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and character. All of it is compounded as it were of Good Friday and Easter Day; that is, of sorrow and joy, of abasement and exaltation. With Christ, such as he was at his passion, we must expect to be opposed, and clamoured against, afflicted, persecuted, tried by the searchings of divine visitations, and bereft of all present support from heaven. With Christ, as he was on this day, we are more than conquerors, rejoicing in the possession of life, and in the hope of glory. Sometimes we are even buried, and a stone of despair is rolled to the door of our sepulchre; but God doth not leave our soul in hell, nor suffer the spiritual life that is within us to see corruption. Before this happens, his Angel is sent down to restore us to life and liberty.
This inequality, or contrariety, in the Christian character, is finely painted by the Apostle. "We are troubled, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair: persecuted, but not forsaken cast down, but not destroyedwe are delivered unto death, that the life of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. We are, in short, a composition of death and life; of death through sin; and of life through the grace of God and the power of Christ's resurrection.
As the commemoration of Christ's sufferings and resurrection shews us the forms and changes of our present state; so according to the state we are in, our minds should be turned toward Good Friday or Easter Day. Is any under persecution or affliction? let him look to Jesus, as the wounded Israelites looked up to the serpent in the wilderness; remembering that he was lifted up, to draw unto him all that are tried, oppressed, and afflicted. Is any in joy and prosperity? let him remember in his mirth, that as there is no enjoyment of the world without health, there can be no prosperity in the soul of a Christian, but in virtue of Christ's resurrection. Therefore, when the Christians anciently gave to one another the salutation of friendship and chearfulness, it was their custom to say, "The Lord is risen."
And now, lastly, you will take me right, if I venture to give you one admonition at this season, which relates more immediately to ourselves and our affairs.
You will have notice that we are to meet tomorrow morning, for the election of proper persons to serve the church and the parish. Give me leave, my brethren, to remind you, that this congregation was unanimous last year; and that we have enjoyed many comforts and bles
sings in consequence of it ever since. Your church is in a flourishing state: the duties of divine worship are regularly performed; the children of the poor are instructed; not a few of them are clothed; and many of them are greatly improved. Your minister can do little without your kind encouragement and assistance but with it, he may do much and your church, which is now a praise in the neighbourhood, may possibly become an example to a considerable part of this kingdom. It is therefore your duty, as members of the church, to act for the good of the church; as citizens and subjects, to act for the preservation of peace; as Christians to act for the praise and glory of God; and, as Englishmen, to act for the security of your own religious rights and liberties; without listening to, and without fearing, any persons who may feel themselves inclined to deprive you of them.
Follow then your own happiness with wisdom and resolution; but not without that spirit of peace and brotherly love, which will always be attended with the blessing of God.
BLESSED ARE THE DEAD WHICH DIE IN THE LORD FROM HENCEFORTH: YEA SAITA THE SPIRIT, THAT THEY MAY REST FROM THEIR LABOURS: AND THEIR WORKS DO FOLLOW THEM. REV. XIV. 13.
DISCOURSES at funerals were formerly more common than at present. It is to be lamented they have been so much out of use; because they were intended as much for the edification of the living as the commemoration of the dead. What is then delivered falls into the hearts of the hearers, while they are struck with a solemn scene, and softened by the subject of death, in which they are all so nearly concerned. O that they were wise, that they would consider their latter end.
On such an occasion as this, death is set before their eyes, and they cannot avoid the consideration of it. While that thought is upon them, all men are wise, and then it is our time to speak to them.
I shall therefore make use of the present opportunity to give you some necessary instruction concerning the nature of death after which, it will be expected that I should say something of the good example we have now before us.
The text saith, blessed are the dead: which words, if taken by themselves, are not true. Death, to man in that state wherein the fall hath left him, is not a blessing but a curse. It is the wages of sin; and as such, it is not an accident of nature, but a punishment. Therefore the progress of man's life is like the journey of a criminal from the gaol to the place of execution. As things are now, life is the road to death; therefore God taught his servants to use it as such, and live only as pilgrims and strangers upon earth.
The death of man being a death in sin, it was accounted unclean; and thence it was ordained, that they who had touched a dead body, should afterwards be washed and purified with water; which, in the moral sense, was a lesson