Rev. Thomas Lape
Contributed and transcribed by Jeff Lape
Reverend Thomas Lape was born in West Sand Lake, Rensselaer County, NY, in 1801. He was the great-grandson of Andries "Löwe" Lape and Anna Margaretha Muller of Churchtown, Columbia County, NY; the grandson of Samuel Lape, Sr. and Anna Elizabeth Hidley of Rensselaer and Schoharie County, NY; and the son of Johannes Lape and Maria Feller of Greenbush, Rensselaer, NY.
Rev. Thomas Lape prepared for college at Lenox, MA (1820), and at Hartwick Seminary, Otsego County, NY (1821-1822). He attended and graduated from Union College, Schenectady, in 1825 receiving a degree in theology (A.M.). He was licensed in 1825-1826 and was ordained in 1827 by the Ministerium of New York. He attended Hartwick Seminary in 1825-1827 and while at Hartwick he was an assistant professor in Latin, Greek, English and German. In 1829 he took charge of the Lutheran Church at Johnstown, NY (1827-1832); was president of Hartwick Synod in 1831; removed in 1837 to West Camp and Woodstock (1834-1837); and soon after to Athens (1837-1847), where he spent ten years (Rev. Thomas Lape was called March 31st 1838, at a salary of $450, and continued in charge until 1845); thence removed to Waterloo (1847-1849), to Lockport (1849-1851) and again to West Camp and Woodstock (1851-death). He was a clear, methodical preacher. He compiled the Theological Sketch Book, which was very popular; wrote a book on Infant Baptism, also popular; one on the Atonement; a Prize Tract on Intemperance; two books of Practical Piety; several Sermons and articles in the church papers and the Lutheran Quarterly Review; and also published books entitled, "The Mourner Comforted," and "The Early Saved." He was active in the cause of Temperance and Sunday Schools, earning as his epitaph, "The Children's Friend."
In 1837, he married Helen TenBroeck of Clermont, Columbia, NY. After Helen died in 1840, Thomas married Carolyn Rossman of Claverack, Columbia, NY, in 1841. Thomas & Carolyn had five children born during the years 1842 - 1854. Four of their children would die from disease in their childhood, but their son, Frederick Rossman Lape would live to adulthood and become a druggist at Second St. near Franklin St., Athens, NY. F.R. Lape married Emma J. Rouse, and they had three children, Lizzie Stitt Lape, Henry R. Lape and Dr. Frederick Thomas Lape, all born in Athens, NY.
Reverend Thomas Lape died in much peace at Athens, Greene County, NY, January 2nd, 1879. "He was an instructive preacher; a gentle, amiable, cheerful and faithful pastor; a good husband and father; a humble Christian. He stood well among the Lutheran clergy of the State."
The obituary committee of Hartwick Synod through Rev. P. A. Strobel, presented the following tribute to Rev. Thomas Lape, at its convention in 1879:
"Rev. Thomas Lape was born in West Sandlake, Rensselaer
county, in 1801, of Lutheran parentage. He early gave his heart to the
Savior, and felt called of God to work of the Gospel ministry. He
graduated at Union College, Schenectady, and studied theology at Hartwick
Seminary. His first pastoral charge was at Johnstown, in Fulton county,
where he succeeded Rev. John P. Goertner, who had died after a few years labor
in the ministry. There he toiled successfully for six years, from
September 15th, 1829, and then accepted a call to West Camp and Woodstock.
In 1837, he removed to Athens and assumed the pastoral charge of Zion's Lutheran
church, which he served for ten years, after which he ministered successively to
the Lutheran churches at Waterloo, at Lockport, and then again at West Camp and
He was an instructive preacher; a gentle, amiable, cheerful and faithful pastor; a good husband and father; a humble Christian, and a sincere friend. He stood well among the Lutheran clergy of the State.
He was one of the founders of the Hartwick Synod, has been its president, and filled other offices of trust and responsibility in this body, having remained connected with it for forty-seven years, and until his death.
