DECEMBER 17, 1821




Hon. John McClary

WHO DIED DEC. 13, 1821





It is presumed, that but few at the present time, who may read this discourse, will need to be informed of the circumstances of the death, which occasioned it. For the information of any, who may not know the circumstances, it may be well briefly to state - that he, whose death is here mentioned, was engaged with others in assisting a neighbor in the raising of a small frame. A considerable fall of snow during the afternoon, which, towards evening increased to a violent storm, doubtless very much tended to increase the danger of the undertaking. After the two broadsides had been raised, and the beams were about being placed, the whole fell, and produced the instant death, which occasioned this discourse.


Matthew xxiv.44.


Not a higher, nobler object can be gained by immortal man, than a preparedness to meet the scenes, which are to open before him. From the time, when we first enter the threshold of life, till we find ourselves beholding the realities of an immeasurable eternity, more and more momentous are the scenes, which open before us. Though, in the world, we may find many blessings; still, on the whole, we are taught rather to expect tribulation from it. Sometimes we hear the Almighty speaking to us, and warning us to prepare to meet him as it were from behind the hills, which conceal his insupportable glory from our view, and in accents mild and tender as a father. At other times, his warning voice seems breaking over our heads in sounds as overwhelming, as if "seven thunders uttered their voices." One day the prospect before us may be a most pleasant one; but when the next day shows us the scene, that was behind it, our eyes grow dim at the sight; our grief is unutterable; our hearts fail within us. Afflictions in the present world, a dying hour, and a judgment scene, all must experience. If so, how important must be a readiness, a preparation to meet such scenes?

Our blessed Lord in the context had been speaking to his disciples upon the trying, momentous scenes, which were before them. The beautiful, wealthy, but wicked city of Jerusalem must be destroyed. The destruction would come suddenly. It would resemble the coming of Christ at the last day for judgment. "As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Christ would not only admonish his hearers to be ready to flee from the destruction, which should come upon Jerusalem; but he seems also by his language desirous of directing their minds to a contemplation of his coming for judgment, and of his coming at death; for, as that would fix their character and state, it would be the same in its results, as if he then came for judgment. As a man would watch against the nightly depredations of a thief, so would he have all to be in readiness to meet his messenger death, who would often come at the most unexpected hour. "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh."
I shall endeavor,

I. To show what constitutes a readiness, or preparation for death; and
II. That we are urged to such a readiness from the consideration, that our Lord may come at such an hour as we think not.
We inquire,
I. What constitutes a readiness, or preparation for death.

I know there are those, who think all are ready, or in a state of preparation for death; who suppose, that all are happy, when they die. But do such regard the plain import of God's Word? That sacred Volume certainly teaches a sentiment directly the opposite of this. That teaches through the whole train of it that mankind are not naturally in a state of preparation for heaven; and therefore surely not in a state of readiness for death in the sense intended in the text. That teaches, that preparation such, as is therein plainly described, must be made in this life, or else 'where Christ has gone, thither we cannot come;* we shall not see life; but the wrath of God must abide upon us.' To say, that all are prepared for death and judgment, is to make a solemn farce of our Lord's description of the great separating day in the 25th of Matthew, when the righteous and wicked shall enter their different worlds. Such a course is virtually to renounce the Bible. And who is he, who can calmly and deliberately renounce the Bible? or, which is the same thing, set up his own perverted reason in opposition to it? Let it be remembered, that, if we discard the scriptures as our guide, we have no guide. Yes, we are on a dark, boisterous ocean, and have no guide; and is such a state desirable? But, if we profess to receive the Scriptures as our guide, we certainly ought to be directed both in our belief and practice by their plain instructions. If we would be directed in this great and important concern of preparation for death by the scriptures; we shall find them teaching us, that a great change must be previously effected in any and every heart. If you ask where such a change in the disposition of the heart is required, I would direct you to the words of our Lord in the 3d chapter of John. "Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man, (not man in distinction form woman or child, but man for the whole species;) except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Christ explained this birth to be a spiritual change. It is being born of the spirit. The spirit of God is described as the great Agent in the change in disposing the creature voluntarily and cheerfully to take off his supreme love from the world, where it is naturally placed, and fix it on God, with this supreme love to God will always be connected a true repentance for sin, and a firm, operative faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; a faith which produces a Christian life. For "faith," we are expressly told,** "without works is dead." It is good for nothing.

