REV. AND DEAR SIR,
In behalf of numerous friends of the late Rev. DAVID SCOTT, we request for publication a copy of the sermon delivered by you at his funeral service.
We make this request not only that we consider your discourse a just and eloquent tribute to the memory of one whom we esteemed, but that also we feel assured its perusal cannot but be profitable to ourselves and others.
J. L. TOWNSEND,
Rector of St. James' Church, Danbury, Ct.
F. C. HOYT,
FRED'S S. WILDMAN, JR.
P. A. SUTTON,
JONATHAN BEERS, Wardens of St. Johns', Lewisboro.
EDW. B. BOGGS,
Rector of St. Matthew's Church, Bedford, Westchester Co., N. Y.
For the Vestry of St. James, North Salem.
S. MATTHEW, IX. 18.
"MY DAUGHTER IS EVEN NOW DEAD; BUT COME AND LAY THY HAND UPON HER, AND SHE SHALL LIVE."
OUR Lord was preaching to a multitude of people, near the clear waters of the sea of Galilee. During the latter part of the day, a trembling and anxious man struggled through the crowd, and knelt at Jesus' feet, praying for the life of a dying child, "My daughter is even now dead," are the words the evangelist, S. Matthew repeats,--"but come and lay Thy hands upon her, and she shall live."
The man's daughter was not quite dead. This evangelist does not inform us with so much fullness, but from S. Mark and S. Luke we learn that the man had hurried away from the bedside of his daughter fast sinking in death, to seek life for her at the feet of Him who had shewn Himself able to cure the sick.
 In answer to the agonized entreaty, our Lord needed only to say one word. One command from His lips would have sufficed to make the dying live, and to send the father flying on the wings of hope and joy to his restored child. Jesus preferred to keep the man in suspense, while they went slowly, impeded by the crowd, to the house. All the words and deeds of our Lord are designed to teach us some truth or duty. And as in each instance of rasing the dead, the Saviour went to the place in which the dead body lay, He may have intended in this manner, to tell us that the touch of His powerful nature, divine as well as human, is necessary to give life; that this touch--which we are able to receive through faith and the sacraments--is necessary to give life to us mortal men. As the touch of His hand gave life to the body, so when we touch Him, we receive eternal life.
We imagine the wild eagerness and impatience, as they went along, of the father. Moments were to him as days or months. His child's life might at any moment depart,--and although he considered our Lord able to heal the sick, Jairus seems to have doubted His ability to raise the dead. The Ruler's fears are at last realized. One comes from his house, saying, "Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master." The father appears to have at once given up all hope, for our Lord immediately said to him, "Fear not, only believe; and she shall be made whole." Coming into the midst of the crowd gathered in the house, Jesus [4/5] said to them, "The maid is not dead, but sleepeth, and they laughed scornfully at him. He turned them all out, and keeping with him only the father and mother and three disciples, he went into the room where the dead lay, and taking her by the hand the maid arose.
Three times during our Lord's earthly ministry of three years, He wrought the wonderful miracle of calling back to life, a body cold and dead as the one now before us. In one of the three instances, when he stopped the bier of the son of the widow of Nain, saying, "Weep not," the narrative dwells chiefly upon the divine compassion of the Saviour for human sorrow. The other two instances are the one I have described, and that one very familiar to every Christian, the raising of Lazarus. In both these, our Saviour insists that death is not death, but would more appropriately be named sleep. "She is not dead, but sleepeth." "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth." "If he sleep," replied the disciples, misunderstanding Jesus, "If he sleep, he shall do well."
The idea, my brethren, is one, you are aware, commonly found in God's Word; I mean, that what men term death is a matter not much more serious or alarming to the righteous than sleep. You do indeed find the word death used to designate the separation of soul and body. Our Lord said of Lazarus, "He is dead," but it was because they did not comprehend him when he said, "Lazarus sleepeth." Life in the Bible almost almost always means, Life with God, death, Life [5/6] without God. Life embraces all that is really desirable by a human being; it is true health, peace, happiness, light, everlasting improvement; while death sums up all misery; it is entire ruin of our whole nature, darkness, degradation, alienation from God, eternal loss and pain. "See," is the language of the inspired Moses, "I have set before thee this day, life and good, and death and evil." "In the way of righteousness," says Solomon, "is life, and in the pathway thereof is no death." It is plain in these places, that life does not signify merely existence on earth, nor death merely separation of soul and body. King David had seen death, and he turns to God as the One alone from whom true life can come. "Thou, O God, shalt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand pleasures for evermore." Aye, "with thee is the fountain of life, and in thy light, we shall see light."
