke which was given, Mat. 20. 6. Why stand ye here [Page 10] all the day idle? There is a Work which we are with all care and fear to avoid; and that is the serving of sinful Lusts and Pleasures: Have no fellowship, says the Apostle, with the unfruitful works of darkness, Eph. 5. 11. But the Work of God we should be employed in, with heart and hand, with our whole might and strength, we should count it our Meat and Drink to do it. Now is the Time to depart from evil, and to do good, that we may dwell for evermore. And though we are never so stedfast, though we abound never so much in Gods Work, our labour shall not be in vain.

5. Time is appointed for Warring. The enemies of our Salvation are many, and mighty; but they are conquera­ble; nay, they have been already Conquered, and Tri­umphed over by the Captain of our Salvation. He has condemned Sin in the flesh, Rom. 8. 3. He has spoiled Prin­cipalities and Powers, and made a shew of them openly, tri­umphing over them in the Cross, Col. 2. 15. He has overcome the World, Joh. 16. ult. What though these enemies are above our Match; if we vigorously engage in the Com­bat, being strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, putting on the whole armour of God, we shall be more than Conquerors in the end. Sin is the worst Enemy of all; if Sin be subdued, we need not fear any other.

6. Time is appointed to make provision for eternity. A future State is certain, and 'tis very near. Man must of necessity be to Eternity; and therefore not to think of, or be concerned about, or provide for Eternity, is the very height of madness. We should justly blame a man that should spend his Estate in fareing sumptuously for a day, and beg all his days after. But how much more blame-worthy is he, who minds only a short and present Consolation, and ventures upon Eternal Misery! Now is the time to lay up in store for our selves a good foundation, that we may lay hold of eternal life, 1 Tim. 6. 19

7 Time is appointed to render Man inexcusable in case of final obstinacy and impenitency. When God calls, if man refuses, and will not know the day of his gracious visitation, but neglects the things which concern his peace; then if he dye an Enemy, and is dealt with as an Enemy, and is thrown into everlasting Punishment, the fault is his own. God will be justified and clear'd when man receives the Sentence of Eternal Condemnation. How may the Reprobate Angels accuse and plead against sinful Man at the great Day, and say, O thou Righteous Judge! They have done worse than We, they have contemned Mercy which we never had the offer of; We never had any; but they have had space to Repent, and yet they Re­pented not.

Ʋse 1. If time is appointed to man, acknowledge the merciful kindness of God towards him. His suffering sinful Man to live so long, and to enjoy the seasons and means of Grace, is a plain demonstration of his Com­passions towards him, and how unwilling he is that Man should perish. To this purpose speaks the Apostle, 2 Pet. 3.

The Lord is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to Repentance. Man is dead in Law, condemned to die; how great is that Mercy that steps in between Sentence and Execu­tion, and allows so much time to sue for Pardon!

Ʋse. 2. Admire the lasting of time where 'tis sinfully wasted and lavisht away. When onely Sin and Satan are served with that Time, which God gives, 'tis a wonder that it i [...] not suddenly taken away. The Patience of an All-seeing, All-powerful, and Holy God, is a marvellous thing towards sinful Man: though he lives to the provocation and dishonour of his Maker and Preserver, yet behold, he lives still. Yet, let not Man presume, for the more pa­tience [Page 12] has been abused, the greater will be the following fury; and the Viols of Wrath will be the fuller against the day of Righteous Judgment.

Ʋse 3. Comply with Gods design in vouchsafing time to you. Much is lost, and oh what a Preasure was that which is lost! therefore redeem the remainder. If you Time be done, and your Work undone, you are undone with­out remedy. The slothful servant who was sleeping, when he should have been Working, was bound hand and foot, and cast into utter Darkness. Work hard in the Lords Vineyard, that when he comes to reckon, he may find you employed diligently, Luk. 12. 43. Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing.

