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Considered as a preacher, he was greatly admired and followed, and his "doctrine dropping as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass," was always entertained with satisfaction. He fed us not with jejune, much less with stolen sermons; but with well-studied composures, which discovered the diligence of one sensible what a King he stood before. And yet with what a modest, and what an humble self-diffidence did he decline all public appearances, but what he was in some sort compelled unto !
Considered as a pastor, how faithfully, how painfully, how patiently did he feed the whole flock whereof he was the overseer! With what self-denial did he adhere to them under strong temptations to have embraced greater opportunities! One would think it impossible for any one mouth to open against a shepherd of so much goodness! If any did, his worst word upon it was, "Father, forgive them!"
Certainly, in Dedham there is now to be seen the threshingfloor of Atad. If we do not lay it to heart when such men are taken away, it will be a sad sign, that they are taken away from the evil to come. Nay, in their being taken away, there is much evil already come. We lose, how much of our beauty, and our safety! Such a loss, how hardly, how rarely to be repaired! Such teachers being removed into the silent corners of the grave, where the eyes that have seen them, shall see them no more: the people in that very thing have an adversity and an affliction of the worst kind given unto them, and spiritual plagues, which are judgments of the worst kind, are scattered in such dispensations. They that were not brought home to God, or made but a mean proficiency in godliness, while the day of grace in such a ministry was lengthened out unto them, are in danger of that awful doom, "never let any good fruit be found upon them!"
I do not think, as they that are vainly dismayed at the signs of heaven do, that the eclipses on the luminaries there, carry any omens with them, on which we may make our divinations; but yet I will so far come into the Jewish observation, as to say, that when we see eclipsed by mortality such luminaries, as we are this day mourning for, Malum Signum est Mundo, it is ominous of a dark time growing upon us.
O! may our glorious Head at the right hand of God, look down upon the feeble state of his churches in the wilderness! May he raise up witnesses to his cause and kingdom, that shall tread in the steps of their pious predecessors! May he give us to see Elijah's mantle in its operations, and bring down the hearts of the fathers into the children, and incline the hearts of the children to be such as were in their fathers!
UPON THE MUCH LAMENTED DECEASE OF THE REVEREND AND EXCELLENT
MR. JOSEPH BELCHER,
Late faithful Pastor of the Church of Christ in Dedham, N. E. Qui Obiit, April 27, Anno Dom. 1723. Etat. Sum 53.
THE name of BELCHER long has bless'd the State
The sin, we must arraign, and not the doom,
Darker than midnight, is this day's eclipse:
Such as God honors, we should honor too;
Bred in the eagle's nest and taught to fly,
Drank up, as thirsty stars drink up the sun,
Made noblest flights up to the upper region,
His rule and conduct, prudent, steady, mild,
By breath of heav'n this saving trumpet blown,
The teacher dextrous and laborious;
Stopt is the conduit-pipe that did supply
Thine all-sufficient blessing, gracious LORD!
The heavenly temple, and the earthly tomb
Sic Condoluit, J. DANFORTH.
A Call from the Dead to the Living.
PREACHED ON OCCASION OF THE EARLY AND SURPRISING, THOUGH COMFORTABLE DEATH OF
MR. TIMOTHY METCALF,
A VERY HOPEFUL YOUNG MAN, WHO RECEIVED HIS DEATH'S WOUND ON SATURDAY, AUG. 12, 1727. AND EXCHANGED (AS WE TRUST) EARTH FOR HEAVEN, ON THE MONDAY FOLLOWING, ÆTAT. 19.
BY SAMUEL DEXTER, M. A.
PASTOR OF THE CHURCH IN DEDHAM.
"Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth, Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them."-Rev. xiv. 13. "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children."— Isa. liv. 13.
PRINTED BY B. GREEN, JR. FOR J. ELIOT, AT THE SOUTH END.