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* that ripeness of age in Christ, that “ there be no room left among them, “ either for error in religion or vicious“ ness in life.” But where, my brethren, shall we apply all this care and diligence in rooting out error and subduing vice, if you, who are committed to our charge, withdraw yourselves from us?
I would ask farther : Can any thing be more decent or amiable, than for those, who are united in the bonds of neighbourhood and civil intercourse, to unite also in their devotions to heaven ? Can there again be a stronger sanction to that mutual benevolence and esteem, which ought to prevail more particularly amongst neighbours, than our joint participation of those blessed ordinances, by which we are sharers in God's mercies here, and hope to be angels together hereafter ?
Again : Do not our parish churches in general come recommended to most of us by some circumstances, which no other places can have ? Can we, for instance, forbear reflecting when we enter them, that we are now going into that house, which after some few short months or years is to be our last and long home ? Will it not stop the levity of the gay to reflect, that they are now standing over those gloomy chambers of mortality, from which nor youth nor strength can secure them for one moment ? Will it not damp the vanity of beauty and check the giddiness of youth to consider, that not all the bloom of nature, not all the flattery of admiration, not all the ardent vows of enraptured lovers can exempt them from the cominon stroke of fate, and that they may, within the revolution of a few days, enter these very doors a «pale and loathsome spectacle of mortality & Is it not again a striking thought, that in this very place our ancestors worshipped the God, of their fathers before us? Ask your hearts seriously, Is it nothing to reflect, that, in this very place, perhaps an aged father or tender mother offered up their last prayer to heaven for me and all their posterity ? Is it nothing to reflect, that I now tread upon the ashes of a. beloved husband; wife, or favourite child ? Will their tombs F 3
teach me no useful lessons ? Will their mouldering remains't inspire no serious thoughts ? Will their example add- no weight to the observations of the preacher, or my own reflections upon the vanity of life? Will their memory add no fervor to our devotions or earnestness to our répentance ? If we think them in Abraham's bosom, safe from all the cares and toils of this mortal life, can our affections, sleep or our prayers be languid, when we reflect, that it is on them we are to wing our way to that heaven; to which we piously hope they are gone before us? And if we think them in a state of misery, will that awaken no alarming thoughts ? Will it be no terror to the guilty to think, that he is kneeling over the grave of a debauched companion, who is now soliciting a drop of water in hell to cool his tongue? Will he not naturally be led to consider, how small. a space divides the living from the dead? Will he not naturally say, “ His doom is irrevocably fixed, $ and mine cannot be far off: what he is 5 now, may not I be to-morrow? Can I then slumber on in my sins? Is it not
*6 time for me to awake, and to cry out, 6 Men and brethren, what shall I do to “ be saved ?".
These are reflections, which must arise in every feeling breast: they cannot indeed affect all equally, but they must affect all in some degree ; and I should think, should inducè every man, (where there is not some very strong reason to the contrary) to prefer the worship of his church to that of barns and tabernacles.
: I might add, that our parish churches commonly are endeared to us, as being the burying places of our families and friends. I know indeed the philosopher will tell me, that this is all weakness, and that it matters not where our bodies are laid. It may be so : it may be weakness, but it is a weakness, which wiser men than he have not been ashamed to countenance. « When I die,” said one of the old prophets, to express his regard for one of his brethren, “ bury me be“ sides him, let my bones lie by his “ bones.” And we constantly find it said in the Old Testament, 66. he slept with his “ fathers," " he was buried with his fa“ thers,” “ he went down to the grave of “ his fathers.” Such too was the constant voice of heathen antiquity. Hic sacra, hic genus, hic majorum multa vestigia ;--studioseque eorum etiam sepulchra conteinplor, were strong recommendations to the great master of Roman eloquence. And one of the best judges of human nature of our own country, very truly, though in the language of fiction, represents it as one of the greatest misfortunes of an unhappy old man, that he should not die and rest where his father before him had done:'' .si, T .:
..“ You have undone,” says he, a man of fourscore
years and three, “ That thought to fill his grave in quiet ; yea,.. “ To die upon the bed my father dy'd, : * To lie close by his honest bones.”
Winter's Tale, Act 4. Sc. 8. -.
And surely we must own, that there is something congenial to human nature, something agreeable to the tender feelings of affection, that those, “ who in their