Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

such unutterable joy to him the loss of whom we are now lamenting.

My acquaintance with your beloved and revered pastor, was of too short continuance, to enable me to do what perhaps some may expect, namely, to attempt a delineation of his character. But I was led to choose this text, under an idea that you would think of him as I proceeded, and, remembering his conduct among you during a term of fifteen or sixteen years, would almost involuntarily apply the several particulars to him; convinced that in good measure he was a follower of the apostle, even as the apostle followed Christ. From my little intercourse with him, and from all I have heard concerning him, I am induced to believe that most of the ministers of Christ, even such as are well known and justly approved, might have looked up to him as an edifying pattern, in humility, meekness, patience, unwearied disinterested diligence, faithful love to the souls of men, especiaily those entrusted to his immediate care, and zeal for the honour of his God and Saviour. "To him, indeed, to live was Christ, and to die was gain."

66

66

But I shall not enlarge. He lives, I doubt not, in the hearts of many present. You, my Christian brethren, have no need of my commendations of him: you are his best commendation: "The seals "of his ministry are ye in the Lord." May your future lives, conformed to his scriptural instructions and his edifying example, recommend his memory, and all his words and actions, (that will no doubt be long recollected in this neighbour

66

hood,) to your children, your families, and all with whom you have to do. "Remember him that was guide over you, who spake to you the word "of God; whose faith follow; considering the "end of his conversation," and his happy entrance into the joy of his Lord. You best knew his excellency: oh copy his example, and more and more reduce to practice his instructions, that " by "well doing ye may put to silence those who falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ."

66

But he also lives in the consciences of numbers, who have not hitherto effectually profited by his labours. Oh that his death may be made more useful to you than his life has been! I appeal to all present, who have had personal knowledge of our deceased friend, that " he commended himself "to your consciences in the sight of God." You knew him to be an upright, peaceable, kind-hearted, and pious man. You know his life was consistent with his profession, and with the instructions and admonitions which he gave to others. You are conscious that he would have done you good if he could; and that, had you followed his counsels and example, you would at this time have been far better men than you are. You are sensible that even his reproofs, and warnings, and opposition to your sins, were the dictates of love to your souls. Yes: "he sought not yours, but you." "He was willing to spend and be spent for you:

66

though the more he loved you the less he was "loved of you." Indeed it seems probable that he wore himself out prematurely by his incessant labours, and chiefly for your salvation. And I am confident that there is scarcely one present, who, if

he thought he should die this night, would not secretly wish, and even be ready to say, 'Oh that I may go to be where Mr. Newell is!' This is the highest commendation; and this you cannot withhold from him. I have no design to panegyrize: I can do our brother no good: he needs not our praise he enjoys "the honour that cometh from "God only." He has heard his gracious Saviour say, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter "thou into the joy of thy Lord." But I speak what I am confident is true, and what I hope may be of use to you: and many present will say, 'You might with truth have said far more of him.' And one thing more I will add: he was, to the last, most evidently and deeply conscious of his sinfulness, and simply trusted only in the Saviour's righteousness, atonement and mediation, as the sole ground of his hope of eternal life: and (which I especially marked in him,) he was peculiarly willing to "sit down in the lowest place" among his brethren," in honour preferring others to himself;" and, though "apt to teach," he was ever ready and glad to learn, with childlike teachableness and simplicity.

I doubt not there were flaws in his character observable by those who were intimate with him; but they did not fall under my notice: and I am persuaded his most accurate observers saw nothing inconsistent with what has been stated, or with our Lord's commendation of Nathaniel, “Behold an "Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile." In one particular, however, I am ready to think he was in some degree faulty: I mean, that in some respects he carried his disinterestedness too far,

and, while he was "willing to suffer all things," and give up his right" rather than hinder the "gospel of Christ," he acted so entirely on this principle, that it may be questioned whether he did not intrench on that duty which ministers as well as other men, owe to their own families. I trust you will give me credit that I am no advocate for ministers being tenacious of their utmost due: nor should I have touched on so delicate a subject, but to turn your thoughts to the family of our deceased brother; and to hint to you, that his amiable disinterestedness should stimulate every one to come forward, decidedly to propose and support such measures as may prevent their suffering from the effects of it, in addition to their present heavy affliction: as also to encourage others who are labouring in the sacred ministry, and who cannot but sometimes feel anxiety about their families, for whom they can make no provision, except by neglecting their proper work, or throwing a bar in the way of their own usefulness.

It is allowed that this anxiety arises from weakness of faith: for that God, who wrought a miracle in the days of Elisha to rescue the widow and children of his deceased servant, one of the sons of the prophets, from the consequence of his unavoidably leaving his family, not only unprovided for, but in debt, still liveth: and he can provide for his people and their families by ordinary means as readily as by miracle: for, as the earth and its fulness are the Lord's, so all hearts are in his hands, and he, as "our heavenly Father, knoweth what " things we and our's have need of." No doubt our departed brother seemed (when at any time

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

his thoughts recurred to this interesting subject,) to hear the Lord say, "Leave thy fatherless chil“dren, and I will preserve them alive; and let thy "widow trust in me:" and no doubt blessings, in answer to his many prayers, are in reserve for them. Yet this, my brethren, does not alter our duty: our God works by means and instruments; and every one of us should count it an honour and a privilege to be employed in promoting so good a work. "The liberal deviseth liberal things, and by liberal things shall he stand."

[ocr errors]

Many persons, on these occasions, have much curiosity to hear what the deceased spake, and what was the measure of his confidence and joy in the closing scene: and indeed this is very natural; and in many instances the last words of eminent Christians prove very useful to survivors. We have, however, little comparatively of this kind recorded in scripture. Of the manner in which Abraham and Samuel, Isaiah and Daniel, James and Peter, and many other illustrious characters in both Testaments, left this world, we know nothing and indeed in general the most important inquiry is, How men live? except there be any thing in the manner of their death, peculiarly different from the tenor of their lives. Had our dear friend been taken away by a sudden stroke, or rendered at once incapable of speaking, it would not in the smallest degree have weakened my confidence respecting him. "He walked with God, and he was not, for God took him." His disease was of that nature which precluded much discourse: but he was calm and resigned; he expressed the same confidence in the mercy of God

« VorigeDoorgaan »