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EDITED BY REV. AUSTIN DICKINSON, NEW-YORK.
No. 106.-MARCH, 1835. CONTENTS-Two Sermons, “On the death of Lyman, Munson, and
others," by Rev. Dr. Woods.
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No. 10. Vol. 9.) NEW YORK, MARCH, 1835. [WHOLE No. 106.
SERMONS CLXXXIV. AND CLXXXV.
DELIVERED IN THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY AT ANDOVER, FEBRUARY 1, 1835.
BY LEONARD WOODS, D. D.
ON THE DEATH OF LYMAN, MUNSON, AND OTHERS.
Heb. 12: 10, 11.-For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holi
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous : nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them who are exercised thereby.
The difference between the chastisements which we receive from God, and those we receive from earthly parents, is here presented to view as worthy of the most grateful acknowledgment. Even the best earthly parents have a mixture of imperfection in their feelings towards their children, and especially when they administer correction. But our heavenly Father has unmingled, perfect goodness. And he exercises this goodness whenever he visits his children with chastisement. He chastises them because he loves them. The Apostle, in the context, suggests another important thought, which relates particularly to our duty. If, notwithstanding the imperfect goodness of earthly parents, their children reverence them, and submit to their correction; how much more should we reverence our heavenly Father, and submit to his chastisement, administered, as it always is, in infinite wisdom and love, and designed for our spiritual profit.
This subject is introduced at the present time on account of the mournful events which have recently taken place in the circle of our Christian friends. Since the commencement of our academic year, we have received the tidings of the death of five young ministers, who were lately members of this Institution. Three of them died of sickness in our own land, and two by the hand of violence in a foreign land.
These awakening dispensations, dear brethren and friends, are addressed particularly to us. And if we open our ears to the monitory voice of these providences, and by fervent prayer seek the influence of the Holy Spirit, we shall experience the blessed effects of divine chastisement.
Vol. 9. No. 10.
Wishing to render the occasion as profitable as may be, I shall take the liberty to apply the subject to different classes of persons, and to press upon their notice severally, those particular views which are suggested by the late mournful events.
I shall first apply the subject to the members of this Institution. The beloved young men, whose early death we have been called to mourn, recently lived, as you now do, within these consecrated walls. Here they pursued their studies, and were constant at our daily exercises. They joined with us in our morning and evening devotions, and assembled with us to worship God in the sanctuary, and to commemorate the dying love of Jesus. They had entered upon the active duties of that holy calling, for which you are now preparing. One of them had just preached his first sermon, which proved to be his last. Affecting, indeed, is the departure of so many young ministers in so short a time, and in such a manner. The great question with you is, how you shall profit by these affecting dispensations; what lessons they are designed to teach you, and what blessings they are adapted to secure.
Let me say, then, that these dispensations impressively inculcate the importance of Christian diligence. They remind you that the time is short, and urge you to do with your might whatsoever your hand findeth to do. Could those brethren, who have so soon closed their labors on earth, speak to you now, they would certainly exhort and press you to apply yourselves in earnest to every duty, to make the most intense efforts to cultivate your minds, to acquire useful knowledge, and to fit yourselves for your sacred calling. They would tell you, that the greatest diligence and ardor which they ever exhibited here in pursuit of their object, instead of being excessive, fell far below the proper mark. I have no words to convey to your minds the impression which I have, of the vast importance of diligence and ardor in theological students. It is to this, far more than to original talents, or to advantages for education, that the attainments and usefulness of men are owing. If you, who are here preparing for the ministry, would all apply yourselves to the business of theological study with proper diligence and zeal, casting off all indolence, keeping the powers of your minds fully awake, and under the right guidance in your daily employments, watchfully guarding against all hinderances,-if you would come to this,-my heart swells with joy to think what you might be, and what you might do. Your improvements while in this seminary would be double, yea, fourfold, to what is common; and your usefulness afterwards might be increased in a like proportion. Even if your life should be short, like that of those who have so soon been taken away,—if only a few years should be allotted to you; still, in those few years, you might accomplish as much as is generally done in a long life. And if the major part of you should be continued in active service to the common age of ministers, who can tell the amount of good you might accomplish for the cause of Christ? Your acquisitions here made, and your habits of diligence here formed, all carried into your sacred calling, would, under God, produce such results, that your fellow-beings would be filled with wonder to see what a few men can do. What better use, then, can you make of these mournful dispensations, than to regard them as incitements to increased diligence and zeal in the appropriate occupation of theological students,—diligence proportioned to the greatness of the object before you,—diligence rightly directed, suited to the measure of your health, and wisely distributed among your various duties. Such diligence is imperatively required of you by the precepts of God's word, and by the admonitions of his providence; and, coming out to view as the prominent characteristic of this Institution, it might prove a salutary example to other seminaries, exciting them to exercise a higher degree than before of the same Christian virtue.
In the second place, these events of providence may help to furnish a just answer to several important questions which frequently arise among students, and which are sometimes answered without due consideration. One of these questions is, what should students make their first and chief business during their residence in a Theological Seminary? Had the young ministers lately deceased a voice to speak to you on this subject from the eternal world, they would exhort you to make that your chief business here, which is in reality the chief business of life. And what is this, taken in a personal view, but to repent, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and to secure an inheritance among them who are sanctified? You will by and by tell your fellow-men, and will tell them truly, that this is their great concern. It is equally yours, and yours now. Amid the variety of objects which solicit your attention, you may be tempted to neglect your own soul, and to substitute something else in the place of personal piety. Consider, then, how you would feel on this subject if you expected to die in three months, or in three years, after leaving the Seminary And if you knew that you were to live thirty years, what reason would you have for any difference of feeling? When the time of your departure arrives, whether sooner or later, you will know for a certainty, that salvation was always your great concern. Your judgment will then be right. These shadows will all be dissipated; delusions will be
gone; and objects will be presented before you in the light of truth. There never was a sober man who, in view of approaching death, had not a perfect persuasion, that the salvation of his soul was infinitely more important to him, than all other interests, and who did not feel, that reason and truth, as well as the authority of God, require every man to strive with all his heart to enter in at the strait gale; and to cut off