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ON OCCASION OF THE DEATH OF THE
REV. JEREMIAH NEWELL,
VICAR OF GREAT MISSENDEN, AND CURATE INCUMBENT OF LEE, IN THE COUNTY OF BUCKS;
PREACHED AT MISSENDEN,
JUNE 19, 1803.
TO WHICH IS ADDED
A MEMOIR OF THE DECEASED.
PHILIPPIANS, I. 21.
To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
VARIOUS have been the efforts of man's ingenuity to acquire wealth and splendour; but the unwearied attempts which for a long course of years were made by numbers to find a way of converting the baser metals into gold, was perhaps the most extraordinary of them all. Yet, could it have succeeded to the utmost wishes formed by its deluded votaries, what material advantages to individuals, or to the community, would have been derived from it?
But he, who has learned to convert death itself into gain, has indeed made a discovery of infinite importance to the dying race of men. This the apostles and prophets learned by divine revelation; this they communicate to us in their writings; this all faithful ministers are employed to teach mankind: yet, alas! how little attention is excited to the important subject! how few are disposed to profit by their instructions!
St. Paul wrote the epistle from which our text is taken, when a prisoner at Rome for preaching the
gospel: for in both ancient and modern times, and in almost every place, men are allowed, without disturbance, to corrupt the principles and morals of numbers; but he who zealously lays himself out to make known "the word of the truth of the gospel," and to "call sinners to repentance and "works meet for repentance," must expect opposition and persecution: so that, even in this favoured land of liberty, and under our good laws and mild governors, reproach and contempt never fail to be the reward of such diligent labourers, however spotless their character and unexceptionable their measures. What a striking proof and illustration of the scriptural doctrine, that Satan is "the god and prince of this world!"
But the apostle, besides his imprisonment, had other trials to support; and, among the rest, there arose some teachers who "preached the gospel "from envy and strife, supposing to add affliction "to his bonds."
Yet even this could not disconcert him: nay, he rejoiced that in every way Christ was preached. We must suppose that on the whole their doctrine was sound, though their motives were corrupt and their conduct base: and, provided Christ were honoured and sinners converted, the apostle was ready to submit to any personal degradation; nay, he knew that even the misconduct of these teachers would turn to his salvation, "through the prayers" of his people, " and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." Thus far he was satisfied that all was gain to him. He then breaks forth in these remarkable words: "According to my earnest expectation and hope, that in no