صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

heaven, made the Apostle Paul so vehemently “ desire to depart and be with Christ.” He evidently considered absence from the body inseparably connected with the presence of his spirit with the Lord. Everlasting thanks to the God of all comfort and spiritual consolation and joy, for the assurance which he has given us that the sleep of the pious dead is not the sleep of unconsciousness. It is true, indeed, -delightfully true, that the bodies of the saints, vacated by the departure of their deathless souls, do sleep in unconsciousness in the grave. Infirmity, weariness, and pain, shall afflict them no more. It is not on this account merely or chiefly, however, that the oracles of eternal truth affirm of departed saints, “ they sleep.” The language is descriptive of their safe and happy departure.

To them death is devoid of danger. From his approach they have no more to dread than from the repose of the night when the toils of the day are ended. I mean in respect to the spiritual and immortal part of their nature. The panting and agony which often precede and accompany the death of the body, we cannot and ought not to view with indifference. They are among the bitter fruits of our apostacy from God, and ought to be contemplated with dread. But in respect to the souls of believers, death is perfectly innoxious. It is mainly the fear of what lies beyond, which makes it the dread and terror of the ungodly. If their hearts be not fearfully " hardened through the decejfulness of sin, and their consciences seared as with a bot iron," to them death brings fear and dismay.

But the Lord Jesus Christ has freed his followers from the power of the cruel spoiler. The blow which prostrates their bodies, release their souls from the bondage of corruption. They enter into rest,--rest, balmy and refreshing, free from all the cares, labors, disappointments, anxieties ard sorrows of the present life, and sin, the parent of all our woes. In this vale of tears, they are frequently the subjects of disappointment, pain, anxiety, and sorrow,-sometimes of almost heartbreaking bereavement. They have, indeed, supports and consolations, which others know not of, but not less-often more frequently than the children of disobedience, their eyes are suffused with tears, their bosoms convulsed with sighs, and their cheeks furrowed with care and grief. And they have conflicts, fears, and sorrows, peculiar to themselves. As soldiers under the Captain of salvation, they are required to watch unto prayer, to strive against sin, and to

fight the good fight of faith." Death brings to them the rest which they need and desire. With their heads pillowed upon the breast of their almighty and most merciful Redeemer, they fall asleep sweetly in him. This thought is thus appropriately and beautifully expressed by a gifted evangelical poetess :

“ How blest the righteous when he dies,

When sinks a weary soul to rest!
How mildly beam the closing eyes !

How gently heaves th' expiring breast !

So fades a summer's cloud away ;

So sinks the gale when storms are o'er ;
So gently shuts the eye of day ;

So dies a wave along the shore.

A holy quiet reigns around,

A calm which life nor death destroys;
Nothing disturbs the peace profound,

Wbich his upfetter'd soul enjoys."


Such is death to those who die in the Lord. What a powerful antidote to excessive sorrow on account of their removal.

Another ground of consolation is their condition in and after death. The cruel spoiler sunders every other tie ;separates friend from friend-pastors from their people, and people from their pastors---parents from their children, and children from their parents--husbands from their wives, and wives from their husbands, but cannot separate believers from their adorable Redeemer. When dead, they are as really united to him as they were while living. Their bodies, it is true must see corruption, but he has pledged his veracity to be the Guardian of their sleeping dust. Their entire persons are his property, so intimately united to him that they are said to be “ members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." Will he then cease to care for the mouldering bodies of his saints ? No, never. They sleep in him.

And their sleep is to be broken. When he shall return to judge the world in righteousness, he will raise and reorganise their bodies, and make them “like unto his lorious body." All ancient and modern theories to the contrary notwithstanding, his Word no less clearly asserts than it does the fact of his own resurrection, that the bodies of his saints shall be raised glorion and immortal. The apostle, in his masterly defence of this article of the Christian faith, affirms of the body, "It is sown in corruption; it is raise l in incorruption ; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."

How appropriately, then, is it said of the patriarch David, he fell on sleep!” To him death brought no peril. That it would not he was himself fully persuaded. In anticipation of his departure from the world, in the exercise of assured hope, he joyfully exclaimed, " Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." His soul is now with his Redeemer in glory. In the morning of the resurrection, his body will be raised spiritual and immortal, and his entire person be received into heaven, where

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

he will "ever be with the Lord." This language, we are fully persuaded, is equally applicable to the venerable and beloved man whose loss we now deplore.

On his occasion I should do injustice to my own feelings and his memory, and I doubt not disappoint the reasonable expectations of many present, were I not to give some occount of his hife and character, his labors in the vineyard of his Divine Master, and his views and anticipations of the solemn event which has occasioned these services.

David Porter was born in Hebron, Connecticut, May 27th, 1761. His father's name was Increase Porter. His mother's, previous to her marriage, was Mary Niles. Of her he could have known very little, as she died when he was but four years old. With the exception of ten months, which he spent in the army of the Revolution, he resided in his father's famitill he was about eighteen years of age.

In the year 1780, he entered Darmouth College, and was graduated in 1784. During his collegiate course he devoted himself with great assiduity to his studies, and attained a high reputation for scholarship. What rendered that period of his life most deeply interesting and memorable, however, was the change which took place in his views and feelings respecting the infinitely important subject of religion. From his childhood he had been occasionally the subject of deep religious impressions. The second year of his collegiate life, the college and vicinity were visited by a remarkable effusion of the Holy Spirit Devoted to his studies, and fixed in his purpose to attain eminence in them, at the commencement of this work of grace, he resolved not to have his attention diverted from the object which he had in view. But God had other purposes concerning him. He soon became the subject of agonizing convictions of sin. "I was brought," he said" to see my heart,-its total sinfulness And feel myself utterly lost and undone.” In a few weeks he indulged the pleasing hope of reconciliation to God and accptance "in the Beloved," and soon after made a public profession of his faith in Christ and devotion to his service.

