"PRECIOUS in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints," of every one of them from the least to the greatest. Not only are the SAVIOUR'S eye and heart alway taking note of the toils, and tears, and hopes, and prayers, of each living servant, as he strives to fulfil his duty; but His watchful and tender Providence embraces within it the hour when, and place where, and circumstances under which that servant's labours and trials shall be ended. CHRIST loved, and cared for, His first martyr St. Stephen, through all his career; but it is not a mere conceit which represents Him as "opening the windows, the curtains of heaven itself, to see Stephen die, and to show Himself to Stephen."
Precious before Him is the death of all His saints: and precious should it be with us. The memory of the dead should be cherished as a consecrated thing; for we regard it as a most wholesome and blessed thing. The "Communion of Saints" implies not only a fellowship of holy men one with another on earth, but a [3/4] fellowship of holy men with kindred spirits withdrawn from earth. And children of grace, in every age, have found it a profitable, as well as grateful, exercise to allow their minds to walk, as Baxter has it, in the streets of the City of God: to let it linger for an hour, in a purer and more peaceful presence than this fallen world can know as yet. Such a habit may, indeed, degenerate into an abuse,--as we have painful witness in Rome's masses for the dead,--her invocations,--her purgatory,--her legends. But it must be remembered that almost all her corruptions are the abuse, or the vicious excess, of something originally and intrinsically good; and it becomes us to be careful lest the fear of what is wrong loosen our attachment to what is right; lest we abandon some primitive and scriptural basis, on account of some ugly superstructure that has been reared upon it by others: lest the superstition of the past recoil into the Sadduceeism of the present. And the custom which has prevailed throughout Christendom from olden time, of honouring the very dust of departed saints, and of calling to remembrance in a solemn act, their faith and love,--their crosses and comforts,--their ventures and victories,--how the Lord was glorified by what He did in them, and for them, and through them,--is a custom recognised in the worship of our Church, and sanctioned by the purest instincts of our nature. It will do us good to think about the dead in CHRIST more than we do. It will serve to detach us from our affinities with the perishable and grovelling, and uplift our thoughts to holier and worthier themes. It will aid in rousing us to a deeper consciousness of an unseen world, and its [4/5] untried realities, and so quicken our diligence in preparing to meet them. It will serve to kindle within us the resolve to emulate the graces, and the trophies of those who have gone before. If the heathen Themistocles was so strangely wrought upon, and changed by witnessing the fame that Miltiades had earned for himself, should not the heroic daring,--the ungrudged sacrifices,--the hard-won triumphs of Christian soldiers now fallen,--of fathers and brothers and sisters in CHRIST, stir us up to maintain the glory of our spiritual lineage,--to cultivate such a faith in God, and such a devotion to His service as shall not disgrace our illustrious descent? Beloved, who braved the terrific assaults that were first made upon our holy Faith? The dead in Christ. Who first illustrated its power to elevate and purify man's polluted nature? The dead. To whom, under God, is the Church of CHRIST indebted for its present strength and growth and prospects in the world? To the dead. Who first laid on these shores the foundation of that branch of the Universal Church, which we own as our mother? Who first preached its holy Faith, and ministered its holy Sacraments in this city, and in this Diocese? The dead in Christ. Brethren, to whom are you indebted for much tender care, and many earnest intercessions in your behalf? for many patient, kind words of instruction, and warning, and entreaty, the silent influence of which remain with you to this day? Some of you must answer, To the dead. And now that they are gone, should we hold them at a distance from us, as if they were strangers? God forbid! Ought we not rather to be at some pains to maintain sentiments of love and veneration towards [5/6] our brethren in CHRIST, who have been delivered from the burden of the flesh?
Brethren, this present world is with us too much; its mere utilities and materialities,--its feuds and rivalries,--its fashions and fascinations,--its pomps and profits, engross too much our appetites and energies; they are at this moment crowding out of many a busy soul those themes that take hold of the invisible and the everlasting. And it is good for us to seize and employ every means that will help us "to struggle out of the thick clay which besets us on every side." And I am sure that one such means is a contemplation of those, who, having overcome the world, have now done with it forever. Some of the mightiest and most lasting impressions on character, are insensibly communicated by breathing a pure moral atmosphere,--by mixing in holy society. "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise."
