Dr. George Howe's Funeral Sermon
for the Rev. Robert Means [1796-1836]

Excerpted from A Sermon Occasioned by the Death of Rev. Robert Means, of Fairfield District, S.C., Preached in the Salem Church, on the Second Sabbath in June, 1836, by George Howe. From pages 591-610 of, Sermons, and An Essay on the Pentateuch, by Robert Means, A.M. of Fairfield District, S.C. With an Introduction and A Sermon Occasioned by His Death, by George Howe (Boston: Perkins and Marvin, 1836). Transcribed 4/10/07 by Dr. Barry Waugh, Ph.D.

NOTE: The bracketed and underlined numbers in the following text refer to the page numbers of the sermon in the original book text. The two footnotes were in the original. At some points this text is cumbersome and difficult to comprehend, but the transcription has followed the original regardless of the clarity of the text.

[ 591]

SERMON.

______

2 Kings ii. 12.

And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.

 

The character of the prophet Elijah is marked with the elements of strength and grandeur, more entirely than almost any other which is portrayed in the sacred volume. God caused his powerful mind and amiable heart to exist, at a period when his service required such talents; and under his providence this mind, with all its affections, was so disciplined in a school of trials, that it was prepared for the noble part, which it was to perform. Elijah lived in a day when religion was depressed, and skeptical notions, of foreign origin, had been imported into the Jewish realm, and were enthroned in the high places of power and royalty. With Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, whom Ahab had married, was brought in the Phoenician worship, which was sustained by all the ingenuity [ 592] of that wicked queen, who affords to the reader of sacred history a lively illustration of the fatal power which can be wielded by one bad woman, placed in the centre of attraction and influence. Instigated by her, Ahab erected a temple and altar to Baal in Samaria his capital, and built a grove consecrated to his cruel rites, while she maintained a crowd of idolatrous priests as a part of the royal household, and sent them portions from her table.

Meanwhile the spirit of infidelity pervaded the community, and because they preferred to have it so, the evidences of revealed religion were obscured and hidden from the minds of the people, and consequently all that was corrupt among them acquired new power. At last, the popular mind became prepared for the formal overthrow of the true worship, as has been the case at a later day in the French nation; and Ahab, prompted doubtless by his wife Jezebel, slew all the prophets of the Lord who did not escape by flight from the hand of violence. Amid a population of 4,000,000 of people, 7,000 only were reserved by God, who escaped the vigilant eyes of persecuting idolatry, and maintained the true religion, perhaps unknown to each other, refusing to bow the knee to Baal.

Elijah himself eluded the hatred of the king, and kept beyond the reach of his vengeance. But called at length from his seclusion by the irreligion of the time, he challenged the priests of Baal to a bold trial of the divine original of the two religions, on the mount of Carmel. He erected an altar, according to the account given in the Bible, and made the startling proposition that the God who answered by fire from heaven, should be acknowledged the God of the nations. I forbear to repeat the graphic history of this event. The result you know. The fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the [ 593] stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and they said, The Lord he is God; the Lord he is God. The tide of popular feeling was then changed, and Elijah perceiving it, seized on the priests of Baal, who by introducing another worship, had committed what under the theocracy was the crime of treason; and taking them to the brook Kishon, he slew them there.

The office of the prophet in the old dispensation, was different from that of the pastor in the Christian church. The prophet was the pastor not of a single congregation, but of the nation. He was the guardian of the theocracy, and stood as a watchman to see that the fundamental laws of that species of government were never violated. Such was the office of Elijah; and he was blessed by God, and honored as the instrument of recovering the people from their apostasy to idols. He interested himself in founding schools of the prophets, where the youth were educated in religion and literature beneath his care. And after a life of unexampled usefulness, he was carried up in a whirlwind to heaven. He walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. Elisha, his disciple, his assistant and successor in the prophetical schools, was with him at that moment. “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” The same words were uttered by Joash, king of Israel, in reference to Elisha when he was about to depart. In the thirteenth chapter of 2d of Kings, the death of Elisha is thus narrated. “Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king came down unto [ 594] him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.”

