The Blessed Estate of Them That Die in the Lord

by Thomas Manton

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.—REV. 14:13.

THE chief wisdom of a man is to live well and die well, to live godly and die blessed. The same corruption of nature that makes us unwilling to live well makes us unwilling to die. To forsake our corruptions, and go out of the world, are both displeasing to flesh and blood; therefore we need to be pressed often both to the one and the other, for the one maketh way for the other.

Upon this occasion I know not a more seasonable argument. In autumn, when we see one leaf or a few leaves fall, we conclude the rest will follow afterwards. Every funeral should put us in mind that our death is not far off. Some of us have cause to expect the next turn. Old men, in scripture account, are as good as dead already, Heb. 11:12. Those that lived longest died at last; Enos lived 905, Cainan 910, Seth 912, Adam 930, Jared 962, Methuselah, 969 years, but they all died. All must die; the great care should be to die well; none can die well but those that die in the Lord, for they are blessed; so it is proclaimed from heaven. Every divine truth comes from heaven; but some are more solemnly proclaimed from thence, as the mortality of man and the blessedness of the dead: the mortality of man, Isa. 40:6, our affections are against the thought of that; the blessedness of the dead, in this place, against which carnal reason opposeth,—nature will so hardly believe that the dead can be blessed, that we need a voice from heaven to confirm it.

The context speaks of many troubles to try the patience of the saints. Now the comfort propounded is the blessed estate of the departed. The worst that wicked men can do to the saints is but to help them the sooner to heaven.

In the words observe a preface and a doctrine. The preface shows it is a matter of weight. Here is a voice from heaven, and a command to write, for the more assurance, an open publication.

In the doctrine you have an assertion and an amplification. In the assertion, the qualification: the dead which die in the Lord; the privilege: are blessed. In the amplification you may observe:—

1. The season: ἀπʼ ἄρτι, from henceforth.

2. The confirmation: saith the Spirit; the Holy Ghost maketh affidavit.

3. The parts of this blessedness, which are two—a release and a reward. A release: they rest from their labours; a reward implied: their works follow them. Death to the godly is not only an end of misery, but a beginning of glory and happiness. Philosophers could look upon it as the end of misery, but Christians look upon it as a beginning of glory and happiness.

Because I shall not be able to discuss the amplification, let me open Some of the circumstances.

Ἀπʼ ἄρτι, 'from henceforth.' Those that died in the Lord in former ages were blessed; but these times did require this singular comfort, because of the dreadful persecution, and that from those who carried the name of Christians. Now, saith the Holy Ghost, not only those that suffered by heathens are blessed, and counted the Lord's martyrs, but those that suffer also under pseudo-Christians. Some indeed carry it in another sense, as if it were said, before Antichrist be cast down, it will cost the church such a world of trouble that from henceforth you will count the dead happy, as being taken from the evil to come, Isa. 57:1. Others thus: 'from henceforth,' that is, after salvation offered to the Gentiles in the gospel, the dead shall be known to be happy; as the apostle saith that, 2 Tim. 2:10, 'Life and immortality is brought to light in the gospel.' Others apply this 'from henceforth' to the time of their death, as if the saints were here asserted to be immediately happy upon their dissolution. But I think the first exposition most simple and genuine.

Rest from their labours: troubles, services, the labours of their callings, the troubles of their condition. The godly are taken away from evil, and the wicked are taken away to evil. From glorifying and serving God they never rest, but from weariness in serving God, from weakness, sin, and distraction.

Their works follow them. As it is said of wicked men, their iniquity shall find them out. We carry nothing out of the world with us but the conscience and comfort of what we have done for God; their wealth doth not follow them into the other world, but their works do.

Doct. The point which I shall prosecute is the assertion of the text, that they that die in the Lord are in a blessed condition. I shall inquire:—(1.). What it is to die in the Lord? (2.) Show you how they are blessed. (3.) Whence it is that they who die in the Lord are sure to be in a blessed condition.

1. What it is to 'die in the Lord'? Ἐν κυρίῳ, may be rendered 'for the Lord,' or 'in the Lord;' as Eph. 4:1, 'Paul, a prisoner in the Lord.' We render it' of the Lord,' or 'for the Lord's sake.' 1 Thes. 4:16: 'We render 'the dead in Christ' shall rise first; and ver. 14, 'those that sleep in Jesus,' which is to be preferred? I answer—Neither is to be excluded; whether a godly man fall as a peace-offering or as a burnt-offering, he is still in a happy condition.

To 'die in the Lord' may relate either to the cause for which, or to the state wherein, or to the manner how, we die.

[1.] The cause for which we die. So the martyrs die in the Lord, or for the Lord's sake; and are blessed of God, though, it may he, cursed of men. The text relates to the time of Antichristian persecution, when usually they died excommunicate or accused by the Roman synagogue. God hath a special regard to his champions that love not their lives to the death.

[2.] The state wherein we die. So to die in the Lord is to die in the favour of God, in a state of peace with him as members of Christ's mystical body: they die in the bosom of Christ; sleep in Jesus, 1 Cor. 15:18; are reconciled to God in and through him. There are two notable expressions which I shall commend to you upon this occasion. One is in the 2 Peter 3:14: 'That we may be found of him in peace.' To die before the quarrel be taken up between us and God, that is sad. When a town is surprised by force, they that are taken with their weapons in their hands die without mercy; but blessed are they that die in peace. The other is in the 2 Cor. 5:3: 'That I may not be found naked.' To be summoned to come before God, and to have nothing to cover our nakedness, that is sad: it should be our care to be wrapt in Christ's righteousness; that is the best shroud for a dying Christian.

[3.] As to the manner: they are said to die in the Lord who die in a gracious manner. It much concerneth us and the glory of God that we die well. A Christian is not only to live to the glory of God, but to die to the glory of God, for living and dying we are the Lord's, Rom. 14:7, 8. As to the manner, 'to die in the Lord' signifieth—(1.) Our perseverance in communion with him; to continue our blessed fellowship with Christ to the death and in the death. Into the vineyard, Mat. 20, some were called sooner, some later, but all continued to the end. Elisha would not leave his master till he was taken from him into heaven; so, till all be finished, we should follow our work close. 'Let us take heed,' saith the apostle, 'lest we seem to come short,' Heb. 4:1. As we should not come short, we should not seem to come short. Enoch lived a long while, but all that while he walked with God; three hundred and sixty-five years, a long age, but spent in communion with God, Gen. 5:22. (2.) It implies the solemn actings of grace at death. The scripture takes notice of the last words of saints; 2 Sam. 23:1, the last words of David. Death is a special season wherein to make use of grace, of faith, love, zeal, and obedience.