But we may honour the memories of departed saints, and think of them, and call to mind their ways and works, each one for himself in the privacy of his home. The service, however, in which we are now employed, is termed a COMMEMORATION; a word which implies that it is a public act, in which numbers jointly engage. It is an assembling of kindred and brethren, and friends, to celebrate, one with another,--commemorate,--the holy life and death of brethren removed to a holier life, where no death can follow. Closet thoughts and remembrances of the dead have often exerted, without doubt, an excellent influence; but a public solemnity, where eye meets eye, and voice meets voice, and heart meets heart, and tear meets [6/7] tear, seems adapted to produce deeper and more lasting impressions. Hence one reason of this morning's solemnity. An awful Providence hath snatched from our midst a dearly beloved brother in the Lord, the charming beauty and mellowness of whose character had won him a sure place in well-nigh every heart, and whose intellectual gifts and refinement had gained for him the admiration of all in this afflicted Diocese, both clergy and laity, who can appreciate consecrated talent. He so excelled us in the qualities of both heart and head, and hath left behind him a name so fragrant, that it has seemed proper for us to pause, and step aside to some holy ground for the purposes of recollection and praise and prayer, and for assisting each other to draw some spiritual profit or consolation from what God has been doing at our side. We do not meet here to glorify a departed soul, but to glorify God in him; not to indulge the language of a random eulogy, but to learn from his example, and from his end, more perfectly than we have yet done, some great lessons of life.
Ever since our brother PENNY'S decease, it has been to me a source of keen regret, and of wonder too, that I never obtained from him a more minute and connected account of the years that preceded his entrance upon the pastoral work here in Rhode Island. Of his youth and early manhood, I have to confess but a fragmentary acquaintance. He was born in the city of New York, in the year of grace, 1808. He manifested through his younger days, more or less of sensibility to the great truths and motives of the Gospel. His parents were devout members of the Presbyterian [7/8] Church; and he enjoyed the unspeakable advantage of those quiet, but powerful influences, that cluster within, and around, a Christian household. He was the child of many a pious counsel,--of many an earnest prayer;--of counsels and prayers that borrowed strength from a pure parental example. To those domestic influences, in connection with the stated catechetical exercises which his Pastor held every week, for the benefit of the lambs of the flock, he was, without doubt, largely indebted, under God, for that exceeding purity of character, and of principle, which adorned his riper years, and which now renders his memory so dear. In the tenderness of childhood, he was taught and trained in the ways of religion; and he carried with him through life a distinct recollection of his fondness, when a boy, for the society of his mother: her presence and words had higher charms for him than all those sports and fellowships that usually engross our juvenile affections. And as he lived long enough to appreciate the blessing of a parent's guidance and prayers, so one, at least, of his parents lived long enough to feel rewarded a thousand times over, for all his efforts and anxieties in behalf of his youngest son,--his darling,--the Benjamin of his old age,--him whom we commemorate to-day. That father and son were a great comfort to each other: they were "lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their deaths, they were" scarcely "divided." The venerable sire, of more than four-score years, slept peacefully in CHRIST on the 24th July last, at his residence in Brooklyn; it was our brother's privilege to minister at his bed-side, and to receive his parting [8/9] words. After performing the last offices of filial and fraternal duty, he returned to Rhode Island, and in less than three days after he reached his parish, he joined his father in Paradise.
