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I hope you will excuse my warmth on this occasion. I wish I had no ground for it. But the shafts of death fly thick around us. You cannot but miss many whom you saw here a few sabbaths ago; and some of them younger and stronger than most of you, particularly that dear youth, whose sudden and much lamented death has forced this train of reflection from me.
Such a dispensation ought to give particular warning to all; but to you more especially his dear companions and school-mates, I would apply myself; not doubting but the moral of his death will be acceptable to you, however unfavourably grave and serious subjects are generally received by persons of your years.
From the example before you, let me intreat you to be convinced that you hold your lives on a very precarious tenure, and that no period of your age is exempted from the common lot of mortality. But a few days ago, the deceased bore a part in all your studies and diversions, and enjoyed a share of health strength and spirits, inferior to none here. You all knew and loved him, and I beheld many of you bedewing his grave with becoming tears. Oh then! let it be your care so to behave yourselves, that, at whatever period you may be called from thence, you may fall equally beloved, and equally lamented.
Indeed, if any external circumstances could have arrested the inexorable hand of death; if any thing that nature could give, or a liberal education bestow, could have saved such a rising hope of his country; late, very late, had he received the fatal blow! He bid fair to have been the longest liver among you, and my eyes would have been for ever closed, before any one had been called to pay the tribute due to his memory. But the disease was of the most obstinate kind. All the power of medicine, and all the love we bore to him, could not gain one supernumerary gasp. He fell in his bloom of youth; and, as I long loved, so I must long remember him, with pious regard.
To the will of Heaven, however, mine shall ever be resigned. "Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil also? The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord?" I sincerely believe that my dear pupil, your deceased school-mate, is now in a far better state than this- He has happily escaped from a world of troubles. He has but just gone a little before us, and perhaps never could have gone more beloved, more lamented, or more prepared for an inheritance in glory.
What stronger proofs of affection could any one receive than he did? Though at a distance from his immediate connexions, strangers tended his sick-bed with paternal care. Strangers closed his eyes, while their own trickled down with sorrow. Strangers followed him to the grave in mournful silence; and when his dust was committed to dust, strangers paid the last tributary drop?
Yet, after all, to have a son so loved and so honoured, -even by strangers, and to be surprised with the news of his death before they heard of his sickness, must be a severe blow to the distant parents
But, why, alas! did this thought occur? Again my affections struggle with reason—again nature, thou wilt be conqueror—I can add no more.—I have now done the last duty of love—let silent tears and grief unutterable speak the rest!
Comprising The Chief Heads Of The Foregoing
FATHER of alll still wise and good,
Save us from fortune's hollow smile,
Sometimes thy chast'ning hand employ,
Oft let us drop a pensive tear,
Teach us, while woes and deaths are nigh,
• The learned reader need not be told that the author here had Mr. Gray's beautiful Hymn to Adversity before him.
IN CHRIST CHURCH, PHILADELPHIA,
JANUARY 10, 1762.
FUNERAL OF THE REV. ROBERT JENNEY, L. L. D.
RECTOR OF THE SAID CHURCH.
LUKE, xvi. 2.
Give an Account of thy Stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer Steward.
JLvENDER up your stewardship—give an account of your conduct—thundered forth by some powerful superior, who will brook no delay—what a tremendous summons is this?
Hear it ye rich, and ye poor; ye rulers, and ye subjects; ye pastors, and ye people! Whether there be committed to you ten talents, or one; whether your stewardship be in things spiritual, or things temporal—hear it and be instructed! The last knell of expiring time; the trump of God calling us to his judgment-seat; ought not more deeply to alarm us, than this awful summons of the Gospel; which, though it is daily heard by us, has its moral but too much daily neglected.
Various are the methods by which God's wisdom thinks fit to call sinners to repentance, in the scriptures. Sometimes in language, soft as the breathings of love divine; sometimes in notes, severe as the voice of offended maj^ty; sometimes by the gentle allurements of promised rewards; and sometimes by the awful denunciations of a judgment to come.
Our blessed Redeemer, in the preceding chapter, had been preaching up the most comfortable doctrine of his father's free grace, manifested in the remission of sins, and his readiness to receive and embrace returning penitents. The love of God in this, and his planning from eternity a method of bringing home lost souls to himself, through the all-perfect satisfaction of a Saviour, are most beautifully and tenderly set forth in sundry instructive parables; such as a shepherd's leaving ninety-nine of his sheep in the wilderness, to look after one lost, and calling all his neighbours to rejoice with him on finding it! Such as a woman's searching carefully for a piece of lost treasure, and communicating her joy to all around her on the recovery thereof! And, above all, such as that of an indulgent parent, receiving back to his bosom even a prodigal son, that had wasted his substance in riot and intemperance.
But all these soft and winning descriptions were lost upon the hardened pharisees. Our Saviour, therefore, addresses them in a very different strain. He lays before them this parable of the steward, called suddenly to account before his lord and master, thereby intimating to them, in colours the most striking, that however light they might make of the Gospel overtures in the day of grace, a time would come, and that suddenly too as a thief in the night,