Page images

written, the joy of dying and surviving christians, in whatever circumstances they might die or survive. And these consolations are, indeed, like some kinds of rich perfume, which retain their fragrancy from one age to another : but with this glorious difference, that whereas those cordial productions of nature gradually lose their sweetness, though by slow degrees, these consolations rather grow more and more powerful, as the great objects of that hope which they administer come nearer and nearer to us.

Attend to them therefore with faith, and you must surely, if you are indeed christians, attend with pleasure. Let the most pained heart, though contracted with the most distinguished share of sorrow on this mournful occasion, open itself to these comforts; and let the dejected, weeping, overflowing eye, be raised to meet so glorious a prospect. For I say and testify to you by the word of the Lord, as spoken to us by that illustrious apostle St. Paul, that the pious dead are not perished; but that if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we have all imaginable reason to depend upon it, that such as sleep in Jesus God will bring with him : For the Lord Jesus Christ himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the arch-angel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first : Then we also, i. e. those of us christians, who in our different generations are all but one body, who remain alive, shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort ye one another with these words.

Lift up your heads, oh! ye mourning christians, to survey more distinctly this delightful prospect. Lift them up with joy; for your redemption, and that of your now lamented friend's, most assuredly draweth nigh.

The grave is continually multiplying its triumphs ; and with how many of its affecting trophies are we here surrounded ! we die by the righteous sentence of God against sin, against the first sin of the common founder of our race: But as by man came death, by man comes also the resurrection of the dead; and as we are bearing the image of the earthly Adam, and shall ere long like, him, return to the dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

It does not surely seem an incredible thing to any of us, that God should raise the dead. And if it seem not incredible, it cannot possibly be thought inconsiderable : especially when we reflect on the glorious manner, in which the resurrection VOL. III.

3 E

of the just is to be accomplished. Our Lord Jesus Christ will see to it, that it be done ; yea, he will himself be present at it : it shall be done by his express care, command, and power. The Lord himself will descend from heaven on this account, while all his celestial attendants shall shout forth their joys on the illustrious occasion. And the first thing which he does upon that descent, even before he takes any visible and distinct notice of the saints then alive, will be to call out of their graves those that sleep in him: as if he were impatient of that bondage in which their bodies had been detained, and a declared enmity against that destroyer. O death, says he, with a majestic indignation, I will be thy plagues ! Repentance shall be hid from mine eyes. I will not leave thee one of my servants to triumph over : however obscure in life ; how long soever forgotten in the dust; I will redeem all my Israel, and not a hoof shall be left behind.

And, oh, let us consider in what forms they sball appear : He will change these vile bodies, that they may be fashioned like unto his own glorious body, according to that mighty power whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself: Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in Victory : not the least trace of it remaining in all the redeemed world : nothing by which it could be known, that any one of all the thousands and ten thousands of God's Israel had ever been for one moment under its power. Glorious display of the royalty and magnificence of God's love to his people! That though it be not in itself absolutely necessary to their happiness ; yet the meaner part of their nature shall be rescued from the abasements of the grave, and not only recovered, but beautified, invigorated, and adorned !

Nor is this to be merely the triumph of one public and solemn day. It is added, as the crown of all, so shall we ever be with the Lord ! And let it be remembered, that it is said, not of the apostles alone, or of those, who like our reverend father, whose remains we now attend, have borne sacred offices in the church, and honoured God in them by distinguished services; but it is said of every true believer, and was intended to include us, on whom the ends of the world are come, who are, so far as our character answers our christian profession, as dear to Christ, as if we had lived seventeen hundred years ago, and ministered to him, or to his apostles. And how much is implied in this? We shall be with Christ! Glorious hope, worth dying for? Who, that indeed loves him, does not say in his heart, even now, with all these solemn ensigos of death

ember, we are to beiety too: and what is a kind of

before his eyes, I desire to depart and to be with Christ: And let the worms destroy this body, and let the tomb press it down: May but my enlarged spirit soar up to him, though corporeal delights, and creature converse were to be known no more! But you will remember, we are to be with the Lord in our complete persons, and in one complete society too: and what is the crown of all, and affords, in a few words, if I may so speak, a kind of infinite delight, we shall be for ever with him. Nothing shall ever separate us from him ; nothing imbitter, nothing interrupt, so much as for a moment, the pleasure of our endeared converse with him.