My father, my father, is the language in which a disciple was accustomed to address his instructor and guide. As used both by Elisha and Joash, it is the expression of grief and affection; a lament over the departure of a revered and beloved instructor. And the words “chariot of Israel, and horsemen thereof,” are an encomium passed upon him. He was the defence and ornament of his country. Elisha asserts of Elijah, and again the same is said of Elisha by Joash, that he was the chariot and horsemen of Israel; her defence and glory more truly than were her hossemen, chariots, and munitions of war.

We are led then by the text to the sentiment, that the man of piety, especially when endued by God with talent, and placed by him in a commanding station, is the defence and ornament of his country.

 

1. My first reason for this remark is, that he who embraces religion with all his heart, is instrumental of propagating it.

It is one of the most prominent injunctions of revealed religion addressed to all its professors, that they should win their fellow men to embrace it. “Go ye, says the Saviour, and disciple all nations.” And to the command thus given, a special promise in favor of him who obeys it, is subjoined as a motive to obedience. “Lo, I am with you always to the end of the world.” “He that obeyeth one of the least of these commandments and teacheth men so, shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” He shall be highly honored in a state of future felicity, and in the church below. “They that turn many to righteousness, shall shine as the stars and as the firmament forever.” To make no efforts of this kind, [ 595] is in the Bible, even treated as a sin, and is attributed to the worst motives. “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him.” If, too, the Christian believes himself in possession of a priceless treasure—a treasure which is but increased by impartation, and if he believes that others are to be ruined through eternity who possess it not; should he be endued with but the common feeling of sympathy and benevolence, he will strive to diffuse his own principles around him, and to make others the partners of his joy.

And the quiet, unintended influence of the pious man over the community in which he lives, cannot but win a respect for the principles he professes, and, with the divine blessing, convey them to the bosoms of others. It is often said that familiarity with vice removes its hatefulness and makes us its votaries. And it is a declaration of the Scriptures, that “he who walketh with wise men shall be wise, while the companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Through all the forming period of life, it is by the imitation and observation of others, that we acquire most of our knowledge; and, with the majority of men, their views, principles, feelings, and characters are gained, not by the study of books but by contact with men. There are so many points of interest about each man’s character, that they who know him well, love rather than abhor him. And sympathy, which binds us to each other, that responding of heart to heart, as face answereth to face in water; that awakening of kindred emotions in other bosoms; that transfer of our joys and griefs, our opinions, emotions, and prejudices, to others whom the ties of society, kindred or friendship have bound to us, causes all the lessons of wisdom or of folly which any man may teach, to be indelibly imprinted in the minds of others. How obvious then is it, that whatever goes to constitute piety, cannot be [ 596] confined to the one mind in which it resided; that its influence must go forth from that mind as a centre, and spread itself more or less widely around it.

Thus, we have been affected, and our education has resulted from the influence which minds that have come into being before us, have exerted upon us; and we ourselves, when we are born, enter into this immense world of intellectual being. We enter into it, to send around us on every side, whether we will or not, an incalculable influence over relative and connection, over neighbor and friend, and to draw in the course in which we move, other immortal spirits, to virtue and consideration or to infamy and degradation in this life, and in the next to glory or eternal shame.

So that no human being, man or woman, lives devoid of responsibility, even to our fellow men. None is so small that he has no center of influence, though he may sign and say, What can I do? And who will regard me? And he who shall diffuse the disease of bad example or bad principle, is no less an offender in the sight of God, and no less guilty of sin against man, than he who designedly poisons a spring which furnishes a city with water, or intentionally spreads abroad a mortal pestilence.

