Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

invaluable men in the British Empire. When I tread this consecrated spot, I recollect that it contains the revered ashes of the inestimable Bunyan, Owen, Howe, Watts, and of

many

other eminent saints, whom our departed friend esteemed as the excellent of the earth. I have been led to this observation, as he devoted much of the period of his protracted illness to the reading of Howe's Blessedness of the Righteous. He often referred to this work, and spoke much of the pleasure and profit which he had derived from its perusal. I feel confident that he is now gone to join the spirit of its pious and happy author, in adoring that glorious Redeemer whom they mutually loved.

The scenes which this day present themselves to our view, are of universal interest. : The spoils of Death consist of persons of all descriptions, and of all ages. The rich and the poor, the old and the young, here meet together. The lessons of instruction which arise out of the dispensation of Providence which we are about to improve, are also of a mixed nature; they address consolation to the saint, but the most solemn warning to the sinner. Although the greater part of this audience, it is reasonably to be hoped, are genuine and decided Christians, who are assembled from a principle of friendship to pay a token of sincere and ardent affection to the memory of the deceased, as an eminently excellent character both in public and in private, yet I have no doubt that some have been attracted by mere curiosity. To such I would say, You are strangers, it may be, to the truth and power of real religion, and are living under the influence and in the love and practice of sin. Presuming upon the vigour of your constitution, and perhaps upon your youth, you say, like the man alluded to in the parable of our Lord, 'Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years: take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.' But mark the issue: “God said unto him, Thou fool! this night thy soul shall be required of thee.' What, then, is the language which our departed friend would have used, if he had instructed me how to conduct the service of this day? He would have said, “Speak not much of the dead, endeavour to benefit the living. To the thoughtless, the disobedient, and the unholy, I therefore address the solemn warnings and exhortations of God's word. Remember that

you
must die--that you may

die soon—and that you may die suddenly. “Prepare to meet your God.' · Be ye therefore ready: for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh. Be admonished, that it is the greatest folly to neglect the soul, and awful beyond description to die in that neglect.

But what is death?—for various opinions are entertained as to its nature. The man who denies the representations of it contained in the Scripture, and questions the very authority of the book itself, adopts another standard, and of course draws a very different conclusion. His bible is the dim light of natural conscience, and the dogmatical

[ocr errors]

decisions of proud and unsanctified reason, which asserts that death is an eternal sleep—a total annihilation! Such persons are bold and daring in their unbelief, and prove the truth and correctness of the apostle's prediction, “There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.' These sceptical notions not only contradict the truths of Scripture, but they are calculated to produce the most baneful effects upon mankind at large, as they subvert the very foundation of moral obligation and social order, and weaken that respect for the public laws, and for the duties of domestic life, which ought to be universally observed. When men believe that there is no future judgment, it is natural for them to throw the reins upon the neck of their lusts, and say, 'Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.'

If we derived our opinion of death from many nominal Christians, we should only allow it to be the debt of nature; and not perceiving its real character or consequences, we should content ourselves with a cold and flimsy morality, instead of those rich blessings and solid hopes which are revealed in and communicated by the gospel, which furnish the only appropriate and efficient source of the Christian's triumph over death and the grave, and which filled and sustained the soul of our departed friend.

Though we reject the gloomy and comfortless doctrines of sceptical philosophers, yet death is truly a solemn and awakening subject: for, as the apostle Paul remarks, By one man's offence sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.' Yes-Death has 'a sting.' It is the king of terrors :' therefore we need not wonder that some are all their life-time subject to bondage through the fear of death :' and many more would be so, were it not for the promise and hope of a blissful immortality.

In endeavouring to impress the minds of this large assembly with a consciousness of the vast importance of death, I feel myself at a loss for suitable words and ideas. I have reflected much upon

this solemn subject, and have seen persons of all ages and characters in dying circumstances. I have eagerly listened to their sentiments and language, and have diligently marked their anxieties, their fears, and their hopes : and yet, after all, it is impossible for me, or for any one on this side the grave, fully to describe what it really is to die. There are, however, some things connected with this awful change, which deserve our most serious consideration. The hour of death will be a period of universal and strong recollection. The whole of our lives will then pass under a close and solemn examination. Conscience, acting the part of a faithful monitor, will bring to remembrance the thoughts, words, and actions, which have long been buried in forgetfulness, and which, during the time of health and prosperity, seemed to require no scrutiny. Our sins of omission and commission, gathered into one page, and written in large and legible characters, will then be presented to our astonished minds. Scarcely a duty neglected, a privilege slighted, or a sin committed, but what conscience will detail, and place in the strongest point of view. What mind will be able to bear this tremendous sight, or what can be the result of our guilt, but terror and despair, except we are enabled to believe and embrace the glorious gospel of Christ, which brings 'life and immortality to light?' Here we find a suitable and an all-sufficient remedy. This gospel presents to the view of the agitated and burdened conscience; a gracious, an almighty, and a compassionate Saviour; and it assures us of the delightful and soulanimating truth, that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.'

Again: death is the period of our separation from our long-established and most endeared connexions. The king of terrors' is a cruel and relentless foe. Steady to his aim, and persevering in his course, when he seizes the appointed victim, he tears asunder all the tender ties of which human nature and social life are susceptible, and shuts his ears against the deepest tones of grief and agony which are occasioned by his approach. In vain does the fond mother implore the life of her darling infant! In vain does the affectionate

« FöregåendeFortsätt »