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Funeral Sermon,
DELIVERED BY THE REV. H. BLUNT,

OCCASIONED BY THE DEATH OF W. WILBER FORCE, ESQ., AT HOLY TRINITY CHURCH,

CHELSEA, ON SUNDAY MORNING, AUGUST 4, 1833.

2 Kings, ii. 12.-" And Elishu saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of

Israel, and the horseman thereof! And he saw him no more."

The departure of a man of God must | ance, every instance of success is at all times, and under all circum- declared in the revealed word of stances, afford matter of deep and God, to have been the result of Eliprayerful reflection to the survivors : jah's prayers. At his effectual ferthe departure of a prophet, and of vent prayer the rains of heaven were such a prophet as Elijah, must have intercepted for the astonishing period been, at the time of its occurrence, of three years and six months; and one of the most striking events in the at the prayer of this same righteous history of the Israel of God. In man the heavens gave rain, and the himself he might be almost said to earth brought forth her fruit: at his have combined the offices of a pro- prayer the widow's barrel of meal phet, a priest, a king, and a con- wasted not, neither did the cruse of queror; and this although he has oil fail : at his prayer the false pronever put on the priestly ephod, or phets of Baal were disgraced and worn the kingly diadem, or drawn discomfited ; the armies of the aliens the conqueror's sword.

were utterly destroyed; the bodies And, brethren, whence was this? of kings were given to the dogs; fire How came it that a whole nation was came down from heaven to destroy thus deeply indebted to one of whom the enemies of God; and even the the apostle declares that he was “ a very dead were brought to life again. man şubject, to like passions as we He was pre-eminently a man of are.” The cause was this; not merely prayer; and so deeply indebted was that he was miraculously endowed the whole nation to the prayers of with the superior gifts and graces of Elijah, that, when he was miraculously a prophet, but that, as he himself de- received to his divine inheritance, his clares, he was very jealous for the beloved companion broke forth into Lord God of Hosts.” He bent all the the apostrophe of the text. energies of his supernaturally en- father, my father, the chariot of dowed mind to this one all-important Israel, and the horseman thereof!" subject; and while he devoted him- intending by this remarkable expresself to the service of his Creator, he sion to imply, that the real safeguard might have said with the apostle, “I of Israel was not her thousand chagive myself unto prayer.” This was riots of iron, that the true cavalry of the great secret of his abundant use- Israel were not her borsemen; but fulness, and unexampled success : that both were to be found in one prayer was his all-prevailing weapon prayerful and one devoted man of throughout his long and remarkable God. life. Almost every incident of import- The words of the text, and the in

· My dividual to whom they were applied, the powers of their oratory, and all have been brought with peculiar the interests of their wealth, for her vividness to my mind by the removal aggrandisement. And though through from the midst of us, even in the pa- a selfish, sordid, groveling ambition, rish in which we dwell, since we last the very name of patriot bas, in our worshipped in this place, one who, days, been rendered a by-word and a when in this neighbourhood, was in laughing stock, yet, we trust, there the habit of worshipping with us--one may be many such-it would be tho of the best and greatest men the pre- extreme of uncharitableness to supsent generation hath ever looked pose there are none. But where upon ; I need scarcely mention the shall we find the men who love their name of WILBERFORCE. It is not too country as the church and handmaid much to say, that the sun in its diur- of their God---men who, as politicians, nal course visits no region, shines on will devote themselves to their God no country of civilized men, where as he of whom I speak so nobly did that name is unknown; and we might in years gone by, in rescuing their further add, none where many do not country from those foul taints which rise up and call him blessed.

hang around her? Some such, no The house of God is, I am well doubt there are, who prepare themaware, no place for eulogy upon the selves for their public efforts for their poor worms of earth : but if the Spirit country's welfare by their private of God does not fail to record so prayers, by their devotedness to God; striking an example of departed great- who are not ashamed to assert the ness as the words of the text convey- honor of his day, and the necessity if that same unerring Spirit has not of acting in strict accordance with hesitated to declare of men of like Christian principle, and of recogpassions with ourselves, that the nising the hand of Divine Providence world was not worthy of them, and in all things, even in the certainty of to place them before us for our en- being met with the scorn and ridicule samples, on whom the ends of the of an unbelieving world. world are come-I feel no scruple, It forms one of the chief grounds in the evil times on which our lot has for the continued welfare of our been cast, in endeavouring to recall country, in the mind of the Christian, to your recollection some of the fea- that we possess some such, although

in of , man of God, before the gushing tide men may be found in the great counof passing events shall have swept cils of the nation. But when he of them from our minds for ever. whom I speak commenced his great

