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In order to explain the meaning and show the propriety of some of the observations in the following discourse, it • seems necessary that the peculiar circumstances of the death which occasioned it, should be briefly narrated.
On the morning of the 17th of June, Mr. Smith, in usual health, left his house, and went about a mile and a half, to procure a few bundles of shingles. These he placed in a light waggon, and took his seat upon the top of them. He proceeded, without accident, a third of the distance; when, in descending a small declivity, as it would seem (for no human eye saw him) the bundle of shingles on which he sat, came open, and some of its contents fell, and startled the horse. Mr. Smith, it appeared, slipped down between the body of the waggon and the wheels, still keeping his hold of one rein; and in this perilous position, was dragged a fourth of a mile; when his horse was stopped by a friend, and he was taken from the waggon and conveyed home, dreadfully mangled. The amputation of one leg was successfully performed, in the afternoon, and hopes were cherished of his recovery from his wounds and brui.
But Infinite Wisdom had otherwise determined. Nature was too feeble to bear the protracted anguish and loss of blood, which he suffered.
Sensible that his time was come to die; he called his family around him, and affectionately gave them his parting counsel and blessing. He calmly expired, at 7 o'clock in the evening; leaving a wife, and four children to mourn their irreparable loss.
A SERMON, Preached at the Funeral of Mr. Joseph Smith, who died sudden
ly, on the 17th of June, 1830, in the 71st year of his age. By Otis Thompson, 1. M., Pastor of the Congregational Church in Rehoboth.
WATCH YE, THEREFORE; FOR YE KNOW NOT WHEN THE
MASTER OF THE HOUSE COMETH, AT EVEN, OR AT MIDNIGHT, OR AT THE COCK-CROWING, OR IN THE MORNING; LEST, COMING SUDDENLY, HE FIND YOU SLEEPING.–Mark, aiii. 35, 36.
These words were addressed by our Lord Jesus Christ to his primitive disciples, and through them to all his followers to the end of time. He had just uttered a two-fold prediction, relating more immediately to his coming to destroy Jerusalem, and more remotely to his coming to judge the world. “ As he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here. And Jesus answering said unto him, “Seest thou these great buildings? There shall not be lest here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." And when some of them asked him, When shall these things be, and what shall be the sign, when all these things shall be fulfilled? He answered, “When ye shall see the abomination of desolation (or the abomination that maketh desolate, i. e. the Roman ensign) standing where it ought not (i. e. in the holy place of the temple) then let them that be in Judea, flee to the mountains, &c." This seems to relate immediately to the destruction of Jerusalem, which was accomplished by Titus, about forty years after Christ's crucifixion. Our Lord then added, In those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light; and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken; and then shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds, with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of heaven.-But, of that day and that hour, knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the father." This seems to reser, at least remotely, to the end of the world and the day of judgment. But it may be applied, by way of accommodation, to the
time of death; for between death and judgment, there is a very near connection. As all mankind will be present at the day of judgment; so all mankind must experience the great change of death. As all mankind will be fixed in an unalterable state, at the day of judgment; so, at death, each person's character and condition are decided for eternity: “In the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be" as death leaves us, so judgment will find us. As Christ will come to judge the world; so he comes to each person, at the hour of death, to close his term of trial and remove him into the invisible world. As Christ, when he comes to judgment, will gather his elect from the four quarters of the earth; so, by death, he gathers them into his holy and heavenly kingdom. As Christ will come unexpectedly to judgment; so he often comes suddenly to emove mankind by death. And,
And, finally, as no one knows the day, when Christ will come to judgment; so no one knows the hour, when his Lord will come to call him out of time into eternity. I shall therefore, on this occasion, consider the exhortation of our Divine Lord, with which he closes his discourse, as applicable to the time of each person's death: “ Take ye heed, watch, and pray; for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye, therefore; for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning; lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you, I say unto all-WATCH.”
Our text, thus applied, suggests this sentiment:
Since death may come suddenly, men ought to watch and never be spiritually asleep.
I propose to show,
III. Why, since death may come suddenly, men ought to watch and never be spiritually asleep.
1. I am to show, that death may come suddenly. This will appear, if we consider,
1. That no one knows the time of his death. “Ye know not when the Master of the house cometh.” Though God has told all men that they shall die; yet he has told no one when he shall die. And though he has set our bounds which we cannot pass; yet he has informed no one where his bound is set. From the course of Divine Providence,
no one can form a rational conjecture as to the time of his death. Some of every aye, of every shade of character, and in every variety of circumstances, are arrested by the king of terrors. The youth knows not that he shall live to manhood: The middle-aged know not that they shall live to old age: And the aged know not but that God may add yet another year to their protracted lives. Since the time of death is thus totally uncertaint; it may come unexpectedly and suddenly to any man now living.
2. As the time, so the manner of each person's death, is totally uncertain. The means by which mankind are brought to death, are as various as the times at which they expire. Some die of disease, some by violence, some by those events which our ignorance calls accidents, and some without any apparent cause at all. No can calculate, from his bodily constitution or external circumstances, what the mode of his death will be. Men often in imagination anticipate the manner of their death; but the event generally shows them their mistake. Since then, no one knows how, any more than when he shall die; it is evident that any one may experience a sudden death.
3. Those of mankind already dead, more generally died in a sudden manner; and hence we are led to conclude, that those who are now living may, and probably will, die suddenly. Of those who have died of the various diseases to which men are liable, how many experienced but a short sickness which soon terminated in death, unexpectedly both to themselves and their friends?
Those who have died of more lingering disorders, have generally flattered themselves with hopes of recovery, till, in an unexpected moment, their breath went forth, and their hopes perished.' Very many who died of sickness or age, had no warning whatever of the approach of the
So that, of those who have died what may be termed a natural death, the great majority have died suddenly. But what countless multitudes, in their full strength and activity, wholly at ease and free from apprehension, have been swept away by those innumerable casualties which befall the frail children of men? It must be obvious, that of those who have already passed the change of death, the vast majority have died suddenly; from whence it is just to conclude, that those who are now alive upon the earth, will probably die in a sudden and unexpected manner. I am,
II. To show what it is to watch.
To watch, in a natural sense, is to keep awake and be on one's guard against enemies or danger. In a spiritual sense,