Dr. Chauncy's SERMON On the Death of Mrs. Foxcroft.


The BLESSEDNESS of the DEAD who die in the LORD.

A SERMON Preached the LORD's Day after the Funeral of Mrs. ANNA FOXCROFT, The amiable and pious Consort of the Reverend Mr. Thomas Foxcroft, Who died October 9th 1749, in the 53d Year of her Age.

By Charles Chauncy, D. D. One of the Pastors of the First Church in BOSTON.

Philip 1. 21.
For me to live is CHRIST, and to die is Gain.

BOSTON, Printed by ROGERS and FOWLE in Queen-Street. MDCCXLIX.


The Blessedness of the Dead who die in LORD.

REV. XIV. 13.AND I heard a Voice from Heaven, saying to me, write, Blessed are the Dead which die in the LORD from henceforth: Yea, saith the SPIRIT, that they may rest from their Labours, and their Works do follow them.

THE Manner in which these Words are introduced bespeaks a more than ordi­nary Attention. I heard a Voice from Heaven. i. e. from GOD out of Heaven: And it was a Voice distinctly articulated in its Sound, like the Voice at our SAVIOUR's Bap­tism and Transfiguration; a Voice that spake to the Apostle John in plain and intelligible Words, com­manding him, not meerly to pronounce, but to write, the Dead in CHRIST blessed. For so it fol­lows, Saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the Dead which die in the LORD from henceforth. Like Words of Support and Consolation to the Saints of the most High, both living and dying, are scarce to be met with any where in the Bible. The Dead in CHRIST, it is true, are frequently spoken of as [Page 6] blessed; but, perhaps, never with so much Particu­larity, with such special Marks of Honour and Di­stinction. And yet, this is not all: For the Divine SPIRIT is himself introduced, expresly and solemnly testifying that they are thus blessed, and particularly specifying the Instances wherein they are so; Yea, saith the SPIRIT, that they may rest from their Labours, and their Works do follow them.

In the Words, the three following Things are observable, not improper to employ our present Meditations.

  • I. A Description of the Persons here pronounced blessed; the Dead who die in the LORD.
  • II. A special Notification of the Time when they enter upon this Blessedness; signified in those Words, from henceforth.
  • III. A Recital of the particular Instances wherein they are blessed; that they may rest from their La­bours, and their Works do follow them.

Accordingly, these are the Heads we shall di­stinctly illustrate, and then apply what may be offer­ed in some sutable Reflections.

I. The first Thing observable in the Text is, A Description of the Persons pronounced blessed. And these are the Dead: Not the Dead without Discri­mination, but the Dead who die in the LORD.

But, you will ask, Who are these? Who are the Persons meant by the Dead who die in the LORD, concerning whom it is here declared, that they are blessed. In answer whereto,

Some say, that the holy Martyrs, those who have suffered Death for the Name and Sake of the LORD [Page 7] JESUS CHRIST, are the Persons more especially in­tended. Who die in the LORD, i. e. for the LORD, for his Sake, in Defence of his Cause, and to bear Testimony to the Truth of his Gospel. So some expound the Phrase: In which Sense, it must be owned, it is sometimes taken in Scripture; as in Eph. iv. 1. 1 Pet. i. 14. (according to the Ori­ginal) and in several other Places; which it is need­less to turn you to. And, to be sure, those who suffer for Righteousness Sake, who die in the Cause of CHRIST, 'not counting their Lives dear to them', so that they may honour their Saviour, and the Truths pertaining to his Kingdom, are not to be excluded a Share in the Blessedness the Text speaks of: Though there does not appear sufficient Reason to determine, that these are the only Persons here intended.

Others therefore interpret the Words more gene­rally, as including not only Confessors and Martyrs, but all good Christians. Who die in the LORD, i. e. in the Faith of the LORD JESUS, united to him, and interested in the Mercy of GOD through him. In this Sense they understand the Phrase: And with good Reason; for it seems to be of the same Import with those Phrases, the Dead in CHRIST, those that are fallen asleep in JESUS, which are un­doubtedly made use of as descriptive of sincere Chri­stians in common.

And we shall the more easily conceive of the Propriety of this Mode of Speech to point out good Men, if we call to mind, that they are not infre­quently, in the Writings of the New-Testament, characterised from their being in CHRIST. Agree­able whereto is that Language, 2 Cor. iv. 17. 'If any Man be in CHRIST, he is a new Creature'. And again, Chap. xii. Ver. 2. 'I knew a Man in CHRIST'. [Page 8] And yet again, Philip. iii. 8, 9.—'I count all Things but Loss,—that I may win CHRIST, and be found in him.'

There is indeed a being in CHRIST that is com­mon to all that are Members of that visible King­dom, of which he is Head and Lord, whether they are Christians in Truth, or in Pretence only. Hence the Apostle Paul, when mentioning the Churches of Judea (in which there were doubtless a Number of meer nominal Christians) uses that Style 'which were in CHRIST'. And our blessed Saviour expres­ly speaks of 'Branches in him which bear no Fruit'. And makes that Supposition,* 'If a Man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a Branch, and is wi­thered: And Men gather them, and cast them into the Fire; and they are burned'.

