Изображения страниц

nature and the unavoidable connections of the present life, the ways of wisdom are nevertheless ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace a.

Set the crown of glory before your eyes which you are shortly to wear, and that will make you nobly superior to all the reluctance you feel at the idea of bearing the cross. And, above all, be persuaded to look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God a.' Again,

4. How should a consideration of the bliss and glory, which our deceased Christian friends possess in the heavenly world, reconcile us to the loss we sustain by their dissolution! When those whom we have loved, and whose characters we revere, are removed hence by death, we cannot avoid expressing the concern and sorrow we feel. And it is fit we should. Christ wept at the grave of Lazarus. But while faith brings distant objects near to the eye, and realizes the exalted honours and ravishing pleasures our dear friends and relatives enjoy in that other state, undue passion will subside and a calm ensue.

And it is our unspeakable happiness, that on this occasion, mournful as it is, we have every consideration of this sort to afford pleasure to our minds. The venerable deceased, for whom, I doubt not, there are many sincere mourners in this place, hath fought a good fight, hath finished his course, and kept the faith ;' and is now possessed of a crown of glory which fadeth not away.' Great respect is due to his memory; and happy shall I account myself, if, while I am attempting to do justice to it, the grand end of this discourse may be answered, I mean, the improvement of this sad providence to the spiritual profit of all who hear me.

Dr. John Gill had the honour and happiness to descend from pious ancestors. He was born at Kettering in the county of Northampton, November 23d, 1697. His thirst for knowledge even in early life was so great, and his improvements so considerable, that at the age of ten years, as I am a Prov. iii. 17,

b Heb. xii. 2.

informed, he was able to read his Greek Testament. A neighbouring gentleman, accidentally coming to the knowledge of this, would have persuaded his parents to send him, at the proper time, to one of the Universities. But, as this proposal did not fall in with his or their religious principles or views, he continued with them: and by his own industry, with but little assistance from others, he quickly made very considerable progress in his studies. On November 1st, 1716, he was baptized upon a profession of his faith, and admitted a member of the church at Kettering under the pastoral care of the Rev. Mr. Wallis. He was soon called to the work of the ministry, of the great importance of which he was deeply sensible. In the year 1719, upon the death of the Rev. Mr. Stinton, he was invited to preach to this church, and early in the following year was ordained your pastor. In which office he continued among you the remainder of his life, that is, upwards of fifty-one years, enjoying the rare felicity of being scarce ever interrupted in his work by bodily disorder.

His natural and acquired abilities were very considerable. He had a clear understanding, a sound judgment, and an uncommonly retentive memory. In point of application and industry he had scarce his equal: so that he commanded a large compass of knowledge, and enjoyed a distinguished reputation for substantial and useful learning. With the oriental languages, Jewish antiquities, and the writings of the rabbies he was familiarly acquainted. And how well he was versed in the knowledge of the sacred Scriptures none who are conversant with his works can be ignorant. His merit in these respects drew the attention of the Marischal College at Aberdeen, and procured for him, in the year 1748, a diploma,

eating him Doctor in Divinity. But, as he deemed it his greatest honour to be serviceable to the interests of religion, 60 this was the grand object to which he directed all his literary improvements. And if by these pursuits he was necessarily precluded from many social offices, to which he might otherwise have attended; yet that defect was more than compensated by the incessant and painful labours of the closet, to which for the good of others he cheerfully devoted himself.

Labours so prodigious, that it will, perhaps, seem incredible to posterity, that one man should have been the author of so many publications.

That he was a man of strict integrity I believe all will acknowledge. But though his steadiness was such, that, having come to a point with himself upon any opinion or fact, he was scarce ever to be moved from it; yet, convinced of his mistake, he was ready to acknowledge it. And though he knew how with spirit to resent an injury, he knew how also with becoming meekness to endure and forgive it. His warmth might indeed on some occasions exceed, yet he had prudence and resolution to check it; and failed not afterwards, like a good man as he was, to feel great pain on account of it. And however his inflexibility, his recluse manner of life, and the small share he bore in conversation, might perhaps excite in some persons an idea unfavourable to his character, in point of affability and cheerfulness; yet he knew how to be obliging in his carriage to strangers, and could be innocently pleasant with his friends: so that few left his house or his company, without some impressions to his advantage in these respects.

