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Mr. GAY's SERMON, At the Funeral of Three Young Men.

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THE Author had no Design of publishing this Discourse when he delivered it, and declined the first Motions that were made for it: But as several have of late earnestly re­quested, and a large Number have publicly manifested a Desire that it might be printed, it is now made Public; hoping [...] the Importance of the Subject will engage the Read­er's Attention, and, through the di­vine Blessing, excite a due Regard to his immortal Interest.

E. G.
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The Sovereignty of GOD, in de­termining Man's Days, or the Time & Manner of his Death; Illustrated and Improved, IN A SERMON, Preached at SUFFIELD, May 22d 1766. AT THE FUNERAL OF Three YOUNG MEN, Who were killed by LIGHTNING, MAY 20th, 1766.

By EBENEZER GAY, A. M. Pastor of a Church in Suffield.

Is there not an appointed Time to Man upon Earth? Are not his Days also like the Days of an Hierling? Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? Who will say unto him, What dost thou?

JOB.

HARTFORD: Printed by THOMAS GREEN, at the Heart and Crown, opposite the Court-House, M,DCC,LXVII.

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A Funeral Discourse.

JOB XIV. 5.

SEEING HIS DAYS ARE DETERMINED, THE NUMBER OF HIS MONTHS ARE WITH THEE, THOU HAST APPOINTED HIS BOUNDS THAT HE CANNOT PASS.

DEATH, is a melancholy Subject to employ our Meditations; yet a Subject we have daily Occasion, with all Seriousness, to bear upon our Minds, and are frequently invited, by particular Occurrences of di­vine Providence, to contemplate: It is a Change so cer­tain, and, withal, so very important, view'd in itself, and its Consequences, that it highly concerns the Li­ving to enter into the most frequent and affecting Con­sideration of it. 'Tis peculiarly fit and [...] do, when we are presented with Instances of Mortality; especially such remarkable and striking Instances the [...] ­of, as loudly admonish us of our exceeding Frailty, and utter uncertainty of Life, and naturally suggests a Va­riety of useful Thoughts and Reflections. Such is the awful Occurrence of divine Providence which hath brought us together at this Time. The Occasion is indeed very solemn and sorrowful, and demands our most serious and awakened Attention. We are here presented with such a Spectacle as our Eyes never saw before—with such a Scene of Mourning and Wo, as we are unused to, considered in all its Circumstances. Behold! there lie the Corpses of three YOUNG MEN, lately cut down in the Prime of Life not in the ordina­ry Way, but by one instantaneous Blow, quick and sud­den as the Lightning's Flash! There sit the sorrowful [Page 6]Parents, and other surviving Relatives of the Deceased, deeply touched with the sudden and shocking Event, and sadly bewailing their Loss; whose Affliction be­speaks our friendly Sympathy and Compassion, in some such Language as that in Job xix. 21. Have Pity upon me, have Pity upon me, O ye my Friends, for the Hand of God hath touched me. And shall we not all be affected with this sorrowful Event, and, as both the Law of Na­ture and Christianity dictates, lament the sudden and untimely Death of these young Men, and mourn with them that mourn?

BUT then it behoves both the Bereaved, and Us, to regulate our Thoughts, Affections, and Behavior, on this sorrowful Occasion, by the Rules of Piety and Vir­tue, and to manifest a due Reverence and Regard to GOD, the supreme Governor of the World, and righte­ous Disposer of all Events; by whose just Decree, and unchangable Appointment, the Sentence of Death is passed upon all Mankind, and whose all-governing Pro­vidence determines the Number of every Man's Days, and the particular Time, and Manner of his Death. Accordingly I have chosen the Words of the Text, now read, to entertain you with, on this mournful Occasion. Seeing his Days are determined, the Number of his Months are with thee, thou host appointed his Bounds that he can­not pass. They are the Words of pious Job, which he uttered in the Day of his sore Calamity, when he was greatly oppressed, in Body and Mind, with the Miseries of human Life. In the 1st and 2d Verses, he expresses an affectionate and sorrowful Sense of the Brevity, Trou­bles, and Uncertainty of human Life: Man that is born of a Woman, is of few Days, and full of Trouble: He cometh forth like a Flower, and is cut down; he fleeth also as a Shadow, and continueth not. This he represents as a general or universal Case. And, in the Text, he uses several Expressions, importing the divine Sovereignty, and Prerogative, in disposing of Man, determining the [...] of his Days and Months upon Earth, and fix­ing [Page 7]the Period of Life, beyond which none can pass. This Truth, well attended to, affords seasonable and useful Reflections, proper to influence and direct our Temper and Behavior, under the troublesome Occur­rences that befal us; and may serve, especially, to com­pose us to Resignation and Contentment, under sorrow­ful Bereavments. The Truth then, to be illustrated and improved, is this, viz.