Mr. Penny was favoured with the best opportunities of a liberal education that his native city afforded, and those who enjoyed his society much, will need no assurance that those opportunities were well used. He became a member of Columbia College, and graduated at that institution in 1827. He then chose the Law as the profession for which he would prepare himself, and then pursue as the business of his life. To this end, he entered himself a student in the Law school, over which the late Judge Gould was then presiding with so much popularity and success at Litchfield. How long he remained there, I am unable to state; but while there, he applied himself so intensely to his studies, that his health broke down under the exhausting tasks which he imposed upon himself. Then and there, was laid the foundation of those physical ailments and infirmities, which thenceforward entailed upon our brother so many days and nights of weariness and pain; and which so often disabled him from fulfilling the duties which his heart loved. The legal studies, into which he had thrown himself with such ardour and industry, were necessarily suspended: and in the hope of repairing his shattered nerves, and recruiting his wasted energies, he became a traveller on the great deep: twice visited the West Indies: but the great object of his travels was never but partially gained. He could never win back the blessing of that health which excessive devotion to study had forfeited. But there is [9/10] reason to believe that his lost blessing became, through Divine mercy, the channel of a richer blessing than he ever possessed before,--a blessing which he has carried with him into eternity. He was led to realize more deeply than ever before, that his soul needed a physician more than his body: and he sought more earnestly than ever, to have that soul washed and healed in the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness.
The time when he first openly declared himself on the Lord's side, I do not recollect ever to have heard him mention, and have been unable to ascertain. We feel warranted, however, in supposing, that there was one individual not yet alluded to, whose acquaintance and intercourse with Mr. Penny had something to do with our dear brother's confession of CHRIST before men, and with his final determination to retire from the communion in which he had been reared to identify himself with our Church, and to offer himself a candidate for her ministry. I refer to the late EDWARD BRISTED EASTBURN, a brother of the present Bishop of Massachusetts. He was a young man of excellent talents and attainments; distinguished by great modesty, gentleness and good sense, and by the great strength and purity of his religious principles. He had almost completed his theological studies, preparatory to his admission to holy orders, when death arrested him in 1830; the young soldier received his discharge almost in the act of girding on his armour. Mr. Penny and himself resided in each other's immediate neighbourhood: they were class-mates in college, and were very intimately associated together. It would not be strange if our brother derived a [10/11] growing impression of the importance of a religion, and the advantages of a Church, which his gifted and dear friend adorned and recommended so well.
Previously, however, to his having made any change in his ecclesiastical relations, he had determined to devote himself to the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. He connected himself with the Lane Theological Seminary, near Cincinnati, intending to prosecute there the studies appropriate to a candidate for the Sacred Office. It was during his residence there, that he seriously examined for himself the distinctive claims and principles of the Protestant Episcopal Church. That conscientiousness which marked his whole career, would not allow him to sunder the religious ties which had bound him elsewhere, for any consideration of mere taste or preference, or for any other considerations that did not involve principle. He satisfied himself that the threefold constitution of the Ministry, was of Apostolic origin, and of binding authority. Whatever circumstances may have inclined him at first to regard our Church with favour, his union with her was the result of clear and deliberate conviction. And his subsequent course evinced that he was not only in her, but of her: he appreciated her privileges and her position, as an undoubted and traceable branch of the original Vine. Every year's experience and comparison did but strengthen his attachment.
But while the result of his investigations at the Lane Seminary was such as we have mentioned, it could not but cost his sensitive nature a struggle to act on the convictions to which he had been brought, and to separate himself from a fold, which the dearest of his [11/12] kindred loved as their spiritual home, and which they would be sorry to have him leave. Unexpectedly to himself, however, the weight of that trial was somewhat relieved, in a way that our brother felt to be quite providential, but which does not call for public mention. He returned to New York, and became a member of the General Theological Seminary of our Church in the year 1835,--and graduated in 1838. He was admitted to the Diaconate about the first of July in that year; in the course of the ensuing Autumn, a good Providence turned his steps hitherward. He first officiated at Portsmouth, and then at Jamestown: but did not remain long at either parish. About the first of January, 1840, he assumed the Rectorship of Emanuel Church, Manville, which was the scene of nearly all his subsequent labours. In 1845, he resigned the parish, and accompanied Bishop Southgate to Constantinople, as a Missionary labourer in that most interesting field. But the climate there, operating on a frame impaired by the fatigues of land-travel, disabled him almost immediately for any active exertion, and he remained there but a few weeks. In the course of the following year, his old flock welcomed him back again to their midst: his pastoral labours, however, were much interrupted by his infirmities of body, and in the Spring of 1852, he thought it a duty to vacate the Rectorship, in the double hope of recruiting himself by rest, and of securing to the parish a more vigorous superintendence than he was competent to supply himself. After an absence of a year, ~he accepted a proposal to officiate for the same parish during the present summer: he preached there on thy [12/13] second and third Sundays in July, and no more. On the afternoon of the last-mentioned Sunday, being the 17th day of July, he preached for the last time,--on the characteristics of a good soldier of CHRIST. That same week he was summoned to his father's bedside in Brooklyn, and was absent about three weeks,--a portion of his time, after his father's burial, being occupied in the composition of two Sermons, which he was destined not to utter himself; both of them worthy of his reputation, as the most finished sermonizer in the Diocese, and one of them, on "the still, small voice," worthy of any man's reputation, either here or elsewhere.
The afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 9, found him once more in the midst of his flock: on the fatal morning of Friday, the 12th, he set out on a brief visit to Pawtucket, intending to return at noon; he little thought that the car on which he embarked, was a triumphal chariot to carry home his pilgrim soul.
Thirteen years of affectionate, confidential intercourse with our truly reverend brother now taken from us, may expose me, brethren, to the danger of exaggerated praise; but I speak nothing to which scores before me will not respond most sincerely, when I say that his Christian character was one of singular purity and blamelessness. When the stunning report of his death passed from one to another of those who had known him, the first thought on each heart,--the first ejaculation that sprang to the lips, was, "How well prepared was he to go, unwarned!" The feeling was not simply, that there was good hope of his being at rest, but it was this:--"If one ever gave [13/14] evidence of preparation for death, it was he." In whatever circle he moved, he left behind him the impression of a meek, unostentatious, uniform, reliable piety. Nor can we wonder thereat; for he exhibited in his deportment not only the substance of godliness, but its ornaments. And although substance is more important than ornament, yet when the ornamental serves to recommend the substance, and lends it new attractiveness and power, the ornamental becomes useful. I cannot help thinking that here is one reason why our brother's Christian character was so impressive:--his personal religion not only had a reality, it was a jewelled and shining reality. Our Bibles and our observation teach us to make such a distinction. The Bible speaks not only of holiness, but of "the beauty of holiness:" not only of believing the doctrine, but of adorning it; of cultivating not only the essential elements of godliness, but "whatever is lovely and of good report;" all which language implies that an example may be made not only instructive by its faithfulness, but persuasive by its loveliness. And herein did our brother excel. Humility, gentleness, charity, and other kindred graces threw a kind of halo around him, which was the more noticeable, because along with the amiableness and modesty of his nature, we knew him to possess a vigorous and disciplined understanding, that qualified him to sit in the company of scholars and philosophers. Mere gentleness, or any similar quality, unattended with some features of mind or character that challenge attention or respect, carries but little weight; sometimes, we fear, barely escapes contempt; but, in union with [14/15] strong character and large gifts, it can hardly fail of producing a marked effect. In the instance before us, a finely proportioned manhood, both of head and heart, was sweetly set off by a purity of spiritual complexion,--by a "beauty of holiness" that seemed like a second nature: so much so, that I was not surprised at the remark of a clerical brother, that he found himself regarding our departed friend as having been always so saintly and symmetrical in his Christian character,--as having had no beginning in such a character. Blessed services will these be to-day, if they shall stimulate us in the endeavour to reproduce and cherish that character among ourselves,--its charming combination of the solid, and the ornamental. George Herbert declares that the Country Parson's Library is a holy life: there are not many who possessed a library so perfect as his, whom we now commemorate. And the satisfaction, with which his library was every where read, is measurably, may I not say, largely, due to the fact that its volumes were not only so truthful and instructive in their contents, but so handsomely bound, and so tastefully arranged.
