Page images

and duty dearer than life. He could not but be conscious of the distinguished profession he had made, under a religious character; he could not but be sensible, how much our army, in circumstances like these, needs all that the most generous ex, amples can do, to animate its officers and its soldiers : And therefore, although when his men would hear no voice but that of their fears he might have retreated without infamy, he seems deliberately and rightly to have judged, that it was better he should sacrifice in such a cause the little remainder of his life, than attempt to preserve it by a conduct, which might leave the least room even for envy and prejudice to suggest, that the regard to religion and the public which he had so remarkably professed on all occasions, was not strong enough to lead him to face danger and death, which natural bravery itself had in early youth taught him to despise. He had long since felt the genuine force of honour sanctified by piety ; and consequently, had too just a zeal for his king and country, to bear the thought of de. serting the trust committed to him in such an important mo. ment; too warm a love for the protestant religion, not to rejoice in a call of providence to bleed in its defence. And there. fore, that he might make the last and utmost opposition in his power to a rebellious crew, by whose success, should it go on, an inlet would be opened to the cruel ravages of arbitrary pow. er, and to the bloody and relentless rage of popish superstition, he Loved not his life unto the death *. And in this view his death was martyrdom, and has, I doubt not, received the applauses and rewards of it: For what is martyrdom, but volun. tarily to meet death, for the honour of God, and the testimony of a good conscience ?

And if it be indeed true, as it is reported on very consider. able authority, that before he expired, he had an interview with the leader of the opposite party, and declared in his presence " the full assurance he had of an immortal crown, which he was going to receive,” it is a circumstance worthy of being had in everlasting remembrance: As in that case providence may seem wonderfully to have united two seemingly inconsistent circum. stances, in the manner of his dying ; the alternative of either of which he has spoken of in my hearing, as what with humble submission to the great Lord of life he could most earnestly wish: “ That if he were not called directly to die for the truth," which he rightly judged the most glorious and happy lot of mor.

[ocr errors][merged small]

ct and mohat glorioued to the pon to bi

tality, “ he might either fall in the field of battle, fighting in defence of the religion and liberties of his country; or might have an opportunity of expressing bis hopes and joys, as a christian, to the honour of his Lord, and the edification of those about him, in his departing moments; and so might go off this earthly stage,” as in the letter that relates his death, it is expressly said that he did, triumphing in the assurance of a blessed immortality,”

How difficult it must be in our present circumstances, to gain certain and exact information, you will easily perceive : But enough is known,' and more than enough, to shew how justly the high consolations of that glorious subject, which we have been contemplating, may be applied to the present solemn occasion. From what is certain with relation to him, we may presume to say, that after he had adorned the gospel by so honourable a life, in such a conspicuous station, God seems to have condescended, as with his own hand, to raise him an illustrious theatre, on which he might die a venerable and amiable Spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men*; balancing to his native land by such an exit, the loss of what future services it could have expected, from a constitution so much broken as his was, by the fatigues of his campaign in Flanders, where by his indefatigable services in a very extreme season he contracted an illness, from which he never recovered.

On the whole therefore, whatever cause we have, as indeed we have great cause, to sympathize with his wounded family, and with his wounded country, and how decent soever it may be, like David, to take up our lamentation over The mighty fallen, and the brightest weapons of our war perished t; and oh, how naturally might some of us adopt the preceding words too! Yet after all, let us endeavour to summon up a spirit, like that with which he bore the loss of friends, eminent for their goodness and usefulness. And while We glorify God in him I, as on so many accounts we have reason to do, let us be animated by such an example to a resolution of continuing like him, stedfast in our duty, amidst desertion and danger, and all the terrors that can beset us around. As he, having been so eminently fạithful unlo death, has undoubtedly received a crown of life, which shines with distinguished lustre, among those who are come out of much tribulation g; let us be courageous Followers of him, and of all the glorious company of those, who through

* 1 Cor. iv. 9. •+ 2 Sam. i. 27. Gal. i. 24. Rev. vii. 14.

hat can urto death distinction

faith and patience inherit the pronises *. Then may we be able to enter into the comfort and spirit of them all, and of this promise in particular; and shall not be discouraged, though we are called to Endure a great fight of afflictions t, or even to sacrifice our lives, in defence of our religion and liberties : Since in this cause we know, if we should fall like him, even To die is gain I. We are assured upon the best authority, that as he Fought the good fight with so heroic a fortitude, and finished his course with so steady a tenor, and kept the faith with so unshaken a resolution, there is laid up for him a crown of brighter glory than he has yet received, which the Lord the righteous Judge will give unto him in that great expected day : And we know, that it shall be given, not unto him only, nor only to those who have had an opportunity of distinguishing themselves by the most heroic services or sufferings in the cause of their divine leader, but unto all them that love his appear. ance g. Amen.

* Heb, vi. 12.

Heb. x. 32.

$ % Tim. iv. 7, 8.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


CHRIST'S MYSTERIOUS CONDUCT TO BE UNFOLDED HEREAFTER: i Funeral Sermon occasioned by the Death of the Rev. Mr. James Shepherd

who died May 19, 1746, Ætut. 22. Preached at Northampton, May 25.

John xiii. 7.

What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt kuow


DUR Lord Jesus Christ has in all ages taken care to exercise te faith, the patience, and submission of his people: And he has dne it, while carrying on the kindest designs towards them, ad while he has been acting in the strictest prosecution of those dsigns. He was now engaged in a work of astonishing condscension and goodness : The disciples saw it with amazement, tht he, the Son of God, and the heir of all things, the promised Mssiah, the King of God's church, should condescend to wash thir feet. Peter could not bear the thoughts of permitting it: Ad that occasioned the words I have now been reading ; in włch we have a general truth delivered by our Lord, which it is pratable for us frequently to reflect upon, and the reflection is noi peculiarly seasonable.

The words presented themselves to my mind, as soon as I heal, to my unspeakable surprise, the melancholy tidings of the dea) of my dear pupil, and friend and brother, who but the very last sacrament-day was with us at the table of the Lord, and "ho but a few days before had been speaking to us in his nam When I heard, that God had by a sudden stroke, which left is friends in a mixture of astonishment and distress, taken awayne so richly adorned with gifts and graces, so well qualified fo public usefulness, just as he was entering upon it, just as he wa unanimously chosen to preside over a numerous and importat congregation, and was within a few weeks more to have gone timi us to have taken up his stated residence among them;

« PreviousContinue »