To John Sloss Hobart, Esq;|
Of the Manor of Eaton, on Long-Island.
This Discourse, delivered at the Funeral of your late worthy Father, and now made
public at your particular Desire, is inscribedby
Your very affectionate Friend,
And Humble Servant,
A FUNERAL DISCOURSE
Remembering a Spiritual Guide
HEB. xiii.7. "Remember them which have the Rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God:
Whose Faith follow, considering the End of their Conversation."
THE Design of Funeral Discourses is not for the Dead, but for the Living. To the Former they can be of use Use;
tho' of great Benefit to the Latter. Not but that "the Memory of the Just should be precious," and a due Tribute
of Honour and Respect paid to the Characters of Men of distinguished Merit, after they are departed: But even this, with a special
Regard to Survivors; that hereby they may be excited to "become Followers of those who through Faith and Patience inherit the Promises."
WITH this View, in the very short Time allowed me for the Purpose, I have thrown together a few Thoughts for the Entertainment
of the Audience upon the mournful Occasion before us.
THE Words now read, were spoken by that aged Apostle and faithful Minister of Jesus Christ, St. Paul, who is pretty
generally supposed to be the Penman of this Epistle. They are a concise but very comprehensive Direction to the Hebrew
Christians, and in them to others, in what manner to treat, and how to improve the Memory of their spiritual Guides,
or Instructors in Christ, who had been taken away by Death.
That by those "who had the Rule over them" the Apostle means their Ministers, is evident from the Work they are here
said to have been employed in, "Speaking unto them the Word of GOD." This is a Phrase the Scriptures frequently use,
as peculiarly descriptive of the Business of
a Gospel Minister. Such are Rulers in the Church of Christ. They are not only to teach and preach "the Word of GOD"
to their People, but to take Care that the Laws of Christ's Kingdom are observed, and to preside in the Government
and Discipline of the Church. The same Business is assigned them in the 17th v. and Christians are directed to regard and
submit to them in the Exercise of this Authority.
"Obey them that have the Rule over you, and submit yourselves." Rule and Government in the Church of Christ are as necessary
as Instruction; and therefore all those whom he appoints and sends forth as Teachers, he invests with
Authority to rule and govern in his visible Kingdom. Not indeed with legislative Authority, to make Laws and Canons,
binding upon Men's Consciences. (This Power he reserves to himself:) But to explain and enforce the Laws He himself
has made, and see to it that they are put in Execution; and that Obedience is paid to them by all the Members of
his Church. These are the Persons, Christians are here required to "remember," and that not only while living,
but even after they are removed by Death. As such; they are evidently here spoken of. They are represented as
those "who had formerly spoken to them the Word of GOD;" but were now silent. Their Mouths being now
closed by Death. As those who had heretofore exhibited a Pattern of "Faith," which the People are here required
to "follow." And as those who had now "finished their Course," and therefore "the End of their Conversation,"
the general Tenor and Course of their Lives, is here proposed for the View and Imitation of their People.
So that the Words contain a general Direction to People, as to the Respect they owe to the Memory of their departed
Ministers, and the Improvement they are to make of their Instructions and Example after they are dead.
The Duty of Remembering
A faithful Minister of Jesus Christ preaches to his People both by precept and Example; and that not only while living,
but even after he is dead. As it is said of righteous Abel, "He being dead, yet speaketh:" So it is the Duty
of People diligently to harken and attend to the Instruction. "To remember them which have the Rule over
them, who have spoken to them the Word of GOD; to follow their Faith, and consider the end of their Conversation."
So that the Duty here recommended, divides itself into three Parts, each of which I shall consider in the Order,
and then improve the Subject.
One Part of the Duty and Respect People owe to the Memory of their departed Ministers, is to "remember them"
when dead. "Remember them which have the Rule over you, who have spoken to you the Word of GOD." We are too apt
to forget Persons and Things that are out of Sight, which it would be our Duty and Interest to remember.
Especially good Men, who have done eminent Service, and been great and extensive Blessings to the World while living,
and whose Names therefore ought to be had in everlasting Remembrance, often Times are no sooner dead,
and concealed in the Grave, than they are forgotten by Survivors, and their good Deeds no more remembered.
This is highly ungrateful and criminal, and therefore the Spirit of Inspiration in our Text, takes special Care
to guard against it; especially as to the faithful Ministers of Jesus Christ; to rescue their Names from Oblivion,
and embalm their Memories, by strictly requiring their People to remember them after they are dead. And what
their so doing implies, I am now to show.
1. Respect Jehovah's Ambassador
People should remember the high Station their Ministers stood in while they lived, and the honourable Character
they sustained, as Ministers of Jesus Christ, as Ambassadors of the great King. This is the Character given them in the Gospel,
and it is a high and honourable One, 2 Cor. 3. 20. "Now then we are Ambassadors for Christ, as tho' GOD did beseech you by us," &c.
