The Death of Eminent Ministers, a Public Loss

A funeral sermon for Dr. Bogue, preached in Carrs Lane Meeting-house, November 6, 1825, by John Angell James.

"As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire with horses of fire suddenly appeared and separated the two of them. Then ELIJAH went up into heaven in the whirlwind. As Elisha watched, he kept crying out, 'My father, my father, the chariots and horsemen of Israel!' Then he never saw Elijah again. He took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces." (2 Kings 2:11-12)

There is an uncommon grandeur, an unearthly greatness, in the more distinguished characters whose history is preserved in the Word of God. Compared with the prophets of the Old Testament, and the apostles of the New—the most celebrated heroes of secular antiquity, and the most splendid personages of fable—are but as the fires which blaze on earth, to the stars which shine in the skies of heaven. Among the worthies of the Jewish dispensation, Elijah, stern, solemn and majestic—is second only to Moses. His life was spent in presiding over the schools of the prophets, in delivering the messages of God to his sinful nation, and in struggling against its idolatrous court for the preservation of true religion. His discharge of these arduous duties, was supported by a series of stupendous miracles; and as his final honor, he was removed to his heavenly rest and reward—without dying. This was one of the most remarkable events which took place during the continuance of the Levitical economy.

"O! the singular glory of Elijah! What mortal creature ever had this honor, to be visibly fetched by the angels of God to his heaven? Every soul of the elect is attended and carried to blessedness by these invisible messengers; but what flesh and blood was ever graced with such a convoy? There are three bodily inhabitants of heaven, Enoch, Elijah, and our Saviour Christ; the first before the law, the second under the law, the third after the dispensation of the law had given way to the gospel; all three in a different form of translation. Our blessed Saviour raised himself to and above the heavens, by his own immediate power: he ascended as the Son, they as servants; he as God, they as creatures. Elijah ascended by the visible ministry of angels; Enoch, insensibly. Therefore, O God! have you done this, but to give us a taste of what shall be; to let us see that heaven was never shut to the faithful; to give us assurance of the future glorification of this mortal and corruptible part. Even thus, O Savior! when you shall descend from heaven, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, we that are alive and remain, shall be caught up, together with the raised bodies of your saints into the clouds, to meet you in the air, to dwell with you in glory. Come death, come fire, come whirlwind—they are worthy to be welcome, that shall carry us to immortality." (Hall's Contemplations)

The design of God in this event was to put a mark of honor upon piety, embodied and represented in the character of Elijah; to awaken the attention of a slumbering age and a careless nation to the solemn realities of eternity, by a new proof of the resurrection of the body; and to encourage the seven thousand who had not yet bowed the knee to Baal, to maintain their protest against idolatry, notwithstanding the persecution to which it might expose them. On beholding the astonishing and brilliant spectacle, Elisha gave utterance to his agitated feelings in the language of the text; in which having first expressed his ardent affection and deep sense of bereavement, he pronounces the finest eulogy on the character of his master, by declaring that his life and labors were of more importance to Israel than all its array of horses and chariots. Never was friendship more beautifully blended with patriotism; nor the sorrows of private affection so elevated by the sense of national loss.

I. The first remark I make upon this passage is, that eminent ministers are the defense of the country, and the glory of the age in which they live. I shall not attempt to prove this by ascertaining how far literature, science, eloquence, the art of reasoning, and education, are indebted to their labors; and how far these things contribute to the well-being of a country; but I shall take higher ground, and show that such men are the strength and glory of a country, as the chief instruments of supporting the interests of religion. It is a most important sentiment, and ought to be kept constantly before the public mind, that true piety is the most direct and powerful cause of national comfort, prosperity, and security; and that in its absence all their other causes must be very limited and transient in their effects. If true religion were a mere abstraction of devotion, confined in its exercise to the closet and the sanctuary, and restricted in its influence to the imagination and the taste—but not having any necessary control over the conscience, the heart, and the life, and not intended to regulate the fellowship of society; if it consisted merely in attendance on the rites and forms of the church, and began and ended upon the threshold of the house of God, then it would be difficult to point out what connection such a religion had with the welfare of a country. It would in that case resemble the ivy, which though it add a picturesque effect to a venerable building, imparts neither stability to its walls, nor convenience to its rooms.

