« FöregåendeFortsätt »
JOHN xi. 25, 26.
"I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
HAVING expatiated at large upon BAPTISM, CONFIRMATION, and MARRIAGE, we would now solicit your attention, while we dwell, for a short time, upon the BURIAL SERVICE. You may consider that there will be much in the subject to throw a gloom over the spirit, and to revive the mournful recollection of friends who are no more. But so far from this being the case, this beautiful office has totally a contrary tendency. In short, it is intended to con
vey consolation to those who are sorrowing
as men without hope;" and to establish in the mind of the mourner the fact of there being a resurrection,-of the mortal putting on immortality, the corruption incorruption, and the dead rising to the life which is eternal.
It appears very meet and right that some religious service should be performed over the dead. Not that it advantageth the dead at all, for as the tree falls so must it lie, but the advantage belongeth unto the living. It is not my intention to notice the various ceremonies observed by the ancients over their dead, and the various modes they observed upon the occasion; suffice it to say, that burial was always performed with due solemnity. Indeed, the very heathens called it a divine institution', and a law of the immortal gods'. And, whether in the Jewish or Christian Church, a religious service has always been observed. Now our object is, my brethren, to show the
1 Isocrat. Panathen.
Euripides in Supplic. Sophocles in Antigon.
scriptural tendency of the office appointed to be read by our Church at funerals.
It is very natural for those who attend the burial of their relatives to be oppressed with grief and disquietude; therefore, the Church has deemed it proper to select sentences to be read by the minister when he meets the corpse, in order that the disconsolate hearts of the attendants may be cheered, and their souls fortified with the grace and love of God. The first of these sentences we have chosen for our text, as being very appropriate for the occasion. When the brother of Martha was dead, Jesus, drawing near to the grave, used these words, for the purpose of consoling the mourners, and assuring them that the dead should again rise; from whence they have been deemed proper to be used in the Burial-service in almost all the churches'. And what words, we ask, my brethren, can convey greater comfort to
1 Aug. Verb. Apost. Serm. 35. Durand. Rational. 1. vii. c. 35. Eucholog. Offic. Exequ. p. 527.
the soul than these? We behold the coffin containing the corrupted mass of perhaps our dearest friend. Here, then, is enough to oppress the heart, and to wring the mind with anguish; but Jesus assures us that it shall again live. "I am," says he, "the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." The next sentence in our service expresses Job's religious hope and faith in God, and is very suitable for the occasion.
"I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh. shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold and not another." How vast is the consolation to those who can from their hearts say these striking words! The assurance of our friends again living is a source of comfort, that no words can possibly express. It is, indeed, a glorious faith. Death may beat down those whom I love the dearest
upon earth. The grave may
up. The worm may prey upon them. Corruption may dissolve them. Earth may return to earth. The winds may scatter the particles. But, "I know that my Redeemer liveth." I know that I shall rise again, and those who have been consigned to the hollow tomb, shall throw off, at the sound of the last trump, the burden of the grave, and shall bloom afresh with the life that is in Christ Jesus. Oh, glorious faith! Faith that turns my mind from perishable objects to those that are eternal! Glory be to God on high for this comforting revelation, that he hath impressed upon the hearts of men!
The third sentence in our service is equally cheering, and calls forth the exercise of that patience and resignation, which are the characteristics of the faithful Christian. "We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out; the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Why, then, should we be sorrowful? We brought no friends into this world with us,