« ElőzőTovább »
him, and to him, are all things. To whom be glory for ever.”
6. We may hence conclude, that “ known unto God are all his works from the beginning,” Acts xv. 18. It is an observation of St. James at the council of Jerusalem. We may
infer from the event that God foresaw from the beginning the general apostasy of mankind. And when he called Abraham, and separated him to himself from the rest of the world, he foresaw all the consequences of that gracious purpose and choice; that religion would be in some measure upheld in the world till the Messiah came: and that when he was come, after the space of many ages from the time of the first promise concerning him, the various ordinances of positive appointment; delivered to the Jews by Moses, which had been of use to preserve them in the land of Judea from mixing with their idolatrous neighbours, till he came, would likewise serve to keep them a separate people, wherever they lived, for a long succession of ages, to bear testimony to his ancient covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and themselves : whilst still they would have opportunities of knowing the religion of the Messiah, and whenever their hearts should be touched, they might be again received, and partake in all the blessings of his kingdom.
7. It may be reasonably supposed, that it will be delightful in the heavenly state to know and observe the various methods of Divine Providence, relating to his creatures, in the world where we have lived : particularly to observe the manifold designs of wisdom and goodness with regard to the concerns of religion.
A wise and discerning person has now great delight and profitable entertainment
in reviewing these works of Divine Providence, as recorded in the scriptures of the Old and New Testament: but the discoveries in a future state may be much more full and complete, and consequently more delightful. We may then see the overspreading deluge of ignorance in some places and ages, the wonderful steps by which light was restored, and all the virtue of the instruments raised up by God, and employed by him; the faithful and disinterested zeal with which they served God, and promoted the welfare of their fellow-creatures; and how even afflictive events subserved beneficial designs.
But this review of things will not be pleasing and comfortable, except in a state of ease and happiness : for supposing any such extensive knowledge in regions of despair
and misery, it could not alleviate, but must aggravate the distress. It would not be satisfaction, but vexation for any one, finally and justly rejected of God, to look back on the long space and numerous periods of time, and observe the kind provisions made by the Divine Being for the illumination and salvation of men. For such an one,
say, to survey the scenes of Divine Providence, in several ages, and observe the time and place where he was fixed, having many advantages afforded him, and more in his power; but all abused, or neglected ; whilst some others, less privileged, acted discreetly, honoured God, and laid the foundation of future happiness: to such an one this knowledge would be tormenting and vexatious.
But though such extensive knowledge should not be the portion of those who are finally separated from God, there will be remembrance of things past; what men have done, or neglected to do, what means of knowledge were afforded them in this world, what convictions they had of duty, what helps they enjoyed for securing a virtuous conduct, and strengthening them against temptations; and how they failed to improve those many advantages.
How piercing must it be in the place of torment for a descendant of Abraham, who lived in the time of our Lord, to recollect the gracious words he heard from his mouth : that though Jesus taught in the streets of his city, and in the most winning manner promised everlasting life to such as believed in him, and obeyed him: and though he performed numerous miracles, healing and beneficial, suited to the goodness of his doctrine, and tokens of inexpressible mildness and benevolence: yet he despised and abused this amiable person! And though he knew the prophets had spoken of a great deliverer to arise among them; and it was the prevailing opinion that was the very time prefixed for his coming ; he would not hearken to him, nor regard him, because of some groundless prejudices, and too strong an affection for worldly possessions and enjoyments.
In like manner, for certain, to others also the recollection of religious privileges, not improved, will be matter of torment and vexation.
Children of pious parents, who " set at nought all their counsel, and will none of their reproof!" Prov. i. 25, 30,
Servants who are averse to the order and restraint of religious families, and offended at daily devotions, and frequent readings of the scriptures, or books of piety; and choose the habitations of the wicked, where there is not so
niuch as a form of godliness, or an appearance of religion ; and prefer the company and manners of the dissolute, who are a reproach to human nature !
A christian, partaking in all the ordinances of the gospel, yet acting contrary to the obligations he is under! A minister in God's house, showing to others the way
of salvation, but not walking in it himself!
How grievous must the recollection of such advantages be hereafter, if finally abused and disregarded! No consolation can be giveu to men then. The sad reflection on their own folly will be unavoidable and incurable.
May we therefore be wise to know and mind the things of our peace now, in this our day. Let us secure time for serious reflections on our conduct and our advantages : let us compare our light and knowledge with our actions and purposes: for between these there ought to be an agreement: where much is given, much may be expected : « And the seryant, who knew his Lord's will, and did it not, will be beaten with many stripes.” Luke xii. 47.
These are certain truths: and these things will some time afford a pleasing and comfortable, or an afflictive and sorrowful recollection and remembrance. It is an awful and awakening observation of our Lord : “ This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world : and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John iii. 19. If any of us should perish, have we not reason to dread this aggravated condemnation ? For we must be sensible we have had sufficient instruction to assure us, that things above are preferable to things on this earth : and that nothing ought so to divert or engage us, as to prevent our laying up to ourselves treasures in heaven, Col. iii. 2, and that we ought so to order all our present concerns, and the whole of our conversation, as may best promote our most important interest, the everlasting salvation and happiness of our souls.
PREACHED AT PINNER'S-H ALL,
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
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
heart be troubled : ye believe in God: believe also in me. In
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 any 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 ex. ist: 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 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 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.