« PrécédentContinuer »
PREACHED AT PINNERS.HALL,
ON OCCASION OF THE DEATH OF THE LATE
LEARNED AND REVEREND JEREMIAH HUNT, D. D.
Who departed this Life Sept. 5, 1744, in the Sixty-seventh Year of his Age.
WITH BRIEF MEMOIRS OF HIS LIFE AND CHARACTER.
In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. John xiv. 2.
Our blessed Lord, who had the human nature, with its sinless infirmities, was tender and conpassionate ; and being very sensible of the vast disappointment, which his death, especially in the manner it should happen, would be to his disciples, and the great concern it would occasion in their minds, upon many accounts, not only forewarns them of it, but suggests to them likewise the best grounds of support and consolation, that they might not be quite overwhelmed with grief in that dark and discouraging season.
The arguments he proposed to them are fitted to be of signal use to his disciples and followers throughout all ages, in the time of afflictive and melancholy events.
“Let not your heart be troubled : ye believe in God: believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you.
In which last words two things are observable : first, a comfortable assurance and declaration : secondly, an argument, or consideration, by which the truth and certainty of that declaration is impressed on their minds. Let us meditate a while upon each of these points, and then apply the whole in some reflections.
I. Here is a comfortable assurance and declaration : “ In my Father's house are many mansions."
By house may be meant the universe, which is the workmanship or building of God. Qur Lord will then be understood to say, that there is another world : there are other abodes, or mansions, beside those on this earth: and when I remove hence, and am seen here no more, I shall still exist: and when you, or other good men die, there is not a period and final end to your or their existence and enjoyments. There are other, and very comfortable, yea better and more durable mansions, than those on this earth. Very agreeably to this sense and interpretation St. Paul says to the Ephesians : “I bow my knees to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,” Eph. iii. 14, 15.
But interpreters have generally understood the word house here, in a more restrained sense, of heaven : where our Lord was going, whither he would shortly ascend after his death and resurrection. As the temple was esteemed by the Jews God's house, and our Lord himself speaks of it as his “ Father's house,” John ii. 16; and Jerusalem is called by him “ the city of the great King,” Matt. v. 35, on account of the special presence, and the extraordinary manifestations of the Divine Being in the temple there; so heaven may be fitly spoken of in the character of God's house, there being the brightest appearance of his presence, and the fullest manifestation of his glory: though by the perfection of his nature, God, the infinite mind, is every where, and is confined to no particular place whatever : as Solomon acknowledged in his prayer at the dedication of the magnificent temple at Jerusalem : “
“ Behold, the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee," 1 Kings viii. 27. “ How much less this house, which I have built ?" 2 Chron. vi. 18.
When our Lord says, “ in my Father's house are many mansions,” he may intend to de clare, as some have supposed, that in heaven are many abodes for good men, and different degrees of happiness and glory, in proportion to the advances which they make in this state, and to the services they perform for the honour of God, and the good of their fellowcreatures.
Or, in heaven there is room for you, and me, and all good men of the several ages of the world, and dispensations of Divine Providence.
• There seems to be an allusion to the manner of travelling and providing entertainment in • the eastern countries; where they had not such inns as we have, but large houses, or caravansaries, where were many mansions, in which they might lie on carpets, or couches, and
pro'vide and prepare their own victuals. When a number of persons travelled, there was a præ"cursor, one of their own company, who “ went before to prepare a place for them, and then • came back again, and received them,” ord conducted them to the mansions he had prepared • for them.'
Our Lord then may be understood to say to his disciples : . You need not be so excessively • grieved and concerned, as you appear to be, on account of my departure from you, and the dif
ficulties you may afterwards meet with. For it is a certain truth, that in my Father's house are • many mansions, and plentiful accommodations. And though I leave you for the present, you
will throughout your whole life have protection and needful supplies in all dangers and difficulties. I
before you now: but you shall follow me hereafter, and may be assured of a kind reception into the mansions I prepare for you.'
“ If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you: and if I prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” And, after his resurrection : “I ascend to my Father and your Father: and to my God, and your God." John xx. 17.
That is the first thing in the words.
