by Thomas Watson
A sermon preached July 2, 1676, at the funeral of Pastor
"But this I say, brethren, the time is short." 1
The blessed Apostle in these words shows us what our
station in the world is, and what all our secular enjoyments are. They are
short and transient. "But this I say, brethren, the time is short." The text
consists of two parts:
1. A kind address—"Brethren."
2. A seasonable admonition—"The time is short."
1. A kind address—"Brethren." The saints of
God are brethren. They are cemented together with the blood of Christ.
Then let there be no strife among them, seeing they are brethren (Genesis
13:8). Believers are regenerated by the same Spirit; they suck the same
breasts—the promises; and wear the same garment—Christ's righteousness. They
sit at the same board—the table of the Lord; and partake of the same
glory—the inheritance in light (Colossians 1:12). Should they not love one
another? There ought to be no contending among God's people—but as to who
would love most.
Satan foments discord and warms himself at the fire of
men's passions. If he cannot divide the spiritual members from their Head,
he will endeavor to make them smite one against another. If he cannot keep
the saints from heaven, he will endeavor to make them fight with one another
along the way.
It was ill for Abraham's herdsmen and Lot's to fight with
one another, when the Canaanite was in the land (Genesis 13:7). It is an ill
time for mariners to be fighting, when the enemy is boring a hole in the
bottom of the ship. Take heed that the popish enemy does not enter at your
Let Christians remember they are brethren. Unity among
brethren resembles the harmony among angels. Psalm 133:1-3: "Behold, how
good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. It is like
the precious ointment upon the head, as the dew of Hermon." It is compared
to ointment because it is sweet; and compared to the dew of
Hermon because it makes everything fruitful. The primitive Christians were
of one heart (Acts 4:32).
Let us pray that that golden motto may be written upon
the churches: "One heart and one way" (Jeremiah 32:39). What a blessed place
will heaven be, where our light shall be clear, our love shall
be perfect, and our joy shall be full.
2. A seasonable admonition—"The time is short."
This word "time" I shall take more strictly as the term and period of
man's life. The time is short. The diverse instances of mortality,
may serve as so many commentaries upon the text. The Greek word for "short"
alludes to mariners who roll up their sails and bring them into a narrow
compass when the ship draws near the harbor. Though the sails of man's life
were spread larger in the times of the patriarchs, now God is folding up
these sails in a narrower compass: "The time is short." The Scripture
frequently asserts the brevity and transitoriness of man's life. Psalm
89:47: "Remember how short my time is." Psalm 39:5: "Behold, You have made
my days as a hand-breadth," which is the least of the geometrical measures.
Job used three elegant metaphors to set forth the
shortness of man's life. Job 9:25-26: "My life passes more swiftly than a
runner. It disappears like a swift boat, like an eagle
that swoops down on its prey." If we look to the land, man's life is like a
swift runner. If we look to the sea, it is like a swift ship.
If we look to the air, there it is like a flying eagle.
Life is compared to a cloud (Job 7:9). A cloud is
a vapor drawn up by the sun into the middle region of the air. When this
cloud comes to its full proportion, it is soon dispersed and blown away with
the wind. Life gathers as a cloud, bigger and bigger—but all of a sudden it
is dissipated by death. Our life is but a breath, even less. Psalm 39:5: "My
life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a
moment to you; human existence is but a breath." There is but a span between
the cradle and the grave. Solomon said, "There is a time to be born—and
a time to die" (Ecclesiastes 3:2)—but mentions no time of living—as
if that were so short, it were not worth speaking of.
QUESTION. In what sense is the
time of life short?
ANSWER. It is short in respect to the
uncertainty—it may instantly expire. Our
time is short, because of the uncertainty. Hezekiah, it is true, had a lease
of fifteen years sealed (Isaiah 38:5)—but we have no such lease sealed for
us—death may be within a day's march.
