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2. This passage is altogether necessary; it must be, there is no avoiding it: it is the way that all men go, all the inhabitants of the earth, high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, good and bad'; it is become necessary by the decree of God, which is infrustrable : it is appointed for men, for men in general, for all men, once to die', or to go through a change equivalent to it. This is the statute-law of heaven, and must be obeyed: the grave is the house appointed for all living“; and all are brought unto it, and laid in it: though the grave of some is very different from that of others; yet there are receptacles for the dust of all, into which they are conveyed; and good men as well as others are brought to the dust of death : and there is a necessity of it; the time drew nigb that lfrael must die; that truly good man, that plain, honeft-hearted man, Jacob; chat gracious man, so powerful and prevalent in prayer, Israel; he must die as ocher men, as his ancestors Abraham and Isaac before him did; and the time was just at hand, according to the course of nature, and by the appointment of God, when he must submit to the stroke of death : and this is the case of all, the most pious and useful : Your fathers, where are they? They are all gone from hence, they have all passed over Jordan, they are all departed into another world, an endless eternity: And the prophets, do tbey live for ever'? No, they live but for a short time: when they have done the work they were sent to do, they are called home to their father's house, to inherit the promises. Indeed the death of good men is different from that of others; different in the manner of their dying, being in faith, in hope, in comfort : and different in the issue and end of it, eternal life and happiness: hence Balaam, a wicked man, desired to die the death of the righteous, and that his last end might be like bis ? ; but die they do, and must; and even though Christ has died for them, and by dying has abolished death. Through Christ's death indeed they become dead to fin, and live unto righteousness; they live a spiritual life, which will never be extinct; and they will never die the second death: but then they are not exempted by Christ's death from a corporal one; they are delivered from it as a penal evil; it is not a curse, but a blessing to them; the sting of it is taken away; and they receive no hurt and damage by it ; yea it is of advantage to them, as they hereby get rid of a body of sin and death; and as it is an outlet from sorrow and distress, and an inlet to everlasting peace and joy. However, it is necessary and unavoidable; as there was no other way for the Israelites to enter into the land of Canaan, but by passing over the river Jordan; there is no other way of going to heaven, of entering into the everlasting rest, into eternal life, but through the ford of death : I say, there is no other way in the ordinary course of things; for though there have been two persons, and but two, Enoch and Elijah, who went to heaven by a translation and assumption of soul and body at once, yet these were extraordinary instances; and even these passed through a change somewhat Gimilar to death, as those will, that will be found alive at the personal coming of Christ : but though this is, and will be the case of all the Lord's purchased people, yet,
of · Heb.ix. 27.
• Gen. xlvii. 29. & Numb. xxiii. 10.
Job xxx. 23.
f Zech. i.5.
3. This their passage is attended with the utmost safety; there is no danger in it; no evil is to be feared from it: as all the people of Israel passed clean over Jordan", perfectly, completely'; not one was lost or misling in the passage over it; so all Christ's purchased people pass sately through death to eternal glory ; none ever were lost in it ; nor will any be nilling at the great day, when Christ makes up his jewels, and takes the account of them, to see that all are safe. There is nothing of the saints loft at or by death, not even their bodies; though the dead are said to be notk, yet they are not annihilaced ; they are not in the land of the living, nor in the same form and condition they were ; but they are not reduced to nothing : they are indeed returned to dust, from whence they were; but then that dust is something: and the dust of the saints is precious dult, and is under the special and peculiar care of Christ, who engaged, agreeable to the will and injunction of his divine Father, to raise it up again at the last day'; and this is his fixed resolution and determination; I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death * : and this will be done at the last day; these dead men fall live again; and as sure as Christ's dead body was raised again, so sure shall theirs, and be fashioned like to his glorious body. The dead in Cbrist, upon his appearance, will rise first;, and happy those, that will have a part in this first resurrection ; they shall live and reign with Christ a thousand years, and the second death shall have no power over them ; and when it will most clearly appear that they have been no losers, but gainers by death; their corruptible, dishonourable, weak and natural bodies being raised incorruptible, glorious, powerful and spiritual ones : and as at death their bodies are not loft, and in the issue suffer no loss, but gain advantages; so their fouls immediately go to heaven; they are carried at once by angels into Abraham's bosom; they are in an instant with Christ in paradise: this made the apostle Paul desire to depart out of this sinful world, knowing he should be immediately with Chrift, in the full enjoyment of him ; in which felicity the spirits of just men made perfect in death continue in a separate state until the resurrection-morn; when they will be all brought with Christ, and be re-united to their bodies, and live for ever with him : so that though all the Lord's purchased people pass through Jordan's river, they all come safe at last in soul and body to Canaan's
Joshua jii. 17. * Jer. xxxi. 13.