But this notwithstanding, there is a being in CHRIST that is peculiar to good Men, and certainly descriptive of their Character as such. And this indeed is that being in CHRIST, or Union to him, that is so much celebrated in Scripture, and set forth under such a Variety of strong and lively Re­semblances. It is compared to the Union between Husband and Wife, which is so near and intimate that they are no longer twain, but one Flesh .—It is compared to the Union of a Building, in which the several Parts, being fitly framed, are so joined together as to constitute one House; of which House, CHRIST, in the Similitude, is the Foundation, or chief Corner-Stone **.—It is compared to the Uni­on of the Body with the Head, in Consequence whereof it 'maketh Increase, and groweth up into him, in all Things, which is the Head, even [Page 9] CHRIST'*||.—It is compared to the Union of a Vine and its Branches; and the Analogy is so ex­act, that 'as the Branch cannot bear Fruit of it self, except it abide in the Vine; so neither can they, ex­cept they abide in him'.—It is compared to the Union between GOD and CHRIST; and they, in the Comparison, are said to be in him, and he in them, in some Sense analogous to that in which he is in the Father, and the Father in him .—In a Word, They are, according to the Scriptures, united to him, and so in him, as to be transformed into the same Image, and to partake of the same spiritual Na­ture .—They are so in him as to derive from him those Supplies of Grace, whereby they are made 'compleat in him, who is the Head of all Princi­pality and Power'|| ||.—Yea, they are so in him as to become interested in what he has done, and suf­fered, and is now doing in Heaven, at the Right Hand of GOD, on the Behalf of Sinners**.

And wherein could good Christians be better di­stinguished? Their being thus spoken of as in CHRIST is an infallible Mark, discriminating them from all others.

And these now are the Persons intended by the Dead that die in the LORD. They are those, and only those, who, while alive, were so united to CHRIST as that they 'abode in him, and his Words in them'? They are those who were so in CHRIST, as that they derived such Influences from him whereby they were enabled to bring forth the Fruits of Righ­teousness, in a Conversation becoming the Gospel of CHRIST. Of all such, and of such only, it may be said, while they live, that they live in CHRIST; [Page 10] and when they die, that they die in CHRIST. And blessed, says the Voice from Heaven, in my Text, are the Dead that thus die in the LORD. And this leads

II. To the second Thing observable in the Words, which is, A special Notification of the Time, when the Dead in CHRIST shall enter upon this Bles­sedness; signified by that Phrase, from henceforth. In the Original, it is aparti; which is an Expression that will admit of several Senses. Among others, it may well be construed in this, which specifies the Time when the Dead in CHRIST commence blessed. 'Blessed are the Dead, that die in the LORD, from henceforth'. As if it had been said, 'from that Time they are blessed. They are no sooner Dead than they are blessed. They enter upon a State of Blessedness instantly upon their Death'. The Words are certainly capable of being thus un­derstood; and this, probably is the very Sense in which they ought to be interpreted: To be sure, it is a Sense that falls in with the Truth of Fact, in re­spect of all the Dead that die in the LORD.

Their Bodies, it is true, 'return to the Dust from whence they were taken'; but not so their Spirits. These 'ascend up to GOD who gave them': And this immediately upon their Death. From henceforth, we may say, they are blessed.

Their Spirits do not go to a Place of Purgation, in order to their being fitted for the paradisaick State; as is the Doctrine of the Church of Rome: Neither do they sleep with their Bodies, till the ge­neral Resurrection; as is the Opinion of others, who, tho' they profess a Regard to the Scriptures, yet [Page 11] explain them so as to consist with their own private Notions: Much less still do they perish at Death, sinking into a State of Non-existence; as is the Pre­tence of those, who are styled, in the sacred Lan­guage, 'wise Men after the Flesh'.

If we may give Credit to the Revelations of Scripture, there is no Room for Doubt, whether the Soul survives the Funeral of the Body: Nor can it reasonably remain a Question, Whether those, who die in the LORD, do immediately pass into Glory? The Apostle Paul certainly thought, that good Men were happy instantly upon their Death. For with him, is respect of all sincere Christians, 'to die is Gain'; 'to be absent from the Body, is to be present with the LORD'; and 'to depart hence, is to be with CHRIST, which is by far better than to abide in the Flesh'. And our blessed SAVIOUR himself, in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, represents Lazarus, upon his dying, as immediately 'carried by the Angels into Abraham's Bosom'; by which he means a Place of ineffable Happiness. And it is observable, what he here says of Lazarus is exhibited as an Example of what will be the Case of all who die in CHRIST: The holy Angels of GOD will take into Custody their de­parting Spirits, and convoy them safe to some Place of Blessedness, in the future World.

And this Scripture-Representation of the Matter is far more agreeable to true Philosophy, than that which makes Death, either a total Destruction of our Being, or the bringing us into a State of Insensibility.