There are so many casualties, that it is a wonder if the
slender thread of our life is not cut off by an untimely death. Have you not
seen a virgin on the same day dressed in her bridal apparel—and her winding
Time is short in respect to its
improvement. If we reckon that for time which is well-spent,
then time is brought into a narrow compass indeed. A great part of our time
lies fallow. Take from our life all the time of eating, drinking,
sleeping, besides idle impertinences—and then how short is our time! How
little is the time wherein we can truly say, "This time I have lived!"
Oh, how little is the time which is spent with God! Time misemployed is not
time lived—but time lost.
Time is short compared with
eternity. There is no telescope which can see to the end of
eternity. Eternity is a day which has no sun setting. It is a circle—without
beginning or end. Eternity is a sum which can never be numbered, a
line which can never be measured. Reckon as many millions of years as there
have been minutes since the creation, and they stand as ciphers in eternity.
The most elevated strains of rhetoric cannot reach eternity. It is a sea
without bottom—or banks. Time may be compared to a spot of earth lying at
the mouth of the great ocean. Time is a spot on this side of eternity. What
a little spot of that, is man's life! Thus you see, in this sense, time is
It will not be long before the silver cord is loosed and
the golden bow broken (Ecclesiastes 12:6). Time goes on apace. The poets
painted time with wings, because it flies so fast. In Joshua's days,
when the sun and moon stood still, time went on. In Hezekiah's reign, when
the sun went ten degrees backward, time went forward. Our whole life is
nothing else but a passage to death—where there is no staying by the way
or slacking our pace.
USE 1. See what a poor inconsiderable thing
life is. The time is short, and upon this small wire of time hangs
the weight of eternity. Life is but a short scene acted here. It is
but a vapor or puff of wind (James 4:14). Life is made up of a few flying
minutes. Oh, then, how imprudent are those, who will damn their souls to
save their lives! He would be unwise who, to preserve a short lease, would
lose his inheritance. How many there are who, to preserve this short life,
will take sinful courses, defraud and oppress and build up an estate—but
will pull down their souls! Many, to save their skins, will destroy their
It is better to endure a blow on our body or estate—than
suffer our precious soul to be damaged. The soul is the man of the man. The
soul is the princely part, crowned with reason. It carries in it some faint
idea or resemblance of God. The soul is a rich diamond set in clay. What
folly it is to save the clay—and lose the diamond! Tiberius the emperor, for
a drink of water—lost his kingdom!
USE 2. EXHORTATION.
BRANCH 1. Is time so uncertain and short?
Let us often contemplate the shortness of life.
Feathers swim upon the water—but gold sinks into it.
Light, feathery people float in vanity—but serious Christians sink deep into
the thoughts of their death. Deuteronomy 32:29: "Oh, that they were
wise—that they would consider their latter end." Forgetfulness of the latter
end—makes life sinful—and death formidable. People naturally
shrink back from the thoughts of death. Amos 6:3: "They put far away from
them the evil day." When they are young, they hope they shall spin out life
to the blossoming of the almond tree. When old age comes, they hope to renew
their strength as the eagle, though their bodies are subject to corruption
and they feel the symptoms of mortality in them. Deafness of hearing—is
death creeping in at the ear. Dimness of sight—is death
creeping in at the eye. Yet they are so frantic as to persuade
themselves of long life. Bodily diseases are but death's
harbingers which go before to prepare a lodging for death. Why, then, do
men dream of an earthly eternity? Psalm 49:11: "Their inward thought is that
their houses shall continue forever." Where is the man who contemplates
time's shortness, or makes another's death a looking-glass in which he may
see his own dying face?
Some may say this discourse of the shortness of time is
fit for such as are mortally ill, whom the physicians have given over. But
those who are in health, may live many years.
Though your blood is fresh in your veins, and your bones
are full of marrow—you know not how short your time may be. He was not sick
nor in fear of sickness who said, "Soul, take your ease—eat, drink, and
enjoy yourself." But that very night, death terminated his life (Luke
12:20). A strong constitution is no guarantee of a long life. People likely
enough to live, have been suddenly taken away by convulsions and strokes.