Ʋse 4. Remember that the bounds of time are unknown, and therefore do not reckon as if there were a great deal to come. The Prodigal that thinks his Estate will never b [...] spent, how does he send it flying? if you reckon you shall live very long, 'tis a thousand to one but you will live very ill. How was the Old World drowned in wicked­ness, before it was drown'd in Water? and one reason might be, because 'twas usual for men to live Seven or eight, or nine hundred years; hence grew security in Sin, God was neglected, Death unthought of, and Repentance delay'd. Death may be very near, when you least think of dying. You are not to boast of to morrow, which possi­bly you may not live to see; but as the Holy Ghost says, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, Heb. 3. 7, 8.

Doct. 2. The Second Doctrine is this, A Change will come, and put an end to this time, which is appointed to Man. Mortality and Change are consequent upon Sin. Assoon as we are born, Death sets out towards us, and [Page 13] it approacheth nearer and nearer every moment. What man is he that liveth and shall not see death? Psal. 89. 48. Every one that lives, as sure as he lives, shall dye.

In the handling of this Point, I shall,

  • 1. Shew in what respects Death may be called a Change.
  • 2. Prove, that Death will come.
  • 3. When this Change at Death comes, that time will be at an end.

Lastly, make Application.

In the first place, I am to shew, in what respects Death may be called a Change.

Death is a great Change in reference to Sinners, and in reference to Saints.

1. Death is a Change in reference to Sinners. A sad and bad Change, which they may tremble to think of. Sin­ners wish they might live here to Eternity, that they might Sin to Eternity; and they justly deserve Punish­ment to Eternity: but though their wills be desperately bad, yet their wishes are vain. Though Death is more bold than welcome, yet 'twill make bold with the highest and securest of them. Their Change is coming: now Death is a Change in several respects.

1. Death is a Change, in reference to their outward comforts. All these take their flight at Death; or rather, Sinners take their flight away from them. The Rich Man in the Gospel, Luk. 16. after Death, tastes no more of his sumptuous fare, he is turned out of his House, he is stript of his purple and fine linnen; all the good things that he received here, he left behind him when he went into another World. I grant, the Godly leave their out­ward Comforts too, but they exchange them for better: but Wicked Men here receive all their Consolation; and nothing but Evils and Torment abide them after their [Page 14] dissolution. Death lays their Honour in the Dust, pushes off the Crown from the graceless Monarchs Head; proves the Richest, meer Beggars.

2. Death is a Change in reference to their outward Man. Their Bodies, which the ungodly take so much time and pains to adorn and pamper, are strangely alter'd; the sprightly Heat, is turned into coldness, Strength into the clean contrary, Beauty into a ghastly paleness, the best Constitution into rottenness and corruption.

I grant the Earthly Tabernacle of the Saints also falls to the ground, but 'twill rise again with advantage; but the Bodies of the Wicked will rise to Punishment, and that this may be Eternal, put on a wretched Immortality.

3. Death is a Change, in reference to that peace and con­fidence that sinners before were full of. The hope of the wicked is as the giving up of the Ghost; and all their trust is as a Spiders web, spun out themselves, weak, and easily swept away. Immediately after Death, they will perceive their mistakes, and smartingly be convinced, that their confidences were vain. Now they cry peace and safety, and let the Curse ring never so loud, they bless themselves in their hearts, though they walk on in their evil way; but then they will perceive and curse their Carnal Secu­rity. Their Building being on the sand, will fall, and great will be the fall of it, Matt. 7. 27.

4. Death is a Change in reference to Hope and possibility of Salvation. As vain hopes will be at an end, so All hope will be gone; The Gospel will be clasped and sealed up for ever: the Night will be come, and the time of work­ing out Salvation, over. Hark what was said to the Rich Man in Hell! There is a great gulph fixed between us and you, which 'tis impossible to pass. This Despair will cause un­utterable Anguish, 'twill prove the Hell of Hell. How intollerable will that Fire be, which there is no hope of having quenched! How dreadful that Worm, where there is no hope of its dying.

5. Death is a Change, in reference to that patience that was exercised towards them; for Judgment, Sentence, and Eternal Punishment does follow upon the abuse of it. God will then cast the Ungodly away for ever, and he will be favourable no more; but in Anger shut up all his Mercies. All their Sins will find them out at Death, accompany them to the Judgment Seat, cry out for Ven­geance upon them; God will ease himself of such Ad­versaries that were a burden to him while they lived; and they will sadly find, that while they despised his good­ness and long suffering, they treasured up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath, Rom. 2. 4, 5.

2. Death is a Change, with respect unto the Saints, and this is as blessed as the t'other is dismal. A gracious Change is wrought in Believers at their first Conversion; and that Change is perfected at their Dissolution. What an ex­cellent Creature will a renewed Soul be, when 'tis out of the Body, and made perfect in glory! Surely there is no just ground for a Saint to fear dying; but upon many accounts 'tis really desirable.

1. At Death the Saints change their habitation; they leave the Earthly Tabernacle, and go to a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, 2 Cor. 5. 1. They no longer say, Wo is us that we dwell in Meshech, and inhabit the tents of Kedar. This Earth was a place full of trouble to them; they were gazed at, scorn'd, reproached, perse­cuted; but in Heaven they meet with other kind of com­pany; there is nothing but love, and peace, and sweetness among the innumerable company of Angels, and the gene­ral Assemblie, and Church of the First born, which are Enrolled in Heaven. The house of Clay is changed to a City which has Foundations, whose Builder and Ma­ker is God.

2. Their State of absence is changed, and they are present [Page 16] with the Lord. 'Tis true, Believers in this World are brought nigh to God by the Blood of Christ; they are brought into his favour, and admitted unto fellowship with him; whereas, wicked Men are far from God, and dwell in the Suburbs of Hell and Destruction: but yet, this Nearness of the Saints to Christ, and to his Father, is but a Distance in comparison of that Nearness which will be in Glory: Therefore says the Apostle, Whiles we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. And are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be pre­sent with the Lord, 2 Cor. 5. 6, 8. Desertion, though the common exercise of Saints on Earth, will in Heaven be no more; they shall be delivered from all causes of Gods withdrawing, they shall be so near as to see their Lord as he is; and his Face will be towards them, and the light of his Countenance shine upon them, without the least inter­ruption or Eclipse, unto Eternity.

3. There is a Change, from ignorance and darkness, (much of which remained even in the children of light) unto perfect knowledge. Believers in this World, who are most of all Enlightned, do know but in part, and therefore 'tis their duty to be still growing both in Grace and Know­ledge; but when Death comes, that which is perfect is come, and that which is in part shall be done away, 1 Cor. 13. 10. Heaven is called an inheritance in Light. Oh what a full understanding will there be of the Works and of the Word of God! What clear views of God himself, and Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns at his right hand, will be there vouchsafed! All the ignorance that followed up­on eating the Tree of Knowledge, will be cured; all strangeness and doubtings concerning God, his Goodness and his Love, will be at an end: Glorified Saints see, what Militant Saints can't bear.

4. There is a Change at Death, from incompleat grace, to glorious and sinless purity and holiness. The body of sin [Page 17] is put off when the Saints put off this Mortal Body. The separated Souls of the Just ones, have no External Senses, nor any sensual and fleshly inclinations; Death removes them out of the World, so that nothing hence is any lon­ger a Temptation; they are also out of the Tempters reach; and then they have a sight of their Lord as he is, and this sight Transforms them into his likeness, 1 Joh. 3. 2. Grace that was here only in the bud, will then be full blown; Holiness will be perfected, and all filthiness both of the Flesh and Spirit cleansed away: It may truly be said then concerning the Spouse of Christ; O my love, thou art all fair, there is no spot in thee.

5. There is a Change, from War and Labour, unto Rest and Triumph. 'Tis no easie matter to be Saved. The Saints are put upon hard work and service, they are to watch, to pray, to stir up themselves, to lay hold on God. They are to contend earnestly for the faith, to strive to enter in at the strait gate. They are to use an holy Violence, that they may by a kind of storming take the heavenly Kingdom; all opposition from the Worlds Rage, and the power and wrath of Hellish Principalities, they must break thorow. But at Death their Warfare is accomplished, they rest from their Labours, Rev. 14. 13. They go then to their Lord, and receive their reward which he has freely and faithfully promised; and having been faithful in a little, they are made rulers over much; they have fought the good fight, and fi­nished their course: and having been more than conquerors through him that loved them, they sit down with him on his throne, and are Crowned with Life and Glory, and shall wear that Crown for ever.