Death, considered as the Destruction of our ratio­nal and moral Powers, is an incredible Thing, if viewed in the Light of Reason. We have in Na­ture no Example of such Destruction. What we [Page 12] call the Destruction of material Beings is, properly speaking, nothing more than a Change of their Form. And if, in respect of unperceiving Beings, there is no Destruction; but only a Change in the Mode of their Existence: Why should it be thought, that a total End is put to perceiving Beings, much less to intelligent moral ones, upon such an Appearance as Death? This cannot be argued from Analogy: For there is nothing similar to it, that we know of, in all the Revolutions of Nature.—It certainty looks more rational to conclude, that, in respect of such thinking moral Beings as Men are, a Change only is introduced by Death, as to the Manner of their Communication with this sensible and material World.—Besides, it does not reflect Honour on the infinitely benevolent Creator and Ruler of the World, to suppose him putting a Period, at Death, to the Existence of rational moral Beings; especially, those among them, who, by a wise Improvement of their Powers, have enlarged their Capacities for Hap­piness. We can easily conceive GOD to be good, and as exercising Goodness, and the greatest Good­ness upon the whole, when the Constitution of Things is such, as that, according to certain stated Laws, there shall be a Change in moral Beings, as to the Manner of their Existence, and the Exertment of their several Powers: But the Consistency be­tween Goodness, in an infinitely benevolent Creator and Governour, and the total perishing of moral Be­ings; especially such as have behaved well, does not so readily appear to the humane Mind. To be sure, it gives us, at best, but a low diminished Idea of the Benevolence of GOD, to view him as destroy­ing moral Agents, capable of Happiness, and growing in their Capacity and Meetness for it, after so short and momentany an Existence as our's must be, if there is an End of it at Death.—

[Page 13] In like Manner, Death, considered as sinking Men into a Stupor, and thereby rendring their thinking Powers useless and inactive, though it be only till the Resurrection, is a Notion that can no more be justified by Reason. What may have led to this Apprehension, and is indeed the only Thing that can, with any Colour, give Credit to it, is the ceas­ing of that stated Order, at Death, according to which the humane Mind has Communication, by Means of a wisely organised Body, with external Ob­jects. But this is a Consideration more plausible than weighty, unless it could be made to appear, that the Mind, upon Failure of that bodily Organi­zation, by Means of which it is now affected and moved, must be, if not destroyed, yet, at least, re­duced to an inactive State; becoming incapable of receiving other Ideas, or exercising it self in Con­templation on those it has already received: Which perhaps can never be done. It is allowed by all Inquirers into Nature, that the present Method, ac­cording to which the Mind receives Ideas, is an arbitrary Constitution: To be sure, it is not the only possible one; for if it was, then no Mind, or think­ing Being, could be impressed with Ideas, but in Conformity to this Law of Nature: Which, with­out all Doubt, is contrary to the Truth of Fact. And if the Mind may receive Ideas, and exert it self in making the proper Use of them, without being confined to the present established Order of Nature, it can never be proved, that, when this ceases to take place, as it will at Death, the Mind becomes stupid, senseless and inactive. It should seem far more reasonable to suppose, that Death only puts an End to that constituted Method, according to which the Mind, at present, receives Sensations from this material World; introducing some unknown Change as to the Manner of its Communication with that it then goes into.

[Page 14] And thus the Existence of the Soul, after Death, as a living, active, thinking Being, is a Supposition perfectly agreeable to the Principles of Reason, as well as the Doctrine of Revelation.

As to the Place where unimbodied Spirits exist, Reason, it must be owned, is wholly at a Loss; and Revelation speaks only in general Terms. Rea­son also is unable to declare the Condition of humane Souls in their separate State:—But we are relieved, under this Difficulty, by Revelation; which expresly affirms, in respect of all who die in the LORD, that they are blessed. The Apostle John, in my Text, heard a Voice from Heaven, declaring them blessed, and bidding him write them blessed from henceforth, i. e. from the very Moment of their Death. Yea, they are solemnly pronounced blessed by the SPIRIT of Truth; who also particularly says wherein they are so. And this brings me

III. To the third Thing observable in the Text, viz. A Recital of the particular Instances, wherein the Dead who die in the LORD are blessed. And these are two. 1. They rest from their Labours. 2. Their Works do follow them.

1. They rest from their Labours. i. e. from the Sorrows and Afflictions, the Crosses, Difficulties and Vexations, they were exposed to, and might be call­ed to conflict with, while in this Vale of Tears.

Even good Christians, those who are in CHRIST, as being spiritually united to him, are liable, while in this World of Tryal and Discipline, to all those various Troubles to which Mankind are born, and which as naturally come upon them, 'as the Sparks fly upwards'. There is, in this Respect, 'one Event both to the Righteous and the Wicked: All [Page 15] Things come alike to all: And no Man knoweth either Love or Hatred by all that is before him'.

There are, in general, two Sorts of Troubles, which those, who are in CHRIST, are exposed to, and often conflict with, in the present World, which they shall be set at Rest from the Moment they die, on Account whereof they are blessed; the one com­mon to all Men, the other peculiar to good Christians.