How soon may death sound its alarm! It is reported of Zelenchus that the
first he brought into his new house, was a tombstone. Oh, meditate on the
transitoriness and brittleness of life! Think often of your
QUESTION. What advantage will
accrue to us, by often thinking of our short stay here?
ANSWER 1. Meditation on the shortness of time
would cool the heat of our affections for the WORLD. These visible
objects please the fancy—but they do not so much delight us—as
delude us. They are suddenly gone from us. Worldly things are like a
fair picture drawn on the ice—which the sun quickly melts.
The time is short, so why should we overly love that
which we cannot keep over long? 1 Corinthians 7:31: "The fashion (or
pageant) of the world passes away." Time passes away as a ship in
full sail. This, thought on seriously, would mortify covetousness. Paul
looked upon himself as ready to loosen anchor and be gone. His love to the
world had already died, Galatians 6:14: "The world is crucified to me—and I
unto the world." Who would covet that which has neither contentment
Peter had the same view in 2 Peter 1:14: "Knowing that
shortly I must put off this my tabernacle." Among the Grecians, the city of
Sparta had a king for a year and then he was to lay down his crown—which
made everyone strive not to be king. Why should we so toil about the world
as if we were to live here forever? What need is there for a long
provision—if it is for a short way? If we have enough to bear our charges to
heaven, that should suffice. Suppose a man's lease were ready to expire and
he should fall to building and planting; would not he be judged to be
foolish? When our time is so very short now, to follow the world
immoderately, as if we would fetch happiness out of the earth which God has
cursed—is a degree of madness. We shall soon have no need of the
earth—but to be buried in it!
ANSWER 2. Meditation on the shortness of time should
be a means to HUMBLE us. Augustine calls humility the mother of the
graces. Balm sinks to the bottom of the water. A good Christian sinks
low in humility. And what can sooner pull down the flags and banners of
pride—than to consider we are shortly dropping into the dust! The priest was
to cast the feathers of the fowls by the place of the ashes (Leviticus
1:16). Just so, all your feathers of honor must shortly lie in the ashes.
Shall not he who is clothed with mortality—be clothed with
humility? The thoughts of the grave—should bury our pride.
ANSWER 3. Meditation on the shortness of time, would
hasten our REPENTANCE. Repentance is as necessary, as heaven. As
moisture and natural heat preserve life—so repenting tears and a heart
burning with love preserve the soul. It is natural to delay repentance. We
say with Haggai 1:2, "The time is not yet come." But, the text says, the
time is short. Our life is a candle, which is soon blown out.
The thoughts of time's uncertainty and
swiftness, would keep us from putting off our repentance. There is no
time for us to delay. It is observed of the birds of Norway, that they fly
faster than the birds of other countries. By the instinct of nature, knowing
the days in that climate to be very short, they therefore make more haste to
their nests. The consideration of short abode here, will make us avoid
delays and fly faster to heaven upon the wing of repentance.
ANSWER 4. Meditation on the shortness of time would
give us an antidote against the TEMPTATIONS of Satan. Temptation is
Satan's eldest daughter, who woos for him. Satan does more mischief by his
wiles—than his darts. He knows how to suit his temptation, as
the farmer knows what seed is proper for such a soil. Satan tempted Achan
with a wedge of gold; and David with beauty. It is hard to keep up the
banks of grace against the sea of temptation. I know no better
remedy against Satan's immodest solicitations than this text: "the time is
"What, Satan, do you tempt me to vanity—when I am going
to give up my accounts at the judgment? Shall I now be sinning—when tomorrow
I may be dying! How shall I look my judge in the face!" Christian, when
Satan sets sinful pleasure before you, show him a death's-head. This will
make temptations vanish.
