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God has now taken away from you an able and faithful minister of the New Testament, one that had long been a FATHER to you, and a FATHER in our Israel, a person of uncommon natural abilities, and distinguished learning, a great divine, of very comprehensive knowledge, and of a solid, accurate judgment.-Judiciousness and wisdom were eminently his characHe was one of eminent gifts, qualifying him for all parts of the work of the ministry; and there appeared a savour of holiness in his exercise of those gifts in public and private: So that he improved them as a servant of Christ, and a man of God. He was not negligent of the talents which his Lord had committed to him; you need not be told with what constant diligence he improved them, how studious at home, and how laborious in his public work: He ever devoted himself to the work to which he is called: The ministry which he had received of the Lord, he took heed to fulfil, and pursued it with a constant and steadfast, even mind, through all its difficulties.
You know his manner of addressing heaven in his public prayers with you and for you, with what sanctity, humility, faith, and fervency, he seemed to apply himself to the FATHER of lights, from time to time, when he stood in this desk as your mouth to God, and interceding for you, pleading with God through the grace and merits of a glorious MEDIator. And you know his manner of applying himself to you, when he came to you, from time to time, in the name of the Lord.
In his PUBLIC ministry, be mainly insisted on the most weighty and important things of religion; he was eminently an evangelical preacher; evangelical subjects seemed to be his delight: CHRIST was the great subject of his preaching; and he much insisted on those things that did nearly concern the essence and power of religion; and had a peculiar faculty of judiciously and clearly handling the doctrines he insisted on, and treating properly whatever subject he took in hand; and of selecting the most weighty arguments and motives to enforce and set home those things that concern Christian experience and practice. His subjects were always weighty, and his manner of treating them peculiarly happy, showing the strength and accuracy of his judgment, and ever breathing forth the SPIRIT OF PIETY, and a deep sense of the things he delivered, on his heart. His sermons were none of them mean, but were all solid, wise compositions. His words were none of them vain, but all were weighty.
And you need not be told with what weight the welfare of your souls seemed to lie on his heart, and how he instructed, and reproved, and warned, and exhorted you, with all authority,
and with a fatherly tender concern for your eternal good. And with what wisdom he presided in the house of God, and guided its affairs; and also counselled and directed you in private, under your particular soul exercises and difficulties. You know how he has brought you up (for most of you have been trained up from your childhood under his ministry) with what authority, and with what judgment, prudence, and steadiness, he has conducted you, as well as meekness and gentleness. You know his manner of going in and out among you, how exemplary his walk and conversation has been, with what gravity, judgment, and savour of holiness, he has walked before you, as a man of God.
You have enjoyed great advantages for your soul's good, under his ministry: That you had such a minister was your privilege and your honour; he has been an ornament to the town of HATFIELD; and his presence and conversation amongst you has been both profitable and pleasant; for though it was such as did peculiarly command AWE and RESPECT, yet it was at the same time, HUMBLE and CONDESCENDING: It tended both to instruct and entertain those that he conversed with: As a wise man, and endued with knowledge, he showed out of good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
But now it hath pleased an holy God to take him away from you: You will see his face and hear his voice no more, in the land of the living: You will no more have the comfort and benefits of his presence with you, and the exercise of his ministry among you.
Therefore now go to Jesus, the Supreme Head of the church, and Bishop of souls. Your pastor is dead, and will not live again till the last day: But Christ, the chief Shepherd, though he was dead, is now alive! And behold he lives for evermore. He éver lives to provide for his church, and to guide and feed his flock. Go to that Jesus whom your deceased pastor preached, and to whom he earnestly invited you while he lived, and give thanks for the many blessings you enjoyed in him. Remember how you have received and heard, and hold fast that no man take your crown ;* and go and humble yourselves also before him, that you made no better improvement of the ministry of your pastor while he lived; and beg of him a sanctified improvement of his awful hand in taking him away, and that he would help you to remember his warnings and counsels that you too much slighted whilst you had them, lest those warnings and counsels
* Particularly, remember his late affectionate farewell, at the table of the Lord, not expecting such another opportunity with you. Exhorting you to follow peace and holiness and to edify one another.
cry against you, and rise up in judgment against you another day, lest you see your pastor, that so affectionately and earnestly, and so often, and for so long a time continued to exhort you, and earnestly prayed for you, while he lived, rising up in judgment, and bearing testimony against you, declaring how constantly and laboriously he entreated and called upon you, and how obstinately some of you slighted his counsels; and lest you, see him sitting with Christ to judge and condemn you, and adoring his awful justice on your aggravated punishment.
All you that have an interest in JESUS, now go to him on this occasion, and tell him of your bereavement, and beg of him that he would not depart from you; but that he would make up his loss in his own immediate presence. Go to him for your surviving pastor, that he would be with him, and furnish him more and more for, and assist him in, that great work, that is now wholly devolved upon him, and make him also a burning and shining light amongst you; and that you may have of the presence and blessing of JESUS with you, and him.
And now, since I am called to speak in the name of Christ on this solemn occasion, I would apply myself to the near relations of the deceased, who are especially to be looked upon, as the bereaved.
