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take leave of his prison-house, and refuse to forego his fetters? Or, hast thou seen a wave-worn mariner, who has long been tossed and troubled on his stormy voyage, when arrived in sight of his native port, refuse to strike sail and enter in; chusing rather to launch back again into the perilous main .'—Why then, my soul shouldst thou be thus fear-stricken and discomforted, at parting from this mortal bride, thy body? It is but for a time, and such a time as the body shall feel no need of thee, nor thou of her; and thou shalt again receive her back, more goodly and beautiful, purified and perfected by absence; like unto that chrystal, which, after the revolution of some ages, is said to be turned into the purest diamond? • •
Now, unto Him who, by his apostle, hath assured us that after " our earthly house of this tabernacle "shall be dissolved" and moulder into dust, we have "a building of God, an house not made with hands, "eternal in the heavens,"—unto Him be glory and dominion and praise forever! Amen.
TO THE READER.
THE following Sermons from 2d Thessalonians, chap. IV. were delivered in Christ-Church and St. Peters, Philadelphia; and begun December 1st, 1793, being the Sunday the Churches were first opened, after the great Visitation, by the epidemical sickness, commonly called the Yillow Fever.
CONQUERING AND CONQUERED.
FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE,
TO THE THESSALONIANS,
13. But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14. For if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15. For this we say unto you, by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.
17. Then we which are alire and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
iES, brethren and sisters! ye bereaved mourners for parents, husbands, wives, children and dearest relatives—say a solemn Amen—and " com"fort one another with these words"—For if there be consolation in Uiis world—amidst this suffering scene of Man—here it is complete—and revealed to us, by a divinely illuminated apostle of Christ—leading our meditations forward through all the future changes and periods of our existence and condition, as mortals and immortals, " to Death, a Resur"Rection from the dead, * future Judgment, and u an Eternal World to come."
The consideration of these subjects—the greatest and most interesting which can engage the heart of a Man or a Christian—(in the order I had designed) would have formed the concluding part of that body of sermons, which I had begun to deliver before these congregations, preparatory to their publication, agreeably to the request, and under the sanction, of the Bishops, Clergy, and Laity of our church, in general convention met*. Too long delayed (from that time indeed to the present) by the most serious familv concerns, added to unavoidable duties of another nature, public as well as private; and uncertain of the number of days, or months, or years remaining to me, but certain that they cannot be many, and those attended with the decay of mental as well as bodily faculties; I cannot now flatter myself with the hopes of completing the whole of my proposed system, or leaving it, as intended, to my friends and the public, as the weak, but best fruits I can offer, of my occasional ministry among them for near half a century past. And what, in that order of things, would have been last, now presses forward as first on my mind—— The impressions of the dreadful calamity, from which we who are alive, remain monuments of God's mercy in the midst of his righteous judgments, must have awakened and alarmed the most secure and thoughtless among us; and have made us feelingly alive to every sober reflexion that concerns our future state and condition—viz. Death, a Resurrection from the dead, a future Judgment, and the opening the heavenly paradise—the everlasting Kingdom of Glory, to the Redeemed of God—" to those who "sleep in the faith of Jesus."—For, amidst the shafts of Providence, which have flown so thick around us, and amongst us, where is the man or the woman in this assembly, whose bosom is not deeply pierced, or whose tears do not this moment flow, for the loss of some of those, who were lately nearest and dearest to him or to her? a husband, a wife, a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter? For me—ah! my throbbing breast—deep, deep, have the arrows* pierced—yet be still, in just resignation to his unerring will, who gives and takes away, by whom we live, move, and have our being—be still, while we proceed in the further review of this mournful groupe of departed friends and acquaintance! Who is there among us, who does not recall to memory many younger and stronger than themselves; between whose summons from this life and their commitment to that long home, the grave, few were the days or hours that intervened; while we yet remain, with time and opportunity offered, to examine the past, and to think of
* See the Preface to thit volume.