ANSWER 5. The consideration of the shortness of our
stay in the world would be a help to TEMPERANCE. It would make us sober
and moderate in the use of worldly comforts. By excess, we turn lawful
things into sinful things. The bee may suck a little honey from the
flower—but put it into a barrel of honey—and it is drowned. We
may with Jonathan dip the end of the rod in honey—but not thrust it in too
far. The flesh, when pampered, rebels. The best preservative against
intemperance is this—the time is short!
The Egyptians at their great banquets, used to bring in
the image of a dead man, and say to their guests, "Look upon this—and
proceed in your banquet." An excellent antidote against excess. Joseph of
Arimathea erected a sepulcher in his garden—to spice his flowery delights
with the thoughts of death.
ANSWER 6. Meditation on the shortness of time would
much mitigate our grief for the loss of dear RELATIONS. It is observable
that when the Apostle said, "The time is short," he immediately added. "Let
those who weep be as if they wept not."
No doubt the loss of relations is grievous to the fleshly
part. It is like pulling a limb from the body. When God strikes us in our
right eye—we weep. It is lawful to give vent to our grief. Joseph wept over
his dead father. But though true religion does not banish grief, it
bounds it. We must weep—as if we wept not. Rachel's sin was that she
refused to be comforted (Matthew 2:18). If anything can stop the issue of
sorrow, at least assuage it, it is this, "The time is short." We shall
shortly have our losses made up and enjoy our godly relations again in
ANSWER 7. Meditation on the shortness of time would
make us highly value GRACE. Time is short—but grace is
forever. 1 John 2:27: "The anointing which you have received from Him
abides in you." Grace is a blossom of eternity; it is an immortal seed
(1 John 3:9). Grace is not blasted by death—but transplanted
into a better soil. Grace is not a lease which soon expires—but an
inheritance entailed forever. He who has true grace can no more lose it—than
the angels can, who are fixed in their heavenly orb. Grace shall outlast
time—and run parallel with eternity.
BRANCH 2. If time is so short and winged, take heed of
MISSPENDING this short time. To misspend time, is the worse
1. Take heed of spending time UNPROFITABLY.
Domitian wasted much of his time in catching flies. Many live merely
to cumber the ground. Judges 10:4: "Jair had thirty sons who rode around on
thirty donkeys" and they died. So it may be said, such a one was born in the
reign of such a king and he possessed such an estate—and he died. His
life was scarcely worth a prayer—or his death worth a tear. An
idle person is a cipher in the world—and God writes down no ciphers
in the Book of Life. Many are like the wood of the vine—useless. Ezekiel
15:3: "Will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon?"
Too many resemble the lilies which do not toil, neither
do they spin. They spend their time as the emperor Caligula. He was at a
great expense to provide a navy, and when it was provided he sent his
mariners to sea to gather cockle-shells, and so they sailed home again. God
has furnished men with precious time wherein they may work out salvation—and
they employ it in foolish vanities. What reward can be expected—when
there is no work done? Who is crowned as a conqueror—who never
fights? Matthew 25:30: "Cast the unprofitable servant into utter
2. Take heed of spending time VICIOUSLY. Many
spend their short time in drinking, gaming, and whoring. Esau lost the
blessing, while he was hunting. Many lose heaven, while they hunt after
sinful pleasures. Sin is boiled to a great height in this age. Men count it
a shame, not to be vile. They are steeped and boiled in wickedness! They
live in the world to infect others—as the cockatrice with its breath poisons
the herbs. What a dreadful account will they have to give, who have nothing
to show God but their sins!
BRANCH 3. If the time of life is so short, let us IMPROVE
it. Ephesians 5:16: "Redeeming the time." If a man had but a
short time on a farm, he would make the best improvement of it and get as
good a crop as he could out of it before he left it. The thoughts of our
short stay here on earth, should make us improve this little inch of
That we may do this better, remember we are accountable
to God for our time. God will say, "What have you done with your time?" If a
master entrusts his steward with money and goods—he expects that he should
give him an account of what he has done with them—and how he has employed
them. All of us are stewards, and God will call us to a reckoning and say,
"What have you done with the talent of time which I entrusted you with?"