The moment a man turns his back upon God, that instant he has turned his face towards the pit of eternal death; while a martyr walking joyfully to the stake for Jesus' sake, goes with every step nearer, and nearer, and nearer still, to life eternal, through the grave and gate of death. The man who lives in pleasure and selfishness, does not live at all, but is dead while he liveth. He who imitates the life of the Lord Jesus, can never die. With God alone is the fountain of life: to Him all who are athirst for the water of life must come. In the apocryphal book of Wisdom, "The righteous live forever." Even in the Jewish Rabbis and more [6/7] elevated heathens, you find this truth, that Life is pure and spiritual living; death an existence of selfishness and carnality. "The godly dying receive immortal life; the ungodly eternal death." "He who repents," writes an old Jew, "says to his soul, I slew thee, I brought thee to the place of death." When we come to the teachings of the Divine Jesus, and His inspired followers, the word death very rarely signifies the separation of soul and body, but the present and future condition of the disobedient soul. "This is life eternal," declares the Saviour,--" This is life eternal." What! to escape the grave? No; "to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou has sent." "Follow me," said He to a man, "and let the dead bury their dead;" to another, "This do, and thou shalt live." "This thy brother," we read in the parable of the Prodigal Son, "was dead and is alive again,"--alive through repentance. "He that heareth My word," is the general declaration we are commissioned to preach, "hath everlasting life,--and is passed from death unto life."
I have been thus particular, my brethren, in quoting the language of our Lord, and proving what is the doctrine of the whole Bible, to show you that when we would tell a dying man, or those who have had friends taken from this world,--when we would impress upon them that this is not death, but sleep, we are not speaking poetically and figuratively, but using words in their literal meaning, as our Saviour has taught us [7/8] to use them; that we speak the truth when we say that death is a far more serious thing than this separation of soul and body, and that the faithful man should regard what is generally termed death as only a longer sleep. "The Angel of death and the Angel of sleep," so reads a familiar German story, "embraced like brothers, and went hand in hand through the earth. It was evening. They lay down together upon an hill not far from the dwellings of men. A melancholy stillness reigned, the vesper bell ceased, and the Angel of sleep arose and with gentle hand scattered far and wide the seeds of slumber. Then sweet sleep fell upon all; the sick man forgot his pain, the mourner his sorrow, the poor man his toil. The Angel of sleep returned to his brother and said, "When the morning breaks, how all men will bless me as their friend and benefactor.' 'Alas!' replied the Angel of death, `men regard me only as their enemy and the destroyer of their peace.'
0 my brother,' returned the Angel of sleep, 'wait until the everlasting morning dawns, and the good will then gratefully recognize and bless thee. Are we not both brothers, and the messengers of one Father?' And the two angels tenderly embraced each other."
But you, my friends, are listening to no parables of man. There is this day one standing among you, who himself once fell asleep on the cross, and He is saying here this day to us all, "Give place, he is not dead, but sleepeth." Unbelievers may now laugh his words to scorn, as they did of old. But even now He could [8/9] touch that cold hand and call the departed to life. Would you choose to have him do it? Would any one at rest choose to mingle again in life's hot battle, to endure life's pains, and encounter again a sinner's dangers? A broken slumber is not refreshment. Sleep should not terminate until the day dawns. Is it not better to say "Thy will be done," than for our selfish purposes to call back one who has passed through the valley, and escaped the world's perils? Oh! my brethren, let us hear His message to days "This is sleep." "I am the Resurrection and the Life,--whosoever believeth in Me, can never die."
Why does the Church direct the bodies of Christ's members to be brought into His holy place? It is to own the sleeping flesh as Christ's, to claim the cold form as one of God's family at rest. When a child is brought to the font to be washed with water and the Holy Ghost, then Christ's minister speaks of death to sin, and to a sinful world; but when a mortal frame is brought hither, at the door the priest clothed in robes typifying Christ's pure righteousness and royalty, meets it and speaks of life, life eternal. And when we come to the grave, we do not pray to escape the sleep of the body, but we entreat Him to deliver us from the "bitter pains of eternal death."