But if true religion is indeed a principle of the heart, an element of the character, the habit of thinking, feeling, and acting aright in all our social relations; the basis of every virtue, and the main prop of every excellence; if it be indeed the fear of the Lord, by which men depart from evil; if it be faith working by love; if it be such a belief in the gospel of Christ as leads to a conformity to his example—religion being such as this, must secure the welfare of any country. There is not one single influence, whether of law, of science, of art, of learning—tending to the well-being of society, which true religion does not guard and strengthen.

Take the summary of its duties as expressed in the two great commandments, that a man shall love his God supremely, and his neighbor as himself: or take the direction of Paul: "Whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report—if there be any virtue, or if there be any praise, think of these things." Or take Peter's comprehensive description of the circle of Christian duty, "Honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king." Here we see that true religion, though founded on a belief of doctrines, and nourished by the exercises of devotion, diffuses its influence over the entire character of man, and through the whole range of society. It is the belief, the love, the worship, the imitation of the Deity. It is sound morality, animated and sanctified by the spirit of true devotion to Christ.

Such religion contains the seed of every social excellence, the seminal principle of virtue in every relation in life. "It maintains an incessant struggle with whatever is selfish, barbarous, and inhuman; by unveiling futurity, it clothes morality with a divine sanction, and harmonizes utility and virtue in every state of existence, and every combination of events." To man, as regards his personal character, true religion prescribes, not only homage to God—but self-government and self-respect; and it follows him into the domestic circle, the fellowship of the church, and every combination which he forms in the great community of his country, or in the citizenship of the world; binding upon him the duties which are appropriate to his station, whatever it may be, and calling on him to acknowledge the claims which reach him from every quarter.

As with the flaming sword of the cherubim, true religion guards all the social interests of man, protecting the throne from the turbulence and anarchy of the people; and the rights of the people from the encroachments of the throne; the rich from the invasion and spoliation of the poor; the poor from the insults and oppression of the rich. True religion teaches justice to the master and fidelity to the servant; ordains equity and truth as the rules of commercial transactions; nerves the arm with industry, and melts the bosom to compassion; carries the authority of God into recesses too deep and distant to be reached by the institutes of human laws, and makes a man a law to himself amidst the urgency of temptation, and the privacy of solitude.

In short, there is not a single duty by which man can promote the welfare of society, which is not enjoined by true religion; nor is there one evil influence which it does not oppose by the weight of its authority and the terror of its frown. True religion places society under the shadow of the eternal throne, draws over it the shield of Omnipotence, and employs for the defense of its earthly interests the thunder issuing from the clouds and thick darkness in which Jehovah dwells. That man must be a fool and not a philosopher, whatever be his pretensions to learning or to science, who does not recognize in true Christianity, the guardian of his country, and the ministering angel of the world.

Let it not be said that virtue would do all this without religion, for where did national virtue ever exist in the absence of true religion. A land of atheists, or even of deists, is a dark and frightful spectacle, which the world has never yet been fated to witness, and in all probability never will be. It is easy to conceive, however, that in the absence of all the moral principles, the standards of duty, and the examples of goodness contained in the Scripture, which we find so essential to the right formation of character, such a land must be barren of virtue and prolific in crime. The only attempt ever made to set up the reign of atheism in a country, was productive of such enormous vice, and such prodigious misery, that it excited the horror, and was abandoned amidst the execrations of the community.

It is Christianity alone that can preserve virtue, in which the well-being of a country consists; and it is self-evident that the universal prevalence of piety, would be necessarily followed by the universal reign of virtue; for virtue is not only a part of piety—but piety itself. It has been finely demonstrated by Butler, in his immortal work, that the virtue of a people necessarily increases their strength, and that a nation's pre-eminence in virtue, other things being equal, must ever produce superiority in strength.

And then there is another way besides its direct influence, in which piety leads to the prosperity and security of a land; I mean by the drawing down the blessing of God. If there is a moral governor of the universe, sin must provoke him, and holiness please him! If sin provokes God, he is able to punish it, for the destinies of nations are at his disposal, the balance of power is in his hand! Men's bodies, as such, are rewardable and punishable only in this world, as death dissolves all bands, and reduces society to its elements, allowing the existence of neither families, churches, nor nations in eternity. God's determination to punish guilty nations, and to bless virtuous ones, is declared on the pages of Scripture, and confirmed by the details of history. Hearken to the solemn denunciations of Jehovah. "At one moment I might announce concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will uproot, tear down, and destroy it. However, if that nation I have made an announcement about, turns from its evil, I will not bring the disaster on it I had planned. At another time I announce that I will build and plant a nation or a kingdom. However, if it does what is evil in My sight by not listening to My voice, I will not bring the good I had said I would do to it." (Jeremiah 18:7-10) And he has most awfully fulfilled these words. Where are Nineveh, Babylon, Tyre, Athens, Jerusalem, and ancient Rome? Vanished from the earth, except a few melancholy ruins, which lie like their moldering bones, around the grave's mouth, while the destroying angel, the spirit of desolation, still lingers on each vast sepulcher, to proclaim for the admonition of the earth, "See therefore, and know that it is an evil and a bitter thing to sin against the Lord!"