QUESTION: How should we
improve this short time?
ANSWER: In general, mind salvation work (Philippians
2:12). He who lays up gold and silver is wise for his children—but he who
gets salvation is wise for himself.
Especially, improve this short time by a serious
examination. Examine how the case stands between God and your souls. 2
Corinthians 13:5: "Examine yourselves." Examine yourselves—as the goldsmith
does his gold. Time is short, and what if God should say this night, "Give
an account of your stewardship!"
Reckon with yourselves about your debts. Are your debts
paid—and your sins pardoned? Reckon with yourselves about making your will.
Time is short; you may die before night. Have you made your will? I mean, in
a spiritual sense, have you given up your will to God and, by solemn vow—set
seal to the will? They are most fit to resign their souls to God—who have
resigned their wills to Him.
Call yourselves to account about your evidences for
heaven. Are your evidences ready? Your desires are your evidences. Do you
desire Christ for Himself—as beauty is loved for itself? Can nothing quench
your thirst but Christ's blood? Is your desire quickened into endeavor? This
is a blessed sign.
For lack of this self-examination, many who are well
known to others—are unknown to themselves. They know not where they shall go
when they die—or to what coast they shall sail—to hell or to heaven.
Improve this short time, by laying hold of all the
seasons and opportunities for your souls. The mariner takes the fittest
season; he sets to sea while the wind blows. Time is short, and
opportunity (which is the cream of time) is shorter. Let not the seasons
of mercy slip away unimproved.
While God's Spirit strives with you, nourish His sweet
whispers and motions. When the dove came flying to the windows of the ark,
Noah reached out his hand and pulled it into the ark. So when God's Spirit
(this blessed dove) comes to you, entertain and welcome Him into the ark of
your souls. If you repulse the Spirit, He may refuse to strive any more.
Gospel seasons, though they are sweet, are swift.
While God's ministers are with you, make use of them.
Zechariah 1:5: "The prophets, do they live forever?" Their time (by reason
of their labors) is scarcely so long as others. We read of lamps within the
pitchers in judges 7:16. Ministers are lamps—but these lamps are in earthen
pitchers, which soon break. Though ministers carry the word of life in their
mouths—yet they carry death in their faces! Improve their labors while you
have them. They thirst for your happiness and, as so many bells—would chime
in your souls to Christ.
Improve this short time by keeping up a close communion
with God. 1 John 1:3: "Our communion is with the Father." This sweet
communion with God is kept up by holy meditation. Genesis 24:63:
"Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening." Meditation
cements divine truths into the mind. It brings God and the soul
together. Meditation is the bellows of the affections. It gives a sight and
a taste of invisible glory. Psalm 104:34: "My meditation of Him shall be
Communion with God is kept up by prayer. Praying
days are ascension days. Caligula placed his effigies in the capitol,
whispering in Jupiter's ears. Prayer whispers in God's ears. It is a
secret parley and conversation with God. On this mount of prayer, the
soul has many sweet transfigurations.
Improve this short time by doing all the service you can
for God. Wisdom may be learned from an enemy. Satan is more fierce because
he knows his time is short (Revelation 12:12). We would act more vigorously
for God seeing our time is short. Our lives should be as jewels—though
little in quantity yet great in value. Paul knew his stay in the world was
short, therefore, how zealous and active was he for God while he lived! 1
Corinthians 15:10: "I labored more abundantly than they all." Paul's
obedience did not move as slowly as the sun on the dial—but as swift as the
sun in the sky. Is time short? Let us be "God-exalters." Let us bring glory
to God in doing good to others. As aromatic trees sweat out their precious
oils, so should we lay out our strength for the good of others.
Let us do good to their souls and convince the ignorant,
strengthen the weak, and bring back the wandering. A good Christian is both
a diamond and a lodestone—a diamond sparkling in sanctity; and a lodestone
for his attractive virtue in drawing others to Christ.