Our departed brother used his pen effectively, as well as his voice, for the cause of Christ. He compiled the Theological Sketch Book, in two large octavo volumes, which had a large sale. He was the author of a work on Infant Baptism, which has for many years been circulated in the church. About twenty-five years ago he prepared a work on the Atonement, which was published in New York. He was the author of a Prize tract on the Statistics of Intemperance, which was published by the National Temperance Society. He also published books entitled, "The Mourner Comforted," and "The Early Saved." Some of his sermons were published in the Lutheran Preacher, and some in the National Preacher. He also wrote for our church papers and for the Quarterly Review.
He spent the passing years industriously and effectively in winning souls for Christ, in earnestly advocating the cause of temperance and of Sunday-schools, and in leading an honorable and useful Christian life, which was protracted much beyond the average of ministerial labor.
He closed his life peacefully and hopefully. Among his papers is one dated August 1st, 1876, in which he takes a retrospect of life, and says: "In looking over my past life, I bless God for allowing me to preach the gospel of Christ for upwards of forty years. I never felt better than when I was thus engaged. My only regret is that I have not accomplished more for his glory. I have often felt at seasons of the communion that it was actually a foretaste of heaven upon the earth. My prayer to God is---
" 'Not in my innocence I trust---
I bow before thee in the dust;
And in my savior's blood alone,
I look for mercy at Thy throne.'
"My epitaph upon the tombstone shall be, 'The Children's Friend.' I desire these two hymns sung at my funeral, "Just as I am, without one plea,' and 'Rock of Ages.' "
The fear of death had been removed. He contemplated his departure with satisfaction; and he died in the faith, full of years and full of Christian hope. He now reaps the reward of a well-spent life, and his works do follow him."
KNOWLEDGE AND REUNION
CHRISTIAN FRIENDS IN HEAVEN.
BY REV. THOMAS LAPE,Pastor of the Lutheran Zion’s Church, Athens, N. Y. PUBLISHED BY REQUEST.
PRINTED BY JOEL MUNSELL.1838.
S E R M O N .
"Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know
This is the language of the apostle Paul: a man, who enjoyed clearer views of God, and had more direct communications with him than any of his colleagues: a man, who had been transported to the third heavens—the paradise of God— where he heard things which were not lawful to be told, nor indeed could be.
Paul intimates in the text that the knowledge of the saints in glory is far superior to that which we possess. This appears evident. Their intellects are clear, their judgments refined, their souls released from this tenement of clay, and permitted to range through the boundless limits of creation. Subjects, the sublimest, and the most interesting, occupy their time, their attention and their contemplation. Here we see through a glass darkly; our views are limited, and in addition to which, imperfect — the medium of knowledge obscure — the mind, though cultivated to its utmost extent, is circumscribed in its range of observation — the soul, clogged and fettered, is struggling to be released, desirous to ascend on high, to unite with the redeemed in their enjoyments.
Our knowledge of the material universe is limited. True, the astronomer, by the lamp of science, has discovered many worlds in the wide canopy above. He has calculated the distances, measured the size and described the revolutions of those which are connected with our own system; but how many millions roll beyond? what are their distances, size and revolutions? how far they extend? what their mysterious union? where their grand centre of motion and attraction? are subjects which exceed the present comprehension of the most sublime genius. Eternity alone can unfold them.
Our knowledge of the globe which we inhabit, is imperfect. Though philosophy has penetrated into its bowels and brought to light some of its treasures—though it has examined its surface and told us the properties and use of many of its productions, yet with all its research it cannot comprehend the mechanism of the smallest insect that flutters in the sunbeams, nor tell what pencil painted the lowliest flower that blossoms in the vale. Nay, philosophy can no more comprehend the formation of a blade of grass, than it can the world in which we dwell.
Our knowledge of ourselves is imperfect. Man is a mystery to himself. The wonderful structure of his body, the mechanism of his soul, the Union of both and their operations upon each other, who can comprehend? Neither can we conceive the mysterious process how knowledge is acquired, how retained and how communicated. There is a something within man that shudders at the thought of annihilation, but which hopes, and thirsts, and pants for immortality.
