A summary by herself of a Sermon Delivered by ELIZA PAUL GURNEY in Baltimore, at the first Meeting for Worship following the death of William Forster.
Mott, Richard F., ed. Memoir and Correspondence of Eliza P. Gurney. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1884.
This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Part Three: The 19th Century.
Second mo. 14th, I854.
For my own satisfaction in days to come, I must preserve some record of the very solemn day we spent at Baltimore, just two weeks after the remains of that devoted servant of the Lord, William Forster, had been committed to the silent grave. It was the first Friends' meeting the sad and contracted little band had attended since their bereavement, and I believe it seemed to many besides myself like the "burial day." A heavy burthen had oppressed my spirit ever since hearing the affecting tidings, but I was mercifully helped to throw it off on that most solemn, sorrowful occasion. After the meeting had been gathered about half an hour, I felt constrained to rise with the words, "Forever with the Lord l Gathered to the just of all generations; washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb." How precious are considerations such as these when loved and honored ones are taken from us, who have stood as firm and upright pillars in the Church, who have counted not their lives dear unto themselves, that they might finish their course with joy, and the ministry which they had received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And though to our shortsightedness the dispensation may appear to have been mysterious, the mission unfulfilled, yet, my beloved friends, we must ever remember that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. And whenever He may see meet, in His infinite and unsearchable wisdom, to say to His dedicated servants, "It is enough," whether it be in the morning, at midday, or in the evening, his work is done. And may we not reverently believe that when, in tender love and mercy, the work is thus cut short in righteousness, the compassionate Shepherd of Israel does sometimes whisper to the departing spirit, even in the solemn stillness of the bed of death, "It was well that it was in thine heart: depart in peace, thy faith hath saved thee"? Then let us not be too much dismayed or cast down, as though some strange thing had happened unto us, but let us put on fresh strength in the name of the Lord. Is not the need increased? Let us press forward with redoubled diligence, not only to make our calling and election sure, but also that we may do our part in hastening the coming of that glorious day when the knowledge of God and of his Christ shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. I have remembered, for my own instruction,--and it may be that it is designed for the instruction of others,--that it is recorded in the volume of divine inspiration: "The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen the mighty works and wonders of the Lord ;" but after a time all that generation were gathered to their fathers, and another generation arose "which knew not the Lord, nor yet the mighty deeds that He had done for Israel."
Oh, that this may never be said of us, is the earnest breathing of my spirit; but
may the mantle of Elijah descend upon the Elishas of the present day, that by a
thorough surrender of the heart to the crucifying power of the cross' of Christ
there may be a succession of standard-bearers and testimony-bearers raised up
from among this people, to whom the Great Head of the Church did indeed, in
former days, commit a noble banner, that it might be displayed because of His
own blessed Truth. Oh, then, my beloved friends, though it may indeed be said
on the present solemn occasion that the Church mourns, that we are brought low
under the chastening hand of our God, let us take heed that we be not slothful,
but followers of them who, we do reverently believe, are now, even at this very
moment, through faith and patience, inheriting the promises.
"And though a Paul has run his course, Or an Apollos dies, Is Israel left without resource, And are there no supplies? Yes; while the dear Redeemer lives We have a boundless store, And shall be fed with what He gives Who lives for evermore."
Then may we not all join, as with one heart and one accord, in the prayer of His disciples formerly, "Lord, evermore give us this bread" ?--even this heavenly bread, bread which alone can satisfy the hunger of the immortal spirit and nourish it up unto eternal life. Thus being strengthened to fill up the ranks in righteousness, having served our generation according to the will of God, we also may be gathered, through the riches of atoning love and mercy, to that glorious company of ransomed ones who are already come unto Mount Zion and un. to the City of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new Covenant. Oh, the blessedness of such a change as this! gathered by a hand of infinite mercy from a state of conflict and mourning to one of love and joy and peace,~translated, as it were, from death and darkness into the glorious light and liberty of the children of God.
"These hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat, for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne doth feed them and lead them to fountains of living waters, and God Himself--blessed be His holy name forever! - hath wiped away all tears from every eye."