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Our Lord was pleased to enforce the conviction and persuasion of a future state upon the minds of his disciples, by the consideration of his own integrity, of which there were so many proofs, and which was absolutely unquestionable.
His apostles afterwards shew a like earnest concern to keep up in the minds of Christians a firm persuasion and lively hope of another life after this: "Wherefore," says St. Peter, "gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope unto the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 1 Pet. i. 13. In like manner the apostle to the Hebrews: "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which has great recompense of reward: for ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise: for yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry," Heb. x. 35, 36. And it is with warmth that St. Paul expresseth himself to the Corinthians: "Now, if Christ be preached, that he rose from the dead, how say some among you, that there is no resurrection of the dead?-Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners," 1 Cor. xv. 12, 33. Never let us hearken to such suggestions; for they discourage all generous actions. This life, at its best estate, is then, indeed, altogether vanity: yea this whole system of things, and all the designs of Providence, would then be mean and inconsiderable, and below the great characters of Creator and Governor of the world.
2. We hence learn how life and immortality may be said to be brought to light in the gospel.' Allowing, that a future state of recompense, or immortal life, may be surely deduced from reason, and argued from divers parts of the Old Testament, it may be justly said to be brought to light through the gospel; it having there received a great deal of additional evidence. Here we have the solemn and express declaration and promise of one teaching in the name of God, and proving his mission by miracles: and the expectation is confirmed by every part of his doctrine, by the precepts and rules of life delivered by him, by the whole of his behaviour in this world, toward those who were dear to him, and toward others, by his unparalleled disinterestedness, by his zeal for the glory of God and the welfare of men, and by every virtue of his most excellent and exemplary life, and also by his death and resurrection, and by the sending down of gifts upon those who believed in him.
Moreover here the idea of the future happiness is improved above all the discoveries of reason. The body is to be raised up incorruptible and immortal: good men shall be made like unto the angels: they shall see God; and they shall meet together, and live and reign with Christ. Thus is the felicity of the saints described by the apostle at the consummation of all things: "And so shall we ever be with the Lord," 1 Thess. iv. 17. In like manner speaks Christ himself to the disciples here: "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 thus he And thus he prays for them: "Father, I will, that they whom thou hast given me be with me, where I am, that they may behold the glory which thou hast given me," John xvii. 24. By living with him, and " seeing him as he is," 1 John iii. 2, they will be brought to a most happy resemblance of him in purity and holiness; and their now frail bodies shall be made "like unto his most glorious body,' Philip. iii. 21. This is a very delightful and exalted idea of the future happiness. How desirable is it to be with him, who is so excellent and amiable! whose society on earth was so engaging and improving! to be with him not only for a while, but for ever; and to be like him in eternal glory, and the perfection of virtue!
3. This doctrine affords support and comfort under all the troubles and afflictions of this mortal life, particularly the departure of dear and valuable friends.'
Our Lord makes use of this argument to pacify his disciples, who were greatly perplexed and distressed at the thought of his going away from them. St. Paul improves the same argument to the like purpose: "But I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep that ye sorrow not even as others, who have no hope: for if we believe, that Jesus died and rose again; even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him-Wherefore comfort one another with these words," 1 Thess. iv. 13-18.
It is happiness to know good and great men: but then it is afflictive to part with them. However the principles of religion afford us comfort upon this, as well as other occasions of grief. Though earthly friends die, God lives for ever: and he will be with us, and bless us, if we fear and serve him, "When father and mother," and other friends, "forsake us," we are cast upon the divine care and protection: and then especially he will "take us up," Ps. xxvii. 10,
and care for us. As for them, their removal is to their advantage. To "be with Christ is far better," than to abide here, Phil. i. 23. "Blessed are the dead, which die in the Lord: they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them," Rev. xiv. 13. This we cannot doubt to be the case of our late excellent friend.
Shall I now take some notice of the gifts bestowed upon him, the use he made of them, the acceptance he met with, and the fruit of his endeavours? Will not this answer some good ends and purposes? May it not assuage our grief, increase our gratitude to God, excite our emulation, and direct our practice?
Dr. JEREMIAH HUNT was born in London, June 11, 1678. His father dying, when he was not more than two years of age; he, with his two sisters, was left, under Providence, to the care of a tender mother: who, when he grew up, intended to put him to a trade. But he choosing to serve God in preaching the gospel, and earnestly desiring to continue his studies with that view, she complied with his request: and with the assistance of her relations, of whom she had several in good circumstances, she gave her son a truly liberal education.
When he had been sufficiently instructed in grammar learning, ne began his academical studies at Mr. Thomas Rowe's, a minister in this city. After that he went to Edinburgh, and from thence to Leyden in Holland.
