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THE CITY OF R ALEICilf,
'EmWPI T¥EF?Y"SE03HJ}, M.DCCC1
FUNERAL OF MRS. ANNE WHITE
®V ®ma M, IF- KHHFILOBOj,
i Of the North Carolina Conference.)
THOMAS J. LEMAY & SOX*
To the Misses "Whites':
I cannot refuse your request to furnish the sermon delivered at the
funeral ofyour venerated mother, Mrs. "White, that you may have a few copie?
printed for private circulation. It is proper however for me to state, in
palliation of inaccuracies which may be observed, that it Avas written out
from brief notes, under a pressure of engagements, several months after it
was delivered. Yery respectfully
Your friend and pastor,
R, T. IIEFLTX.
" And deliver (hem, who, through fear of death ivere all their life-time sub*
j'ect to bondage." Heb. 2d c, 15th t.
In discoursing upon these words, let our prayerful attention be directed
to a consideration,
I. OF DEATH, AND OF THAT FEAR OF DEATH WHICH MOST MEN ENTERTAIN.
II. OF THE DELIVERANCE HERE SPOKEN OF.
I. What is death ? All we know of it is, its attendant circumstances and
its results. And these we only know in part. We are told that death is
the cessation of life : but what is life ? Life, like death, is known to us by
its effects ; but what is life itself—what is the cause of these effects ? Men
have searched for it by carefully dissecting every part of the body, and pa-tiently
tracing every movement of the mind—but have searched in vain.
To tell us, therefore, that death is a cessation of life, is to multiply words
without knowledge. Life itself is a mystery, and death is no less so.
Eternity alone can explain them. And yet there are some things connected
with death which we may know, which we ought fully to- understand.
All must die : all know they must die ! And it is not less true that all
fear to die—''through fear of death are all their life-time subject to bon-dage."
The fear of death, however it may be disguised or concealed, is,
at some time or other, felt in every heart, and overshadows the brigthest
prospects of earth with its gloom. But let us calmly inquire, what ground
is there for this fear ?
1. Is the pain of dying so great we need fear it?
The common opinion is, that death is painful beyond any conceptions of
the living. And hence many good men who fear not to part with earth and
meet the Judge of quick and dead, yet fear the pain of dying. And others,
around the couch of one that dies in the Lord, weep, bitterly weep, not
because he is going home to heaven, nor solely because he leaves loved ones
behind him, but chiefly because of the agony he is supposed to endure in-dying.
This sorrow for those who die, this fear of death because of the exces-sive
pain to be endured, is founded upon an error.
The pain ordinarily endured in dying is not to be compared to what haa
been realized while living. Pain is not pain unless it is felt. But, in most
cases, that which produces death also blunts the sensibility to suffering.
as death approaches, consciousness of suffering diminishes, until it ceases
In all cases of sudden or instant death, by violence or otherwise—as by
a dagger in the heart, a bullet in the brain, a stroke of lightning or of
apoplexy, but little if any pain is felt; that which destroys life, also de-stroys
sensibility, and the disembodied spirit finds itself, unwarned of ap-proaching
dissolution by an instant's suffering, in the eternal world. Men
who have been by violence suddenly deprived of consciousness, and after-wards
resuscitated, have no remembrance of pain—no pain was felt. In
drowning or strangulation the inhalation of air by the lungs is prevented,
and death ensues. But, although death from this cause is more gradual
than in the cases mentioned before, very little, if any, suffering is realized.
This opinion is sustained by well authenticated statements of persons
hanged or drowned until they were supposed to be dead, but afterward re-stored
to life. The case of Dr. Adam Clarke, thrown by a horse into the
surf of the sea, and apparently drowned, but afterwards restored to con-sciousness,
is too well known to need repetition.
When disease is of long continuance, and medical skill fails to arrest its
progress, there is a point at which the patient is said to be dying ; and he
is then supposed to endure an agony of pain incomparably greater than
any he has known before. But if the opinions advanced be correct, this is
not so. When the presence of death is made manifest by those symptoms
which are popularly supposed to indicate great sufferings, the bitterness of
death, so far as it consists in physical pain, is past. The very causes which
produce those symptoms, blunt the sensibility to suffering; and, with few
exceptions, the physical sufferings endured in the hour of death bear no
comparison to the pains of lingering disease that have preceded and intro-duced
that solemn event, The restless tossing to and fro, the groans, the
contortions of the body in the hour of death, are involuntary, but do not
indicate the degree of pain endured. The effects of great bodily suffering
continue, after the sensation of pain ha3 diminished, or ceased forever,
The ocean is still agitated for a time after the tempest is gone.