The Ambassadors of a Prince are esteemed honourable, in Proportion to the Dignity and Power of their Master. They represent
his Person, and are vested with Part of his Authority; and therefore their Persons are ever treated with Honour and Respect.
But Gospel-Ministers are the Ambassadors of the great Jehovah, the Prince of Peace. This, not only calls for Respect to their
Characters when living, but demands a Tribute of Honour and Regard to their Memories when dead. If this be neglected, and
instead of it, their Memories be treated with Contempt, their divine Master will resent it as a Dishonour done to himself;
and People must expect to miss of that Benefit they might otherwise hope to receive from the past Labours of the faithful
Servants of Jesus Christ.
2. Respect the Work They Did
The faithful Ministers of Jesus Christ claim a Tribute of Respect to be paid to their Memories, on Account
of the great, weighty and important Work they were engaged in when living. A Man's Character in Life, ought always to rise
in Proportion to his Usefulness. This very much depends upon the Nature and Kind of Business he is employed in.
And his Memory, after he is gone, ought to be esteemed and revered accordingly. For this Reason, good Princes and Rulers are had in high Reputation, and
their Memories are honoured when dead, because of the important Affairs they were engaged in, and their great
Usefulness when alive. They are called in sacred Writ, "the Breath of our Nostrils." They are the Pillars of
the State, on which the whole Fabric, under GOD, depends. But, of all Business Men are engaged in, none is equal, in
Point of Dignity and Importance, to the Work of the Gospel Ministry. The faithful Minister of Christ is devoted to
the immediate Service of GOD, in promoting the eternal Salvation of Mankind. His Work is, to declare the Counsels
of Heaven to Men; to preach the great Truths of the everlasting Gospel' to open up the Way of Life through
a blessed Redeemer, "and win Souls" to Christ. To warn Men of their Sin and Danger, while in a State of Nature;
to persuade them to be reconciled to GOD, and train them up to a Preparation for eternal Glory. Than which,
nothing can be of greater, nothing of equal Weight and Importance. A serious Recollection of this,
will not only tend to endear to a People the Memory of their departed Ministers; but, by the Blessing of God, will be
a happy Means of leaving a practical and saving Impression upon their Hearts, of the great Gospel Truths and
Doctrines they have heard from their Mouths. And this leads me to observe
3. Remember Their Teachings
People should pay a Respect to the Memory of their departed Ministers, by frequently calling to Mind the sacred Truths they delivered,
and the interesting and important Doctrines they taught. Barely to remember their Persons, is far from being the Whole
that is required of them. They must remember them as Ministers; - as Heralds of divine Grace and Mercy; - as those who have held forth
to them "the Word of Life;" - preached "the Doctrines which are according to Godliness;" - opened up the
"unsearchable Riches of Christ," and made known the "glad Tidings" of Salvation to perishing Men. And these great Truths and Doctrines, it highly
concerns them to treasure up in their Memories, and never forget. They are Doctrines of infinite Importance and everlasting
Concern. They are always useful, yea absolutely necessary at all Times. They must therefore be carefully treasured up in the Memory,
and frequently recollected and brought to View. This Duty, we find the same Apostle urging upon his Ephetian Brethren in his Farewell Discourse
to them. "Remember, says he; that by the Space of three Years, I ceased not to warn every One, Night and Day, with Tears."
4. Remember Their Care of Your Soul
The Duty People owe to the Memory of their departed Ministers, requires that they frequently recollect and call to Mind the
solemn Counsels, the faithful Warnings, and earnest Exhortations they have received from them, while they were alive. A faithful
Minister, will not content himself with barely explaining to his People the great Doctrines and Duties of the Gospel: His great Concern
is to have these Doctrines and Duties impressed upon their Hearts and Consciences, and wrought into the very Frame and Temper of their Minds.
Without this, the purest Doctrines of the Gospel, however clearly explained and rationally supported, will be of no Benefit at all.
Sensible of this, the faithful Minister of Christ takes Care, to "warn every Man," as well as to "teach every Man." "To reprove, rebuke,
exhort, with all long-Suffering and Doctrine." To admonish Sinners of the Danger of their Ways, to warn them
against Sin, by setting before them its evil Nature and ruinous Consequences; and by every animating Motive and endearing
Consideration, beseech and entreat them to forsake their sinful Courses, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, "and be reconciled
to GOD." These, People should often call to Mind, after their Ministers are dead. Should frequently recollect those solemn
Warnings and Exhortations they have heard, and labour afresh to impress their Minds with them, that so the good Effect of them may not be lost.
