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upon you at unawares. But as his death was awful and sudden, so it was pleasant and joyful, as you will hear under the next head, which is this,
4. And lastly, he being dead, speaks to you in the expressions which he uttered, after he had received the mortal wound, and under the expectation of his dissolution being near at hand. I cannot remember all that was said to bim, nor the answers he returned: but may this never be forgotten by me; the evidence which he gave, by the firmness of his mind, his satisfaction in his choice, his dependence upon the merits of Christ, and the secret joy that filled his soul, under the expectation of his departure being near, unto the truth and excellency of the Christian religion; unto the solid and substantial pleasure that is to be found in the ways of wisdom, and the well-grounded peace to be thereby obtained. His dying speeches were serious, weighty and pertinent. He took leave of some friends, forgiving and asking forgiveness, and relying upon the mercy of God in Christ for a pardon. He applied himself to parents, and brethren, and by-standers in a very awakening manner, with pertinency and a strain of serious godliness.
When I first visited him, having asked him how he did ? he replied, “In a poor condition, both for soul and body.” I told him, I hoped he had not put off the thoughts of death and eternity till then, and that he was not without hope. He said, “No, but he wanted assurance of his good estate.” I asked him, in wbat he placed his hope? “Oh!” says he," in nothing of my own, but alone in the merits and righteousness of my Saviour." I asked him if he was willing to leave this world? He said, " he should be, if he was sure of bis interest in the Lord Jesus Christ.” But being, I suppose, under great surprise upon the account of the wound received, and faint and sick withal : “ He said that he was not able to talk ;” but yet very particularly mentioned his desires of what I should offer to God in prayer for him : after which I took my leave of him, and saw him no more till the morning before he died, when I found him perfectly in his right mind, and in a very calm, quiet and serene frame of soul, and in a most sweet and heavenly temper. I mentioned to him something of the doubts he was under, when I saw him before, and asked him, if the clouds were dispersed? He told me, they were.
I asked him, if death was disarmed of its sting? He said, “Yes.” I asked him, if he could freely leave his parents and all that was dear to bim in the world ?
" that at the first thought it seemed something hard ; but when he considered that he should leave all sin and sorrow, and go to Christ; it overbalanced it all.” He was asked again, upon what he built his hopes? He replied, " Upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Cbrist himself being the chief corner-stone." He was asked, whether Christ
was not very precious to him? He said, “He was; and expressed a sense of Christ's love constraining him to love him
He was asked, whether he took delight in God's Sabbaths ? He said, “ they had been to him the best of days, and he could sometimes with a soul swallowed up, say, that a day in God's courts was better to him than a thousand elsewhere, and the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” He was asked, if he loved those, whom he had reason to think were the children and people of God ? He asked, “ if that were a sure mark of grace ?" It was told him that the apostle said, “We know that we are passed from death to life, because we love the brethren :" but he must distinguish betwixt a natural and a religious love; a love to God's people, because they may be good neighbors or good tempered persons, &c. and a love to them because they are good men, because they have the image of God enstamped on their souls, and the tokens of grace evident in their lives. The case was put thus to him, whether or no, if a person, whom upon all other accounts he had a low thought of, yet appeared to have the grace of God in him, this single consideration would draw forth his love to him and esteem of him?
He was put in mind of his neglect of the holy sacrament of the supper; he replied to this effect, that his duty in that article had been very much in his thoughts; that he had been greatly stumbled from the miscarriages of church members, and that the irregular walk of some of them had been a very great temptation to him. But he had come to this resolution (if it had pleased God to have given him opportunity) in a very short time to have offered himself to the communion.
He was put in mind of his being a member of a religious society of young people, and I asked him what I should tell the young people from him as a dying person. He replied, “ As a dying creature tell them to take warning by me, to persuade themselves of the uncertainty of life, to beware of being swallowed up by this world, and to get their affections mortified to it, and not to rest contented without an interest in Christ.” As he drew near his change at times he was something delirious, and at other times clear and bright; and so he lay in a patient submissive resigning frame till he breathed out his soul (as we trust) into the arms of his Saviour, and sweetly slept in Jesus ; for Christ hath assured us, " that where he is, there shall also bis servant be," John xii. 26.
