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COLONEL JOSEPH NICHOLSON,
GENESIS, Chap. kv. Ver. 15.
And thou shalt go to thy Fathers in Peace} thon shah be buried in a good old Age.
WE read here, Brethren, part of a Patriarchal Blessing—the Promise of God to Abram—a Blessing or Promise wished for by Many, obtained by Few, and revealed to Fewer still—but, without Promise, it hath been a Blessing propitiously bestowed upon our Friend and Fellow-Citizen; to whos« venerable Ashes we are here assembled to pay the last Honours of funeral Interment!—
The words of our Text were delivered to Abram, in a Vision of the Night, by the Almighty, and intended for his Comfort, at a Time when (finding old Age far advanced upon him) he laboured under great Sorrow and Affliction, "because he went Childless, and had no Heir to inherit either his Name or
, but that one, not of his own Bowels, was to Inherit the Whole."—
While the venerable Abram laboured under this great Distress of mind, "th_e word of the Lord "eame unto Him, in a Vision, saying, fear not "Abram—I am thy Shield and exceeding great Re"ward—And Abram answered;" Lord God! what w}lt Thou give me, " [or of what Service will all thy Kindness be to me? Although Thou shouldest be my Shield and Defence against all mine Enemies, and $hou|dest reward me with the longest Life, and largest Possessions, yet none of these Things can give me substantial Comfort]" seeing I go childless, and to me Thou hast given no Seed; and my Steward, £hip Eleazer of Damascus, (though a stranger to my Jftloqd, yet) is the only Perspn who deserves most to be my Heir.
Put the Lord answered unto Abram for his coinfort—" This Man shall not be thine Heir; but one that shall come forth out of thine own Bowels, jshall be thine Heir; and to shew Him further what a Multitude should spring from Him," .the Lord (conjjnu|ng to him the Piston of the Night) "brought him forth abroad, and bid him look toward Heaven— Try to,tell yonder Stars, if thou art able; for so [in Numbef] shall thy Seed be."
And now Abram, notwithstanding his former Despondency, believed in the Lord, respecting his future Seed; and also took the highest Comfort, through Faith, in the further Promise given him in our Text; namely—That after he had been blessed with a numerous Posterity—" He should go to his
"Fathers in Peace, and be buried in a good old "Age;" and this Faith of ~Abram, in the promises of God, as revealed to him in the Vision, "was •''' accounted to him for Righteousness."*
We see from this short-History, what God points out to Abram. "as an exceeding great Reward, and one of his highest Blessings upon Earth," namely, '" a numerous Posterity, and Irving to a good old Age;" having been useful and upright in our Day— virtuous Citizens, stedfast Friends, venerable Fathers and Mothers—and then at last, to depart in Peace with God and Man, full of Years, respected in our Neighbourhood, and almost addred in our Families!
How much of this Blessing was applicable to our venerable Friend now departed, (who was almost a Patriarch in Years and Progenyf) those who have known him nearest and longest can best testify. His numerous Family of Descendants bear full Testimony to one Part; and some of us can further witness, with great Truth and Feeling, how earnest and assiduous were his Endeavours to promote those public undertakings in which we have been engaged, for the instruction of the rising Generation ;:£ and other Works of common Benefit to the Country.
Zealous he was also for the advancement of Religion, and the support of its holy Ordinances; constant
* Gal. Chap. iii. Ver. 6.
t I have written to Alhcr Gallatine, who married his Grand-daughter, »nd his Grand-sor Joseph Nicholson, Member of Congress, (Vred up under my Care at Washington College) to send me the list of their Grandfather's Family, Children, &c.
\ The founding of Washington College, whereof he was th« oldest Visitor and Governor.
in his attendance in the House of God's Worship, and at the blessed Sacrament; of which he was ah ^earnest Partaker last Christmas-Day, although then labouring under many infirmities of Body, and expressing his full persuasion to Me, that it would be the last Christmas Sacrament he should ever receive—
And now bidding Farewel—a long Farewel— to the Deceased; let us, who are yet numbered among the Living, make some earnest inquiry—" How we may best be preparing ourselves to go to our Fathers in Peace, whether summoned from this World in our earlier Tears; or, peradventure, spared to a good old Age?"
Although old Age, by many, be not considered as such a Blessing, that we ought to pray for it to God; yet still, in Scripture, it is reckoned among the Blessings which God bestows upon particular Persons, for the special purposes of his Providence—as upon Job, Isaac, David, Jehoiada, who (like Abram) are said to have died of "a good old Age, or full of Days, Riches and Honours, while, to others, it is reckoned a blessing that their days were shortened;—as those of good " king Josiah, who was timely taken away, that he might not live to see the Evil that was to come." Moreover, Length of Days, is ordinarily called a blessing; inasmuch as it is promised in the fifth Commandment, as a reward of their Righteousness, that the days of those who obey their Parents, should be Long in the Land; and Samuel, by the command of God, pronounced it as a Curse upon Eli—" That there should not be en old man in all his family."
But tl\e truth is, that our gray bairs are only a Crpwn of GJpry jn this in.ajii of JUghteousness; and, in the W»f? way, the hairs, of youth itself, are full qf Honour and Glory. And since none of us have the promise of Abram, that we shall live to a good Old Age., let us be striving in time to live such a Life, as through the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, will prepare us to die in Peace, at whatever age we may be called.
To live thus is a Duty incumbent upon all; and upon the Young as much as the QUI. For suppose you are yet in the bloom of Youth, or at least are not past the middle stage of Life, and Time hath not yet showered his snows upon your heads;—yet still you are to consider, that your days are as fleeting and uncertain as those olgray Hairs.
I will, therefore, offer a short Address to those of every Age and Description, on this important subject. And first, to those of younger years, and upon whose heads, Time hath not yet showered bis snows.
Consider that even your days are as fleeting and uncertain as those of riper Age. If you survey yonder graves, you will see them of every size, and opening their months for every Age and description of MeP> from Childhood up to ripest years. Be ye therefore, always ready. No Meditation more serious, no Lecture in Philosophy more instructive, no Precept of jReligiqn more serviceable than the call to consider .the shortness and uncertainty of Life,—the vanity of all things in it,—the Misery and Frailty of