« السابقةمتابعة »
raise the wonder of all, and afford every believer a pleasing surprise and joy. Each saint will have a glory of his own, with which he will be satisfied: all will admire, and be delighted with the transcendent glory and majesty of him who is their common Lord and head.
2. Another thing that will be admired at that time is the love of Christ in what he has done for his people, in order to bring them to the glorious and happy circumstances in which they then appear. This was always matter of wonder to those who duly considered it. It will hereafter appear more admirable. It was owing to the doctrine taught by him in a mean condition, and farther confirmed by his painful death and glorious resurrection, that their hearts were won to God and virtue. It was by looking unto Jesus, who endured the cross, despising the shame, and then sat down on the right hand of the throne of God ;” ihat they “ laid aside every weight, and ran with patience the race that was set before them,” Heb. xii. 1, 2. If he had not first overcome, neither had they overcome, as they have done, the allurements and terrors of an evil world. His victory encouraged them, and made them conquerors. So it is in the apostle's triumphant challenge: « Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution—? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us,” Rom. viii. 35-37.
3. Another thing, that will be admired by them that believe, is, the goodness of Christ in the kind and gracious reception he gives them, and the reward he bestows upon them. This may be argued from the representation, which our Lord himself has given of the solemn procedure at the end of the world: “ Then shall the king say unto them on the right hand: come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat; thirsty, and ye gave me drink; a stranger, and ye took me in. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying: Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee ? or thirsty, and gave thee drink ?". Matt. xxv. 34–37. It will appear amazing goodness in him, to consider, and reward acts of kindness, done to their afflicted and necessitous brethren, as done to himself; especially as they are conscious, that the principle of virtue, from which those good works have proceeded, was formed by his care and institution, and was owing to that love, wherewith he first loved them, in living a life of sorrows, and dying a painful death for their sake.
Thus we have meditated a while upon the several parts of this text. And we perceive, the day of Christ's second coming will be a day of great splendour and magnificence: and shall it not be a day of joy unto us ? shall we not partake in the glory and triumphs of that time? This well deserves our consideration. It was a desirable thing, to see the Saviour of the world, when clothed in the siņ. less infirmities of the human nature : it must be much more desirable, to see him coming in his glory: but neither of these his comings is of advantage unto all. They were his disciples only; and such others, as attentively heard his words, and received them into good and honest hearts, who were entitled to a blessing, as he says to them: “Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear,” Matt. xiii. 16. So it will be likewise in the time of his second coming. He appears to complete the redemption of those only, whose salvation was begun here, and who were made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the sons of God.
This text leads us to two things, necessary to our seeing Christ with joy; that we be saints, and believers; or, that we have a faith, which purifies the heart, and produces works of righteousness in our lives. So let us be prepared for the coming of the Lord: and let us be diligent, “ that we may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless,” 2 Pet. iii. 14. Let us be such in the frame of our minds, and in all our actions, at every season, that we may be ready to meet him, whenever he comes. These are they, whom Christ pronounceth blessed, as before shewn. His words at length are these; “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching. Verily I say unto you, that he will gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants," Luke xii. 37, 38.
May this be our case, as we have reason to believe it was that of our honoured Pastor, whose death we, and many others, now lament! At the same time we ought to be thankful, that he has been so long upheld by his Lord and Master in his service, and particularly, as pastor of this congregation, for the space of forty years and upwards :, of which relation to this society,
and the harmony that had all along reigned therein, he speaks with satisfaction in the preface to his discourses on the principal representations of the Messiah, throughout the Old Testament: Recommending them particularly to those of his own charge, to whom he had then stood so long related, and with whom he had lived in an uninterrupted peace, and with many marks of a distinguishing respect ;' which is to your, as well as his honour. He concludes that
preface with these words, shewing what was the constant aim of his labours, and what the reward he most desired : • Such as they are, I make a humble sacrifice of them to the honour • of the blessed Redeemer, and lay them at his feet: having no higher ambition in this world, • than to serve his interest, and be accepted of him ; nor higher expectation and hope, than to • be with him, and behold his glory.'