And now I will appeal to you, my dear friends, who are most painfully wounded by this sad stroke; and to whom all the tender names of father, and pastor, and friend, are grown sounds of sorrowful memorial, in proportion to the degree in which they were once delightful ; yet I will appeal even to you, if these are not good and comfortable words, fit for an apostle to write, and for God himself to dictate to his mourning children. It appears from what I have been saying, that it is well with our dear departed friends who sleep in Jesus: they are sealed up among God's treasures: They enter into peace, they rest in their beds; and they shall rise from them in the morning of the resurrection, not like Lazarus, with his grave clothes about him ; but dressed in the robes of glory and immortality. And if this were all that could be said with relation to them, were it not to sound reason and a lively faith much, were it not abundantly enough to vindicate the kindness of God's dispensations towards them, though they might seem for a short moment, while they lie in the dust, as under his rebukes? were it not enough to awaken our congratulations rather than our condolences? Yet to increase the pleasure, with which we look after these beloved objects, now removed from our sight, we are farther told, and it is by no means to be forgotten, that even now, while absent from the body, they are in an important sense and degree present with the Lord; and so present, that their most intimate converse with him on earth was, in comparison with this, but absence from him. It is then well with them indeed ; and it shall be well with us too, if we are christians; so soon, so certainly, so entirely well, that I wonder at the weakness of our minds, that they should be so much depressed with this short separation: for these very scriptures assure us, we shall meet with them again; for they and we being with the Lord, we must be with each other. What a delightful thought is this! when we run over the long catalogue of excellent friends, which we rashly say we have lost, to think, each of us, I also shall be gathered to my people, to those whom my heart still owns under that character, with an affection which death could not cancel, nor these years of absence erase. Nature takes a fond kind of pleasure in the secret thought, that with regard to some of them, our coffins shall in a little time stand by theirs, and our dust must be mingled in the same grave. Poor trifling comfort! as if dust could tell where it was, and with what it was mingled. But the gospel assures us, that if we be followers of them, who through faith and patience do now inherit the promises, our spirits shall ere long join with theirs, in the services and pleasures of the heavenly world. And how far will this be beyond all that pleasure with which on earth we have taken sweet counsel together, and gone to the house of God in company! And it also assures us, that, at last, we, who have taken our parts in the sad procession of mourners, that conveyed them to this house of darkness and silence, if we indeed believe in him who is the resurrection and the life, shall also have our place in that bright procession, in which Christ shall lead them on to the gates of glory, in that day, when he will say, in a yet more important sense than he did in the day of his agony, and with his expiring breath, “ It is finished: the purposes of my dying love are completely accomplished, and my people are what I always intended they should at last be, and always rejoiced in the views of making them.”

Only let us all suffer the word of exhortation, and make it our care, that seeing we look for such things, we receive Christ Jesus the Lord, and walk in him. It is a terrible, but most certain truth, that there are many who wear the name of Christ now, whom he will at last disown, and will say to them, Depart from me, I know you not whence you are. It is most certain, we must be united to Christ by faith now, and conformed to him in true holiness, or we shall have no part or lot in this matter. Let us therefore gird up the loins of our mind, let us renew our resolution, and our watchfulness, and so hope to the end, for the grace that shall be brought unto us at the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, when he shall administer to all his faithful servants an abundant entrance into his heavenly kingdom. Amen.






Who died October 26, 1751, in the Fiftieth Year of his Age.




LATELY Under the Pastoral Care of the Rev. Dr. Doddridge; Grace, Mercy, and Peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

MY DEAR FRIENDS, THOUGH providence has removed me to a distance from you, I share largely in those sorrows, with which your ininds are filled on account of the death of your learned, pious, and excellent pastor; an event which all our churches greatly and justly lament. When he assigned to me the work of preaching the sermon on that occasion, he was sensible my respect for you, as well as for him, would not suffer me to decline it. In compliance with his desire the following discourse was drawn up, in the best manner I could, amidst the languors of an infirm constitution, and the interruption of many necessary avocations. And it had been long ago preached among you, had not a wise providence permitted an unhappy accident to befal me, which confines me at home. It is the most grievous circumstance in this affliction, that I am prevented from visiting you, performing the service assigned me by my ever-honoured friend and father, and personally suggesting to you such consolations and advices as may, in present circumstances, be peculiarly useful. To supply this lack of service, I am constrained to send you the discourse from the press: And this, I hope, will be a sufficient apology with those, who may think itunworthy of public regard. It is some satisfaction to me to reflect, that discourses, on such solemn occasions, have been attended with great usefulness, especially to the acquaintance and friends of the deceased, which has often flowed, not so much from the thoughts and advices contained in them consi

« PreviousContinue »