5. Remember the Heavy Burden They Bore
People should often call to Mind the painful and laborious Services their faithful Ministers
have been engaged in, and the many sore Trials they have gone through, for the Good of their Souls.
The Work of the Ministry is a painful and laborious Work. Many are the Temptations they have
to encounter; many hard Services and sore Conflicts to pass through. So weighty and arduous
is their Work, upon this Account, that even the great Apostle St. Paul, cries out, under a Sense
of it, "who is sufficient for these Things?" "They watch for Souls as they that must give an Account."
And must expect "to endure Hardness;" would they acquit themselves as the Ministers of GOD, if
called to it, in much Patience, in Afflictions, in Necessities, in Distresses, in Stripes, in
Imprisonments, in Tumults, in Labours, in Watchings, in Sufferings. By Pureness, by Knowledge, by long Suffering,
by Kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by Love unfeigned, by Honour and Dishonour, by evil Report and good Report:
As Deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying; and behold we live; as chastened,
and not killed: As sorrowful, and yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having Nothing, and yet
possessing all Things." These Things, People should consider and call to Mind when their Ministers are gone;
remember how painful and laborious they have been, and what hard Services and great Trials they have gone
through, to promote their eternal Interest. A serious Recollection of them will tend to endear the Memory of a faithful
Minister to them, and hopefully have some good and salutary Effect upon their Hearts.
For this Purpose, while they call to Mind their departed Guides, they must be thankful to God for having
granted them such a great Blessing as a faithful Minister, and for continuing it so long. If Ministers are
faithful and successful, they are the greatest Blessings a People can enjoy. And as they are the Gift of God;
to him their Thanks are primarily due. He it is that sends them, and blesses their Labours.
And if their Ministry has been owned and rendered effectual, to the saving Good of their Hearers, they
must be thankful for it, and give GOD the Praise. If they have failed of this, the Remembrance
of their Ministers should be accompanied with deep Humiliation.
Follow Their Example
Perhaps they have sat many Years under their
Ministry without any sensible Benefit, are yet in a graceless State; or, at best, have made but very little
Improvement in Holiness and the divine Life. (For Success is not certainly connected with
the most faithful Discharge of the Gospel Ministry.) If this is the Case, it highly concerns People to be
deeply humbled before God for their great Barrenness in his Vineyard. And whenever they remember their
departed Ministers, to accompany the Recollection with the most fixed Purposes, firm Resolutions, and active
Endeavours, forthwith to comply with their Instructions and Counsels, and to follow the good Examples
they have set them while here upon Earth. This leads me to the
Branch of the Duty incumbent on People with Regard to their departed Ministers. That is, that they should
"follow their Faith." It is supposed that those who preach the Gospel, believe it; that those who offer Christ
to others, have Faith in him themselves. Of this, they are to be Examples to their Hearers. For thus runs
their solemn Charge. "Be thou an Example of the Believers, in Word, in Conversation, in Charity, in Spririt,
in Faith, in Purity." And as it is required of Ministers,
"that they be found in the Faith once delivered to the Saints;" and always, in their Preaching, "speak those Things that
become sound Doctrine;" so every faithful Minister will be concerned that the Doctrines he delivers to
his People, "be the Doctrines that are according to Godliness:" That he dispense to them, not "profane and vain
Babblings and Oppositions of Science, falsely so called;" not curious Questions, metaphysical Niceties, or intricate and useless
Speculations, which tend rather to puzzle and perplex, than to edify the Hearers; but "the sincere Milk of the Word,"
the pure and unadulterated Doctrine of the Gospel, "the ingrafted Word, which is able to save their Souls."
He will be particularly
careful, frequently and warmly to inculcate the great Doctrines of "Repentance towards GOD, and Faith towards our Lord Jesus
Christ:" The original Guilt and Depravity of Mankind; the Doctrines of Regeneration, of true Holiness and Gospel Obedience:
The Necessity of Christ's Righteousness for Justification, and the Influences of the Spirit for our Sanctification.
And these, it highly concerns their People to receive and believe, upon the Scripture Evidence with which they are
supported and recommended. In this Way, they are to "follow the Faith" of their departed Guides.
Beware Forgetting in the Absence of Your Teacher
For the same Reason, they must continue steadfast and persevering in their Belief of, and Attachment to "these
wholesome Words, even the Words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Doctrine that is according to Godliness."
Too often it happens, that when People are deprived of their Teachers, and left as "Sheep without a Shepherd,"
they soon forget the Doctrines they have been taught, turn aside to "vain jangling," "and make Shipwreck of
the Faith once delivered to the Saints." Especially if solicited by false Teachers, and the "cunning Craftiness of
those who lie in wait to deceive;" they are too ready to run after them, and be turned about by every Wind of Doctrine."