My Christian friends,--our dear brother's proficiency in holiness was not an accident; neither was it the result of a special decree in his favour: but we may, I think, safely regard it as the result, in great part, of sanctified trials and sufferings. For nearly a quarter of a century, there was mixed in the cup of his experience, a great deal of the bitter. There have been hours in his life, when the burden of suffering was so heavy, that nothing but the power of religious [15/16] principle prevented him, as he himself has told me, from seeking relief in a self-made grave. All, indeed, are born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward; suffering being more universal than sin: for God had one Son without sin, but never one without suffering; and that sinless One, (mysterious truth!) was "made perfect through suffering." And it has seemed to us that our dear brother was so fruitful in faith, and patience, and love, because his vine had been so pruned and purged. The ills and aches of a constitution shattered beyond repair, felt for successive years, was no light burden; and then there was the heavier one, that his physical infirmities interrupted so much those pastoral functions, in which his heart so much delighted, and for which his well-stored mind so amply fitted him. I never discovered in him any ambition for a large or conspicuous field of labour: but to be disabled from working anywhere,--from doing anything, that was a grief and a trial. We just now alluded to the fact that he undertook, eight years since, to serve his Master in missionary labours abroad. His missionary resolution was not the good impulse of a moment: it had been secretly fermenting in his mind for years. It was the resolution not simply of a conscientious man, but of a conscientious man, who thought and prayed, before he resolved. In fact, he had previously offered himself for our China Mission, and would have been gladly accepted, but for the conviction that his delicate health would soon be prostrated in such a climate as that of China. No such danger was apprehended from a residence in Turkey, and he went there with a missionary's heart and hope. But he was not permitted to [16/17] accomplish, or even scarcely to attempt, anything, while there. And his departure followed close upon his arrival. I will not now linger over the depth of our brother's disappointment. He encountered a dark Providence,--to him, however, dark now no longer. It was one of many Providences, in which he was being disciplined and trained up into the strength and stature of a hero in CHRIST. And no man ever becomes such, until he has suffered with CHRIST. It is a great thing to go forth willingly, and labour for CHRIST; but it is greater, to be still at one's post, and wait, while the heart is longing to do something.
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best."
It is the passive virtues that test a soldier's fidelity; and they are learned in the school of adversity. In that school, our departed brother was no stranger. It reminds us of what is to many a perplexing fact, that they, who in human judgment, least need the discipline of a rod or of a furnace, are made to experience it the most. What a saintly man was he whom we have lost; and yet how much he suffered through all his ministry! ["Sometimes God sees it good for us, not to sip of the cup of affliction, but to make a diet-drink of it, for constant and common use. If He allow us no other liquor for many years, we must take it off cheerfully, and know that it is but the measure of our betters."--Bishop Hall.] It is a consolation that sorrow is the minister no less of mercy, than of severity; that "the Church," as Leighton writes, "is God's work-house, where His jewels are polishing for His palace; and those whom He especially esteems, and means to make [17/18] most replendent, He hath oftenest His tools upon." Even a heathen philosopher could rise up to a similar sentiment,--that the spectacle of a brave man on earth, superior to his sufferings, was a pleasure to Jupiter himself. And as I look back upon the career of our departed fellow-soldier with that complicated cross on his shoulders, I am reminded that adversity is the post of honour,--the privilege of choicer spirits,--the patent of a spiritual nobility. And as he looks back upon his earthly probation, can we doubt that every recollection of tears and pangs, kindles a new song of praise to Him, whom trials had made so precious. And I can almost imagine him as thinking it an imperfection in his bliss that he has no more opportunity to "suffer with CHRIST." ["Truly, if it were possible to fear any defect of joy in heaven, all that could fall into my fear, would be but this, that in heaven, I can no longer express my love by suffering for my God, for my Saviour. A greater joy cannot enter into my heart than this,--to suffer for Him that suffered for me."--Donne.] But we rejoice for him, that "after life's fitful fever, he sleeps" so "well." We commemorate here, and now, the last and best of all his birth-days. As we think of his cleansed and perfected nature, let us remember, for our own admonition, the refining process through which it became what it is. "Blessed is the man," and blessed is the minister that "endureth temptation;" for when he is tried, and not till then, "he shall receive the crown of life."