In common with other Men, they are exposed to numberless Diseases and Disasters, and all the Pain and Sorrow naturally consequent thereupon.—They may meet with Losses, and Crosses, and Disappoint­ments; and are capable of very uneasy Sensations herefrom.—They may suffer Hunger and Thirst, Nakedness and Distress; and even the Want of all outward good Things.—They may be defamed, oppressed, and injuriously treated, both by Ene­mies and Friends.—They may be called to put on Mourning for the Death [...] [...]earest Friends and Relations: 'The Desire of their Eyes may be taken from them with a Stroke;' their 'Children may be removed into Darkness:' or, in many other Ways, their dearest Comforts may be imbittered to them.—In a Word, there is no Evil that can be­fall other Men, but it may befall them also; and so as to impress their Minds with Grief and Pain, and endanger their indulging to Impatience and Discontent. But this is their Blessedness, that they shall not always labour under the Trial of such Evils as these. For at Death they rest from their Labours; are instantly and eternally set free from all these Sorrows of a sinful and calamitous World. They shall no more meet with any cross Events; they shall no more be disappointed; they shall no more be afflicted and grieved: For being in the State of the Dead, they are in that State, concerning [Page 16] which we read, Rev. xxi. 4. 'And GOD shall wipe away all Tears from their Eyes; and there shall be no more Death, neither Sorrow, nor crying; neither shall there be any more Pain: for the former Things are passed away.'

But besides these Afflictions common to all Men, there are Labours and Distresses peculiar to good Christians, in respect whereof, those who are in CHRIST JESUS often suffer great Uneasiness, and go mourning all the Day long; all which they shall rest from at Death.

It is no unusual Thing, even for very good Chri­stians to call in Question the Safety of their spiritual State; yea, many Times, they who 'fear the LORD, and obey the Voice of his Servant, walk in Darkness, and see no Light'; by Means whereof, they are 'subject to Bondage through Fear of Death,' and what may be the Consequences of it beyond the Grave. But they are blessed, in that they shall rest from [...] Conflicts and spiritual La­bours, if not before, yet certainly at Death. For they shall then know, to their intire Satisfaction, by being received to the Place assigned for the Spirits of just Men make perfect, that they are indeed the [...] GOD, interested in the Purchases of the REDEEMER's Blood, and Heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven. They shall now see that all their former Suspicions, which gave them so much Anxiety, were groundless; and shall never more entertain the least Fear whether GOD is their FATHER, and CHRIST their SAVIOUR; but shall live in the assured Ex­pectation of compleat Blessedness, when the 'LORD JESUS shall appear a second Time without Sin un­to Salvation.'

[Page 17] O what a glorious Rest is this! What Heart can conceive the Pleasure, with which the separate Spirits of good Men shall be filled, when they come to know, beyond the Possibility of Mistake, that they are in Favour with the GOD of Heaven, and that they shall, in the Day of the Revelation of JESUS CHRIST, be owned as his Disciples, and bid, as such, to enter upon Possession of an everlasting Kingdom in Heaven!—They will now exult with Joy unspeakable, and full of Glory.—

But the greatest Trouble of good Men arises from the Burden of Sin, they at present groan under. Notwithstanding all that has been wrought in them, and done for them, by the SPIRIT of GOD and Holiness, they have still a car [...] Part, which op­poses that in them which is holy and spiritual. And it occasions a great deal of Labour and Conflict. 'The Flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the Flesh': And so great is the Struggle between these two Principles, that they have often Reason to cry out with the holy Apostle Paul, 'O wretched Man that I am, who shall deliver me from the Body of this Death'? But it shall not be always thus with those who are in CHRIST JESUS. Now they may complain of 'Sin that dwelleth in them': And after all their Endeavours, they will have Reason to lament their Frailties and Imperfections, their too frequent Inadvertencies, if not more heinous Of­fences. But Death will forever set them at Rest from all their Labours and Sorrows, occasioned by Sin. No sooner shall their Souls leave their Bodies than they shall become sinless. They shall no more, after Death, have Reason to lament, that 'the good they would, they do not; and the Evil they would not, that they do.' They shall no more have Oc­casion to bewail their having displeased GOD, or dishonoured CHRIST, or grieved the good SPIRIT [Page 18] of Grace. They shall no more reflect Blame on themselves for any Thing they have done that is a­miss: For they are now in the Paradise of GOD without Spot or Wrinkle, perfectly conformed to the REDEEMER's Image.

O what a blessed Ingredient is this in the Rest of those Dead who die in the LORD! How should the believing Prospect of such a Rest from Sin, e­ven at present, ravish their Hearts with Joy! and dispose them to long for their Dissolution, that they might no more displease their heavenly FATHER, that they might no more offend their compassionate RE­DEEMER! Thanks be to GOD for JESUS CHRIST, through whom we have the Hope of putting off that Body of Sin and Death we are now cloathed with, when we shall stand faultless before the Throne of his Glory with exceeding Joy.

