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arrived. A slight indisposition detained him at home the two last Lord's days of his life. On the Wednesday following the second of them, without any previous symptoms, he was suddenly attacked at eleven o'clock, A. M. by a paralytic shock. At ten at night he grew insensible, and at twelve his useful life and labours were terminated together. Could he have selected the manner of his death, it had probably been such an one as this, which spared him the pain of separation from a flock he was most ardently attached to, and a family he most tenderly loved; a scene which, to a person of his feeling mind, notwithstanding all his religion, must have occasioned a shock.
In one of his sermons, preached after the death of the late Dr. Peter Thacher, of this town, he says, “ Though we would not wish to choose, or offer to dictate to Infinite Wisdom, as to the manner of our exit, yet may we be permitted to say, that when good men are suddenly cut down, they avoid the pains and extreme distresses that always accompany a lingering sickness. And though we would not pray, From sudden death, good Lord, deliver us, we would devoutly pray, For sudden death, good Lord, prepare us.”
On the Monday following his death, his remains were attended to his meeting house, where a pathetic and appropriate discourse was delivered on the occasion, by the Rev. Dr. Baldwin, pastor of the Second Baptist Church in this town, to an immensely thronged and deeply affected assembly, from 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8; after which his remains were conveyed to the tomb, amidst the regrets of a numerous concourse of people, who crowded around his bier, anxious to take a last look of the urn which contained the relicks of him, who once to them was so dear, but whose face they should now behold no more.
The following extracts from Dr. Stillman's manuscripts are expressive examples of those pious feelings which he habitually cherished and indulged.
“ May 1, 1789. This evening I received the melancholy news of the death of my dear son –
(the fourth of his adult children, he had within a short time been called to resign.) O that the Lord would graciously support me and mine under this solemn and distressing event, and help us to make a proper improvement of it. I know it is the Lord who hath done it, and am confident he can do no wrong.
“On the following Lord's day preached in the morning from John xviii. 11. « The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it ?” In the afternoon from Gen. xlii. 36. « Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away. All these things are against me.” To me, and to an affectionate congregation, a solemn and affecting season." .
Upon the subject of his removal from James Island, South Carolina, to Boston, he writes thus :
« I left an agreeable settlement, to come to Boston ; but the way of duty was so plainly pointed out to me, that I do not recollect that I ever had a single doubt about it. God hath made my way prosperous and happy. The people of my own charge, both church and congregation, have been always happily united, and have at all times studied to make me happy. May the Lord reward them for all their labours of love to me, an unworthy creature.
“In Boston I have also enjoyed a pleasing intimacy with Christians of different denominations. Since my residence in it, I have met with some great afflictions, having been deprived of my dear children by death, in melancholy succession. But the Lord hath never left nor forsaken me : underneath hath been the everlasting arm; and I have found it good to be afflicted. My friends have pitied me and mine, and the Lord hath helped us. My trials have been comparatively few, and my blessings innumerable."
« February, 1806. One year more of my life and ministry is gone. How wonderfully hath the Lord preserved such an unworthy creature as I am! O how little have I done for God! The Lord forgive me, and help me, the few days that may remain, to live for him alone. Help, Lord; help me to finish my course with joy, and
the ministry which I have received of thee, so that thou mayest be glorified. I wait till thou call me hence."
On the 15th of February, the last Lord's day but one of his preaching, he notes, “On Tuesday next I shall finish the forty-ninth year of my ministry. How astonishing hath the divine goodness been to me, the chief of sinners, and the least of saints ! I now am near my end. O that I may glorify God to the last moment of
life. In life and death Christ is my refuge: to him I flee, looking for salvation through him alone. It is all grace, or I am undone. But, blessed be God, there is redemption through the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. If God be for us, who can be against us? The doctrines I have preached through life are now my own support and consolation; and had I ten thousand souls, I think I could trust them all with Him who is "mighty to save," without the least hesitancy. Blessed be his name for the prospect of an eternity to love and praise him. Amen and amen.”
The following prayer, written on the close of an anniversary of his ministry, a few years before his death, evidences that the good of the people to whom he preached lay near his heart, and that he realized the importance of a gospel ministry amongst them.
“ How long have I lived, and to how little purpose ! Yet I trust I can say, through grace, that my poor labours have not been in vain in the Lord. When I shall sleep in the tomb, may the Lord Jesus bless the people of my charge with a plain, able, faithful preacher of his gospel. O that they may not be as sheep without a shepherd. Lord Jesus, send them a pastor after thine own heart; and may those truths which thou hast enabled thine unworthy servant repeatedly to deliver to them, be attended with a divine blessing, when I am no more on earth ; and thine shall be the glory forever. The short time that yet remains to me, help me to devote to thee. O that I could live much in a little time, and stand waiting to be gone whenever thou shalt call me hence. Glorify thyself of me, whether it be by life or by death.”