« 前へ次へ »
these offices of benevolence, so interesting to civil society and to the welfare of individuals, he laboured with great zeal and activity. And while he stirred up others to their duty, he failed not himself to set them an example. A narrow sordid spirit he abhorred: on the contrary, as he loved so he devised liberal things. Hospitality flourished in his house, and the assistance he cheerfully afforded to the poor, and to many useful schemes and institutions, received a check from no quarter but the duty he owed his family, and scarcely from that.
In the service of the churches far and wide, and especially in the west, he exerted himself with ardent zeal and indefatigable diligence. Of him it might be truly said, that the care of the churches came upon him daily a—care to supply those of them which were destitute with suitable ministers; to procure temporal assistance for such as were in deep poverty; to give advice upon questions of importance; and to compose differences, which tend to reflect a dishonour on religion, and unhappily obstruct its progress. Who was weak, and he not weak ? Who offended, and he burnt not b ? Many long and weary journies did he take to ordain ministers, to meet his associated brethren, and in concurrence with them to forward, by preaching and other social exercises, the cause of truth, piety, and love. But he did not always meet with those returns which might naturally be expected. On such occasions, however, he silently wept, committing his cause to God, and indulging no undue resentments against those who had failed in regard of affection and candour, as well as of that respect with which in point of common decency they ought to have looked up to him. But he was not to be discouraged by any of these painful circumstances, not by the unkindness of brethren, nor by the abuse of determined adversaries, from pursuing the path of duty, however rough, which Providence had marked out for him.
He often recollected the conduct and example of the apostle and his brethren in the ministry: nor could he easily forget what was their language under circumstances of peculiar discouragement. Giving no offence, say they, in any thing,
a 2 Cor. xi. 8.
that the ministry be not blamed; in all things we approve ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness, on the right hand and on the left, by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true: as unknown, and yet well known : as dying, and behold we live: as chastened, and not killed : as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing: as poor, yet making many rich: as having nothing, and yet possessing all things a. And however he was at times almost ready to faint, of which some tender expressions in his correspondence with me will not be easily forgotten; yet by the grace of God resuming his wonted resolution, he could add, · None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself; so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God b.'
One affliction however he met with in the close of his pilgrimage, which rapidly expedited the moment of his receiving a bright crown at the hand of Jesus his righteous judge. But deeply wounded as was his heart, fraught with exuberant and disinterested friendship, no wound given, whether intentionally or otherwise, could reach his name, which had been rendered dear to all who knew him by a steady course of virtuous and benevolent actions. Yes. He felt the wound. He predicted the event. The last enemy he saw making hasty steps towards him. But he was prepared to meet him. Often had he expressed to me his wish to be gone, to recline his weary soul on the bosom of Jesus, to join associated angels and saints, and to drink at the fountain head of those living streams which make glad the city of God.
In the interval between his first paralytic seizure and that which put a period to his life, he had the possession of his reason, although a general languor prevailed over his frame.
Acts xx. 24.
Great was the calmness of his mind, the gentleness of his spirit, and his patient acquiescence in the will of God; and with no small pleasure do his family recollect the pious and affectionate intercourses that frequently passed between him and them during his illness. Such was his concern to do good, that in the weak state he was a few days before his decease, he dictated a letter to a young friend and relation at a little distance, in terms which give a pleasing idea of the devout, tranquil, and benevolent frame of his mind. The cordial and tender manner likewise in which he often expressed his forgiveness of the injuries he had received, made a deep impression on the hearts of those who attended him; the remembrance of which, as it affords a striking evidence of his piety, they cannot but wish to retain, while at the same time they sincerely wish to forget the injuries themselves that were the occasions of it.