That Man's Days upon Earth [...] of his Months, are precisely determined [...], and the Time and Manner of his Death fined, which he cannot pass or avoid.
  • I. I shall say Something by Way of Illustration of this Truth. And then,
  • II. Make some Improvement of it.

I. I shall say Something by Way of Illustration of this Truth. That Mankind are Mortal, and destin'd to a short Continuance here, is indisputable Fact. The Sen­tence of Death is passed upon all Men, without any Li­mitation, or Distinction. And however different they may be, in other Respects, there is this one Event, that comes alike to them. Is there not an appointed Time to Man upon Earth? Are not his Days also as the Days of on Hireling? Job vii. 1. It is appointed unto Man once to die, Heb ix. 27. The Cause hereof is assigned by St. Paul, Rom. v. 11. Wherefore, as by one Man Sin entered into the World, and Death by Sin; and so Death passed upon all Men, for that all have sinned. But though Death be the common Lot of All, and none are exempted from it, yet there is a great Variety, as to the Time, Manner, and Circumstances of it, considered with Respect to In­dividuals. There is no stated Time, no certain Number of Days, Months, or Years fixed, to which every One lives that is born into the World, and beyond which no One doth pass; but Some are destin'd to a longer, and O­thers to a shorter Stay in the World. This Matter is under the immediate Conduct of a most wise and righ­teous Providence, and all Things, relative to it are ad­justed [Page 8]by the unerring Wisdom of the supreme Lord of All, and sovereign Disposer of all Events that take Place in the World. In GOD's Hand is the Life and Breath of all Mankind; and he claims it as his Prerogative to kill, and to save alive. Every Man that comes into the World, is entirely dependant upon GOD for his Preser­vation and Continuance in Life. He that gave us Life, and Being, limits the Time of Life to every One, ac­cording to the Pleasure of his own Will. The Time when, the Manner how, and the Place where, he shall make his Exit, is determined by Him. His Days even the Number of his Months are with God, and, deter­mined by him, the Bounds to which he shall come, and beyond which he shall not pass, are fixed by his unchangable Appointment. GOD, as the Author of Life and Death, acts herein with sovereign Power and Freedom, and a wise and uncontroulable Dominion, Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? Who will say unto him, What dost thou? a Death, in every Instance and in every Form, is GOD's providential Act: And, whenever he issues forth the dread Command, and re­quires our Souls of us, we must obey; nor can we, by any Means or Power whatever, resist his Will, es­cape the fatal Stroke, or put off the Execution of it to a longer Period. There is no Man that hath Power over the Spirit, to retain the Spirit; neither hath he Power in the Day of Death: And there is no Discharge in that War. b GOD does not, in this Part of his Administration, pro­ceed by any fixed Rule, discoverable by us, or that lie, open to our View; whereby we can know before Hand, the Time, Place, or Circumstances of our own, or ano­ther's Death. This we can know and determine only by the Event; yet we have no Reason, upon this, or any other Account, to doubt, but that GOD always acts agreeable to his own fixed Plan, and that every Person's Death, usual as it may seem to us, or by [...] it is effected, takes Place exactly in [...] Time [Page 9]and Manner that is pre-determined by Him, and as best suits with the Scheme of his perfect and all-wise Provi­dence. In many Instances, indeed, GOD gives previ­ous Notice and Admonition of approaching Death, by Sickness and Diseases; but oftentimes he surprizes Per­sons in a sudden and unexpected Manner, and cuts them off unawares: So that although Nothing is more certain than Death and the Living know that they shall die, yet scarce any Thing is more uncertain, as to us, than the Time and Manner of this Change. We are ex­ceeding frail, at best, and liable to be destroyed by in­numerable Means, which we can neither foresee, nor avoid. For (as the wise Preacher hath justly observed, Eccl. ix. 12.) Man also knoweth not his Time, as the Fishes that are taken in an evil Net, and as the Birds that are caught in the Snare; so are the Sons of Men snared in an evil Time, when it falleth saddenly upon them. And agreeable here­unto, he elsewhere gives us this Caution, Boast not thy­self of Yo-Morrow, for thou knowest not what a Day may bring forth. c So ignorant and uncertain are we about future Events, that no Man, be the Prospect ever so fair and promising, knows what shall happen to him in Time to come—what a Day, or an Hour, or even the very next Moment, will bring forth—whether he shall be dead, or alive, in this World, or the next. Death, though a very great Change, may be sudden and instan­taneous. We see, in Fact, that it is without any Order, as to its Course and Manner of Proceedure; not seizing One after another in a regular Succession, according to their Age, or Place of Abode; but taking One here, and Another there; now an old, then a young Person, as the sovereign Lord of All hath determined; and that, in a Variety of Ways, and by different Means, Persons are removed out of the Land of the Living: Some are car­ried off by accute Distempers, others by lingering Dis­eases—some by the Hand of Violence, Others by sud­den and unexpected Occurrences. It is manifest to the Observation of all Mankind, that Some die in early [Page 10] Infancy; Some in Childhood; Some in the Bloom and Vigor of Youth; Some in their full Strength, being whol­ly at Ease, having their Breasts full of Milk, and their Bones moistened with Morrow; and Some in the Midst of their Days and Usefulness; while Others live to a good old Age, and come to the Grave as a Shock of Corn in its Season. In a Word, the Arrows of Death, the King of Terrors, fly so promiscuously among our mortal race, that no Age, Rank or Condition of Men, is secure there­from. And no Man, secure, as he may seem to be of Life, knows how soon the Summons may be sent to him to depart. Indeed, the Time and Manner of our Death is to us such an impenetrable Secret, as to leave us in the greatest Uncertainty. And 'tis wisely so or­dered in divine Providence, that we may be made the more sensible of our continual Dependence upon GOD, and more circumspect and diligent in the Duties of Life, and may learn not to put too much Trust and Confi­dence in ourselves, or in any Man of like Frailty, whose Breath is in their Nostrils; but to place our Hope and Dependence upon the Lord Jehovah, with whom is ever­lasting Strength—to commit ourselves to him in Well­doing, and refer it to him, to order and dispose, both of Us, and of all Ours, as, in his infinite Wisdom, he shall judge it to be right and best, most for his own Glo­ry, and our eternal Interest and Welfare.