Let us do good to their bodies. Many at this day say to
their sorrows, "You are our companions." Let our fingers drop with the myrrh
of liberality. Hebrews 13:16: "Don't forget to do good and to share what you
have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to God." Let
us feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and be temporal saviors to others.
Could we thus improve our time—our lives, though short,
would be sweet. This would be the way to cast abroad a fragrant, redolent
smell in God's church, like the orange trees which perfume the air where
Could we thus improve our time, we might have our
consciences drawing up a certificate for us, as in 2 Corinthians 1:12. Then
it does not matter if the world censures—as long as conscience acquits; it
does not matter how cross the wheels go—if the clock strikes rightly.
Could we thus improve our time, we might have an easy and
joyful passage out of the world. This was Hezekiah's comfort when he thought
he was lying on his deathbed. 2 Kings 20:3: "I beseech You, O Lord, remember
how I have done that which is good in Your sight." To improve time aright
answers God's cost, credits true religion, and saves the soul.
USE 3. Let this strike terror into every wicked person
who exhausts his strength in sin; his time is short—and then begins his
hell. He spends his life in a frolic. He takes the timbrel and
harp and rejoices at the sound of the organ (Job 21:12). But the time is
shortly coming, when all his mirth shall cease. Revelation 18:22, "Never
again will the sound of music be heard there—no more harps, songs, flutes,
or trumpets." "All the fancy things you loved so much are gone. The luxuries
and splendor that you prized so much will never be yours again. They are
gone forever." Revelation 18:14. The grave buries all a sinner's joy.
When a wicked man dies—the devil gets a windfall.
Satan (in Samuel's shape) said to Saul, 1 Samuel 28:19,
"You shall be with me tomorrow." The sinner has his lusts today—and may be
with the devil tomorrow! Who would envy the wicked their honor or pleasure?
They must pay dearly for it! They have a short feast—but a long reckoning!
For a drop of mirth, they must drink a sea of wrath! And who knows the power
of that wrath? Bellarmine said that if a man had a sight of hell—it would be
enough to make a drunken person sober.
Hell is the epitome of torment. The sacrifice of jealousy
was to have no oil nor frankincense put to it (Numbers 5:15).
In hell, there is no oil of mercy put to the torments of the wicked
to assuage them; nor is there any incense of prayer to appease God's
wrath. Oh, that sinners would in time break off their iniquities! What has
become of their intellect—have they sinned away reason as well as
conscience? The time of life is short—but the torments of hell are
lengthened out! Revelation 14:11: "The smoke of their torment ascends up
forever and ever!"
USE 4. Here is a light side of the text to the godly.
They may be glad that their time here is short. They cannot really live—but
by dying. Behold, there is honey at the end of the rod.
The time being short, their
sinning time cannot be long. Sin is a troublesome inmate. Romans
7:24 says that Paul, that bird of paradise, sighed and groaned under
corruption. A child of God mingles sin with his duties. He cannot write a
copy of holiness, without blotting. There's a part of a regenerate heart
that sides with Satan. But be of good comfort, the time is short. It is but
for a short while, Christians, that you shall be combating a proud,
unbelieving heart. The year of release is coming. Death does to the
godly as the angel did to Peter—it smites them, and makes their
chains of sin fall off!
The time being short, their
working time cannot be long. In this life, much work is cut out.
There is the work of the hand, as the artificer works in his trade
(Proverbs 10:4). There is the work of the head. Notions are
the children of the brain, and there is labor in bringing them forth. There
is the work of the heart, which is the hardest work—to search,
cleanse, and watch the heart. As a clock sometimes goes faster, sometimes
slower, so the heart sometimes goes faster in sin, sometimes slower in duty.
But here is the saint's comfort—their working time is short. Revelation
14:13: "They will rest from their labors." When their bodies return
to dust—their souls return to rest.