Our knowledge of God is imperfect. From the works of creation we infer the existence and superintending power of an almighty Being. Revelation comes in and describes his nature, his attributes and his perfections. But how vague are our conceptions of him? What idea, for example, can we form of his eternity? What idea can we have of his omnipotence, which no power can oppose—his omniscience, from which nothing is hid—his omnipresence, which fills the immensity of space? We may attempt to reason upon the subject, but reason fails: we may let our imagination take its loftiest flight, but it will return bewildered and amazed. In view of which, we are led to exclaim with Job, Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection? It is as high as heaven what canst thou do? Deeper than hell what canst thou know?
Equally imperfect is our knowledge of the nature and perfections of Christ—the Holy Spirit and the doctrine of the glorious Trinity.
On these subjects, and others which might be mentioned, God has in his infinite wisdom, permitted us to look at them only through a glass darkly. We know them only in part. But when the Christian shall have laid aside this body, which retards and hinders all the faculties of the soul, the disembodied spirit will ascend on high; there he shall see face to face, and know even as he is known: there till the fountains of knowledge will be opened to his enraptured view, and he will be enabled to drink out of their fullness as eternity rolls its mighty round.
Although we all sooner or later must obey his mandate, yet how imperfect our knowledge of death. Death is styled the king of terrors. He received his power in the garden of Eden when Adam sinned. He has reigned since that period without a rival, and will continue his potent sway until the end of time. He is a tyrant, whom riches cannot bribe, beauty fascinate, innocence charm, stations evade, and love, however ardent, persuade. We have seen his attacks upon the hoary head and the harmless babe — upon the husband and the wife — the father and the mother — the brother — the sister — the friend. We have heard their sighs — their groans — their last broken accents of love and piety. We have seen the countenance turn pale — their eyes sink beneath their sockets and close for ever upon the world. We have felt a cold chill steal over their frames—the pulse and heart cease their respective functions. We have seen them shrouded in the habiliments of the grave. We have followed their remains to the mansions of the dead and performed the last sad office of affection. We have turned from the scene and asked, Is this separation final? Must kindred spirits be forever debarred from each other? Is there no hope of meeting again in a better world?
These are important inquiries. It is my design through the blessing of God, to point out the foundation of hope, which the Scriptures unfold, that Christian friends shall meet again— shall know each other—be reunited in love and participate in the enjoyments of heaven.
My Brethren if we believe in a future state of existence—if we believe on the immortality of the soul, and in the local and common destination of the righteous; in a place of happiness beyond the grave, we can assign a substantial argument to prove the general subject in question, independent of revelation. But in order to evince the strong hope of the reality of this blessed privilege, we appeal to the oracles of God.
In the second hook of Samuel, 12th Chapter, David, after the death of a dear child, exclaims under the exercise of a lively faith, I shall go to Him, but he shall not return to ME. These words were uttered under the impression that he should have a personal knowledge of his child in the eternal world. Had he not entertained such an impression, he would not have used the phraseology which designates such a personal knowledge. He might have said in view of the general happiness in the eternal world, I shall go where he is, even then the other part of the sentence, but he shall not return to ME, intimates a personal interview and knowledge. When both parts of the sentence are connected together, the conclusion evidently is, David believed that he would not only know his son in heaven, but be with him there and unite with him in its enjoyments.
The apostle Paul addressing the Thessalonians in his first Epistle ii 19, 20. For what, he asks, is our hope, our joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy. Here the apostle evidently looks forward with delight to the time when he should present these persons before God at the solemn day of judgment, as seals of his ministry, and participators with him of the joys of heaven.
On this subject, the learned Dr. Mcknight thus beautifully remarks; "the manner in which the apostle speaks of the Thessalonians, shows that he expected to know his converts at the day of judgment. If so, we may hope to know our relations and friends then. And as there is no reason to think, that in the future life we shall lose those natural and social affections, which constitute so great a part of our present enjoyment, we may not expect that these affections, purified from every thing animal and terrestrial, will be a source of our happiness in that life likewise? It must be remembered, however, that in the other world we shall love one another not so much on account of the relation and friendship which formerly subsisted between us as on account of the knowledge and virtue which we possess. For among rational beings, whose affections will all be suited to the high state of moral and intellectual perfections, to which they shall be raised, the most endearing relations and warmest friendships will be those which are founded on excellence of character. What a powerful consideration this, to excite us to cultivate in our relations and friends, the noble and lasting qualities of knowledge and virtue, which will prove such a source of happiness to them, and to us, through the endless ages of eternity."
