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an end; therefore our removal out of it into the other world is most certain. “ This is not your rest, because it is polluted;" and because of its pollution, it must be burnt up, 2 Pet. iii. 10. Now the soul is immortal, and the body shall have a resurrection, and so the man must be for ever; he must be in some world, and since this will be destroyed, he must certainly remove to the other.
4. Our life in this world is a journey thro' it, ending in a going out of it, and therefore into the other world, Pfal. xxxix. ult. We enter upon it at our birth, make progress therein in our life, and come to the end of it. at death, which is the passage into the nther world. All things are in motion here, and every thing under, goes changes; but none does more so than man, who springs up, and quickly goes down again ; and at length his place knows him no more.
4. Death, the passage into the other world, is apa pointed to all, Heb. ix. 27. “It is appointed unto men once to die.” All must pass through that dark and shady vale, and then they are in the other world; and have no more concern in what is done under the sun. And the certainty of our dying, we may not only read in our Bibles; but in our very bodies themselves, where every gripe, pain, and weakness we feel overs taking us, are tokens of death approaching.
Lastly, The experience of all ages since the beginning confirms the certainty of this removal. Where are the generations that have been before us? They are no more to be seen in this world, more than if they had never been in it. Yet God's word assures us that they are in being, the godly ones of them happy, and the ungodly miserable. They are gone then into the ou ther world. And do we not see by daily observation, that the course of dying is continuing as before? And are there any of us all, who have not some that were our acquaintance in this world, already removed into the other before us? And are we to expe&t the rocks to be removed for us?
* III. THE
· III. The next head is to confider the uncertainty of the time of this removal. And here I shall shew,
1. How this uncertainty of the time of our remo. val is to be understood. : 2. How it appears.
3. Why the Lord has kept men at this uncertainty.
FIRST, I am to Thew how this uncertainty of the time of our removal is to be understood.
1. It is not to be understood, as if the time of our removal were absolutely uncertain, and undetermined with God. No; it is determined exa&ly and precisely to the least moment, at what time each of us shall make our removal into the other world, how much time we shall pass in this life, and beyond which we shall not go, Job xiv.4. “His days are determined, the num. ber of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass.” However uncertain it is as to us, it is as certain before the Lord as any thing can be. This is evident; for, - The decree of God reacheth the least of things, even to the very numbering of the hairs of our head, Mat. I. 30. And can we think that he who numbers the bairs of our head, numbers not the days of our life that we shall fulfil ? Truly they are foon numbered to him, being “as an handbreadth, and as nothing before him," Pfal. xxxix. . and he knows them exactly, Job xiv. 5. How else could he foreshew certainly mens death, as he did Moses's, Deut. xxxi. 14. and that of
Jeroboam's child ? 1 Kings xiv. 12, 17. '. It is certain, that man cannot subsist a moment, but · as God holds him in life ; so the withdrawing of his
support must put an end to it, Pfal. xc. 3. And he knows certainly what he will dr, Acts xv. 18. And who can doubt, but he certainly knows when he is to receive his own people into glory, and when the day of his enemies will come ? Fifteen years were added to the years that Hezekiah had lived, but not to the term of life appointed of God. But, ...
• 2. This uncertainty is to be understood, with refe. rence to us. Though it is certain in respect of the dee cree of God, yet it is uncertain in respect of our know. ledge of it. Men may conjecture about it, by signs ; and no doubt God may as he fees meet discover the time of one's removal, either to himself or to others. But otherwise, it is most uncertain to us.
SECONDLY, I shall shew how this uncertainty of the time of our removal appears.
