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man—" All things have I seen in the days of my "vanity. There is a just man that perisheth in his "righteousness; and there is a wicked man that "prolongeth his life in his wickedness." This, indeed, considered by itself, would seem a hard dispensation; to behold the good, the wise, the virtuous, snatched away in the prime of life, or the full meridian of their public usefulness, whilst the wicked, the idle and the useless, sometimes continue in the world to the utmost length of nature's span. This would seem inexplicable, if it were not for the consideration of the world to come, and what the prophet directly adds to alarm and awaken us; namely, that "the righteous are taken away from the evil to come." That is to say, the great and gracious God, when they have arrived to the fulness of honour and usefulness, in mercy takes them from all future danger of falling by temptation, or losing the glory they have acquired.
The ancient Christians, besides the solemnity of their funerals, were wont to meet at the graves of their martyrs and saints and holy men, to recite the history of their sufferings and triumphs, and to bless God for their holy lives and happy deaths, offering up also their prayers for grace to follow their good example. And for this they seem to h^ve had St. Paul's express authority, and especially respecting the preachers and teachers of the word of God. For he exhorts the Hebrews to " remember them who had spoken unto "them the word of God, whose faith follow, consi"dering the end of their conversation."
In this important light, we must long remember pur worthy and venerable brother, who hath been called suddenly, (but, we have every ground to believe, not wholly unprepared) to exchange his pulpit for a coffin, his eloquence for silence, and his eminent abilities in doing good for darkness and the grave.
In the service of his country, during our late contest for Liberty and Independence, he was near and dear to our illustrious commander in chief—he was also his neighbour, and honoured and cherished by him as a pastor, and friend—When, on the conclusion of the war, he returned to his pastoral charge, and our church in these states, in the course of divine Providence, were called to organize themselves, as independent of all foreign authority, civil and ecclesiastical, he was from the beginning elected the chief clerical member to represent the numerous churches of Virginia in our general conventions; and highly estimable he was amongst us. He was a sound and able divine, a true son, and afterwards a father, as a bishop-elect, of our church; with his voice always, with his pen occasionally, supporting and maintaining her just rights, and yielding his constant and zealous aid in carrying on the great work for which we are assembled at this time.
Full of a devout desire for the final accomplishment of this work at the present time, he came to this city; but it hath pleased the sovereign goodness otherwise to dispose of him, and to call him, as we trust, to become a member of the church triumphant in Heaven.
* At Alexandria in Virginia. (
With Christian patience and fortitude,' though at a distance from his family and'his nearest relatives and friends, he sustained his short but severe illness. Friends nevertheless closed his eyes—Friends and brethren now accompany him to the grave, mournful as to the flesh, but joyful and thankful to God in soul and spirit for his past usefulness and example.
But I hasten to a conclusion. Funeral addresses are intended only for the benefit of the living. Be, therefore, the virtues and example of our deceased brother long precious amongst us; but let us dry up our tears, and silence every vain complaint. Let us not question the dispensations of Providence; nor murmuring, ask—Whether it were not to be desired, that men endued with eminent talents to serve their country and families, should be long preserved in health of body and vigour of mind; and that the hour of their death should be protracted to the latest period of old age? Say we not so. For the commander of an army best knows when to call the centinel from his post. Every man in this world hath his office and station assigned by Heaven, and continueth therein so long as it pleaseth the supreme Ruler; and he that performeth his part best and liveth well, may be said to live longest.
Seeing, then, my brethren, that, by the faithful discharge of our civil and religious duties, we may overcome death, be prepared for eternity, and leave our names sweet to the world behind us; let us take for our example the virtue and goodness of our departed friends, and be persuaded that there is no honour, no happiness to be acquired here on earth, equal to that which we derive from acting our part with dignity; stedfast in the practice, as well as profession, of our holy religion; zealous for the happiness of our country and mankind, and always delighting in acts of love and goodness. The regard which is paid to such characters as these, will grow with their growing years; and when they come at last to take leave of this world, whether at an earlier or later period of years, as they have lived the life of the righteous, their latter end will be like his.
And as, by the lives of such righteous men*, we are taught how to live and to overcome the world; so by their death we may be instructed how to die, or to subdue death! For, whence comes the fear of death, but (as hath been observed before) " because we seek to have our portion in this world, and cannot brook to let go our hold;" never considering that Christ hath slain Death on his cross, and hath " brought life "and immortality to light by his Gospel."—And, therefore, however abject and little man may appear, viewed as he is in this world, with all the evils of life —the dross and dregs of his mortality—about him; yet, considered in respect to another world, and as a candidate .for eternity, he appears illustriously great, even amidst his sins and sufferings, when he may be thought least, in common apprehension.
It is a grand description which is given of the Angel in the book of Revelation, who came down from Heaven to proclaim destruction to time—" He had in "his hand a little book open: and he set his right "foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, 44 and cried with a loud voice, as u hen a lion roareth: 44 and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their 44 voices. And when the seven thunders had uttered 44 their voices, I was about to write; and I heard ar 44 voice from Heaven saying unto me, Seal up those 44 things which the seven thunders uttered and write 44 them not. And the angel, which I saw stand upon 44 the sea and upon the earth, lifted up his hand to 44 Heaven, and sware by him that liveth forever and 44 ever, who created Heaven, and the things that 44 therein are, and the earth, and the things that 44 therein are, and the sea, and the things which are 44 therein, that there should be time no longer.'" But far greater is the true Christian in the act of death —He sets one loot in the grave, and the other in the very porch of Heaven; being enabled, through Christ, to proclaim destruction to death and the grave—" O 44 death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be 44 thy destruction—O death, where is now thy sting! 44 O grave, where is now thy victor}!"
* As some pages have been transferred from the first edition of this Sermon [See the note, page 401] some additions have also been made to supply their place, beginning page 42 ; on the use of funeral solemnities, and the commemoration of the virtues, and if need be, even the vices, of the tii tut, for the benefit of the living. VOL. I. G
Then, too, can he add, without fear, ." Farewel, my body, my mortal part! Why shouldst thoU my soul, be loth to part with thine old companion, to leave thy clay cottage, and to be without a body? —Behold, thy Maker, and the spiritual and heavenly inhabitants, have no gross bodies such as thine! Hast thou ever seen a prisoner, when his jail doors were broke open, and himself manumitted and set loose at liberty?—and have yon then heard him complain to