The character, then, in which I career, the way in which he was conwould wish to present the memory of strained to walk, "might almost i bo the departed is that of a Christian called in that generation, an untrodden patriot--words, alas, we fear, so sel- way. Giving himself wholly to the dom truly united ; and yet, when great, and good, and blessed cause united, forming unquestionably “the of delivering from bondage all them highest style of man.” There may be that are bound-thus removing one of many who love their country for her the darkest stains that disgraced our own sake, for her high historical re-country (and this not at a time when collections, for her past and present such exertions were become part and glories; and who would devote all parcel of the liberalism of the day) the energies of their mind, and all we find a man so far in advance of

his species as to labour incessantly motive which could have induced him in this great work, unabashed by the to throw all his powers, his talents, world's ridicule and contempt, rising and his labours into the scale against only the stronger and more deter- that weight of human suffering and mined from his repeated failures; of a nation's sins. It was this that not indeed, like him of old, gather- it had pleased God of his goodness ing fresh strength from every fall to to teach this holy man, by the inspithe earth to which he was struck ration of his good Spirit, those eterdown - but drawing his renewed val truths, which, although existing energy and unflinching perseverance in the revealed word, and beaming from the heavens, to which alone he from all the ordinances of our church, looked for his aid and his reward. had become so lamentably and so All his powerful efforts occurred disgracefully forgotten. He was led amidst the contumely and the exe- to search the Scriptures for himself, crations of all but that little band of and by that search to discover that Christians who were united in this the religion of the world was in great and glorious work-a work fearful sition to the religion of which will bequeath the names of Jesus. He was led to search his Clarkson, and Sharp, and Stephen, own heart, and to find, too, the exand Wilberforce, to an admiring tent of its corruption, its utter wayposterity, when many of the con- wardness and helplessness, and spiquerors of the world, and the rulers ritual death; and from the survey of of the world, shall be forgotten--a his own dead heart, he was lead to work which will be remembered in the cross of a living Saviour. This the prayers and thanksgivings of was the secret of all bis abundant Christians so long as humanity to labours in the cause of suffering huour fellow creatures, founded on a manity. This was the mainspring of grateful love to God in Christ, shall the philanthropy of Wilberforce : le rank among the virtues of the man, loved God because God first loved or the graces of the Christian. him; and he loved men, all men, men

Brethren, who are enabled to ap- of all climes and of all countries, bepreciate such men and such exer- cause he loved God. It was from tions as they deserve to be appre- this great source of love in his heart ciated? We live too near to them, that he learned to estimate every our eyes are dazzled by their splen- suffering fellow creature, however dour; and it will require time and degraded, as a man and a brotherdistance to mellow down the tints remembering that the free grace of of glory which stand around them, God, and that alone, had made him before men will be able rightly to to differ from the vilest African who estimate the shape and magnitude of bled beneath the lash of the inexodeeds like these. One thing we know, rable slave driver; while this great however, and can appreciate ; and, source of love enabled bim, at the but for that one, that blessed fact, no same time, to look with an eye of reference should have been made pity and compassion on the thousand from this place to-day to mere worldly hireling libellers who carried on the greatness: we know the motive that warfare against his opinions, his chaimpelled this truly great and eminent racter, and his happiness, with a reckman-I believe I may say, of each of lessness of truth and bitterness of those honoured names have men- persecution which would be almost tioned-we know the one, the only remarkable even at the present day.

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How wonderful are the ways of God There is a testimony to the truth of that such a man, with a frame so this assertion so striking and so infeeble, that forty years ago the most teresting to all, while it is so honoureminent medical men considered his able to the memory of him of whom existence to hang on a thread—that we speak, that I shall not hesitate to such a man should have been spared bring it before you-forming a very to survive all his enemies and all affecting incident in the life of an their accusations, and, after living able minister of God not long since almost beyond the limits of the days taken to his rest.–We are told in of man, should have descended to the life of the late Mr. Legh Richthe grave like a shock of corn in its mond, that though he had been two season, attended by a nation's repre- years in holy orders, and still unimsentatives, and followed by a nation's pressed with the great duties to which tears! To the credit of our country, he had been called, and himself unmen of all parties and all opinions, enlightened in those truths he wa of the highest and noblest rank, commissioned to declare to others—a united to testify their respect to him, college friend to whom this work of and to verify the never-broken de- Mr. Wilberforce had been sent, havclaration of our God—“ Them that ing no desire to read it himself, forhonour me, I will honour.”

