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PREACHED AT PINNER'S-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.
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. 3. OUR blessed Lord, who had the human nature, with its sinless infirmities, was tender and compassionate; 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. Our Lord will then be under
stood 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 hinself 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 declare, as some have supposed, that in heaven are many abodes for good men, anda 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 fellow-creatures.
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.
• Thereb seems to be an allusion to the manner of travel• ling and providing entertainment in the eastern countries ; * where they had not such inns as we have, but large houses,
• Multitudinem autem locorum non male veteres intelligunt cum graduun differentiis, &c. Grot. in loc.
That is an observation of Dr. Hunt himself, who often had in his mouth the words of the text and context.
or caravansaries, where were many mansions, in which they might lie on carpets, or couches, and provide and
prepare their own victuals. When a number of persons • travelled, there was a pr cursor, one of their own com• pany, 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 difficulties 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 go before you now: but you shall fol- . • low 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 go, and prepare a place for
a 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 of this argument is: Je would not deceive you. If you
. • take me for a person of sincerity, as certainly you must,
c Similitudo sumta ab uno comitum, qui in itinere prægressus ad diversorium ibi ceteris cubicula assignat, et efficit, ut venientibus parata sint. Grot. ib.
Continuatur similitudo. Nam solent qui primi in diversorium venerunt ceteris jam 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
' 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 be• lieve in me, and obey my precepts. You must therefore
rely upon the truth of this declaration, and the doctrine I ' now remind you of, and should take the comfort of it. If 'you would not cast upon me the reflection of being a de
ceiver, you must receive this proposition, as most true and • 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.
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. 68, 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. ii. 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 and steal,” Matt. vi. 19, 20. I have also directed you " not to do your alıns 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 I 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 tlıere 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 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.