Of the Danger of this, the Apostle was very sensible; and therefore takes Care to warn his Ephesian
Brethren against it. "For I know this (says he,) that after my Departing, shall grievous Wolves enter in among
you, not sparing the Flock. Also of your own selves shall Men arise, speaking perverse Things, to draw away Disciples
after them. Therefore watch, and remember, &c. Would People therefore comply with their Duty in "following
the Faith" of their departed spiritual Guides, they must be aware of turning aside to the crooked Paths of Error,
and be careful to "hold fast the Form of sacred Words which they have heard of them, in Faith and Love which is
in Christ Jesus." But this is not all.
Actively Follow the Faith That Was Taught
To be "Followers of the Faith" of departed Ministers, they must see to it that these great Gospel Truths and Doctrines
have a saving Influence, a transforming Efficacy upon their Hearts. Barely an empty Opinion, a speculative
Faith or Belief of Gospel Doctrines, however sound and Orthodox, will be of no avail. "It is with the Men
believe unto Righteousness." And until People find the great Truths of the Gospel they have been indoctrinated
into the Belief of, sinking into their Hearts, and influencing and governing the Frame and Temper of their Minds, they
can't be said to have discharged their Duty, in "following the Faith" of their departed Guides.
For the same Reason it highly concerns them "to live by Faith in the Son of God:" Ever to act under the Influence
of that Faith they have been taught by their Ministers, "and bring forth the Fruits of it" in a holy Conversation
and blameless Life. The End of all Faith is Practice: And without the Latter, the Former is of no Value. For
"Faith without Works is dead." If therefore Ministers are faithful, they will teach their People the Necessity of
Holiness and Gospel Obedience; and let them know that "the Grace of God which has appeared, bring Salvation,
expressly teaches Men to deny Ungodliness, and every worldly Lust, and to live soberly, righteously and godly,
in this present World."
This, every faithful Minister will teach his People, and that, not only by Precept, but by Example. The Life of
every true Christian, of every faith Minister, is a Life of Faith. He adorns his Profession by observing the Rules
or it: and carefully acts up to the Doctrines and Duties it
contains. To "follow the Faith" of such Ministers then, is to imitate the good Example they have left them. To
live the same "Life of Faith," of sincere Gospel Obedience, which they have given them a Pattern of. Ministers are
to be Examples to their Flocks "in Word, in Conversation, in Charity, in Spirit, in Faith, in Purity." Therefore
the Apostle's Direction is, "Brethren, be Followers together of me, and mark them that walk so, as ye have us for an
Example." Philip. 3. 17.
Indeed, as no Man is perfect, so the Example of none is to be imitated absolutely
and without Restriction. Therefore the same Apostle says, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." And
then, and then only can People be said to "follow the Faith" of their departed spiritual Guides, agreeable to the
Duty here enjoined, when they believe, profess and maintain the wholesome Doctrines they have taught; experience
the Effects of them in their Hearts, and, in Imitation of the good Examples they have set them, live a Life of Faith, a
Life of Holiness and sincere Gospel Obedience. And this naturally leads to the
Allow the Voice of your Departed Guide to Still Advise You
And last Branch of this Duty which People are here directed to, in Respect to their departed Ministers.
"That is, to consider the End of their Conversation." The Word "consider" is emphatical in the Original. It signifies
"to behold diligently, to study or muse upon, to meditate, with Care and Earnestness;" and so denotes
the great Regard and exact Attention with which People should recollect and consider the good Examples of their
departed Pastors. Frequently call them to Mind, and represent them as present to their View; and that with a fixed
Purpose and full Resolution, to endeavour an Imitation. The Greek Word, here translated "End," is derived
from a Verb which signifies "to pass out of, or escape." It may therefore, in the present Connection, be
designed to denote, not only the concluding and finishing Scopes of Life, but the general Tenor of it. The main
Scope and Tendency of it, in all its various Exercises, Windings and Turnings. In what Manner, and by what
Means these Servants of Christ escaped the Pollutions of the World, avoided the Snares and Temptations that beset
them, preserved their Integrity, kept the Faith, and finally finished their Course with Joy and Peace.
The Duty supposes, that People regard and consider the general Course of Life and Tenor of Conversation of their
spiritual Guides departed, and that with a View to imitate them, so far forth as they are worthy of Imitation. The Apostle
St. Paul appeals to the Consciences of the Thessalonians, as to his exemplary Conduct and Behaviour amongst them.
"Ye are Witnesses, and GOD also, how holily, and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you." Happy
the Minister who can in Sincerity adopt this solemn Appeal! Happy the People who duly consider such shining
Examples of Piety, and are enabled to copy after them! To do this, is one principal Part of the Duty here recommended.
To "consider the End of the Conversation" of their departed Pastors, they must eye the prevailing Tenor
of their Lives, and frequently bring to View the laudable Examples therein set them for their Imitation.