And over other lands still numbered among living nations, do we not see the awful "image of jealousy" arising, and do we not hear an solemn voice declaring, "Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless." (Isaiah 13:9-11). It is sin then that ruins a kingdom; holiness that preserves it.

O my country, may you have wisdom to know and value this true secret of national greatness—and to remember that there is no kingdom so high but vice will bring it down and lay it low even in the dust! There is no country so humble but virtue may raise it to the pinnacle of prosperity. Religion is your strength, more than commerce, or the arts, or martial prowess—and may you never, never, part with this, under the wiles of any seducing spirit, whether false philosophy, infidelity, or immorality; for then shall you be seen like Samson when shorn of his hair—a miserable captive in the hands of the Philistines, and an object of sport to the enemies, who had so often trembled and crouched under the power of his arm!

Every godly man then, whether his piety blazes like the sun in a public station, or like the modest candle, sheds its solitary ray in a private one; whether it fixes the attention of a nation from a throne, or of a hamlet from a cottage, is a patriot of the purest kind, a philanthropist of the loftiest order! His example arrests the progress of sin, and limits the overflowing of ungodliness; his principles, like precious seeds, contain a self propagating power, and diffuse themselves over society—his prayers avert the wrath, and bring down the blessing of God upon the land—his property and his influence, are given to support the schemes which are intended to relieve misery, to instruct ignorance, to reform vice. He is the salt of the earth; a moral anti-septic, counteracting the causes of decay introduced into all social institutions by their imperfections and human depravity. Of how great consequence is it that such men should be multiplied in the land; and how truly may it be said of those whose life is spent in increasing the number, that they are in an eminent degree—the defense and the glory of their country. This honor belongs to the ministers of religion—but only to those whose moral character is unreproachable, and whose piety is sincere.

Ministers of an opposite description, whose lack of personal religion is apparent, or whose moral character is not without a stain, or whose spirit is secular, or who are devoted to the fashionable follies and polluting amusements of the age—such men, instead of being the horsemen of Israel, and the chariots thereof, are its enemies in disguise; they are so much thrown into the scale of a country's ruin; they furnish the infidel with his arguments, the scoffer with his jests, and the profane with an apology for himself; they cause the ways of religion to be ill spoken of, and produce an inveterate dislike of true piety in many minds.

But the men who live the truth they preach; whose actions are to their sermons what the illustrative experiment is to the lecture; who to all that is lofty and evangelical in doctrine, unite all that is pure, upright, meek, and benevolent in practice; who can invite scrutiny into their conduct, and can say to every doubtful and prejudiced enquirer, "come and see!"—such men, if they be not eloquent as orators, yet as they are consistent as Christians; if they dart no coruscations of genius from the pulpit, yet as they diffuse the radiance of a holy and blameless example, are the best friends, the surest defense, and the brightest ornaments of their country.

No matter what the denomination to which they belong; no matter what the name by which they are called; no matter what the altar before which they minister; independently of these minor considerations, they contribute to national prosperity, by preaching the truth as it is in Jesus, and by adorning the doctrine of God their Savior in all things. Their conduct is more conspicuous, and therefore more influential, than the virtue of a private Christian. The weight of authority is employed to give force to example; and attachment softens the heart to receive the impression of their excellencies. They are sufficiently near their people to allow the inspection, which is essential to imitation—and yet sufficiently removed to possess the interest, which is imparted by distance.

