A sermon delivered at the funeral of the late Rev. J. Sutcliff, A.M. of Olney,
June 28th, 1814, with a brief Memoir of the deceased;
by Andrew Fuller
The long and close intimacy that had subsisted between the preacher of the above sermon, and the highly respected friend, whose departure it was intended to improve, must have rendered the occasion peculiarly solemn and affecting.
"I feel a difficulty," says Mr. F. "in speaking on this occasion. A long and intimate friendship, cemented by a similarity of views, and a co-operation in ministerial and missionary labours, produces a feeling somewhat resembling that of a near relation; who, on such an occasion, instead of speaking, must wish to be indulged in silent grief. But the request of my deceased brother cannot be refused."
The text, selected by Mr. Sutcliff, we are informed, as expressive of his last sentiments, aud his future prospects, is Jude xx. 21. "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto eternal life."
In unison with the views of the deceased, Mr. F. after adverting to the occasion on which the passage is introduced, considers it as suggesting principles constituting true religion, and the prospects which those principles furnish, as to a blessed hereafter. Under the first general division we meet with the following Remarks. True evangelical religion is here represented as a building, the foundation of which is laid in the faith of Christ - Religion which has its foundation in the faith of Christ, will increase by "praying in the Holy Ghost" - By means of building on our most holy faith, and praying in the Holy Ghost, we "keep ourselves in the love of God." - When we have done all, in looking for eternal life, we must keep our eye singly and solely on "the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Under the second division, viz. The prospects which these principles furnish, as to a blessed hereafter, the following remarks occur. The first exercise of mercy, which the Scriptures direct us to look for, on our leaving the body, is - an immediate reception into the presence of Christ, and the society of the spirits of just men made perfect. - Another stream of mercy for which we are directed to look, will attend the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consist in the dead being raised, and the living changed - Another pertains to the last judgment - and after that, eternal life.
These remarks, which are illustrated and applied in the author's impressive manner, are followed by a short and affectionate address to the auditory, suited to the occasion of a separation of a pastor and people; and to the whole is subjoined the interesting memoir of the deceased, which will be found in the beginning of this number.
We cannor forbear making one extract, referring the reader to the sermon itself for a very high gratification, which the perusal has, in no small degree, afforded us.
"One of the sentences uttered by your deceased pastor, when drawing near his end, was, I wish I had prayed more. This was one of those weighty sayings, which are not unfrequently uttered
in view of the solemn realities of eternity. This wish has often recurred to me, since his departure; as equally applicable to myself; and with it the resolution of that holy man, President Edwards - so to live as he would wish he had, when he came to die. In reviewing my own life, I wish I had prayed more than I have for the success of the gospel. I have seen enough to furnish me with matter of thankfulness; but had I prayed more, I might have seen more. I wish I had prayed more than I have for the salvation of those about me, and who are given me in charge. When the father of the lunatic child doubted whether Jesus could do any thing for him, he was told in answer, that if he could believe, all things were possible. On hearing this, he burst into tears, saying, Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief. He seems to have understood our Lord as suggesting, that if the child was not healed, it would not be owing to any want of power in him, but to his own unbelief. This might well cause him to weep, and exclaim as he did. The thought of his unbelief causing the death of the child was distressing. The same thought has occurred to me as applicable to the neglect of the prayer of faith. Have I not, by this guilty negligence, been accessory to the destruction of some that are dear to me; and were I equally concerned for the souls of my connexions, as he was for the life of his child; should I not weep with him? I wish 1 had prayed more than I have for my own soul; I might than have enjoyed much more communion with God. The gospel affords the same ground for spiritual enjoyment as it did in the first Christians. I wish I had prayed more than I have in all my undertakings; I might then have had my steps more directed by God, and attended with fewer deviations from his will. It is thus that we walk with God, and have our conversation in heaven."
[From The Baptist Magazine, February, 1815, pp. 74-75. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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