2. Now Christianity, which is but the perfection and completion of the Mosaic form of revealed religion, is a combination of moral influences more powerful and more salutary than man has yet conceived. What Christianity can do to elevate man and to give peace and prosperity to nations, will not be known till the day predicted in prophecy shall arrive, when her influence shall reign on the earth, and predominate in the cabinet of every government, in every hall of legislation, and in every mart of business, as well as in the social circle and by the domestic hearth. Moral principle is essential to every government. Even an army of soldiers is without [ 597] value if it is entirely wanting among them. They are miserable aids to be depended upon for the defence of their country. Virtue must prevail in the hall of legislation, must preside on the bench, must reign in every seat of power, must pervade the mass of the people, or a government of law can never be maintained. Do we not all know that revealed religion is the perfection of moral virtue, and that the sanctions by which she enforces it, are of inconceivable power. Finding a conscience in the nature of man, and some knowledge and sense of a present Deity and a day of retribution, she reveals to the mind of each individual his true place in the scale of being. She bids him look from these scenes of time down the interminable vale of endless years. She shows him himself existing through eternal duration, feeling at every step the retributions awarded by God to his behavior here. She lifts up his eye from his present employments, and present relations to society, and shows him that he is connected with a larger society than this, at the head of which is the great and awful Jehovah, fearful in his praises and his judgments, but clothed with kindness to his creatures. She presents with faithful friendship the unnoticed and slighted claims of a heavenly Father to man’s gratitude, love, and veneration. She follows him to the pillow on which he lays his head after a day of toil, and reveals the Creator to the created; the friend to the befriended; the benefactor to the object of his benefaction; the king to his subject. She thus makes us tremble to do ill, and fills us with anxiety to pursue the path of virtue, and with a strong hand holds out her shield to protect society from harm. You are not aware how much of the peace and quiet you enjoy flow from the protecting power of that religion which many affect so much to despise, and would pluck from her dominion over the hearts of men. Your [ 598] dwelling is safe from the incendiary’s torch, your property from depredation, your life from the hand of the highwayman; the peace of your domestic retreat from the ruffian who would invade it, not because man is by nature virtuous and true, but because revealed religion, the object of ridicule to the shallow-minded skeptic and the thoughtless youth, watches with incessant care to protect you, creating around you, around your country and her institutions, a rampart of impregnable defence. While a cradled infant she has defended you; amid the gambols of childhood, has been your guardian; has attempered the fiery heats of youth; has given sobriety and dignity to the years of manhood, and silvered the head of age with her celestial radiance.

This religion is treasured up in the hearts of men. They who embrace it are its representatives, its teachers, its epistles of commendation. Their influence therefore, while they live, ought to be highly prized, and their removal should be lamented. One attached to them by affinity or friendship, might well mourn over them and say, My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof. Especially should this be the case, if these individuals have occupied such a station as gave their example greater influence, and their efforts a wider sphere of operation. If they have themselves been conspicuous to the public eye, and been honored with the public approbation; and if from their elevation they have shone forth in blessing and radiant purity; if with their tongue, with their pen, or with their wealth, they have exerted themselves to promote the reign of truth and piety, the world can ill afford to lose them, the good may sigh over their ashes and say, “When the foundations are removed, what shall the righteous do.”

But who occupies a more enviable post of usefulness than [ 599] the clergyman, the ambassador of God to man, the teacher of righteousness, the promoter of virtue, intelligence, and truth? I know our office has been despised. An affected and shallow philosophy has been industriously employed in sneering at our characters and services, and in loading us with contumely. But our appointment was from heaven, one of the gifts conferred upon men by the Saviour when he ascended. And like all his bestowments, it is rich in benefits to man. A genuine clergyman, filling the pastoral relation in the manner contemplated by our church and most other Protestant denominations, has a more favorable opportunity of promoting the best interests of man, than falls to the lot of more than a favored few of the human family. Such a man I suppose to be fully educated, of cultivated mind, refined feelings, and amiable deportment, as well as of ardent piety. None others should be invested with the sacred office. None others are competent to discharge all the duties which fall within the wide range of clerical labor.

1. He stands in a place which is suited to command some of the deeper feelings of human nature. He occupies this sacred spot on the holy day of religious rest, to plead the cause of God, to point to a coming judgment, to speak to the conscience in its deepest recesses, to present to your view the victim on Calvary, the Lamb provided by God for man’s salvation, to recover you to a heavenly Father from whom you have revolted, and to show you that only while your obligations to him are acknowledge and observed, are you safe and happy. The sacredness of the Sabbath, of the sanctuary, and of the Bible, and the holy dignity of worshipping God, attach themselves in some measure to him.