The Truth contained in the Words of the Text thus illustrated, I proceed,

II. To make some Improvement of it.

1. This Truth suggests to our View and Consideration, another and future State of Existence, after the present Life shall be terminated. For since this Life is so short and uncertain, and the Number of our Days is determined by GOD, which we cannot pass, we may be morally certain, that we were made and designed, not for this World only, but also for another, a better and more cer­tain and lasting State of Enjoyment. For is it reasona­bly to be imagined, that the infinitely wise and good Author of our Beings hath made such Creatures as we [Page 11]are, endowed with such Capacities and Desires, as all worldly Things and Enjoyments cannot fully satisfy; or, that he should place us in such a short, frail, dying World as this, which is so full of Vexation and Trou­ble, and where no perfect Rest and Happiness is to be expected, without providing some better Things for us to come? The Perceptions, Reflections, and Enjoy­ments of the Soul, the superior Part of our Frame, are some of them such as clearly in licate its Distinction from, its Superiority to, and Independence on the Body, and that it may exist separate from, and independant on it: Nor can we, from the Death and Dissolution of the Bo­dy, certainly infer the Death and Destruction of the Soul: On the Contrary, the Capacities and Desires, the Years, and Hopes of the Soul, strongly argue, not only its Spirituality, but its Immortality too; and that there is a future State, after this which is finished at Death, wherein the Soul shall exist, and God, the moral Go­vernor of the World, will more fully administer Judg­ment to every One, according to his Deeds, than it ap­pears he does in this World, upon the Supposition, that this is the only State, in which Men have to live. So far we may go upon the Principles of Reason: But this is far from being the clearest Evidence we have in the Case. The Book of divine Revelation affords a more clear and certain Intelligence of a future State. This brings Life and Immortality to Light, d and assures us that it is ap­pointed unto Man once to die, but after this the Judgment; e wherein every Man shall give Account of himself to God, f and shall receive the Things done in his Body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. g In short, we are most plainly instructed in the Gospel of CHRIST, that he came into the World, that whosoever believeth on him, should not perish, but have everlasting Life, h that he hath abolished Death, i and triumphed over it by his own Death and Resurrection. (Col. ii. 15. Heb. ii. 14, 15.) that he both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be [Page 12]Lord both of the Dead and the Living; k that there is a Place of Happiness, a Kingdom of Glory, a Heaven of perfect and endless Joys, prepared for the Righte­ous after Death, and a strange Punishment, a Hell of everlasting Wo and Misery provided for the impeni­tently wicked; that he is ordained of GOD, to be the final Judge of Quick and Dead; l yea, that GOD hath appointed a Day in the which he will judge the World in Righteousness, by that Man whom he hath ordained for this Purpose; where­of he hath given Assurance unto all Men, in that he hath raised him from the Dead;mand that he will then render unto every Man according to his Deeds: To them, who by patient Continuance in Well-doing, seek for Glory, and Honor, and Immortality; eternal Life: But unto them that are con­tentious, and do not obey the Truth, but obey Unrighteousness, Indignation and Wrath, Tribulation and Anguish; n and that the Hour is coming, in the which all that are in their Graves shall hear his Voice, and shall come forth, they that have done Good, unto the Resurrection of Life, and they that have done Evil, unto the Resurrection of Damnation. o From all which it most evidently appears, that Death does not put a Pe­riod to our Existence, but is attended with the most awful and important Consequences—Consequences far more interesting, and of infinitely greater Concern­ment to every Man, than any Thing in this World is, or can be: That when the Soul quits the Body, and leaves it to moulder and return to the Dust, from whence it was taken, it immediately takes its Flight into the World of Spirits, and returns to GOD who gave it, to be disposed of to a State of compleat and endless Happi­ness or Misery, according to its true State and Character, when it existed in, and left the Body. And that, when the Lord JESUS CHRIST shall descend from Heaven, with Power and great Glory, to judge the World, Death and Hell shall deliver up the Dead which are in them, and the whole World of Saints and Sinners shall be brought before the awful and august Tribunal of JESUS CHRIST; [Page 13]not only their Souls, but their Bodies too, tho' diffe­rently modified, and fitted to their respective Uses and Ends: The Former of which, i. e. the Saints, he will openly acknowledge and acquit, and, with the most endearing Tenderness and Love, say unto them, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the Foundation of the World. p But the Latter, i. e. the Wicked, he will disown and reject, and say un­to them, with the most stern and unrelenting Justice, Depart from me, ye Cursed, into everlasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels. q In Consequence hereof, These shall go away into everlasting Punishment: but the Righteous into Life eternal. r Since these are the certain after Consequences of Death, and as Death leaves us Judgment will find us, it is of the utmost Importance to be well prepared for Death, so as to avoid the mise­rable, and share in the happy Consequences of it, in the future and eternal World. And so,