The great apostle; in the same Epistle, iv. 13-18, addressing those, who had lost some of their Christian friends by death, uses the following consolatory language. I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that you sorrow not even as others, which have no hope. For if we Christians believe that Jesus died and rose again, EVEN SO THEM ALSO WHO SLEEP IN JESUS WILL GOD BRING WITH HIM. * * * THEN WE, WHICH ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN, SHALL BE CAUGHT UP TOGETHER WITH THEM IN THE CLOUDS TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR, AND SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD.
These words were intended to give those Christians consolation under the affliction, that their departed friends were not blotted out of existence, but had only fallen asleep for a season in Jesus, who will awaken them at the resurrection day. These words were likewise intended to remove an apprehension that they and their departed friends should never again meet in a future state. Bishop Mant justly remarks that the apostle speaks first of the deceased and the survivors, under the phrases respectively of them which are asleep, and us which are alive and remain, as actually separated from each other: and then says of the latter, that they shall be caught up together with the former in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so, the apostle adds, shall we, that is apparently the whole body of us reunited, ever be with the Lord. Thus supposing the Thessalonians, who had survived their friends at the time of the apostle’s writing, to have remained alive on earth unto the coming of the Lord. St. Paul appears to teach that they should then be reunited with those, who had previously fallen asleep. Hence we may understand it to be highly probable concerning friends in general, who are separated by death, that should the life of the survivors be prolonged to the Lord’s coming, they will then be reunited with the deceased and enjoy the presence of the Lord with them, in heaven.
The same interesting truths, are told us by Christ himself. Many, says he, shall come from the east and from the west, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. To a full compliance with this promise, it is necessary that the persons thus coming from the east and from the west should personally know these patriarchs in order that they may unite together in the joys of heaven.
In the parable of the rich man, Lazarus, Abraham and himself are represented to us as being personally known to each other in the eternal world. The rich man is there described to be after death in torment; and Lazarus happy in Abraham’s bosom. The former is represented as seeing and knowing the latter, who had been known to him in this world. The natural inferences from these representations are, that if the wicked, in a state of torment see and knew the righteous in the abodes of bliss; the righteous in heaven must consequently see and know each other, whom they knew on earth.
From this parable we learn another important truth, viz; that we carry with us into the eternal world, all our moral and intellectual powers, and consequently all the recollections of the present life, and all, the knowledge, both physical and moral, which these faculties enable us to acquire. Abraham addresses the rich man, Son REMEMBER that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things, evidently implying that he retained the powers of memory, and a consciousness that he is now the same thinking being, as when upon earth. And if this is the case with the wicked in the eternal world, the same is by parity of reasoning the case with the righteous in heaven. They are conscious that they are the same identical beings as when on earth. They are conscious of the events and occurrences that have transpired in their intercourse with each other in the world. They are conscious of the trials, temptations and difficulties, which they mutually have endured, and through which God has, so mercifully, preserved them. They are conscious of the foretaste of heavenly joy which they have experienced in their attendance upon the ordinances of religion and the sweet communion, which they have had together with their God, in this pilgrimage world. And may we not reasonably conclude, they, having shared each other’s cares and joys here, and thus becoming mutually endeared to each other, that having carried that same Christian affection with them to heaven; these circumstances must have a tendency to increase their holy love and affection for each other in the regions of blessedness.
Interesting and cheering as are these considerations; there is another subject intimately connected with the foregoing, which is that for aught we know, the spirits of our departed friends may be our guardian angels, during our abode upon earth. This idea has been entertained by many of the most learned and pious in every age, and is still entertained and cherished. A distinguished writer of the present day when speaking of the disembodied spirit, uses this language; "It is probably one of its cares and joys in the capacity of a guardian angel, to watch over and protect the endeared mortals with whom it has formerly associated, in love as pure, in affection as exalted, as mortality could wish."