Ion Perfecte tranfiffet, vel plene, Tigurine version.
m Hosea xiii. 14.
land; nor shall any one of them be lost or missing; they are ordained to eternal life, and shall possess ic : whom God predestinates he glorifies; they are put into the hands of Christ, and are under his care, and he has engaged to keep them, and does keep them, and will present every one of them to his Father, saying, Lo, I, and the children thou hast given me"; they are purchased with the price of Christ's blood, and his blood shall not be shed, nor the price of it paid in vain; they are united to him, and are one with him, and because be lives, they fall live also o; they have his spirit and grace as the earnest of their inberitance, until the redemption of the purchased possession"; wherefore there is no danger, nor need there be any fear, in their passage to heaven and glory; and even was there a shipwreck in it, as in deach there is none, though in life there may, with respect to troubles and distresses; there may be what is similar to one; yet like Paul, and the mariners with him in such a circumstance, some on-board, and some on broken pieces of the ship, they all come safe to land! Which leads me on further to observe,.
III. That for the most part, or generally speaking, the purchased people of Christ have a quiet and comfortable passage over the ford of death, into the land of promise and rest. As when the children of Israel went out of Egypt, not a dog was suffered to move its tongue against them ; nor any person to give them the lealt molestation or disturbance; so when they passed over Jordan's river to go into the land of Canaan, none of the Canaanites appeared to stop their passage, or dispute it with them, but were as still as a stone till they paffed over; and when they heard what a wonderful passage they had, the waters of Jordan being dried up until they were clean passed over, their hearts melted within them. And so it is commonly with the saints in the hour of death; their spiritual enemies, who have given them so much uneasiness in life, are not suffered to distress them in their last inoments. As,
1. The fins and corruptions of their nature, which dwell in them, and are of all the worst enemies they have; for a man's enemies are the men of his own house', as these are: they are inmates with him, and yet at enmity with him, and give him a great deal of trouble and vexation; they hinder him from doing the good he would, and put him upon and urge him to do the evil he would not; and so break in upon his peace and comfort: they are the law in his members warring against the law of his mind, bringing him into captivity to the law of fin; which greatly grieves him, and makes him cry out, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? But the believer perceiving his dissolution drawing nigh, spies deliverance from it through Jesus Christ our Lords ;
n Heb. ii. 13.
o John xiv, 19.
p Ephes. i. 14.
which makes him thankful, and fills him with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Now he sees those Egyptians that made his life bitter, and brought him into bondage, and induced a spirit of bondage on him, all dead on the sea-shore; having no power over him, and much less, any influence to bring him into condemnation and death; now, those croking toads, as Dr Goodwin' called them in his dying hour, he finds and feels falling off from him ; and in a short time will hear no more their croking language, or their disagreeable noise and sound: nor is he in any fear from them, having a comfortable view of che free and full forgiveness of his fins through the blood of Chrift; and of his justification before God, and acceptance with him through his pure and perfect righteousness.