I. Our removal depends entirely on the will of an. other, quite concealed from us, Luke xii. 36. It is so with us, that we cannot go when we please, were we never so fond of the other world, or weary of this. It is the will of his command revealed, that we wait the will of his providence for the removing, in all cases without exception, Ex.xx. 13. It was the peculiar prem rogative of the man Chrift, to be Lord of his own life, Johnx. 18. And tho desperate proud finners invade it, he can by his providence draw a bar before them, that either in mercy or in wrath shall oblige then to wait his time, of both which there have been instances; how. beit sometimes in wrath, the will of his providence ata tends their will, and gives them their swing. But however, our removal depends not on our own but his will, not to be discovered but by the event, which therefore makes it utterly uncertain to us.
2. We plainly perceive that God does not keep one time for the removal of men into the other world. Had he appointed one certain term of years and days, to which every one should come, and no body fall short of; then we would have had no more ado to know our time, but to have counted what we were short of that common term of life ; but there is no such common term appointed, but some are removed sooner, others latter ; and there is no stage of life whatsoever, infancy, childhood, youth, middle age, old age, but some are removed therein. And which of them we have not seen shall be ours, we know not. So we are kept uncertain.
3. As .
3. As there is no period of life, so there is no ftate of health, that may not be brangled by sickness, and overthrown by death. When men are in a fixed state of health, strong, lively, and vigorous, they seem to be fartheft removed from death; but how often do we see death at the heels of such a state? How many strong and lusty go off as soon as these that are weak, groaning under various infirmities? Job xxi. 23,426. We liave an instance, in the rich man that fared fumptuous. ly every day, as well as the beggar which was laid at his gate full of fores, Luke xvi. 22. Nay, often the weak and sickly prolong their life, while the strong are moved down and carried off one after another, Job üi. 20, 21. " Wherefore is light given to bim that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul? which long for death, but it cometh not, and dig for it more than for hid treasures?" Compared with Luke xii, 19, 20. " And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast mich goods laid up for many years ; take thine eafe, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy foul shall be required of thee." What uncertainty appears there?
4. Oft- times when death is least minded, and fartheft out of one's thoughts, it is at the door; the removal into the other world comes when men are thinking of nothing, but fixing themselves and enjoying the pleafures of this, 1 Theff.v.3. “For when they shall fay, Peace and safefy, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as tra. vail upon a woman with child ; and they shall not e. scape.” Luke xii. 20. juft cited. How many have re. velled away into the other world, going down to the sides of the pit, as with tabret and pipe ! how many drunkards and debauchees have never come to them. selves, till they were removed out of this world ! going into that world without a capacity for a previous thought of it! So utterly uncertain are men. .
5. Man's life is liable to various accidents, for taking itaway, Eccl. ix. 12. "For man also knoweth not bis
time, as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the fons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.” What tho' you are in perfect health, and no cause of death appears from within ? There are so many things from without, that may beat up your quarters in this world, and hurry you into the other, that ye are still at an uncertainty; “ as when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the ax to cut down
the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and "lighteth upon his neighbour that he die,” Deut. xix. 5.
Luke xiii. 1, 4. Fire, water, stones falling or lying in
the way, beasts of the field, fowls of the air, &c. a · thousand unforeseen accidents may be instruments of our removal, blowing out life.
6. How often do men seeking life find death; and la. bouring for their flay, haften their removal; Such un, certainty are we kept at. Sensual men pamper the body, with design to keep it up; and by their intemperance in eating and drinking, destroy it; laying on so much fuel that they put out the fire. And where that is not the case, how often is death found in physic, and in necessary food, taken with a design to preserve life? 2 Kings iv. 40. A morfel at a meal has choked some, and removed them from their covered table into the other world. A hair in milk, and a stone in a raifin, it is said, has done the business.
Lastly, Where there has been no visible cause from without, nor sensible cause from within, how many have suddenly dropt down dead, to the perfect surprise of their relations and neighbours aware of no cause thereof! Our life is in the hand of the Giver always, as a ball in the hand of him that holds it up; there needs no more but to withdraw that hand, and that moment we fall, Psal. xc. 3. “ Thou turneft man to destruction; and fayeft, Returp, ye children of men," and civ. 29. THIRDLY, It remains on this head to lhew why the Hh 3