or tabernacles, pitched by soldiers when they encamp, or to those of shepherdss which were reinoved from place to place for the sake of pasturage for their flocks, by which the brevity of human life is expressed, Isai. xxxviii. 12. such tents or tabernacles were commonly made of hair-cloth, stretched upon and fastened to stakes with cords or pins, and the bɔdy and its several parts are fastened together with various cords: we read of a silver cord, which is loosed at death, Eccl. xii. 6. which whether it means the bond of union between the soul and body in general, or some particular part and ligament of the body about which interpreters are not agreed, is not easy to say. However, besides what compacts the joints tngether, there are certain fibres or small cords, like threads, by which those parts are fastened, on which life mostly depends; there are certain valves of the veins through which the blood is discharged into the heart, which are. fastened to the sides of the ventricles of it with many tendinous fibres to secure them when they are shut; which fibres are fastened to some protuberances or pins of the sides of the heart: now in case one of these valves should be out of order, and unfit to perform its fuuction; yea if one of these little fibres which are fastened to them should break, or be either too short or too long to do their service, the tabernacle would fall down at once: on such slender things hangs the life of every man b. Now death is a pulling up the stakes of this tabernacle, the body; a loosening and breaking its cords; an unpinning it, a taking it down as it were by parts, and laying it aside for a time. — 3. It is signified by a departure out of this world to another; so the death of Christ and some others is expressed in such language, John xiii. 1. 2 Tim. iv. 7. it is like going from one house to another: with the saints, it is a departure from their earthly house to an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens ; from houses of clay which have their foundation in the dust, to everlasting habitations, to mansions in Christ's Father's house. It is like loosing from the port, as the sailor's phrase is; and launching into the ocean, and sailing to another port; the port loosed or departed from at death, is this world, which some loose from willingly, others not so; the port or haven to which saints are bound, is heaven, the heavenly and better country, to which desired haven they arrive at death, and by death. Death is the ship or boat which wafts them over to the shores of eternity. The heathens had by tradition notions somewhat similar to these, though more coarse; for who has not heard of the Elysian fields, the Stygian lake, and old Charon's boal? by which are represented death's wafting men over the black lake to fields of pleasure. But these images stand in a more beautiful light in the sacred pages; where the saints are represented as quietly wafted over the swellings of Jordan to the land of Canaan, a land of rest and pleasure. — 4. Death is exa pressed by going the way of all the earth; so said Joshua when about to die, Behold this day I am going the way of all the earth, Josh. xxiii. 14. and so said David, 1 Kings ii. 2. it is a going: so Christ describes his death, Luke xxii. 22.

See Nicuweatyt's Religious Philosopher, vol. 2. contempl. 6. s. 7, 8. p.77, 78, 79, VOL. II.

[ocr errors]

5. Death

it is a going a journey, to a man's long home; it is a going froin hence, from phis world, and a going whither we shall not return any more to this world to he and live in it as formerly; it is going to an invisible state, to the world of spirits, of which we have now but little knowledge, and very imperfect conceptions; the way lies through a dark valley, but God is the guide of his people thitough it; he is not only their guide unto death, but through it safe to glory; and this is the way all men go and must go; it is a common track, a beaten path, and yet unknown by us; all must tread it, none can avoid it. is called, a returning to the dust and earth of which the body is formed, Eccl. xi7. the body is originally made of earth and dust; and whilst it is in life, it is nothing but dust and ashes, as Abrahain confessed he was; and when it dies it turns to dust, Gen. iii. 19. the body at death is turned into corruption, rottenness and dust; it is interred in the earth, and mixes with it, and becomes that ; which is an humbling consideration to proud man, who if he looks back to his original

, it is dust; if he considers himself in the present life, he is no other than a heap of dust; ar.d if he looks forward to this last end, it will be the dust of death; his honour, in every view of himself, is laid in the dust; and this shews the knowledge and power of God in raising the dead, who knows where their dust lies, and will collec: it together, and raise it up at the last day. 6. Death is frequently expressed by sleeping, Dan. xxii. 2. John xi. 11. and is so called because sleep is an image and representation of death; in sleep the



and are useless for a time, as in death a man is wholly deprived of them; sleep is but for a short time, and so is death; after sleep a man rises, and being refreshed by it is more fit for labout; so is death to the saints it is a rest unto them; and they will rise in the morning of the resurrection, fresh, lively and active, and more fit for divine and spiritual exercises.