This readiness spoken of in the text seems to imply, that we should aim at a deep and lively exercise of Christian feeling; that we should contemplate death not merely as certainly before us, but that we should strive to make ourselves familiar with it; that we should feel ourselves to be truly "strangers and pilgrims on the earth;" that we should feel so strong a love for our God and Savior and for heavenly and divine things, that death may be rather a welcome messenger than otherwise. He, who would always be ready for his departure, will not only see to it, that his soul rests on Christ by faith, and is kept habitually in a heavenly frame; but he will aim as much as possible to view himself a pilgrim on the earth, and will consequently strive so to manage and arrange his temporal concerns, that, if he shall be suddenly called away, no one shall experience injustice, or be made a sufferer by his departure. But, though some Christians may be in a state of more perfect readiness to depart than others; yet all are truly ready, that is, their great interest for eternity is secured, who have chosen Christ for the everlasting portion of their souls.

II. We are urged to be in such readiness from the consideration, that our Lord may come at such an hour as we think not.
This is the very reason given in the text, why we should be in readiness to meet our Lord, when he comes to call for us, viz. 'because in such an hour as we think, not, the Son of man cometh.' In the context also the sudden, unexpected time of our Lord's coming to call for us is described by the nightly approach of a thief; "But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up." If the householder knew the particular hour of the thief's approach, he might with more propriety neglect to watch and prepare to resist him till the time of his coming. But, as he knew not the time, the only way to be safe was to watch all night. So in reference to our Lord's coming to call us away by death; the only way to meet him safely and happily is to be always ready.
The sudden and unexpected time of our Lord's coming to call for us is taught by the parable of the ten virgins.*** At midnight, the most unexpected season, the cry was made "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out and meet him." They that were ready, you know, could go in with him to the marriage; but against the unprepared "the door was shut." Vain was their cry, "Lord, Lord, open to us." "Watch therefore," says our Lord, "for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." James says, "Ye know not what shall be on the morrow: for what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." But need I multiply Scripture testimony to prove to you, that death is liable to come upon us at an unexpected hour?

I appeal to the testimony of what your own eyes have seen; to the suddenly expiring groans, which your own ears have heard; and to the grief, which your own hearts have felt, when beloved friends have suddenly bid you adieu. Have bid you adieu? O no. Often they have not even time for that. While engaged with us in the busy cares of life, they seem to hear the sudden cry, "The bridegroom cometh!" and in a moment they pass away from us.

To prove to your plainest senses, that death may come at an unexpected hour, I appeal to what this day represents to you. -- Why this assembly here today? The solemn shroud before you tells the cause. -- "And may it not be, that some one lies slumbering there, who was borne down by the infirmities and decay of three score years and ten?" It is not the case. He, that lies there in the sleep of death, had been but thiry-six. It is M'Clary, M'Clary the younger. It is the strength and vigor of manhood, that lies there. "And can it be," you ask, "that this is his funeral? that he is dead?" Look and see for yourselves. "But the countenance," you say "is the same as ever." Ah true; but your hand will tell you the spirit is not there. The lately animated clay is now cold. He no longer accosts you in the language of friendship. The lips are sealed in death. Had any one the last week told him or you, that that was his last week, who could have believed him? No one indeed could have told this without a sight at the book of God's decrees. Last Thursday, he was in perfect health; and, last Thursday, he was such as you now see him. One moment, he was in perfect health, and, the next, he was such as you now see him. Is anything more necessary, my hearers, to show you, that "in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh?"