The preached Word from the pulpit, however, is the great means by which holy and consistent ministers extend through a nation the benefits of religion, and the fruits of virtue. Preaching is ordained by God to be the great instrument for the production and the maturity of spiritual excellence. The conversion of the sinner, and the progressive sanctification of the believer, are promoted more effectually by the sermons of an energetic preacher than by all the other means of religious instruction and impression combined. "Of all methods for diffusing religion," says one of the greatest spiritual writers of the day, "preaching is the most efficient—other methods are indirect and preparatory; but the simple proclaiming of the gospel has, in all ages, been attended with the most transforming efficacy; elevating the few who have cordially accepted it into a higher and happier state of being, and even raising the many who have rejected it to a better system of moral opinions. It is to preaching that Christianity owes its origin, its continuance, and its progress; and it is to itinerant preaching, however much the ignorant may undervalue it, that we owe the conversion of the Roman world from paganism to primitive Christianity; our own freedom from the thraldom of Popery in the success of the Reformation; and the revival of Christianity at the present day, from the depression which it had undergone, owing to the prevalence of infidelity and indifference. Books, however excellent, require at least some previous interest on the part of the person who is to open and peruse them; but the preacher arrests that attention, which the written record only invites; and the living voice, and the listening numbers, heighten the impression by the sympathy and enthusiasm which they excite; the reality which the truths spoken possess in the mind of the speaker, is communicated to the feelings of the hearers, and they end in sharing the same views, at least for the moment, and in augmenting each others convictions." ("The Advancement of Society in Knowledge and Religion," by James Douglas)

This is the testimony of a layman, corroborated alike by the deductions of reason and the details of experience. Let the Sabbath for a few years be merged in the days devoted to secular pursuits—let the ministry be lost, and the voice of the faithful preacher be hushed, and whatever other methods of religious instruction remain, you will soon see the consequence, in the universal increase of immorality; immorality will call for infidelity to tolerate its excesses, and shield it from remorse; while infidelity will encourage immorality as the most zealous supporter of its usurpations. The pulpit is the strongest barrier against the encroachments of vice, and the most impregnable bulwark of national virtue. Senators are usefully employed in making laws to define crime, judges in detecting and punishing it—but ministers prevent crime, by inspiring an abhorrence of whatever is displeasing to God, injurious to society, and disgraceful to humanity. Neither legislators nor magistrates ever pretend to produce a love of virtue—all they hope to accomplish is to protect her from crimes, and prevent her from being destroyed by the outrages of vice. But to inspire mankind with the love of her charms, and induce them to submit to her sway as the empress of the world, is the especial business of the minister of truth—and thus does he benefit his country and mankind at large.

In this view of the subject a minister may be expected to be useful in proportion to his talents, his virtues, and his energies. There are some who are gifted above their fellows; there are stars of the first magnitude and brilliancy in the firmament of the church; men who by their books, as well as by their preaching, by the wisdom of their opinions, and the ardor of their zeal, give the direction of public opinion, and the tone of public feeling; master-spirits, who are formed, qualified, and commissioned to lead the multitude, and to whose influence the multitude most willingly bow down. Who can calculate the amount of benefit conferred upon the country and the world by such men as Whitfield, Wesley, Edwards, and Doddridge? or by the more modern advocates of the cause of evangelical truth, Cecil, Scott; Fuller, and Hall; and by our illustrious friend, who has lately departed. While such men lived and labored, they were confessed to be the defense and ornaments of their country, and when they were removed, innumerable voices exclaimed, "My father, my father! the chariots and horsemen of Israel!"

II. Eminent ministers are not allowed to remain—but are removed by death, notwithstanding their usefulness, from the scene of their labors. Neither great talents, nor eminent virtues, nor extensive usefulness, can secure for their possessor a longer exemption from the stroke of death—than falls to the lot of humanity in general. The most excellent of the human race are subject to the same law of existence as the most worthless; the most useful to the same rule as the most mischievous. Sin has diffused an incurable taint of mortality through the whole body, which affects not only the extremities—but reaches the head. "All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever." (Isaiah 40:6-8). There is, indeed, no border country, no neutral territory, no sacred enclosure, within which the holy and benevolent may retire to carry on their labors, and protract their usefulness, secure from the pursuit of disease and death.