2. The truths which he teaches are adapted to man’s wants, and are most deeply interesting to the human heart. The holy character of God; the all pervading nature and [ 600] control of the divine Providence; our imbecility, dependence, and alienation from heaven; the descent, humiliation, atoning death, triumphant ascension, and universal reign of the Son of God; immortality beyond the tomb; the resurrection of the sleeping dead; the necessity to which we are all subject of standing in judgment before the tribunal of God; the never-ceasing joy of heaven, and the unending suffering of hell, are in their nature and their relations to us, more commanding, more thrilling, more expanding and ennobling to the mind, and of more universal interest, than any system of truths which could be selected from the wide compass of all those sciences and professions which occupy the thoughts and interest the feelings of man.[1]

3. He is connected with his flock by many interesting relations. He joins the youthful pair in holy wedlock; he unites the children to the church by the baptismal vow; he comforts in affliction and bereavement; he is at the bedside of sickness, and in the chamber of the dying. In all these varied situations he comes in contact with the mind in its seasons most favorable for impression, and is instrumental of leading it to that which will promote its purity and peace.

4. The clergyman of the present day, in all Christian countries, is the zealous promoter of science and learning. The charge has been brought by the skeptical and irreligious portion of our country against the clergy, that they engross the education of youth, and that nearly all the colleges in our land are under their influence. But the charge is one of the highest eulogiums upon the clergyman which can be [ 601] pronounced. It is indeed true that most of our colleges have been founded and builded up by the efforts of men of this profession. This has been because they were the friends of knowledge and of intellectual culture. The religion they profess flourishes in light, and languishes in darkness. It is of itself one of the most powerful instruments of raising and enlarging the mind. And it obliges them to promote the best good of their countrymen in every possible way. They are bound to pour forth a flood of light upon the world. And if they have been oftener officers of college than other men, and have often been made trustees in these seminaries of learning, it has not been by their own election and management, but by the free voice of the public, which has called them to these offices of trust and honor. May we go on in the course which we have commenced. And if men of other professions will not move forward and provide for the intellectual culture of the forming generation and of those yet unborn, be assured the work will be done by the educated clergy of your country.

5. And the pen of the clergyman is perhaps oftener employed, and more successfully than that of other men, in impressing those truths which ennoble man and prepare him to live here and hereafter, piously, usefully, and happily.

It is the business of the clergyman to study these truths. And if he have genius and enterprise he will publish them to the world. And they will live on the pages his pen has traced, and will bless mankind when his voice no longer resounds in the earthly sanctuary. The clergy have written more than the men of other professions. And it is true that they have written many dull and prosing volumes. But they have written others which will live till the millennial day, and scatter blessings through all coming time. The power of mind over mind is incalculable, and is eternal. And no [ 602] where is the power more concentrated, and more sensibly asserted than in the life-giving productions of sanctified genius. As the blind Homer of other days hath enlightened and elevated the past generations, so shall some Christian Homer arise among those devoted to the service of God, who shall purify while he enlightens the generations yet to succeed us.

6. The clergyman is bound to promote all those associations formed for the moral renovation of man.

Societies for the education of youth for the ministry, for sending the living preacher to the heathen, for putting a Bible into the hand of every man on the face of the earth, in his own mother tongue; the giving of a written language to barbarous nations, and the forming among them of a pure and Christian literature; these and all the methods which modern philanthropy has devised for the renovation of the world, owe their origin to the direct or indirect influence of this despised profession. The world is to be renovated by the gospel of Christ, not by power, nor by might, nor by organization, management, or chicanery; but by the simple promulgation of its clear and powerful truths, in the ears of every man, in every clime. And the clergyman is bounded to go out, personally or by his influence, into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

One of these servants of God and friends of his country has been called away from his mortal labors and mortal sufferings, and from this place, often occupied by him to impart to you instructions from the divine word, I would lead you to a remembrance of his worth, to a recollection of his labors for your good, and would invite you to view him as he stands in that higher temple above surrounded by purer worshippers.