And thus we see that the Dead who die in the LORD are blessed, as they rest from their Labours, i. e. their Troubles, Conflicts and Tryals, whether of an outward or spiritual Nature. But this Rest, you observe, is a negative Blessing: which though necessary to Happiness, yet is not all that is necessa­ry: Nay, it is the smallest Ingredient in the Blessed­ness of the Dead in CHRIST. They not only rest from their Labours,

2. But, Secondly, Their Works do follow them: Not that they do so, according to the Strictness of the Letter; for being transient Acts, no sooner done than gone, this is plainly impossible: But, by an easy Figure of Speech, they may be said to follow, or, as the Words may be rendered, go along with them. They do so in such Senses as these, which the Time will allow me but just to mention.

[Page 19] Their Works do follow them. i. e. The conscious Remembrance that they once performed them. They do not, at Death, lose their Power of Reflection, but carry it with them into the Place of separate Spirits, where they are able to look back upon those La­bours of Love, and Works of Faith, Humility, Pa­tience, Submission, and other Virtues, they were en­abled to exercise, while in this World of Tryal. And this Power of making themselves conscious to the having done these good Works, will be a never-failing Spring of Joy to them. Scarce any Thing will afford good Men, either in their separate State, or after the Reunion of their Souls to their Bodies, greater Pleasure than that which will result from the Reflection on those virtuous Acts, in their va­rious Kinds, which they were disposed and enabled, by Divine Grace, to perform, in this World, to the Glory of CHRIST, and the Credit of his Religion.

Their Works do follow them. i. e. The good Dis­positions which were confirmed and improved by the frequent Performance of them. The Habits of Virtue are capable of Improvement by virtuous Acts. The Repetition of these has a natural Apti­tude, and, under the Influence of the SPIRIT of GOD, a powerful Tendency, both to invigorate their corresponding Dispositions, and give them a Facility in their Exertions. And good Men have accordingly improved their virtuous Habits, in a less or greater Degree, in Proportion to the Acts of Virtue, or those good Works, they have performed, in Obedience to the Will of GOD. And these Dispositions, with all their Improvements, they car­ry with them into the other World: And they are another Source of the Happiness they will there enjoy. At present, they reap no such Satisfaction as that which is the Fruit of their virtuous Dispositi­ons sutably exercised: And the Connection be­tween [Page 20] Happiness and virtuous Exercises will much more take place, in the future State. The Dead in CHRIST will never cease, either in their unim­bodied State, or afterwards, employing themselves in Acts of Homage 'to him that sitteth upon the Throne, and to the Lamb,' or in Works of Love and Service to those they will then be associated with: And in these and such like Exercises, they will be eternally happy.—

Their Works do follow them. i. e, in fine, the Reward of them, freely bestowed for the Sake of JESUS CHRIST. Agreeable to which Interpretati­on of the Words is that of the Prophet, Isai. iii. 10. 'Say ye to the Righteous, it shall go well with him; for they shall eat of the Fruit of their Do­ings.' And that of holy David, Psalm lviii. 11.—'Verily, there is a Reward for the Righteous.'

This Reward they will enter upon, in part, at Death, and enjoy through the whole Time of the intermediate State. But it will not be compleat, till the Day of the great and last Judgment. Then shall their Souls be again united to their Bodies, not as they were put into the Grave, but 'as fashioned like to the glorious Body of JESUS CHRIST': Then shall they be acquitted, upon a full Hearing of their Case, before the General Assembly of Angels and Men: And then shall they be pronounced blessed, and have 'Entrance ministred to them abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom prepared for them, from before the Foundation of the World'; in which Kingdom, they shall have placed on their Heads 'an immortal incorruptible Crown of Glory', and be treated as 'Kings and Priests to GOD and the FATHER for ever and ever.'—But the Blessed­ness of this Reward cannot be described. It sur­passes all Language; yea, all Conception. We [Page 21] have not, at present, fit Organs to let into the Mind adequate Ideas of it. For, 'as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor Ear heard, neither have entered in the Heart of Man, the Things which GOD hath prepared for them that love him.' 1 Cor. ii. 9.

I shall only add, as the Dead who die in the LORD are blessed, in that their Works do follow them, it is obvious to remark, that their Blessedness will be various, in Degree, both in their separate State, and after they are received to Heaven, accord­ing to the Variety there has been in their Works. Not that there is any Merit in the Works, even of those who are in CHRIST. Such a Supposition would carry with it a gross Absurdity, and basely reflect upon the Mercy of GOD, and the Mediation of JESUS CHRIST. But though there is no Merit in the best Works of the Saints, and the Reward promised to them is wholly a Matter of Grace, com­municable only thro' the Hands of a Mediator, and on Account of his Performances and Sufferings, in this Capacity; yet, it seems a Thing congruous in it self, that it should be a Reward proportioned to the Difference there is in the Works of good Christi­ans. As more and better Works are done by some than others, it should seem fit that the Reward of some should be greater than that of others; that GOD should distinguish those, whom he has en­abled, by his Grace, to distinguish themselves, by their Zeal for his Honour, and their active Diligence in working the Works, which he sent them into the World to do: And there is no Reason to think, but that he will thus bestow the Rewards of the fu­ture World.

