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necessary support and consolation, and rest satisfied with his holy and wise disposal. But if they have not the spirit of adoption, they will murmur, and complain of God, that he lays his hand so heavily upon them. Now, as all men have been more or less afflicted, and many suppose that they have had a large share of suffering, they may all know whether they are really friends or foes to God. Let them only look back upon their conduct and feelings under divine corrections, and they may easily determine, whether they have felt and acted as a filial spirit would have dictated. Have they found that it has been good for them that they have been afllicted ? Have they found that afflictions have really weaned them from the world, and led them to God, in whom they enjoyed that peace which the world cannot give, nor the world take away? All good men have derived such benefits from affliction ; and those who have not found any benefit from the trials they have endured, have reason to fear that they have never become the children of God. Let every man judge his own heart, and let no man deceive himself.
6. It appears from all that has been said in this discourse, that the afflicted ought to be of a teachable spirit under divine corrections. Their hearts should be tender, and disposed to hearken to the voice of God in his providence. “If ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” He takes particular notice of the feelings of those who are under his chastising hand. He is highly displeased, if they will not hear his voice, nor feel his strokes. He complains of Jacob, that though he had “poured upon him the fury of his anger, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.” But he was pleased with the tender heart and teachable spirit of Ephraim under the rod of correction. “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus: Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God.” When the afflicted feel and express such a filial spirit, they appear amiable in the sight of God, who pities them, as a father pitieth his children. He is always willing to teach those who are willing to be taught in the school of affliction. Indeed, he brings them into this school for this very purpose. It is, therefore, no less their wisdom than their duty to desire to be taught. They enjoy a privilege which the prosperous do not enjoy, and which they themselves would not have enjoyed, had not God been pleased to take the most painful and most effectual method to teach them that which it is of the highest consequence to learn.
May this thought sink deeply into the minds of those in particular, who have been called, in the course of the last week, to suffer a sore and unexpected bereavement. Each of the mourners has sustained a heavy loss. The disconsolate widow has sorrow upon sorrow. Before she has dried up her tears for the loss of her brother, she is called to mourn the death of her dear, kind and tender husband, upon whom all her earthly hopes were placed. God is now reading her lesson after lesson upon the frailty of life, the vanity of the world, and the uncertainty of all temporal enjoyments. If she will only incline her ear unto God, and hear him speaking to her by the voice of his providence, he will certainly teach her to profit by her great and complicated afflictions. It is a trying season, in which she has an opportunity of gaining spiritual and everlasting benefit. Let her draw near to God, and he will draw near to her. Let her commit herself to his care, and stay herself upon his arm, and he will keep her in perfect peace.
The bereaved parents have received a deep and lasting wound, which they will probably carry to the grave with them. Their deceased son had discovered so many amiable qualities, and treated them with so much tenderness and respect, that he had gained their strongest affection and highest confidence. They had fondly expected that he would have taken care of them under the decays of nature, and administered to their comfort to the close of life. But by one stroke of his hand, God has destroyed their raised expectations, and plunged them into the depths of sorrow. They are now ready to say,' “ all these things are against us, and will bring down our gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.” But let them reflect, that God is able to teach them to profit; and if they will only bow in cordial submission to his sovereignty, he will give them light in darkness, and joy in sorrow, and be better to them than the enjoyment of the dear son, whom he has torn from their hearts.