2. This Truth suggests to us the Wisdom and Necessity of being always prepared for Death. To any One that con­siders Death in itself, and its important Consequences, it must appear to be a Matter of the greatest Concern­ment to prepare for it. Tho' we cannot avoid it, yet we may be so prepared to meet it, as that the Sting and Terrors of it will be much allayed, if not wholly taken away, and the after Consequences will be most happy and joyful as it will put a Period to our sinning and suffering, at the same Time that it does to our Lives, and open a Passage for our Souls into the Paradisaic State, the Mansions of consummate Glory and Felicity above. And since it is altogether uncertain when, how soon, or in what Manner, we shall be called to meet Death, it certainly behoves us to be continually upon our Watch, and always ready, lest, coming suddenly, it should find us unprepared, to our great Astonishment, and everlasting Disappointment. But the Question then is, What is the necessary Preparation for Death? To which I answer, The Faith, and Hope, and Holi­ness [Page 14]of the Gospel. As it is the Gospel [...] brings Life and Immortality to Light, so to this we [...] indebt­ed, and should have Recourse, for Instruction in the Way to Life and Happiness. This teaches us [...] Peace with God, and future and immortal Glory and Blessed­ness in the Kingdom of Heaven, is to be had only in and through the Lord JESUS CHRIST.; who came into the World, by the Appointment of GOD the FATHER, that the World through him might be saved. s He hath died for us, to free us from Sin and Death, and to re­concile and bring us unto God: He hath abolished Death, and laid a sure Foundation for our final Release from the Power of it: He hath purchased, and is gone before to prepare Mansions of Bliss and Glory, in the Kingdom of Heaven for all his sincere Followers; that they may be with him hereafter, where he is, to behold his Glory, and to share in the inconceivable Blessedness of his Kingdom. And in Order to be prepared for Death, and a blessed Immortality after Death, it is ne­cessary that we put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no Provision for the Flesh, to fulfil the Lusts thereof: t That we not only exercise that humble, cordial Faith in him, as our Savior and Lord, whereby we shall be united to him as Members of his Body, and interested in his great and precious Promises; but that we also put on these Graces and Virtues of Mind and Life, which are the necessary Concomitants and Effects of such a Faith, and requisite to our being attempered to, and prepared for, the heavenly State and World: For that is a State of perfect Holiness and Love, and every Thing that is morally good. And as ever we hope to enter into that happy State and World, and to enjoy it as our future Portion, it is requisite that we return to GOD, in this Life, by unfeigned Repentance, thro' JESUS CHRIST, the great and only Mediator between GOD and us; and exercise that Faith, Trust, and Hope in him, which works by Love, and purifies the Heart, and, through the sanctifying Influences of his holy Spirit, Cleanse cur­selves from all Filthiness of the Flesh and Spirit, perfecting [Page 15]Harness in the Fear of GOD. u Then we shall be pre­pared for Death; and, whenever we shall fall beneath the Stroke of it, we shall fall into the Hands of a mer­ciful GOD, and a faithful REDEEMER; who will safely conduct, and readily receive, our disembodied Souls to the unspeakable Felicities, and triumphant Glories of the heavenly World; and finally ransom our Bodies from, and give us the Conquest over Death and the Grave. And that we may be actually, as well as habi­tually prepared for this important Change, so as to be able to meet it with Serenity and Joy, it concerns us to be circumspect and diligent in our christian Calling—to be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the Work of the Lord, w and making continual Progress in the chris­tian Temper and Life, by the vigorous Exercise and Practice of the several Virtues, which constitute and are effential to it: For so only can we, upon any solid and rational Ground, hope for, and expect, an Entrance to be administered unto us abundantly, into the everlasting King­dom of our Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST. x And happy are those pious, humble, and obedient Believers in JESUS CHRIST, who are thus prepared for their greet and last Change. For, dismal as this Event may ap­pear, in itself, the after Consequences will be happy for them; such as may well dispel the Fears and Terrors of it, and afford them abundant Support and Consolation. The Consideration and Hope, that when they are ab­sent from the Body, they shall be present with the LORD in Heaven, in that happy and glorious State prepared in CHRIST JESUS for them, where there is no more Sin nor Sorrow, no more Pain nor Death; but where all Tears shall be wiped from their Eyes; and that their mortal Bodies, which they put off, and commit to the Grave, shall hereafter be raised up to a glorious Im­mortality, is most supporting, comforting, and animat­ing, under all the Burdens and Ills of Life, and the Prospects of Death. And Death, whenever, or in whatever Manner it comes, will be so far from being [Page 16]any real Disadvantage to them, that it will be the Peri­od of their sinning and sorrowing; and will open the Way for them, into that Fullness of Joy, which is in GOD's Presence, and to those Rivers of Pleasures which flow at his Right Hand, forever more.