II. The other thing observable is an argument or consideration, by which the truth and certainty of that declaration is impressed upon them.
The argument is friendly and familiar, suited to persons who are treated with intimacy, as the disciples had been by our Lord, and were not unacquainted with the doctrine he had taught; but knew, that this point, of another life, and recompenses therein, had been much insisted on by him. Though therefore the argument be familiar, it is very forcible, and must have come with great weight upon their minds.
“ If it were not so, I would have told you.” The sum of this argument is : I° would not de. « ceive you. If you take me for a person of sincerity, as certainly you must, you will rely upon • the truth of what I say concerning this matter.'
The argument seems to comprise in it these several thoughts and considerations; most of which might arise in the disciples minds, and do now readily present themselves to us.
1. - You know, that I have professed to act with divine authority, and that I have in the most solemn manner promised everlasting life and happiness to them that believe in me, and obey my precepts. You must therefore rely upon the truth of this declaration, and the doc• trine I now remind you of, and should take the comfort of it. If you would not cast upon
me the reflection of being a deceiver, you must receive this proposition, as most true and o certain.'
You have often heard me speak to this purpose : “I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will, that of all which he has given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth, the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day," John vi. 39, 40.
a Multitudinem autem locorum non male veteres intelligunt cum graduum differentiis, &c. Grot. in loc.
b. That is an observation of Dr. Hunt himself, who often had in his mouth the words of the text and context.
c Sinilitudo sumia ab uno comitum, qui in itinere prægressus ad diversoriom ibi ceteris cubicula assignat, et efficit, ut venientibus parata sint. Grot, ib.
d Continuator similitudo. Nam solent qui primi in diver. sorium venerunt ceteris jain adventantibus obviam procedere, et eos introducere, &c. Grot. in v. 3.
e Si locus non esset vobis, aperte hoc dixissem vobis, ut mos meus est: ademissem vobis spem inanem. Grot. in loc.
Moreover you have received and owned me as a teacher come from God, yea as the Christ, and “ having the words of eternal life," John vi. 08, 69.
After this you cannot but be persuaded, that I am true and sincere: I must know what is the truth : it is impossible I should be ignorant, whether there is another life after this, or not: and you cannot but think, that what I have said is agreeable to the truth of things.
So John Baptist said in his last testimony to Jesus: “ And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifies. He that receiveth his testimony hath set to his seal, that God is true," John iii. 32.
2. • Consider, how upon the ground of the expectation of recompenses in a future state, I • have taught and required men, in the whole of their life here, not to seek principally the things • of this present world, but of another.'
I have taught men, in all acts of worship performed to God, and of goodness to one another, not to aim at present and earthly, but future and heavenly recompenses. And I have directed them not to “ lay up to themselves treasures on earth,” liable to wasting and corruption : but rather “ to lay up to themselves treasures in heaven,” which are secure above all accidents ;“where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through anıl steal,”
I have also directed you“ not to do your alms to be seen of men,” but as privately as possible, that “your Father, which seeth in secret, may reward you openly,” in the day of judgment and general retribution, Matt. vi. 1—4.
Yea Î have not only taught moderation of affection for worldly riches and reputation-; but I have also encouraged men to endure neglect, contempt, reproach, pain, and all kinds of sufferings in the way of truth and righteousness, if need be, with assurances of a reward that shall be exceeding great. I have pronounced them blessed who suffer upon that account, saying “ Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile
you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil of you falsely for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven," Matt. v. 10, 11.
Certainly I, who have continually taught you and others in this manner, must be sincere in what I declare, and be fully persuaded that there is another world, where all good and righteous men, persevering to the end, shall be very happy, and be gloriously rewarded.
3. Consider farther, the precepts delivered by me are such, that obedience to them cannot • have its reward in the present world, but in another only.'
