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hear no more that terrible thunder, which causeth the earth to quake, which breaketh the cedars, and maketh the binds to calve ; but I hear with transports, a stil small voice, which re-assures my trembling conscience, raiseth up my soul, cast down by grief and despair, and gives me certain hopes of the glory and happiness of thy heavenly paradise, I see no more that dreadful fire which devours sinners, but I feel the soft and pleasing flames of thy love, which rejoice and comfort me, and which far from consuming me with the captains and soldiers of Ahaziah, carry me up into heaven with the prophet Elijah. The spirit which thou hast given me is not a spirit of bondage, to be again in fear, but a spirit of adoption, whereby I cry, Abba, Father. This spirit beareth witness with my spirit, that I am thy child, thy heir, and joint heir with thy blessed Son Jesus Christ. If, when I was thine enemy, and the slave of Satan, thou didst reconcile me to thyself by the blood of this thy beloved Son, now that I am thy child, wilt thou refuse me thine heritage? O my God and heavenly Father! I know that I have sinned exceedingly against thee, and that, if thou shouldst examine me according to the rigour of thy justice, I could have nothing to plead in my defence, nor any thing to expect but the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. But, O Lord ! thou desirest not the death of a sinner, but that he turn from his way and live ; for thus thou hast sworn by thyself, nor wilt thou repent. I confess, that my sins
. are without number, and their deformity is day and night before me ; but O Lord, where sin hath abounded, thy grace and mercy doth much more abound; and though my sins were as scarlet, thou shalt make them white as snow. Thou shalt be moved towards me with the same compassion wherewith a father is moved towards his child, and shalt remove my transgressions from me, as far as the east is from the west. Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord bath dealt bountifully with thee, and hath pre
pared for thee a perfect and eternal happiness. What I hear is not the call of death, but the voice of my heavenly Father, who calls me, and commands me to come unto him; therefore how wretched a sinnersoever I am, I will come and prostrate myself at thy feet, and say un10 thee, with the prodigal son, Father I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. O my Father and my God! thou hast given me the fairest portion of thine inheritance, the richest treasure of thy blessings; but I am gone astray from thee, and have miserably abused thy favours. I have abandoned myself to all the follies of the world, and the flesh, and evil conversations have cor. rupted my manners ; insomuch, that from the sole of the foot even unto the head, there is no soundness in me. In this wretched estate, I intreat pardon of my Judge, or rather, with all my soul, I implore thy Fatherly mercies. O divine flames! O inexhaustible source of charity! O God, who surpasseth in goodness the best of fathers, and the most tender mothers ! I see thy bowels moved, thy compassion awakened, and thy arms opened to receive me: Nay, thou art not only ready to receive me to inercy, but thou comest thyself to meet me ; and, far more kind than the father of the prodigal, comest to seek me in my filthy and most unclean abode, to save me from my wretchedness and distress. O unparalleled goodness! there is nothing which I may not hope for from thy fatherly tenderness. Thou shalt embrace me with the arms of thy infinite mercy, and kiss me with a kiss of charity and love. To assure me, that I am received into the full liberty of thy children, thou shalt put a ring upon my hand; or rather, thou shalt put in my heart a white stone, whereon thou shalt write the new name of elect and faithful, wbich no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it. Thou shalt shoe my feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; or rather, thou shalt shed abroad in my soul the peace of God, which passeth all understanding. Thou shalt give me the fine linen, clean and white, which is the
righteousness of saints, and shalt clothe me with the Son of Righteousness. Thou shalt conduct me into thy • house, or rather thy palace, where, instead of killing the
fatted calf, we will celebrate the marriage of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. There we shall meet with the angels and blessed spirits, and in general, with all the first-born, whose names are written in heaven, who instead of murmuring or repining, will be ravished with joy, and adore this infinite mercy which thou hast manifested to us poor miserable sinners, who by an · incomprehensible charity, have been made thy children, and heirs of thy kingdom. O Charity! worthy the per
O petual admiration of heaven and earth! We were all lost, but now we are all found again in God; we were all dead, but by death alone is the entrance into true lise; we were in extreme misery, but by this very
misery we are brought to perfect happiness. O God! unto thee I commit the keeping of my soul, as unto a faithful Creator. 0 heavenly Father! into thy hands I commend my spirit. Amen.
The third Consolation against the Fears of Death is,
to meditale continually upon the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to rely upon the merits of his cross.
IF we desire to die in peace, or with a quiet conscience we must always meditate upon the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and rely upon the merits of his cross. For the death of this Prince of Life is the model of ours, a fountain of joy and comfort to believing souls.
1. By looking upon this perfect example, the admiraCion of men and angels, we learn to endure with an holy constancy, all the evils and pains that attend upon death. For though the torments of our blessed Saviour were extreme, insomuch that his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, Matth. xxvi. 38; and though his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground, Luke sxii. 44, through the violence of his agony; yet not the least murmur, the least impatient word, proceeded out of his sacred lips. He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter ; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth, Isa. liji. 7.
2. Moreover we learn, that the last hours of our life must be employed in fervent and continual prayers to God, seeing this beloved of the Father offered up unto him prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears as unto him that was able to save him from death, Heb. v. 7. In the bosom of his heavenly Father, he pours out all his sorrows, and three times he prefers this request, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, Matth. xxvi. 39.
3. We likewise learn to present ourselves before the divine Majesty with all humility, and to resign ourselves entirely to bis adorable providence, since he who thought it nol robbery to be equal with God, Phil. ii. 6, whom millions of angels and seraphims continually worship, was not ashamed to fall upon his knees three times to the ground, and to submit his pure and holy will to that of his heavenly Father; for after he had prayed, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, he adds, nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt, Matth. xxvi. 39,
4. If an excessive sorrow, or any other malignant humour, seizes upon our minds, and hinders us from seeing the heavens open, and God stretching out his arms to receive us into his rest, let us imagine, that this merciful Lord speaks to us as he did to his three apostles, who slept when he was in his agony, What, could ye not watch with me one hour ? Mattb. xxvi. 40. My dear children, it is no time for you to slumber and sleep with the foolish virgins ; trim your lamps, and put on the garments of light, that ye may follow your heavenly Bridegroom, and enter with him into the marriage chamber, Mattb. xxv.
5. God requires us, at all times, to do as inach good to our friends as we are able, and to express the most tender and cordial affection to those who are related to us by the ties of nature and piety ; but more especially at the hour of death, we are bound to the practice of this religious duty. Jesus Christ himself hath set us a most excellent example : for when he was pailed to the cross,
: and ready to yield up his soul into the hands of his heavenly Father, he expressed a tender care of his holy and blessed mother, saying to the disciple whom he loved, Son, behold thy mother, and to her, Woman, behold thy son, John xix. 26, 27.
6. But we must not only do good to our friends, and extend the bowels of our kindness to them, we must also forgive our greatest enemies, even those that persecute us with the most inveterate malice. By this means we shall follow the blessed footsteps of our merciful Saviour, who prayed for them that crucified him, and mocked him : Father, said he, forgive them, for they know not what they do, Luke xxiii. 34.
7. By the cross of Jesus Christ, we learn to put our