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DELIVERED BY THE REV. J. TOPHAM,
AT ST. ANDREW8, DROITWICH, ON WEDNESDAY, OCT. 17, 1832.
The day voluntarily set apart by the inhabitants as a Day of Thanksgiving
to Almighty God, for removing from among them the Cholera Morbus.
Psalm cxvi. 2._" Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon
him as long at I live.”
We, have this day, met together, in any warning of the awful destiny that the courts of the Lord's house, pub-awaited them, began to look into their licly to testify to him the gratitude we hearts, and to canvas their past lives, feel for the mercy and lovingkindness and to reflect, whether they were in a shown to us, in sparing our lives, and condition, if also attacked, to meet the preserving our health during the late investigation of their Lord, or to abide heavy and alarming visitation of pes- his second coming, to judge the world tilence, with which the inhabitants of in righteousness. The sinner then felt this place have been generally afflicted. the insecurity of his position. He We still read of the progress of the was conscious of his unworthiness, malady, and of its deadly character, and looked round for some means of in every region where it has made, or deliverance, from the weight of comis making, its sojournment. We also punction, which, bowed down his hear of its re-appearance in places over spirit and racked his soul. He recolwhich it had formerly blown its life- | lected that he had done many things blasting breath ; and we are told that he ought not to have done, and left the nature of the disease is as little undone many he ought to have doneunderstood, as at its first recognition and wished that his conduct had been in the world, seventeen years ago. It more holy and regular; more godly becomes us, therefore, to be thankful and less worldly. In the poignancy for the favour we have received, and of his affliction he turned to Godto remember the professions we made he earnestly resolved, if spared from in the season of danger and appre- destruction, to reform his life, and hended destruction. No doubt many cleanse and purify his heart; and of you were called to a lively sense of straitway his soul was refreshed and his religion by the alarming situation in hope of deliverance strengthened. In which you were placed. No doubt this happy moment of renewed confimany who had hitherto been negligent dence in his God, he pronounced the of the worship of God, and had pre- vow of obedience in the language siviously walked in the broad way of sin milar in import to that of the Psalmist, and death, when they saw the strong Because, O Lord, thou hast inclined and powerful among their acquaint- thine ear unto me, therefore, will I ance, writhing and tortured on the call upon thee, as long as I live.” bed of sickness, or hurried to the The hand of the Destroying Angel dark region of the tomb, with scarcely hath now been stayed,
goeth forth again to his labour until (fied and enlightened, may be blessed the evening," with his accustomed hi- and sanctified. We there find the larity; seemingly forgetful of the dan- peace we had lost. We behold, the gerous path he has lately trod through hand-writing that was against our the valley and shadow of death. He species, nailed to the cross, and oblireturns insensibly to his old habits of terated by the sacred blood of Jesus. thought and of action, and will fall We see the just, offering himself as into his former condition, without a an atonement of the sins of the uncontinual communion is kept up by just, and God reconciled to the world prayer, with the Holy Spirit of God. by the greatness of the sacrifice—and The heart must be constantly guarded, in the wonderful plan of salvation or it will soon be defiled with wicked therein revealed, we are made fellowthoughts and lusts: the remembrance workers with the great Captain of our of which, lately so heavily disturbed redemption, by being called to pursue and disquieted it. A tight rein must, a similar line of duty and of trial to therefore, be kept over the passions, that which was once practised by the and a watch set before the door of his eternal Son of God. He came to seek lips, lest he relapse into his former and to save that which was lost, by unfruitful or wicked courses, and he obedience to the decrees and appointbecome tenfold more a child of Satan ments of his heavenly Father; and we than before.
are not only to make our calling and During the prevalence of the dis- election sure, by working out our own ease we were made sensible, that vain salvation, but also to save others, by was the help of man, when once the disseminating and making known the buman system was thoroughly conta- glad tidings of the Gospel among our minated by its poison ; and more par- brethren at home by every means in ticularly, that persons in advanced our power, and by spreading abroad years and weakly constitutions, or the great truths of the Bible through vicious habits, were speedily made its every nation, people, and language, victims. It becomes all, therefore, to that cover the face of the world. The seriously consider the state and con- principles of our faith ought to be dition of their spiritual affairs; to in- thoroughly incorporated with our conrestigate the nature and excellence of stitutions, and made the moving power the religious system which the Provi- of every thought, and word, and acdence of God has blessed them with; tion; the touch-stone of our character; and to make provision for “the one and the bright beacon of our conduct, thing needful,” should suddenly dan- so that men seeing our good works ger again burst upon them and over- may be induced to turn from wickedwhelm them by its violence.