But, remember, that it is only through the coming of the Son of God, that this thing is for us who believe, a sleep of the body, rest for the soul. Apart from Him, it is death, dreary, cold and dark still,--it is corruption, [9/10] woe unutterable. Alas! my brethren, how fearful it is, that having heard the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, having seen what He has done, so many persist in regarding that short path between the present and the grave, as their whole period of joy. The majority of men regard the grave and death, as fearful evils which must be driven from the mind,--they can see no hope, no light from the footsteps our Lord has made into the grave. I grant you that there is with reason to most, if not to all of us something terrible in the appearance of this messenger who comes to us .all. I grant that he must be indeed a true and faithful Christian, who, when he is told by his friends, that in a week, a day, a month, this world will be nothing to him, feels no terror, nor dismay. But why is this so? Why do we, since our faith is so comforting, fear this as so great an evil? There are two causes. One is, that it is difficult for us to realize the truth of doctrine seemingly opposed to our senses; death appears to be so great a mystery, a step in the thick darkness, and we tremble because we doubt where we are going. But the great cause of our terror is that we do not lead truer, more holy, more earnest lives. All men fear to die, because their consciences, their reasons, the course of this world, everything within and without them testifies that they are sinners. The sting of death is sin." Were we innocent, were we as pure as the Divine Redeemer, not the slightest tremor would thrill our nerves as we looked in the face of the King [10/11] of Terrors. Did I say we should not tremble? My friends, the innocent would shout for joy at the prospect of leaving such a place of evil, of unholy passions, and evil tempers, and real death, as this world is. Oh! could we look upon this earth with the eye of an angel, could we only see ourselves as Jesus Christ sees us, we should not wonder that any feared death; we would rather wonder at that love and mercy by which any dare to hope. The sting of death may be taken away, as it has been in more than one instance by repentance, and trust in the Lord Jesus.
When this message is delivered to dying men, when all know how uncertain life is, that to-morrow may be our last day, and that no illness is at the first believed to be mortal, is it not terrible that so many put their hands to their eyes, and stop their ears, and try to forget, and seem to think that if they can shut out the thought, they have thus escaped the calamity? No courage to look at the danger; no confidence in what is noble and true; no trust in the words of Christ, but only in what they see with their narrow, uncertain vision. Moral cowardice, and base ingratitude! We must meet it. We must live in the same manner before other men's eyes. If we will turn now to Him who gave life to the ruler's daughter, He will give to us assurance and confidence in the Life Eternal. Uniting us to himself through faith and the sacraments, He will through His ministry convey to us pardon of our sins; He will say to us, "You cannot come into condemnation, but [11/12] are passed from death unto life." He will make real to us the truth, that for us what men call sleep is only refreshing slumber for our bodies, rest in Paradise for our souls.
If this be so, if the words of our Lord Jesus Christ are truth, then this service to-day is rather one of joy than of sorrow. Put upon the coffin a white pall, an emblem of light, and hope and joy. Only want of faith can make us grieve. Behold the body of a member of Christ,--more, an anointed priest,--as we trust an humble and sincere Christian, brought unto his Father's House, and this flesh, in the name of Jesus Christ, I claim as the flesh of my Master. Behold, it rests before His Altar, before the chancel, typifying the Church triumphant. In that better world let us trust his spirit is, his body asleep, but not to perish. It is, I say, a part of the flesh and bones of our Lord; it will not, it cannot perish. He will preserve and restore his own though buried in the sea, or scattered to the four winds. United to Him by the Sacrament of Baptism, having often fed upon Him in the Holy Communion with faith and repentance, we have His promise, "I will raise him up at the last day." "I am the Living Bread, which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever." How then can this be death? "We bless thy holy name, O Lord, for all thy servants departed in thy faith and fear," and especially for this thy servant, now resting from his toils.
 What is the usual picture of a happy earthly life? Most men include an accumulation of property, a home containing ties and objects of affection, an increasing reputation, the brightness of general prosperity. A young man, beginning life, would hardly be encouraged were we to set before him as a picture of his future, a renunciation of all these things; were we to strike out from the canvass, the hope of the accumulation of property, the idea of a life of comfort and ease, solaced by various pleasures, the pursuit of fame; were we to tell only of a life of self-denial, of constant toil to promote love among men and others' welfare, the entire relinquishment of worldly and selfish hopes.
It is not yet three months since you heard the description of such a life of self-denial, set before our departed brother, by the Bishop about to make him a priest of God. I remember the solemnity and earnestness with which our holy father dwelt upon the perfect separation of the priest from all secular and worldly avocations and hopes, his entire surrender of every hope of wealth, or ease, or worldly honor, his sacrifice of every inclination of mind or body, of every ambitious aspiration, of every selfish purpose, to the great task and labor of an ambassador of Christ. He told most distinctly, us all who had received the priestly office, that if we, through love of pleasure, or ease, or money, or notoriety, should be tempted to complain of our hard, unrenumerative, and too often, as far as men are [13/14] concerned, thankless office, we would show our forgetfulness of the fact that we had deliberately undertaken such a life. He pointed out that the priest could not gratify his tastes, but must relinquish his preferences, submit cheerfully to poverty, surrender many innocent aspirations, looking for his reward elsewhere.