(1.) Faith: Heb. 11:13, 'All these died in faith.' It is not enough to live by faith, but we must also die by faith. This is a grace always of use on this side the grave; in the other world there is no need of it. When we come to enjoyment, faith ceaseth; at death it doth us the last office; we see what it is then to put the soul into God's keeping, 2 Tim. 1:12; Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59. Then do we die in faith when we can resign our souls to God, and send our bodies to the grave in hope. While we are alive, we find it harder to depend upon God for daily bread than for eternal life, for herein faith is put upon a present trial; but when we come to die, the strength of our confidence is tried about the blessed recompenses. This then is to die in the Lord, when we can look beyond the grave and within the veil into the glory of the world to come.

(2.) Love. In our readiness and willingness to be with Christ: Phil. 1:23, 'I desire to be dissolved, and be with Christ;' the 'Spirit and the bride say, Come.' Now God takes you at your word, and you draw back. Let him be afraid to die that would not go to Christ.

(3.) Zeal for God's glory. It is the last time you can do anything for God in the world. Put in a word for him, commend him to those about you, as Jacob doth the Mediator or the angel of the covenant, of whom he had such experience in the course of his pilgrimage, Gen. 48:16; and Josh. 23, Josh. 24, 'I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and all your souls not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God hath spoken.' All is come to pass; not one thing hath failed thereof. Words of dying men are of most efficacy and authority, as being spoken out of all their former experience, with most simplicity, without self-seeking or sinister ends, with most seriousness; for men entering upon the confines of eternity are wiser and more serious. It is no time to dally and dissemble at the last gasp. Speeches of living men are suspected of partiality to their present interests, or neglected as having no weight in them; but the speeches of dying men are solemnly observed. Therefore Joseph's brethren, to engage him the more, urge him with his father's dying charge: Gen. 50:16, 'Thy father, when he died, said,' &c. Men, as they are returning πρός τὸ πρόγονον θεῖον, to the original divinity, as Plotinus speaks, are supposed to be more divine, and therefore their dying words are much regarded. Put in then a word for God, an amen to the promises. Carnal men cannot honour their principles when they die; the world fails them when there is most need: Job 27:8, 'What hope hath a hypocrite when God comes to take away his soul?' When they are going out of the world, then they fall a complaining how the world hath deceived them; but a Christian, when he dies, he may honour his principles, commend the promises, give an account of the faithfulness of the Mediator, and plead for God at the last gasp.

(4.) Obedience. A Christian is not to die like a beast, to be merely passive; his soul is not taken away, but yielded up; there is a resignation and consent on his part. A carnal man suffers death, but a Christian gives up the ghost. The scripture useth this distinctness of speech concerning them, as concerning the wicked. God takes away their souls, Luke 12:19, Job 27:8; they would fain keep them longer, but the Lord puts the bond in suit, and perforce they are dragged into his presence. But now death to the godly, it is a sweet dismission, Luke 2:26. When they see the will of God, they hold out no longer; their souls are not taken away, but yielded up to God.

Thus you see grace stands by us when all things else fail; it makes us live with comfort, and die with comfort. When wealth fails, grace fails us not. So much of the first question.

2. How they are blessed. They are presently blessed upon the departure of the soul out of the body, but more blessed at the general resurrection of the just.

[1.] Presently the soul is where Christ is; carried by angels to Christ, and by Christ presented to God, as the fruit of his purchase. That the soul is where Christ is, appears by that of Phil. 1:23, 'I desire to be dissolved and be with Christ;' to be with him in glory; otherwise it were a loss, not a happiness, for St Paul to be dissolved. It is a sorry blessedness to lie rotting in the grave, and only to be eased of present labours; for God's people are wont to reckon much of their present service and enjoyment of God, though it be accompanied with troubles and afflictions. Paul was in a strait, and he saith it was πολλῷ μᾶλλον κρεῖσσον—much more better to be with Christ. A stupid sleep, without the enjoyment of God, is not much better than our present condition, but far worse. What happiness were that to be in such a condition, wherein we do nothing for God, enjoy nothing from God? Surely Paul would never be in such a strait if this drowsy doctrine were true, that the soul lies in such an inactive state of sleep and rest till the resurrection. This is to be no more blessed than stones and inanimate creatures, that feel nothing. Again, Luke 23:43, 'This day shalt thou be with me in paradise,' saith Christ to the good thief. Some, to evade that place, refer σῆμερον to λὲγω, as if it were, I say to thee this day; but the pointing in the Greek copies contradicts it, as also the sense of the place: σῆμερον, this day, answers to the thief's, 'when thou shalt come into thy kingdom.' Christ promiseth more than he asks, as God doth usually abundantly for us above what we can ask or think. He hath reference to Christ's words to the high priest: the Son of man shall come in his glory. Now, saith Christ, I will not defer thy desire so long, for presently shall heavenly joys attend thy soul. Others seek to evade it by the word 'paradise;' it is a Persiac word, but used by the Hebrews for gardens and orchards, and by allusion for heavenly joys; and possibly the allusion might be taken not from the delights of an ordinary garden, but from Eden, or that garden in which Adam was placed in innocency. That by paradise is meant heaven, and not those secreta animarum receptacula et beatæ sedes, some secret places for the repose of souls departed, which some of the fathers fancied, appeared by Paul's expression in 2 Cor. 12:4. Speaking of his rapture, 'I was,' saith he, 'caught up into the third heaven,' which he presently calls paradise. Well, then, out of the whole we may conclude, that the souls immediately upon their departure out of their bodies are with Christ. Again it is said, Luke 16:22, 'The beggar died, and was carried into Abraham's bosom,' presently, in the twinkling of an eye, or turning of a thought. Thus it is with the saints, which is a great comfort. When you come to die, in a moment angels will bring you to Christ: agonies of death are terrible, but there are joys just ready; and as soon as you are loosed from the prison of your body, you enter into your eternal rest, the soul flieth hence to Christ. Once more, as the wicked are in their final estate as soon as they die, and therefore they are called 'the spirits now in prison,' 1 Peter 3:19; so do the godly enjoy their glorified estate as soon as they die: 'The spirits of just men are made perfect,' Heb 12:24. How can their spirits be said to be perfect, if they lie only in a dull sleep without any light, life, joy, delight, or act of love to God?

