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a separate soul. And will God shut the door of glory upon such a soul, that by grace is made meet for the inheritance? Oh, it cannot be !
4. As the gracious soul is a renewed soul, so it is also a sealed soul; God hath sealed it in this world for that glory, into which it is now to enter at death. All gracious souls have those works of grace wrought on them, which evince their title to glory; and many the Spirit helps clearly to discern their interests in Christ and all the promises. This both secures heaven to the soul in itself, and becomes also an earnest or pledge of that glory in the unspeakable joys and comforts it produces in the soul. "Who hath sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." 2 Cor. 1: 22. How can the soul that hath found all this, fear a rejection by its God, when at death it comes to him? Surely, if God have sealed, he will not refuse you; if he have given his earnest, he will not shut you out.
5. Moreover, every gracious soul may confidently cast itself into the arms of its God, when it goes hence, with, "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit ;" forasmuch as it is in covenant with God, and God stands obliged by his covenant and promise to such, not to cast them out when they come unto him. As soon as thou didst become his by regeneration, that promise became thine, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Heb. 13:5. And will he leave the soul at a time when it has more need of his support than it ever had? Every gracious soul is entitled to that promise, "I will come again, and receive you to myself." John, 14:3. And will he fail to make it good when the time of the promise is come, as at death it is? It cannot be. When he sees a poor soul that he hath made, redeemed, sanctified, sealed, and by solemn promise engaged himself to receive, coming to him at death, firmly depending upon his faithfulness, saying, as David, 2 Sam. 23: 5, Though, Lord,
there be many defects in me, yet thou hast made a covenant with me, well ordered in all things, and sure; and this is all my salvation, and all my hope;" how can God refuse such a soul? How can he cast it off, when it so casts itself upon him?
6. But this is not all; the gracious soul sustains many intimate and dear relations to the God into whose hands it commends itself at death. It is his spouse, and the consideration of such a day of espousals may well encourage it to cast itself into the bosom of Christ, its head and husband. It is a member of his body, flesh, and bones. Eph. 5: 30. It is his child, and he its everlasting Father. Isa. 9:6. It is his friend: "Henceforth (saith Christ) I call you not servants, but friends." John, 15: 15. What confidence may these, and all the other dear relations Christ owns to the renewed soul, beget in such an hour as this! What husband can throw off the dear wife of his bosom, who in distress casts herself into his arms? What Father can shut the door upon a dear child that comes to him for refuge, saying, Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit?
7. The unchangeableness of God's love to his people gives confidence that they shall in no wise be cast out. They know Christ shall be the same to them at last as he was at first; the same in the pangs of death as in the comforts of life: having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." John, 13:1. He doth not love as the world loves, only in prosperity; but they are as dear to him when their beauty and strength are gone, as in their greatest prosperity. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. Rom. 14: 8.
Now consider all these things, and weigh them both apart and together, and see whether they amount not to a full evidence of the truth of this point, that dying be
lievers are warranted and encouraged to commend their souls into the hands of God; whether they have not every one of them cause to say, as the apostle did, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day." 2 Tim. 1: 12.
INFERENCE 1. Are dying believers only warranted and encouraged thus to commend their souls into the hands of God? How sad, then, the state of all dying unbelievers! Such souls will fall into the hands of God, but that is their misery, not their privilege: they are not reposed by faith in the hands of mercy, but fall by sin into the hands of justice: not God, but the devil is their father. John, 8:44. Whither should the child go but to its own father? They have not one of the above-mentioned encouragements to cast themselves into the hands of God, except the mere relation they have to him as their Creator, and that is of no avail without the new creation. If they have nothing but this to plead for their salvation, the devil hath as much to plead as they. It is the new creature that brings the first creation into repute again with God.
Oh dismal, oh deplorable case! A poor soul is turned out of house and home, and knows not where to go; it departs, and immediately falls into the hands of justice. Little, ah little do the friends of such a one think, whilst they are honoring his dust by a splendid and honorable funeral, what a state the poor soul is in, and to what fearful straits and extremities it is now exposed! He may cry, indeed, Lord! Lord! open to me, Matt. 7:22; but to how little purpose are these vain cries! Will God hear him when he crieth? Job, 27:9.
2. Will God graciously accept, and faithfully keep what the saints commit to him at death? How careful then should they be to keep what God commits to them, to be kept for him while they live! You have a great trust to commit to God when you die, and God commits a
great trust to you whilst you live: you expect him faithfully to keep what you shall then commit to his keeping, and he expects you faithfully to keep what he now commits to you. If you keep his truth, he will keep your soul. "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee," &c. Rev. 3:10. Be faithful to your God, and you shall find him faithful to you. None can pluck you out of his hand; see that nothing wrest his truth out of your hands. "If we deny him, he also will deny us." 2 Tim. 2:12. Take heed lest those estates you have gotten as a blessing attending the Gospel, prove a temptation to you to betray the Gospel. "Religion (saith one) brings forth riches, but the daughter devours the mother." How can you expect acceptance with God, who have betrayed his truth and dealt perfidiously with him?
3. If believers may safely commit their souls into the hands of God, how confidently may they commit all lesser interests into the same hands! Shall we trust him with our souls, and not with our lives, liberty, or comfort? Can we commit the treasure to him and not trust him with a trifle? Surely, if you can trust him for eternal life, you may much more trust him for daily bread. If your prayers for temporal blessings proceed from pure motives, the glory of God, not the gratification of your lusts ; if your desires after them be moderate, content with that proportion the Infinite Wisdom sees fittest for you: if you take God's way to obtain them, and dare not violate conscience, or commit a sin, though you should perish for want; if you can patiently wait God's time for relief from your straits, and not make any sinful haste; you shall be surely supplied: he that remembers your souls will not forget your bodies. But we live by sense, and not by faith; present things strike our affections more powerfully than invisible things to come. The Lord humble his people for this.
4. Is it the privilege of believers to commit their souls to God in a dying hour? Then how precious, how useful a grace is faith to the people of God, both living and dying! While we live and converse here in the world, all our comfort and safety is from it; for all our union with Christ, the fountain of mercies and blessings, is by faith: "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith." Eph. 3: 17. All our communion with Christ is by it: "He that cometh to God must believe." Heb. 11: 6. The soul's life is wrapt up in this communion with God, and that communion in faith. All communications from Christ, all quickening, comfort, joy, strength, and whatsoever serves the well-being of the life of grace, are through that faith which first unites us to Christ, and still maintains our communion with Christ; " believing, we rejoice." 1 Pet. 1: 8. The inner man is renewed, whilst we look to the things that are not seen. 2 Cor. 4 18. And as our life, and all its supports and comforts here depend on faith, so in our death, the safety and comfort of our souls then depends upon our faith: he that hath no faith, cannot commit his soul to God, but rather shrinks from God. Faith can do many precious offices for your souls upon a death-bed, when the light of this world is gone, and all joy ceases on earth: it can give us sights of invisible things in the other world, and those sights will breathe life into our souls, amidst the very pangs of death.
Reader, do but think what a comfortable foresight of God and the joys of salvation thou wilt have, when thine eye-strings are breaking: faith can not only see that beyond the grave which will comfort, but it can cleave to its God, and clasp Christ in a promise, when it feels the ground of all sensible comforts trembling, and sinking under thy feet: "My heart and my flesh fail, but God is the strength (or rock) of my heart, and my portion for ever." Reeds fail, but the rock is firm