The two and a half years immediately succeeding the close of his collegiate life he spent in Portsmouth, N. H., in teaching and in studies preparatory to the ministry, under the direction of the Rev. Dr. Buckminiter, of that town, and the Rev. Dr. Stephens, of Kettery. Soon after he was licensed to preach the Gospel, he labored several months in San-. ford, in the State of Maine, and was invited to take the pastoral charge of the church in that place, but, for reaso is which he deemed sufficient, he declined the acceptance of the call.

In Feb:uary, 1787, he accepted a call from the Congregational Church of Spencertown, N. Y., and on the 24th day of September, in the same year, he was ordained and installed

pastor of that church, by an ecclesiastical council, called for that purpose.

In October, 1791, he was married to Miss Sarah Collins, daughter of the Rev. Daniel Collins, of Lanesborough, Mass. Dulicacy forbids me to say more, and a sense of justice allows me to say no less, than that she was eminently fitted for the station which she was called to fill, and proved to be to Mr. Porter in all respects, "a help, meet for him." by the kindness of a benignant Providence, they were permitted to enjoy each other's society, and by the soothing and joyous offices of conjugal affection, to minister to each other's happiness almost sixty years.

During this period they enjoyed great domestie blessings, and were the subjects of repeated and severe afflictions. Of the six children born to them, only the eldest daughter, the wife of Henry Hill, Esq., of Boston, survives. A son and a daughter died young. The other three sons left families to mourn their loss.

Mr. Porter spent fourteen years in Spencertown. His salary being insufficient for the support of his family, he appropriated a portion of his time to teaching, in which employment he was eminently useful. During his ministry in Spencertown, bis congregation enjoyed several seasons of divine refreshing, which resulted in cheering additions to the church. There, too, he was associated in fraternal fellowship with ministers of the Gospel in the adjacent part of Massachusetts, of gifted intellect, eminent literary and theological attainments, and devoted piety, among whom were Dr. West, of Stockbridge, Dr. Catlin, of New Marlborough, Dr. Hyde of Lee, and Dr. Shephard of Lenox. Theirs were kindred spirits to that of Mr. Porter,—“ men of whom the world was not worthy," who finished their course and received their reward before.----some of them long before. ----he was called to his eternal rest.

In June, 1803, Mr. Porter resigned his charge in Spencertown, and in the October ensuing, was installed pastor of this church and congregation.* Both the Church and the village were then in their infancy. The congregation being destitute of a house of worship, for several years he preached to them in the old court-house. In the erection of this sanctuary (since re-modeled and brought into its present state of convenience and elegance), he was eminently instru: mental, and also in the subsequent erection of the adjacent Lecture-room. Not many years after his removal to this place, he received the honorary dgree of Doctor of Divinity, from Williams' College.

During his ministry here, he had the satisfaction of wit. nessing the growth and prosperity of the village and of his church and congregation. Notwithstanding the first ten years of his ministry here were marked by no extensive revival of religion, I have heard him say that there was scarcely any period of that time when some of his people were not inquiring for the path of eternal life.

* First Presbyterian Chucrch of Catskill, N. Y.

He continued to labor among you with great ability and faithfulness till June, 1831, when, having entered the seventy-first year of his age, he requested the dissolution of the pastoral relation between himself and the people of his charge. Previously, however, after a season of deep religious declension, he was permitted to reap a rich harvest from the seed which he had sown in former years. As the fruit of this work of the Holy Spirit, during a short period before and within six months after his dismission, about one hundred members were added to the church, His interest in its prosperity continued to the close of his long and useful life.

And his labors in the vineyard of his Divine Master did not cease after his retirement from pastoral duty. The great objects of Christian benevolence had long held a high place in his regards. In 1824 he was chosen a corporate member of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and with most of the other National Iustitutions for the spread of the Gospel in our country and other lands, he was connected from their organization. Immediately after he resigned his charge, he engaged in the service of these institutions, in this county and several adjacent counties, and continued his agency in their behalf till he had completed the eightieth year of his age. In his preaching he aimed to inculcate the great principles of Christian benevolence, and his personal applications for funds were made with judgment and skill, and were eminently successful.

Dr. Porter was a firm friend of literature and science, and of everything calculated to advance the interests of society. His efforts to secure the services of competent teachers for the children and youth of this village, will long be held in grateful remembrance. He likewise took a deep interest in our Colleges ; and notwithstanding he had less confidence in the utility and importance of Theological Seminaries than many, he gave them his prayers and patronage.

In the domestic and social relations, Dr. Porter was emi. nently qualified to receive and communicate pleasure. Ardently attached to his family and friends, and deeply imbued. with the spirit of benevolence, he took great delight in imparting happiness. His conversation, though frequently characterized by abruptness of manner and expression, was both pleasing and instructive, and occasionally enlivened by exhibitions of humor and wit, so controlled by discretion and Christian principle that they detracted nothing from the dignity of the Christian and the sacred office of the ministry,

His keen sensibility and great benevolence led him promptly to enter into the joys and sorrows of others. To the afflicted, especially of his flock, he was eminently a son of consolation. With great fidelity and tenderness, he pointed them to the only source of effective consolation, and urged

« السابقةمتابعة »