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COMPOSED FOR THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF
0 Thou whom Heaven and earth obey,
Thrice bail that Power, that Love divine,
Thanks, grateful thanks !-our eyes now see
From savage foes thy potent arm
H. C. D),
WOODSTOCK, OCTOBER, 1826.
SERMON, NO. XXXI.
[This Sermon was delivered by the Editor, at the request of
Brother Abel Emmons of Hartland, who has recently been called to part with a very promising son, Alden Emmons, who died at Norfolk, Va. July 10, 1826.
JOHN xiii. 7.-“Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do,
thou knowest not now ; but thou shalt know hereafter.”
The occasion which has convened us together, the duties we meet to perform, are, in the first degree, solemn and important. A young man, who had just completed his studies at College, who was the pride and glory of his father's family, tenderly beloved and respected by all his friends and acquaintances, had but just sallied forth in the world, when he was suddenly overtaken with sickness, which terminated in death. And what adds very much to make the present case solemn is, that this youth had only left his father's house about one fortnight previous to his death ; and on the way to North-Carolina, the place of his destination, he stopped at Norfolk, and there expired. No father did he have to support him on the pillow of dissolution, no mother to wipe off the cold sweat of death, no brother nor sister to reach him the cooling draught to moisten his parched tongue. Far from his vative home, anil among entire strangers, he was called to die. Solemn consideration! But thanks be to God, that we live in a country where we feel that we are brethren, from the extreme of the north to our furthermost territory in the south, and from the east to the west. Hospitality and kindness are manifested in every section of our country towards the sick and dying stranger. And this was the case with respect to our young friend. Skilful physi
cians and faithful nurses were afforded him, and every assistance rendered, that could in the least meliorate his distressed condition. But with all this kind care and attention, he, nevertheless, must die, his time had come that he must depart. The loss, which his parents, his brothers and sisters sustain in his death, can never be repaired on these terrestrial shores. As this providence ranks among some of the mysterious dealings of God with us, we have selected a portion of scripture, which infers, that we do not comprehend the propriety of all the dealings of God in the present tense, but that they shall be revealed hereafter.
Our blessed Savior, "knowing that the Father bad given all things into his bands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments, and took a towel, where with he was girded : Then cometh he to Simon Peter, and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet ? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do, thou knowest not now
bet thou shalt know liereafter.” “ From this saying of Jesus we are made to understand that the disciples of Christ then selves, did not fully comprehend their Master in all his labors of love. They were required to wait a time with patience for further information.
In further illustrating this subject, I propose, my friendly, afflicted bearers, to bring into view two things which are naturally suggested in the text.
First: Some of the obscure things of Divine Providence.
Secondly : Notice that we have the promise of a more perfect revelation hereafter.
I. In speaking of the obscurities of Divine Providence, it may very safely be said, that there are many. Events, of which we cannot perfectly understand their utility, occur before our eyes almost every day. When I say that we cannot perfectly understand all the ways of Jehovah, I do not mean that we have no knowledge at all of his government, It is certain, in many cases, that we have a very clear view of God's goodness. Our Heavenly Father has very kindly constructed nature on such a plan, that it affords us many blessings. The earth is prolific in pouring forth her treasures to mee our returning wants. All this, we know, and it must be perfect goodness in Him who has so ordered it. But on the other hand, we behold sin and misery, sickness, pain and death. These things are connected with our present mode of existence, and we never can be exempt froin them while we tabernacle in flesh.
Sin, or that propensity which we have about us, leading or inclining us to do that which to our better judgment is wrong, is what every one of the human family, who has come to any considerable maturity in life, has experienced. And some ask the question, Why has sin ever been permitted ? This is what we cannot fully understand, therefore we are not perfectly prepared to give an answer. It is probable, however, that this propensity of evil was not permitted, by a wise and good Being, to prove a final injury. To say that it would prove a final injury to any, would be to impeach the infinite goodness of that Being, who had almighty power to prevent it. We have, however, the consoling promise in the Bible, that sin, with all its consequential effects, shall be destroyed. Sickness and pain, fasten themselves upon the constitution of some pleasant little children, and they linger along in suffering and feebleness, till at last solemn death closes the scene.. The question may be asked, Why did the great, perfect Author of our existence give a child birth to live so short a time, and then call it away? This certainly would be very inysterious, if the child were never to see life again; but, if such little ones are prepared for the kingdom of heaven, as our Savior expresses it, then in some degree the mystery vanishes, they may be taken from evils to come. The youth also are frequently attacked with pain and sickness, which terminate in death. This was the case with our young friend for whom we mourn. He had but just prepared himself, in his own mind, to live, when he was called to die. Mysterious, mysterious are the ways of God! My friends, while tears of grief run down your cheeks, let me endeavor to console you. He, who made all things, has an undoubted right to dispose of them as he pleases; it is his prerogative to pluck the fairest flower from nature's garden, and who should reply against him? Altho the active youth be called to yield up his breath, and wither like the rose broken from its stem, and the aged, inactive, infirm old man be spared, to continue a little longer; yet, we will never rebel against God,- for his thoughts and his ways are not as ours.
That there are many things which take place in the divine government, of which we cannot comprehend the utility or propriety, must be acknowledged by us all. And it is a fact that we are, in our best estate, very imperfect creatures. blind with respect to what will take place in the future, we know not what a change may happen in our condition in the short space of a day or an hour. Some of our pleasant and beloved friends may be called from us by death, or we may be summoned away ourselves. We are continually advancing to the silent tomb, and to a boundless eternity. Shortly, the places we now occupy in society will be filled by others, and we shall sleep with our fathers. Neither youth, nor health, nor strength; neither riches, honor, learning, prosperity, and usefulness can save us from death. The high, the low, the rich and poor must all yield to the king of terrors. In the grave yard, on the monuments of mortality, we read the records of all ages, from the promising child, the blooming youth, to the man who was full of