God in his holy Providence has taken from you one that has been a great blessing, comfort and honour to you, and deservedly very dear to you, and honoured of you. The doctrine we are upon directs you what to do in your present circumstances, viz. to go to JESUS, to go and spread your affliction before an all-sufficient Redeemer.
And particularly I would apply myself to the honoured relict, who stood in the nearest relation of any to the deceased, whom God by this awful Providence has made a sorrowful widow. Suffer me, honoured madam, in your great affliction, to exhibit to you a compassionate Redeemer. God has now taken from you that servant of his, that was the nearest and best friend had in this world, that was your wise and prudent guide, your affectionate and pleasant companion, who was so great a blessing while he lived, to you and your family, and under Christ, was so much the comfort and support of your life. You see, madam, where your resort must be Your earthly friends can condole your loss, but cannot make it up to you; we must all confess ourselves to be but miserable comforters: But you may go and tell Jesus, and there you may have both support and reparation: His love and his presence is far beyond that of the nearest and most affectionate earthly friend. Now you are bereaved of your earthly consort, you may go to a spiritual husband, and seek his compassion and his company: He is the
fountain of all that wisdom and prudence, that piety, that tender affection and fathful care, that you enjoyed in your departed consort; in him is an infinite fountain of all these things, and of all good; in him you may have light in your darkness, comfort in your sorrow, and fullness of joy and glory in another world, in an everlasting union with your dear, deceased relative, in the glorious presence of the same Redeemer, in whose presence is fullness of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore.
This doctrine also directs the bereaved, afflicted children, that are with hearts full of grief, now mourning over a dear departed father, where to go and what to do. You will no longer have your father's wisdom to guide you, his tender love to comfort and delight you, and his affectionate care to guard you and assist you, and his pious and judicious counsels to direct you, and his holy examples set before you, and his fervent, humble, believing prayers with you and for you.
But in the blessed Jesus, your father's Lord and Redeemer, you may have much more, than all those things: Your father's virtues that made him so great a blessing to you, were but the image of what is in Christ.
Therefore go to him in your mourning: Go and tell Jesus; tell a compassionate Saviour what has befallen you. Heretofore you have had an earthly father to go to, whose heart was full of tenderness to you; but the heart of his Redeemer is much more tender; his wisdom and his love is infinitely beyond that of any earthly parent. Go to him, and then you will surely find comfort. Go to him, and you will find that, though you are bereaved, yet you are not left in any want, you will find that all your wants are supplied, and all your loss made up, and much more than so.
But here I would particularly, in humility, address myself to my honoured fathers, the sons of the deceased, that are improved in the same great work of the gospel ministry, or in other public business for the service of their generation. Honoured sirs, though it might be more proper for me to come to you for instruction and counsel, than to take it upon me to exhort you, yet as I am one that ought to have a fellow-feeling of your affliction, and to look on myself as a sharer in it, and as you have desired me to speak in the name of Christ, on this occasion, suffer me to mention to you that source of comfort, that infinite fountain of good, one of the larger streams of which, has failed by the death of an earthly father, even the blessed Jesus. You will doubtless acknowledge it as an instance of his great goodness to you, that you have been the sons of such a father; being sensible that your reputation and
serviceableness in your generation, have been, under Christ, very much owing to the great advantages you have been under, by his instructions, counsels, and education. And is it not fit that children that have learned of such a faithful servant of Christ, and been brought up at his feet, now he is dead, should do as John the Baptist's disciples did, go and tell Jesus? from whom you may receive comfort under your bereavement, and from whom you may receive more of that Spirit that dwelt in him, and greater degrees of those virtues he derived from Christ, to cause you to shine brighter, and to make you still greater blessings in your generation. Now death has veiled and hid from sight, a star that shone with reflected light, our text and doctrine leads you to the Sun, that hath light in himself, and shines with infinite, unfailing brightness. And while you go to Jesus, honoured Sirs, on this occasion for yourselves, I humbly desire your requests to him for us the surviving ministers of this county, that he would be with us, now he has taken from us him that was a father amongst us.
I next would address myself to the surviving pastor of this church. We may well look upon you, Reverend Sir, as one in an especial manner concerned in this awful Providence, and that has a large share in the bereavement. You doubtless are sensible what reason you have to bless God for the advantage you have had, in serving in the gospel of Christ, so long as you have done, with the venerable person deceased, as a son with a father, enjoying the benefit of his instructions, counsels, and example. And particularly, you will often recollect the affectionate and fatherly counsels he gave you, to diligence and faithfulness in your Lord's work, with encouragement of his protection and assistance to carry you through all difficulties, the last evening of his life. And now, dear Sir, God has taken him from you, as he took Elijah from Elisha, and as he took John the Baptist, the New Testament Elijah, from his disciples: Therefore now you are directed what to do, viz. go and tell Jesus; as those disciples did. You have now a great work devolved upon you; you have him no more, who, while he lived, was as a father to you, to guide and assist you, and take the burthen of your great work from you. Therefore you have no where else to go, but to your great Lord and Master, that has sent you to labour in that part of his vineyard, where his aged, and now departed servant was employed, to seek strength and wisdom, and divine influence and assistance from him, and a double portion of that Spirit, that dwelt in your predecessor.
And lastly, The text I am upon may be of direction to us the surviving ministers of this county, what to do on this sorrowful God has now taken our father and master from our