Further, the Duty before us may also include, an exact Survey of the prevailing Bent and Tendency of such a Manner
of Conversation and Course of Life; what it aimed at, and to what Mark it was directed. To consider the End
of a Thing, sometimes signifies to view and regard it in its Influence and Tendency. Now the whole Tendency of the
Life of every faithful Minister, so far as he acts up to his sacred Character, is to promote the Honour and Glory of
GOD, and to do Good in the World. As with a special View to this, he undertakes the Work of the Ministry,
and enters upon his sacred Calling: so, not only his Preaching, but the whole of his Conduct, and Course of his
Life, so far as he acts up to the Spirit of his Station, is directed the same Way, and tends to the same Thing. "Herein
is my Father glorified, (says our divine Master,) when ye bring forth much Fruit; so shall ye be my Disciples."
This, People should regard, with Respect to their departed Teachers, should review their holy and exemplary Lives,
and consider the happy Tendency of them to promote the Glory of God, and the Good of Souls; that so they may
hence be induced, not only to revere their Characters, but
to imitate the good Examples set them in this Respect.
The Consequence of a Holy Life
To this they should finally add, a diligent Survey of, and a careful Attention to the happy Issue and Consequence of
such a holy Life, and godly Conversation. This, doubtless, is an essential Part of the Duty here recommended to People
with Respect to their departed Ministers. "To consider the End of their Conversation," is to consider, and mark
well the grand Catastrophe. Carefully to advert to, and
observe, the Result and Consequence of a godly Conversation, often discovered in the Solemnities of a dying Hour,
and minifested in the closing Scenes of Life.
As the Tendency of a holy Life and Conversation, a Life devoted to
the Service of GOD, and spent in promoting the best Interests of Mankind, especially in a faithful Discharge of
the great Work of the Ministry, is to glorify God, and bring us finally to the Enjoyment of him; so this will be
the certain Issue and Consequence of it. "Those who by a patient Continuance in well-doing, seek for Glory, Honour,
and Immortality; have a divine Promise that they shall at last receive everlasting Life." For "verily there
is a Reward for the Righteous," "nor shall his Expectation be cut off." 'Tis a divine Command and Promise, "Be
thou faithful unto Death, and I will give thee a Crown of Life." To this, every good Man, every faithful Minister
of Jesus Christ, has a sure Title. Nor shall his Faith and his Hope be disappointed. 'Tis true, while in this embodied State,
the Rewards of a holy and virtuous Life, are not to be seen by an Eye of Sense. "For Eye hath not
seen, nor Ear heard, neither have entered into the Heart of Man, the Things which GOD hath prepared for them that love him."
"But GOD hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit." The Rewards of Virtue, and the unseen
Glories of the eternal World, are sufficiently manifested in the sacred Oracles. There Christ, our blessed Redeemer
appears, as having "abolished Death, and brought Life and Immortality to Light by the Gospel." That we are assured,
"that Light is sown for the Righteous, and Gladness for the Upright in Heart." And this Joy and Happiness
will certainly be bestowed upon them when they leave this World.
The Model of a Holy Death
'Tis true, it is not always the Portion
of good Men to have so clear and comfortable an Evidence of this, as might be desired, when they come to die. Unhappy
Doubts and Fears, possibly may attend them, even to the Last. But often the Case is otherwise. Many Times
the dying Christian has such clear and satisfying View of his good Estate, of his Interest in Christ, and a sure Title
to the heavenly Inheritance, as enables him to meet Death with Composure and Tranquility, if not with ravishing
Triump and Joy. Many a true Servant of Jesus Christ has been enabled, in that gloomy Moment, to say with
the Apostle, "I am now ready to be offered, and the Time of my Departure is at Hand. I have fought a good
Fight, I have finished my Course, I have kept the Faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a Crown of Righteousness,
which the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give me at that Day."
Nor is there a Sight more glorious, an
Event more worthy of our Attention and Consideration, than a good Man "dying in Faith," and "finishing his Course with Joy."
Where this is the Case, as it often is, with the sincere Servants of Jesus Christ, the faithful Ministers of the Gospel;
when after a Life faithfully spent in the Service of their divine Master, they enjoy a calm
peaceful Serenity at the Approach of Death, or are enabled, in the View of it, to adopt the triumphant Language of the
Apostle, "O Death where is thy Sting! O Grave where is my Victory?" it concerns their People, and all
others, who are acquainted with it, to take particular Notice of it; to consider and mark well this joyful "End of
their Conversation," and improve it accordingly. A Life thus finished with Joy, and amidst the sensible Consolations
of the Gospel, has something in it peculiarly striking and instructive.