[2.] They are completely blest at the resurrection. What their blessedness shall be then, we cannot now know to the full. We shall understand it best when the great voice calls us to come up and see; only because our ear hath received a little thereof, let me endeavour to lay it before you. In blessedness there must be:—(1.) A removal of all evils; (2.) A coacervation, and complete presence of all goods.

(1.) A removal of evil. As long as the least evil continues, a man is not blessed, only less miserable. Haman had all things that a carnal heart could wish for; he guided the affairs of one hundred and twenty provinces; only he wanted Mordecai's knee: therefore he saith, all this avails me nothing. Ahab had the kingdom of Israel, and yet falls sick for want of Naboth's vineyard. In engines of war, if one peg be missing, or out of order, all stops. In the body of man, if one humour be out of order, or joint broken, it is enough to make us ill at ease, though all the rest be sound and whole; so if there be the least evil, a man cannot he a completely happy man. Well, then, from this blessed estate of the dead in the Lord, all evil is removed. Now evil is twofold—either of sin or punishment: in heaven there is neither.

(1st.) To begin with sin, that is the worst evil; affliction is evil, but it is not evil in itself, but only in our sense and feeling; but sin is evil whether we feel it or no; it is worst when we feel it not. That is evil which separates from the chiefest good. Affliction doth not separate from God; it is a means and occasion to make us draw near to him. Many had never been acquainted with God but for their afflictions; but sin separates from God: Isa. 59:2, 'Your iniquities have separated,' &c. Let a man be never so loathsome, yet if he be in a state of grace he is dear to God, the Lord takes pleasure in him; though he should be rough-cast with ulcers and sores, in a prison, yet God will kiss him with the kisses of his mouth: there is nothing loathsome and odious to God but sin. This grieves the saints most: Rom. 7:23, 'O wretched man that I am,' &c. If any man had cause to complain of afflictions, Paul had; in perils often, in perils by land, in perils by sea, in perils by enemies, in perils by false brethren, whipped, imprisoned, stoned; but he doth not cry out, When shall I be delivered from these afflictions? but this body of death! Lust troubled him more than scourges, and his captivity to the law of sin more than chains and prisons. This is the disposition of the saints: they are weary of the world, because they are sinning here whilst others are glorifying God; not only that they are suffering here, whilst others are enjoying God. A beast will forsake the place where he hath neither meat nor rest; carnal men, when they are beaten out of the world, have a fancy to heaven as a place of retreat; but that which troubles godly men is their sin. Well, now, in heaven there is no sin, there is neither spot nor wrinkle upon the face of glorified saints, Eph. 5:27. They were once as black as you, but now Christ presents them to God as a proof of the cleansing virtue of his blood. There they are freed from all sin; here with much ado we mortify our lust, and yet nature will be ever recoiling; as the ivy in the wall, cut it never so much, it will be breaking out again. It is much here if the dominion of sin be taken away; there the being of it is abolished; the glorified saints displease God no more, and are freed from all the immediate and inseparable consequences of original sin, from distractions in duty. Here love is not perfect, and therefore the soul cannot be fixed in the contemplation of God, and that is the reason of wandering thoughts; but there the heart cleaves to him without straggling; from pride, which lasts as long as life, and therefore called 'pride of life,' 1 John 2:16. We cannot have a revelation now, but we grow proud of it: nor an influence of grace, but it lifts us up, 2 Cor. 12:2. There is a worm in manna: but there, when we are most high, we are most humble. Christians, is not this a blessed hope, that tells you of a sinless state, of being like Christ for purity and holiness? 1 John 3:2, 'We shall see him as he is, for we shall be like unto him.' What is it that you have struggled with and groaned under all your lives but sin? Now that is blotted out when the days of refreshing come; and as there is no sin, so there are no temptations. In paradise there was a tempter, but not in heaven; Satan was long since cast out thence, and the saints fill up the vacant rooms of the apostate angels. The world is a place of snares, a valley of temptations; it is the devil's circuit. Where did he walk to and fro but in the earth? But into heaven nothing enters that defiles, Rev. 21:27: no serpent can creep in there. Christians, lift up your heads; you will get rid of sin and displease God no more: here we cry, 'Lord, deliver us from evil;' and there our cries are heard at the full. Grace weakeneth sin, but glory abolisheth it, and old Adam is left in the grave never to rise more.