2. An evil heart of unbelief is often very distressing to the saints in their present situation: unbelief is a sin that easily besets them; entwines about them, and entangles them ; insinuates itself into them, and greatly bereaves them of their peace and comfort, and God of his glory. Their unbelieving hearts, by reason of sin, condemn them, and fill them with doubts and fears concerning their eternal state, and make them very uneasy and uncomfortable ; though God is greater than their heart, and knows all things"; whac love he has in his heart towards them; what provision he has made in covenant for them, and the great salvation bis Son is the author of on their account. But often so it is, when they come upon their dying-beds, their unbelief goes off, their doubts and fears are dissipated, and their faith increases, and so their spiritual peace and joy in believing; and they are able to say with the apostle, I know whom I have believed; and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day w; and though there may not be in all dying faints the like degree and exercise of faith, or such as amounts to a full afsurance, or holy triumph of it; yet there are some actings of it, and which are attended, more or less, with peace and comfort: These all died in faith*; in the faith of God, as a covenant-God; in the faith of Christ, as the only Redeemer and Saviour; and in the faith of future glory and happiness : and even a good hope, through grace of these things, is attended with spiritual joy and comfort; and this the good man has in his death; for when the wicked is driven away in bis wickedness, the righteous bath hope in his death, and it is such a hope as makes not alhamed, and is never disappointed.
3. Satan is a very busy adversary with his temptations in the present life; and the best of men are not free from them, and are often galled and grieved with them; and sometimes they have their conflicts with him on their dying-beds; but they come off more than conquerors through him that has loved them. And when this enemy of souls comes in like a flood, threatening to carry all before
him, See his Life prefixed to the veh vol. of his wo.ks, p. 19.
1 John iii. 20. 2 Tim. i. 12,
y Prov. xiv. 32.
s Heb. xi. 13.
him, and swallow up the faith and hope of the children of God, and fill them with darkness, doubts, and fears, and black despair ; the Spirit of ibe Lord lifts up a standard against him’; the person, blood, righteousness and sacrifice of Christ, and baffles all his designs, and secures the peace and comfort of the saints. And God can, and sometimes does, chain up this lion and stop his mouth, so that not one hideous roar of his shall be heard while the believer is palling over Jordan's river, or through the ford of death.
4. The terrors of death are frequently taken off of Christ's purchased people when they come to die ; yea, even such who through fear of death have been all ibeir life-time subject to bondage, are then delivered from it *; who have been greatly distressed on acoount either of the pains they shall endure on a death-bed, or of the agonies of their dying moments, or of what shall follow after; these fears have all vanished and disappeared, when death has come in view. Instances of this kind have been many, and well known: many a timorous soul in health, when they are upon the shores of eternity, just ready to launch into it, and are in the full view of it, have fat and sung, O death, where is thy fting? O grave, where is thy viftory ? The sting of death is fin, and tbe strength of fin is the law; but thanks be to God which giveth us the victory tbrough Jesus Christ our Lord"; and if you mark the perfect man, and behold the uprigbt, you will observe that
the end of that man is peace“; not only that his end or death issues in eternal · peace; but the last end he makes is a peaceful one, or is attended with spiritual
peace. I will not peremptorily say, that this calm, serene and peaceful frame of soul attends every dying faint ; but I believe for the most part it does, if not always. For though the believer may have his darkness, doubts and fears, and many conflicts of soul whilst on his dying-bed; yet usually these are all over and gone before his last moments come, and death does its work and office upon him : and from the gracious promises of God to be with his people even unto death; and from the scriptural accounts of dying faints; and from the observations I have made through the course of my life; I am of opinion that, generally speaking, the people of God die comfortably; their spiritual enemies being made to be as still as a stone, while they pass through the floods of Jordan, or the cold streams of death.
IV. This is ascribed to the greatness of the arm of the Lord, or to his almighty power. There were many things which contributed to make the passage of the Israelites over the river Jordan easy and comfortable, and which encouraged them to it; and somewhat similar to them the people of God are favoured with oftentimes in their passage through death ; which are of singular use and service to them. As,
z Isai. lix. 19.
· Heb. i. 15.
i Cor. xv. 55–57.
« Psalm xxxvii. 37.