Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

heart.

often so fatal to the usefulness even of great men, he pursued with persevering patience whatever good design be undertook ; and that prudence which was so distinguished a part of his character, enabled him to judge of the importance of ends, and the properest measures of obtaining them : So that I have seldom known any, who appeared to suffer fewer disappointments in the prosecution of their schemes, than he.

His great modesty did indeed prevent him from some public services, of which he was on many accounts very capable : I mean, instructing the world more frequently from the press. But the few specimens of this kind which he has given, are sufficient to make us regret there are no more, and to excite our wishes that some way may be found of rescuing from oblivion some of his many valuable remains.

It was one instance of Dr. Clark's remarkable wisdom, that he was a most attentive observer of providence: And the conduct of providence towards him was, in many respects, peculiarly worthy of observation : He delighted himself in the Almighty, and God gave him the desire of his heart.

He was undoubtedly one of the happiest, as well as one of the best of men, in domestic life ; and indeed, for a long course of years, prosperity seemed to attend on all bis steps. As he was greatly blessed in a most suitable, affectionate, and amiable consort, and in a train of lovely children, he treated them always with the most endearing tenderness, and was perpetually labouring to improve all his influence over them, for their advancement in religion, and in whatever else might make them capable of increasing happiness.

Prudence taught him to form friendship with due deliberation, and none could cultivate it more faithfully ; nor conld any one be happier in expressing the kind sentiments with which his heart overflowed, wherever he professed it, or more ready to think himself obliged, or to return with interest every good of. fice he received. And the good band of his God was remarkably upon him in this respect, in sparing to him for many years some intimate friends, for whom he had through life the highest esteem; and in raising up others towards the close of his life, who shewed in the most obliging manner the high respect they paid to his merit as soon as they began to know it, and the pleasure they took in contributing to his happiness. : As God had placed him in more plentiful circumstances than many of his brethren, it appeared that he well knew how to use and to become them. His mind was too great to be in any degree elated with them, too wise and too good to fail of improving them for the best purposes. His liberal soul devis

23, prosperityprestic life; hampigst, as well

ed liberal things, which yet he was studious to conceal. He took a peculiar pleasure, in hospitably sharing with his brethren and friends the bounties of divine Providence ; and gave and received a new supply of spirits, while he was conversing with them in such circumstances.

Thus did this good and happy man pass through a long series of years, increasing in knowledge and in piety, in zeal and usefulness; loving all, and by all beloved; honouring all, who deserved any peculiar regard, and by all such honoured, in proportion to their knowledge of him; bringing joy into every house which he entered, and most of all into his own when he returned to it. And when towards the close of so bright a day. heavy afflictions visited him, he took occasions from them to exhibit new virtues and graces, and to demonstrate that it was not from speculation alone, he had known how so well in prosperity to inculcate the duties of adversity. He bore frequent visits of acute pain, with uncommon patience and cheerfulness : And though the unutterable pleasure he took in exerting himself continually in public service, rendered his paralytic disorders peculiarly grievous ; yet even these he supported with great resignation to the will of God, and cheerful hope in his long experienced goodness. And in this visitation, mercy surrounded him in a manner well worthy of our recollection. Though his speech was so much affected by it, as to render him, for more than a year and an half, incapable of the labours of the pulpit, yet his understanding continued in its full vigour ; nor did I ever hear him discourse with more sagacity and penetration, or pray with more readiness or propriety of expression, than since this lamented complaint seized him: And he was still capable of study, which to his latest days he pursued with as much eagerness, as if he had just been laying in his furniture for the ministry.

There seemed also a providential beauty in the vicissitudes of Dr. Clark's illness and recovery. Whereas he was so extremely afflicted for a considerable time at Bath with a complication of distempers, that his skilful physician scarce expected to have found him alive at his return, for several days ; his spirits still kept up to the amazement of all that were around him, and he discovered a serenity which nothing could discom. pose, a cheerfulness which nothing could overbear. Thus he triumphed over death, when it seemed to make its nearest and most deliberate approaches: And after this you know, in how surprising a manner he was given back to the prayers which were offered for him, and restored to his own house, and tho house of his friends again; yea, what was to him most delight

ture were tai heart, when alen near him

ful of all, restored to the house of his God. I cannot express the pleasure with which I reflect upon it, that the last sabbath, and almost the last day of his life, was spent with you in this place; and that he was administring the sacrament of the Lord's-supper to you, but a few hours before he received his final discharge from the service of this lower world*. And truly, I think the circumstances of that discharge peculiarly favourable. To be so suddenly struck, as to be able only by a speaking smile to testify to the dear relatives then near him, the secret tranquility and joy of his heart, when all the powers of utterance and of nature were failing him at once ; and then to take flight for heaven, without so much as a groan, is a death greatly to be congratulated, when viewed in connexion with such a life.