From these and other considerations which our present limits forbid us
to notice, we conclude that the pain of dying under ordinary circum-stances,
is not a sufficient ground for that fear of death which thinking men
2. But let us inquire farther, is the pain of parting from earth a suflL
cient reason for the fear of death ?
There are none so desolate and so isolated as to be unloving and unloved.
It makes us sad to contemplate the severance of the ties that bind us to
earth and to friends. And yet the pain of parting is not the sting of death,
does not, through fear, bring us into bondage.
The Christian, a citizen of heaven, is an exile., a stranger and a pilgrim
and whether he leave a hovel or a palace behind him, is assured of a better
inheritauce beyond the skies ; the anticipation of death excites in his bo-som,
not the fear of mental agony to be endured in a final separation from
a world of toil and sin and woe ; but rather inspires him with the triumph
of a soldier whose warfare is over, of the mariner, whose voyage is ended
in the haven of his rest. Though it is painful in death to part with the
loved ones of earth, it is felt in the hour of parting that it will be joyful to
meet them again in a better land.
But there are others " without God and without hope in the world."
They, too, must die : and they fear to die. Whence is this fear ? Is it be-cause
they dread the physical sufferings of death? Y>'hy should those fear
to die, who have suffered, and continuing to live, must be liable again to
suffer, many times the pain of death, if, dying once, they shall die no more ?
If it be painful to die, it is yet more so to thousands of our guilty race, to
live. Why then do those who are not holy, not happy, and not cowards,
fear to die ?
3. It is not the fear of death itself, but of that which muy be after death
that makes men afraid to die.
It is deemed unnecessary and irrelevant to enter into a discussion here
of the soul's immortality, and the resurrection of the body : but upon the
admission of these truths, the inquiry arises, in view of the relations we
sustain to God and to eternity, is there reason to fear that death which
is to introduce us to his presence, and to fix our doom, beyond the proba-bility
of change ?
In this connection there is one truth, every where taught in the word of
God, and enforced by universal observation and experience. As a race, our
nature is polluted, and we have added transgression to sin—we are all
guilty before God. In proportion as the day of reckoning is supposed to
be distant, the cares, the pleasures of life, press in upon the mind, and ex-clude
a proper sense of our accountability to the Judge of quick and dead.
But when we reflect upon approaching death, not only or chiefly in its con-nection
with bodily sufferings, and the mental agony of parting with all of
earth, but in its relation to our eternal destiny, we may well fear—as sinners,
it would be madness in us not to fear to die. The God of heaven is holy
heaven, the place of his abode, is holy—all the inhabitants of heaven must
be holy; without holiness none can enter there. To die in sin, therefore, is
to die in a state that must forever exclude us from heaven and from happi-ness.
Not only the holiness, but also the justice of Almighty God is a pro-per
ground for the fear of death, in view of the fact that we have sinned
As our Creator, just and holy, he has given to man a law which he de-clares
to be "holy, just, and good." That law is enforced by a penalty ; i
law without a penalty ceases to be law ; the design of the penalty is not
punishment as an ultimate object, but by a denunciation of punishment,
and, by tlic example of its infliction, to deter men from rebellion, to afford
the strongest motives to moral agents to obey. Eveiy consideration, there-fore,
which could prompt our Maker to give us law, with a penalty annexed,
goes to sustain an antecedent probability in favor of the greatest possible
penalty. That penalty we accordingly find revealed in the word of God, as
All admit that a law without a penalty is an absurdity, that man is under
law to God, and that upon its violation, punishment is justly merited.
This punishment must be inflicted either here, or hereafter. If inflicted
in the present state, it must be upon the body, in temporal circumstances,
or the infliction must be mental, by remorse of conscience. To say that
the equivalents of divine justice are rendered in this world by bodily pain,
is to fix good health as the standard of moral character—an absurdity suf-ficiently
refuted, by naming it. To assert that divine justice rewards eve-ry
man according to his deeds in this world, by the temporal circumstances
in which it places him, is to affirm the criterion of moral character to be
"success in life:" a maxim, it is true, by which the world too often fixes
its opinion ; but for which none are so bold as to claim divine authority.