Now let reason say whether the consideration, that our Lord may call for us unexpectedly, should not excite us to be immediately and always ready. Were you about to take a voyage to some distant country, and knew, that the ship might sail away at any hour, what would be your conduct? Why you would say, "I must be immediately and constantly ready." Suppose the wretched murderer,**** now awaiting the execution of his sentence at Amherst, had been condemned, but informed of no particular time for his execution;--the officer might call him to the gallows at any hour; and what would be your advice to him? You would say to him, "Be in immediate readiness to meet your God; for you know not but that the next hour may be your last. Flee for your life, your immortal life; flee for your soul's sake to the only Savior of sinners. At the footstool of mercy humbly and earnestly seek for the pardon of your sins. Bring your guilty soul to the fountain of a Savior's blood, that it may there be cleansed and purified. This immediately prepare to meet your God, for you know not the time, when he cometh."--Now is not such exactly the condition of all mankind? For sin all must die a temporal death; and we know not the time when. But the future consequences of sin may be avoided by embracing the provisions of the gospel; by faith in the atonement of Christ. But these must be embraced before the hour of death; for then 'as the tree falleth, so it lieth.'***** Then 'he, that is filthy, will be filthy still; and the righteous, righteous still.' What more powerful reason can be given, why we should be ready for the coming of our Lord, than because we know not the time when?

Though my business is not so much with the dead as with the living; still there were traits of character in him, who is gone, which may well be recalled and imitated by the living--As a son and brother, he was dutiful, kind, and affectionate;--as a friend and acquaintance, (and he formed acquaintances probably in almost every state in the union.) he was courteous, affable, and unassuming.--I may undoubtly affirm, that he was one, who much regarded what proceeded from his lips. He was one, who held a sacred regard to truth in all his conversation. I never knew that he abused the use of speech, as many do, in profane language.--Though, for one of his years, he had been much engaged in public business; yet he was very far from wishing to climb to honorable stations, as many do, over the defamed characters of the more deserving than themselves. Modest and unassuming himself, he appeared to be willing, that all should possess that respect, which properly belongs to them; which talents and worth deserve. Slander and detraction were entirely foreign from his feelings. Amidst all the contentions, which exist in society, (and he witnessed too many of them.) I never heard that John M'Clary ever said anything to the disadvantage of any one. "Yes," lately observed a judicious man to me, "though I have heard slander and abuse carried to the highest pitch in his presence; yet I never heard a word of the kind from him; but it appeared to affect him disagreeably." I have no doubt, that discord and contention were very abhorrent to his feelings. He was benevolent and pitiful to the poor and afflicted. He could sympathize in the sufferings of others.--These agreeable traits of his character may well be remembered and imitated. But neither friendship, nor wealth, nor honors, nor firm health, could preserve him from the arrest of death, a sudden death; for God gave the summons, which must be obeyed. It becomes me not to dwell upon the dead. He has gone; he has done with the world; a wise, holy, and sovereign God called him away; and in the hands of God let us leave him, while we, who survive, endeavor to receive profit from his sudden, distressing removal.

We may well conceive that the trial of the parents and family, of which the deceased was so lately a member, must be very great. To lose a son in the vigor of manhood, an only son, to whom the parents were looking for aid and comfort in their declining years, when they wish to be retiring from the business and cares of the world, must be no ordinary trial. How unexpected is the scene, afflicted parents, which God's providence had now opened before you! Your calculations had doubtless been, that this your son would continue more and more to relieve you from the care and perplexity of business, as your advancing age should bring infirmities and decrepitude upon you; --that he should attend your calls around your bed, and shorten the wearisome hours of your last sickness; and finally attend a parent's remains to the grave. But how changed the scene! How liable to disappointment are all human calculations! The parents yet live; and the son is gone. The feeble stock remains still to bleed, where an important limb has been cut off.

