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IN CHRIST-CHURCH, PHILADELPHIA,
ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 4, 1789.
FUNERAL OF THE REV. DAVID GRIFFITH, D. D.
BISHOP ELECT OF THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL
CHURCH OF VIRGINIA.
MONDAY, AUGUST 3, 1789.
In convention of the Protestant Episcopal church of the United States of America ; the president having informed the convention, by message, of the melancholy event of the death of the Rev. Dr. Griffith, a member of this convention for the State of Virginia, requesting that the necessary orders might be given respecting his funeral ;
Resolved, that the senior clergyman of the deputation of each State, except Virginia, attend the funeral, as a pall-bearer (to morrow)—That the other members of this convention attend as mourners--that a sermon be preached on the occasion that the clergy of all denominations within this city be invited to attend the funeral-that the Rev. Dr. Smith be appointed to preach the funeral sermon-and that the right Rev. Dr. White, and Mr. Andrews, lay deputy from Virginia, be requested to walk as chief mourners.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 4, 1789. Resolved, that the thanks of this Convention be given to the Rev. Dr. Smith for his sermon preached at the funeral of the Rev. Dr. Griffith, and that he be requested to furnish the convention with a copy for publi. cation.
2 COR. v. 1, 2, 3, 4. For we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were
dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house, which is from heaven ; if so be that being clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
UPON the sad and solemn occasion, which hath assembled us at this place and time; gloomy indeed would be our reflections, and inconsolable our
condition, were it not for the joyful assurance which our text holds up for the renovation and support of our sickly faith.
Behold, in full view before us, that yawning grave! On its brink, is deposited the breathless clay, the earthly house, of a venerable brother, a servant and minister of Christ! It is for a moment deposited, to give us pause for reflection, and vent for the tribute due to the memory of virtue and worth. That pause ended, the stedfast grave will do its part; and embracing, in firm hold, what we commit to its keeping, would leave the awakened tear to flow forever, sorrowing over our mortality; did not St. Paul come to our aid, teaching us to wipe that tear away, and to console ourselves with the joyful assurance, that the earthly deposit before us, from a tabernacle of clay, shall yet
up a building of God, a house not made with hands, capacious of immortal glory, honour and immortality!
Unprepared and disinclined, on the present sudden and interesting occasion, to enter upon a critical explication of this difficult, yet comfortable, text (in whatsoever sense considered), I shall not detain enquire from it-Whether the body, or earthly house of our present mortal tabernacle shall, upon its divorce from the soul by death, be immediately clothed upon with some other more celestial and incorruptible body; or whether it shall continue naked and unclothed upon, till the morning of the resurrection?
It was the doctrine of the illustrious Plato, who (without the external and revealed light of Christianity) reasoned so well concerning immortality and a
you to world to come, that the soul, or heavenly spark within us, could not subsist of itself, nor act without some kind of body or vehicle; and therefore the followers of his doctrine contend for an intermediate state between death and the resurrection, and think that the body, upon its dissolution by death, is immediately clothed upon, or changed into some other fit vehicle for the soul.
St. Paul, however, gives no countenance to this doctrine, in the text. The celestial clothing, which he speaks of, is something peculiar to the saints who shall be with the Lord; and not to be looked for till after the redemption of the body, and that blessed period of the resurrection,“ when this mortality shall “ be swallowed up of life ;-when the trumpet shall " sound, and the dead shall be raised, and this cor
ruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal “ must put on immortality.”
Most comfortable to us, when we go to the house of mourning, is either of those doctrines; but we are to understand St. Paul in the latter sense, and then by the due use of reason, enlightened by the blessed considerations and doctrines of our text, after the example of the apostles and saints, and pure professors of Christianity in every age; death might be disarmed of his sting and spoiled of his victories*. For, however terrible death may appear to the sinner with all his engines of destruction about him; yet
The Sermon is abridged here, by removing a few pages from the first edition of the same, to their place in the Sermon next following, to the text of which, ad Timothy, chap. IV. they have a more inmediate affinity.
to those who have sought and found an interest in Christ Jesus, death hath lost his mighty terrors: and although the grave itself, which (considered as the door of another world, the entrance into eternity) appears so gloomy and awful to mere flesh and blood; yet to the just,—to those who live by faith, earnestly longing and groaning to be clothed upon with their heavenly house, the grave appears more beautiful than the gates of paradise itself; for at the gates of paradise, upon the banishment of our guilty first parents, the angry cherubim, with his flaming sword, was placed to forbid all future entrance to any of mortal race; but angels of peace and love stand round the graves of the just, to shield them from harm and conduct them to glory!
By considerations such as these the approach of our own death will not only be reconciled to us, but on such occasions as the present, we may dry our tears, and commit to the dust the bodies of those who, according to our firm trust, have died in the Lord—believing that the angels of God have stood ready at their death-bed to receive their souls and waft them into Abraham's bosom.
We are now assembled to pay the last funeral honours to a minister of the altar, who has for many years been conspicuous in his station, both in public and in private life ; and much might be said as applicable to the sudden and melancholy occasion of his death—And though the suspicion of flattery too often accompanies the funeral characters of the present day, yet it is for the interest of virtue and mankind that they should not be brought wholly into disuse. The
tributé of our praise and thankfulness to God is due for those who have, in some degree, been of benefit to the world, either in a civil or religious capacity, and who may be truly said not to have “ lived to them“ selves but for their country-her rights, her laws, " and her liberties, religious and civil; and, there“ fore, at whatever stage of life they have died, they “ have died unto the Lord”—They have died for us also, so far as we may improve their death to the great public and pious purposes, for which such holy solemnities, as the prosent, were first appointed, by the wisest nations. For
1st. They were appointed for the express purpose of commemorating the public virtues of the dead, nay even their crimes; for if they have been injurious to mankind, they may be held up to censure, with the great intent of leading mankind to imitate the former, and to abhor and shun the latter.
2dly. Such solemnities are intended to bring us into a proper familiarity with ourselves and our mortal condition; that we may be preparing for death, and enabled, through the grace offered us, to overcomc his terrors!
Upon each of these heads, I shall beg leave seriously to address you on the present occasion.
. On the first head, I say that to shed a few tears over our deceased friends, and even to set apart some decent and proper part of our time as days of mourning, is not only agreeable to the voice of nature, and the earliest examples of venerable antiquity; but likewise fully warranted by divine revelation itself.