6. When the Saints dye, there is a Change from all man­ner of Sorrow, unto fullness of joy and pleasures for ever­more. Oh how glad will they be to see themselves safely arrived to the fair Haven, after the many Storms which beat upon them in this World! to perceive themselves safe­ly [Page 18] secur'd in Heaven, and that they are made pillars in the temple of God, and shall go out no more! Rev. 3. 12. When they come to see their Lord and Husband Jesus, and God their Father; and to the uttermost of their capacity, they are filled with his Love, and satisfied with his Image; Oh then all tears will be dried up, Sin and Sorrow are Eter­nal Strangers in the New Jerusalem; Joy will be full, and the fuller, because 'twill never end.

In the Second place follow the Arguments to prove, That Death which is such a Change, will certainly come.

1. Death is merited by Sin: It was upon the Sin of Man that that Sentence was past upon him, Gen. 3. 19. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread, until thou return to the ground, for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Now all having Sinned, Death passes upon all, Rom. 5. 12. Assoon as Man became a Sinner, presently he became Mortal. Death had not been able to have entred into the World, if Sin had not first got entrance: If Man had never Sinned, the Tree of Life was to assure him, he should never have died.

2. Death is appointed, and the appointment is most firm and unchangeable: let an exception be made of Enoch and Elias, and them that shall be found alive at the Last Day, and the appointment is general, Heb. 9. 27. Con­stitutum est omnibus semel mori; plerisque bis. It is ap­pointed unto all men once to die, and the Second Death will be the Portion of the most that Live. The Grave is called, The House appointed for all the living, that's the dark and silent place where all the dwellers upon Earth must make their aboad until the Resurrection.

3. Christ does not deliver those that are dear to him from the stroak of death, though he does always from the Sting of it. If there were any hope to be freed from [Page 19] tasting of Death, that expectation must be from our Me­diator: but though he makes the bodies of Believers his own Members, and the temples of his Spirit; yet he suffers them to fall down to the ground, that too visible a diffe­rence may not be made between the Righteous and the Wicked here, and that his power may be glorified in raising them up again at the Last Day. And certainly the Lords power and love, will be exceeding Glorious, when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal immor­tality.

In the Third place, I am to make it manifest, That Time comes to an end, when this Change comes.

1. One Argument shall be drawn from the Eternal Re­wards which upon their dissolution are received by the Righ­teous. The Saints in Heaven need no more time, for their work is done: Assoon as they depart they are with Christ; they are cloathed upon with their house which is from Hea­ven, 2 Cor. 5. 2. They have no need more of a Day of Grace, who have received an exceeding and eternal weight of Glory. And truly 'tis well for them that their time is over, since they have made good use of it; and time being over, they are in Eternity, and now their State and Happiness is fixed. Rom. 6. 23. The gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

2. A Second Argument shall be drawn from the Ever­lasting Punishments which after Death are inflicted on the wicked. We read Luke 16. That the Wicked Rich Man died and was buried; and the next News we hear of him, is, That he was in Hell, and shut up there, so as never to come out more. He does not pray for a release out of his Torments, that was despaired of; but onely for a little mi­tigation; and truly it was but a small kindness, that a drop of water could have done him, in the midst of such flames as are in Hell; and yet even that is denied. The ungod­ly [Page 20] that are taken out of the World, had time afforded them: but they were such Fools as to spend it all in Sin and Va­nity; and now no more shall be granted for further Trial, after Eternal Punishment has overtaken them.

Ʋse 1. If a Change is coming which will put an end to Time; See the vanity of things Temporal. The Apostle thought them not worth his love; nay, not worthy of a look, 2 Cor. 4. 18. We look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen; for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eter­nal. The wise Man, because of the Non-continuance of Earthly things, charges them with a Non-existence, that he might disgrace them, and shew the unreasonableness of being eager after them. Prov. 23. 4, 5. Labour not to be rich, cease from thy own wisdom; Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings, and fly away as an Eagle towards heaven. And it may truly be said, that Honours and Pleasures have as swift wings as Riches.