(2dly.) The next evil is the evil of affliction. Whatever is painful and burdensome to nature is a fruit of the fall, a brand and mark of our rebellion against God; therefore affliction must be done away as well as sin if we be completely happy. As in hell there is an evil, an only evil; a cup of wrath unmixed, without the least temperament of mercy; so in heaven there is happiness, and only happiness, sorrow is done away as well as sin; it is said he will wipe all tears from their eyes. The afflictions of the soul are gone; there are no more doubtings of God's love, nor sense of his displeasure; here, though we are pardoned, and the wound be cured, yet the scars remain. As Absalom could not see the king's face when he was restored, in wise dispensation God sometimes hides his face from us; we need to be dieted and to taste the vinegar and the gall sometimes, as well as the honey and sweetness. The world is a middle place, standing between heaven and hell, and therefore hath something of both, a mixture of pleasures and sorrows, both good and evil are to be received from the hand of God; but there there is fulness of joy for evermore, Ps. 16:11. Here we complain that the candle of the Lord doth not shine over us with a like brightness, but there our sun remains in an eternal high noon, without clouds and the shadows of this night. The afflictions of the body are done away; heaven is a happy air, where none are sick; there is no such thing there as gouts and agues, and the grinding pains of the stone. The body here is called a vile body, Phil. 3:21, as it is the instrument of sin and the subject of diseases. We have the root of diseases in the soul, and the matter and fuel of diseases in the body, peccant humours and principles of corruption. As wood is eaten out with worms that breed within itself, so are there in our bodies principles of corruption that do at length destroy them; but there we are wholly incorruptible. Yea, because deformity in the body is a monument of God's displeasure, one of the inconveniences introduced by Adam's fall, it is done away. The bodies rise in due proportion; whatever was monstrous or misshapen in the first edition is corrected in the second. And for violence without, heaven is a quiet place. When there are tumults in the world, God is introduced, Ps. 2:4, as sitting in the heavens; a quiet posture. There is nothing to discompose those blessed spirits. The company of wicked men is a burthen; Lot's righteous soul was vexed with it, 2 Peter 2:7; but there they are bound hand and foot and cast into utter darkness; as when men will not be ruled, they are sent to prison. Here the children of God are subject to a number of infirmities, hunger, thirst, nakedness, cold, want; but there we have a rich inheritance, as well as a glorious, Eph. 1:18. The distinctions of poor and rich, as understood in the world, do not outlive time; we have enough of true riches, which is eternal glory, and the full fruition of God; labour ceaseth, though there be a continual exercise of grace. All things rest when they come to their proper place; so do those which die in the Lord. We still serve God, but without weariness; yea, we are freed from the necessities of nature, eating, drinking, and sleeping, to which the greatest potentates are subject; though they are exempted from hard bodily labour, they are not exempted from the necessities of nature. 'Meat is for the belly, and the belly for meats, but God shall destroy both it and them,' 1 Cor. 6:12. The use of meats, and of the stomach, and of the belly is abolished. It is a piece of our misery that our life is patched up of so many creatures, as a torn garment is pieced and patched up with supplies from abroad. Here the sheep or the silkworm affords us clothing, the beasts of the earth and fish of the sea serve for food; and all to support a ruinous fabric, ever ready to drop about our ears. But then we are above meat, and drink, and apparel; nakedness will be no shame, for glory will serve instead of a robe, and it will be meat and drink enough to do our Father's will; the body will not be a clog to the soul, but a help. That mass of flesh we carry about us is but the prison of the soul, where it looks out by the windows of the senses; but then it is no longer the prison of the soul, but the temple. In short, all that I have said upon this branch is comprised in Rev. 21:4, 'And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there is no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for former things are passed away.' There is quite another change; new dispensations; no distraction of business; our whole employment will be to think of God, and study God, but without weariness, satiety, or distraction.

(2.) In blessedness there is a confluence of all good necessary to the happiness of the creature. Our blessedness is full for parts, full for the degrees and manner of enjoyment; and all this continues for ever, without fear of losing it. Our crown of glory is a garland that will never wither; it is an eternal state of actual delights; we are blessed in our bodies, blessed in our souls, blessed in our company. Man is ζῶον πολίτικον, a sociable creature; and therefore to his complete happiness it is necessary that he should not be only blest in his person, but in his company and relations. We are brought into the presence of God, who is blessedness itself, and to the sight and blessed fellowship of his blessed Son, and into the company of blessed angels and saints.

First, Let me speak of the happiness of his person, and then both of his body and soul.

1st, For his body, it is now a temple of the Holy Ghost. He cannot leave his mansion and ancient dwelling-place, and therefore he raiseth it up and formeth it again into a complete fashion, like Christ's glorious body, Phil. 3:21, for clarity, agility, strength, incorruption. Solomon's temple, when it was destroyed, the latter house was nothing so glorious as the former; men wept when they saw it, Ezra 3:12. But it is not so here; it is raised quite another body. For the present there is to be seen a beautiful fabric wherein God hath shown his workmanship; every member, if it were not so common, would be a miracle; all is ordered for the service and comeliness of the whole. But now it is a vile body, subject to diseases, fed with meat, humbled with wants, many times mangled with violence, dissolved by death, and crumbled to dust in the grave like a dry clod of earth. This is the body we carry about us, a mass of flesh dressed up to be a dish for the worms. But this vile body shall rise in another manner, like Christ's glorious body. When the sun appears the stars vanish, their lustre is eclipsed and darkened; but the Sun of righteousness, when he appears at the last day, doth not obscure, but perfect our glory. More particularly; if you inquire wherein our bodies shall be like Christ's glorious body, the apostle will tell us that in another place, 1 Cor. 15:40–44. Let me single out three expressions: it is raised in incorruption; it is raised in glory; it is raised a spiritual body. (1.) It is an incorruptible body. Now it yields to the decays of nature, and is exercised with pains and aches, till at length it droppeth down like ripe fruit into the grave; but hereafter it shall be clothed with immortality, wholly impassible. What a comfort is this to those that are racked with the stone or gout, broken with diseases, or withered with age, to think that they shall have a body without aches, and without decays, that shall always be in the spring of youth! The trees of paradise are always green. (2.) It shall be a glorious body. Here it is many times deformed; at least, beauty, like a flower, is lost in sickness, davered or withered with age, defaced by several accidents; but then we shall be glorious like to Christ's body. The naked body of man was so beautiful in innocency that the beasts of the field admired it, and thereupon did homage to Adam; but we shall not be conformed to the first Adam, but the second. Christ in the mount, when he was transfigured, they could not endure the shining of his garments, it astonished the disciples, Mat. 17; his garments could not veil, nor their eyes endure, those strong emissions of the beams of glory. Paul could not endure the light that shined to him when Christ appeared to him from heaven, Acts 9, but was utterly confounded and struck blind. By this you may guess a little at the glory of the body when it is likened to Christ's glorious body. Moses, by conversing with God forty days, the complexion of his face was altered so that they were glad to put a veil upon it. In this low estate in which we are, we must make use of these hints. (3.) A spiritual body, either for agility. We shall not be clogged as now; we shall be caught up in the air to meet the Lord. Or rather a spiritual body, because more disposed for spiritual uses, for the enjoyments and the employments of grace. Here it is a natural body, an unready instrument for the soul: we are not in a capacity to bear the new wine of glory; but there we are made more capacious and stronger vessels to contain all that God will give out. The disciples fainted at Christ's transfiguration, Mat. 17:6. We cannot receive such large diffusions and overflowings of glory as we shall then have; every strong affection and raised thought doth overset us, and cause ecstasy and ravishment; but there it is otherwise: God maketh out himself to us in a greater latitude, and we are more able to bear it.