There is sometimes a happy concurrence of circumstances for forming and qualifying persons of elevated minds for important service; such seems to have been the case here: and, as we may reasonably think, not without a kind and over-ruling Providence: forasmuch as the gifts, bestowed upon any men, are not barely for themselves, nor for vain shew and ostentation, but for the benefit of others.
The professors of Leyden at that time were men of great renown for ability and skill in the several branches of literature: and indeed it is so ordered by the wisdom of the government, that for the most part the professors chairs in that university are filled with men who are an or nament to the republic of letters, and greatly advance its interests by their writings and other labours and there is a great resort of youth of all ranks, who are designed for law or magistracy, divinity and medicine; and that not only from the several cities of the Province of Holland, but from all the Provinces, and from several parts of Europe; more especially from England, Germany, and the Northern Countries. And many of them come thither with the same views, that carry our young Gentlemen over; for completing the studies, which they had begun, and made some progress in, at universities nearer home. Whence it comes to pass, that
there are many, who are not mere novices, but have made some considerable advances in knowledge and the quality, especially from Germany, are usually attended by governors, who are well-bred Gentlemen, and are not only masters of the ancient learning, but well acquainted likewise with modern history, and the views and interests of the several courts of Europe.
Education in such a place of general resort is of great use and acquaintance with men of different nations, and remote countries, who bring with them the knowledge they have gained in distant nurseries of learning, though that acquaintance should be slight and transient only, opens and enlarges the mind, renders men less impatient of contradiction, and less offended at the different opinions and manners of men, and lays the foundation of many other agreeable advantages to the person himself, and to those among whom his future lot is cast.
He also met with a competent number of his own countrymen, persons of good families, sober, well-disposed, studious: many of whom have since made a good figure in life, some in the ministry, some in other stations of honour and usefulness.
Moreover, Mr. Millan, the minister of the English church at Leyden, was a man eminent for piety, learning, and a just discernment of things: and his discourses on Lord's days in the forenoon were, as I have heard, as suitable and profitable for students, especially for students in divinity, as the professors lectures.
I once supposed, from what I had heard occasionally, that Mr. Millan delivered in those sermons a system of Jewish antiquities. But a gentleman, who was then at Leyden, 'represents the subject of them in this manner: That Mr. Millan for 'many months together preached upon the genuiness and au'thority of the scriptures of the Old Testament, as they ap'peared from the Masorite doctors and other Jewish writers,
&c. which afforded much instruction and entertainment to 'the English students. The gentleman, from whom I have this, was then very young. And it is easy to suppose, that his account is not complete. However it hence appears, that those discourses of Mr. Millan tended to lead his hearers into the knowledge of the scriptures, and Jewish learning.
Mr. Millan's conversation likewise must have been of no small benefit to those English students who were so wise as to desire and value it: and so wise Mr. Hunt was, as will appear presently.
According to the best information I have been able to obtain, Mr. Hunt came to Leyden in August or September 1699, and left it to return home some time in the year 1701.
Whilst he was there, he studied ecclesiastical history and sacred geography under the very celebrated Frederick Spanheim; and heard the lectures of the other professors on philosophy, civil law, and divinity; and particularly the very useful lectures of Perizonius upon universal history, which held ten months, and were always well attended. Here Mr. Hunt entered himself to be one of the few out of a very numerous audience, who were to be publicly examined Saturday, concerning the lectures of the preceding part of the week. When he so every • acquitted himself, as to give entire satisfaction and much pleasure to the professor himself, and all the students in general.'
In the month of January in the year 19% or thereabout, a Rabbi from Lithuania opened a lecture for teaching Jewish learning. He was reckoned a man of virtue, and very knowing in his profession: and not long after he publicly embraced the Christian religion. Five or six at least of the English students, beside others, had the curiosity to attend his lecture; one of whom was Mr. Hunt: and Mr. Millan too was pleased to join himself to their number. The Rabbi having carried them through the Hebrew grammar proceeded to read and explain to them the Misna, the great repository of the ancient Jewish learning: but it was not long, before several of our young countrymen, disheartened by the difficulty of the study, gave out. Mr. Millan however, and Mr. Hunt, and perhaps another, were unwearied and persevered. Some there were, who could not but wonder at Mr. Hunt's extraordinary diligence in what they deemed a fruitless study: but he was unmoved, and has since declared, that from those lectures ⚫he had reaped such pleasure and improvement as abundantly compensated all his past labour and toil. For certain this was a price put into the hand of one who knew how to make use of it, Prov. xvii. 16.
And thus Mr. Hunt, having good natural parts, and being inquisitive, and thirsting after knowledge, made all the improvement of these several advantages which his friends at home could wish or desire.
He began to preach while he was in Holland: the occasion I take to have been this; there was then a small English congregation at Amsterdam; being destitute of a pastor, they applied to the candidates for the ministry at Leyden for a supply. For any one of them to undertake it, would have been too great an interruption in his studies, and an obstruction to future usefulness. However three of them consented to preach to them by turns for a while: one of whom was our friend.