In a Language happily calculated to affect the Heart, it teaches us the Reality and Sacred Importance of
the Gospel Doctrins, and the divine Peace and Excellence of that Religion, which can furnish such abundant Support
in the gloomy Moment, and enable its Votaries even to triumph and exult in the View of their Approaching Dissolution.
Hence is that Command, similar to the Direction before us: "Mark the perfect Man, and behold the Upright,
for the End of that Man is Peace." A due Regard to this Precept, a proper Attention to the happy and peaceful
End of the good Man, the faithful Minister of Jesus Christ, will happily tend to impress People's Minds
with a practical Sense of the Reality and sacred Importance of Religion, which can furnish such a blessed Support
in a dying Hour; rouse them to a diligent Application to the Things of their Peace, and ecite in them an ardent
Zeal to live the Life of the Righteous, "that so they may die his Death, and their latter End may be like his."
Many useful Inferences might be made from the Subject: But the Time will only admit of a few brief Reflections.
1. A Guide Must Lead by Good and True Example
Is it the Duty of People thus to remember and imitate their spiritual Guides departed?
This may teach us of what vast Importance it is that Gospel-Ministers should be found in the Faith, of sober
Conduct, exemplary in their Conversation, and zealous and laborious in their great Work. They sustain a Character
every Way important, and act in an exalted, an extensive Sphere. Of them is eminently required in particular, what is the Duty of all
Christians in general, "that they cause their Lights so to shine before Men, that they seeing their
good Works, may be induced to glorify their Father which is in Heaven."
They are to be "Examples to their Flocks," and the Duty of People is, to attend to their Instructions, to
regard their Exhortations, "and be Followers of them as they have them for an Example." This indeed they should do
no further than both are agreeable to the Word of GOD.
But how incompetent Judges many People are of these
Things, no one can be insensible, who has but a moderate Acquaintance with the lower Class of Mankind.
If then, Ministers of the Gospel espouse dangerous Errors, and are unsound in the Faith; if they preach False Doctrine, instead
of the wholesome Truths of the Gospel; and obtrude upon their Hearers unprofitable empty Fables, the fine spun
Speculations of their own Fancy, "for the sincere Milk of the Word, and the Doctrines that are according to
Godliness;" or neglect to adorn their Doctrine by a holy Life, and set a bad Example to their People; how eminent is the
Hazard that their Hearers will be perverted from the Simplicity of the Gospel, their Manners debauched, and their
Souls ruined by this Means? As ever they would wish "to be clear from the Blood of all men," and be able to
give a good Account of their Stewardship at last, it greatly concerns them, "to take heed to themselves and their Doctrine;"
to "preach the Truths that are according to Godliness, and by a holy and blameless Conversation, to be an
Example to their Hearers in Faith and Purity and every Branch of holy Living.
2. The Good Example of Mr. Hobart
Our Subject naturally leads to some proper Reflections upon the mournful Occasion on which we are now convened.
It has pleased a sovereign GOD, in his holy and righteous Providence, to make a wide and awful Breach, not only in the
mourning Family and Congregation in this Place; but upon the Church in general, in the Death of that holy worthy Minister,
and faithful Servant of Jesus Christ, whose Funeral Obsequies we are presently to attend. And if a Tribute of Respect be due
to the Memory of such in general; few, perhaps, in these later Ages, have been more deserving of it than MR. HOBART, and few
Characters more worthy of Esteem and Imitation, than his, were it justly delinated. A brief and imperfect Sketch of it is
all that can be expected in present Circumstances.
It had pleased the Father of Spirits to replenish his Mind with a right Assemblage of those natural Endowments and mental
Qualifications, necessary to form the Character of a truly great Man. These, improved by Study, cultivated by a liberal
and polite Education, and early sanctified by divine Grace, eminently fitted him for the Sphere of Usefulness, whether in
public or private Life, in which he was called to act.
As a tender Husband, an affectionate Parent, a kind Master, an obliging
Neighbour, a sincere and faithful Friend, he exhibited a Pattern well worthy of Imitation; and showed how eminently
qualified he was to fill and adorn the various Relations of domestic Life. A sound Judgment, a retentive Memory,
and an uncommonly social and communicative Temper, joined to a Knowledge of Books, an extensive Acquaintance with most
Branches of Science, especially History and Divinity, which seemed to be his favourite Studies, fitted him
to bear a most agreeable and edifying Part in Conversation. Few Subjects could be advanced, with which he was unacquainted, -
or Difficulties started, which he was not able to solve.
The mild Affability of his Temper, and the friendly Benevolence of his Heart, made him easy of Access to all who sought
his Conversation and Company, from which few ever parted without sensible Pleasure and Improvement.
But his chief Excellence appeared in his ministerial Performances, and shone forth in the various Exercises of the sacred Office.
There he exhibited the Character of the sound, judicious Divine, the faithful Steward, "a Workman that need not be ashamed, rightly
dividing the Word of Truth."