There are two passages in the book of Revelations, (xix. 10, xii. 9,) which may not improperly be cited here to confirm this same idea. When the vision of the New Jerusalem was exhibited to John by a heavenly messenger, he (John) fell down to worship before the feet of the messenger, who showed him these things. But the messenger forbade him, saying; See thou do it not for I am thy fellow-servant and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book. These words apparently lead us to conclude, that this messenger had been a departed saint, since he represents himself to be a brother, a fellow-servant and a prophet with John in advancing the cause of the Redeemer. From these passages we may infer that if this messenger had been a departed saint, and since he came on an errant of mercy to our world, then the spirits of our departed friends may, from their abodes of bliss, visit us, in like manner, on similar errants. Admitting the truth of this proposition how comforting and consoling the idea that they are hovering over us—guarding our footsteps in the hour of danger—sympathizing with us in the afflictions and trials of this world—attending us in our devotions—wiping away the tear that startles in the eye, or rolls down the cheek of sorrow. And whilst we may be bedewing the ground, that covers their mortal remains they are addressing us, Weep not, blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.
A question may here be asked "if Christian friends do meet again and become reunited in heaven, will not the consciousness that some of our friends who died impenitent and consequently being excluded out of heaven, mar our happiness hereafter?" To this objection, we reply, that Christians in this world have only limited and imperfect knowledge of the holiness, the wisdom and the justice of God, but glorified saints have enlarged and correct views of those attributes. They acknowledge that those attributes required the expulsion of the rebel angels out of heaven, and for similar reasons, they must acknowledge that the exclusion of their impenitent friends out of it, is likewise necessary to maintain the same attributes perfect—to maintain the peace of heaven and the happiness of the redeemed there. They know that if sin and unholiness could be permitted to exist there, its happiness would be destroyed — its holiness departed — it would be no desirable place — angels and the redeemed would abandon its enclosure and rush to a higher, holy place — God’s moral government would cease — confusion and anarchy would prevail. If therefore any of the friends of the glorified saints should die impenitent, and consequently be excluded out of heaven, they would acquiesce in their condemnation and say it is right, it is right. They would adore the justice of God, which punishes sin, wherever found no less, than the mercy which saved them upon their repentance. We may therefore reasonably conclude that the reunion of their Christian friends in heaven would truly add to their own personal happiness, while the reflection that some of their relative’s exclusion out of it, will not at all be permitted to mar their felicity. We pass on to consider the practical utility and application of this subject. Brethren, it is a subject indeed of no ordinary interest. It presents many precious promises and consolations on the departure of our Christian friends, it checks the heaving sigh—it wipes away the flowing tear — binds up the broken heart— heals the wounded spirit — assuages grief— banishes despair— lights up the darkness of the tomb — points out the home of the blessed — makes us resigned to the will of God in the removal of friends from our tender embrace, and causes us patiently to wait the appointed time of our departure.
Our blessed Redeemer when about to be separated from his disciples assures them of their reunion in heaven. With what affection, love and earnestness does he press, upon their minds, these comforting words: Let not your hearts be troubled; in my Father’s house are many mansions; I go to prepare a place for you; THAT WHERE I AM THERE YE MAY BE ALSO. This promise reconciled them to the painful separation—cheered their desponding hearts — sustained them against the fiery trials and bitter persecutions, which they experienced. This promise stimulated their minds to labor more diligently and perseveringly in the cause of their Redeemer, and armed them, finally, to meet death in its most terrific form.
When the child was sick unto death, David was deeply bowed down, but no sooner had he heard of its death, than his mind was composed and he was resigned to its departure. What else afforded that composure— that resignation and consolation, but the assurance that he should meet his child in heaven and be there reunited to him forever?