He was born into this life of trials December 29, 1796, and into the bosom of a family, many of whose members I [ 603] now see around me and which has been permitted to enjoy each other’s society more than has usually been allowed to other family circles. From childhood he was fond of study, and entering at an early age, he graduated at the South Carolina college in 1813, when he was but seventeen. His attention was first turned to the study of the law, which he pursued with Mr. John Hooker, of Columbia, during the year 1814, and part of 1815. But it was not the design of God that he should devote his energies to the profession for which he had thus prepared. Because of his minority he was not then admitted to the practice of the bar. And before the hour for his admission had arrived, he had directed his attention to other and higher objects. Early in 1816 his mind was awakened to an unwonted interest in religious things. Those little narratives of “The Dairyman’s Daughter” and “The Young Cottager,” in which the artless tale of the conflicts and deliverance of the child of God, is traced by the pen of genius, were the instruments God used in his case, as in many others, if not to awaken, at least to heighten that slumbering sense of obligation to God which lies dormant in the unsanctified heart. Might it not have been too that the instructions of a pious and honored mother were then remembered with unusual power and affection? For, mothers, you do not know when the seed sown by you will germinate. You do not know when the soil in which you deposit it will be mellowed by the genial showers, nor what ploughshare will admit to it the quickening beams of the Sun of righteousness.

As yet he made no profession of religion. But in May of the same year, 1816, God took from him his beloved mother, the protector of his childhood; a mother whom many of you honor as a pattern of piety. His attention was thus turned to the ministry as a sphere of effort. From the vale of afflic-[ 604]tion in which God had placed him, as he lifted his eye to heaven, he heard a voice crying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” and with humility and self-abasement he replied, “Here am I, Lord, send me.” In a diary, written at this time, he says—“As I have dedicated myself to God in the gospel of his Son, I will make it the ruling object of my exertions to obtain the qualifications for this office, and to exercise them in a fervent and faithful manner. May God enable me to do this for Christ’s sake.” He was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Harmony in 1818, and continued engaged in the labors of the ministry in Salem church, at Winnsboro, Camden, and Newberry, until January, 1824, when he received a call from Camden, and one from Columbia at nearly the same time. He accepted the call from Columbia and was pastor of the Presbyterian church in that place for three years, when the term for which he was called expired. He was again invited to the same pastoral relation, but chose to decline it, and returned to the bosom of his family, in these his old accustomed haunts, where the ashes of his kindred sleep. And this was his home, and this sanctuary was the scene of his labors, and you are the persons whom he sought to lead to the Saviour, and for whom he prayed until he faded away and disappeared from the abodes of men. You recollect him as his manly and noble form rose before you, his countenance beaming with benignity and glowing with health, and you remember him as emaciated with disease, the hectic on his cheek, his steps tottering and slow, he stood among you the shadow of what he was.

In 1826 he was violently attacked with an epidemic which laid the foundation for a decline of his health. This decline was gradual at first, and almost imperceptible until the last two years, during which it has been painfully evident that he [ 605] was sinking fast to an early tomb. He was cheerful and resigned amidst his accumulated sufferings, and as his bodily powers failed, his mental energies were strengthened and invigorated.