The Application is as follows.

1. As the Dead who die in the LORD are the Persons pronounced blessed, in my Text, we should [Page 22] all be concerned that we may thus die. Die we must, sooner or later. 'It is appointed to all Men once to die.' And 'what Man is he that liveth, and shall not see Death'?—And shall we be un­concerned how it goes with us, when we come to die? That we may be ranked among the blessed, at the Day of our Death, is a Matter of the nearest and greatest Importance to us: And as those only, among the Dead who die in the LORD, are blessed, it should be our principal Concern and main Busi­ness, on the present Stage of Time, that we may thus die: In order whereto, we should make it our earnest and constant Care to get into CHRIST, while we live; for then, and then only, shall we be in him when we come to die.—There is such a Thing as a spiritual Union to CHRIST, a being in him, so as the Rest of the World are not; yea, so as to be in­terested in his Righteousness and Merits, and the Mercy of GOD to eternal Life on that Account. An Union to CHRIST by external Profession, and meer visible Membership, in that Kingdom of which he is the Head, is not sufficient for this. We may, notwithstanding such a being in CHRIST, be severed from him at Death, as withered Branches fit for burning; and at the final Judgment be doomed to a Departure from him, unto the Fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels. We must therefore take Care, that we be in CHRIST in an higher and more spiritual Sense. It is by Faith, not an empty notional Faith, but a Faith that is an inward living powerful Principle of Action, that we become one with CHRIST, dwell in him, and live to him, to the Purposes of another World. Let us in this Way, get into CHRIST: And if we are thus in him while we live, we may depend we shall be in him when we come to die: And blessed, for ever blessed shall we be, if we die in the LORD.

[Page 23] 2. The Consideration, that those who die in the LORD, do rest from their Labours, affords strong Ground of Support and Consolation to good Chris­tians under the Sorrows and Troubles of Life. These may be many, and great.—In this Way, it may seem good to the Wisdom of GOD to give Oppor­tunity for the Tryal of your Graces, and to let 'Patience have its perfect Work.' But be not discouraged: The Time of your Redemption draw­eth near. It will not be long before you will ar­rive at the Place of the Dead in CHRIST, where you shall eternally rest from all your Labours and Sorrows. Your 'Tears may endure for a Night; but Joy cometh in the Morning.' The Time hastens, it hastens with a quick Pace, when all 'Cryings shall flee away.' O look forward, in the lively Exercise of Faith, to the Apartment assigned, in the Place of separate Spirits, for the Dead who die in the LORD, and 'faint not in your Minds,' neither repine at Providence.—What though you may be called to endure Hardships, and pass through a Variety of afflictive Tryals, so long as the Time is at Hand, when you shall be taken by the holy An­gels of GOD, and carried to a World of eternal Rest from all your Griefs and Labours. Is not this enough to support your Spirits, and soften your Dif­ficulties and Toils?—'Be ye patient therefore,' ye who are in CHRIST, and live to him, 'stablish your Hearts; for the coming of the LORD draweth nigh': His coming to call you by Death; and then 'shall all Tears be wiped away from your Eyes: neither shall you know Sorrow any more.'

3. What has been discoursed may be improved to reconcile good Christians to the Thought of dying, and render it comfortable to them. Your Bodies, it is true, will at Death, become senseless and inactive; they will be laid in the dark and silent Grave, and [Page 24] there they will dissolve, and gradually return to their original Dust: which are Considerations abhorrent to Nature, and apt to startle even the most sanctified in JESUS CHRIST. But to guard against undue Im­pressions from these natural Horrors of the Grave, you should, in the Exercise of Faith, turn your Thoughts to those Spirits within you, which will survive the Funeral of your Bodies; ascending up, when they die, 'to GOD who gave them,' to be made by him immediately blessed, in some Place, he has prepared, in the other World, for the 'Spirits of just Men.' A most comforting Reflection this! and should make the Thought of Death set easy on the Minds of good Men; yea, it should render it pleasant and joyful to them: Especially, while they are in the further Exercise of Faith in a living RE­DEEMER, who will again 'stand upon this Earth,' and by his almighty Voice speak Life even into their dead Bodies, however long they may have laid dead, and into whatever small Particles of Dust they may have been resolved. For this is that which we are certified of in the Revelations of GOD, that 'this Corruptible shall put on Incorruption, and this Mortal, Immortality; when shall be brought to pass that Saying which is written, Death is swallowed up in Victory.'

4. Rich Consolation may be fetched, from the preceeding Discourse, for those who may be mourn­ing the Decease of near and dear Relatives, whom they have Reason to believe died in the LORD. Such indeed, in a Sense, cannot be said to be dead: They are alive in respect of their Spirits; and what is more, their Spirits are alive in a State of Happi­ness: for, as the Apostle John was ordered, by a Voice from GOD out of Heaven, to declare, and write, Blessed are the Dead that die in the LORD: To which, the Divine SPIRIT is brought in subjoining [Page 25] his Testimony; Yea, saith the SPIRIT, that they may rest from their Labours, and their Works do follow them.

