Editor's note: It was a little unusual for a funeral sermon to be published, though not completely so; we don't know the number of copies that were printed. As far as is known, there are only two original copies extant; this document came from one of them. It is a well-treated presentation of this great subject at a time of grief. — Jim Duvall
A FUNERAL SERMON:
Occasioned by the death of Mrs. JANE ALLEN, and Delivered in the
Baptist Church, Paris, Kentucky, April 26, 1847, of which She was a Member.
By Ryland T. Dillard, D. D.
"Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die." I Corinthians xv:26.
The resurrection of the body is a doctrine clearly taught and positively asserted by the writers both of the Old and New Testaments; and its vast importance, in the scheme of human redemption, is most evidently set forth by its prominence among the doctrines of the Cross.
Denied by the ancients, and ridiculed by the philosophers of the Apostles' time, it nevertheless triumphed over the theories of the pretorium, the vagaries of the portico, and the dogmas of the synagogue. A band of men, gathered from the humblest walks of human life, made it a Corinthian pillar in the Christian Temple, demonstrated its just proportions, and entwined around it the evergreens of an endless day.
Whilst infidelity is making such inroads on the human mind, and marshaling its forces against the church of the living God, is it not important that the main arguments, in favor of a doctrine so essential to human happiness, be clearly stated and understood by the disciples of Jesus Christ?
In all ages of the church, there have been those who wrested the scriptures and made them bend to their own crude and false opinions. Thus the Sadducees rejected the Old Testament, except the Pentateuch, because they conceived that these five books of Moses did not teach an existence after death. But Christ reproved their ignorance when, in their hearing, he quoted the words of the Almighty, "I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob," thus showing that these ancient patriarchs were still alive; for he is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
A species of modern infidelity is gradually insinuating itself into the public mind, forcing holy scripture to bow to the supremacy of human reason. It vaunts of the grand discoveries of the age — the unparalleled march of the human intellect; and covering itself with the halo of its own glory, attempts to throw in the shade prophet and apostle, and to become the dictator of the Eternal Mind.
How soon the doctrine for which we this day plead may be assaulted openly, as it has been covertly, none can tell. But let the friends of the Bible, having on the whole armor of God, meet the enemy in the gate, and
defeat him with arguments drawn not only from the word of God, but even from nature herself.
I. From the Kingdom of Nature, then, we first Urge the Resurrection From the Dead.
"Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die." Here the apostle makes nature the preacher of the resurrection. The husbandman sows his grain in hope, not to reap the identical seed he scattered in the furrows, but of the same nature and kind. That seed has to die and then arise, first in the green leaf, then in the ear, and lastly, the full corn in the ear. If an individual, unacquainted with the physiology of vegetation, were presented with the diminutive acorn, and asked if that could become the gigantic oak of the forest, he would answer no; because there are no points of analogy between the one and the other. He would say, I behold striking resemblances in the animal kingdom — between the child and the man, the young and the old lion, the bird of heaven and the unfledged eaglet.
Again: ask him who is ignorant of the strange change the worm undergoes in becoming the beautiful butterfly; if that loathsome animal can, by any means, become that lovely being, variegated with all the tints and hues of the rainbow, flitting from rose-bud to rose-bud, sporting and basking in the genial sun-shine of vernal morn, thus praising its maker during the short hour of its existence? He would answer no. But is it not most true? Do not the nursery and the university alike teach this truth? Why, then, should the resurrection of the human body be denied, when, in the great laboratory of nature, such strange and unaccountable changes are constantly going on?
It is no part of this discourse to prove the nature of bodies in the resurrection; but simply that they do arise. God is a sovereign, and he acts aa sovereignly in re-moulding the human form as in its original formation. We care not for the quibbling of those who talk about the particles of matter daily evaporating — sloughing off by putrefaction, a hand here and a foot there. The Bible teaches God's ability to do his will in the "armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth." If we prove the general proposition, that it is God's will for the dead to arise, then his ability, omnipotent to do, will gather the scattered fragments of the body and fashion them like unto the glorious body of his Son.
II. In the Second Place, the Resurrection is Urged from the Kingdom of Grace.
1st. From the resurrection of Christ.