3. This Truth teaches us the amazing Stupidity and Fol­ly of secure and carnally minded Sinners, who seek their Hap­piness in this Life, and neglect all necessary Preparation for a Future. That reasonable and immortal Creatures, who have an eternal Interest at Stake, should be so thoughtless and negligent about it, and spend their Time and Care about those worldly Gratifications and Enjoy­ments, which unfit them for Death, and expose them to all the miserable Consequences of it, may well be ac­counted strange, and is truly lamentable. And yet how many are there, who see others die, yea, die suddenly, and know that they must soon die, that go on in carnal Ease and Security, in worldly Festivity and Joy, as if they were in no Danger, and To-morrow shall be as this Day, and much more abundant? What amazing holly is this! For will all this Concern for the present Life, and Unconcernedness for the Future, prevent or put off a single Moment, the Stroke of Death? No, ve­rily: We find it true in Fact, that such are taken away, as well as others; and oftentimes in the Midst of their Days, or in the Vigor of Youth, and in the Height of their Mirth and Jollity, and worldly Hopes and Expectations. And Death, whenever it comes, takes them unawares, and unprepared. And, how knowest thou, O Tool! who art ready to promise thyself a long Life, and much Good to be enjoyed— to boast of thy earthly Possessions, and to sing a Requi­em to thy Soul, as having Goods laid up for many Years; how knowest thou, I say, but that sudden and unex­pected Death will speedily put an End to all thy pre­sent Enjoyments, and future Expectations: Nay, can you be sure, that this very Night your Soul will not be required of you? And should this be the Case, what will become of you! Where will your naked, guilty [Page 17]Soul fly, to hide itself from the Face, and be secured from the Vengeance of your offended GOD and SAVIOR, who hath Power, not only to kill the Body, but also to [...] both Soul and Body in [...] for ever? How great and astonishing is the Misery of such careless and obsti­nate Sinners, who will not be awakened and reformed, or persuaded to come to CHRIST for Life, till Death overtakes them, and cuts off all Opportunity herefor? How must the Thoughts of Death, and Judgment to come, in the Hours of cool Reflection, affect them, damp their earthly Joys and Pursuits, and inject the most [...] Fears into their Souls? And Oh! with what Consternation will they receive the Summons of Death, and meet this King of Terrors! How will all their earthly Comforts and Prospects vanish and sadly disappoint their Hopes! How will their guilty Fears be alarmed! How will their Countenances change, and their Thoughts sorely trouble them, the Joints of their Loins be loosed, and their Knees smite one against ano­ther, as did the riotous Prince's of Babylon, at the Hand-Writing on the Wall of his Palace! How often have those, who, in the Time of Health and Prosperity, have set Death and Hell at Defiance, been seen to be sore af­frighted at the Apprehension, when under the Arrest of Death; and heard to rear out, in the utmost Distress and Anguish, as if the Pains of the second Death had alrea­dy seized upon them! And, verily, it is a doleful Situa­tion, to be upon the Verge of Eternity, encountering the last Enemy, Death, with all our Sins and Guilt upon us! Well may impenitent and unpardoned Sinners, if they have their Reason and Senses about them, be as­tonished and tremble with sore Amazement! Sure I am, it is enough to terrify the boldest Offender, and, if he has a proper Sense of his Condition, at such a Time, he must needs shudder, and shrink back with Horror, at the dismal Prospect! Sir, Death, Judgment and Hell, now appear too serious and weighty Points to be made any longer the Subjects of Mockery and Derision. Now [Page 18]the Man's Sins, with their aggravating Circumstances, are brought to his Remembrance, and Guilt, like an insupportable Weight, presses hard upon him: Con­victions, which he can no longer ward off, strike home: Conscience resumes its Office, collects its Force, and reads him a most dreadful and shocking Lesson: Shame, Confusion, and guilty Fears, seize his troubled Mind, and miserably haunt and wreck his expiring Soul: Re­morse, Anguish and Despair, and the Worm that ne­ver dies, direfully prey upon his trembling and aston­ished Mind, and he finds no Rest for his Soul. Look which Way he will, he sees no Refuge, where he can hide himself, and be safe. If he looks Upwards, be­hold an affronted GOD and JUDGE, frowning in Anger, and armed with Terrors, ready to take speedy Ven­geance on him! If he looks Downward, lo, Hell, with all the Plagues and Torments of the second and eternal Death, lies open to his View! The Sight and Remem­brance of a forgotten, abused, and affronted GOD and SAVIOR, fills him with a Dread worse than Death, to appear before him! Instead of Intercessions for Mercy, he is filled with Self-Reproach and Condemnation; or if he lifts up a Cry for Mercy, it is with mis-giving Fears, and Despair of being heard. And, when he quits the Stage of Life, he finds his Punishment and Mi­sery equal to, or rather exceeding, his most fearful Ap­prehensions: He is rejected and condemned by his al­mighty Judge, and sentenced to depart from the blis­ful Presence of GOD, and the Lamb, into everlasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels. O! that careless and presumptuous Sinners, who continually lie exposed to [...] this inexpressible Shame, Fear, and Misery, would seriously think hereof, before it be too late to make their Escape, by effectual Repentance, and turning unfeignedly from all their Iniquities unto GOD, through JESUS CHRIST.

