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REV. RICHARD CECIL, M.A.
RECTOR OF BISLEY AND VICAR OF CHOBHAM, SURREY; AND MINISTER OF
ST. JOHN'S CHAPEL, BEDFORD ROW, LONDON.
PREACHED AT THE ABOVE CHAPEL:
THE FIRST, ON SUNDAY, AUGUST 26, THE SECOND, ON SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 1810.
Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation: JESUS CHRIST, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.HEB. xiii. 7.
REVELATION OF ST. JOHN, xiv. 13.
And I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto 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.
DEATH, in every view of it, is a most solemn event. There is no topic which can be brought under the consideration of mortal and accountable beings, of such high importance. It is that event which will level for ever all the momentary distinctions of time, which will summon each of us to the tribunal of God, and will determine our everlasting happiness or misery. The religion of Jesus Christ can alone disarm death of its terrors. The doctrine of the cross can alone quiet the foreboding conscience, and open to
longs: Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, from henceforth.
The characters to whom the text relates are united by faith to Jesus Christ, the great Head of the church, the Lord both of the dead and living, the King of kings and Lord of lords. This union is expressed by their being in the Lord; which is a phrase familiar with the sacred writers. The Epistles of St. Paul are usually addressed to the saints in Christ Jesus. The same apostle observes; If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature3 : and again; There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus 4. By this term we are to understand, not merely the bearing the Christian name, nor the having been received by baptism into the Christian church, nor the profession of the Christian doctrine: there are thousands who have enjoyed all these advantages, and yet have not died in Christ, but have lived and died in their sins. To be in Christ, is to be spiritually united to him by faith, as members in Him, the living Head; as stones in Him, the spiritual Building; as branches in Him, the true Vine. It is to be found in him, not having our own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is of the faith of Christ, even the righteousness which is of God by faith 5. It is
3 2 Cor. v. 17.
4 Rom. viii. 1.
5 Phil. iii. 9.
to be pardoned, and justified by Him, and delivered from the wrath to come. It is to be born of his Spirit, conformed to his image, subjected to his authority, and governed by his laws. It is to be saved by him, as the manslayer under the law, escaping to the city of refuge and entering its walls, was there delivered from the avenger of blood; or as Noah entered the ark and was saved from the flood which destroyed the world of the ungodly".
To die, therefore, in the Lord, is to die united to Jesus Christ; to die in the faith, fear, and love of Him, who hath the keys of hell and of death".
Such persons are indeed blessed. They are blessed, not only in their life, while believing and rejoicing in the Lord; that would not be so remarkable; in such circumstances there would be something for the mind to rest on: but they are blessed in their death; in their dying; in that gloomy and awful moment, when nature shudders with apprehension, when not a ray of light pierces the dark and mournful scene. Whatever may be the circumstances of their departure; whether by a sudden stroke, or a gradual decay; whether in the vigour, or the decline of life; whether with the full exercise of their faculties, and the joys and triumph
6 Numb. xxxv. 10-12. Heb. xi. 7.
7 Rev. i. 18..