If there were any doubts entertained as to the death of Christ, it would be necessary to prove that fact in order to prove the resurrection; for it is impossible for one to arise from the dead without first having tasted death. But Jews and Greeks, ancients and moderns, testify that Jesus was crucified. He died, according to the scriptures. "He made his grave with the rich — he was buried in Joseph's new tomb." The white winding sheet enveloped his
holy body, the napkin encircled his lovely temples, and in the arms of friendship he was taken to the silent chamber of death. The last sound of the disciples' feet was heard as they slowly and solemnly returned from the consecrated spot, where was interred, not only the body of Jesus, but the hope of Israel; for he was their hope, through whom the bondage of Rome was to be broken, and the glory of king David's royal line restored. But alas! alas! their hopes were blighted. The bright, the pleasing illusion was dissipated as the midnight dream; and in the anguish of hope crushed, they exclaimed, "we go a fishing."
But far different were the feelings which filled the bosoms of the Jewish rulers. "That deceiver, in his lifetime, stated," said they, "that on the third day he would arise from the dead. Now lest this should gain currency, and thereby the last error become worse than the first, make sure the grave — roll a huge rock on its mouth; obtain the royal seal and place thereon; and above all, set a guard of those veterans around the tomb, who are unwont to give back to the living or the dead." All is done. The excitement ceases. Day and night they patroll the sepulchre. They talk, they jest, they laugh over the dead body of the Son of God. The sun of nature sets for the last time, prior to the rising of the "Sun of Righteousness." It is Saturday night — the Jewish Sabbath night. The clock tolls twelve, and silence reigns in the royal city of David. Jesus is still entombed. No motion betrays animation within. Sentinel relieves sentinel, until the morn of that day approaches, long since foretold — a day to be eel-ebrated on earth until its elements shall melt with fervent heat. The christian's sabbath brings the glorious intelligence that the bondage of the grave is broken and Jesus is risen from the tomb!
This is the great question: Did Christ arise from the dead! Jews and infidels maintain that he did not — Christians that he did. What is the nature of the testimony by which the enemies of Christ attempt to disprove his resurrection? They say his friends stole him whilst the soldiers slept. Which of his friends! at what hour? under what circumstances was this theft perpetrated? None can tell. All is bare-faced assertion, without the shadow of proof, either positive or circumstantial. Bribery and corruption lend their aid to consummate the base machinations of the Prince of Night.
The truth is, the peerless majesty of the Prince of Light, when he had rolled aside the marble door of the tomb, struck down the valiant soldiery of Rome as "dead men," and upon the testimony of these sleeping or "dead men," Jew and infidel, too, have attempted to build arguments against the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
Let us now notice the witnesses and the character of their testimony, who depose to the fact of the Savior's resurrection. They were persons of both sexes, whose names were unknown to fame, but whose character and conduct secure unto them an enviable title for integrity. The apostles positively assert that they saw Jesus after his resurrection. But may not his disciples have been imposed on by those who stole him out of the grave, by securing the person of one like unto the Son of God? Impossible.
The apostles and disciples were intimate with him. They knew his person full well. The sound of his well known voice is familiar to them, When ^walking on the sea, he is recognized. When on the land they exclaim, "My Lord and my God." They must be competent witnesses to determine the identity of their Lord.
If the apostles were good men, as they certainly were, what motive could influence them thus to palm a falsehood upon the world) for a falsehood it was, if Christ had not arisen. And on the other hand, if they were bad men and impostors, why represent a state of things after death, (and seal their testimony with the blood of martyrdom,) to which the wicked dare not aspire?
Again: if their testimony was false, why not disprove it instanter? They did not represent this fact as having transpired a century back, or in a foreign land; but as an occurrence of yesterday, and in the city of Jerusalem. If not true, how easy to disprove it. The High-priest, priests, and all the elders of Israel were on the ground, wide awake to all the interests of the Jewish church; and if this great fact could have been disproved, is it not reasonable to suppose that it would have been!
It was no metaphysical problem that required time and study for its solution; no question of their law that required the most profound erudition; but it was a plain matter of fact, simply stated and boldly maintained before kings and princes, and the high estate of Israel.
It is evident, then, that the testimony of the apostles outweighs, (as the mountain outweighs the feather,) all arguments, however ingenious, predicated upon the testimony of sleeping witnesses.