And it is not unlikely, that this was the first occasion of his preaching without notes, that being the universal custom abroad: but I presume, that he did not then, any more than since, write out his sermons at length; but having with care and diligent examination made himself master of his text and subject, and well digested his thoughts, he clothed them in the language, which offered in the delivery: not neglecting however a due care in the preparation, as well as afterwards, to secure propriety and perspicuity of expression.
Which to me appears an excellent method, when there are sufficient abilities for it; I mean a stock of knowledge, readiness of thought, and a good memory: all which talents fell to the lot of our friend in a high degree of perfection. I have been told, that whilst he was preaching one of those his first sermons in Holland, he was by some means led into a mistaken computa
That Rabbi in the summer following publicly renounced Judaism, and was baptised on a week-day in St. Peter's 'church at Leyden by professor J. Trigland, (who probably 'was rector of the university at that time.) The professor <Trigland appeared to be his good friend, and had him often
at his house. This information I have received from a gentleman who was then at Leyden. How that Rabbi behaved, and what became of him afterwards, I have not learned: except that another friend, who was at Leyden some time after this, tells me, he left that city, and went into Germany.
b St. Jerom had two Hebrew masters, first a converted Jew, afterwards another, who retained his Judaism. Ad quam edomandam, cuidam fratri, qui ex Hebræis crediderat, me in disciplinam tradidi. Ad Rust. Ep. 95. al. 4. T. 4. p. 774. m. Hebræam linguam, quam ego ab adolescentia multo labore ac sudore ex parte didici.-Ad Eustoch. Ep. 86. al. 27. p. 686. m. Veni rursum Jerosolymam et Bethleem. Quo labore, quo pretio Bar-aninam nocturnum habui præceptorem! Timebat enim Judæos, et mihi alterum exhibebat Nicodemum. Ep. 41. al. 65. ib. p. 342. f. Vid. et adv. Ruf. 1. 1. p. 363.
tion of the time: and thinking he had not yet filled up the hour, he continued his discourse for some good while beyond his first intention, and the usual time, without any discernible confusion, or disagreeable tautology.
Upon his return to England, he preached three years as assistant to a congregation at Tunstead, near Norwich; where he was greatly esteemed, and earnestly importuned to settle with them: but there were some considerations, of no small moment, which prevented his complying with their request. However there are still some families in that place and its neighbourhood, which to this very day, as I am well assured, have a most affectionate and respectful remembrance of him.
Not long after his coming up to London, in the year 1707, he was called to the pastoral office in this congregation, which he accepted, and has discharged with great reputation, through divine mercy, for about seven and thirty years, to the day of his death.
In the year 1729, the University of Edinburgh, out of a regard to his distinguished merit, complimented him with the highest honorary title in their gift: a piece of respect not to be slighted by any man of letters. Nevertheless, such was his modesty, I believe, it gave more satisfaction to his friends, than to himself.
His manner of preaching has been so remarkable, that I think myself obliged to remind you of it somewhat distinctly: for in the time of his laborious ministry among you, he has gone over the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles more than once. And once at least he has in a like manner explained and improved the epistles of the New Testament throughout, and in order; and also the first three chapters of the book of the Revelation. Since that he has preached upon the more useful and practical parts of the Epistles in a way somewhat less continued. He preached over the whole book of Proverbs, making some passages in that book his subject every Lord's day morning for some of those years in which he preached twice in the day. And afterwards he began, and finished a course of sermons on the principles of religion and the main doctrines of the Christian revelation, and their connection and influence on each other."
His great concern all along has manifestly been to attain the true sense of scripture, and faithfully to make known what he judged to be the will of God to those whom he had undertaken to instruct and admonish. This he did with great impartiality, remarkable disinterestedness, and inflexible integrity.
If at any time he exceeded himself, so far as I understand, it was, when he was explaining and improving that part of the apostolic history where mention is made of the leave which St. Paul took of the elders of the church of Ephesus. Acts xx. 17-35. In the course of those sermons there was so warm, so natural, so unaffected and solemn an appeal to his stated hearers, that he had in his own ministerial conduct uprightly endeavoured to copy after St. Paul, and follow the example which he there represents himself to have given; that though it is now many years since those sermons were preached, I find they do still make very lively and affecting impressions on some of you, and those of the best proficiency. I presume, they must be remembered by many: and I humbly hope, that few or none, who heard them, will ever forget
Though he seldom committed his sermons to writing, they were not extempore effusions; but the fruit of serious study, and impartial examination: for he delighted in every part of his work, and in composing his sermons he consulted the original, and the ancient versions, not omitting to look into the most celebrated critics and commentators. And he carefully consi
I have likewise an authentic account of another set of sermons, preached not long after his settlement at Pinnershall. It is the copy of a letter sent by him to a judicious divine, with whom he had contracted a pleasing acquaintance during his stay in Norfolk. Mr. Hunt sends his ⚫ learned friend an account of his preaching, to be approved 'or disapproved, and for him to let him know what he dis⚫ liked. He informs him, that he had proved a God, and * represented the grounds on which our faith in the scriptures is founded. Then he treated on the attributes of God. He ⚫ had considered also the government of our first parents, the ⚫ fitness of their being tried by prohibiting the eating a cer⚫tain fruit, and the consequences of it. He had given a succinct account of the religion before the flood, and the fitness
of translating Enoch. This had been the subject of his last 'discourse at the time of writing this letter: at the conclu'sion of which he assures his friend, that he took all the care ' he could to urge what is the last end of revealed truth, viz, 'divine temper and life.'