2dly, For the blessedness of the soul, which is the heaven of heaven. Our happiness is called 'The inheritance of the saints in light.' Col. 1:12, for which we must be prepared. It is not for them that know no other heaven but to eat, drink, and sleep, and wallow in filthy and gross pleasures; it is an inheritance in light, and for saints that know how to value intellectual and spiritual delights. Wherein, you will say, lies the happiness of the soul? in knowledge or love? Ans. Divines are divided; certainly in both. Our happiness consists in the love of God, and knowledge of God, from whence results union with God, and fruition of God. It is hard to say which is to be preferred, to know God, or love God. In one place the scripture tells us, 'this is life eternal, to know the only true God,' John 17:3; so that it seems to be the heaven of heaven to have the understanding satisfied with the knowledge of God: Ps. 17:15, 'When I awake I shall be satisfied with thine image and likeness.' On the other side: 1 John 4:16, 'He that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.' The embrace of the soul is by love, the possession of God is by acts of love. One saith (it may be not modestly enough), Libentius sine aspectu, et te diligerem, quam te videndo non amarem—that he had rather not gee God than not love him. Here in the world the hatred of God is worse than ignorance of him; and therefore, it should seem, love should have the pre-eminence. But we need not make a faction between the graces; by knowing we come to love, and by loving we come to know. As light is, so is love, and so is enjoyment. Here we love little because we know little: 'If thou knewest the gift,' &c., John 4:10; and the more we love, the more we know. This is a fire that casts light. But to speak more distinctly:—

(1.) There is the perfection of knowledge. All the faculties must be satisfied before we can be happy; especially so noble a faculty as the mind is. There is a natural inclination to knowledge; the soul takes a great deal of contentment in the contemplation of any truth. The knowledge of wisdom to thy soul (saith Solomon) shall be as the honeycomb when thou hast found it, Prov. 24:13, 14; Right and clear thoughts of God breed a rejoicing, Ps. 19:10. Well, then, this is no small part of our happiness, to have more light and knowledge of God and of his ways. We shall know many mysteries of salvation that we are now ignorant of; as the nature of God: Ps. 17:15, 'I shall be satisfied with thy image and likeness;' the union of the two natures in the person of Christ: John 17:24, 'They shall behold my glory;' our union with Christ and by Christ with God: John 14:20, 'In that day they shall know that I am in the Father,' &c.; the course of God's decrees and providences for our good: 1 Cor. 13:12, 'We shall know as we are known;' that is, we shall be able to see how the unchangeable counsels of God for our salvation have been carried on through all the passages of the present life, to bring us safe to the heavenly state. These are the deeps of God, and now there is darkness upon the face of these deeps. The church is but a grammar-school; heaven is the university. We shall have other eyes, and other light. Prophecy is but in part now, our intuition shall be then immediate: 1 John 3:2, 'We shall see him as he is;' now we see him not as he is, but as he is pleased to reveal himself; now we see what he is not—not corruptible, not mortal, not changeable—rather than what he is. Now we see him as he is in us, and as he is in other creatures. We track him by the effects of his power and wisdom and goodness; but then we shall see him as he is in himself, we shall see him face to face, 1 Cor. 13:12. In the creatures there is vestigium, the track and footprint of God; in the law there is umbra, a shadow; in the gospel, imago, an image, a fair draught of God as in a picture; but in heaven, face to face. We have excellent books to study the large manifestations of his glory, the majesty of Christ's person; we shall always sit about the throne, and behold God in the face of the Lamb; there God makes out himself in the highest manifestation that we are capable of.

(2.) Complete love. There is a constant cleaving of heart to God, without change and weariness; a love that never ceaseth working, and yet God in communion is ever new and fresh to us. If we delight in anything here, we soon grow weary and have a change of objects. Here are distractions and startings aside to the creature; but there is an eternal solace and complacency in God, a continual sabbath that never grows burdensome; all the heart and bowels run out after Christ; we never want the actual breathings of the Spirit. The Spirit came upon Samson at times; so it doth upon us here. Motions are fleeting and vanishing; but there Christ is a more lovely object, and the delights of the soul are carried out to him without any satiety. They are outward things that cloy the appetite; as soon as we have them we despise them; we sip, as the bee doth of the flower, and then goeth to a new flower. But there is an eternal complacency in Christ. Here we are troubled when we want outward comforts, and cloyed when we have them; because curiosity is soon satisfied, and fruition discovers the imperfections of the creature, so that the more enjoyed they are, the less beloved; as Amnon hated Tamar, &c. Imperfections that before lay hid, are then laid open to view, and so our affections are confuted by experience. But there the more we enjoy God, the more his infinite perfections are manifested, and the pleasure is augmented by enjoyment.

(3.) Complete union with God and fruition of God: see 2 Cor. 5:6, Phil. 1:23. Here we are united by faith; but that is nothing to sight and immediate tuition. We lay hold upon Christ, but have not such an absolute possession of him; he is a head that gives out himself not by necessity, but choice and pleasure; therefore our communion with him is not so high and sweet as then. The iron that lieth long in the fire seems to be changed into the nature of it; we are, then, more conformed and changed into the likeness of Christ. All the comforts that we have in this life, we enjoy in God's absence, and by the ministry of the creatures. Now, the creatures are not vessels capacious enough to convey so much of God to us as we shall receive when he is all in all immediately, 1 Cor. 15:24. There is no temple nor ordinances, but God is instead of all, without means or the intervention of such supplies. We feed among the lilies, but it is but till the day break, and the shadows fly away.