What men have visited our earth! what lofty spirits have been here! What Godlike minds have appeared on the theater of our world! What burning and shining lights have thrown the splendors of hallowed genius over this dark scene! But they are vanished and gone! By a single effort of the imagination we can call up a crowd of illustrious personages, who have enlightened the earth by their knowledge, sanctified it by their piety, and blessed it by their benevolence. For awhile we seem to converse with these mighty and holy ones; but the spell is soon broken, and we find that we have nothing but their names. What lights of the sanctuary have been extinguished; what heaven-inspired eloquence has been hushed; what powerful energies have been paralyzed! Oh! sin, what has you done? Our globe is the tomb of illustrious men, and the materials of ecclesiastical history consist of monumental inscriptions. Ministers, having partaken of the common depravity of our nature, must endure its consequences in the penalty of death; and their pulpit, vacated for their grave, is a visible comment on the evil nature of sin, more impressive than any which they delivered during the whole course of their living labor.

In some cases it may be supposed that they are removed in a way of corrective justice. Prone to extremes, men either undervalue or overvalue their mercies; and so it is with churches in reference to their pastors. Instances have not been lacking in which ministers possessed of attractive or splendid talents, united with amiable and conciliatory manners, have become the objects of popular homage; sabbath after sabbath, the eager auditors thronged around the pulpit, in which their idol was enshrined, to receive in the strains of his eloquence, the inspiration of their great Apollo. The orator more than the preacher; eloquence more than truth; the sweet melody of voice, or the fascinating beauties of imagination, more than "glad tidings of salvation," were the objects of their delight. Who can wonder, then, if when God is thus forgotten in his creatures, he should become jealous for the honor of his great name, and remove the man who was preferred before Him. On the other hand, some undervalue their ministers; and, displeased at their ingratitude; God extinguishes the light they were not disposed to benefit by, and thus awakens them to bewail their past neglect; and the more to prize and improve the means which, in unmerited favor, he still permits them to enjoy.

May we not suppose that God sometimes removes faithful and able ministers, to prove to the world that though he uses instruments, he needs them not. "It is a piece of divine royalty and magnificence, that when he has prepared and polished such a utensil, so as to be capable of great service, he can lay it by without loss." The mortality of ministers shows, that in reference to the cause of religion, the kingdom, the power, and the glory, belong to God. He seems to have made human life short and brittle, that the splendor of his own attributes might more effulgently shine forth in the preservation and extension of his church upon earth. This mighty and holy building is built in an immense burial ground; it rises from a valley of dry bones; all around its base are the tombs of the workmen; prophets and apostles, reformers and martyrs, missionaries and ministers, have successively withered away in the rebuke of the Almighty, and left the work unfinished, for other men to enter upon their labors. But there stands He who alone has immortality, forever uttering forth his undying word, amidst the wrecks of ages, and the ruins and relics of all the generations; contrasting his own immutability with the frailty of man, and the permanence of the work with the short-lived existence of the laborer; proclaiming over the building as it rises from the region of death, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last."

Oftentimes the ministers of the gospel are worn out in the service, and retire according to the course of nature, from the scene of their labors to the seat of their repose. They must not always bear the burden of toil—but go home in due season to enjoy their rest, and receive their reward. They must not always agonize in the closet, the study, the pulpit—they must not always mourn over fruitless sabbaths and unsuccessful sermons—they must not always bear the unkindness of friends and the malice of enemies; the inconsistencies of the church and the wickedness of the world—they must not always fight the good fight of faith. No, if to abide in the flesh be more needful for their people, to depart and be with Christ is that better state which God in his mercy has prepared for them.

III. The removal of ministers from the scene of their labors is matter of divine appointment, and all its circumstances of time and place, are according to the counsels of unerring wisdom. Elijah's translation was pre-arranged by God in all its particulars; and the removal of men of less distinction in the church although not a matter of such extensive interest, is no less subject to the divine appointment. If it were possible to conceive that any events connected with the history of man were abandoned to the misrule of chance, all believers in the immortality of the soul would feel disposed, even in the absence of revelation, to ascribe his exit from the world to an interposition of the Deity. The transit of an immortal spirit from the scenes of a probationary state to the decision of her fate, the entrance of a soul upon her unchanging destiny—is an event which though repeated many thousand times each passing day, is manifestly an occurrence of greater consequence than the revolution of an empire, so far as its temporal history is concerned. Scripture, however, leaves not this matter to the deductions of reason—but pronounces with authority on the subject. Even on the field of battle, that harvest of death where mortals are hurried by thousands into eternity, where death seems left to carry on his havoc without limit or control, every bullet has its commission, and is guided in its flight; even there does Providence accomplish its purposes with reference to individual life, undisturbed and unconfounded amidst the shock of battle, the ruin of defeat, and the madness of victory—no less than in the chamber where the monarch or the minister breathes his last.

