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ter than I, with what earnestness, what importunity, what longing for your souls; how he withheld nothing of the whole counsel of God, and was content to be spent for you. But however I loved and valued him, it is not my meaning to enter into his character, farther than may serve to your improvement of his death. To do more were needless, since you all knew his worth; to do less were injurious to you, as otherwise we could not make a profitable use of the loss endured. Without, therefore, the least design of making compliments to my departed friend, I will speak to you upon this mournful occasion in the following manner, in order to the improvement of it.
I. I will exhort you to be humbly sensible of the loss you have suffered.
II. I will exhort you to make this great loss your gain.
III. I will say something by way of caution, direction, and motive.
I. I exhort you to be humbly sensible of the loss have suffered in the death of this your minister. You cannot but own it is the hand of God; and may easily be convinced his hand, in this case, is very heavy upon you. If we look no higher than second causes, and lose sight of God's disposing providence, in the various circumstances by which our dear friend was brought to his end, we shall make no use of it at all. A sparrow, much less a man, does not fall to the ground without God! And when we see it is God that doeth it, we are sure it cannot be without a design that is infinitely wise and good. obvious, viz., to humble us before God.
Part of it is
Yet we can
not be humbled under it, farther than we see our loss in it. Permit me to say then, that in this awful providence and judgment, we have all sustained a great loss. I say all of us have sustained a great loss.
The death of every saint, much more of a laborious, zealous, experienced minister, is a loss to the whole church of Christ. Such as act in the more public character of dispensing the mysteries of the glorious and everlasting gospel, are eminently the lights set on a hill, making the truth known, reproving the works of darkness, manifesting a way of salvation, and bearing witness to the reality of it.
A good minister is a great light, and therefore his departure a great loss. He cannot be a good minister, unless he has learned to live by that faith which he preaches, and be influenced thereby to a zeal for his Master's interests and the salvation of souls, which lifts him above every mean view of this world, and will not suffer him to be biassed by its interests or its frowns; but filling his soul with unconquerable charity, hath made him bold to reprove vice without sparing it, to tell every man the truth of his case without fear, and to set the whole power of the gospel against the custom and authority of a sinful world in the very face of it, and amidst that variety of clamour, opposition, and dislike, which the mistake of some, the ignorance of others, and the love of sin in the impenitent sinner shall surely raise against him. Such a one is a vast blessing to a sinful world; and in this view it is, that I mostly feel the loss of our dear brother, whose conduct speaks for him that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; that he loved it,
longed for its enlargement, and to bring sinners to it as the Lord should bless him, and whose loss therefore is a very touching one to the whole church, and will be deeply lamented by thousands that never saw him in the flesh, who loving the Lord Jesus Christ, and being heartily concerned for the success of his kingdom amongst us, will humbly acknowledge the severity of a blow that deprives the church of an able faithful minister, from whose years there was reason to hope a long continuance of usefulness, and from whose uncommon success, it was so abundantly manifest that the Lord was with him. But besides the general loss in the death of this man of God, we all have particular reason to humble ourselves under God's hand in it. Wherefore,
Should we not also be sensibly concerned for the loss of his relict, the partner of his love and cares? Great indeed is her loss (not unlike that of the prophet Elisha, when God took away from him his excellent master) [in being bereaved of] so good a guide, one so highly favoured of God, one at whose mouth she doubtless received all direction and all comfort. From this poor widow, God has at a stroke taken away the desire of her eyes, the friend as well as the husband, the Christian friend, one that loved her soul and watched over it, one so able as well as willing to advise in every step of the heavenly road. When all these comforts are gone from her, comforts so substantial, comforts never to be regained, shall we not weep with her and be afflicted in all her great tribulation; with her drop a tear over a departed husband, while we look upon that infant, the pledge of
their love, deprived of such a father? Well, O God, thus thou dealest with those thou lovest; thus we oblige thy fatherly love to take the rod! We deserve it, we need, we could not prosper in the work of grace without this, even this so bitter a correction. O make our dear sister sensible, humbly sensible that, it is thou thyself that hast done it; let the thought of what she deserves, convince her of thy righteousness in it, and suppress every murmur; let faith in a covenant God, compose her spirit into a peaceful dependance upon thy care of her all the remainder of her days, since having thee she can want nothing; let hope of the joy that shall be revealed compose her to wait till her change come, and the happy resurrection hour unite the saints together in a bond never to be dissolved; let the graces manifested in her departed consort be ever in lively remembrance upon her heart, nor one of his good words fall to the ground; let her behave as a mother in Israel, and bless her endeavours to bring up her child in thy faith and fear, that he may never find the want of his other parent. O be a God to her and satisfy her soul in the perpetual sense of thy favour and love, for thy mercies' sake made known to us in Jesus Christ.
This whole parish has received a sensible loss, and ought to be greatly humbled under it. Think you not, my dear friends, your loss great in being deprived of a minister who loved your souls, longed for your salvation, would have had every one of you, old and young, rich and poor, high and low, brought to the knowledge and obedience of that faith, without which not one of you can be saved; a minister that laid out
himself in all his strength to do you this greatest, most substantial good; a man who, as he was set to watch over your souls, to rescue you from the slavery of sin, and the curse of endless damnation that is the consequence of an impenitent state; to shew you the way of life, and to display all the fulness, freedom, riches, and glory of it, encouraging and inviting you to accept it; to disclose the deceitfulness of sin, taking off the false coverings of formality and mere morality; in short, to present you as chaste virgins to Christ Jesus; thought all his time lost that was not employed in rendering you one and another of these good offices. He was a man who, as far as was in his power, would do you good, though any of you should be angry at him for it. That he would leave none of you quiet in your sins, let this pulpit witness, and let every conscience witness. He spoke plainly, reproved you freely, warned you diligently, lost no opportunity; stood up manfully against you all, if need were, when in any thing ye walked not according to the gospel of Christ, when your souls were in danger, and yourselves but too willing to be left to your own destructive way. Such a faithful and affectionate minister you have lost. be deeply humbled under it. have lost such a father? In regard of your souls, what more to be lamented could have befallen you ? You will hear no more his loving reproofs that made sin tremble upon its throne, though it had been long settled in the dominion of your heart; the most hardened could not be easy, conscience would speak, dread rose up and inward terror; the drunkard, the
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