3dly, In our company we must be blessed. There is God, and Christ, and saints, and angels, Heb. 12:26. We shall see God in Christ. The bodily eye, that cannot look upon the sun, shall be perfectly sanctified, glorified; though it cannot see the essence of God, yet it shall see greater manifestations of glory. How will the Father welcome us as he welcomed Christ? Ps. 2:8, 'Ask of me and I will give thee,' &c. So 'Well done, good and faithful servant.' We shall not come into his presence with shame; sin causeth shame, and maketh us shy of God. As the eye cannot endure the light if it be wronged, so wronged conscience makes us afraid of the presence of God. But when sin is done away, we shall have boldness in that day. As we shall have the company of God, so of Christ: he cannot be contented without your company; you should not be satisfied without his: John 14:3, 'I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am you may be also.' Oh! what a joyful meeting will it be between us and our Redeemer, much sweeter than the interview between Jacob and Joseph. Christ longs for the blessed hour as much as you do. The wise men came from far to see him in a manger; Zaccheus climbed up into a tree to see him in the days of his flesh. He is another manner of Christ in heaven than he was in the days of his abasement. When Joseph discovered himself to his brethren, 'I am Joseph,' it revived their hearts. When Christ shall say, I am Jesus, your brother, your Saviour, your Redeemer; when he shall lead us to God in a full troop and goodly company, and say, 'Behold I and the little ones which thou hast given me,' Heb. 2:13, what a blessed sight will that be! Then the angels, what welcome will there be between you and them! When Christ entered into heaven, Ps. 24, they entertained him with applauses and acclamations: 'Stand open, you doors, stand open; here is the King of glory, the Lord strong and mighty in battle.' So will they welcome the saints to heaven with acclamations. They delight in the good of men. When man was created, 'The morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy,' Job. 38:7; that is, the angels rejoiced and praised God. When Christ came to redeem man, a heavenly host fell a-praising God, Luke 2:13, 14. When man is converted, the scripture tells there 'is joy in heaven,' Luke 15:7. So when we come to be glorified, Christ shall come with troops of them to conduct us into those everlasting mansions. The saints, your acquaintance, with whom you prayed, suffered, familiarly conversed—memory is not abolished in heaven, but perfected—those whom we knew here, we shall know again. A minister shall see his crown, and the fruit of his labours: 1 Thes. 2:19, 'You are our crown,' &c. And those that have been relieved by us shall welcome us into heaven, who, therefore, are said to receive us into everlasting habitations, Luke 16:9; yea, we shall know those whom we never saw; why else is it made a part of our privilege to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob? Mat. 8:11. As Adam knew Eve, and, in the transfiguration, Peter knew Moses and Elias, dead many hundred years before, so shall we know one another. We shall not go to a strange people, where we know nobody. As men at a feast are social and familiar one with another, we shall be discoursing of God's wisdom, mercy, justice, in the work of redemption—so did Moses and Elias with Christ, Luke 9:31—of the wonderful providence of God in conducting us to glory, as travellers in their inn take pleasure to discourse with one another of the dirtiness and dangers of the way. And these saints are clothed with majesty and glory, more lovely objects than ever they were upon earth; and there is an innumerable company of them. They were rapt for joy when they saw but two prophets, Moses and Elias, Mat. 17:4. But heaven is not only called a palace, but a city, a world to come. There is a multitude which none can number.

3. Whence it is that they who die in the Lord are sure to be thus blessed.

[1.] From their union with Christ.

[2.] From the covenant of God with them.

[1.] From their union with Christ, which can never be dissolved. Death severeth body and soul, but not Christ and the soul. From this union there result two things—conformity with Christ in every estate, and the communion of the Spirit; both which do imply the blessedness of the saints even after death. They that are united with Christ do share with him in every estate, in grace here and in glory hereafter. As to both, they are predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ, Rom. 8:29. And where the Spirit once dwelleth, there he dwelleth for ever; and therefore, from the indwelling of the Spirit of holiness doth the apostle infer our resurrection to a glorious estate, Rom. 8:11. And that losing nothing which Christ speaketh of, John 6:39, I would interpret of his not losing one member or joint of his mystical body.

[2.] From the covenant of God with them. Christ proves the resurrection from God's being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Mat. 22:32. The argument stands upon three feet:—(1.) To be a God to any is to be a benefactor; for the tenor of the covenant on God's part is, I will be thy God, as on our part, you shall be my people; (2.) That God would be an everlasting benefactor; it implies an external communication of grace and glory, as Christ proves from Exod. 3:6, that God assumed this title after their death; (3.) This covenant was made with the whole man, not only with the soul but the body, and therefore they bore the mark and the sign of it, which was circumcision, in their bodies. And in Heb. 11:16, the apostle saith that because God had a heavenly inheritance to bestow upon the patriarchs, therefore he was not ashamed to be called their God, implying that if they had no other reward than what they enjoyed in the present life, God could not with honour (such was the slenderness and contemptibleness of their present condition) have owned such a glorious title and appellation as to be called the God of Abraham. What needs further arguing? the phrase itself imports what we assert When God promiseth to be a God to any, he maketh over his whole self, his eternity and infiniteness, for their comfort and use; and so in effect saith that he will be an everlasting benefactor to their whole persons in the way of an infinite power.

Let us now apply all.

1. Because this privilege is expressed with a limitation, it informeth us that the wicked are excluded; they must expect a quite contrary estate; as they that die in the Lord are in a blessed, so all others in a cursed condition. It is a sweet close when the body and soul part, but God and the soul meet; when conscience shall become our compurgator, and bear us witness that we have spent our time well, in fearing God and obeying God; then may the body and soul take leave of one another with an expectation to meet again in glory. But it is a sad parting when conscience falls a-raving, and the body and the soul accuse one another. The body accuseth the soul as an ill guide, and the soul the body as an unready instrument. And at the day of their death, which is the time of separation, they curse the day of their birth, which was the time of the first union between them both, when they shall wish that they had been stifled in the womb, and had never seen the light, rather than to have lived together in such a fashion, and to part in such manner. Now, this many times is the case of wicked men at their death; death cometh to them as a double evil; as a natural evil, striking the body and dissolving the confederacy and union between it and the soul; and as a penal evil, or the curse of the first covenant, wounding the conscience, and reviving their bondage and fears of a worse judgment to ensue. And then, though physicians and ministers be sent for, they may both prove of no value, either to prevent the dissolution or to give ease to the conscience.

2. It presseth us to provide for this hour, that when we come to die we may die in the Lord. Get an interest in Christ, that you may die in the Lord as to your estate. Security will not hold out when you launch into the other world; a wicked man comes to himself when he comes to die; at his latter end he shall be a fool, Jer. 17:11. He was ever a fool, but then he shall be one in the conviction and acknowledgment of his own conscience, his own heart will make him cry out, O fool, madman that I was, to be contented with such slight evidences for eternity! You see, then, it is good to be upon sure terms, and to get our union with Christ so clear and sensible, that when we walk in the valley of the shadow of death we may not be afraid, Ps. 23. As to the frame of your hearts, it is a harder matter to die well than you are aware of. If you would die well, live well, otherwise you do but provide matter of despair and sorrow for your latter end. It is every one's wish, Oh, that I might die the death of the righteous! Num. 23; but it is not every one's happiness.