A most comforting and supporting Consideration this! There is enough in it, duly realised, to com­pose your Minds to Silence and Submission, upon the Death of the nearest and dearest Relative.

I doubt not, your afflicted Pastor, and my Compani­on and Fellow-Labourer in the Kingdom and Patience of JESUS CHRIST, has often, since the holy GOD took from him the Desire of his Eyes, quieted his Heart, by looking beyond the Grave, to the Para­dise of GOD, and meditating on her, in his believ­ing Hopes, as enjoying there perfect Rest from all her Labours and Conflicts, and reaping the blessed Reward of her Works of Righteousness, in Joys unspeakable, which shall increase and endure forever. It cannot be supposed, that, in this View of her, he so much as wishes her back again into this World of Sin and Sorrow. And though he may grieve, it is not for her; but for himself, and his dear Chil­dren. And in this Respect, he is not to be blamed, if 'his Heart is troubled.' Nature leads to this, and Religion does not forbid it. Abraham, that Pat­tern of Faith and Submission, upon the Death of Sarah, 'went to mourn and weep for her.' And a greater than Abraham, even the blessed JESUS, did himself weep upon Occasion of the Death of La­zarus. And there is, in the present Case, just Cause of Grief:—The Excitements to the Sensations of Sorrow are strong and powerful.

It may renew the Grief of my Fellow-Worker unto the Kingdom of GOD, if I mention, in his Presence, those Things which adorned his deceased Consort, and made her amiable in the Sight of those who [Page 26] were acquainted with her: Yet, he will 'forgive me this Wrong,' if, out of Regard to GOD, whose she was, and whom she served, I endeavour some brief Delineation of her Character.

She was a Person endowed with desirable Quali­ties; a good Understanding, a solid Judgment, and a well-turned Mind: Sober and grave, yet pleasant and chearful: cautious and reserved, yet, upon sutable Occasions, wisely free and open: meek and gentle, yet capable of Resentment, when proper and necessary; though not hasty to be angry, not given to Wrath, never bitter, never revengeful, never clamorous and noisy: Candid, and ever in­clined to speak well of others: Compassionate to the poor and afflicted, and not envying them who prosper in the World: Generous, yet frugal in her Expences: Humble in her Deportment, and adorn­ing herself in modest Apparel: A Keeper at home, yet a Friend to all the good Offices of Neighbour­hood and Acquaintance: Singularly prudent; not prone to be rash in Conduct, not acting without Thought, and at Random; but apt to forecast her Affairs, and guide them with Discretion.—And as she was formed to behave well in the several Rela­tions of Life, few better filled them with the Duties proper to them. As a Wife, how engaging in her Carriage! how faithful! how dutiful! As a Mother, how tender and affectionate! how vigilant! 'having her Children in Subjection with all Gravity.' As Mistress in the Family, how prudent in her OEco­nomy! how provident! how diligent! The Wise Man's Description of the virtuous Woman is very much her's, 'She openeth her Mouth with Wis­dom, and in her Tongue is the Law of Kindness. She looketh well to the Ways of her Houshold, and eateth not the Bread of Idleness. Her Children [Page 27] arise up, and call her blessed; her Husband also, and he praiseth her.' Prov. xxxi. 26, 27, 28.

But her greatest Glory was her being a Woman in CHRIST, a real good Christian; as we cannot but charitably believe and judge. Those acquainted with her, when young, speak of her as having then a serious Bent of Mind; noted for her Sobriety, Mo­desty, and decent Christian Behaviour. And she, all along in Life, discovered an Abhorrence of Vice, in all its various Shapes and Kinds; and expressed a becoming Regard to the Things of GOD and Religion. She was a daily diligent Reader of her Bible, and constant in her Retirements for Devoti­on: A Lover of the House, and public Worship of GOD; taking Care to sanctify his Day, and devout­ly attend on all his Institutions.—But CHRIST, above all, was the lovely Object of her Desire, and Faith, and Hope. Into his Hands she committed the great Affair of her Soul's Salvation: On his Righ­teousness and Merits she depended for Acceptance with GOD to eternal Life: His Image she was adorned with: And the Graces of his Spirit she liv­ed in the daily Exercise of; endeavouring in all Things to please and serve him.—

It was on Account of these, and such like Strokes, in her Character, that she lived so generally beloved, and died so generally lamented; leaving behind her a 'Name better than precious Ointment.' I doubt not I have a Witness in the Hearts of many of you, to the Truth of all that I have said concern­ing her. You, the Worshippers of GOD in this House, justly entertained an high Opinion of her: And I cannot but mention to your Honour, and the Imitation of the Churches, the Respect you so readily shewed to her, as well as Sympathy with your bereaved Pastor, in the handsome Provision you [Page 28] made, by your generous Subscription, for her decent Funeral.—But she is now gone, not out of Being, blessed be GOD, though out of our World. In her last Sickness, she was silent and submissive; as, at other Times before, she had set a bright Example of Patience and Firmness of Mind under great Af­flictions. On her Death-bed, she expressed her De­sire to depart and be with CHRIST; and her Hope, that for her to die, would be Gain. And we doubt not, she is gone to be with CHRIST, (to whom she lived) in the Place GOD has appointed for the Reception of unimbodied Spirits.