And that word "minister," Brethren, reminds us that the loss, which has bowed so many hearts in grief, is not simply the loss of a good man's prayers, and counsels, and example; we have lost the gifted [18/19] and faithful ambassador of God to sinful man. We could not but weep over such bereavement, even though others were coming freely forward to fill up every chasm in the ranks; but in connection with the distressing fact, (which has not, I am afraid, alarmed us as it should,) that the number of Candidates for Holy Orders has decreased among us,--our brother's removal creates a deeper sadness. With what clearness and strength, he could unfold and recommend the great truths of the Gospel,--what a welcome his appearance in any of our pulpits did ever meet, the most of you know full well. And if some of those sermons which he addressed to the public ear, shall ever find their way to the public eye, others will see and confess that the voice which has just now been hushed, was the voice of no ordinary prophet.
As he loved to feed his own soul with the old, the plain, the practical, in religion, so with the old, the plain, the practical, he preferred to feed the souls of others. He made them the staple of his preaching. Redemption through the blood of the Cross,--its necessity, its freeness,--its glory,--its blessings, its obligations, these were his favourite themes. He cultivated that style of preaching, which "lays low the sinner, exalts the Saviour, and promotes true holiness." The terrible criticism of the late Dr. Mason on a sermon he once heard,--that "it needed to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus CHRIST, before it could be entitled to the name of a Christian sermon," could never be levelled at the discourses of the Rev. SAMUEL Pity. All that he uttered in his Master's name was baptized before it reached his lips; and [19/20] although he could not command the graces of the orator, he preached with a sincerity, gentleness, and unction, which imparted a flavour to all his ministrations, and for which oratorical graces would have been but a poor exchange. And when we remember that everything which he proclaimed with his mouth, was illustrated and confirmed by the nobler eloquence of his own consistent life, the extinction of such a light we cannot but deplore as a bitter calamity; and yet, we may not forget to be thankful that such a light was permitted to shine so long, and to shine here, in our Rhode-Island Church; that we have had for years the blessing and comfort of its mild radiance; and that it is now extinguished only to be relighted, and shine in greater splendour.
We shall not dwell on the circumstances under which our dear brother's spirit passed away from earth. It would only agitate the mind; the purpose of these solemnities is rather to soothe and to heal. He left his home for an absence of a few hours only, and was cut down, with scarcely a few moments' warning that danger was near, and, as we suppose, without a moment's suffering. He suffered in life, but not in death; and his departure seemed not so much a death, as a translation. ["To pass from midnight to noon on the sudden; to be decrepid one minute, and all spirit and activity the next, must be a desirable change. To call this dying is an abuse of language."--Jeremy Collier.] He has been known to express the wish, that, if it were God's will, his entrance into eternity might not be sudden. And in one of the two sermons which he wrote, but did not live to preach, he has these remarks on the feelings of Daniel when [20/21] about to be thrown into the lion's den. "It could not but have somewhat shaken his firmness to be called to face death in so terrible a form,--to be torn violently from existence, and so abruptly summoned into the presence of his Judge. Eternity is too solemn a thought; to approach it gradually, with an opportunity for recollection, and the confirmation of our hope, is ordinarily enough for mortal strength; but to pass thus rapidly from the scenes and responsibilities of life, to the occupations of the eternal world, must demand a more than usual supply of Divine support and comfort." ["It is very hard for the best man, in a sudden extremity of death, to satisfy himself in apprehending his stay, and reposing his heart upon it; for the soul is so oppressed with sudden terror, that it cannot well command itself, till it have digested an evil. It were miserable for the best Christian, if all his former prayers and meditations did not serve to aid him in his last straits, and meet together in the centre of his extremity,--yielding, though not sensible relief, yet secret benefit to the soul; whereas, the worldly man, in this case, having not laid up for this hour, hath no comfort from God, or from others, or from himself."--Bishop Hall.]