If you would die in the Lord, you had need to have promises ready, and your faith well exercised, that you may have good proof of it before it comes to stead you in death. In bello non licet bis peccare. As in war, so in death; there is no erring twice; then you are to throw your last cast for everlasting woe or weal, to do that which you never did before: you had need of armour of proof to deal with the last enemy. How foolishly do they deal that defer all to this hour, and are then to get faith when they should reduce it into practice; faith is a grace wrought by degrees to strength and perfection. Now to put it to the hardest trial at first is absurd and irrational. You should have your evidences clear, your promises ready, your experiences at hand, that you may be able to comfort yourselves and to plead for God, and to speak to the standers-by of the long proof you have had of his being a good Master and a gracious Father to you. How is it, then? Are all things set at rights between God and your souls? Have you laid up comforts for this great day of expense? Is your dying speech ready? Are you provided of experiences whereby to commend the mercifulness and faithfulness of your Redeemer? Can you say that you have tried him often, and he never failed you all your days? If it be so indeed, your great work is done.

3. Use. To encourage the children of God to be more willing to die. Are you afraid to enter upon your own blessedness and glory? Will you shun Christ's company when he desires yours? Love brought Christ out of heaven that he might be with us; he thought of it before the world was, Prov. 8:31, and longed for the time, in effect saying, When will it come? We are to go from earth to heaven, from conversing with men to converse with angels, and why so loth to remove? What could Christ expect upon his coming into the world but hard usage? but labour, and griefs, and shame, and death? He came to taste the vinegar and the gall; we are called to the feast of love, to taste of hidden manna, and the rivers of pleasure that flow in his presence. If you love Christ, why should you be unwilling to be in the arms of Christ?—to be there where he is, beholding his glory. Love is an affection of union, it desireth to be with the party loved; and can you be unwilling to be dissolved and be with Christ? Death is the chariot that is to carry you into his presence. Jacob's spirit revived when he saw the waggons which Joseph sent to carry him into Egypt, Gen. 45:27. What is there in the world to be compared with heaven? Either there must be something in the world to detain us, or we are frightened at the terribleness of the passage, or else there is a contempt of what is to come. You cannot say anything in the world is more worthy than Christ; in this sense you renounced father and mother, brothers and sisters, wife and children and friends, when you were first acquainted with him. It was the language of your souls then, 'Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth that I desire besides thee,' Ps. 73:25. Did you dissemble then? or have you found cause since to retreat and begrudge your affections to him? Christ puts you to the trial when sickness comes; he hath sent his waggons to see if you will stand to your word. Is it the terribleness of the passage? Doth nature grudge at the thought of a dissolution? Where is your faith? Death is yours, 1 Cor. 3:18, your friend, your advantage; Christ hath assured you of it. Will you trust his word? You love him little when you have no confidence in what he saith. Or is it contempt of things to come? Then why is all this cost? why came Christ to lay down his soul to purchase that which you care not for? what needs all this waste? Christians here for the time to come, we know not how soon we may be sent for and put to the trial. It is good to be resolved, that we may say the sooner the better.

4. Let this comfort us concerning our friends that die in the Lord: 1 Thes. 4:18, 'Comfort one another with these words.' This is proper, Christian, scripture comfort. Heathens, to comfort one another, can only say that death is the common passage out of this world, that all that are born must die. But Christians can comfort one another upon better terms, that they that sleep in Jesus are blessed; and shall we whine at their preferment? that we shall all meet again in the other world; that a day will come when the Captain of our salvation will have his great rendezvous, and the head of the church call all the saints into one congregation, Ps. 1:5; and the whole flock shall follow the great Shepherd of the sheep into their everlasting fold, triumphing and saying, 'O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?' These are comforts proper for Christians; especially for ministers, that are messengers of comfort to others, that have more frequent advantages of meditation upon those privileges than others have. Shall we murmur and yield to sinkings of heart when God hath made a breach upon our relations? How will this disparage our doctrine, and make others suspect the comforts which we reach forth to them upon like occasions? 'Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees; but now it is come upon thee and thou faintest; it toucheth thee and thou art troubled,' Job 4:4, 5.

To comfort others and faint ourselves is to bring a discredit upon what we propound to them. Remember the glory of God is concerned in your behaviour under this trial, and the honour of your ministry. Let your Christian friends know there is a reality in what you have held forth for their support in like case. Let them see you make it your care to practise your own doctrine. We are set forth for signs. God's eyes and men's are upon us; do worthily and becoming your station.

It is true, God comes near when he separates those that are so near and dear one to another, and we ought to lay it to heart; but that wherein you are like to err is in too much sorrow and dejection of spirit; which may be your wisdom to labour to prevent, as being seemly for a Christian and a preacher to show his moderation. We find that Abraham mourned for Sarah; and he had great cause so to do, for she was a very good companion to him in all his travels and troubles; she was very pleasing in his eye in regard of her beauty; she brought him a child in his old age, the son of the promise; she is honoured in scripture above all other women of her age; the time how long she lived is set down, which is not done for any other woman. At her death Abraham mourns, but very moderately; he wept for her, but we find no excess in the measure or in the time of his grief; and he is a good pattern. David weeps for the death of his child while it was alive, for he feared it would die; and the thing he feared came upon him: but when they thought that upon the death of his child his tears would have risen to a flood, it was suddenly a low ebb; and he gives herein instruction to all mourners, and to you, teaching you to say, 'Wherefore should I now fast and weep any longer? I cannot bring her back again: I shall go to her, but she not shall return to me;' and plainly asserts that none should mourn more than they can give a good reason for: 'Why should I now mourn?' You know it is no other than we ought daily to expect and look for here below,—vicissitudes, namely, and changes. And you will soon meet her again in heaven, where (as I conceive with Austin) she shall be notissima tibi. And in the meantime, in your enjoying Christ you enjoy her still in him. And all the helps, advantages, sweetnesses, counsels, consolations, satisfactions, defences, carings, cordials, contentments, whatever was lovely in her, whatever you loved her for, you still enjoy in him, either by the administration of other mediums, or immediately from himself; and what comes from God immediately is much sweeter. You have cause rather to be thankful you enjoyed her so long, than sorrowful you can on earth enjoy her no longer. I know not whether her religion, worth, and holiness, will serve more to aggravate your loss, or to allay your sorrow. It is sad to think you have lost such a loving, humble, godly, and meet companion. But remember, that because she was such an one, you have the more confidence that she is blessed, and is gone from you to better company, even to the company of saints free from all sin and all sorrow, full of holiness and happiness; of angels too; of Jesus Christ too, the King of saints, the Lord of angels; he that so loved us; he that did so much, suffered so much for us; he whom the fathers before his incarnation so longed to see; he whom every believing soul so pants and breathes after. Which that it may the more sensibly appear, I shall here take occasion to subjoin her just and true character.