warded it to Mr. Legh Richmond, But there is yet another character requesting him to read it, and inform under which I would call your atten- him what he ought to say respecting tion to him whose loss we this day its contents. Now observe the mysrecord. Engaged as he unceasingly terious working of God's good prowas in the great measure to which vidence. This book, sent from so unhis life was given, in the midst of worthy a motive, and, we might almost those labours which must necessarily add, read with so unworthy a modevolve upon the active representa- tive, was blessed by God to the total tive of the largest county in Eng- change of heart, and life, and minisland, he determined to address his terial exertions, and therefore the countrymen on a subject which lay ministerial usefulness, of him who nearer to his soul than even the libe- read it. “He began to read the book, ration of wronged and tortured Afri- says his biographer, and found himcans—even on the duties which each self so deeply interested in its conindividual owed to his God, and upon tents, that the volume was not laid the saving doctrines of the religion down until the perusal of it was comof Christ. It was this determination pleted. The night was spent in readwhich led to the production of that ing and reflecting upon the important work, the “ Practical View of Real truths contained in this valuable and Christianity”—a work, the effect of impressive work. In the course of his which at the time was perhaps un employment the soul of the reader equalled by any merely human com- was penetrated to its inmost recesses; position which has ever appeared in and the effect produced in innumerable this country—a work which, although instances by the book of God was, in its place may in some degree now be his case, accomplished by means of a occupied by later, but not more able human composition.” In his own lancompositions, continues by God's guage he says, “I feel it to be a debt grace, to be a most remarkable in- of gratitude, which I owe to God and strument in his hand in turning many to man, to take this affecting opportuto righteousness.

nity of stating, that, to the unsought and unexpected introduction of Mr. | as was every public feature in the Wilberforce's book on Practical life of the departed, it was in the unChristianity,' I owe through God's blemished walks of private life that mercy, the first sacred impressions his Christian character was most dewhich I ever received as to the spirit- veloped : it was thus, as it ever will ual nature of the Gospel system, the be, that the graces of the Christian vital character of personal religion, fully shone out. His unwearying love the corruption of the human heart, and for his fellow men, manifested by the the way of salvation by Jesus Christ.” | labours of a life of love, were all “The scriptural principles stated in fully concentrated in the smiling chathe · Practical View' convinced me of rities of home. It was impossible to my error; led me to the study of be in the society, it was impossible the Scriptures with an earnestness to almost to look at him, without feeling which I had hitherto been a stranger; you were in the presence of one in humbled my heart, and brought me whose heart love to God and good to seek the love and blessing of that will to men, were ever dwelling. The Saviour, who alone can afford a peace love of the Saviour to himself was for which the world cannot give.” “May ever reflecting its ten thousand rays I not then call the honoured author upon every object which he saw, upon of that book my spiritual father? | every subject which he touched, upon And, if my spiritual father, therefore, every person he conversed with; my best earthly friend ?"

while such were the ardours of his Such is the manner in wbich one love to God, that, I have been asof the most eminent ministers of our sured by one of his nearest relations, church, one whose labours of love resignation and entire obedience to were most abundant, spoke of this the will of God under the most tryvaluable book and its now departed ing dispensations of his providence author. Who would not rather have (and many such there were during been the author of such a book than the declining years of his eventful life) of all the works of imagination that by no means so fully expressed the the world has ever seen. And surely Christian graces which he exercised there is scarcely a question even now while enduring and suffering all that ---what will it be on that day when his heavenly Father was pleased to all the productions of men shall be lay upon him. It was not resignaweighed in the scale of unerring jus- tion, said my informant-it was more, tice--when the "wood, hay, stubble,” far more than that; it was a spirit of as the Apostle says, shall be burnt the most cheerful thankfulness, of with fire, and every man's work shall the most heartfelt gratitude and rebe judged of what sort it is? Will it joicing in the Lord, under every trynot then immeasurably outweigh all ing dispensation of his chastening the fiction, and all the poetry, and all hand. In fact, had he been called to the science of the world? While if it, there is no doubt, such were his they who turn many to righteousness feelings, that he would have fully shall shine as the stars for ever and realized the declaration of the martyr ever, the author of such a work shall of old, who said, “If I am liberated not be missing on that day when the I shall be thankful; if I am continued Lord will make up his jewels. in prison I shall be thankful ; and if I

It will be profitable, in conclusion, am burnt I shall be thankful.” to consider the private character of But, for plain and obvious reasons, him of whom I speak: for truly great I may not dwell on these things, which

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