The wishes of God's saints, touching the manner of their departure, have been sometimes fulfilled. Leighton desired that he might die at an inn, as being a fitting place for a pilgrim's sleep. And his death did take place at an inn. It was Bishop Jewell's wish that his last summons might find him preaching the Word; and it was almost literally fulfilled. But our brother's preference of a gradual, premonished struggle with the last enemy, or what Hooker terms "a leisurable departure," was denied him, and, no doubt, kindly and wisely denied him. To us who loved him, it would have been a privilege, as he approached the dark river, to hear from him the words of Hopeful, "I feel [21/22] the bottom, and it is good;" to be certified that the grace which had proved so all-sufficient to the river's brink, was equally sufficient for the passage across. The believer's parting testimony is precious; but precious for our sake, not his. Though in the present instance, he, whose memory we now honour, had borne such a living testimony to his Master's name and faith, that our hope in his death could not be a surer, or happier, thing than it is. His attachment to things seen and temporal had been growing looser and looser. Only the day before that fatal one, he was heard to say, that he hardly had a wish to stay on earth, except on account of others. And if it be true that "there is nothing so near immortality as to die daily;" that "continual mortification is immortality;" then our dear brother began to be immortal before he ceased to be mortal. Under such circumstances, of what little consequence is the manner of his removal.
Not long before his removal, he read, or began to read, the recent work of Maurice on "the Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament." There is one passage in it which he marked with his pencil, as having arrested his attention. The fact of its being so marked, no less than its own truthful eloquence, incline us to repeat it here.
"We must turn elsewhere than to the books of the Old and New Testament for death-bed scenes. One beautiful record of the first deacon of the church, who prayed for his countrymen, 'Lord! lay not this sin to their charge,' is all that we have of martyrology in the Bible. Its warriors fight the good fight. We know that in some battle or other, they finish their [22/23] course. Where, or how,--under what circumstances of humiliation or triumph, we are not told. If it pleased God that their lamp should shine out brightly at the last, that was well, for He was glorified in their strength. If it pleased Him that the light should go out in its socket, that was well too, for He was glorified in their weakness. And never be it forgotten that at the death which redeemed all other deaths, and made them blessed, there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour, and that a cry came out of that darkness: 'My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken Me?'"
Brethren, if we find ourselves sometimes wishing that our brother's departure had been less sudden than it was, let us remember that the shock occasioned by such a death of such a man, may arouse to reflection, when a thousand removals in the ordinary course of mortality would not; and that the distress of seeing such fine capacities dismantled in the twinkling of an eye, and in their very prime, is not so great as it would be, if we had beheld them struck with utter imbecility. What a spectacle must have been the sprightly genius of Warburton, crawling, as it were, in idiocy. When
"From Marlboro's eyes the tears of dotage flow,
And Swift expires a driveller and a show,"
are we not made to feel that a living death is one of the hardest trials of human affection? And let us remember, too, that as the death of every saint is precious before God, such a death can never be, in truth, an accident; that, if He takes note of a [23/24] sparrow's fall, He cannot overlook the fall of a beloved child: and that He can make man's recklessness, as well as wrath, to praise Him.
There is still one other lesson which our brother's sudden end was, doubtless, intended to impress on all our hearts, viz., that issues of eternal moment are sometimes suspended on what man would term trifles. If that ill-fated train, in which death overtook our brother, had had at its disposal only one more minute of time, an awful calamity would have been avoided. But what an "if" was there! For lack of one minute, the destinies of fifteen or more, accountable beings were irreversibly settled for an endless hereafter; and a hundred hearts, here and there, almost prostrated with anguish. And so it is everywhere. A man is walking on a precipice; he steps only one inch too far to the right, and in the twinkling of an eye, he is gone. A house is in flames; one man escapes; another only steps back a moment to seize some valuable papers, and before he reaches the door, the roof has fallen, and crushed him. The trifle of ten seconds was a matter of life and death to him. So it may be with some of you: a trifling delay, a trifling excuse, a trifling neglect of duty, may contain the seeds of eternity. If death should overtake you ten minutes before you are ready, the trifling difference of ten minutes would shut forever your door of hope; and all the angels in heaven cannot open you another! Does not a voice come from our brother's grave, bidding us all remember the uncertainties of life, and do with our might whatever our hands find to do, there being "no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the [24/25] grave?" If he could speak to us himself, I think he would remind some of us, that while "the last enemy" may advance upon us suddenly, we cannot expect to prepare suddenly for the encounter. We cannot expect to collect the necessary armour, adjust it to our limbs, and learn to use it successfully, in a passing moment. Real preparation for death must be regarded as the fruit of time, of penitence, and prayer, and discipline; not a thing to be despatched by a sigh, and a tear, and an ejaculation for mercy, when the breath is almost gone. If our departed brother had delayed the business of his preparation for eternity, (as such numbers are now doing,) trusting to the chances of a sick chamber, where would have been that joyful, triumphant hope, with which we think of him to-day? Where would have been his soul to-day? As it is, he was ready, for he had begun his preparation long before. And all that preparation of his did not hasten his death at all,--only sweetened it; and if you will imitate his early and steadfast devotion to the Lord Jesus, you will die better, but not sooner, for it. And it was in the hope of stirring us all up to such an imitation, that the services of this morning originated. Meditating on the good examples of brethren who have gone before, hath often proved the mother of new and noble attainments in piety. If we will go up in imagination oftener than we do, and converse with the faithful departed, it will aid the supremacy of spirit over flesh;--the majesty of the future over the littleness of the present. I cannot help thinking there is some truth in the line, that "they who cease to think of saints, will soon cease to live as saints."