We might appeal to this audience in confirmation of the utility and importance of this subject. Say, my friends, ye who have beloved ones, slumbering in the grave, as you moistened the sod, that covers them, with your tears, has not this subject entered your minds and afforded you consolation? Say, as you watched around their pillows—saw them laboring under a burning fever, or some other dire disease; as you listened to their expressions of love—to their resignation to the will of heaven; as you heard them speak of their willingness to depart and saw them fall asleep in Jesus, calm as the setting sun, in a clear sky, have you not derived consolation from this subject? Say, as you looked upon their pale countenances — as you saw them clothed in the habiliments of death and removed from your tender embrace have you not derived consolation from this subject? We might bring the subject nearer home. We might ask those parents, who have watched with a parent’s solicitude over that babe which could not tell its sorrows, sinking in death. We might ask those children, who mourn the departure of a parent — the husband, the wife — the wife, the husband — the brother, sister, friend? All, all would testify of the sweet consolation, which the subject of the prospect of their reunion in heaven has afforded them and still does afford them.
This subject presents a powerful motive to draw our attachments from this earth, and fix them on heaven. Man is constituted, by his Maker, a social being. He has become connected and related to others around him, to whom he gives more or less, his affections. He breathes, as it were, his life in them. Much of his enjoyments are derived from them. Their wills become his will. Their friends his friends. Their attachments his attachment. He loves the place they love. He loves the world in which they together live. In a word, he, in some respects, lives, and moves, and has his being, in them. Now as they tire removed by death — as that intimate circle narrows —"as friend after friend departs," his mind becomes detached from this earth and his love to it ceases. One cord of affection after another is loosened and he begins to feel and realize too that this world is not his home. He extends his longing eyes to the place whither they are gone. He examines his Bible with an eye of faith; it points him to heaven — there is the abode of the blessed — there the home of the Christian;
"There sickness, sorrow, pain and death
Are felt and reared no more."
There his Christian friends are gone. Thither he desires to go. His soul has many endearing ties there. He dreads neither sickness, nor sorrow, nor death, in order to reach its borders. He can exclaim with the Psalmist, oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would fly away and be at rest. He can sing with the Christian poet:
Jerusalem! my happy home!
My soul does pant for thee;
When shall my labors have an end
Thy joys when shall I see?
O when thou city of my God,
Shall I thy courts ascend :
Where congregations ne’er break up,
And sabbaths have no end ?
This subject teaches us resignation to the will of God. Man having thus been constituted a social being, and having formed endearing ties, whenever one of those become broken by death, he, unless the grace of God prevents, gives himself up to despair. His grief becomes excessive. He refuses to be comforted. Sorrow fills his soul. This world presents no longer any beauty, or charms, or attractions. The departed objects of his affection engross his attention, and he, as it were, attempts to reanimate the lifeless clay and feels unwilling to have them taken out of his presence. But the thought enters his mind, that their bodies only sleep in Jesus — that they are shrouded in a Saviour's love: a Saviour, who is the resurrection and the life: a Saviour who has hallowed the grave; this thought together with the prospect of meeting again and becoming reunited in perfect love, hushes the murmuring sigh — composes the mind and reconciles him, for a season, to their separation. Nay more, it excites in his mind an ardent desire to know more of heaven — its holiness — its happiness — its songs of redeeming love. He admires the rich grace and consolation, which the word of God creates in his soul to excite him to deeper humility — to greater obedience — submission and resignation to the will of God, his heavenly Father. This humble resignation, and ardent aspiration for heaven and its holiness, are beautifully exhibited in a Christian parent, who was deprived of an only child. "Prayers and tears," says he, "cannot restore my child; and to God who made us we must submit. Perhaps he was snatched in mercy from some impending wo. In life he might have been miserable, in death he must be happy. I will not think him dead. I will not consider him confined in the vault, or mouldering in the dust —but risen; clad with true glory and immortality; gone to the regions of eternal day, where he will never know the loss of parents, or a child: gone above the reach of sorrow, vice and pain. That little hand, which was so busy to please here, now holds a cherub’s harp. That voice, which was music to my ears, warbles sweet symphonies to our universal Father, Lord, and King. Those feet, which ran to welcome me now traverse the starry pavement of the heavens. The society of weak, impure, unhappy mortals is exchanged for that of powerful, pure, blessed spirits: and his fair brow is encircled with a never-fading crown.
