It was the great work of her life to get ready for death. She began it early and went on with it daily, and with great success. She often reflected upon the several ages of her life, and very penitently bewailed the sins of her childhood and youth, as well as of her riper years, to the last, and could never be satisfied till God spoke peace and pardon to her soul in the blood of Christ.

It was in her youth – I think about the 20th year of her age – that God gave her the sure pledges of his love and clear evidences for eternal life. And for fifty-six years after, to the day of her death, she lived in comfortable communion with God and joyful expectation of the promised inheritance.[1] She carefully laid her foundations at first in God’s Covenant with Christ (and with sinners in him) and her own hearty consent to that Covenant;[2] and then built upon God’s promises,[3] Christ’s righteousness,[4] merits and mediation;[5] and would often say, though it should sometimes ‘rain in at the roof’, she must not therefore ‘pluck up the foundation’, or suspect her safety from every shock or flaw or failure in the course of her life and actions.

She did not only believe, but knew in whom she believed and to whom she had committed herself and her eternal all[6] – and with the greatest satisfaction and assurance left them there.

She was always complaining of a corrupt nature, and many times of an evil frame of heart and departures from God in times of duty, but still she anchored her soul on Christ and kept hold on God’s Covenant, and her hope was steadfast even to the end.[7]

She was often taken into God’s banquetting house, where she had the displays of his banner of love.[8] What special remarks has she in her diary upon some days and upon some hours, as giving her greater pleasure than all the rest: O joyful morning, never to be forgot! – Blessed day of God, a day of heaven to my soul! – This day in God’s court was better than a thousand! [9] – O how the face of the dear Redeemer shone on his unworthy dust in that ordinance! – O the fulness of joy and ravishing consolation of the Spirit of God this morning in my closet![10] – Was ever such grace as this? What shall I render to the Lord? [11]

She lived long at the gate of heaven,[12] and knew where she was; and therefore no wonder she so earnestly desired to enter in. How often would she say, The blessed hour will come! – How fain would I enter into the heavenly courts – When shall I see God? [13] – O how long to get out of the tents of Kedar,[14] and to be at rest! – Come Lord Jesus! Come quickly! [15]– I love my relations on earth, yea, I love them dearly; but I cannot but love my God and Saviour, and love them better: O for that life of purity, and love, and joy, where everything will be as I would have it!

[1] Galatians 3:18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Hebrews 9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

[2] ‘The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed’; ‘The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provideth and offereth to sinners a Mediator, and life and salvation by him; and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him, promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation’ (Answers to Questions 31 and 32 of the Westminster Assembly’s Larger Catechism).

[3] Hebrews 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

[4] Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. ‘Such as will be found in Christ, must have a righteousness, the meritorious righteousness of Christ, to answer the demands of the law, and a personal righteousness of their own, to answer the commands of the gospel’ – William Burkitt (1650–1703), commentary on the same.

[5] William Burkitt (1650–1703): ‘he that is evangelically just or religious, shall live a life of grace on earth, and glory in heaven, by faith in Christ; that is, depending upon the merits and righteousness of the Mediator, in the way of holiness and strict obedience to his command’ – commentary on Romans 1:17.

[6] II Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

This was a favourite verse of Elizabeth Bury, and the text preached upon by William Tong at her funeral.

[7] Hebrews 6:19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.

[8] Song of Solomon 2:4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

[9] Psalm 84:10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand.

[10] Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

[11] Psalm 116:12 What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?

[12] Genesis 28:16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

[13] Job 19:25–27 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

[14] Psalm 120:5–6 Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar! My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace. Song of Solomon 1:5 I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.

Kedar was Ishmael’s son, from whom the Arabians were descended, who dwelt in black tents: it was used by Puritan writers to represent darkness, persecution, dwelling amongst the ungodly, and remoteness from the true worship of God; also used of the poor tabernacle of the mortal body.

Joseph Alleine (1634–68), imprisoned for his nonconformity, had used a similar expression in a letter to his wife, ‘My treasure is in Heaven, and my heart is in Heaven. Oh, when shall I be where my heart is? Woe is me that I sojourn in Mesech, and dwell in the tents of Kedar’ – Christian Letters (London, 1672).

Sarah Savage, sister of Matthew Henry, unable to attend public worship on the Sabbath, records in her diary for April 14, 1723: ‘I prayed sincerely for those who go abroad for help for their souls, while poor I sojourn in Mesech and Kedar…what dear rent does the soul pay for this earthly tabernacle!…This should make me long for the everlasting Sabbath. Then no indisposition. Nothing to clog or hinder the full enjoyment of God to eternity. Hallelujah!’

Matthew Henry (1662–1714): ‘Our present residence is but like that of a shepherd in his tent, a poor, mean, and cold lodging…which will easily be taken down by the drawing of one pin or two. But observe, It is not the final period of our age, but only the removal of it to another world, where the tents of Kedar that are taken down, coarse, black, and weather-beaten, shall be set up again in the New Jerusalem, comely as the curtains of Solomon’ – commentary on Isaiah 38:12

[15] Revelation 22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

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