And what a Spring of Joy is this to the surviving Relatives! How thankful should they be, that they are not called to 'mourn as those who have no Hope'? And how should they temper their Sor­row with the Thought, that their departed Friend, though 'absent from the Body, is present with the LORD'!

We heartily wish for them all the Supports of Di­vine Grace, the Comforts of the HOLY GHOST, and those Influences from above, under this 'Tryal of their Faith,' whereby they may be enabled to be­have so as that CHRIST may be glorified, their own Holiness promoted, and their future Crown of Glory made more bright and weighty.

We unite in our Supplications to the Throne of GOD particularly for the mourning Husband, that he may be helped to exhibit such a Temper and Conduct, upon this Occasion, as that there may be no Reason to apply to him the Words of Eliphaz to Job, 'Be­hold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak Hands. Thy Words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast streng­thened the feeble Knees. But now it is come upon [Page 29] thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled': But, on the contrary, that it may be said of him, he sets before his Flock a bright Pat­tern of Meekness and Humility, of Faith, Patience, Submission, and a steady Trust in GOD, and firm Reliance on his Perfections and Promises. And may he be quickened to go on in his LORD's Work, with greater Zeal, Vigour, Fidelity, and active Di­ligence. And in fine, may he, from his own Expe­rience of the Divine Consolations, under this trying Providence, have Reason to exult with the holy Apostle Paul, and say, 'Blessed be GOD, even the Father of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, the Father of Mercies, and the GOD of all Comfort, who com­forteth us in all our Tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any Trouble, by the Comfort wherewith we our selves are comforted of GOD.'

We wish also, for the bereaved Children, the Grace of GOD whereby they may be disposed and enabled to be Followers of their departed Mother, wherein she followed CHRIST. And may you her Sons appear as 'beautiful Plants grown up in your Youth': And you her Daughters, shine as 'Corner-Stones polished after the Similitude of a Palace.'

Our Prayer likewise for the mourning Sisters is, that the LORD JESUS CHRIST would say to them, for their Support and Comfort, as he did in the Days of his Flesh to the Sisters of dead Lazarus, 'I am the Resurrection and the Life: He that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.'

And may it please a good and gracious GOD to sanctify this repeated Stroke of his Hand upon this Church of JESUS CHRIST. We have Reason to la­ment, and pray, with David, 'Help LORD, for [Page 30] the Godly cease, and the faithful fail from among us.'—Let us not be insensible of our great Loss, in the Removal of so many of our Brethren and Sisters in CHRIST, by Death, from Time to Time, and especially of late. 'O LORD our GOD, by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small'!—Let us make GOD our Hope; and direct our Prayer to his holy Dwelling-place, begging that he would mercifully look from thence, and be 'the Repairer of our Breaches': And instead of the Parents, may the Children rise up, and do worthily for GOD in their Day and Generation.

And may we all get spiritual Good by the Provi­dence we are now lamenting.

And may the Daughters in Zion, in special, hear the Voice of GOD, speaking as it were particularly to them; and be quickened therefrom to live as those who must shortly die. Let your 'Behavi­our be as becometh Godliness'.—'Be sober, dis­creet, chaste, exemplary for all good Works.' And 'your Adorning, let it be the hidden Man of the Heart; even the Ornament of a meek and quiet Spirit: which is, in the Sight of GOD, of great Price.'

5. In the last Place, As the Works of good Christians do follow them into the other World, let us all labour to abound therein. Our good Deeds, done in Faith and Love, from a Regard to CHRIST, and for the Glory of GOD, are the only Things we can carry with us into the coming State: And these, we may depend, will go along with us, and of the infinite Mercy of GOD, through the infinite Worthiness of his dear Son JESUS CHRIST, be re­warded beyond, not only our Deserts, but even our Imaginations. And the more and better our Works [Page 31] have been, the greater and more glorious will our Reward be.

Be encouraged therefore to do all the good you can in the World. Serve GOD, and your Genera­tion, with all your Might.—Faithfully employ your Time, and wisely improve the Talents you have been intrusted with.—'And besides this, gi­ving all Diligence, add to your Faith, Virtue; and to Virtue, Knowledge; and to Knowledge, Tem­perance; and to Temperance, Patience; and to Patience, Godliness? and to Godliness, Brotherly-kindness; and to Brotherly-kindness, Charity.' And look to it, that 'these Things be in you and abound': For in Proportion to your Improvements in them here, will be your Reward in Heaven here­after. 'Wherefore, my beloved Brethren, Be ye stedfast and immoveable, always abounding in the Work of the LORD; for as much as ye know, that your Labour shall not be in vain in the LORD.'


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