Shall I then grieve that he, who is become an angel, grew not to be a man? Shall I drag him from the skies? Wish him in the vale of sorrow? I would not, my dear boy, interrupt thy bliss. It is not for thee, but for myself I weep. I speak as if he was present. And who can tell but that he sees and hears me? Perhaps, even now, he hovers over me with rosy wings; dictates to my heart, and guides the hand that writes.
The consideration of the sorrows of this life, and the glories of the next, is our best support. Dark are the ways of providence while we are wrapped up in mortality; but, convinced there is a God, we must hope and believe that all is right.
May the remainder of my days be spent in a faithful discharge of the duty I owe to the supreme Disposer of all events. As my days shorten, may the Sun of Righteousness brighten over me, till I arrive at the New Jerusalem, where tears are wiped away from every eye, and sorrow is no more! May I descend into the grave in peace! May I meet my angel boy at the gate of death, and may his hand conduct me to the palace of eternity!"
This subject teaches us our duty to our fellow-beings. Are we thus linked together by the bonds of humanity and love? And is our individual happiness so intimately connected together, then our duty to our fellow beings appears obvious. The apostle Paul realized this responsibility. He labored among his brethren in Christ, that he might present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; esteeming them his hope and joy and crown of rejoicing at the coming of the Lord. That minister realizes his responsibility, who labors in season and out of season for the salvation of souls—who admonishes with affection—reality and with a godly zeal. That parent realizes his responsibility, who early dedicates his children to God — who brings them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That man realizes his responsibility, who takes an active part in the extension of the Redeemer’s kingdom—who gives of his substance to sustain the preached word and have the gospel spread to enlighten the dark corners of the world — who weeps with those who weep — rejoices with those who rejoice— who helps the weak-hearted — raises up the bowed down — instructs the ignorant — proclaims the wicked and labours and prays to bring all to the knowledge of God as it is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. That man that thus feels and acts receives a blessing from on high, and becomes instrumental in conveying blessings to mankind both in this world and in that one, which is to come. He brings peace, joy, comfort and consolation here, and in heaven deepens their loud hosannahs and augments the happiness of the redeemed around the throne of God.
Finally, my brethren, is the foundation of the Christian’s hope of knowing, and being reunited to his pious friends in heaven, so sure and substantial, then an important question arises, Are we Christians? Have we repented of our sins? Have we become renewed by divine grace? And have we the evidence within that we are accepted in the beloved? It may not be improbable but that a man may feel a deeper anxiety respecting the condition of his departed friends than he does for the salvation of his own soul. Either their eternal happiness or misery will, in no respect, have an influence upon the Judge at the great day of decision, respecting his spiritual situation, His friends may, through faith in Christ, be now enjoying the bliss of heaven, while he, who has manifested so great an anxiety for their eternal condition, be excluded from its sacred courts, in consequence of his own impenitency. They by virtue of their spiritual state, may be united with the angelic and seraphic throng, while he is suffering the consequences of the misimprovements of the means of grace and day of salvation. They may join in the praises and hallelujahs of heaven, while he is not only excluded from their presence, but has taken up the song of lamentation and woe, among the spirits of the damned, proves with meekness and preaches the gospel in truth—sincere.
We would therefore earnestly and affectionately press upon your minds these solemn considerations. And while you mourn the departure of Christian friends, mourn too over your sins — your neglect of duty both to God—to man and to your selves. We would urge you by the love you feel for your departed friends and the desire to be with them, deeply to ponder upon these important truths. And if upon a faithful examination of your hearts, you have abundant reason to believe, that your faith rests in Jesus and that he has become to you righteousness, sanctification and redemption, then and not till then can you indulge the pleasing hope that you and your Christian friends, who have gone before you, shall meet again in that glorious — that happy world where separation is unknown. Then you can ascend the mount of prayer and by faith, realize a foretaste of the joys of the redeemed in heaven. Then you can be cheered by the promises of God in this pilgrimage world, until you will be called to exchange mortality for immortality, when you will join the general assembly and church of the first born in heaven of which your pious departed friends make a part, and sing in the mean time of the Lord:
"One family we dwell in him,
One church above, beneath,
Though now divided by the stream,
The narrow stream of death.
One army of the living God,
To his command we bow;
Part of the host have crossed the flood,
And part are crossing now."