He was well versed in systematic and polemic Divinity, and had a general and accurate
Acquaintance with the sacred Writings. These were his daily, his most delightful Study and Meditation; and from these sacred
Repositories, these inexhaustible Treasures of divine Knowledg eand Truth, "he brought forth Things new and old."
In the Services of the Sanctuary, the public Offices of Religion, he acquitted himself with graceful Dignity and becoming
Never at a Loss for the most pertinent and proper Expressions, in Prayer, however uncommon or sudden the Occasion; while the Solemnity
of Manner with which he performed that sacred Service, discovered the warm Devotion of his Heart, and evidenced the deep and
awful Sense he had of that glorious Majesty in whose Presence he appeared.
His Method of preaching, tho' not of the passionate and animating Kind, was ever rational, manly and instructive:
And tho' calculated to colighten the Understanding, inform the Judgment and mend the Heart,
rather than move the Passions and fire the Imagination, yet always acompanied with such becoming Gravity and Solemnity as
never failed to command the Attention and promote the Edification of every serious, judicious Hearer.
As a wise, faithful and prudent Counsellor, he had few Equals; perhaps no Superiors in the Land. In this Character
he was frequently applied to, and his Advice requested in the most doubtful and difficult Cases; and that,
not only by his own People, but many others, and especially his younger Brethren in the Ministry, from various
Quarters. To them, his hospitable House, his benevolent Heart was ever open. He received and treated them with
parental Kindness, and dismissed them with Satisfaction and Improvement. On these Accounts he was peculiarly
qualified to assist in Councils, and bear an important leading Part in our
ecclestical Judicatures. Whenever we had
the Happiness of his Presence and Assitance, especially when he was placed in the Moderator's Chair, (as was generally the Case
when Matters of uncommon Difficulty were depending;) we always expected a happy Issue, and were seldom
In this View his Death is an awful Frown, not only upon this Congregation, and the
Ministers and Churches in this District; but especially upon the School of the Prophets in this Colony, (of which
he had been for many Years a wise and faithful Governor) and upon the Church of Christ in general through the
Land. The great Head of the Church, 'tis true, had prolonged his Life and Usefulness to a Period beyond the common
Estimate for those of the sacred Order; and even to what may be called, "a good old Age." Yet, considering
his native Strength of Genius, and the unabated Vigour of his Mind, he might have been eminently useful for many
Years yet to come, had it pleased divine Providence to have spared his important Life. But a Soverign GOD, in his
holy Dispensations, has seen fit to order it otherwise, and it becomes us to submit to his wise and righteous Will.
Especially as we have good Reason to think, that our Loss, in the Death of this truly great and good Man, is his unspeakable
If a Life of exemplary Piety and singular Usefulness, closed by an entire Resignation to the divine
Will in a calm and peaceful Death, be a just Foundation for such a Conclusion, certainly this is the Case
It had long been his Desire that he might not outlive his Usefulness. GOD has heard the Prayer of his Servant and granted
his Request note 2.
Dismissed from all his painful Labours and Services of Life, he is gone, we trust, to receive, through
divine Grace, "a Prophet's Reward," What remains then, but for all to eye the Hand of GOD in this Visitation, and
study to make a wise Improvement of it? To assist in this I shall conclude with a short Address, in the
As the Time of his Departure approached, and it was judged by himself and others that he was near his End, he expressed a
cheerful Resignation to the divine Will. He conversed, with uncommon Freedom, for near an Hour, with his Family and Friends.
And when One near him, told him, "he was going to receive his Reward." "I am going (says he) I trust, to receive the Mercy of
God thro' Christ" and soon after expired with the greatest Calmness and Composure.
The Lord's Day before his Death, he preached twice as usual, with uncommon Engagedness, and continued in Health till the
Evening of the Tuesday following.
1. Mourning is for Those Left; He is in his Master's Joy
Place to the mourning Relatives, particularly the bereaved Widow and Son of the Deceased. My dear and much
respected Friends, I am not insensible of the tender and affecting Part you are called to act upon this trying Occasion.
You are deprived, the one of a most tender Yoke-Fellow, the other of a most kind and affectionate Father. Your Loss,
'tis confessed, is truly great. Nature prompts the gushing Tear; and Grace approves the solemn Tribute.
You have just Cause to mourn under the fore and heavy Rebuke. But "remember" it is God who has
done it. That all wise gracious Being who gave you so great a Blessing, and continued the Enjoyment so long, has
asserted his Right; and now it becomes your Duty to acquiesce in his Providence, and quietly submit to his sovereign Will.