II. Who are the subjects of death. Not angels, for they being simple, uncompounded, incorporeal and immaterial, are incapable of death; they die not, Luke xx. 36. hut men, even all men, a few only excepted, as Enoch and Elijah, under the Old Testament; the one was translated that he should not see death, the other was taken up to heaven soul and body in a chariot and horses of fire ; and those saints that will be found alive at Christ's second coming, who will not die but be changed: otherwise all men die; all flesh is grass, every man is withering, mortal, dving, and dies; all have sinned, and so death comes upon all men. — 1. Persons of every sex, male and female; of every age, young and old, small and great; some die in infancy, who have not sinned afier the similitude of Adam's transgression; some in childhood, others in youth; some in the prime of their days and in their full strength; anıl some in old age, and those that live the longest yet die, as Methuselah, the oldest man did. Look over the accoun of the antediluvian Patriarchs, Gen. v. there it may be observed, that at the close of the account of each it is said, he died; and such an one lived eight hun dred years and odd and he died; and such an one lived nine hundred]

years odd, and he died. - 2. Of every rank and class and condition in life, higla and

senses are


low, rich and poor; kings die as well as their subjects ; Job wishes he had died. as soon as born, then he had been with kings and counsellors of the earth, ani, with princes whose houses had been filled with gold and silver: riches cannot keep off nor buy off the stroke of death, nor deliver from it; the rich and the poor meet together in the grave, where they are upon an equal foot. - 3. Persons of every character among men; it


be seen and observed in instances without number, that wise men die, and also the fool and brutish person; yea, often so it is, that a wise man dies as a fool dies ; Solomon, the wisest of men, died. Learning, in all its branches and in its highest pitch, cannot secure froin dying; men learned and unlearned die. – 4. Persons of every character in the sight of God, wicked men and good men ; the wickedness of the wicked, of those who are the most addicted and abandoned to it, such as have made a covenant with death and with hell, are at an agreement, as they imagine; such covenant and

agreement will not stand, nor be of any avail unto them to protect them froin death; though they put away the evil day far from them, it will coine upon them suddenly, whilst they are crying peace, peace, and promise themselves a long life of prosperity: and good men, they die also, The prophets do they live for ever ? they do not, Zech. i. 5. merciful and righneous men are often taken away in mercy from the evil to come ; true believers in Christ, such who live and believe in hiin, or have a living faith on him, shall never die a spiritual death, nor the second death: but they die a corporal one, even though Christ has died for them, and by dying has satisfied for sin, and abolished death, Yet, — 5. Their death is different froin that of wicked men; they die in Christ, in union to him, and so are secure from condemnation; they die in faith of being for ever with him; they die in hope of eternal lite, and their end is different from others: the end of a perfect and upright man is peace; he departs in peace, be enters


he receives the end of his faith, even the salva, tion of his soul; when the wicked man goes into everlasting punish.nent, hę goes into everlasting life. — 6. The reason of which is, death is abolished as a penal evil, though it was threatened as such for sin, and is inflicted as such on some; yet being bore by Christ as a penalty, in the room and s.cad of his people, it ceases to be so to them; the sting of it, which is sin, is taken away by Christ, the curse of it is removed, Christ being made a curse for them; death is become a blessing to rem, for blessed are they that die in Christ; and hence it is desireable by them, and there is good reason for it; since it puts an end to sin and sorrow, enters into the juy of the Lord, and fulfils it.

III. The causes of death, on what account it comes upon men, and to whom and what it is to be ascribed.

1. The efficient cause is God, who is the sovereign disposer of life and death; it is he that gives life and breath, and all things to his creatures ; life is a favour granted by bim to men, and he upholds their souls in life; and since he is the author, giver and supporter of life, he may with propriety be called the God of

their lives; and he that gives life has only a right to take it away; and he is a sovereign being and may do it at his pleasure ; and he has particularly expressed his sovereignity in this instance, saying, I kill, and I make alive, Deut. xxxii. 39. he is God the Lord, to whom belong the issues from death; or rather, the issues to it, the ways which lead to it, and issue in it; for it has a thousand way's to come upon men, attack and dispatch them. 1. No man has a right to take away his own life, nor the life of another; Christ the Prince of life, who had the human nature united to his divine Person, had power to dispose of his human life, to lay it down, and ta e it up again; which none besides has: suicide, of all the kinds of murder, is the most unnatural and execrable ; it has been committed by wicked men; as Saul, Judas, &c. Samson is no instance of it ; what he did, was not with an intention to destroy his own life, but the lives of the enemies of God, and of his people, in doing which his own life fell a sacrifice; and was done in a devout and pious manner, praying unto God: and besides, he acted not as private man, but as a civil magistrate, and judge in Israel ; and whatever may be charitably hoped of some persons, who have been left to destroy themselves, care should be taken not to encourage, nor give any countenance to so sinful a practice. Nor ought any man to take away the life of another; since the life of man was neither to be taken away by another, in the heat of passion and wrath, or for sordid and sinister ends, to cbtain their property; God made a law, and it was one of the first he made after the flood, that He thai shed man's blood, by man should his blood be shed, Gcn. ix. 6. that is, by the order of the civil magistrate ; and a person convicted of this capital crime, ought not to be pardoned ; the law is express and peremptory. And though this sin may be ever so privateix committed, yet, generally speaking, it is discovered, and is punished in this life; and it is sure to meet with its reward in the world to come; such sinners are always seckoned among those who shall not inherit the kingdom of God; but shall have their portion in the lake which burns with fire, which is the second death; unless the grace of God is displayed in giving them repentance and remission of sin. - 2. Satan, though he is said to have the power of death, Hel, ii. 14. yet this is not to be understood as if he had a power and right to inflict death at pleasure on men; for if so, such is his malice and rooted enmity to men, that the race of mankind would have been extinct long ago. The case of Job shews that he lies under the restraint of God in this matter: he may have been, by divine permission, in some instances, the executioner of death to the enemies of God, and to such who have given up themselves to him, and sold themselves to work wickedness. He was the introducer of sin into the world, the cause

of death; and both are the works of the devil, which Christ came to destroy, and has destroyed; and Satan, because of his concern in the ruin of our hist parents, by his temptations, and so of all mankind, he is said to be a murderer from the beginning, John viii. 44. — 3. Death of sight is of God only; it is he who threatened with it in case of sin; and made it the sanction of his law. Death, whenever he comes and attacks inen, it is by a commission from God. He is

[ocr errors]


sometimes représented as a person coming up at our windows, and into our palaces and houses, like a bailiff to arrest men; and sometimes as on horseback and armed, and power given him to kill men with various sorts of judge ments, as famine, pestilence, sword, and wild beasts; and whatever are the means of the death of men, whether extraordinary or ordinary, they are all of God, and under his direction; every disorder, disease, and sickness, are servants sent by him to execute his pleasure; insomuch that death is frequently spoken of as his act, and as inflicted by him; it is expressed by taking men avay; by taking away their life oi soul; by gathering the breath and Spirit of men to himself; by prevailing against man, and causing him to pass away; and by changing his countenance, and sending him away. --- 4. Death is, by his appointment ; it is the statue-law of heaven. The grave is the house appointed for all nen living, Job xxx. 23. All things leading to death, and which isstie in it, are under a divine appointment. All afflictions, diseases, and disorders; are of God; these are not fortuitous events, that come by c.iance, or spring out of the dust; but come by the appointment of God, to bring about the dissolation by death: all the circumstances of it are according to the determinare counsel and will of God; as what death, and by what event, a inan shail die; and the manner of liis death, and the place where; for though we are told where we were born, and know where we now live; yet no man knows where he shall die; none but God knows this, who has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of men's habitations, where they shall live, and where they shall die. The time of a man's death is appointed by God; for tiere is time for every purpose of God, for the execution of it: A time to be born, and a time to die, Eccles. iii. 1, 2. there is an appoin ed iime for man on cartil, when he shall come into the world, how long he shall continue in it, and when lie shall go out of it; and before this time no man dies. The Jews sought to lay hold on Christ, to take away his life, but they could not, because his hour was not come; and the same holds good of every man. Nor can any live longer than the appointed time; The time drew nigh that Israel musi die, Gen. xlvii. 29. there was a time fixed for it, and that was at hand, when he must dic, and there was no going beyond it. Says Job, of man, his days are deterinined, the number of his months are with thee; thou hast appointed his bouinds that he cannot pass, Job xiv. 5. a man cannot lengthen out his days, nor another for him; no man can add one cubit unto his stature, or rather, to his age, Matt. vi. 27. The days of men are compared to an hand's-breath, Psal. xxxix. 5. and to this hand's-breadth, a cubit, nor indeed, any measure at all, can be added, with all the thought, care, and means, that can be made use of; physicians, in this respect, are physicians of no value; they cannot prolong the life of men; they may make life a little inore easy and comfortable while it lasts ; but they canno: protract it one moment: nor can men that abound with wealth and riches, give to God a ransom for themselves and others, that they should still live for ever, and see no corrup:ion.



« 前へ次へ »