His sermons in the stated course of his ministry were judicious and practical, filled with just sentiments, and texts of scripture aptly applied ; composed with great propriety of expression, and exactness of order and method ; suited to meaner, as well as better capacities; the truit of much study, serious thought and consideration. The subjects of his preaching were of a large compass, taking in the general principles of religion, with the grounds and evidences of them, and the important duties of the Christian life, recommended by forcible motives and considerations : not neglecting any of the various wants and exigencies of men, but aiming, by proper and well-chosen
arguments, to awaken the secure, quicken the slothful, comfort the afAicted, and strengthen the weak: nor always laying the foundations of religion, but carrying on good beginnings toward perfection. Thus, as a faithful steward and wise overseer, he divided to every one a portion. How he performed some other branches of his pastoral office, many of you must likewise be very sensible, and can bear testimony to the fidelity and tenderne is with which he admonished, warned, advised, comforted in private, as the circumstances of things requirer'. His performances at the public ordinations of ministers were always greatly esteemed. In funeral discourses, whether for ministers, or other useful Christians, he had a happy art of giving the best likeness without flattery. His delivery, as you well know, was grave and manly, entirely free from affectation, with very little action, in a word, worthy of himself. As his assistance was much desired in many other places, and his preaching was generally acceptable ; I trust there are many, in whom he has been, under God, the instrument of forming a principle of virtue, and of cherishing and improving it by the word of God dispensed by him ; who shall be to him, in the great day, a crown of glory and rejoicing. Notwithstanding the exactness of his own compositions, he was a can i : hearer of others; and was a true friend, as well as an excellent pattern to younger ministers, in preaching and in conversation.
In his family he was a watchful guardian, 'a faithful monitor, an affectionate friend.
He had a great command of his temper and his words. He was scarce ever seen to be angry. He very seldom said any thing to the disadvantage of any one ; and was much more apt to coinmend than find fault.
He was a steady friend. If any, who stood in that relation to him, came into trouble, he đid not desert them, but liberally relieved, and affectionately comforted them, and persisted to take care of them under continued distresses and afflictions; though sometimes some such returns,were made, as could not be altogether agreeable.
He was happy in the esteem and respect of great numbers of his brethren in the ministry, and many others; men of much reading, sound judgment, unquestioned probity, and eminent in their several spheres and stations. Not now to insist on the regard shewn him by those of the congregation, to which he was more especially related, and in whom he had much comfort : which was mentioned before.
He scarce ever lost any friendship entirely : for being always master of himself, he never irritated by hasty and offensive expressions the displeasure, which any through prejudice might conceive against him : and, as good-will had never ceased, nor enmity taken place, on his part, when opportunities offered ; (which were not unlikely to happen, considering his reputation and influence in the world) he cheerfully performed offices of kindness for such persons, or their friends, and thereby laid them under fresh obligations. Thus he overcame evil with good, and regained the love and esteem of those, who for a while had been estranged from him.
He was a sincere friend of religious and civil liberty: and was always of a catholic spirit, loving good Christians of every communion.
Such were his attainments, that it may be well supposed he was particularly fitted for the conversation of men of rank, and of extensive knowledge: but he could condescend ; and in the society of meaner persons he was the same man; as well pleased, and as free and communicative, as in any other; provided he found an inquisitive temper, and some good understanding in the things of religion. In those seasons he appeared very amiable to such as were attentive, and disposed to observe.
The best judges have acknowledged the pieces published by him, which consist of several volumes, and are upon divers subjects and occasions, to be the works of a masterly hand. How constant he was in the public services of his ministerial office in this place, and how frequent elsewhere, are things well known: and when it is considered how laboured and finished all his compositions were ; and that, besides, he read much, both in ancient and modern authors; had a numerous acquaintance, and a large epistolary correspondence; and that with care he revised many works of his learned friends, and kindly forwarded some of them to public view, and performed abundance of other good offices in private, and had a concern in many great and useful designs of a more public nature ; it may be somewhat difficult to conceive, how he should have sufficient time and strength for what he did : but he was blessed with a most ready apprehension, which fitted him for quick dispatch ; and moreover, he loved employment, and could endure long and close application.
