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BEING THE SUBSTANCE OF
PCCASIONED BY THE
DEATH OF MISS ANN WILLIAMS:
WHO DEPARTED THIS LITE, SEPT. 24, 1772,
TWENTY-FIRST YEAR OF HER AGB.
DELIVERED AT HER INTERMENT,
WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS, THROUGH HIM THAT LOVED US.
Rom. viii, 37.
1 CORINTHIANS XV. 55, 56, 57.
O death! where is thy sting? O grave ! where is
thy victory? T'he sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ!
The sovereign Disposer of all events, having lately deprived us of a worthy member and an amiable young Sister, by the relentless hand of death; Į shall, at the request of her honoured relatives, attempt an improvement of the striking words I have now read, for our spiritual edification and mutual comfort. And O, that a divine blessing may attend our meditations, on so important a part of sacred writ! That while we remember the death of our much-esteemed friend, we may not forget our own: and while we reflect on that sweet serenity and lively hope, with which she met her last enemy; it may be our steady concern and unspeakable happiness, to enjoy the same heavenly consolation, and be ready for the same solemn event.
In this chapter the infallible author largely treats concerning that capital article of the christian creed, the resurrection of the dead. Having proved, by irrefragable arguments, that as Jesus, the great head of the church, arose and left the tomb, so all the saints, all the members of his mystical body, shall rise at the last day; having shown, that as the Lord Redeemer overcame death, and the grave, and every enemy, so all his followers shall be finally victorious and everlastingly happy; he breaks out in the language of triumph. Having the once formidable enemies full in his view, or rather under his feet, he loudly exclaims; O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ !—In handling these remarkable words, on the present occasion, I shall take notice, of the various powerful enemies and malignant evils, here mentioned, from which the real christian is, or shall be, completely delivered-the way in which he obtains the deliverance-his triumph over his vanquished foes--and his gratitude to God for the wonderful favour.-And,
First, The various powerful enemies and malignant evils, here mentioned, from which the real christian is, or shall be, completely delivered, come under our consideration. The awful evils and the destructive enemies, which are here more expressly mentioned, are, death and the grave; but with them, sin and the law are closely connected.-That death is a formidable foe, the general consent of mankind, the common feelings of humanity, in the prospect of it, and the voice of divine revelation, loudly de
clare. By death, the union between soul and body is entirely dissolved, and the earthly tabernacle is brought down to the dust. Death reigns*, says the oracle of heaven. He reigns as a king, and enslaves as a tyrant. His empire is ancient, and his dominions are large. So ancient his empire, as to be almost coeval with human existence: so large his dominions, as to extend to all the posterity of Adam, two individuals excepted f. All the past generations of men have bowed to his sceptre, and all that now survive must soon feel the weight of his hand.
But whence has death his terrific appearance, and from what is his power derived ? Our text informs us; for he is described as armed with a sting, He is compared to the venomous hornet, or the more baneful scorpion; which wound, emit their poison; and give the keenest sensations of pain, by their stings. It is from hence these creatures become, either hurtful or terrible.-Nor does the apostle leave his reader to a doubtful conjecture, what the sting of death should be; for he immediately and expressly tells us, that it is sin. To the truth of this the consciences of men bear witness.
Death owes his existence to sin. On sin his. empire is founded, and by it he maintains his dominion over mankind. To this the word of revelation
agrees : Sin entered into the world, and death by sin. It is sin that arrays death with all his terrors. By sin only, he stings the conscience and wounds the heart. Had we not been transgressors; were our hearts perfectly pure in the sight of God, and our whole conduct unbleinished * Rom. v. 14.
+ Enoch and Elijah.