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danger of universal ignorance became great, he separated a family, that of Abraham, from the rest of the world: and of a part of it he made a great nation, to whom he gave a law: who thereby were set up as a lamp upon a hill, to lighten the world around them: and among them, by frequent interpositions of his wise and powerful providence, religion was maintained, and they were kept a distinct nation, enjoying many privileges, until the Messiah came, and religion was spread far and wide in the nations of the earth, according to promises made long before. And then, the Jews generally rejecting that blessing, God cast them off from being his people, as they had been, and poured down upon them tokens of his displeasure: yet not destroying them utterly, and making use of them, even under afflictions, to support the truth of his Son's mission and authority, whom they had crucified.
Nor is there herein any injustice or unkindness, as has been often observed in these discourses: for still they are provoked to jealousy by those who are taken in their room and in this respect they now enjoy an advantage, with regard to religion, beyond what the Gentiles had formerly. For then it was the nation of the Jews only to whom God was known, and many of the nations of the earth was remote from them. But the unbelieving Jews for the most part live among, or near the followers of Jesus, and have better opportunities to inform themselves of the principles of their religion, than the Gentiles had of old to know that of the Israelites.
And the wisdom of Divine Providence in the former and latter dispensation is admirable, though above our full comprehension: as the apostle observes at the end of this chapter, addressing himself to Gentile Christians: "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 may obtain mercy: for God has concluded all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. 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 who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor ? or who has given unto him, and it shall be recompensed to him again? For of him, and through 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 apostacy 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, nd 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
The Circumstances of the Jews an Argument for the Truth of the Christian Religion. 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, I 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 in 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 much 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 obliga
tions he is under!
A minister in God's house, shewing 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 given 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 servant, 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 afflicting 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 PINNERS-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.
WITH 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. 2.
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 understood 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 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 de clare, as some have supposed, that in heaven are many abodes for good men, and 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
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.
There seems to be an allusion to the manner of travelling and providing entertainment in the eastern countries; where they had not such inns as we have, but large houses, or caravan'saries, where were many mansions, in which they might lie on carpets, or couches, and pro'vide and prepare their own victuals. When a number of persons travelled, there was a præ
cursor, one of their own company, who "went before to prepare a place for them, and then ⚫ came back again, and received them," or 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 dif'ficulties 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 diffi'culties. I go before you now but you shall follow 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 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 you." The sum of this argument is: I would not de'ceive you. If you take me for a person of sincerity, as certainly you must, 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 believe 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 deceiver, you must receive this proposition, as most true and
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.
a 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.
c Similitudo sumta ab uno comitum, qui in itinere prægressus ad diversorium ibi ceteris cubicula assignat, et efficit, ut venientibus parata sint. Grot. ib.
d Continuatur similitudo. Nam solent qui primi in diver. sorium venerunt ceteris jain adventantibus obviam procedere, et eos introducere, &c. Grot. in v. 3.
* Si locus non esset vobis, aperte hoc dixissem vobis, ut mos meus est: ademissem vobis spem inanem. Grot. in loc.
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 iii. 32.
2. Consider, how upon the ground of the expectation of recompenses in a future state, ] 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 alms 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 there 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 an 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.
4. Consider the methods and arguments which I have made use of to induce men to be lieve me, and become my disciples.'
Have I therein shewn any improper regard to my own honour and interest in this world? Have I made use of any specious and artful methods to increase the number of my followers? Have I invited any into my service by promises or intimations of worldly ease and grandeur? Have you at any time observed me to encourage the hopes of any advantages, but such as flow from true religion, real virtue and righteousness, and from the favour, approbation and blessing of God in this world, and another? Have I not often, and openly declared :. "He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me ?" Matt. x. 38. And, "Whosoever he be of you, that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple?" Luke xiv. 33. When some have expressed a ready disposition to bear me company, and join themselves to my