4. This Truth affords a most powerful Argument and Motive for Patience, Submission, and Resignation, under af­flictive [...] sorrowful Bereavements of near and dear Friends [Page 19]and Relatives. Not only the Consideration, that we are righteously subjected to Calamities and Death, for our Apostacy from, and Disobedience to GOD; but al­so, that our Times are in his Hand, and the Number of our Days, together with the Time and Manner of our Death, are determined by him, should reconcile us to all the Adversities that befal [...] in Life, and to that great and unavoidable Change, Death, which is hastening upon us. And, in particular, when any of our dear Friends and Relations, upon whom we had great Hope and Dependence, are cut down by the Hand of Death, ei­ther in the common and ordinary Method, or in a Time, Way, and Manner, which we did not expect, and under some peculiar and aggravating Circumstan­ces; the Belief and Consideration, that the Time, Man­ner and Circumstances of their Death are determined and ordered by the wise, righteous and sovereign Lord of All, should silence every murmuring and repining Thought and Disposition, and compose us to Content­ment, Patience and Resignation. GOD certainly hath a Right to take from us whatever he hath given us, when, and how he pleases. And 'tis sit and reasonable he should govern the World, according to his own in­finite Wisdom, Rectitude, and Goodness, and not ac­cording to our own capricious Humors, and fond De­sires. Whenever, therefore, he bereaves us of those Friends, Relatives, and Enjoyments, which we most of all valued and delighted in, it becomes us, as far as possible, to be quiet, and submissive, and to think GOD's Time, and Way, in depriving us of them, the fittest and best. So the pious Psalmist behaved under severe Trials and Rebukes of divine Providence. I was dumb, I open­ed not my Mouth, because thou didst it. And thus holy Job conducted himself, under his repeated and sorrow­ful Bereavements; when he received the heavy Tidings, by one Messenger after another, that his Cattle, and his Servants, and all his Children, were destroyed in one Day: For so it is recorded of him Job i. 20, 21. Then Job a­rose, [Page 20]and rent his Mantle, and shaved his Head, and sell down upon the Ground, and worshipped; and said, Naked came I out of my Mother's Womb, and naked shall I return [...]: The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; [...] be the Name of the Lord. And it is added, V. 22. [...] this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. And herein is he a Pattern of that Reverence, Patience, and Submission, which is evermore due to GOD from us, un­der such Bereavements, and afflictive Dispensations of his Providence. And this leads me, in the last Place,