But is not the full penalty of the law inflicted upon the sinner in the pre-sent
world, by remorse of conscience ? This opinion is more absurd than
either of the other two. Remorse of conscience is a conviction of guilt
it is not atonement for it. Justice requires that the more a man sins, the
greater shall be his punishment : but, in point of fact, the more a man sins,
he feels, proportionably, less remorse. By repetition of crime his con-science
becomes " seared as with an hot iron, past feeling." Moreover,
remorse of conscience, is based upon a fear of future punishment. So soon,
therefore, as a sinner becomes convinced that in the remorse of conscience
which he feels is included the whole penalty of the law he has broken, it
becomes impossible for the penalty to be inflicted in that way! the founda-tion
upon which is based his only hope of heaven sinks beneath his feet,
and he is afraid to die, because after death comes the judgment ! If there
is nothing in speculations of this nature to alleviate the fear of death, still
less is there in the Word of God to encourage the finally impenitent to
hope for heaven. " God, out of Christ, is a consuming fire." When the
pains of death, and the still sharper agony that pierces the soul now leav-ing
forever the loved ones of earth, are all forgotten in the overwhelming
sense cf guilt unpardoned, and of divine wrath impending ; the word of
God, neglected, violated, its promises finally rejected, proclaims "A fire is
kindled in mine anger, and shall burn into the lowest hell." " Hell is mov-ed
to meet thee at thy coming." " Indignation and wrath, tribulation and
anguish, shall be upon every soul of man that doeth evil."
"Because I have called and ye refused ; I have stretched out my hand
and no mai regarded ; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would
none of mv reproof: T also will laugh at vour calamity : I will mock trnen
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your fear cometh ; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruc-tion
cometh as the whilwind ; when distress and anguish cometh upon you."
Oh! in such an hour, when life is ebLr: fast, and the last hope is sink-ing
to rise no more, not all the sorrows of earth fused into one pang can
equal the earth-quake throb of black despair, that pushes the soul into a
future, all rayless and hopeless—and to be thus forever ! But why, upon
an occasion like this, call your attention to an event so sad and so awful ?
Because, by the solemn scene before us, the great lesson of our mortality
and accountability to God, is driven home upon our souls ; and we are per-suaded
that faithfulness to God and to you is not incompatible with the
Providence that has called us to this house of mourning, nor with the ten-der
regard we all feel for the memory of the venerated dead. Soon, each
in this assembly shall taste the bitter cup, shall pass the solemn ordeal.
It has been my design, thus far, to remove from your minds that fear of
death which is not founded in reason, to point out a real danger, far trans-scending
the wildest ravings of imagination; and it is now my delightful
task to proclaim to you " deliverance from bondage."
"Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he
also himself likewise took part of the same : that through death he might
destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver
them, who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
II. The deliverance here spoken of next claims our attention. It is a deliver-ance
from the fear of death. But this fear is based upon a well grounded
apprehension of punishment in a future State, incurred by sin committed
in the present. Our Lord Jesus Christ, therefore, proposes to deliver us
from the fear of death by removing its cause
1. And this he is enabled to do in consequence of having made an atone-ment
for sin, by suffering in our stead and for us the penalty due to our
transgressions. Although he endured a mental agony, to be accounted for
only by the pressure of the weight of a world's guilt upon his soul, and
suffered death by a mode of execution more painful than any other ever
invented by the cruelty of men or devils, we do not understand that his
sufferings were equal in degree or amount, to the aggregate of pain mer-ited
by mankind ; but that his sufferings were equivalent in value to those
deserved by all the guilty for whom he died. His atonement derives its
value or merit from his character, as a sinless Man—the olivine son of God,
equal with the Father.
The design of God in punishment is chiefly to express his disapprobation
of sin. The death of our Lord Jesus Christ is equal to the punishment
due to a guilty world, because, in it and by it, God's disapprobation of sin
is expressed more strongly than it would have been by sinking all its myri-ads
to quenchless fires.
2. God can, therefore, be just; and yet the justifier of him that believeth
in Je:-U3. Through him, and upon condition of faith in him, pardon, fes
and full pardon of sin is offered to all. Without money and without price,
whosoever will may come freely and obtain remission of sins through faith
in his blood. Concurrent with justification, or pardon of sin, the heart is
changed by the renewing of the Holy Ghost, the soul is delivered from the
bondage of sin and fear, and led into the liberty of the children of God.