Ʋse 2. Study how vain you your selves are; Let Man cease from himself, from being conceited of himself, from trusting in himself; for his breath is in his nostrils, and wherein is he to be accounted of, Isa. 2. ult. Man was the Cause why the Creature was made subject unto vanity, Rom. 8. Now the Philosopher says, Propter quod unumquod (que) est tale, illud est magis tale: The fire that makes the water hot, has a greater heat in it self; and if Man was the cause of the Creatures Vanity, certainly in a sense he is the vainest Creature. This methinks should hide Pride from Man, and make him very humble, since the Psalmist speaks generally of all, though in the most exalted Earthly State, that they are Vanity in the Abstract, Psal. 39. 5. Verily every man at his best estate is altogether vanity. Selah.

Ʋse 3. Remain not under the guilt and dominion of Sin, which will make Death a Change so very dreadful. Come unto Jesus, in whom both Strength and Righteousness is to be found? that you may be delivered from Sins Power, and escape Sins Punishment: Remember, that Sin is the very Sting of Death, and merits Hell; that all its gains and pleasures are deceitful; Oh hasten from under the Curse it deserves, and the bondage of it. If you hear and be­lieve on the Son of God, he will make you free indeed, from Sin, which is indeed the greatest evil. Remember Death both first and second, are Sins Wages; will you any longer serve it? Oh change your Master quickly, and have your fruit to holiness, and the end eternal life.

Ʋse 4. Think it not strange when relations are taken a­way, and sorrow not as without hope, when you have good reason to hope that they sleep in Jesus. Valerius Maxi­mus l. 5. c. 10. tells, that when Anaxagoras was told of the loss of his son, he replied, you tell me of nothing unexpected, Ego enim illum ex me natum sciebam esse mor­talem, I knew my son to be but mortal. If an Heathen speakes thus, shall Christians shew less strength and pa­tience? that children and other relations dye, is no marvel: that they live so long, and that the change of such frail creatures does come no sooner, is the greater wonder. The better our relations are, their loss is the greater, but yet the greatest loss may be born with greatest patience, understanding how gainful death is to them.

It was the desire of that excellent Christian lately de­ceased, that her Funeral Sermon might be preached on a Lords-day, because more might hear, and be awakened, and made serious and profit by hearing. It was far I am con­fident from her desire to be publickly commended: but those that least desire, do best deserve commendation. There [Page 22] were several gracious qualities which God had endued her with, which I think it useful to mention, that others may be brought into an imitation.

1. I begin with her humility. She had low thoughts of her self: was very sensible of her imperfections, and that by the grace of God she was what she was. Though her estate was very plentiful, yet she did not affect a flanting garb, but went like a daughter of Sion, not of Sodom. I never saw a Bull-Tower or a Curl upon her forehead. She took more pains about her heart, then to dress and adorn her head. All that did observe her, must needs acknowledg that she had very much of that ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

2. She valued the Ministry and Ordinances of Christ at an high rate. She felt the power of the Lord Jesus, and saw his matchless beauty in his house, at his table, and therefore rightly judged it was good far her to [...]e there. It was the desire of her Soul, to dwell in the Sanctuary of her God; there she understood the end of the ungodly, and that in their greatest prosperity, they stand but in slippery places. She lookt upon the counsels of God as a safe guide to glo­ry; she saw that in God, as made her desire him above all, and chuse him to be her portion for ever.

3 She had her spirit and passions hugely under government. If he that is slow to anger be of great understanding: cer­tainly she was a person of great wisdom. Some were rea­dy to question whether she could be angry. This gentle­ness of Christ shining forth in her, made her conversation very amiable. A great eveness of spirit I observed in her, very patient under her last sickness, which truly was long, tedious, and very painful: and as she did not murmur a­gainst God tho under his mighty hand: so she was far from being easily provoked by any one.