But to draw to a conclusion : Dr. Harris may be said to have excelled among good men, on account of the number of virtues possessed by him in a conspicuous degree, and on ac. count of the great uniformity of his temper and conduct in the several occurrences of his life. Among great men, in like manner, he had a distinction, inasmuch as there have been, few in whom so many accomplishments have met together and been united. What may server to confirm this part of the character, however exalted it may appear, is his great reputation in the world, which began very early, and continued to the last; not sought by him, but attending him, as the shadow and concomitant of his merit.
By the greatness of his capacity he was qualified for the high stations in life, and might have, shone therein : but it is as glorious to despise great things, as to seek and obtain them. Merit. is an intrinsic thing, and depends not upon outward advantages: nor is his at all the less for choosing to serve God, and abiding in the way most agreeable to his own judgment, and endeavouring to be useful among those Christians, who were much of the same mind with himself; to whom he has been an ornament, and will be a lasting honour.
The relation that has subsisted between this excellent person and us, is now dissolved and broken by the stroke of death: and it becomes us to submit our wills to the divine will and pleasure, and to acquiesce in this afflicting and discouraging event. But there are also other duties incumbent on us. It is a direction of the apostle: “ Remember them that have had the rule over you, who have spoken to you the word of God: and considering the end of their conversation, their steadfastness and perseverance, “ follow their faith,” Heb. xiii. 7. There is honour and respect due to the memory of such : and we ought likewise to imitate their virtues. We should recollect the instructions that have been given us, and continue to follow and obey them. We are to be thankful for the blessing we have enjoyed; and are also to consider, that we have had a talent, of which we must give an account. If we shall be able to give a good account in the end, this will be joyful to those who have been our guides and instructors, and to ourselves. Both they and we shall, then, receive a full reward.
* Dr. Harris was for a short time assistant to Mr. Read in of the posthumous papers of that celebrated preacher; to which Gravel Lane, Southwark. In 1698, the twenty-third year of he prefixed a preface, an example of that excellent manner, his age, he was chosen to succeed the very eminent Mr. Tie by which all his writings are distinguished. How great his mothy Crusoe in the pastoral care of the congregation in credit has been of late years, is well known. I ald no more. Crouched Fryars, London. In 1703, he was entrusted by But, for some farther memoirs of Dr. Harris, would reter to the executors of Mr. Nathanael Taylor with the publication the funeral sermon preached by Dr. Grosvenor.
salvation is come unto the Genliles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Rom. xi. 11.
In this context the apostle discourseth of an affecting scene of things, the reception of the Gentiles, and the rejection of the Jews; the former a just occasion of much joy, the latter of like grief and concern: that they, who had been long favoured and distinguished by religious privileges, should fall from them: and, when others received marks of divine favour, and indeed pressed in for a share in spiritual blessings, they should be offended at it.
St. Paul has a long argument upon these points in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters of this epistle to the Romans. He enters upon it at the beginning of the ninth chapter in these words : " I say the truth in Christ, and lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness, and continual sorrow of heart. For I could wish :" I am almost ready to wish. He does not say, that he actually wisheth it. “ For I could wish,” says he, “that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came :” and it concludes with a pious acknowledgment, and humble adoration of the wisdom and equity of Divine Providence; though these and other events in this world appear to us, for a time, strange and surprising. « O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out !-For of hin, and through him, and to him are all things. To whom be glory for ever.
My chief design at this time is to observe some advantages, which Christians have in their argument for the truth of their religion, from the present afflictive circumstances, and low estate . of the Jewish people and nation.
say then, have they stumbled, that they should fall ?” As if the apostle had said : · But . by this their present rejection, which I have been speaking of, do I intend to say, that they • have so stumbled, as to fall; that is, so as never to rise again, and never to be again restored * to prosperous circumstances, as a people ?'