5. To take Notice of the sudden and awful Deaths, we are now lamenting, and the Bereavements of those, who are now sorrowing for the Loss of Children and Brethren, taken from them. It is, indeed, an awful, alarming, and speak­ing Providence, that those three young Men, whose Bo­dies lie there dead, wrapped in Grave-cloathes, and enclosed in Coffins, ready to be interred, were so suddenly blasted by Lightning from Heaven, and, in a moment, sent in­to Eternity. * This awful Rebuke of Heaven, must needs sit heavy, and make a deep Impression, upon the bereaved Families and Relatives; especially upon those who are deprived of their two Sons, and of all their Hopes and Expectations from them; the Fate and the Loss of which is peculiarly, and most of all distressing to the disconsolate Mother, and the afflicted Sister, her on­ly surviving Daughter. The Hand of GOD is heavy up­on you, my Friends, and 'tis a bitter Cup, which he hath given you to drink. We heartily sympathize with you—we condole your Loss—and wish you all the Grace that you need, for your Support and Consolation, In­struction and Guidance, under this severe Trial. Mourn and grieve you may, and tenderly resent your Bereave­ment; but you may not, you must not murmur against GOD, nor repine at his Providence. They liv'd their appointed Time—they died in the Manner which GOD [Page 21]determined; and it behoves you to be still, and resign'd and to know that it is GOD that hath done it—to be hum­ble under his mighty Hand—and to improve his provi­dential Dealings, to the Purposes of his Glory, and your own eternal Good. Very speaking is the Language [...] divine Providence to you, in this Rebuke, which it con­cerns you diligently to attend and hearken unto. GOD is hereby teaching you what you now find by sorrowful Experience, that these dear departed Creatures, which were so much your Comfort, Joy and Hope, were but broken Cisterns, frail, and uncertain Enjoyments; and gi­ving you the most sensible Conviction of the Folly of placing your chief Dependence on any such like mortal and fleeting Things. GOD is hereby also teaching you his own Sovereignty, and All-sufficiency. By cutting off these earthly Comforts and Hopes, he not only shews his sovereign Dominion, but also his All-sufficien­cy; that he is able to support you, to direct your Paths, and to make you comfortable and [...] in himself, without those Friends and Helpers [...] you might be ready to think you could not spare, and do without. And, by the Failure of these earthly Streams of Com­fort and Delight, he directs and leads you to place your Thoughts and Affections upon Himself, the eternal Source, and unfailing Fountain of all Good and Fe­licity; to view his endearing Name, and Characters, by which he hath revealed himself, with greater Attention and Delight than ever; and to place your supreme Trust and Hope in him, as your best Friend, your surest Guide and Comforter, your all-sufficient Helper and Refuge, and your eternal Portion and Inheritance.