His disease affected one of his eyes, the sight of which, after intense suffering, was entirely destroyed. This was the severest affliction he had yet endured. Devoted to study as he was, and delighting more in converse with the mighty dead than with the living—though he loved the living too—the chief source of his pleasure was now removed. And with the joyous light of the sun his intellectual enjoyment fled away, and the darkness and gloom from without sunk with oppressive power over his heart. During the last autumn his health was greatly improved, and he returned with renewed avidity to his studies, and looked forward again with almost the enthusiasm of youth to a life of usefulness. He now removed to Columbia, partly that he might superintend the education of his children, and partly that he might enjoy the advantages afforded by the ampler libraries located there, as well as by the literary society of the place. He was a candidate for the professorship for sacred Literature in the college of South Carolina, and would have been unanimously elected had not the Almighty willed it otherwise. On the night before his election was to take place, the sight of his remaining eye became affected. He bore up against this last, this heaviest blow. He retired to rest, hoping that sleep and the morning dawn would dissipate the mist that was gathering over him. The sun arose fresh and young as at this first creation. But he shone to our brother with diminished lustre. His full glories he never again beheld. Perceiving that his sight was growing more and more obscure, he that morning withdrew his name from the list of candidates for he expected professorship. He [ 606]saw in a moment that his hopes as a scholar were at an end, and that the sphere of effort he had greatly coveted was now unattainable forever. Gradually the light of day was wholly excluded, and before his frame finally sunk upon its dying couch, or the force of his mind was at all abated, blindness, total blindness, had made him insensible to aught but the voice, the touch, the memory of friendship. What a blow to the scholar! The stroke which had descended was aimed with unerring truth at the centre of his joys, his hopes, his ardent aspirations. I could but make the case my own. I could but imagine how I should pray, if such an affliction were in prospect, “Father, if is be possible, let this cup pass from me.” I could but think of Milton’s pathetic lamentation over his blindness.

 

“Hail, holy Light, offspring of Heaven first born!

but thou

Revistest not these eyes, that roll in vain

To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;

So thick a drop serene hath quenched their orbs

Or dim suffusion veiled.

Thus with the year

Seasons return, but not to me returns

Day, or the sweet approach of eve or morn,

Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer’s rose,

Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;

But cloud instead, and ever during dark

Surrounds me.”

 

“This last sad affliction, which withered all his earthly hopes and prospects, he received without a murmur; and although he submitted himself unreservedly into the hands of his Maker, life had lost all its charms, and death was stripped of his terrors. When asked on the commencement of that melancholy week, if the prayers of the church should be requested for him, his reply was, that he knew God would answer the still small voice of prayer which ascended [ 607] from his sick bed; yet it was right to use all the means of grace, and for example’s sake, and that it might comfort his mourning family, he desired it might be done. He seemed to feel as one on the confines of eternity, just between his friends on earth and those in heaven. And he said he had been thinking very much lately, of those beautiful lines in the 182d hymn—

 

“The saints on earth and all the dead,

But one communion make,

All join in Christ their living head,

And of his grace partake.”

 

“He spoke sweetly and affectionately to all his children and his brothers, admonishing them to make God their friend, and he never would leave nor forsake them. He expressed his gratitude to God for placing him among such devoted friends. He gave his parting benediction to his eldest child, and said he had prayed for them all, ever since they were born, and hoped their heavenly Father would always bless and care for them, and keep them in the right way.

“On the last sad day of his mortal existence, he complained of great weariness and restlessness, and requested his beloved wife to read the 22d Psalm, seeming to feel it as applicable to himself. The hymn,

‘My God, my portion and my love,’

 

he felt very deeply, and as she read,

 

‘Thanks to thy name for meaner things,

But they are not my God,’

 

he repeated the last line with great emphasis after her. He often exclaimed, ‘Poor man, he’s crushed before the [ 608] moth; and ‘out of the depths have I cried unto thee,’ sometimes in Latin,[2] sometimes in English. Nearly his last words were ‘Come, Lord Jesus, come,’ and his wearied spirit took its flight to the regions of everlasting bliss, to enjoy the rest appointed for those who love and serve God.”

Thus passed your pastor, your husband, your father, your brother, your friend, from this vale of sorrow to the land of peace. His sky was indeed overcast. His sun was clouded, but flashed its radiance upon us through the gloom as it descended. It hath set in darkness, but hath risen on another shore in undying splendor. He hath passed the wilderness of life, the Jordan of death, and all alarms. Henceforth he is to be visited with no more pain, nor sorrow; his bosom hath heaved its last sigh, and God with his own kind hand, hath wiped away all tears from his eyes.