ness to holiness; and together with us, The Holy Scriptures should fre- glorify by their lives, our Father who quently form the contemplation of is in Heaven. every redeemed child of Adam. The With us who have experienced the state of the world previous to the special protection of Heaven, and seen coming of the Just One, will show us, the power of God exerted amidst our how utterly unable we are to pursue habitations, there is the strongest inthe road that leadeth to happiness ducement, nay, the most imperative without aid from above; and that the compulsion, to observe and follow the unregenerate mind is at enmity with commands of God our Saviour in all holiness, and eager to follow unclean- things during the remainder of our ness with greediness. In the Gospel lives. We have renewed our covenant we learn how the soul may be puri
with him. We have solemnly promised henceforward to be his willing health, we scarcely could reconcile servants. We have acknowledged his with our reason. Having ourselves protecting Providence; and our duty experienced the chastisements of the is clear and obvious; “Because he hath Lord, we learn to feel for our fellowinclined his ear unto us, therefore, Christians, when suffering under simi. should we call upon him as long as lar circumstances; we see the neceswe live."
sity of bestowing relief speedily, in Consider well, my brethren, the order to insure recovery to the pachange of heart and conduct which tient. We are forcibly reminded how these words imply. You have been dependent we are upon each other for brought by the fear of danger or by comfort and support; and we confess the life-consuming energy of disease, “ that it is better to go to the house to the footstool of the Almighty-you of mourning,” than to the house of have beheld the mercy of God ex- feasting, in order to learn properly our tended in a wonderful manner to your duty to our neighbour, ourselves, and selves and families, when every mor- our God, which we have hitherto tal hope was disappearing; and you looked upon as a scene above all others have felt that the consolation arising to be avoided. We also see the use of from the doctrines and promises of the affliction in proving the soundness of Bible, are the only sure support in the our religious principles. By it our day of trouble, the only well whence faith is tried; and our humility and the waters of comfort can be drawn resignation to the will of God exemin the hour of affliction and disease. plified. Job was fed with the bread of In health, forget not the mercies you pain, and his body scarified with puhave experienced, the promises you trid and tormenting sores, yet he sufhave made, and the resolutions you fered not the violence of the calamities have engaged to fulfil. Let not busi- that oppressed him to shake his confiness occupy all your thoughts; blend dence in the wisdom and just proviyour duty to your family and to the dence of God. And his history is world, with the duties of your religion; written for our learning; his conduct and let every transaction be grounded is a model for the future imitation of on the principles of the Gospel. This suffering mortality, whenever it shall will instruct you how to behave in please the Almighty“to plague us with every branch of your conduct:- divers diseases and sundry kinds of whether high or low, rich or poor, the death.” Daniel and David were both word of God will be found adapted to men of sorrow and acquainted with all circumstances and conditions of grief, and the outpourings of a life; and while it teaches men how to wounded and humbled spirit are to walk, so as to make individuals happy be found in many of the most sublime and nations prosperous, it prepares effusions of the sweet singer of Israel. their minds for greater fields of exer- These, indeed, have furnished balm tion and more exalted modes of bliss for mourners, and modes of expresin the kingdom promised to the sion for the afflicted in every age of blessed of their Father.