The time being short, their
suffering time cannot be long. Life is laden with trouble, "How
frail is humanity! How short is life, and how full of trouble!" Job 14:1.
You may as well separate weight from lead—as trouble from a man's life.
We come into the world with a cry—and go out with a groan! Everyone has
his yoke, and it is well if there is not a nail in it.
Though the cross is heavy—we have but a little way to carry it. Death
will give the godly a writ of ease. Job 3:17: "There (in the grave) the
wicked cease from troubling."
The time being short, their
waiting time cannot be long. The godly shall not be long out of
heaven. While the blessed angels see the orient beauties which shine in
God's face, believers live far from court, being imprisoned in the body.
Here they rather desire God—than enjoy Him. But the time is
short, perhaps a few days or hours—and the saints shall be solacing
themselves in the light of God's countenance. They shall leave their pillow
of thorns—and lay their head on Christ's bosom! Faith gives a
propriety in God; death gives a possession. The wagons and
chariots came rattling to old Jacob—but they were to carry him to his son,
Joseph. Death's chariot wheels may come rattling to a believer—but it is to
carry him home to his Father's house!
In that paradise of God, a Christian shall have more than
he can ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20). He can imagine, "What if every
mountain were a pearl, every flower a ruby, every sand in the sea a diamond,
the whole globe a shining gem?" But all his thoughts are too low and
dwarf-like to reach the glory of the celestial pyramids. The heavenly reward
(as Augustine said) exceeds faith—and, as the time is short, a
Christian shall be in heaven before he is aware. Then he shall bathe his
soul in those perfumed pleasures of paradise, which run at God's right hand
I am done with the text. Let me speak to the occasion. We
are meeting here to commemorate the death of an eminent minister in this
city, Mr. John Wells. I am sorry I am the actor in this mournful scene. But
being requested by him in his life (in case I survived), I was willing to do
this last office of love.
There has been a great mortality of ministers lately. The
men of the world need not be so fierce against God's ministers; they will
not trouble them long. God's taking away His ministers so fast (two in a
day) bodes much evil. It presages the fall of a house—when the pillars are
Concerning this reverend brother deceased, it is not my
purpose to use any exaggerated eulogies; only give me permission to strew a
few flowers upon his casket.
Our worthy friend was endued with learning and
volubleness of speech. He could rightly divide the Word as a workman who
needed not to be ashamed. He had seals to his ministry. Some of his hearers
might call him their spiritual father.
Regarding his piety, he was not only a follower of
that which was good—but a leader. He said not long before his death,
that he was sure that he loved God. He was fixed to his principles. Though
he is by death a fallen star, he was not a wandering star.
His disposition was not morose—but affable. He was a man
of candor and courtesy. He obliged and won the affections of many to him.
When grace and sweetness of nature meet—it is like a diamond
in a gold ring.
Regarding his preaching, he preached intelligibly to the
capacity of his assembly of hearers, because he was sure that a minister
would never touch the hearts of his hearers if he shot over their heads.
Ministers should be stars to give light, not clouds to darken
the truth. Clearness is the grace of speech. Gregory Nazianzen preached
plainly to the ignorant—yet was admired by the learned.
He was conscientious and painstaking in his work. Sloth
in a minister, is as bad as sleep in a sentinel. He would not offer that to
God, that which cost him nothing. Christ bled for souls; well may we
sweat. This good man, like a candle, consumed himself while he gave
light to others.
He was a man of a forgiving spirit. He was not troubled
with the overflowing of gall. Kindnesses he wrote in marble;
injuries he forgot. He was very charitable. The backs and bellies
of the poor, were the furrows where he sowed the seeds of his
liberality. But though his charity shone, he did not care that it
might blaze. He is now taken from the evil to come.
For you who sat under his ministry, let me tell you that
you have lost a friend and a guide. You have cause to be dear mourners. Let
me request only this of you, that you would remember the many good
instructions given you. Though he is dead, let not his sermons die, too—but
labor to copy them in your lives.