Moreover, GOD is hereby putting your Love, Duty and Submission to him to the Test. He does, as it were, address you, on this trying Occasion, as our SA­VIOR did Simon Peter, John xxi. 15. Lovest thou me more than these? More than these earthly Friends, which I have taken from you? Have you that supreme Love and Regard to me, and to my all-disposing Will, that you can part with them, at my Call, without murmuring [Page 22]and repining, and acquiesce in this Dispensation of my Providence? Can you say, in the present Case, with a placid Submission, as our suffering SAVIOR did, when the Sorrows of Death compassed him about, The Cup which my Father hath given me to drink, shall I not drink it? John xxi. 11. In a Word, GOD is hereby calling upon you to raise your Thoughts and Affections from Earth to heavenly Things—to mind the empty, vain, and transitory Enjoyments of this World less, and to pursue the substantial and important Things of the fu­ture, with greater Ardor and Diligence—to look not so much at the Things which are seen, which are temporal, as to the Things which are not seen, and are eternal—to improve your Time, Talents, and Opportunities, in doing the Will of GOD, in seeking after an Interest in his Favor and Friendship, and making Preparation for a Life of complete and endless Happiness beyond the Grave—to be growing wiser and better, more holy, humble, resigned, and heavenly; that you may be pre­pared for Death, whenever it shall come, and enter thro' this gloomy Vale, into the Regions of everlasting Light and Joy. May you attend to these Lessons of divine Providence, and not be so overwhelmed with Grief and Sorrow, as to neglect, or misimprove these Instructions: May divine Support, Consolation, and Instruction, be afforded to you, in Proportion to your Trials and Wants: And may you be enabled to endure this chastening, with such a pious, humble and resigned Spirit and Behavior, as that it may yield unto you the praceable Fruite of Righ­teousness, and be a happy Means of working out for you a far more exceeding and eternal Weight of Glory, in the World of everlasting Recompence and Reward.

I would now address myself, in a few Words, to this Assembly. We are met together, my Friends, on a very solemn and sorrowful Occasion, as the sad Specta­cle before our Eyes sheweth: May our Hearts be deep­ly affected, and suitably impressed with it: And may we take the Warning that is now given us, to prepare, and always be ready for Death; which, however dis­tant [Page 23]we may be apt to think it to be, may be very near, and suddenly come upon us. But I would, in a more especial Manner, endeavour to excite the Attention of my younger Friends and Hearers to this speaking Pro­vidence, and to stir you up to a wise and early Care and Concern for your Souls, and a suture State. Often, to my certain Knowledge, have you, who belong to this Congregation, been put in Mind of your Frailty and Mortality, and Liableness to be cut down by sudden and untimely Death; and admonished of the Impor­tance of being always prepared for it, and of the Folly and Danger of living thoughtless and unconcerned a­bout it: And I doubt not, but this is like [...] the [...] of others here present. And now you have, before your Eyes, some of the most striking Instances of the Frailty and Uncertainty of human Life. Let me ask you, Have you any more Security of Life, than those who lie there had, a Moment before the forked Light­ning struck them breathless, and motionless? Might it not have been, and may it not soon be your unhappy Lot to be as those young Men are? And will you, never­theless, still presume upon Life, and, upon this Pre­sumption, go on in Security and Carnality, neglecting to make speedy and necessary Preparation for Death? How inexcusable, and [...] Expression miserable will you be, if, after this, Death should overtake you suddenly, and unprepared? If the Number of your Days and Months, determined by GOD, should run out, and be finished, before you have made your Peace with him, and secured an Interest in CHRIST JESUS, and the great Salvation proposed and offered to you in the Gospel? O! that your Eyes might this Day affect your Hearts, and that, by the concurring Influences of the Word and Spirit of GOD, with this awakening Providence, you might be effectually roused out of your thought­less and secure Frame, and engaged, henceforward, to think on your Ways, and turn your Feet into GOD's Testimonies: Yea, to make Haste, and make no Delay, to seek and to serve the LORD, your Maker and Re­deemer, [Page 24]in Sincerity and Truth; and to get into such a Preparation and Readiness for Death, that, should it come speedily and suddenly upon you, it might be safe and happy for you, and your disembodied Spirits may be wafted from the Confines of this sinful and troublesome World, to the Heaven of perfect and everlasting Rest and Blessedness.

To conclude: May we all, whether older or younger, be excited, by this monitory Providence, to work out [...] Salvation with Fear and trembling, and to give all di­ligence to make our Calling and Election sure, that we may be [...] of our Judge in Peace; lest, otherwise, our Lord, [...] suddenly, should find us sleeping and unprepared, to [...] everlasting Disappointment, Shame and Confusi­on; and that we may meet, and pass through this great and [...] Change of Nature, whenever it shall happen, with Cynosure and Resignation, and the solid Joy and Hope of [...] Blessedness; and that, when these frail Tabernacle of our Bodies shall be dissolved, our immortal Souls may, under the safe Convoy of holy Angels, ascend to our GOD and SAVIOR, into these spa­cious and happy Mansions, prepared for us; where we shall die no more, but shall live and reign with CHRIST, for ever and ever: Which God of his infinite Mercy grant, through Jesus Christ our only Lord and Savior; to whom be Glory and Dominion for ever. AMEN.

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