the world since the time that he soIn times of general distress and journed upon earth. In the murkiest alarm arising from the visitations of moments of despondency, the contrite disease, we are made sensible of the sinner may derive comfort from the feebleness of our condition, and rea- perusal of the Book of Psalms-an oil dily perceive the force of many of may be drawn from this divine fount, those passages in Holy Writ which which, if sprinkled on the most in the gay run of prosperity and troubled waters, will calm their tumult
and still their raging; and though the animated by love towards the brethren; soul be cast down when the work of stimulated to well-doing by faith in perusal is but commenced, yet before Christ; active in charity ; fervent in many pages shall have been read prayer; steady in your religious duand digested, “ hope in God” will ties, and have a conscience void of hare refreshed and consoled the heart. offence towards God and towards
You, therefore, my brethren, who know what the terrors of the Lord are Then, whether the Almighty shall -you who have experienced the mercy allow you to enjoy many years, or this of God when numbers were falling shall be the last which now the sun around your dwellings-you who have marks by his waning ray, as drawing been brought to the confines of the near to its close; whether your path grave and then set at liberty from the through life be overcast with storm galling chain which had nearly weighed and darkness, or smooth and bright; dosn your body to the dust-remem- enlivened by success and happiness, ber what were the feelings of your or depressed by misfortune and pominds when the press of suffering was verty, you may still rest on that apon you-remember what were the anchor which will moor you securely resolutions of your hearts, what the in the haven of eternal bliss; and professions of your lips, when the dan- when the days of your pilgrimage ger was receding, and the dart of shall have passed, and your years Death averted. Were not your knees drawn to an end as a tale that is told, bent, and your eyes raised to Heaven you shall live for ever in that kingdom for the mercy then happily displayed? which Christ came to prepare for all Did you not resolve on recovery to that love him and keep his commandcall upon the Lord as long as you ments, safe under the protection of might live, because he had inclined the Almighty, and happy in his prehis ear unto you, and snatched you sence throughout the ages of eternity. from the jaws of the grave, which to Which God grant may be the deteryour affrighted imaginations appeared mination and the lot of all who have opening to receive you? Do you now lately experienced the mercy of Heaobärve your vows? My brethren, ven ; who are here this day met to the good resolutions then formed praise their great and good preserver must faithfully be practised. The dark for the kindness and favour they have shades in your Christian character must received, and who are henceforward be wiped out. The graces of a child resolved to make religion their study of God must be substituted in the and rule of conduct; to repose on the place of many frivolous and trifling merits of their Redeemer for pardon ; qualifications, which previously to to imitate him, and worship him, and your illness or alarm, you looked upon call upon him, as long as they live, with complacency, but in the season “Because in their distress he inclined of sickness and severe scrutiny you his ear unto them, and helped them." felt their insignificance and vanity. -Amen. You must be clothed with humility;
On the arrival of “ the latter day,” | the working whereby he is able even the bodies of believers will be raised to subdue all things unto himself.”in a state refined and glorified. Not-And is it not indeed animating to the withstanding the dissolution that soul, when it can look forward to the awaited him,-“ in my flesh,” ex- arrival of the day to be signalized, for claimed the patriarch, “I shall see all the saints of the Lord, by an exalGod:” and it is now plain that he re- tation like this? Multitudes have cognised and delighted in the mystery already gone from the abodes of the of the resurrection of the body, to living; the worm has preyed upon which we have already averted—that them, and their bones have mouldered. grand truth, on which Christianity Generation after generation yet shall has shed the light of its full disclosure. pass away. Some may sleep in the —Here was, moreover, an anticipa- graves of their fathers, and in an astion, not only of a resurrection, but of semblage of holy dust; some may that glorious resurrection, that have their tombs dug by foreign surrection unto life,” which is to be hands, in foreign climes, where is no the exclusive portion and privilege of friend to mourn ; some may have their the redeemed people of God. It is ashes scattered to the winds of heathe subject of emphatic promise, that ven; or perhaps the unfathomed at the sounding of the trumpet which ocean may be made their funeral-bed, shall announce the second coming of and there they may lie beneath the Jesus, “ the dead in Christ shall heaving billow, “unknelled, uncofrise,” beautiful and lovely from their fined, and unknown.” But what graves, and assume a perfected nature matters it where lie the Christian's before the throne. As to the mode, remains ? and what matters it how he and many of the circumstances, of may be tenanted in the regions of that blessed restoration, there is an death? That vast variety of disposal impenetrable mystery; yet we know shall all be over, at the shout of him that wonderful will be the change. who is the “ Resurrection and the With what ecstatic delight must our Life.” Not one then shall be left in bosoms glow, when we meditate on the desolate slumber. All, from every the record that proclaims it! Listen, clime and period, shall be clothed believer, and rejoice! “ It is sown in afresh, and arise, and gather, bright corruption; it is raised in incorrup- and splendid in heavenly radiance, tion : it is sown in weakness; it is into one vast assembly, the inheritors raised in power : it is sown in dis- of everlasting joy. What inspiration honour; it is raised in glory: it is is in the prospect! Who feels not sown a natural body; it is raised a' already a triumph over death ? and spiritual body. -As we have borne the whose spirit, eager and panting for image of the earthly, we shall also the destined majesty, does not unite bear the image of the heavenly.” in the cry of the ransomed church,— “ The Saviour shall change our vile “ We wait for the adoption, to wit, hody, that it may be fashioned like the redemption of the body?"-J. unto his glorious body, according to ' Parsons.