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condition, were it not for the joyful assurance which our text holds up for the renovation and support of our sickly faith.
Behold, in full view before us, that yawning grave! On its brink, is deposited the breathless clay, the earthly house, of a venerable brother, a servant and minister of Christ! It is for a moment deposited, to give us pause for reflection, and vent for the tribute due to the memory of virtue and worth. That pause ended, the stedfast grave will do its part; and embracing, in firm hold, what we commit to its keeping, would leave the awakened tear to flow forever, sorrowing over our mortality, did not St. Paul come to our aid; teaching us to wipe that tear away, and to console ourselves with the joyful assurance, that the earthly deposit before us, from a tabernacle of clay, shall yet rise up a building of God, a house not made with hands, capacious of immortal glory, honour and immortality!
Unprepared and disinclined, on the present sudden and interesting occasion, to enter upon a critical explication of this difficult, yet comfortable, text (in whatsoever sense considered), I shall not detain you to enquire from it—Whether the body, or earthly house of our present mortal tabernacle shall, upon its divorce from the soul by death, be immediately clothed upon with some other more celestial and incorruptible body; or whether it shall continue naked and unclothed upon, till the morning of the resurrection.
It was the doctrine of the illustrious Plato, who (without the external and revealed light of Christianity) reasoned so well concerning immortality and a
world to come, that the soul, or heavenly spark within us, could not subsist of itself, nor act without some kind of body or vehicle; and therefore the followers of his doctrine contend for an intermediate state between death and the resurrection, and think that the body, upon its dissolution by death, is immediately clothed upon, or changed into some other fit vehicle for the soul.
St. Paul, however, gives no countenance to this doctrine, in the text. The celestial clothing, which he speaks of, is something peculiar to the saints who shall be with the Lord; and not to be looked for till after the redemption of the body, and that blessed period of the resurrection, “when this mortality shall "be swallowed up of life ;-when the trumpet shall "sound, and the dead shall be raised, and this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal "must put on immortality."
Most comfortable to us, when we go to the house of mourning, is either of those doctrines; but we are to understand St. Paul in the latter sense, and then by the due use of reason, enlightened by the blessed considerations and doctrines of our text, after the example of the apostles and saints, and pure professors of Christianity in every age; death might be disarmed of his sting and spoiled of his victories*. For, however terrible death may appear to the sinner with all his engines of destruction about him; yet
• The Sermon is abridged here, by removing a few pages from the first edition of the same, to their place in the Sermon next following, to the text of which, 2d Timothy, chap. IV. they have a more immediate affinity.
to those who have sought and found an interest in Christ Jesus, death hath lost his mighty terrors; and although the grave itself, which (considered as the door of another world, the entrance into eternity) appears so gloomy and awful to mere flesh and blood; yet to the just, to those who live by faith, earnestly longing and groaning to be clothed upon with their heavenly house, the grave appears more beautiful than the gates of paradise itself, for at the gates of paradise, upon the banishment of our guilty first parents, the angry cherubim, with his flaming sword, was placed to forbid all future entrance to any of mortal race; but angels of peace and love stand round the graves of the just, to shield them from harm and conduct them to glory!
By considerations such as these the approach of our own death will not only be reconciled to us, but on such occasions as the present, we may dry our tears, and commit to the dust the bodies of those who, according to our firm trust, have died in the Lord-believing that the angels of God have stood ready at their death-bed to receive their souls and waft them into Abraham's bosom.
We are now assembled to pay the last funeral honours to a minister of the altar, who has for many years been conspicuous in his station, both in public and in private life; and much might be said as applicable to the sudden and melancholy occasion of his death-And though the suspicion of flattery too often accompanies the funeral characters of the present day, yet it is for the interest of virtue and mankind that they should not be brought wholly into disuse. The
tribute of our praise and thankfulness to God is due for those who have, in some degree, been of benefit to the world, either in a civil or religious capacity, and who may be truly said not to have "lived to them“selves but for their country-her rights, her laws, "and her liberties, religious and civil; and, there"fore, at whatever stage of life they have died, they "have died unto the Lord"-They have died for us also, so far as we may improve their death to the great public and pious purposes, for which such holy solemnities, as the present, were first appointed, by the wisest nations. For
1st. They were appointed for the express purpose of commemorating the public virtues of the dead, nay even their crimes; for if they have been injurious to mankind, they may be held up to censure, with the great intent of leading mankind to imitate the former, and to abhor and shun the latter.
2dly. Such solemnities are intended to bring us into a proper familiarity with ourselves and our mortal condition; that we may be preparing for death, and enabled, through the grace offered us, to overcome his terrors!
Upon each of these heads, I shall beg leave seriously to address you on the present occasion.
On the first head, I say that to shed a few tears over our deceased friends, and even to set apart some decent and proper part of our time as days of mourning, is not only agreeable to the voice of nature, and the earliest examples of venerable antiquity; but likewise fully warranted by divine revelation itself.
"It is better, (says the wise man), to go to the "house of mourning than to the house of feasting." A constant course of prosperity is apt to intoxicate us, and to make us forget either from whence we came, or whither we are going. It is often necessary that misfortune (or what we partially consider as such) should lay to her hand and check us in our wild career, either in depriving us of those we hold dear, or by other visitations. For thus shall we learn lessons which in our more prosperous moments we should never regard; and while, in veneration of the illustrious dead, we are led to exchange the accustomed walks of pleasure for the house of mourning, and to bedew its sacred recesses with tears of gratitude to their memory-in these serious and entendered moments, we are feelingly alive to the charms of virtue and dictates of religion. We strive to cloath ourselves with the mantles of the dead; to copy their laudable examples, and to catch some portion of the divine spirit wherewith they were animated, as it remounts from earth to its native regions in Heaven!
It was not only the manner of the Egyptians and Greeks, the fathers of arts and sciences, and of the chief heathen and moral wisdom, to celebrate the names, but also to embalm the bodies, of their virtuous dead, that they might be long preserved in view as public examples to others, and although dead yet speaking. Nor is the private unceremonious manmer which too much prevails among us in modern times, of huddling our dead into the ground, even without the appointed offices of the church, any good