4. She was not at all talkative, she knew an unbridled tongue will make all profession of religion vain. She was [Page 23] swift to hear, and slow to speak, as well as slow to wrath. A rare vertue, for in multitude of words says Solomon, there wanteth not sin. An argument of prudence: For says a greater than Solomon, For every idle word which men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof at the day of Judg­ment.

5. She was well setled and establisht in the way of truth. Temptations she sometimes met with to seduce her, but upon trial was found not to be like a child tost to and fro with every wind of doctrine. She was girt about with the girdle of truth, had on the breast-plate of righteousness, fought the good fight, and kept the faith unto the end.

6. She was a singular example of obedience to Parents. I have heard her father say, she was a child that never diso­beyed him, tho being an onely child, her disobedience if it had been, was more likely to be pardoned: so good in all her relations, that I wish her Father and her Husband grace from above to bear the loss they have sustained, and that her Mother may have extraordinary strength vouchsafed, that she may not be over-whelmed, and dye with extremity of grief and sorrow.

Such an one she was while she lived; and to conclude, Her God was with her, when she was in the valley of the shadow of Death. Melancholick vapours prevailing, Satan took an advantage against, to perplex her with hurries, and doubts, and fears. But not many hours before she died, the Clouds were scattered, and Evidences for Hea­ven clear'd. When I asked her concerning the frame of her Spirit: Her answer was, she had no Doubts at all; these were her very words, concerning her Eternal State, Mark the perfect, and behold the upright, for the end of such is peace.

Well, She who was so serious and attentive an hearer [Page 24] among us, that used with such longings after Christ, and hungrings after Righteousness, to Communicate with us at the Lords Supper: her Change is come, and she is joyned to another Congregation. She is gone to the Heavenly Jerusalem, to the general Assembly and Church of the First-born, to an innumerable company of Angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect; where her Eternal employment will be to be singing hallelujahs to him that sits upon the Throne, and to the Lamb for ever.

Doctr. 3, The Third Doctrine follows, To be waiting for their Change, is the practise of the Saints, and would be the wisdom of all. Thus Job in the Text waited, the thoughts of Death were so frequent and familiar, that he seemed to dwell in the Grave while alive: the Grave is my House: he claims kindred with the Worms and Corruption; I have said to Corruption, thou art my Father; to the Worm, thou art my Mother and my Sister.

In the handling of this Doctrine, I shall

  • 1. Tell you what it is to wait for this Change.
  • 2. Why thus to wait is the Saints practise; and if there be good reason for their practise, 'twill be evident with­out more ado, that this would be the Wisdom of all.
  • Lastly, conclude with the Application.

I begin with the First, What it is to wait for this Change.

1. Waiting, implies a firm belief and perswasion, that this Change will be. 'Tis easie in the general to believe that all must dye; but particularly to apply this to ones self is very difficult; this knowledge of ones own frailty comes from Heaven; and a right Faith concerning Dying, is really the gift and work of God. Hark to David, Psal. 39 4. Lord make me to know my end, and the mea­sure of my days what it is, that I may know how frail I am: and being thus taught, then he cries out, My days are [Page 25] an hand-breadth, and my age is as nothing before thee.

2. An expectation of this change, as that which is possible every day. The Apostle protests that he died daily, 1 Cor▪ 15. 31. He not only advanced in the work of mortifi­cation, and dying to sin, and this world, every day, but he lookt upon Death as every day possible. Stobeus, Ser. 1. Relates of Musonius, that he was of this opinion, that A man cannot live a day well, [...] unless he lives it as his last. How many accidents may be­fal us, that may dispatch us, and speed us into another world every day? If death be every day possible, 'tis but rational to take notice daily of that possibility.

3. Waiting for this change implies preparation for its co­ming. And truly hic labor hoc opus est, here lies the great difficulty. Much must be done before a man can be fit to dye; much must be done in him, much must be done by him: several other changes must go before that great change, or else that great change will be a dismal one.

1. The State must be changed. Mans natural State is a State of wrath; he must therefore come to the Son of God, that he may be justified by his blood, and pass out of this State of wrath, into a State of grace. This is ex­cellently expressed by the Apostle, Rom. 5. 1, 2. Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoyce in hope of the glory of God. If the State be changed, fear of death may be turned into a joyful hope of future glory.