I have declared them blessed who are “pure in heart,” Matt. v. 6, and have recommended undissembled, unaffected humility and condescension. I have prescribed the regulation of thoughts and affections, as well as outward actions: and have directed men to pray to God in secret, and to do other good works out of the notice and observation of men : all which virtue and goodness can have a reward in another, and yet invisible world only. A truly virtuous and excellent disposition of mind will, as there is an opportunity, produce a laudable behaviour : but it is not in the power of men to reward all good conduct, supposing they were well disposed to it. Much less can men reward secret piety, or the virtue of the mind, which is known to God only. Nor does God always interpose for the security, prosperity and honour of his most faithful servants ; but permits virtue to undergo, for the present, the severest trials: and many will be persecuted for righteousness' sake.
As the precepts delivered by me are of this kind, 'I must know, that there is another state, where they who do the things I say, shall receive a full reward.
4. • Consider the methods and arguments which I have made use of to induce men to be: lieve me, and become my disciples.'
Have I therein shewn any improper regard to my own honour and interest - in this world ? Have I made use of any specious and artful methods to increase the number of my followers? Have I invited any into my service by promises or intimations of worldly ease and grandeur ? Have you at any time observed me to encourage the hopes of any advantages, but such as flow from true religion, real virtue and righteousness, and from the favour, approbation and blessing of God in this world, and another ? Have I not often, and openly declared :.“ Hè that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me ?” Matt. x. 38. And, “Whosoever he be of you, that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple?” Luke xiv. 33. When some have expressed a ready disposition to bear me company, and join themselves to my
train, have I not immediately told them, without reserve or disguise, how slight the accommodations are with which I am provided ? and that the Son of man has not here one quiet and settled habitation of his own ? When the rich man, who was also a ruler, came to me, saying, “Good master, what good thing shall I do, that I may inherit eternal life?” Luke xviii. 18, did I pitch upon some easy precept, the better to bring in such an one, either for my own, or your present advantage ? did I not remind him of the commandments of God? And when he answered, that he had kept them, did I not say unto him: “Go, and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor ; and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me?" Whereupon he went away sorrowful.
This my plainness and openness in treating men, may fully satisfy you of my integrity, and that I act sincerely, when I assure you, that there is another world beside the present.
5. Recollect, what has been my behaviour toward persons of influence and authority in the world.'
Have you observed me to seek my own, or your honour and interest, by gratifying and pleasing men in power ? No, you know very well, that I have openly denounced the displeasure of God against the scribes and pharisees, upon account of their doctrine and conduct, derogatory to the honour of God, and the interest of religion. Insomuch that even the worst, and most inveterate of my enemies have afforded me the character of an impartial teacher of truth, without undue respects to the persons of any men, Matt. xxii. 16.
6. • Especially you inay perceive by my behaviour toward yourselves, whether I am sincere, • and may be relied upon, in what I now say.'
When I called you to attend me, I did not invite and draw you by worldly offers. You are sensible, that when you obeyed my call, “ you left all and followed me, Matt. xix. 27; Mark x. 28.
The doctrine of the cross, the practice of self-denial, I have inculcated upon all, especially upon you. I have indeed declared to you, that'“ the labourer is worthy of his hire,” Luke x. 7; and that in discharging your office you will meet with kind and courteous entertainment from worthy persons. But I have as plainly told you, that many others will treat you with a spirit of the bitterest enmity and displeasure: that they “ will persecute you from city to city,” and that "you will be brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake :” directing you however " to possess your souls in patience,” Luke xxi. 19, and assuring you, that “ he who endureth to the end shall be saved," Matt. x. 22.
I have likewise intimated to you, that you cannot expect better treatment than I have had, if you keep close to my doctrine and example, as you ought: for “ the disciple is not above his master : nor the servant above his lord,” Matt. x. 28. “ And because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world,” many therein, “ will hate you, John xv. 19.
You must likewise be sensible, that as I have with much care and tenderness cherished and encouraged every good principle; so I have also freely warned and admonished you, as there has been occasion.
I have plainly told you, that you are happy, and my disciples indeed, if you do the things that I have commanded : and that not calling me Lord, Lord; nor even working miracles in my name, but only doing “ the will of my Father which is in heaven,” will entitle you to the rewards of the kingdom which I have so often spoken of: and that all others will be rejected by me at the last, though they had been familiar friends and acquaintance, “and had eaten and drunk in my presence,” Luke xiii. 26.