His religious principles, which were strictly Calvinistical, he maintained with great warmth a warmth that proceeded, I doubt not, from a firm persuasion of their truth and importance. Yet, amidst all his zeal, which was accompanied with undissembled piety as well as unshaken integrity, he had a charitable and affectionate regard for those who held the grand leading principles of Christianity, though they could not agree with him in his explanation of some points. To exalt and magnify the free grace of God in the redemption and salvation of sinners, and to exclude all boasting on our part, were the grand objects of his discourses and writings. But the unfavourable consequences which too many were disposed to draw from his reasonings, he constantly denied, and warmly opposed: maintaining the utility and importance of good works, and indeed their indispensable necessity, as the fruit of the regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit, to the character of a real Christian. And, as he was himself most exemplary in his conversation, so he beartily concurred in every measure to discountenance a licentious conduct, especially in those who made a profession of religion. What grief he felt when at any time Christ was wounded in the house of his pretended friends, as well as the joy he expressed when tidings of a different kind were brought him, his family and those who were intimately acquainted with him well remember, nor will the remembrance thereof be easily erased from their minds.

In the character of a Pastor he acquitted himself with great affection, fidelity and constancy. To the truth of this the tribute of real and cordial sorrow which you, my friends, now offer to his memory, affords the best and most natural testiaony. His close attention to study did not indeed allow of his visiting you so frequently as you earnestly wished: yet his place in the house of God he constantly filled, as also in a weekly Lecture, which for near thirty years he preached, with the interruption, I think, but of three times. On a great variety of subjects, he largely insisted with the views I before mentioned; and which, with the blessing of God, proved the means of the conversion of not a few among you, and of the edification and comfort of many others. As he was

allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so he spakc, not as pleasing men, but God who trieth their hearts. And being affectionately desirous of you,' he was • willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also his own soul, because ye were dear unto him.' And, I may add, “ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily, and justly, and unblameably he behaved himself among you: as you know, also, how he exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, (as a father doth his children) that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you into his kingdom and glory a. Nor should I forget to remind you of what, as I understand, made a very deep impression on some of

I mean the discourses he delivered, with more than ordinary life and energy, at the close of his ministry; and especially his affectionate address to you at the Lord's table, the last time he administered that sacred ordinance, when, as I am told, he was uncommonly impressed with the great things of God, and with the joyful and transporting prospects of a better world.


a 1 Thess. ii. 4, 8, 10, 11, 12.

From that time, the beginning of April last, his health was very visibly on the decline, and he was himself apprehensive that his dissolution was nearly approaching. Some notes found in his desk on the subject of preparation for death, and prefaced with our Saviour's words, Be ye also ready, were written probably about this time. For though he was incapable through weakness of appearing in public, he was employed in his study, more or less, to the very last, or at least till within two or three weeks before his death. During his illness, amidst all the pain and weakness that attended him, he was never heard to make the least complaint, but submitted with the greatest patience and resignation to the will of God; sensible also of the filial piety and affection of his family, whom he ever tenderly loved. Nor was he only patient and resigned, but serene and cheerful. To a Minister who visited him, upon being asked how it was with him, he readily declared, « My dependance is on the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ alone, not on any labours of mine. I consider the Fa-. ther, Son, and Holy Spirit, as equally concerned in my salvation, Nor have I any doubt of my interest in the everlasting covenant: this, added he, is the foundation of my hope." In much the same terms he expressed himself to another dear and intimate friend, mingling many tears with his tender and affectionate discourse. “I have nothing to make me uneasy, " said he to another. And more than once, I think, repeated the following stanza out of Dr. Watts's Hymns;

He rais'd me from the deeps of sin,

The gates of gaping hell;
And fix'd my standing more secure

Than 'twas before I fell a.

Nor does it appear that his hopes and comforts were at all suspended or interrupted. Some of the last words, I am told, he spake, were, putting his hands together, “Omy Father, my

a Hymn 82. Book II.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »