The Death of the Christian
"Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season."—Job 5:26
We do not believe all that Job's friends said. They spoke very often as uninspired men, for we find them saying many things that are not true; and if we read the book of Job through, we might say with regard to them, "miserable comforters are ye all," for they did not speak concerning God's servant, Job, the thing that was right. But, nevertheless, they gave utterance to many holy and pious sentences, which are well worthy of regard, as having come from the lips of three men distinguished in their age for their learning, talent, and ability; three grey-headed sires, who from experience were able to speak what they knew. Their mistakes are not to be wondered at, because they had not then that clear, bright, shining light, which we enjoy in these modern times. They had few opportunities to meet together; there were but few prophets in those days who taught them the things of the kingdom. We only marvel that without the light of the gospel revelation they were able to discover so much of the truth as they did. However I must make a remark concerning this chapter, that I cannot but regard it as being in the main, not so much the utterance of the man—who here speaks—Eliphaz the Temanite—but the very word of God; not so much the simple saying of the unwise comforter who upbraided Job, as the speech of the great Comforter who consoles his people, and who only utters the thing that is right. The opinion is justified by the fact that this chapter is quoted by the apostle Paul. Eliphaz says, in the 13th verse, "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." And we find the apostle Paul in the Corinthians, saying, "As it is written, he taketh the wise in their own craftiness;" thus giving sanction to this passage as having been inspired of God, at all events as being most certainly truthful. Most certainly the experience of such a man as Eliphaz is worthy of much regard: and when speaking of the general condition of God's people, that they are hid from the scourge of the tongue, "that they are not afraid of destruction when it cometh," that they laugh at destruction and famine, and so on, we may accept his words as being proven by experience, and authenticated by inspiration. "Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season." Here is a very beautiful comparison, the comparison of the aged Christian—for that I take it lies on the surface of the text—to a shock of corn. Go into the harvest field, and you shall see how much the wheat reminds you of the aged believer. How much anxiety has been expended on that field! When the seed first sprung up the farmer dreaded lest the worm should bite the tender shoots, and the blade should be devoured, or lest some sharp frost should consume the infant plant and cause it to wither and die. And, then, month after month, as the seasons came, how did he anxiously look towards heaven and long that the rains might come, or that the genial sunshine might pour out its vivifying floods of light upon the field. When it has come to somewhat of maturity, how greatly has he feared lest the mildew and blast should shrivel up the precious ears. It stands in the fields now, and in some respects he is freed from his anxiety. The months of his travail are over. He has waited patiently for the precious fruits of the soil, but now they are there. And so with the grey-headed man. How many years of anxiety have been expended upon him! In his youth how likely did it seem that he might be smitten down by death, and yet he has passed safely through youth, manhood, and age. What varied accidents have been warded from him! How has the shield of the Providential Keeper been over his head to keep him from the shafts of the pestilence, or from the heavy hand of accident that might have smitten his life! How many anxieties has he had himself! How many troubles has he passed through! Look upon the hoary-headed veteran! Mark the scars that troubles have inflicted upon his forehead! And see, deep written in his breast, the dark mementos of the sharp struggles and trials he has endured! And now his anxieties are somewhat over; he is come very nearly to the haven of rest. A few short years of trial and trouble shall land him on fair Canaan's coast, and we look upon him with the same pleasure that the farmer regards the wheat, because the anxiety is over and the time of rest is now approaching. Mark how weak the stem has become! how every wind shakes it to and fro; it is withered and dried! See how the head hangs down to earth, as if it were about to kiss the dust, and show whence it had its origin! So, mark you the aged man; tottering are his steps, "they that look out of the windows are darkened, the grinders cease because they are few, and the grasshopper has become a burden." Yet even in that weakness there is glory. It is not the weakness of the tender blade, it is the weakness of the full ripe corn, it is a weakness that shows its maturity, it is a weakness that gilds it with glory. Even as the colour of the wheat is golden, so that it looks more beauteous than when the greenness of its verdure is on it, so the grey-headed man has a crown of glory on his head. He is glorious in his weakness, more than the young man in his strength, or the maiden in her beauty. Is not a shock of corn a beautiful picture of the state of man, moreover, because very soon it must be taken home? The reaper is coming. Even now I hear the sickle sharpening. The reaper hath well edged it, and he shall soon cut the corn down. See! he is coming across the field to reap his harvest; and then, by-and-bye, it shall be carried into the barn and safely housed, no more subject to blight, or mildew, or insect, or disease. There it shall be secured, where no snow can fall upon it, no winds can molest it. It shall be safe and secure; and joyful shall be the time when harvest home shall be proclaimed, and the shock of corn, fully ripe, shall be carried into the farmer's garner. Such is the aged man. He, too, shall soon be taken home. Death is even now sharpening his sickle, and the angels are getting ready their chariot of gold to bear him up to the skies. The barn is built; the house is provided; soon the great Master shall say, "Bind up the tares in bundles to burn, and gather the wheat into my barn."
This morning, we shall consider the death of Christians in general;not of the aged Christian merely, for we shall show you that while this text does seem to bear upon the aged Christian, in reality it speaks with a loud voice to every man who is a believer. "Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season."
There are four things we shall mark in the text. First, we shall consider that death is inevitable, because it says, "Thou shalt come." Secondly, that death is acceptable, because it does not read, "I will make thee go to thy grave," but "thou shalt come there." Thirdly, that death is always timely: "Thou shalt come to thy grave in full age." Fourthly, that death to the Christian is always honourable, for the promise declareth to him, "Thou shalt go to thy grave in full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season."
I. The first remark, namely, that death, even to the Christian, is INEVITABLE, is very trite, simple and common, and we need scarcely have made it, but we found it necessary, in order to introduce one or two remarks upon it. How hacknied is the thought, that all men must die, and therefore, what can we say upon it? And yet we blush not to repeat it, for while it is a truth so well known, there is none so much forgotten; while we all believe it in the theory and receive it in the brain, how seldom it is impressed on the heart? The sight of death makes us remember it. The tolling of the solemn bell speaks to us of it. We hear the deep-tongued voice of time as the bell tolls the hours and preaches our mortality. But very usually we forget it. Death is inevitable to all. But I wish to make an observation concerning death, and that is, that while it is written, "It is appointed unto all men once to die," yet a time shall come when some Christian men shall not die at all. We know that had Adam never sinned he would not have died, for death is the punishment of sin, and we know that Enoch and Elijah were translated to heaven without dying. Therefore it does seem to follow, that death is not absolutely necessary for a Christian. And, moreover, we are told in Scripture, that there are some who shall be "alive and remain," when Jesus Christ shall come; and the apostle says, "I tell you a mystery—we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump." There shall be some who shall be found living, of whom the apostle says, "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord." We know that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom; but it is possible that they may be refined by some spiritual process, which shall preclude the necessity of dissolution. Oh! I have thought of that idea very much, and I have wondered whether it should not be possible that some of us might be in that happy number who shall not see death. Even if we are not, there is something very cheering in the thought: Christ did so conquer death that he not only delivers the lawful captive out of the prison, but he saves a band from the jaws of the monster, and leads them by his den unharmed! He not only resuscitates the dead, and puts new life into those that are slain by the fell scythe, but some he actually takes to heaven by a bye-road. He says to death—"Avaunt, thou monster! On these thou shalt never put thy hand! These are chosen men and women, and thy cold fingers shall never freeze the current of their soul. I am taking them straight to heaven without death. I will transport them in their bodies up to heaven without passing through thy gloomy portals, or having been captives in thy dreary land of shades." How glorious is the thought, that Christ has vanquished death; that some men shall not die. But you will say to me, "How can that be? for the body has mortality mingled with its very essence." We are told it is true, by eminent men, that there is a necessity in nature that there should be death, since one animal must prey upon another; and even could all animals be taught to give up their prey, they must feed upon plants, and so devour certain minute insects which had hidden thereon. Death therefore seems to be the law of nature. Be it remembered; that men have already lived far beyond the present allotted term, and it does seem most easy to conceive that the creature, which can subsist a thousand years, could exceed that period. But this objection is not valid, since the saints will not live for ever in this world, but will be removed to a habitation where laws of glory shall supersede laws of nature.
II. And now comes a sweet thought, that death to the Christian is always ACCEPTABLE—"Thou shalt come to thy grave." Old Caryl makes this remark on this verse—"A willingness and a cheerfulness to die. Thou shalt come, thou shalt not be dragged or hurried to thy grave, as it is said of the foolish rich man, Luke 12. This night shall thy soul be taken from thee. But thou shalt come to thy grave, thou shalt die quietly and smilingly, as it were; thou shalt go to thy grave, as it were upon thine own feet, and rather walk than be carried to thy sepulchre." The wicked man, when he dies, is driven to his grave, but the Christian comes to his grave. Let me tell you a parable. Behold two men sat together in the same house: when Death came to each of them. He said to one, "Thou shalt die." The man looked at him—tears suffused his eyes, and tremblingly he said, "O Death, I cannot, I will not die." He sought out a physician, and said to him, "I am sick, for Death hath looked upon me. His eyes have paled my cheeks, and I fear I must depart. Physician, there is my wealth, give me health and let me live." The physician took his wealth, but gave him not his health with all his skill. The man changed his physician and tried another, and thought that perhaps he might spin out the thread of life a little longer. But, alas! Death came and said, "I have given thee time to try thy varied excuses, come with me; thou shalt die." And he bound him hand and foot, and made him go to that dark land of shades. As the man went, he clutched at every side post by the way; but Death, with iron hands, still pulled him on. There was not a tree that grew along the way but he tried to grasp it, but Death said, "Come on! thou art my captive, and thou shalt die." And unwillingly as the laggard schoolboy, who goeth slowly to school, so did be trace the road with Death. He did not come to his grave, but Death fetched him to it—the grave came to him.
But Death said to the other man, "I am come for thee." He smilingly replied, "Ah, Death! I know thee, I have seen thee many a time. I have held communion with thee. Thou art my Master's servant, thou hast come to fetch me home. Go, tell my Master I am ready; whene'er he pleases, Death, I am ready to go with thee." And together they went along the road, and held sweet company. Death said to him, "I have worn these skeleton bones to frighten wicked men; but I am not frightful. I will let thee see myself. The hand that wrote upon Belshazzar's wall was terrible because no man saw anything but the hand; but," said Death. "I will show thee my whole body. Men have only seen my bony hand, and have been terrified." And as they went along, Death ungirded himself to let the Christian see his body and he smiled, for it was the body of an angel. He had wings of cherubs, and a body glorious as Gabriel. The Christian said to him, "Thou art not what I thought thou wast: I will cheerfully go with thee." At last Death touched the believer with his hand—it was even as when the mother doth in sport smite her child a moment. The child loves that loving pinch upon the arm, for it is a proof of affection. So did Death put his finger on the man's pulse, and stopped it for a moment, and the Christian found himself by Death's kind finger changed into a spirit; yea, found himself brother to the angels; his body had been etherealized, his soul purified, and he himself was in heaven. You tell me this is only a parable; but let me give you some facts that shall back it up. I will tell you some of the death-bed sayings of dying saints, and show you that, to them, Death has been an agreeable visitant, of whom they were not afraid. You will not disbelieve dying men. It were ill to act the hypocrite's part at such a time. When the play is over men will take off the mask: and so with these men when they came to die—they stood out in solemn unclothed reality.
First, let me tell you what Dr. Owen said—that celebrated prince of Calvinists. While his works are to be found, I am not afraid that men shall lack arguments to defend the Gospel of Free-grace. A friend called to tell Dr. Owen that he had put to press his "Meditations on the Glory of Christ." There was a momentary gleam in his languid eye as he answered, "I am glad to hear it. Oh!" said he, "the long-wished for time has come at last, in which I shall see that glory in another manner than I have ever done, or was capable of doing in this world."
But, you may say, this man was a mere theologian, let us hear a poet speak. George Herbert, after some severe struggles, and having requested his wife and nieces, who were weeping in extreme anguish, to leave the room, he committed his will to Mr. Woodnott's care, crying out, "I am ready to die—Lord, forsake me not now, my strength faileth; but grant me mercy for the merits of my Lord Jesus. And now, Lord receive my soul." Then he laid himself back and breathed out his life to God. Thus the poet dies. That glorious fancy of his, that might have pictured gloomy things if it had pleased, was only filled with rapturous sight of angels. As he used to say himself, "Methinks I hear the church bells of heaven ringing." And methinks he did hear them when he came near the river Jordan.
"But," you will say, "one was a theologian, and the other a poet—it might have been all fancy." Now learn what an active man, a missionary, said—Brainard.
He said, "I am almost in eternity. I long to be there. My work is done. I have done with all my friends. All the world is now nothing to me. Oh, to be in heaven, to praise and glorify God with his holy angels." That is what Brainard said. He who counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and went among wild untutored Indians to preach the gospel.
But it is possible you may say, "These were men of ages gone by." Now, you shall have men of modern times.
And first, hear what the great and eminent Scotch preacher, Haldane, said. He raised himself a little, and distinctly repeated these words, " When Christ who is our life shall appear, then we shall appear with him in glory." He was then asked if he thought he was going home. He answered, "Perhaps not quite yet." Mrs. Haldane affectionately said, "Then you will not leave us very soon. He replied with a smile, "To depart and to be with Christ is far better." On being asked if he felt much peace and happiness, he twice repeated, "Exceeding great and precious promises." He then said, "But I must rise." Mrs. Haldane said," You are not able to get up." He smiled, and answered, "I shall be satisfied when I awake with his likeness." She said, "Is that what rising up you meant?" He replied, "Yes, that is the rising I meant. I must rise!"
And now, what said Howard—the great philanthropist, the man who while possessing true religion, and being the most eminent and distinguished of Christians, would from his plain common sense mode of acting, never be suspected of being a fanatic and an enthusiast? A few days before his death, when the symptoms of his disease began to assume a most alarming appearance, he said to Admiral Priestman, "You endeavour to divert my mind from dwelling on death; but I entertain very different sentiments. Death has no terror for me. I always look forward to it with cheerfulness, if not with pleasure."
But perhaps you may say, "We never knew any of these people. We should like to hear of somebody whom we did know." Well, you shall hear of one whom you have heard me affectionately mention. He was not of our denomination, but he was a very prince in Israel—I refer to Joseph Irons. Many of you heard the sweet and blessed things that proceeded out of his lips, and will perhaps be able to verify what is said of him. At intervals he repeated short portions of Scripture, and select sentences, such as, "How long, Lord?" "Come, Lord Jesus!" "I long to go home, to be at rest." Seeing his dear wife shedding tears, he said, "Do not weep for me; I am waiting for that far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." After a pause, to recover his breath, he added, "He that has preserved me thus far, will never leave, or forsake me. Fear not: all is well. Christ is precious. I am going home, for I am a shock of corn fully ripe." Now that is a man you did know, many of you. And it proves the fact that I have asserted, that to a Christian, death is acceptable come when it may. I am sure I can say, with many of my brethren, here, that could I now have the greatest favour conferred on me that mortals could desire, I would ask that I might die. I never wish to have the choice given to me; but to die is the happiest thing man can have, because it is to lose anxiety, it is to slay care, it is to have the peculiar sleep of the beloved. To the Christian, then, death must be acceptable.
A Christian has nothing to lose by death. You say he has to lose his friends. I am not so sure of that. Many of you have may more friends in heaven than on earth; some Christians have more dearly beloved ones above than below. You often count your family circle, but do you do as that little girl of whom Wordsworth speaks, when she said, "Master, we are seven." Some of them were dead and gone to heaven, but she would have it that they were all brothers and sisters still. Oh I how many brothers and sisters we have up stairs in the upper room in our Father's house; how many dear ones, linked with us in the ties of relationship, for they are as much our relations now as they were then! Though in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, yet in that great world, who has said that the ties of affection shall be severed, so that we shall not even there claim kindred with one another, as well as kindred with Jesus Christ? What have we to lose by death? Come when he may, should we not open the door for him? I would love to feel like that woman who said, when she was dying, "I feel like a door on the latch, ready to be opened to let my Lord in." Is not that a sweet state, to have the house ready, so that it will require no setting in order? When death comes to a wicked man, he finds him moored fast, he snaps his cable, and drives his ship to sea; but when he comes to the Christian, he finds him winding up the anchor, and he says, "When thou hast done thy work, and shipped the anchor, I will take thee home." With sweet breath he blows on him, and the ship is wafted gently to heaven, with no regrets for life, but with angels at the brow, spirits guiding the rudder, sweet songs coming through the cordage, and canvass silvered o'er with light.
III. Then thirdly, the Christian's death is always TIMELY—"Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age." "Ah!" says one, "that is not true. Good people do not live longer than others. The most pious man may die in the prime of his youth." But look at my text. It does not say, thou shalt come to thy grave in old age—but in a "full age." Well, who knows what a "full age" is? A "full age" is whenever God likes to take his children home. There are some fruits you know that are late in coming to perfection, and we do not think their flavour is good till Christmas, or till they have gone through the frost; while some are fit for table now. All fruit: do not get ripe and mellow at the same season. So with Christians. They are at a "full age" when God chooses to take them home. They are at "full age" if they die at twenty one; they are not more if they live to be ninety. Some wines can be drunk very soon after the vintage. Others need to be kept. But what does this matter, if when the liquor is broached it is found to have its full flavour? God never broaches his cask till the wine has prefected itself. There are two mercies to a Christian. The first is that he will never die too soon; and the second, that he will never die too late.
First, he will never die too soon. Spencer, who blazed out so brilliantly some years ago, preached so wonderfully, that many expected that a great light would shine steadily, and that many would be guided to heaven; but when suddenly the light was quenched in darkness, and he was drowned while yet in his youth, men wept, and said, "Ah! Spencer died too soon." So it has been sung of Kirk White, the poet, who worked so laboriously at his studies. Like the eagle who finds that the arrow that smote him was winged by a feather from his own body, so was his own study the means of his death; and the poet said he died too soon. It was untrue. He did not die too soon; no Christian ever does. But say some, "How useful might they have been had they have lived." Ah! but how damaging they might have been! And were it not better to die than to do something afterwards that would disgrace themselves, and bring disgrace to the Christian character? Were it not better for them to sleep while their work was going on, than to break it down afterwards? We have seen some sad instances of Christian men who have been very useful in God's cause, but have afterwards had sad falls, and have dishonoured Christ, though they were saved and brought back at last. We could almost wish that they had died rather than lived. You don't know what might have been the career of those men who were taken away so soon. Are you quite sure they would have done so much good? Might they not have done much evil? Could we have a dream of the future, and see what they might have been, we should say, "Ah Lord! let it stop while it is well." Let him sleep while the music playeth, there may be hideous sounds afterwards. We long not to keep awake to hear the dreary notes. The Christian dies well: he does not die too soon.
Again, the Christian never dies too late. That old lady there is eighty years old. She sits in a miserable room, shivering by a handful of fire. She is kept by charity. She is poor and miserable. "What's the good of her?" says everybody: "she has lived too long. A few years ago she might have been of some use; but now look at her! She can scarcely eat unless her food is put into her mouth. She cannot move; and what good can she be?" Do not you find fault with your Master's work. He is too good a husbandman to leave his wheat in the field too long and let it shale out. Go and see her; and you will be reproved. Let her speak: she can tell you things you never knew in all your life. Or, if she does not speak at all, her silent unmurmuring serenity, her constant submission, teaches you how to bear suffering. So that there is something you can learn from her yet. Say not the old leaf hangeth too long on the tree. An insect may yet twist itself therein, and fashion it into its habitation. O say not the old sear leaf ought to have been blown off long ago. The time is coming when it shall fall gently on the soil; but it remaineth to preach to unthinking men the frailty of their lives. Hear what God says to each of us:—"Thou shalt come to thy grave in full age." Cholera! thou mayest fly across the land and taint the air: I shall die in a "full age." I may preach to-day, and as many days as I please in the week, but I shall die at a full age. However ardently I may labour, I shall die at a full age. Affliction may come to drain my very life's blood, and dry up the very sap and marrow of my being. Ah! but affliction thou shalt not come too soon—I shall die at a full age. And thou waiting-man! and thou tarrying woman! thou art saying, "O Lord, how long? how long? Let me come home." Thou shalt not be kept from thy beloved Jesus one hour more than is necessary; thou shalt have heaven as soon as thou art ready for it. Heaven is ready enough for thee, and thy Lord will say, "Come up higher!" when thou hast arrived at a full age—but never before nor after.
IV. Now the last thing is, that a Christian will die with HONOUR: "Thou shalt come to thy grave like a shock of corn cometh in in his season." You hear men speak against funeral honours, and I certainly do enter my protest against the awful extravagance with which many funerals are conducted, and the absurdly stupid fashions that are often introduced. It would be a happy thing if some persons could break through them, and if widows were not obliged to spend the money which they need so much themselves, upon a needless ceremony, which makes death not honourable, but rather despicable. But, methinks that while death should not be flaunted out with gaudy plumes, there is such a thing as an honourable funeral which every one of us may desire to have. We do not wish to be carried away just as a bundle of tares, we would prefer that devout men should carry us to the grave and make much lamentation over us. Some of us have seen funerals that were very like a "harvest home." I can remember the funeral of a sainted minister under whom I once sat. The pulpit was hung in black, and crowds of people came together; and when an aged veteran in the army of Christ rose up to deliver the funeral oration over his remains, there stood a weeping people lamenting that a prince had fallen that day in Israel. Then, verily, I felt what Mr. Jay must have experienced when he preached the funeral sermon for Rowland Hill, "Howl fir tree, the cedar is fallen," there was such a melancholy grandeur there. And yet my soul seemed lit up with joy, to think it possible that some of us might share in the same affection, and that the same tears might be wept over us when we come to die. Ah! my brethren here, my brethren in office, my brethren in this church, it may somewhat cheer your hearts to know that when you depart, your death will be to us a source of the deepest grief and most piercing sorrow. Your burial shall not be that prophesied for Jehoiakim—the burial of an ass, with none to weep over him; but devout men will assemble and say, "Here lies the deacon who for years served his Master so faithfully." "Here lies the Sunday-school teacher" will the child say "who early taught me the Saviour's name;" and if the minister should fall, methinks a crowd of people following him to the tomb would well give him such a funeral as a shock of corn hath when "it cometh in in his season." I believe we ought to pay great respect to the departed saints' bodies. "The memory of the just is blessed." And even ye little saints in the church, don't think you will be forgotten when you die. You may have no grave-stone; but the angels will know where you are as well without a grave-stone as with it. There will be some who will weep over you; you will not be hurried away, but will be carried with tears to your grave.
But, methinks, there are two funerals for every Christian: one, the funeral of the body; and the other, the soul. Funeral did I say of the soul? No I meant not so; I meant not so; it is a marriage of the soul for as soon as it leaves the body the angel reapers stand ready to carry it away. They may not bring a fiery chariot as erst they had for Elijah; but they have their broad spreading wings. I rejoice to believe that angels will come as convoys to the soul across the ethereal plains. Lo! angels at the head support the ascending saint and lovingly they look upon his face as they bear him upwards; and angels at the feet assist in wafting him up yonder through the skies, And as the husbandmen come out from their houses and cry, "A joyous harvest home," so will the angels come forth from the gates of heaven and say, "Harvest home! harvest home! Here is another shock of corn fully ripe gathered in to the garner." I think the most honourable and glorious thing we shall ever behold, next to Christ's entrance into heaven, and his glory there, is the entrance of one of God's people into heaven. I can suppose it is made a holiday whenever a saint enters, and that is continually, so that they keep perpetual holiday. Oh! methinks there is a shout that cometh from heaven whenever a Christian enters it, louder than the noise of many waters. The thundering acclamations of a universe are drowned, as if they were but a whisper, in that great shout which all the ransomed raise, when they cry "Another, and yet another comes;" and the song is still swelled by increasing voices, as they chant, "Blessed husbandman, blessed husbandman, thy wheat is coming home; shocks of corn fully ripe are gathering into thy garner." Well, wait a little, beloved. In a few years more you and I shall be carried through the ether on the wings of angels. Methinks I die, and the angels approach. I am on the wings of cherubs. Oh, how they bear me up—how swiftly and yet how softly. I have left mortality with all its pains. Oh, how rapid is my flight! Just now I passed the morning star. Far behind me now the planets shine. Oh, how swiftly do I fly, and how sweetly! Cherubs! what sweet flight is yours, and what kind arms are these I lean upon. And on my way ye kiss me with the kisses of love and affection. Ye call me brother. Cherubs; am I your brother? I who just now was captive in a tenement of clay—am I your brother? "Yes!" they say. Oh, hark! I hear music strangely harmonious! What sweet sounds come to my ears! I am nearing Paradise. 'Tis e'en so. Do not spirits approach with songs of joy? "Yes!" they say. And ere they can answer, behold they come—a glorious convoy! I catch a sight of them as they are holding a great review at the gates of Paradise. And, ah! there is the golden gate. I enter in; and I see my blessed Lord. I can tell you no more. All else were things unlawful for flesh to utter. My Lord! I am with thee—plunged into thee—lost in thee just as a drop is swallowed in the ocean—as one single tint is lost in the glorious rainbow! Am I lost in thee, thou glorious Jesus? And is my bliss consummated? Is the wedding-day come at last? Have I really put on the marriage garments? And am I thine? Yes! I am. There is nought else now for me. In vain your harps, ye angels. In vain all else. Leave me a little while. I will know your heaven by-and-bye. Give me some years, yea give me some ages to lean here on this sweet bosom of my Lord; give me half eternity, and let me bask myself in the sunshine of that one smile. Yes; give me this. Didst speak, Jesus? "Yes, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, and now thou art mine! thou art with me." Is not this heaven? I want nought else. I tell you once again, ye blessed spirits, I will see you by-and-bye. But with my Lord I will now take my feast of loves. Oh, Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Thou art heaven! I want nought else. I am lost in thee!
Beloved, is not this to go to "the grave in full age, like as a shock of corn," fully ripe? The sooner the day shall come, the more we shall rejoice. Oh, tardy wheels of time! speed on your flight. Oh, angels, wherefore come ye on with laggard wings? Oh! fly through the ether and outstrip the lightning's flash! Why may I not die? Why do I tarry here? Impatient heart, be quiet a little while. Thou art not fit for heaven yet, else thou wouldst not be here. Thou hast not done thy work, else thou wouldst have thy rest. Toil on a little longer; there is rest enough in the grave. Thou shalt have it there. On! on!
"With my scrip on my back, and my staff in my hand,
I'll march on in haste thro' an enemy's land.
Though the way may be rough it cannot be long;
So I'll smooth it with hope, and I'll cheer it with song.
"My dear friends, you who are not converted, I have no time to say anything to you on this morning. I wish I had. But I pray that all I have said may be yours. Poor hearts, I am sorry I cannot tell you this is yours now. I would I could preach to every one of you, and say that you all shall be in heaven. But God knoweth there are some of you that are on the road to hell; and do not suppose you will enter heaven, if you go hell's road. No body would expect, if he proceeded to the north, to arrive at the south. Nay; God must change thine heart. By simple trust in Jesus, if thou givest thyself up to his mercy, even though the vilest of the vile, thou shalt sing before his face. And methinks, poor sinner, thou wilt say to me, as a poor woman did last Wednesday, after I had been preaching, when I believe every-body had been crying, from the least to the greatest, and even the preacher in the pulpit. As I went down, I said to one, "Are you chaff or wheat?" And she said, "Ah !I trembled to-night, sir." I said to another, "Well, sister, I hope we shall be in Paradise soon." And she replied, "You may, sir." And I came to another, and said, "Well, do you think you will be gathered with the wheat?" And she answered, "One thing I can say—if God ever lets me get into heaven, I will praise him with all my might. I will sing myself away, and shall never think I can sing loud enough." It reminded me of what an old disciple once said: "If the Lord Jesus does but save me he shall never hear the last of it." Let us praise God, then, eternally—
"While life, or thought, or being lasts,
Or immortality endures!"
Now may the Three-One God dismiss you with his blessing.