To such a degree of strength and vigour he recovered, in the course of about two months, from his first attack, that we began to flatter ourselves with the hope, that it was the will of Providence he should not only survive, but resume his former station of active usefulness. God however, in his infinite wisdom, had determined otherwise. On a sudden the shock was repeated, and left him for two days in a state of insensibility; at the close of which, the ninth of August, he gently fell asleep in Jesus, in the fifty-fourth year of his age. An age at which, in the course of nature, his continuance for ten or fifteen years longer might have been expected. In a sense however he might be said to have attained this last term, if we measure his life not by the efflux of time, but by the variety and multiplicity of his active exertions for the glory of God and the good of mankind.
And now having affectionately wept with the dear people of his charge, with our young brethren of whose studies he had the direction, with many a weeping church, and many a weeping friend; let us all mingle our tears with thoser of his surviving family, his numerous relations, and especially his deeply afflicted widow and children. Were it not, my friends, for the danger of touching too strongly your feelings, and giving
of his ar
a too sharp accent to your sorrows, I might go out in a description of the virtues he exhibited in each of these relations, of which you have had many endearing proofs. To say to you who had the honour to derive from him, that he tenderly loved you, and was solicitously concerned for your temporal welfare, is to say no more than is true of most if not all others in the like intimate connection. But when I remind
you dent wish and uniform endeavours to promote your best and everlasting interest, you have then in your recollection the noblest proofs of genuine affection and cordial friendship. But need I remind you of these things ? Methinks I have little occasion to do it now your minds are in so tender a state. You cannot forget, to use the language of Scripture, how affectionately desirous he was of you; how willing to have imparted to you his own soul, because ye were dear to him; and how earnestly he exhorted you to mind the grand concern, and to walk worthy of the religious privileges.you enjoyed. These his efforts on your behalf, accompanied with earnest prayer to God, have I hope produced on your minds a salutary effect. If so they will not fail to endear his memory to you. And it cannot but give you pleasure to reflect, amidst your painful feelings on this sad occasion, that your affectionate and dutiful carriage towards him, of which he was pleasingly sensible, afforded him great comfort amidst the many anxieties and labours of his public station. May his wishes, in their utmost extent, be realized in every one of you! May that piety which warmed his heart and governed his ļife, dwell richly with all its power and consolations in your breasts ! And may your lives exhibit to all around you a fair copy of that example he set you!
To the mournful relict of our dear deceased friend, it remains that I address a few words of sympathy and consolation. Your affliction, my dear Madam, is very great. A friend you have lost in whose society you enjoyed many intellectual and religious pleasures; a friend ever ready to counsel, assist, and comfort you; and a friend on whose arın you hoped to have gently leaned, while sloping the remainder of your way down the hill of life. But though deprived of so great a blessing,
considerations of a consoling nature to reconcile you to your loss. Beside the reflection that all his sorrows are at an end, and that he is ineffably and eternally happy, you have the pleasure to reflect that it was ever your unremitting concern to soothe his cares, to animate his zeal, and to promote his usefulness as he passed to that blissful state. And it is your happiness also that his family, which were so dear to him, are disposed by motives of affectionate attachment to yourself, as well as the duty they owe to his memory, to contribute all in their power to your comfort the remaining part of your pilgrimage on earth. And above all it should afford unspeakable joy to your heart to reflect, that Jesus Christ is ever the same, and that you may therefore assuredly hope his kind hand will ere long safely conduct you to those mansions of eternal blessedness, whither he and many others of your relatives and friends are already arrived.
To close the whole. May we all be sensible of the brevity and uncertainty of human life, and of the great importance of being prepared for death! May we be followers of them who through faith and patience are now inheriting the promises ! May their departure hence whom we dearly loved, have a happy effect to weaken our attachment to this vain world, and to accelerate our progress to a better! May we on all such occasions as these endeavour patiently to acquiesce in the will of God, knowing that he cannot do wrong! And may we aspire to a still nobler height of devotion, even that of glorying in tribulation, to which a firm persuasion of the great truth asserted in our text is capable of elevating us—JESUS CHRIST THE SAME YESTERDAY, AND TO-DAY, AND FOR EVER.