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WOODSTOCK, JUNE, 1827.
SERMON, NO. XXXV.—A FUNERAL DISCOURSE.
MATT. xxvii. 42.-"O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done."
These are the pathetic words, which the merciful and compassionate Redeemer of the world offered up to his Father, in that awful hour of trial, when he was about to give himself as the spotless and sin-atoning Lamb. And as he did not take upon himself the nature of angelic beings, but the seed of Abraham, he was alive to all the sympathy, sorrow, and pain, which this earthly nature endures. He was alive to that keen anguish of suffering, which he knew would terminate upon the cross. The nails that he knew were to pierce his tender hands and feet, awakened in his soul the highest pangs of mental sufferings, so that in an agony he sweat, as it were, great drops of blood, and seemed for a moment, as tho he could desire that this cup might pass from him. But he was a high priest that could be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, and knowing that he was suffering for the good of the world, he patiently submitted to the will of his Father.
Our Savior speaks of this suffering, under the figure of the drinking of a cup. He, no doubt, had an allusion to the practice which had been sometimes in use, of sentencing criminals to death by dooming them to drink a cup of poison. This was the case with Socrates, one of the greatest philosophers that ever adorned the heathen age. For envy and rage had arisen to so high a degree, that his enemies, without a cause, conspired against him, and by false accusation he was condemned, according to a method of execution in use among them, to drink a cup of hemlock. Vol. VIII.
Our Savior drank of the cup of death, not for his own sin, but for the sin of the guilty, for the sin of those whose hardness of heart was sufficient to condemn him. For these he suffered; for these he groaned; for these he bled; for these he died.
On the present very solemn occasion, let us consider these words which Jesus uttered a short time before his death, and endeavor in a suitable manner to apply them to this mournful occasion upon which we are assembled together; and,
First, this endearing expression, "O my Father," will claim your particular attention. I believe I may say with safety, that there is no character in which the Divine Being has been pleased to reveal himself, that is so lovely, plain, and easy to be understood, as the title of a Father. The very name alone must sound sweeter in your ears than the most refined music. The very name of Father removes from him every thing that would tend, in the least, to do any of us a real injury. The very name of Father removes from him every thing that is cruel; and whatsoever dispensation of his providence he may see fit to allot to us here below, this very endearing name speaks, in words the most intelligible, that he will do us no real harm. And I will venture to say, that if mankind had always realized the character of Father, in the Divine Being, they would have been delivered from those shocking offerings and barbarous customs of worship in which the heathen world has been involved. And all for what? For what, let me ask, do the heathen now offer their first born children, and throw them into the jaws of the most vile and ferocious beasts, to be devoured by them? I answer, they worship their deities in this way, to invoke a blessing upon themselves. But, poor mistaken mortals! How do they mistake the character of the only true and living God! How do they mistake the fond and paternal feelings of a Father! how
his tender and protecting care! Thus they change the character of one of the best, the kindest, and the most merciful of beings, into monsters of the most cruel, terrible, and hideous forms.
Let us endeavor to worship the Father in spirit and in truth, which is to serve him with the whole heart, and view him in the lovely character in which he has revealed himself. Not as a devouring enemy; not as an unfeeling tyrant; but as a merciful Father, swaying his gentle sceptre over the kingdoms of this world, rewarding and punishing mankind, as they severally need, for the same good end, that the virtuous may be confirmed in the ways of virtue, piety, and religion, and that others may be reclaimed from vice, and become acquainted with their true interest. We must, therefore, insist upon it as a very essential duty, that we worship and serve the Divine Being in such a manner, as will correspond with the duty, affection, and parental care of a Father. For without this, it will be impossible for us to see a com.. plete and perfect uniformity, throughout all his works; especially, as it relates to man's creation, life, suffering, and final destiny.
Here it will be proper for us to inquire, whether the Deity, in this earthly state, or in any other state of existence in which the same good Being sees fit to bring mankind, acts or deviates from the same parental kindness. Certainly the Creator, as a Father, acts in complete uniformity throughout all his works. And knowing from eternity the exact path, in which his finite creatures would walk, and the final state to which they would ultimately arrive, it must be granted in all this, that he acts as a kind, merciful, and good Being. It is our indispensable duty, throughout all the varied and checkered scenes of life, to acquiesce in the goodness of God as a Father. And when sorrow, pain or afflictions arise, it is our duty to say in the language of Job, "Afflic
tion cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground."
Being now assembled to pay this last sad tribute of respect to our departed friend, it will not be improper for us to consider the object of this last change, which man has to endure, in paying the common debt of nature. And here let us inquire, does not our heavenly Father act consistently with the same parental kindness in creating man subject or liable to this change? Is it not that our race may hereafter be exalted to a higher degree of glory, than they could be, by continuing in this earthly state? This is one of the most glorious truths that we are capable of contemplating, when we consider the life, sufferings, and death of the dear Redeemer. The thought itself, when duly impressed, is sufficient to raise our sinking spirits, under every trial in life. And nothing short of this faith can answer the desired object. Nothing short of this faith in the Redeemer, as our righteousness, life, and resurrection, can reconcile us to the events of Divine providence. Nothing short of this can alleviate the burthens of life, tranquillize the sorrows and afflictions, which often arise, and can even soften the pillow of death. It is this balm in Gilead, of which even the leaves thereof can refresh and impart spiritual healing. It is this which prevents the mourner from sorrowing as those without hope. Suffer me to repeat it once more, it is the hand of parental love, which the Creator as a kind Father is ever extending towards his creatures. Let it come in what shape it may, still it breathes the same spirit of mercy and good will. And here I am solicitous to be understood, not only by those of more mature e years, but by those whose minds are less susceptible of religious impressions; and for this reason I shall endeavor to be as intelligible as possible. Suffer me then to say, I do not consider from scripture or reason, that death was designed by our heavenly Father
to prove as an injury to any of our race; neither will it finally so prove to any. For if this were to be allowed for a moment, it would overthrow this eternal truth, that God always has, and always will act, consistently with the tenderest regard of a Father. I feel the greatest degree of confidence when I speak of the Divine Being, under this endearing character. And when I address you, my hearers, as the children of this omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Being, I also say with the same confidence, that as far as you advance in the knowledge of his character, you will by degrees be advancing in the same image.
But again; in order to do the least justice to our subject, we must consider these words, "Thy will be done.” Whatever may be thought or said concerning the will of God, one thing is certain, that his will is always in unison with the character of a Father. There can be no discord in any of his attributes. He does his will in the armies of myriads of glorified spirits in heaven, as well as among the inhabitants of the earth. His will never can be frustrated by all the combined powers of heaven or earth. No act of man can cause him to deviate from the original plan which he had in view before the foundations of the earth were laid. If his will, therefore, to reward his creatures were originally good from the commencement of time, when the morning stars shouted, as it were, together for joy, the same goodness will attend his dependent creatures through the wasteless ages of eternity. Any conclusion, short of this, would be dishonorable to his great name, and cause us to wander on very borders of heathen idolatry. To avoid even the appearances of any such shocking and heart-rending views of cruelty, let us contemplate, for our comfort. under every affliction, the true character of God as a kind and affectionate Father, who does not afflict nor grieve any, but for some good end. "For tho he cause