 It has been remarked of the mariner, that, on a voyage, he pledges the health of "friends astern," until half way to his destination, and then, "friends ahead." We are all of us, brethren, embarked on the voyage of life; and whether we have passed over more or less than half of it, it becomes us to cherish the memory of "friends ahead," who have "passed the waves of this troublesome world," and now tread the immortal shores. And who has not friends ahead? Who counts not a loved one in that cloud of witnesses above us? Those witnesses, now an innumerable host, the Apostle represents as gazing down upon us, to see after what manner we are discharging the hallowed offices they have bequeathed to us. Let the thought of such spectators overlooking us, urge us to fresh exertion in "the race that is set before us." Beloved, they are waiting for us. When the "great multitude" shall be gathered at last, God forbid that any of us should be missing. True, if we are not there, our absence will not be felt: "the loss will be ours; but, O! what a loss!"
Help us, O Lord! "help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood. Make them to be numbered with Thy saints in glory everlasting."
AT a meeting of the Clergy of the Diocese of Rhode Island, and of other Dioceses, held in St. Stephen's Church, Providence, September 21, 1853, the Rt. Rev. Horatio Southgate, D. D., having been called to the chair, and the Rev. Daniel Henshaw appointed Secretary, the following Preamble and Resolutions were adopted:
Whereas, within the short period of thirteen months, we, the Clergy of the Diocese of Rhode Island, have been smitten by three successive dispensations of death amongst us,--in the sudden striking down at the head of our ranks, and in the midst of his labours, of our revered and much beloved Bishop;--secondly, in the decease of the late Secretary and General Agent of Foreign Missions;--and lastly, in that awful casualty, which, besides carrying sadness and desolation to many other hearts and homes, took from our little number, a brother beloved and lamented, the Rev. SAMUEL PENNY, late Rector of Emanuel Church, Manville, it is--
Therefore, Resolved, That we view these repeated instances of mortality among us, as an earnest and impressive admonition, calling us, as men, as Christians, and especially as Christian Ministers, to do with all our might whatever our hands find to do:
That, in the life and character of our lamented brother Penny, we find many recollections which endear him to us, and make his memory sacred to our hearts, and that we count it among the happiest of our ministerial privileges, to have been permitted to enjoy the society of a brother' so meek and gentle in spirit, so pure in example, so sound in doctrine, so ripe in learning, so zealous in his Master's service, and so peculiarly felicitous in the thought and language, both of the social converse, and of the public discourses, with which, from time to time, he edified and delighted us:
That we unite with his Church and Parish in mourning the loss of one so dear both to them and us:
That we respectfully mingle our sorrows and sympathies with those of his family circle, from which has been taken a member so much and so deservedly loved and cherished:
That the Secretary of this meeting be directed to send a copy of these resolutions to the family of our late brother,--to Emanuel Church, Manville, and also to cause them to be published in the "Christian Witness," in the "Providence Daily Journal," and in the "Daily Post."