In our natural state we are represented as morally bound, helpless, deaf,
dead. And yet deliverance is offered upon condition of that faith which
cometh by hearing. Can the deaf hear ? or the dead believe ? How then
shall the purchased salvation be made available to us. By his sufferings
and intercession he sendeth "the spirit to help our infirmities," "to work
in us both to will and to do of the good pleasure of God." And thus we
may exclaim in the language of Paul: "We have not received the spirit of
bondage again unto fear; but the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba,
Father. The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the
children of God ; and if children, the heirs , heirs of God, and joint heirs
with our Lord Jesus Christ." "Being, therefore, justified by faith, we have
peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
The sting of death is sin, and the strength ef sin is the Law. But the
Christian knows that the sting is extracted, and is not afraid to die ; death
is swallowed up in victory. And thus, "the chamber where the good man
meets his fate is privileged beyond the common walks of life, quite on the
verge of heaven." Death is stripped of its terrors, the grave of its gloom.
Christianity has its living witnesses"; and borne upon the stream of the
church's history, a rich legacy to coming generations, is the example
and the testimony of the faithful dead, whose star of hope, the star of
Bethlehem, has beamed all the brighter, when the night of death was
around them. From a full conviction of the power of the Gospel to sus-tain
hi the hour of death, its promise of rest to the weary, and of eternal
life to the dead, let us draw comfort and encouragement amid our present
Mrs. Axxe White, whose sudden decease has covered a widely extended
family circle in mourning, and shrouded this whole community in gloom,
was born, December 4th, 1766 ; and at the time of her death (Feb. 20th,
1850.) her age was 83 years, 1 month, an.i 16 days. She was a daughter of
Eichard Caswell, an officer in the Revolutionary war, distinguished for his
services in the counsels of the State and of the Nation, and Governor of
North Carolina ; a man whose name is embalmed in the history of our coun-try.
In all the trials and vicissitudes of a long life, she proved worthy of
her lineage. She was niari'ied on the 4th February, 1783, to John Fon-veille,
who died on the 6th of January following ; she continued in a state
of widowhood until August 14th, 1787, when she was united in wedlock to
William White, who was for many years Secretary of State for N. Carolina.
This marriage was dissolved by the death of Mr. White, on the 8th Nov.
1811. Thus, during a number of years, were devolved upon h^r the cares
of a large family, and the management of a property not inconsiderable.
She was the mother of ten children; four of whom preceded her to the
tomb, while six survive, to mourn their irreps.ra> le loss.
A singular coincidence perhaps should be mentioned. Her death occur-red
on the fifty-first anniversary of her arrival to reside in this city. Du-ring
the more than half a century she resided among you, her example*
quiet and unobtrusive,, but commanding, has shown that in every relation
social and domestic, what a woman should be, she was. At the first Con-ference
in Raleigh, during which services -were held in the State-house,
long before Methodism was established here, she professed to find peace
with God through faith in Jesus Christ, and united herself with the Metho-odist
Episcopal Church : a step which, in the state of our Church at that
time in this community, illustrates, at least, her sincerity and firmncrrs.
Perhaps not more than three persons who were members then survive until
now. Most of those who stood with her then, have gone before her to
their reward. She informed me, not long before she died, that when she
was young, the house of her father, Gov. Caswell, was a resting place for
the Methodist preachers in their weary pilgrimage ; and that she could
distinctly trace her earliest religious impressions to the influence of that
eminent servant of God, Bishop Asbury.
In her religious profession, she was firm, decided and consistent ; loving
all the good of every name ; a friend to the poor ; in a word, an intelligent
Christian lady of the old school. Her best eulogy is found in the unaffect-ed
grief of this large assembly, in the deep affliction felt by her bereaved
family, in the tearful faces of her servants, who press to take a last long
lingering gaze at that once loved form. She was called away suddenly,
but, not to herself, unexpectedly. Two days ago she was in her usual
health—in a few moments her spirit had passed away. She did not out-live
her faculties of mind, nor the affections of those that had loved her.
She lived beyond the usual limit of human life to a green old age, respect-ed
and loved by all.
And now what shall I say to her afflicted family ? Follow her as she
followed Christ. We commit all that was mortal of this mother in Is-rael
to the grave, with deep heart-felt sorrow—but also with hope. For
we believe that when the angel's trump shall wake the sleeping dead, she
shall rise, clothed with immortality; and shall she then say " Lord, here
ami, and the children which thou hast given me ?" May the graceof God
sanctify this affliction to them all ; and may those whom death and dis-tance
now divide, form at last an unbroken family in heaven
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