But he was seen of more than five hundred brethren at once, probably on the plains of Gallilee, whither he went after his resurrection; and the apostle Paul declares that more than two hundred and fifty of them were alive when he wrote his epistle to the Corinthians. And who were these witnesses? Not suborned; not acting in collusion; but of simple manners and unpretending life; of all men the most foolish, if they intended to impose the resurrection on the world. We can discover reasons why leaders in rebellion and fanatics in religion should suffer martyrdom. The one dies to embalm his name and the recollection of his deeds in the memory of posterity; and the other thinks he is doing God service in this holy career. But, I ask, did not Jesus teach his followers, once and again, that his "Kingdom was not of this world!" And with as little justice can fanaticism attach to the character of the disciples of Christ. To embrace this fanaticism, not only exposed their names to obloquy, but their bodies to stripes and imprisonment, their estates and property to confiscation; but life itself was the forfeit of this confession.
If the resurrection were false, it is much more reasonable to suppose that the witnesses were lunatics than fanatics. But who will charge the writers of the Gospels with lunacy? Who dare alledge it of Paul, whose masterly eloquence made kings tremble on their thrones, and who played with the old and venerated systems of Judea, Greece and Rome, as a child
with his toys, prostrating Judaism and uprooting heathenism, and planting on the ruins of both the church of the living God. Paul asserts "he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time." Now, it was absolutely necessary that an apostle should be an eye witness of his majesty. Hearsay testimony was not enough. He who was destined to bear Christianity abroad as an apostle, must have seen Christ. He must be prepared in deed and in truth, to say, I have seen him.
Now, if the witnesses of Christ's resurrection are not to be credited, why believe them when they testify to any other fact? If this be false, the whole is false, and the scheme of man's redemption a beautiful allegory. And then an allegory has done more for the world than the victories of conquerors, or the enactments of legislators; for Christian nations are more indebted to the gospel than to all these.
Lastly: his ascension to heaven was public. It was not in a corner. But having led his disciples out to Bethany, he prepared for his glorious ascension. Weeks had already elapsed since he arose. The fact was in every mouth. He went from place to place, and from country to country. None dare publicly deny it. And bestowing his last personal benediction on his disciples, a cloud took him away out of their sight. He had told his disciples that if he went not away the Comforter would not come. The Holy Ghost did come, and took of the things of Jesus and showed unto them; thus proving that Christ did arise and ascended to his God and ours.
2d. We urge the resurrection of Christ from his Mediatorial Kingdom.
If Christ be not risen, there is no mediator between God and man; no friend of sinners in the court of heaven. Our preaching is vain — our faith is vain. We, with the apostles, are all found false witnesses for God. But Christ is risen from the dead, (as we have proved,) and "become the first fruits of them that slept."
The apostle Paul asserts, "there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." We have proven that this man was crucified, buried, rose again, and ascended into heaven. And who is this mediator! He who "was delivered for our offences and rose .again for our justification." How can he mediate if he be not risen? But now Christ is risen, and to-day is on the throne of mediation, pleading for the purchase of his blood, saying, "Father forgive, they know not what they do" — "spare them from going down to the pit, for I have found a ransom."
If it were not for the mediation of Christ, the grand catastrophe of nature would soon be witnessed. The Arch-angel's voice would be. heard. The trump of God would awaken the dead of ocean and the dead of earth. The sun would refuse to shine; the elements would melt with fervent heat, and the great white throne, the throne of Judgment, would appear.
But the mediatorial reign of Christ must continue until the "gospel shall have been preached among all nations for a witness;" until the isles .of the great deep shall have received his law, and the seed of Jacob, long bruised and broken by the nations of earth, shall have been restored; and until the
false prophet shall have been thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, and the beast of Rome be broken, as a potter's vessel, to pieces.
Yes, he must reign until all the kingdoms of the world shall have become the kingdoms of God and his Christ. Then the alleluyahs of heaven and earth will swell the praises of the great Redeemer, whilst universal nature will respond, Amen! the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
The resurrection of Christ is the certain pledge of the resurrection of all his saints. He is their head and they his body; and so intimate is this union, that it requires the presence of every member to render it complete. For, as he has put all things under his feet, it is evident that the whole course of nature must be changed, and civil governments come to an end. The royalty of monarchies and the simplicity of republics will cease. The social as well as the civil relations of life will be dissolved; and Jesus Christ will reign king of nations as he now does king of saints.
Now Satan has power on earth. He reigns in the hearts of all his liege subjects; "but when all things shall have been put under his feet," Satan will be bound; his government will come to an end; principalities and powers will be spoiled, and the great Messiah will make a show of them openly, and an assembled world will witness the most sublime of scenes— the resurrection of the dead. "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."