No, my brethren, 'Chance' has nothing to do with death! Not the outcast infant of a day old, exposed by its unnatural mother to perish by the tiger or the vulture; nor even the sparrow that dies of hunger in its nest—passes out of life without the knowledge of God. "Don't be afraid!" said Christ, "I am the first and the last, the living one. I was dead, but now I am alive forever! I have the keys of the unseen world and of death." What consolation is there in this sublime declaration! The key of death is never for a moment entrusted out of His hands—and never can be wrested from them. Every time a human being dies, it is by an act of His power, in turning the key which unlocks the gates of death! Our life is under the constant and strict observation of His omniscient eye! He determines the moment when to take the key from His belt, and throw the portals of immortality back on their mighty hinges!

O, what comfort does this impart to us, in reference to our own lives, to know that exposed as we are to all the accidents and diseases of this world of changes, and enveloped as we are in darkness as to the consequences of the next step, and the events of the next hour—we cannot die by a random stroke, or by a blind chance! The key of death must be turned by Him who is infinitely wise, and powerful, and good! And what consolation does it also impart at the grave of those of our friends who have been carried away from scenes of usefulness and labors of importance, to be assured that their removal was effected by Him who knew all that they were doing, and who makes Himself responsible for all the consequences of their death. "See, I am the only God. There are no others. I kill, and I make alive! I wound, and I heal, and no one can rescue you from my power!" Deuteronomy 32:39

IV. The removal of eminent ministers is attended with circumstances which redound to their honor. No chariot of fire, no horses of flame, carry them to the skies by another road than that of the dark valley of the shadow of death; they must submit to the penalty of sin, and take the grave in their way to the crown. But there are other marks of distinction, other honors than a chariot of fire for those who serve God and their race. What a deep and wide-spread interest is fixed on the chamber in which they are expected soon to expire; what sensibilities are set in motion; what sympathy is excited; what prayers are uttered; the whole neighborhood feels an instinctive dread—like the approach of some great catastrophe. And when the stroke has fallen, and the laboring saint has been dismissed to his rest, what tears of regret are shed, what bitter lamentations are heard. All around seem to be partakers of a common calamity—the aged exclaim, "Alas, my brother!" the younger, "Alas, my father!" Each has some tribute of respect to pay to his memory, some fondly cherished recollection of untold favors, or some secret act of goodness to disclose; some cheering anecdote to tell, or some peculiar cause of bitter regret to acknowledge. Public tokens of commiseration are exhibited; a long and melancholy train of mourning and devout men carry him to his burial; a loud deep groan is heaved from the bosom of the church, and is returned in faithful echo from the world; while the general lamentation prolongs the tribute, in the eulogy of Elisha, "My father, my father, the chariots and horsemen of Israel!" This is the honor he receives from earth; and it is that which every good man may lawfully seek—it is an object of just and honorable ambition not only to live respected—but to die lamented—an honored sepulcher is not only the reward of departed saints—but the stimulus of living ones.

But who can describe, or who conceive, the honor that awaits the departed minister above! Isaiah, in one of the most sublime and beautiful of his figures, has represented hell moved from beneath to meet the king of Babylon at his entrance upon the unseen world; while the chief ones of the earth, the kings of the nations, rising from their thrones, taunt him with his degradation to their level. "All of them shall speak and say to you, Are you also as weak as we? Are you like us? Your pride is brought down to the grave, and the noise of your harps. The maggot is spread under you, and the worms cover you. How you are fallen from the heavens, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!" (Isaiah 14:10-12)

A scene, the bright reverse of this, awaits the entrance of a faithful and holy minister of Christ into the celestial city. We can imagine how heaven is moved to meet him at his coming; how "the great multitude which no man can count, who have washed their robes, and made them white and clean in the blood of the Lamb," and especially those of the number who owe their felicity to his labors, and who have preceded him in his decease, greet him to the skies; how prophets and apostles, reformers and martyrs, ministers and missionaries—rising from their seats of rest and glory, conduct him into the presence of his Lord, exclaiming, "Thus shall it be done unto the man whom God delights to honor;" while he who sits upon the throne will confirm and approve the welcome, and as he places the crown of life upon his brows shall say, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord!" Applauding millions catch the note, and "Well done, good and faithful servant, well done, well done!" is repeated by voices resounding as the sound of mighty waters!