Or, according to another interpretation : • Do I by what I have said intend to intimate, that • all of them should fall, and none believe, and partake of the blessings of the Messiah's kingdom, and the divine favour?
“ God forbid :” or, which would be better, and more proper : by no means, or far be it: for the name of God never is in the original phrase, by which this emphatical negative is expressed. • No, by no means: that is not the case, that none of the natural posterity of Jacob should • believe, and come into the privileges of the Messiah's kingdom.'
“ But through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, to provoke them unto jealousy." · But by the Jewish people now generally rejecting the Messiah, it has so happened, that salva• tion has been conveyed unto the Gentiles: and herein there is not only a benefit to them, in their • salvation, but also to the Jews: for by the Gentiles embracing the gospel proposed to them, * and coming to partake of religious privileges, the Jewish people will be provoked to emulation:
The Circumstances of the Jews an Argument for the Truth of the Christian Religion. * more of them will now believe, and be accepted of God, than if the gospel had not been * preached to and received by the Gentiles.
• When therefore I speak, as I have done, concerning the offence taken by the Jews against * Jesus and his gospel, and concerning the divine displeasure against them upon that account ; • I do not intend to insinuate, that the posterity of Jacob are totally and absolutely excluded: * or to deny, that such of them, who now, or at any time hereafter, shall believe, will be received • and approved.'
The sense I have given of this text is confirmed by what the apostle says at the beginning of this chapter, where also, in the course of his argument, he has these like words : “ I say then, has God cast away his people? By no means. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin,” Rom. xi. 1. • I reckon myself a proof to the contrary, * and that God is willing to receive any of his ancient people the Jews, who believe in Jesus, and obey the revelation made by him.' Then instancing in the number of true Israelites, servants and worshippers of God in the time of Elijah, no less than seven thousand; though the apostasy was so general, that Elijah thought he was left alone, he adds: “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace," Rom. xi. 5.
Indeed the Jewish people by generally rejecting the gospei of Christ, preached to them with divine authority, had generally excluded themselves from the privileges of God's people. having refused to accept the blessings offered to them. What then should be done? Was the Messiah of God to have no people when the Jews rejected him ? It was not fit. Since therefore they now shew great reluctance to that kind proposal, the gospel shall be preached to the Gentiles, who will hear and receive it: and when they have received it, they will be of use to the Jewish people: for they will provoke them to jealousy, and all good men among them will be disposed to receive the Messiah, and from time to time will be brought into his kingdom: till at length, possibly, there shall be a general conversion of them, and that very much owing to the profession of true religion made by Gentiles. So the fall of the Jews has been the Gentiles' salvation: the Jews rejecting the Messiah hastened the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles: and the Gentiles receiving and maintaining the gospel will provoke the Jews to emulation, and excite them to receive it, that they also may partake in the divine favour and the marks of it.
So the apostle argues in this and following verses: “ But through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, to provoke them unto jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness ?” that is, their general conversion, or a more numerous conversion of them, than has yet been. “For I speak unto you, Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles; I magnify mine office: if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them: for if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” Rom. xi. 11-15. Again : “ For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, (lest ye should be wise in your own conceit) that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in: and so all Israel shall be saved,” ver. 25, 26. “ For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet now have obtained mercy through their unbelief: even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy: for God has concluded all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all,” Rom. xi. 30–32.
There are therefore two things spoken of in these and divers other verses of this chapter : an advantage accruing to the Gentiles through the unbelief and rejection of the Jews: an advantage accruing to the Jews through the belief and reception of the Gentiles.
It is the first point chiefly upon which I shall insist, and in the following method.
I. I shall observe the present state of things with regard to Christians, the followers of Jesus, and the Jews who reject him.
II. I shall shew what advantages Christians have in the argument for the truth of their religion from the present state of things in the world.
III. I intend to mention some remarks and observations upon this subject.
1. In the first place I would observe the present state of things in the world, both with regard to Christians; the followers of Jesus; and the Jews who reject him.
And the case is very obvious, such as every one is able to perceive, upon a little thought and consideration.