3d. We urge the resurrection from the baptism of the dead.
"Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead"? If the dead rise not, why are they then baptized for the dead"? Doubtlessly, this is a difficult passage. But one thing is certain, the apostle uses it as an argument in favor of the resurrection; and if so, the argument was designed for all ages and conditions of the church, and not for the Corinthian church alone. The ingenuity of the human mind has found out various practices of the ancients, in order to elucidate this passage. Some have thought that when persons died without baptism others were baptized in their stead. Others refer it to clinic baptism, or the baptism administered to dying persons, whilst others think it alludes to baptized persons taking membership in the church to supply the places of such as were vacated by death. I suppose that none of these views are correct.
The Lord Jesus Christ, before his ascension to heaven, established two ordinances — baptism and the supper. All Christians agree that the supper, which is to be continued in the church until the second coming of the Savior, sets forth the sufferings and death of the Sacrifice; or, in other words, it points to the great atonement for sin. And the immersion of a believer in water, which is Christian baptism, is intended to point the church to the other cardinal doctrine of the Bible — the resurrection from the dead. Thus these two doctrines constitute two Corinthian pillars in the Christian temple — the denial of either is equivolent to the rejection of the whole. We therefore come to the conclusion, that the apostle represents baptism as a lively emblem of the resurrection; and if there be no resurrection, why should this emblem be used? "For if we be planted together
in the likeness of his death, we shall ;be also in the likeness of his resurrection; therefore we are buried with him by baptism unto death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead, by the glory of the Father, even so also we should walk in newness of life."
4th. Lastly: We urge the resurrection from the jeopardy in which the belief of it placed the disciples.
"And why stand we in jeopardy every hour!" If Christianity proposed nothing beyond the grave, why not cut loose all restraints, break through every barrier, and gratify nature in all things? "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." How very foolish in the apostles and disciples to have put their reputation, property and lives in jeopardy, if there was no truth in that doctrine. If their hope were only bounded by the murky horizon of this world, "of all men, they were the most foolish" as well as the "most miserable." But hope was the sheet anchor of their souls. It was sure and steadfast, and entered into that within the vale, where Christ the fore-runner had already entered.
Behold I show you a mystery; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye we shall all be changed when the trumpet shall sound. Yes, beloved brethren and sisters, although death has a sting, and the grave claims a victory over us, nevertheless the sting of the one has been extracted and the bondage of the other broken. "O death, where is thy sting! O grave, where is thy victory!"
Go, then, joyfully to the discharge of every Christian duty. Go and face every enemy of the risen Savior. Go and endure all the ills of life. Go and be baptized, if need be, in afflictions and sufferings. Soon you will rest and sweetly sleep by the side of loved ones, until a new sun shall gild the hills of an eternal day. Then shall each one say, "thanks be unto God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Amen!
A Biographical Sketch of the late Mrs. Allen.
Mrs. Allen, whose maiden name was Jane Tandy, was born in Albemarle county, Virginia. When young, she married Mr. John Allen, of said county, and shortly after that event they emigrated to Kentucky. Her husband, then Judge Allen, died in 1816, leaving her a numerous family of children, all of whom she survived, except four. She was baptized by Elder Jeremiah Vardeman, in or about the year 1823, and became a member of the Baptist church in Paris, which was constituted about that time by Elder V.
For fifteen years sister Allen was afflicted with disease; and during all her illness, it was seldom that a murmur escaped her lips. Her life was one of benevolence. The poor had a place in her heart and a portion in her purse. Though for years she never entered the house of God, she took
a lively interest in the prosperity of Zion; and until the last, religious conversation was her theme. Possessing in an eminent degree the principles of charity, she never spoke evil of others; and when others did, she was always ready with something to palliate or to justify.
As a mother, none was more affectionate; as a mistress, none more kind; as a friend, none more sincere; and as a Christian, none more devoted. A crowded audience listened to the sermon and followed her to the grave, whilst servants begged permission to pay the last tribute of respect to the servants' friend. A day or two before she died, she expressed to her physician, that she had spent a sweet and comfortable day. Thus died Jane Allen, in the 82d year of her age.
[This document is from the University of Kentucky Library, Special Collections, Lexington, KY. — Jim Duvall]
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