Upon the whole, let the mourning relatives be comforted in this, that though you are bereaved in so sudden and awful a manner, and of one so desirable, yet God can make up this loss to you, in that which will be infinitely better, and your loss is undoubtedly his unspeakable gain. Pray hard, that God's grace may be sufficient for you, that you may suitably demean yourselves under bis rebukes, that you may by this chastening be made spiritual gainers, that you may be weaned from this world, and ripened for those mansions of delight, where all sorrow and sighing shall cease, and all tears shall be wiped from your eyes.
Let us all take notice of this providence of God, and let us study to answer his expectations from us herein ; and from what we have heard, let us be instructed in the truth and power of religion, and in the possibility, pleasure and profit of strict godliness, and be quickened to make religion our main business. In a particular manner, let our young people be awakened to “ Remember their Creator in the days of their youth.” And O that some good thing might be found in them! Your godly parents, and those which are concerned for your souls, will have no greater rejoicing, than to see you walking in the truth. They speak to you in the language of David's dying charge to his son Solomon, 1 Kings ii. 2, 3. "I go the way of all the earth : be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man. And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in bis ways, to keep his statutes and his commandments and bis judgments and his testimonies, that thou mayst prosper in all that thou dost."
And now for a close, I shall borrow the words of another in an excellent discourse, occasioned by the death of a young man. “ The days he lost on earth (says he) we trust are gained in beaven intinitely to his advantage, and though he died young, yet if he had lived long enough to be weaned from this world and fit for heaven, he had a sufficiency of life.”
And now my wish and prayer is, “ May you that knew him follow his example, and emulate his piety. Nay there always be found by the grace of God anong the young people of this dock, many such instances of early and serious religion, and may such as are walking in the same steps (as I trust a number of you are) be spared to bring forth more of the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of God.”
Now, to God even our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, be everlasting praises ! Amen.
Our Fathers God, the hope of Posterity.
FOUNDATION, RISE AND GROWTH
SETTLEMENTS IN NEW ENGLAND,
WITH A VIEW TO THE EDIFICATION OF THE PRESENT, AND THE INSTRUCTION
AND ADMONITION OF FUTURE GENERATIONS.
DELIVERED AT DEDHAM, ON THE DAY OF PUBLIC THANKSGIVING,
NOV. 23, 1738, UPON THE CONCLUSION OF THE FIRST CENTURY, SINCE A CHURCH OF CHRIST WAS GATHERED IN THAT PLACE.
BY SAMUEL DEXTER, V. D. M.
u that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children
of men."-P's. cvii. 8. * And thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children," &c.—Deut. vi. 7.
BOSTON: PRINTED AND SOLD BY S. KNEELAND AND T. GREEN, IN QUEEN STREET, OVER AGAINST THE PRISON.
TO THE BELOVED PEOPLE OF MY CHARGE.
Much RESPECTED Friends,
The ensuing discourse, as it was prepared and delivered at the more immediate instance of some of you,- -so now it sees the light by the press, upon the urgent desire of many more; and it is hoped may prove of real advantage to you, and to your children, not only for your information in some things worthy to be remembered, but also, and more especially, in quickening a holy emulation and commendable zeal in following the example of our venerable forefathers in every thing that was virtuous, praiseworthy, and of good report in them.
Some (though not many) alterations have been made in transcribing for the press, and a few short additions, which I hope will by no means balk your expectations, but minister to your edification.
Brethren, my heart's desire and earnest prayer for you and yours is, that you may be saved. -0 that you may be an honor to the religion which you profess, by walking worthy of the Lord unto all well pleasing, in every station, relation, and condition of life, in the vigorous exercise of all Christian graces, and in the due and faithful discharge of all Christian duties towards God and men, maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace, which (blessed be God) we now enjoy, after a long dark night of trouble and confusion.
I entreat you to remember your unworthy pastor and his family, in your solemn addresses to God, when nearest the throne. You know what breaches a sovereign and holy God has made upon us. Pray for the remnant that are left, that they may live in God's sight, and prove an instructed and godly seed.
That we may all have the exceeding great joy to see our children walking in the truth ;-and in order thereto, that we may have the wisdom and the grace to walk in our houses with a perfect heart, and in a perfect way, and carefully to transmit that holy religion, which was the beauty and glory of our forefathers, pure and undefiled to our posterity.
And that we together, being each other's joy and crown, may be received to the rewards of grace in the kingdom of our Father; are (I hope) the sincere and hearty wishes of, dearly beloved,
Your affectionate pastor, and servant for Jesus' sake,
Dedham, Dec. 23, 1738.