« PreviousContinue »
į robes of spotless purity; their eyes no longer flow down with tears; their tongues no longer utter the language of complaint. They are surrounded with cherubim and seraphim, and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb.
The dust indeed covers their bodies; the worm feeds sweetly on them; they are mouldering and decaying. But God will yet redeem them from death, he will ransom them from the power of the grave.
" I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that you sorrow not even as those who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, also, them that sleep in Jesus shall God bring with him.” Even to those of you who cannot indulge the hope
deceased friends are in heaven, I would say, Weep not.” Weep not for them, but weep for yourselves.
Perhaps you never offered one prayer for their salvation. Perhaps you were accessory to their damnation. Perhaps your careless conversation led them into the broad road that leadeth to destruction. Weep not for them; weep for yourselves. Their destiny is fixed; your sorrow cannot reverse it. Even to the ungodly early death is a blessing. It is an act of mercy, as well as of justice. It precludes the possibility of indulging longer in sin, and this prevents the possibility of a deeper immersion in the gulf of endless wo. The longer an unconverted sinner lives, the greater mass of wretchedness does he accumulate against the day of wrath. Yes, he may well envy through eternity the babe that was carried out to the grave from its mother's womb; and well load with bitter execrations a day which commenced an existence which he cannot terminate, and which his own solly has rendered irremediably miserable.
I hasten to address the words, in the last place, to those saints of God who are alarmed at the prospect of their own dissolution.
There are some of God's children in whose frame there is one chord which cannot be touched, however lightly, without producing despondency and gloom. The idea of death haunts them like a spectre, and fills them with indescribable horror. They can look beyond it with delight. It is lovely to descry the heavenly hills, and the multitudes of the redeemed walking in white with the Lamb on Zion; but the terrors of the passage, the darkness and corruption of the grave, are prospects terribly revolting to their imaginations, and they are kept in bondage through its fear.
Believer in Jesus, "Weep not;" the day of thy death shall be infinitely better to you than the day of your birth. Let the consolation which the gospel presents dissipate all
fears. It opens a vista through the gloom of death, and pours a full field of light on the darkness of the grave. It tells us that Jesus “ liveth, and was dead, and is alive for evermore, and hath the keys of hell and death.” 6 Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil : and deliver them, who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
The ocean spreads wide and dark before you ; but it will wast you to Emmanuel's happy shore. “ There thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself.” This delightful prospect has made the dying saint sing upon his death-bed, when his friends around him were lamenting. This has made him list up his head with joy, because the day of his redemption drew near. “When this corruption shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."
Indeed, many who were exceedingly dispirited at the prospect of dissolution have triumphed gloriously amid its final agonies. · Jehovah reserves dying grace for a dying hour. “My grace shall be sufficient for thee, and my strength shall be made perfect in thy weakness."
As the river rolls the smoother the nearer it approaches the ocean, and as the rose smells sweetest just when it begins to decay, so, at the believer's de
parture, his graces shine with the most resplendent lustre. Thus have we seen the sun, at the close of a dark tempestuous day, bursting forth in all his radiance, sinking beneath the horizon in unclouded splendour, appearing at the moment most lovely and glorious.
Trust in the Lord, disconsolate believer; “At the evening time there shall be light.” 6 Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”
ON THE DEATH OF THE REV. DR. RYLAND.
ROBERT HALL, A. M.
JOHN xxi. 7.-That disciple whom Jesus loved.
By the removal of a minister of Christ so able, so disinterested, so devoted, you have sustained a loss, the magnitude of which it is difficult to appreciate, much more to repair. A successor you may easily procure; but where will you find one who will so “naturally care for your state ?" who, “ instant in season and out of season,” is willing to impart to you, not only the gospel, but his own soul also, because ye are dear unto him?" You may hear the same truths from other lips, supported by illustrations and arguments equally clear and cogent; the same duties inculcated by similar motives; but where will you find them enforced and recommended by an example equally elevated, an affection equally tender? Where will you look for another, whose whole life is a luminous commentary on his doctrine, and who can invite you to no heights of piety, but what you are conscious he has himself attained? When you add to this the effect of a residence among you of above thirty years, during which he became the confidential friend of your parents, the guide of your youth, and after witnessing the removal of one genera..
tion to a better world, was the honoured instrument of raising up another in their room; when you reflect on the continued emanations of wisdom and piety which proceeded for so long a space from this burning and shining light, you must be convinced that your loss is irreparable.
The removal of such a pastor, of one whose labours you have so long enjoyed, is an epoch in the history of a church; it is an event which no living generation can witness more than once; and it surely calls upon you to consider what improvement you have made of such advantages, and what is the prospect that awaits you, in the final day of account, when you
your pastor shall meet once more in the presence of the Judge; he to give an account of his ministry, you of its effect on your character. In relation to him, the event is not doubtful : He has finished his course; he has kept the faith; henceforth there remains for him a crown of righteousness, which Christ the righteous Judge will give on that day.” Would to God the issue were equally certain and equally happy on the part of those who so long enjoyed the benefit of such a ministry ! That such will be the issue with respect to many who compose this auditory we cannot doubt; and with what inconceivable joy will he witness the felicity which awaits them, while he presents them before the throne, saying, “ Here am I, and the children which thou hast given ine.” With what delight will they renew the intercourse which death had interrupted, and retrace together the steps of their mysterious pilgrimages; while the gratitude they will experience towards him who was instrumental in conducting them thither will be only inferior to that which they will feel to God and the Lamb.
How trivial will every other distinction then appear, compared to the honour of having turned many to righteousness; of having sown that seed which shall be reaped in life everlasting. A large portion of this felicity will, we cannot doubt, accrue to your pastor, from those who are accustomed to assemble within these
walls ; but should it in any instance be otherwise, should the event be of a contrary nature, he “ will be a sweet-smelling savour to God, even in them that perish.” His happiness will be unimpaired, his reward undiminished, and the feelings with which he was wont to contemplate such a catastrophe will give place to sentiments of a higher order. The tears which he wept over souls in danger of perishing will be shed no more; all his agitation and anxiety on their account will be laid to rest ; nor will they who refused to constitute his joy by their conversion be suffered to mar his felicity by their destruction.
It is not the church and congregation only, over which he presided with so much honour, that feels itself interested in this event. The sensation which it has produced is widely extended, and has reached every part of this great and populous city; a city sufficiently enlightened to comprehend his worth, and to mourn his loss. When a Reynolds, whose munificence flowed in a thousand channels, and whose example gave a new impulse to the public mind, quitted the scene which he had so long adorned with his presence and enriched with his bounty, that a general sensation should be excited is no more than might be expected. But that the removal of a Christian minister, who possessed none of these advantages, should produce a regret so universal and so deep, is a pleasing homage to the majesty of religion ; a practical demonstration of the power it exerts over the consciences of men. If blessings are bestowed, and judgments averted, in answer to prayer, as the Scripture everywhere teaches, and the efficacy of prayer is proportioned to the fervour of faith and the perfection of obedience, it is impossible to say how much the inhabitants of this place may be indebted to our excellent friend, by whose removal they have lost a powerful intercessor with God.
By an extensive circle of ministers and churches, who shared his friendship, and on various occasions enjoyed his labours, his loss will be deeply lamented, and not without reason; for though the faithful dis