2. The heart must be changed: the heart of man, by him that is the heart-searcher, has a very bad Character gi­ven it. 'Tis deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Jer. 17. 9. Out of the heart proceeds whatever does defile the man. The heart therefore must be made a new one, that its thoughts, desires, affections, designs, may become clean and holy, and that this change may be [Page 26] wrought, God must be sought, and his promise pleaded, Ezek. 36. 26. A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.

3. The life must be changed; and where there is a new heart indeed, there will be a walking in newness of life. Holiness of life is necessary in respect of Gods honour, and the Gospels credit; we must cast off the works of darkness, and be zealous of good works; for after death we shall be judged according to our works. Now that the life may be thus changed, we must beg, that according to his promise, God would put his spirit within us, and cause us to walk in his statutes, and to observe his judgments, and do them.

4. This saving change must be evidenced. Grace must be increased, that the actings of it being vigorous and strong, its truth and being may not be doubted. We must be diligent observers of our selves, and in no wise contented to be at uncertainties about our eternal State. A certain evidence of grace, will be worth much more than a whole world, when we come to lie upon a death-bed. Give diligence to make all sure, to make it out that you are effectually called: then you may conclude your interest in Gods electing love; and when you come to die, an abundant entrance will be administred into the ever­lasting kingdom.

4. Waiting for this change implies desiring it. The Saints are not to expect it, as an evil; but to desire it, as that which will put an end to evil. The Apostle, who was able to say, To me to live is Christ, adds, and to die is gain. And with good reason does he afterwards profess, I desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far bet­ter, Phil. 1. 23. Christ died to unsting Death, and to deliver from the fear of it. The Saints need not look upon it as terrible; but should groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with their house which is from heaven; that mortality may be swallowed up of life, 2 Cor. 5. 2, 4. Death [Page 27] is theirs as well as Life; Theirs, to do them a kindness; too much theirs, to do them any injury.

5. It implies Patience, and establishment of heart. Till this Change is come indeed, Believers are engaged in a Warfare, and they must stand to their Arms, and be upon Duty, till the Captain of their Salvation call them off, in order to their crowning. They have need of Pati­ence, that they may act, and fight, and suffer unwearied­ly. Hark to the Apostle, Heb. 10. 36, 37. For ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye may receive the promise: for yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry All our life long, by patient continuance in well doing, we must seek for glory, and honour, and immortality; and then upon our dissolution, we shall lay hold of that life which is e­ternal.

In the second place I am to lay down the Reasons, why 'tis the Saints practise to wait for their change.

1. Because the coming of it is so certain in it self, and so uncertain as to the time when 'twill be. All our cares can­not prevent our Change: Death will surely come: The Decree concerning it is much more unalterable than those of the Medes and Persians, Dan. 6. 12. But the time of its approach is concealed. To some it comes in the even­ing of their Age, to some at mid-day, to some in the ve­ry morning of their time. All graves are not of a length. Some old, and that's no wonder; some Infants, and some in their greatest vigor, have been struck down by Death, and shall rise no more till the last day. All therefore at all times should be watchful.

2. The spiritual advantage is vastly great, which follows upon serious waiting for their change. Waiting for Death will make men flee from sin. When Satan speaks of sin's pleasure and gain, if answer be made, O but at death [Page 28] will sin be thought pleasant and gainful? This will be enough to silence him. Waiting for Death will make this World contemptible. When Esau was at the point of Death, he cries out, What profit will this birth right do me? Gen. 25. 32. So if we have Death in our eye, we shall cry out, What profit will the World then do us, when we are just about to leave it? Again, Waiting for death, will keep our Affe­ctions moderate; neither grief nor joy will be excessive about earthly things. Christ will be the more prized, and Heaven more longed for.

3. The misery is inconceivable which falls upon them who never thought of Death so as to be prepared for it. It is ter­rible in it self, but hell following after it has ten thou­sand times a more terrible second. Death is sent unto the ungodly in wrath as an Excecutioner, they dye as malefa­ctors. The righteous indeed are cut down as Corn that is fully ripe, that it may be gathered into the barn, Mat: 13. 30: But Death hews down the wicked, as a man fells fuel for the fire, they are evil trees that cumber the earth, Luk. 13. 7. Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground? And immediately they become eternal feul for those flames that never can be quenched.