bAt another season, in several discourses upon 2 Tim. ‹ iii. 10, “But thou hast fully known my doctrine," &c. he in a summary and paraphrastical way observed St. Paul's 'doctrine, as represented in the Acts of the Apostles, and in 'his own epistles: and he shewed the occasion, scope and design of all St. Paul's epistles. Some of Dr. Hunt's hearers have a distinct remembrance of those discourses, and are very thankful for the instruction they received by them.
dered the words themselves, the connections, and the main scope of the writer. Then he endeavoured to choose the clearest and easiest method. After all this care it is not to be wondered, that his remarks were just, and his inferences pertinent; and that his sermons might be easily understood, and long remembered by all that were attentive: and indeed there are several ministers, as well as private Christians, who have improved their judgment by only hearing him occasionally.
It was his constant care to represent the true sense of scripture, and the doctrine, which according to the best of his judgment was conformable to it: nor could he ever be induced to conceal or disguise what he thought to be the truth, for the sake of popular applause, or to avoid, or silence the censures of mistaken and prejudiced men. He might therefore truly say with St. Paul, and take the comfort of it: "We are not as many, which corrupt the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, speak we in Christ," 2 Cor. ii. 17. And with the same apostle he might say again: "Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God (or according to the gospel of God, and in a manner worthy of the favour we have received, and the high office we have been intrusted with) we have had our conversation in the world, ch. i. 12.
In brief, his preaching was scriptural, critical, paraphrastical, and consequently instructive. It was also very practical, and sometimes pathetically so at the conclusion.
As his preaching was mightily suited to form in men a rational conviction of the truths of religion, and to carry them on to perfection; so his audience, though not numerous, has usually consisted of the more knowing and understanding Christians. And it must be owned, that they do honour to themselves who discern true merit, and cheerfully encourage an open and steady friend to truth and liberty. And they who receive such an one in the name of Christ, and honour him for his work's sake, as bringing with him the doctrine of pure and undefiled religion, especially when under difficulties, are entitled to a like reward with him. So he said to his disciples, who is truth itself, and never encouraged delusive hopes, or groundless expectations : "He that receiveth you, receiveth me, and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a Prophet in the name of a Prophet, shall have a Prophet's reward," Matt. x. 40, 41.
He ever was extremely cautious of assuming authority in the church of God. It was his common advice to persons arrived at years of discretion, to judge for themselves, and act according to conviction;' which is very natural for those, who make the scriptures the rule of their faith, and have with care and diligence formed their own judgment upon them. Herein, then, as well as in other things already mentioned, he shewed himself a faithful servant of Jesus Christ. He remembered, that "one is our master, even Christ," and that "all we are brethren," Matt. xxiii. 8. So did St. Paul: "We preach not ourselves," says he, "but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake," 2 Cor. iv. 5. Which is also agreeable to St. Peter's directions to bishops, that they should not act as "lords over God's heritage, but as ensamples to the flock." Such he assures us, "when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, will receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away," 1 Pet. v. 3.
As yet I have represented but a part of his usefulness. His talents for instructing and improving the mind were not confined to the pulpit. His conversation also was a great blessing to many. I believe, there are several families of God's people, beside those of his own congregation, where the younger, and perhaps some of the elder branches, are not a little indebted to him for a rational religion, and a well-grounded faith in the gospel.
His religious conferences were oftentimes accompanied with prayer. For as he daily prayed in his own family, so he likewise frequently prayed in the families of his Christian friends and acquaintance.
Such was the strength of his memory, that this knowledge, though of a vast compass, was always ready for use; whereby he was eminently qualified to be communicative. And, whenever he met with an ingenuous temper of mind, and a disposition to attend, he failed not to bring forth out of his rich treasure. There are not a few, both near and afar off, men of good understanding, of different ages and stations in life, who will readily stand up, and acknowledge, that there is no man from whom they have received more useful hints concerning the important subjects of virtue and religion, than from him.