SHE was a gentlewoman born, of the house of the Wintringhams, a family of eminency and note in Yorkshire. Educated and trained up from her childhood, till married, under Dr Chaderton, Master of Emmanuel College in Cambridge, that famous godly man, and her near kinsman; by reason whereof she was, even in her younger years, so grounded in knowledge, seasoned with grace, and accomplished with abiliments and endowments every way, that she was a most rare and incomparable companion for a minister.

Some things there were wherein she was exceeding exemplary. As she was a woman of a marvellously humble spirit; that all who knew her and conversed with her, admired in her; and it was abundantly evident and apparent in her countenance, speeches, gestures, apparel, and every way.

A simple, single, plain-hearted woman; 'An Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile.'

A merciful, pitiful, charitable woman. Open-hearted, open-handed too, to her power, yea, and beyond her power—spared it from her own back and belly to clothe and feed others—gladly embraced occasions when offered, yea, greedily sought out occasions. Her love was not verbal only, such as that James speaks of, 'Go and be clothed, go and be warmed,' &c., but real. She refreshed the bowels of many. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon her, and she made the widow's heart to sing for joy. When the Scots were shut up and starved by thousands at Westminster, she very frequently visited them, and ministered to them; yea, bought divers of them with her own money, gracious good men, whom she fed and clothed, and disposed of into families and ways wherein they live to this day very comfortably. When the Scotch ministers and others were under restraint in the Tower, she was not ashamed of their chain, but diligently sought them out as soon as she heard of them, and was all the time of their long confinement a great support and comfort to them. She had not only learned the heathen's lesson to lay up, but the Christian's lesson too, to lay out according as the necessities of the poor members of Jesus Christ called for it.

A true mourner, one that laid to heart, and was affected, deeply affected, with the sins and abominations of the times, with the miseries likewise and distresses of the church and people of God—made the church's sorrows her own sorrows—had bowels of compassion in her to lament and mourn over the afflicted condition of the church, as if it were her own condition—remembered them in bonds, as bound with them, and them that suffered adversity, as being herself also in the body. The heart-breaking miseries of poor Scotland broke her heart. She could not speak of them without many tears.

A fixed, established, grounded Christian; not like those the apostle speaks of, Eph. 4:14, that were κλυδωνιζόμενοι καὶ περιφερὀμενοι, like clouds in the air, or like ships on the sea, tossed and hurried up and down with every wind and wave, driven to and fro, this way and that way, but like a house built upon a rock, like a tree firmly rooted, a fixed star; no wandering star (wandering from one opinion to another, and from one way to another, but a fixed star), kept to her old principles and to her old practices, the good old way, the way the patriarchs and the prophets, and the apostles and the holy men and women in the old time (1 Peter 3:5) went to heaven in—the way of sanctifying God's sabbaths, the way of frequenting public ordinances, the way of performing family and closet duties, the way of reading the scriptures, meditation, self-examination, &c. And for the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, she received it constantly, as oft as it was administered in the congregation whereof she was—never missed once.

One that filled up her relations to the very utmost that it is almost possible to do. One that did abound in love to God, to his ways, ordinances, truths, people. 'Hereby shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,' says Christ; and this evidence she had in visible characters. Wherever she saw aliquod Christi, as Luther speaks, there her love was fixed; were it in rags or robes, poor or rich, all one for that. All that were dear to God were dear to her soul.

No wanderer from house to house, and idle squanderer away of her precious time in complimental visits. Had learned to keep at home; and that is the duty, the wisdom, the honour too of a woman. Sarah was found in her tent still, and Jael in her tent.

This I mention because she was much blamed by many for not going to christenings and burials, &c., as if she did it out of pride and self-conceitedness, and contempt and disdain of others, or out of a sullen retiredness and affected privacy; whereas she did it out of mere conscientiousness of her duty. And she had many reasons why she did it; as, partly, because her eldest daughter dying in childbed, she and her child both, about eight years since, she found that such meetings renewed upon her afresh the remembrance of that very great loss; partly because she saw so much gallantry and bravery in apparel, &c., at such meetings, as did not a little trouble her; but especially because she saw it to be so much a waster of much precious time, which she knew how to make a better improvement of.

What shall I say? In a word, she was a pattern of mortification, of self-denial, of contempt of the world, of strictness and holiness, and close walking with God, both in her general and particular calling, to all that were about her while she lived.

And in the time of her sickness, so patient, so contented, so willing to be at God's dispose, either for life or death, so fearful lest there should be so much as in her heart any the least risings against God's dispensations, so full of sweet, holy, heavenly instructions, exhortations, counsels to her husband, to her children, to her friends. Her lips were like a well of life, feeding many, as Solomon speaks, dropping like a honeycomb.

I might enlarge; but shall conclude all with that of our Saviour (John 14:28), when his disciples sat blubbering and weeping and taking on, because he had told them he must now leave them in regard of his bodily presence, and go to heaven, go to his Father: 'If you loved me,' saith he, 'if you loved me, you would rejoice, because I go to the Father.' Oh, how well it were if you could do so! And do it. You say you loved her, show it; and show it in this way—show it in rejoicing rather than in mourning—in rejoicing in her gain, rather than in mourning in your own loss. It is true the loss is great. The family, the city, the nation, the whole world, indeed, has a loss. Good men and good women, such as have an interest in God, and a heart to improve that interest, as they are a public good whilst they live, so their loss is a public loss when they die; and in that respect you have cause to mourn. But otherwise, in regard of her, no cause at all, but rather to rejoice. For why? Though she is dead, she is dead in the Lord. And this blessed condition we have been speaking of all this while, it is undoubtedly her condition.

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