It is indeed mysterious, that one so qualified to be useful, at the early age of thirty-nine, just when he should have entered and was entering a wider field of effort, should be cut off in his career. But I cannot regard his course as finished. Even on earth, he, being dead, yet speaketh. His influence yet lives in the example of his many virtues, and in the instructions he gave. Nor has his pen been idle or useless. It performed while he lived, at an important juncture, a work acceptable to the friend of religion, and we trust, to his divine Master. His career has not terminated. He hath but passed from this, to another and more desirable province in Jehovah’s dominions, where his cultivated, affectionate, judicious, and talented understanding, is yet to be found; not in a state of lethargic ease, but in active and grateful happiness, serving with holier devotions and higher [ 609] zeal, and wider usefulness, its great Creator. True it is then, that in such a bereavement, “tis the survivor dies.” But he is not lost. The survivor may yet find him, and be united with him forever. In that country—

 

“Where our friends, or kindred dwell,

And God our Saviour reigns,”

 

it is possible to meet him. The way thither is through the Saviour, Christ. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Let me then, instead of eulogizing the virtues of your pastor, relative, and friend, commend to you his instructions and example. Le me beg you to reflect that it was for your sakes he left the profession he studied first, and assumed the office of the sacred ministry. Surely it was not for honor’s sake that he assumed it. The path of honor lies in another direction. In the legal profession, the highest secular honors might, I may say, would have been his. It was not for wealth. What then was the motive but the best good of his race. And for whose good in particular, if not for yours, with whom his life was passed, and as whose pastor he died. He had found the Saviour, and, like Philip and John, he ran to seek his kindred, and to say, “I have found him of whom Moses and the prophets spake.” Since there is no assignable motive which led him to the ministry but your good, does not a voice come to you from his honored grave; does not one arise out of the secret recesses of your own heart, and bid you for his sake, to seek the face of God your king?

In this day of hope, and before the opened door of mercy, I add my feeble testimony to his, and beseech you to trust in that Saviour in whom he trusted; in whom, as he said on his dying bed, he entirely confided, and in comparison with whom the world appeared mean and unworthy. [ 610]

I sympathize with you, his beloved relatives and friends; I sympathize with you, his bereaved church, and tender to you in behalf of my brethren in the ministry and of the churches of this Presbytery, our and their sympathy. Had he lived and been in health, to-day, on the return of his family to this place, he would have stood before you, the minister of the Lord. When asked, “Know ye not that the Lord hath taken your master from your head to-day?” you are obliged to say, with the silence seeking grief of Elijah, “Yea, I know it, hold ye your peace.” But while you exclaim with him, with grief and veneration, “My gather, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof,” let me beg you to remember the consolations of the Bible, that God hath there declared himself the father of the fatherless, and the widow’s God and guide, and the unslumbering Shepherd of Israel. Rise then from the affliction which hath bowed you down, unto a holier confidence in God, and say, The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

[1] The experiment of substituting another system of truths for those of revealed religion, was tried by the Theophilanthropists in France from A.D. 1796 to A.D. 1802. It proved an entire failure. See a history of this instructive experiment in the Abbè Baruelle’s History of Jacobinism, and the Histoire de Theophilanthropie par M. Gregoire. Also, in Dr. Alexander’s Evidences, Chap. ii.

[2] De profundis clamavi ad te Domine: Domine exaudi vocem meam. Ps. cxxix. 1. Vulgate.

-----------------
Bibliography--
Shortly before his death, Rev. Means published Considerations respecting the genuineness of the Pentateuch : with special reference to a pamphlet entitled 'The connexion between geology and the Pentateuch' by Thomas Cooper (Columbia [S.C.] : J.R. & W. Cunningham, 1834), 108 p. ; 23 cm. This discourse appeared first on the pages of The Southern Christian Herald. Twelve copies are known extant.

Published posthumously was his Sermons, and an essay on the Pentateuch (Boston, Perkins and Marvin, 1836), 610 p. 23 cm. Included in this volume on pages 411-587 is the earlier work on the genuineness of the Pentateuch. The volume of sermons also contains an introduction and a sermon occasioned by the death of Rev. Means, both by the Rev. Dr. George Howe. Copies of this latter work have been located in fifteen libraries.