The bereaved brothers and sisters are loudly admonished, not to boast of to-morrow; for they know not what a day may bring forth. God has made breach after breach in their family; and they know not which of their names stands next in death's commission. Their days are already numbered, and may be shortly and unexpectedly finished. The death they deplore speaks louder than words, and bids them remember that neither health, nor strength, nor agreeable manners, nor brilliant talents, can guard them against the pestilence which walketh in darkness, or the destruction which wasteth at noonday. Othat God would teach them so to number their days, that they may apply their hearts to wisdom, and prepare
their great and last change. Then they will have reason to say that it has been good for them that they have been afflicted, and savingly instructed. Let us all
, my hearers, lay to heart the late instance of mortality. It is a solemn and instructive one to this whole people. Every individual feels sensibly affected by it. What other man could have been taken away, who would have been so universally missed in this town, as Captain Hawes ? His sprightly powers of mind, and his easy, familiar way of conversing, rendered him agreeable in all circles, and naturally attracted public attention. He was early employed, and much esteemed, as a teacher of children and youth. He was called to do almost every kind of public business, not only for individuals, but for every society with which he was connected. The records of this town will transmit his name, and exhibit marks of his peculiar talents, to future generations. His death must make a deep impression, not only upon his weeping relatives, and numerous connections, but upon this people, who will, in so many ways, and in so many places, meet with memorials of his life. Let us all awake from our stupidity, and hear this solemn admonition of Providence, to attend to the things which belong to our everlasting peace, before the door of mercy is shut. Amen.
FUNERAL OF MRS. LYDIA FISK, WIFE OF REV. ELISHA FISK, OF WRENTHAM,
JULY 13, 1805.
AND I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may
rest from their labors ; and their works do follow them. - REV. xiv. 13.
The beloved apostle tells us, in the beginning of this chapter, that he was favored with a vision of heaven and of its holy and happy inhabitants. He saw the Lamb of God standing on Mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. And he heard the voice of harpers, harping with their harps; and singing as it were a new song before the throne, which none could learn but the hundred forty and four thousand, who were redeemed from the earth. After receiving this clear and full view of the blessed state of departed saints, he is divinely directed to write what he had seen, and assure living christians that their death should put a final period to all the evils of the present life, and immediately convey them to everlasting rest.
And I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.” This last clause of the verse gives the reason why those who die in the Lord are blessed. It is because, “from henceforth," that is, from the moment of death, they enter into heaven, where God is, and where Christ is, and where all holy beings will finally meet, and be completely happy. The text suggests two things for our serious consideration.
1. What it is to die in the Lord.
This mode of expression signifies the same thing that the apostle Paul meant, when, speaking of Andronicus and Junia, he said, “who were also in Christ before me." All men are naturally in a state of alienation from God, and cannot be said “ to be in the Lord,” until they become reconciled to God, united to Christ by faith, and entitled to eternal life. But here it seems proper to be a little more particular, and to observe,
1. That to die in the Lord implies dying in a full and realizing belief of the being and perfections of God. There is a natural propensity in mankind to disbelieve the existence of him who made, upholds, and governs the universe. fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." There is reason to fear that multitudes in this land of light, live all their days in a state of practical infidelity, and never realize the existence and perfections of the Deity. But those who live without faith, must die without hope. None, therefore, can die in the
, Lord, unless they awake from their natural stupidity, and realize that there is a great and holy God, who loves righteousness and hates iniquity, and who will reward or punish them in a future state, according to their works. Such a belief is prior to and the foundation of all preparation for the service and enjoyment of God. Hence says the apostle, “ He that cometh
• to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." It is easy for God to awaken the most thoughtless and secure, either in health, or in sickness, or on a dying bed, to realize his being, his holiness, his justice, and awful sovereignty in having mercy on whom he will have mercy. But while they remain
under the power and dominion of an unholy heart, such a view of the being and perfections of their Creator fills their souls with nothing but enmity, anxiety, and distress. They cannot bear the thought of living, or dying, under the just displeasure of a sin-hating and sinrevenging God. But the sovereign Lord of life has a right to call those who are in this deplorable situation out of time into eternity ;, and there is great reason to believe that he has often seen fit to exercise this right, since so many have apparently died without submission and without hope. This leads me to observe,
2. That dying in the Lord implies dying in the love, as well as in the belief of God. Though God be infinitely amiable in himself, and though awakened and convinced sinners see him to be worthy of their supreme affection, yet they cannot entertain the least thought of dying in the Lord, while they sensibly