Whatever has been amiss in you I have reproved and condemned, even the weakness of your faith, and the slowness of your understandings, owing to prevailing prejudices : and especially all faulty conduct, proceeding from a worldly frame and too strong affection for earthly things.
When I spake to you of my future sufferings, and thereupon Peter, who before had made a very agreeable confession of my being the Christ, the Son of God, began to remonstrate, saying, “ Be it far from thee, Lord, this shall not be unto thee,” Matt. xvi. 22, did I not turn me about, and, in the presence of you all
, say unto him: “Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence to me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men ?” ver. 23.
And when you had a strife one with another, who should be the greatest in the kingdom of the Messiah : supposing it to have in it places of honour and preferment, such as it really has
not: did I not say unto you: “Unless ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven ?” Matt. xviii. 1-3.
Do you not remember likewise what I said to the two sons of Zebedee, when their mother came to me with that petition, that “ they might sit, the one on the right hand, and the other on the left, in my kingdom P” Matt. xx. 20–24.
And have I not told you, that whereas in the kingdoms of this world they who are great exercise dominion and authority : “ so it shall not be with you, but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister : and whoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant?" Matt. xx. 25, 27.
Thus I have treated you from the beginning to this time. I have encouraged you to follow me, and to continue faithful to me, with the hazard of all things : and have directed you not to seek great things for yourselves here by any means, but riches and honour in the kingdom of heaven. And when I now speak to you of another world, and mansions therein, can any of you doubt the truth of what I say? How strange an idea must you then have of me! how injurious! But far be such a supposition as this. You are well
You are well satisfied of my sincerity : you have had full proof of that, and of my knowledge of all things: you must therefore be fully persuaded, that there are, as I say unto you, “mansions in my Father's house" for myself, and for you, and for all whom you, in the service to which you have been called and appointed, shall be able to bring to true virtue and goodness.
7. The relation we stand in to each other may assure you of my sincerity, and that I am to be relied upon in what I now say.'
Do men use to impose upon and deceive, and that in matters of importance, those whom they love, and by whom they are esteemed and beloved ? I chose you out of the whole number of my disciples, to be usually with me: and I have taught you in public and in private : 1 have answered your questions, and removed your scruples : I have treated you as my friends : “ for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you,” John xv. 15. And is my affection changed, that I should not “ love you to the end” of my life? ch. xiii. 1.
** You” too “ have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God,” John xvi. 17. You have made a very acceptable profession of faith in me, and respect for me.
When “ many went back, and walked no more with me,” John vi. 66, 67, you would not forsake me, though I left you to your own choice, to abide with me, or “ go away:" and hitherto “ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations,” Luke xxii. 28, and have shared in the reproach and obloquy cast upon me; whereby, as you cannot but know, you have not a little endeared yourselves to me: and now by your grief for my departure, in the manner I have spoken of (though that grief be not duly regulated) you have evidently shewn an esteem and value for me, and a concern for my honour: and can it be thought, that I should intend to delude you? Is it not much more reasonable to conclude, that the reality is fully answerable to the expressions made use of by me?
8. Once more, • the circumstances we are in may assure you of my being sincere in what I say.'
Dying men have seldom any inclination to deceit and fallacy. The near prospect of death puts an end to such artifices, though they had been practised before. Moreover the cheerfulness, with which I speak of dying, and such a death as I have in view, may assure you, I am well satisfied about the consequences of it, as to myself. And “if I live, ye shall live also," John xiv. 19. If you love one another, as I have loved you, and perform all other things which I have recommended to you, our interests are the same. You are not now to go with me, nor to follow me immediately : but you shall follow ine some time hence.
Let not then any afflictive circumstances in this world deject your spirits, or cause you to abandon a just and well-grounded expectation. My departure is only like that of one who goes before, to prepare for the rest of the company. And hereafter, if need be, I will come forth, and conduct you into the mansions which I now speak to you of.
So did our Lord comfort and encourage his disciples.
III. Having spoken to the two points in the text, I shall now add some remarks and inferences.
1. We may hence conclude, that it is of great importance to maintain the hope and ex. pectation of another life.'