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II PETER, i. 13, 14.
Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up, by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.
DEATH is always a solemn subject. The transition, from this changing world to an eternal state of happiness or of misery, must ever be deeply interesting. But how much more so when it is connected with circumstances such as those which now call us together. The death of a Minister, who has for a long period of years presided over a large and important parish, is peculiarly affecting, both as it respects the tender bonds which it dissolves, and the solemn
obligations which it imposes. To meet, as we now do, to weep over the memory of a departed pastor, and to remember the instructions and example which he has left behind, is a mournful as well as important duty. I have only to regret that, owing to the previous engagements of the older friends of your late excellent Minister, which it was not possible for them to avoid, it has fallen to me to discharge the present office. Suddenly called to it, in a manner the most unexpected, I have been led to consider the language of the apostle St. Peter previously to his decease; when, pressed with the reflection of his speedy death, he excites the Christians whom he addressed, to a remembrance of the truths which they had received, and professes his purpose to endeavour that after his departure they should continue to preserve in their memories the doctrines and duties of the Gospel. A review of these feelings of the holy apostle will serve, I trust, to remind you both of the labours of your late excellent pastor, and of the obligations you are under to remember his instructions; at the same time that it will naturally introduce a few observations on his life and character.
May the Holy Spirit of God," without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy," assist us by his sacred inspiration, while we notice,
I. The SOLEMN CONSIDERATION WHICH APPEARS TO
HAVE BEEN PRESENT TO THE MIND OF THE
OF HIS ABODE ON EARTH.
II. THE EFFECT WHICH THIS CONSIDERATION PROA RESOLUTION TO USE HIS UTMOST DILIGENCE IN PROMOTING THE WELFARE OF
I. The SOLEMN CONSIDERATION which was present to the mind of the Apostle, was the brevity and uncertainty of his abode on earth.
The expression which the Apostle employs to convey his feeling of the near approach of death is remarkable-Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle. It seems to imply that he considered himself as a TRAVELLER to an eternal world, residing for a time only in a temporary tent or covering. His body was not an abode, but a tabernacle. Such truly is the condition of man. He is on a journey from this world to another. Neither his home nor his rest are here. His stay is short and uncertain. His progress to his final destination ceaseless and rapid. The Christian, like the Apostle, deliberately considers this to be his situation. Being born of God, united by faith to Jesus Christ, and interested in the hopes and promises of the covenant of grace, he willingly looks forward to heaven as his exalted country. He views him
self as a stranger and pilgrim upon earth. His citizenship is in heaven. He regards himself as passing through a valley of tears to his Father's mansion.
With this view of his state, his body appears to him, as the Apostle here describes it, a taberNACLE. What an emphatic term! The apostle Paul uses the same, For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved. This fleshly frame is indeed no more. As the traveller, journeying far from home, fixes his tent for the night, and removes it in the morning; or as the shepherd, arriving with his flock at a resting place, raises his temporary pavilion, to be taken down after a brief stay; or as the soldier, encamped before the enemy, pitches the tent which his immediate necessities require, always ready to march and combat ;-so the Christian regards his body as the merely temporary accommodation where the soul is to reside for a time; a moveable and frail tenement, to be taken down with the same ease and celerity with which it was reared.
And how QUICKLY this may be the case is but too obvious from the scene now before us. This thought is also suggested by the express language of the text. As long as I am in this tabernacle-knowing that shortly I must put off
· τὸ πολιτευμα. Phil. iii. 20.
this my tabernacle. The time cannot be long when this momentary abode shall be laid aside. The vapour of human life will soon be dispersed. The post will soon have hurried by; the eagle have fixed on the prey to which it hastens; the brief tale of life be told. At the command of his Lord, the traveller quits his
tabernacle, the soldier strikes his tent, the shepherd leaves his tenement. Sudden is this command; and irrevocable as it is sudden. Even the most useful ministers, in the full vigour of their life and labours, are often summoned away. In a moment the frail tabernacle crumbles into dust. The seeds of a thousand deaths lie planted in our frame, any one of which springs up in a moment to a fatal maturity. In this way it has pleased God to call on you to see your beloved pastor dropping as the leaf of autumn. In the midst of his days the tabernacle has fallen around him, and the disembodied spirit has ascended to God which gave it.
Nor is the Christian UNWILLING to answer to the call of his Lord. It is observable, that in the language of the Apostle there is a remarkable calmness of mind apparent. I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, &c.knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle. These are the words of one who is willing to depart, and be with