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PSALM xxxvii. 37:
Upright ; for the End of that man
ONE need to be informed why these
tokens of mourning are stretched around
cause God hath made a folemn breach upon it: He hath taken another of his dear and valuable Servants to himself, One who hath been long, and greatly known, (and that particularly by you of this Church of Christ) as a faithful Minifter, and an affectionate Pastor, for your Souls.
Yesterday his remains were committed with a decent solemnity to the Tomb; on which solemn occasion, the Church's and the World's Lofs in the extinction of so considerable a Light, was briefly but affectionately represented by a Reverend and Worthy Brother *. This Day we are met together to pay the last public Debt of Christian Respect to his Memory and Worth ; or rather to attempt, with the divine Blessing, some religious improvement of a providence, which so highly deserves our most devout, and affectionate Régards.
* The Reverend Mr. Samuel Brewer.
Death, at whatever season, and in whatever form, affords a very affecting and an instructive scene. A parting time between the 'dearest friends! a dissolution of the most important connexions and most engaging tyes! the tyes whether of Nature, or Friendship, or Grace, how affecting, how folemn, to every thinking mind ! and a scene it is as instructive as it is solemn. That Wisdom which is from above will powerfully engage our attention to the silent Language of the Coffin and the Tomb. In itself, indeed, the lesson which they teach is altogether gloomy and affrighting; it draws a dreadful dark veil. over human Nature and all its Glories ; puts a final period to all our present poffeflions and pursuits, and pronounces in Language which cannot be misunderstood, " That Man in his best Estate ® is altogether Vanity.” But when we turn to the lively Oracles of truth, to the Word of faith which is preached among you, what a different and blissful prospect opens to the Christian's Eye! another, a brighter World above, an everlasting Rest, a fulness of Joy, which lie beyond the grave. This is the animating truth the Pfalmist is inculcating throughout this facred Ode. The perfeet the upright Man; whatever, of clouds and darkness, of storms and tumults, of dangers and fears, now ruffle aud disturb his Breast, while on his paffage here below; yet ere long he will attain to the sweet land of Rest; his latter End shall be assuredly crowned with everlasting peace, tranquillity, and joy. For the present, indeed, the wicked may seem to prosper and spread forth his branches, as if they were to be ever green, ver. 35. but it is appearance all, and nothing more. For the Transgreffors shall be destroyed, the End of the wicked shall be cut off, ver. 38. In
( 3 ) direct and beautiful contrast with which awful truth, stands the striking and chearing passage, we have singled out, to employ our serious meditations, in the present service. Mark the Perfeet Man and behold the Upright, for the End of that man is Peace. Words, which afford us several most weighty notes of Instruction. They inform us--" That among Adam's guilty and dege“ nerate Race, there are some to be found, who " by the grace of God, answer to the Character “ of perfect, upright persons— That these, how
ever excellent and eminent in their Day, must
come to their End here, as well as others.“ However, that the End of all such, whenever “ it shall come, will be peaceful and happy.6. And therefore it is the Duty and Interest of us “ all, suitably to mark and observe all such per$6 sons, both in their Lives, and in their End."
The pertinency of these Remarks, will, I hope, fully appear by a distinct, tho’ brief Enquiry, into the following particulars. 1. Whom are we to understand by the perfect
and upright Man ? II. How, and in what respects, the End of
such will be Peace? III. In what way, and to what Ends, ’tis our
Duty and Interest to notice all fuch, both in their Lives and Deaths ?
I. Let us attend a little to the character of the persons, who are here intended; whom are we to understand by the terms here used ? The Perfect, the Upright! True, it is easy to conceive that such shall be ever blessed with the favour, and the smiles of a righteous and holy God; but where can such an one be found among all the B 2
fons of imperfection and woe? - Righteousness, Uprightness, Perfection, are terms which bespeak the rational Creature's due and becoming conformity to the Law or Will of his Creator. Our text says, mark Perfection, behold Uprightness, &c. but who, where, is the man to whom perfection may be ascribed? If (says the Apostle *) we say we have no fin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. There is not a just man upon earth who doeth good, and finneth not t.
To obviate an objection - which entirely veils the comfort and glory of the text, it is necessary to observe, there are two kinds of perfection of which the Scriptures speak.
1. There is a legal Perfection. The Law of our Creation was a transcript of the divine Holiness, founded on the Nature as well as on the Will of God; its requirements therefore are exact, and its fentence uniform; it pronounceth none Perfect but tho‘e who yield an absolute and sinless obedience to its commands. The End was God's glory and the felicity of his Creature. Accordingly man was endowed with a perfection of nature suited to his Relation and End; his capacities and powers tallied exactly with the purity and perfection of the Law he was under, God made man upright; he was formed after the bright and perfect image of his Creator, came spotless and pure out of his Maker's hand, and an obedience inost flawless and entire was, in a state of Innocency, both man's attainment and Delight. But alas ! how foon, how suddenly, is the Gold become dim, and the fine gold tarnished and changed I! All flesh hath corrupted its wayMost certain it is, that all have sinned, and are come short of the Glory of God II. But
2. There John i. 8, † Ecc. vii. 2e. Sam. iv. 1. | Rom. üi. 23,
( 5 ) 2. There is also an evangelical perfection. By the breach of the Law, or first Covenant, there is an End of all perfection, by that tenure. Law, be it moral or ceremonial, maketh nothing perfect, relative to the finners conscience and state. It requires perfection, but it gives none; unless it be that of misery to those who die in their fins : But, blessed be God, the bringing in of a better hope does * The new Covenant, which is ratified and sealed by the blood of the Mediator, opens a new, and effectual door of hope to the Church of God; purity and perfection How from a new and everlasting source ; a perfect righteousness for the Juftification of a Believer's Person, and the Spirit of Holiness for the renovation of his heart and nature, are the two grand Articles of new-covenant provision. Tho' the perfection of innocency is not to be found amongst sinful men, yet are those to be found among them, who according to the tenor of the Covenant of Grace, are not only called to be perfect, but are declared to be fo: Of holy Job 'tis faid, the Man was perfeet and upright, one that feared God and avoided Evil t. Of Noah also 'tis witnessed, that he was a just man and perfeet in his Generation I. Abrabam also chearfully received the divine injunction, Walk before me and be thou perfeet |, &c. Yet it is well known these ancient worthies were not without their sinful imperfections, and infirmities many
It is evidently in this new-covenant, evangelical sense and usage of the terms, that we are to understand the text before us.
Men, who are yet in this imperfect world, and state ; men who are sensibly surrounded with infirmities and sins, to
their + Job. i. 1. I Gen. vi. 9. | Gen. xvii, 1.
* Heb. vii. 19.