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OCCASIONED BY THE DECEASE OF MRS. HALLS,
WHO DIED SUDDENLY, FEBRUARY, 1756.
HEBREws xi. 4.
At the very mention of these words you will immediately recollect the awful providence that occasioned them ;-a providence wbich very nearly affects some of us, and has a very important and alarming aspect upon all; and, as it whirls by us, thunders in our ears, Prepare to follow.
To be hurried into eternity without the ceremony of taking leave; to be summoned to the bar of God át a moment's warning (happy for her that her accounts were ready!) to be snatched out of life just as we were beginning to live to any purpose; to have our hopes smothered, and our rising prospects dashed in
an instant-lo, these things worketh God oftentimes with man; and by these acts of sovereignty asserts his claim to the possessions and lives of his creatures; and at the same time severely rebukes the folly and impiety of those who “say in their hearts, their Lord delayeth his coming.”
By the late melancholy stroke, the world has been deprived of one that promised fair for usefulñess ;-a circumstance which, though it be a pecu
liar satisfaction to surviving friends, greatly darkens the mystery of Providence in removing such, when their number is so small, and at a time when they seem to be most of all wanted. 6. How unsearchable are thy judgments, O Lord ! and thy ways past finding out !”—Instead, therefore, of busying our. selves with a fruitless and impertinent inquiry into the reasonableness and propriety of such awful dispensations, it would be more to our credit, and unspeakably more to our advantage, if we endeavoured to improve them. Which I know not how we can do better, than by attending to those impor. tant things which, “ being dead, she yet speaketh.”
I might here give you a large account of Abel's faith and sacrifice'; and entertain you with a great variety of conjectures of learned men upon the reason of Abel's sacrifice being more excellent than Cain's ; and tell you several useful things which he, though dead so long ago, yet speaketh : but it would be cruelty to keep you so long from the conversation of a much dearer friend. Any advice from one whom we'affectionately love and esteem, is grateful; and the stronger the affection, the greater the influence. The dying words of such a friend have in them something peculiarly endearing, and are seldom or never forgotten. What, then, may we expect from words spoken from the grave - shall I say, spoken from heaven ?-It is natural to expect a great deal: and God Almighty grant that every word she now speaks (for I shall consider myself chiefly as her mouth to you) may be "written, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tables of stone, but on the fleshly tables of the heart.”
But, hark she speaks!
I.“ Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and your children.”
• All my tears are wiped away: God wiped them away
with infinite tenderness and affection : and hath given me (in a manner I cannot express, nor you conceive).“ beauty, for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." Here is nothing but joy, and triumph, and ecstasy ; and my companions assure mę it will be always so; that sorrow and sighing are flown away for ever. You would not understand the language of heaven, or, otherwise, I could tell you what would turn your tears for me into congratulations: I could tell you things that would make
you hate the world, and long to be unclothed. Weep not for me: I do not ask your tears, for. I do not want them; but I see, that, though your heads were waters, and your eyes fountains of tears, your children's sorrows and your own would need them all. Weep for yourselves; for you are yet in the wilderness; and, while I have got safe to my Father's house and arms, you are subject to all the inconve. niences and hazards of travellers and pilgrims. Weep for your children--those helpless infants, who are yet innocent and thoughtless ; unaffected, because insensible of what a world they are come into, and , to what trouble they are born.'
And true it is, she has turned our tears into their proper channel, and taught us to weep, not over her grave-stone, but over our own much harder hearts. All our comforts, and blessings flow down to us from heaven ; but we are to look nearer home for the cause of our trouble and sorrow. If it had
not been for sin, our ears would never have been pierced with doleful cries, por our eyes beheld such spectacles of woe, nor our hearts have felt such smarting pangs of sympathizing anguish.' The pains and disorders of the body, the sickness and death of friends, the losses and disappointments which affect our circumstances in the world these, and all the other innumerable evils, which are, as it were, natural and unavoidable, are indeed lamentable and severe : but vastly more so are the disorders of the soul, hardness of heart, earthly affections, stubbornness of will, the anguish of a wounded spirit, the terrors of an awakened conscience, the frowns of an offended God, and the fears of eternal condemnation. These are the evils we have most rea. son to weep over; here, tears are commendable and graceful; here is no danger of excess in our sorrow. Let sin be the object, and then let rivers of tears flow down our eyes. In this case, the deeper we are afflicted, the better. Let us weep for ourselves --for that degree of degeneracy and corruption that was derived from our first parents, and for the sad and large addition we have made to it by our own folly and wilfulness. Let us weep for our children, that we have been the means of communicating to them a fallen, degenerate, and consequently a diseased and distressed, nature; and that we have done, yea, that we can do, no more to root out that folly which is bound up in their hearts, and to prevent the fatal effects of those bad examples, and violent and suitable temptations, of which the world is full. Such things as these, seriously considered, will soon show us the importance of her first'words ;
“ Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and your
chjldren.” But, hark ! She speaks again !
2. • Seek the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof, in the first place; and all other things shall be added unto you.'
Lay aside that restless and unbelieving solici. tude about what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, or what you shall put on : " is not the body more than meat, and the life more than raiment, and the soul more than either? And " if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall be not much more clothe you, O
of little faith ?" Lay not up for yourselves treasures on the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal’--(if I had had no treasures but these to depend upon, I should have been undone) "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,”' where no moth corrupteth, nor thief approacheth, I know something of both worlds; and now. I see more clearly than ever, that all below the sun is vanity and vexation of spirit. All heaven is surprised to see mankind so eager in the pursuit of toys, and trifles, and pleasures of a moment's continuance; labouring with so much pains for the meat which perisheth, and at the same time so slothful and thoughtless about that which endureth to everlasting life. In heaven, only, is, fulness of joy. Indeed, it is but a few days I have been here ;" but a day in God's courts, in God's house, in God's immediate presence, is “ better than a thousand :") and I am sure I have seen, and learnt, and enjoyed,