And I cannot forbear asking you to consider for a few minutes more, the position, duties, and recompenses of a Christian priest. You demand that a clergyman shall be well educated,--possess much more general information and mental culture than you expect in a physician or a lawyer. A minister, you think, should be a gentleman in his manners, of agreeable, pleasing, conciliatory and blameless deportment, able constantly to produce one or two brilliant sermons every week, attentive to the sick, able to give judicious monitions and advice to the ungodly and careless, with a good capacity for the guidance of children into the narrow way, devoted completely to his sacred office, a good reader and fluent speaker. He sincerely endeavors to be and do all these things, he studies earnestly, he writes, reads with these objects in view, he tasks his brain to discover some new means of influencing the community among whom he is placed. He practices self-denial, does not complain of his toils, he does not think of six, eight, ten years of previous study and preparation, he sacrifices his worldly prospects, he freely gives himself and all that he has. And what is his present reward? In money, the smallest sum--a [14/15] few hundred dollars a year. The majority of the Clergy with whom I have been acquainted, have been in the receipt of more money from teaching or some other employment, previous to their admission to holy orders, than they had reason to expect when in the sacred office. This, I know, was true of our departed brother.
One other discouragement is commonly the priest's lot,--and must have been a trial of the departed. In Keble's words, he says:
"Lord, in thy field I work all day
I read, I teach, I warn, I pray,
And yet these wilful, wandering sheep
Within thy fold, I cannot keep.
I journey, yet no step is won--
Alas! the weary course I run!"
We know indeed that our Great Master was content to live a stranger, and to die at the hands of those to whom he preached, and "it is enough for the disciple that he be as his Lord."
Conscious we are of our great deficiencies, that we do not come up to the standard, that we have many faults, that we do not as much as we might and ought; yet when one is conscious of having received and followed this business of minister of the Lord Jesus with self-sacrificing intentions, that to it his earliest and his latest thoughts are given, it is trying to hear from the lips of some careless idler, "O, you ministers have more time to waste than any body else,--than men who work for their living!"
 My object in these remarks has been to call your attention to the motives of our departed brother. I have known him for more than four years. I was concerned, as you know, in his examinations and admission to the diaconate and the priesthood. I have seen much of him as a brother priest and as a valued friend, and I can say this day, that from first to last he never entertained any motive in seeking holy orders, inconsistent with the single desire to serve Christ and do good to men. I speak the more positively, because previous to his admission to the diaconate this was a particular subject of correspondence between us.
He was content to separate himself from all ties, and live in this place a lonely life,--not indeed without friends, for I know he made warm and true ones.--He was willing to sacrifice all wordly hopes; to relinquish every personal desire; and to devote himself to a field of labor by no means specially inviting. If he had recovered from his last illness, what life was before him? Any other than one of isolation from the ties men value,--a life of almost thankless toil, and years of self-denial. He offered himself to God, sincerely, I believe,--and you will tell me that his life was pure, earnest, cheerful, self-denying. Can I say then, this day, that I would have this our brother recalled to life's labors and struggle? No! as my friend, as my brother, as one whom I loved for his personal virtues, I thank God that He has removed this our brother so early to his rest, that He has accepted so soon the sacrifice offered, and put [16/17] so speedy an end to the day's work. He was sincere, pure, earnest, faithful,--faithful as a friend, as a man, as a Christian and a priest,--one to be relied on for an act of kindness, a word of love. As a man his loss will be felt; as a priest I believe the cause in which he spent his life will be nourished by his life's blood. St. Augustine says, "There are men content to die patiently, there are not so many content to live patiently." Our brother was contented in patience to live, shall we not trust that it was a more blessed thing for him to die? I do not say he had no faults,--like myself he had many, and has need of Jesus' mercy,--neither have I intended to eulogize him.
I pray he may sleep in Christ, in peace, and that we may be found with motives equally pure when the angel calls us to our long sleep.
My friends, you see how short life may be. Where and when will you die? In your present home, this present year? Can you say, No? When the hour strikes, whither will it summon you,--to eternal death, or to eternal life? Which have you chosen? I do not ask, what are your professions? I do not ask, are you a member of the Church? You may profess much and perform little. You may be a member of the Church, and yet a mean, selfish, hard, worldly man. But are you living after the pattern and example of Christ? If you have chosen, and are pursuing at home and abroad, in public and in private, His self-sacrifice, and the example of His love, then for you death will be [17/18] relief and gain. May He grant to you and to me, to live so purely, humbly and sincerely, that when the great gates open for us, they may disclose a vision of rest, triumph, of light, and life, and peace.