Oh my brethren, what shall I say? With difficulty indeed do I restrain a thousand thoughts which are rising in my mind, while I speak of my friend, of my father, for such I may properly call him, if all the offices of paternal tenderness and care can merit that title. We cannot but mourn, yet let us rejoice too. Let us rejoice that we have known him, and known him to be such a man ; that he has marked his way with such distinguished usefulness, and scatterd so many blessings, of which so many are left behind him. As when Dorcas was gone, surviving friends shewed the garments which she had made for the poor, as memorials of her goodness so may I this day shew many remaining, many present effects of Dr. Clark's piety and zeal; and though so many of them may seem to be hidden in the grave, yet neither are they lost. To him, I may truly say, that under God I owe even myself, and all my opportunities of public usefulness in the church ; to him, who was not only the instructor of my childhood and youth in the principles of religion, but my guardian when an helpless orphan, as well as the generous, tender, faithful friend, of all my advancing years. By him, were many of you instructed with me in the course of catechistical lectures, and other exercises of the like kind, which he so happily invented and diversified for the benefit of the rising generation.t To him, as the instrument in the hand of divine grace, do many of you owe it, that early religious impressions were made upon your minds ; that you were introduced betimes to the table of the Lord ; and that you were formed, by all the advantages of instruction and example, to those characters which many of you so worthily and usefully sustain. In some families he has been in all these respects successively a blessing to parents and children; and he has with unutterable pleasure seen in many of you, that his Labours have not been in vain in the Lord. And I cannot look upon the children of the charity school now present, without recollecting, that it is now more than thirty years since it was founded by his pious care, exciting the generality of his flock, to make, if I mistake not, the first efforts of this kind, that was ever made among the dissenters in the country ; which has since been followed in many other places with happy success, and which I hope will still be, as I am sure the institution here has already been a means of great good, with respect both to the temporal and eternal interest of many, who must otherwise have been exposed to great ignorance and wretchedness.

* On Lord's-day, December 2, whereas he died on the Tuesday following.

f It was customary with Dr. Clark for many years, to meet young persons at the vestry on the Thursday evenings for religious conversations, in which he went over successively some useful subjects, of which he gave them some schemes in writing, that they might give him an account of them. Thus he went over the history of scripture, the evidences of natural and revealed religion, the reasons of the reformation from popery, and the ethics of Solomon, collected from a very judicious analysis which he made of his proverbs and book of Bcclesiastes. He has left behind him fairly transcribed in short-hand, between two and three hund. red discourses on this last subject, which I could wish in every hand, so far as I can judge of the specimen I have seen of them.

Such are the monuments, which our honoured friend has left behind him: And may they long remain! May the effects of his pious and excellent labours be more and more conspicuous! Grievous indeed would it be, if any who heard such exhortations, and saw them illustrated by such an example, should remain unimpressed with a sense of divine things. If there be any such present, let me entreat them to hear him once more while dead, yet speaking. Let me entreat them to give an attentive perusal to those excellent sermons on the folly of irresolution in religion, which at our united request he published : They seem sufficient to convince every conscience ; and oh that divine grace might add efficacy to the conviction ! As for those of us, who by that gracc have felt and submitted to the power of such considerations, and are now serving God in the sincerity of our hearts, what can be more seasonable, under our present distress, than to have recourse to that collection of scripture-promises, which he so judiciously ranged in connexion with the characters to which they are made. Let us drink of these living streams, from that fountain which never can be drawn dry, and our souls shall be refreshed ; and we shall be taught to say, with a joy which a loss like this will not be able to take away, The Lord liveth, and blessed be our rock; and let the God of our salvation be exalted. Amen.

AN ORATION

AT THE GRAVE OF

THE REV. MR. JOHN NEWMAN.

Spoke on July 31, 1741.

The substance of what was delivered at the interment of the Rev. Mr. Newman,

July 31, 1741 ; with the addition of some particulars, which there was not time then to introduce.

A s we advance from one stage to another in the journey of life, we grow still more familiarly acquainted with its various afflictions. And this is the constitution of a wise and gracious God, who is thus training us up for that world, where we shall be above the need of sorrow, and so for ever above the reach of it. In the mean time, our heavenly father doth not leave us comfortless; and blessed be his name, his Consolations are not small. On the contrary, they are most important, as well as various, and so accommodated, both to the weight, and to the variety of our distresses.

We are now an assembly of mourners, gathered together around the grave of a very worthy and excellent person. Some of us have lost one of the most affectionate of all parents; others, a wise, watchful, and diligent pastor ; and all that knew him to any degree of intimacy, so faithful, and so tender a friend, that we must be strangely happy, if we find a great many like him, in this imperfect and impoverished world. But there are comforts in the word of God, suited exactly to such a case as this, and expressly designed to teach us, that we should not sorrow as those who have no hope, for the removal of such as, like him, sleep in Jesus. God would have us cheered in such a touching circumstance; and that the comfort may be administered in the most proper and effectual manner, he puts words into our mouth upon such an occasion, that we may not be at a loss, even when our own are swallowed up: many words, which have been through succeeding ages, ever since they were

touchinn, sleep who haesigne

« ZurückWeiter »