Ʋse. 1. Of Reproof to those who can't endure to think of Death; or if they do, make an ill use of it. Many quite banish the thoughts of dying, they are resolved to live wickedly, and don't care to consider, that such a life will end, nor to consider how 'twill end. The Rich Man had Death quite out of his thoughts; and reckon'd upon living many years, in which he should take his ease, eat, drink, and be merry: When Death was entring in at his door, and his Soul just ready to be required, God calls this man a fool; and after he was out of the World, he saw reason to call himself by that Name for ever. Others also are sharply to be reproved, who, because they must [Page 29] dye, are resolved to indulge the Flesh while they may. What profane frantick Epicures were they, who said, Let us eat and drink to day, for we shall die to morrow?

Ʋse 2. Of Exhortation to the imitation of Holy Job in tbe Text. Let me perswade you all, All the days of your appointed time to be waiting for your Change. Have many a solicitous thought, whither it is that Death will send you? Ask your Souls, whither they are likely to go, when they dislodge and leave this Earthly Taber­nacle? Dye you must; 'tis dreadful to dye in sin, and few dye otherwise. Prepare, I beseech you, for that which you cannot avoid. 'Tis in vain, when death is within view, to plead thus: O Death, I never thought of thy approach; none of my main work alas is done, I am utterly unfit to go to the Judgment-Seat; If I dye now, I dye mi­serable, and shall be miserable for ever. Death comes at Gods command, and whether you are prepared or un­prepared, when God says, Strike, it cannot hold its hand. Think of this, and let Death find you ready, come when it will.

Two things you are here to be advised to:

1. Let there be a looking to Jesus to take out the Sting of Death. Believe in him, that he may give you Victory over this last Enemy. Christ can deliver you from the Curse of the Law: now the Law, the Apostle tells you, is the strength of Sin, as Sin is the Sting of Death. Apply and relie upon the Blood of Jesus, to be Justified, and to be Saved from Wrath. The Apostle desired to be sound in Christ; and if Death find you in him, it may kill you, but it can't hurt you; nay, if you are in Christ, and live to him, Death will be gain, and greater gain, than while you live you can conceive.

2. Look unto Jesus to be freed from that bondage which is caused by the fear of dying, Heb. 2. 14, 15. You can­not [Page 30] be compleatly happy while you live, because you will remain incompleatly Holy: Study the vanity of every thing that makes you fond of Living. Clear up your interest in Jesus Christ, and preserve Conscience clear and peaceable. And let your Eye be after your Risen and Ascended Lord; who was dead, and is alive, and lives for evermore: that so you may long to go to him, to be with him in those mansions he is gone to prepare. O beg for Conquest over your Fears, and that you may see heaven plainly by the Eye of Faith; and heaven open, and Christ ready to receive your Spirits, assoon as you have put off your sleshly Tabernacle. Life is then lead in peace, when Death ceases to be dreaded, and becomes desirable.

An Epitaph upon Mrs. Martha Thompson.

Her Name was Martha, but she had the Heart
Of Mary; for She chose the Better part.
In patience, meekness, humbleness of Mind,
She did Excel the most of Womankind.
She waited for her Change; which being Come,
She's at her Blisful and Eternal Home.
Her Friends lament they've lost her; whereas She
Has bid Farewel, World, Sin, and Misery.
FINIS.

Books Published by Mr. Nathanael Vincent, Sold by T. Parkhurst.

  • 1. The Spirit of Prayer, with directions to attain the Gift.
  • 2. Worthy walking, the Call of the Gospel.
  • 3. Heaven or Hell upon Earth, in a Discourse concerning Conscience.
  • 4. The little Childs Catechism, with several short Histories.
  • 5. Mr. Janeway's Funeral Sermon.
  • 6. Mrs. Bakers Funeral Sermon.
  • 7. The True Touch-stone, which shews both Grace and Nature.

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