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an account of the death of Mr. Vowler.
sive, and wants abundantly that zeal which seeks and uses every opportunity. O Faith! Faith! 'tis this works all, by beholding a glorious, gracious Governor of the world, and therein one worthy to be served, and fit to be depended on for time and eternity. You are all joining in my complaints, but I am ready to think you have not my reason for it. I want your conversation, yet I deserve it not, because when with me I make so little use of you. We have much to blame ourselves for this way all of us, and particularly that [we] have spent so many hours together, without coming to a proper Christian freedom in giving and receiving advice for correction, edification, and encouragement. But the blame lies most at my door because of my office. I beg we may come nearer, [and] have proposed it to, who gladly consents; and now it lies only on you two, to be willing and forward to our passing weekly together an hour in prayer and free conversation. May the Lord dispose all our hearts, and increase this best token of love between you both while you are absent. Poor is certainly an eminent saint: I am greatly reproved by his deep abasement of spirit. O pride of knowledge, life, learning, station-'t is very hard for the rich of any sort to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
I called the society together last night, and spoke to them from Vowler's death. The hints were Acts vii, 59, 60; the account of Stephen's death and burial.
Observation 1. His profession of Christ in his life. 2. His comfort in Christ at death.
3 The loss and lamentation of the church.
Mr. Vowler's life ye know; his end as much as I knew of it was thus. Monday, July 29th, 1758, at two o'clock, he was suddenly brought into the nearest views of death, concerning which he told me when I came to him (by which time he was revived) that he had found it an awful thing to go into eternity; that the thought at first shook him, but that he was soon supported. I asked by what; his answer in substance was, "the righteousness of Christ." I spoke a good deal from Scripture on that head, and then asked if he had any thing on his conscience. He told me shortly, with an evident content on that head, he had nothing. We had frequent short discourses. during the day, wherein he appeared to be quite composed, joining in prayer with calmness. Next morning at two, I was called to him, and found him near his end, but tolerably in his senses. His head was hurried, yet he employed his last use of reason in a solemn surrender of himself into the hands of Christ, in the deepest expressions of his vileness, and the most importunate requests for mercy. He ended thus in David's words, as the whole in a manner had been, Why art thou so heavy, O my soul, and why art thou so disquieted within me? Put thy trust in God, for I will yet give him thanks who is the help of my countenance and my God." There was an inexpressible force in his manner of saying my God. After this he panted, and then fell into an act of thanksgiving, as the other, in Scripture phrase. I suggested a Scripture or two, but he was too far gone to give attention. This I believe was his last use of reason: he said he would compose himself, but soon fell into
Death and funeral of Mr. Vowler.
a delirium, in which he continued either raving or speechless (but when he raved always evangelically) till half an hour after nine that morning, when he expired.
Use 1. Let us live in the thought of death.
2. Let us hold fast faith and a good conscience. 3. Let us lament the loss of so useful a minister. 4. Let us be thankful for the gospel while we
Did I tell you
has accepted the curacy of
St. Agnes. You set out to be sure next week.
Mr. Vowler, whose last moments are described in this letter, was one of that small but faithful band of ministers who entered into all Mr. Walker's projects of usefulness, with a kindred spirit of zeal and piety. He was summoned to his account in the prime of life, after a short though effective career of labour; but his memory was long cherished by hearers who profited under his preaching, and friends who were united to him in that intimacy of heart, which is felt only by those who love the brethren for their work's sake. A weeping throng crowded to his burial, and many tears were shed upon the coffin, wherein lay without voice or animation, the frame they had often seen exhibiting the energy a love of souls inspired, while it pointed to the Lamb of God as their only sufficient sacrifice and availing intercessor. The opportunity was like all others, improved by Mr.
Walker, who described the mutual obligations of a pastor and his flock, in the following admirable
My brethren, on such an occasion we may pass over the ceremony of a text. Look on this coffin; look on the countenances of one another. I need not tell you what has brought us together. Discharge me, I beg, from speaking to any particular Scripture, that we may have more liberty of improving the awful providence under which we are assembled.
The remains of your departed minister lie before you; his better part is, we trust, with God. What blessed sights do departed spirits see the moment after their separation from this vile body! Ministering angels, that waited for their dissolution, joyfully receive the souls set at liberty, shew them the way to the heaven of heavens, to paradise, where Jesus dwells attended by the numberless [multitude] of holy, happy, rejoicing spirits of just men made perfect. What do they then sce, when the attending spirits have conducted them to the unknown world? Ah! my friends, the soul of our minister is among them! By this time he is grown acquainted with his new companions; and what think you, he is there doing? Why singing the song of heaven to God and to the Lamb? But what, nothing more? Think you he has forgotten you; "those for whom he travailed in birth till Christ should be formed in you?" Impossible! Oh, how is he now praising God for one and another of you! What, has he forgotten to love you, now that he is made
perfect in love? Should some attending spirit have made him acquainted with what we are now engaged in over his corpse; surely in that case he is adding his prayers to mine, (alas infinitely weak upon the comparison,) that his God may be with us even now. Ah, my friends, could you be so cruel as to wish him back again? Rather hold fast your crown, and let your departed faithful minister be your guide to glory. The remains of your servant for Christ's sake, lie in that coffin; the remains of the man who was wont to speak to you from this place. I, unworthy, must now speak in his stead; he can speak no more. Ah! how little did I think of being called to such an employment for my deceased brother; I, so much older than he in years and infirmities; I, for whom there was so much reason rather to expect he should have done this friendly office. "Thy way, O God, is in the sea, thy path in the great waters, thy footsteps not known, thy judgments unsearchable, thy ways past finding out." For who would have thought that the Lord should have sent his servant here; by him should have roused the consciences of those who dwell in this place; brought many of them to seek the things of their peace; and then, at a stroke, have removed him from the midst of his work, when it seemed in the most promising forwardness! Yet it is the Lord's doing, therefore absolutely right; as we shall all see it to be, in that day when the mysteries of providence shall be explained. And who that believes in God will now dare to say, however heavy the stroke, what doest thou?
Here he stood, and hence he spoke; you know bet