The children had also certainly expected that their brother would attend them long in life to rejoice in their joys, and sympathize in their sorrows. But he has been suddenly taken, and you are left. How far above, and different from, our ways are the ways of the Almighty! He does show, that our calculations are in vain, unless they agree with his. God has shown you, my friend, and he does show us all, that he is a holy sovereign. He will do what he will with his own. God has done no wrong, though he has called you to a great trial. I can well conceive, that the burden of grief for all the bereaved family and friends must be very great. But, my friends, there is solid comfort, which may be felt in the midst of grief. There is support and consolation for parents in their old age, better than the kindest son could ever give. O, afflicted parents, let that support and consolation be sought by you. It is not beneath the angels of light to hover around the throne of their Father God, and from him receive their highest satisfaction. How suitable then for his humbler, less deserving children on the earth to hover around their Father's throne, and to seek protection and comfort thence, when the billows of trouble roar around them?

Let the children, in their affliction, remember that the Friend, that is nearer than a brother; that can console them, when a brother's counsel and friendship fail. Bereaved friends, all of you, be instructed by this event to look far away from this world for durable peace and happiness. Another such event your family may probably never witness. A warning so loud and solemn as this you will probably never again will hear. O shall not, must not this be improved your saying, your everlasting benefit? If this event does not lead your minds to another and a better world, to a readiness to meet your Lord at his coming; pray what can you expect will? What effect this event will finally produce upon you, I know not; but the all-wise Jehovah knows, and eternity will show. My earnest desire is, that you may find a blessing connected with this trying dispensation; and that you may have abundant reason to say hereafter with the holy man, "It is good for me, that I have been afflicted." ****** To a merciful God, afflicted friends, I commend you, and in his hands I leave you.

As I am admonished by this sudden death, that I may never have another opportunity, --you or I may be in eternity before it arrives; I must address a few words to those, who were engaged with the deceased in the undertaking of that fatal, solemn afternoon; an afternoon, when even the storm itself could almost howl in sounds of woe. --When one in battle sees his fellow fall by his side, while his own life is spared, the providence is very impressive and solemn. But there you thought of no great danger. Where, O where can you then be, my friends, where you are out of danger? Was he singled out, because the greatest sinner there? It is not for me to answer. But hear what our Savior says in a similar case. "Those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."******** You may not die by a sudden death. You may live a life of worldly pleasure, and gradually sink into the grave; but expect you repent, you must perish hereafter. You have seen one taken in a moment from your side; and you are left. And why he taken and you left? God only knows. It may be, that some of you may be excited by this solemn event to a preparation to meet your God. I say some of you; will not, must not all of you be thus prepared? A most solemn scene, my fellow travelers for eternity, has been before you. I do not expect that those, who were there, will easily forget it; but my great desire is, that they might profit from it. My friends, if you do not profit from this, can you hardly expect to profit from any thing? Would one from the dead persuade you to repentance? Could those sealed lips be once more opened, would they not preach repentance to you? Would not the language be, "Prepare, friends, to meet your God? Be ready, for you know not when the son of man cometh?"

It is hoped that all this people, and all acquainted with the deceased, will see from this event what life is; what the world is; may make it their great concern to see what true religion is, and to be possessed of it, --not merely twenty years hence, but now.

This sudden and solemn event should be improved by all present this day. I am reminded by it, that I may never have, and probably shall not have, another opportunity of warning all present, till the Son of man shall come not only at death, but for judgment. As though it were the last time, let me then, brethren, warn each and all of you "to flee from the wrath to come." This very expression of Scripture shows, that there is wrath to be fled from; and that it will certainly come upon those to the uttermost, who do not timely flee to Christ, the only refuge, the only hiding place from the storm and the tempest. Flee this day to the city of refuge. Flee this day from a land of famine, a land of distress and dangers, as did the humble prodigal, to your heavenly Father's arms, that there you may be safe. Flee, I say, this day, for tomorrow may be eternity to you. Flee, this day, for you may never hear the warning again.

* John vii.34, and iii.36
** Ja. ii.20
***Matthew xxv, Ja iv.14
****Daniel D. Farmer.
*****Eccl. xi.3. Rev. xxii. 11.
****** Ps. cxix. 71.
********Luke xiii. 4 and 5

Printed by Hill and Moore 1821, Concord, NH