As a Motive to this, consider, you mourn "not as those who have no Hope." Your Loss is his greatest
Gain. He is gone, we trust, "to inherit the Promises," "has entered into his Master's Joy," and, dearly as he loved
you while here, would not, were it left to his Option, return to these Abodes of Sin and Sorrow, even to enjoy
the dearest Connections he has left behind. And though his lifeless Remains are soon to be lodged in the silent
Grave, "the House appointed for all Living;" yet, glorious is the Consolation the blessed Gospel furnishes, even in
this Case. "For if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even so them also who sleep in Jesus, will GOD bring with him."
Yes, my dear Friends, the sacred Books assure us, that the Time is approaching, "the Hour speedily coming, when the
Dead shall hear the Voice of the Son of Man." "And shall come forth, they that have done Good, unto
the Resurrection of Life." "Then, they that have been wise shall shine as the Brightness of the Firmament, and
they that have turned many to Righteousness, as the Stars for ever and ever." Let these Considerations serve to
assuage your Sorrow, to mitigate your Grief, and dry up your Tears. Many a fervent Prayer has he lodged in
Heaven for your Safety and Happiness, while here with you.
May that Covenant GOD, in whom he trusted himself,
and to whom he committed you, mercifully grant you to experience the good Effects of them, now he is gone.
And may the other only surviving Branch of the
Family note 3,
share with you in the kind protecting Care and Covenant Love of that gracious Parent, who is eminently "the Father of
the Fatherless and the Widow's God." That this may be the Case, "remember" the Counsel, imitate the good Example,
"be Followers of the Faith," and practically "consider the End of his Conversation," "who through Faith and Patience,
we trust, is now inheriting the Promises."
Mrs. Lothrep, the amiable Consort of Dr. Lothrop of Plymouth, and only Daughter of Mr. Hobart.
2. Final Thoughts
Let this Discourse be addressed in a Word of Exhortation to the Church and Congregation in this Place.
Dearly beloved Brethren. The Sovereign Lord of Life has been pleased, in his holy Providence, remarkably
to visit you, of late, in the Death of sundry useful and important Members of Society in this
And now, to complete your Sorrow, and fill up the Measure of his corrective Dispensations towards you, GOD has touched you
in a very tender Part indeed; has taken from you your spiritual Father, who has for many Years "laboured in Word and Doctrine among you,"
"and broken to you the Bread of Life." And now ye are called to mourn under the bereaving Dispensation,
and are ready to cry out, at the Departure of your ascending Prophet; "My Father, my father, the Chariot of Israel, and the Horsemen thereof."
For however happy his Death is to himself; to you it is a great and unspeakable Loss. As such, it becomes you to
consider and improve it. To remember, it is God who has done it. To adore in humble Silence, his afflicting Hand.
And while you quietly submit to his holy Providence, manifest a just Concern that this awful Rebuke may be sanctified to you for your
spiritual and everlasting Good. That this may be the Case, give me leave to "stir up to your pure Minds
by Way of Remembrance," and remind you of your Duty in a few Words. For this, the Subject before
us is happily adapted. "Remember him who lately had the Rule over you, who hath so long and repeatedly spoken
to you the Word of GOD, whose Faith follow, considering the End of his Conversation."
As he stood high in your
Esteem and Affection while living; few of you, I presume will soon forget him now he is dead. Even the Supposition
of it would be highly injurious. But a bare Remembrance of him is far from the Whole required of you. A practical
and profitable Remembrance is what you are called to.
Be directed then, frequently to call to Mind the precious Truths he delivered, the great and important Doctrines and
Duties he recommended; and that with a View and Resolution firmly to believe, and faithfully to practice them.
Often refresh your Memories with a serious and devout Recollection of the seasonable Counsels and solemn Warnings
you have heard from his Lips, touching the crying Sins and abounding Iniquities of the present Day, and
be concerned that they may have their proper Influence upon your Hearts and Lives. "Remember" how faithfully
and frequently he preached up the great gospel Doctrines of Regeneration, "of Repentance towards GOD, and Faith
towards our Lord Jesus Christ," and how earnestly he urged the Necessity of a speedy Compliance with
them; and be solicitous above all Things, that you may experience the Power of these important Truths in your own
Souls. Seriously reflect upon the many important Calls to Duty, and earnest Exhortations to the various Branches of
Holiness and Christian Conduct you have so often heard from this sacred Desk, and let them not fail of a proper and salutary Effect.
The Rev. Mr. Lamson, Episcopal Missionary, Lothrop Lewis Esq; one of the Deacons of this Church, and David Burr, Esq;
Clerk of the Court, and for many Years a Representative of the Town, all died in the Space of a few Months.
Has his Ministry been blessed to the saving Benefit of you? while you remember the Instrument with affectionate
Gratitude and Esteem, bless GOD for it: Be thankful to him for placing you under his Ministry, continuing it
so long, and rendering it "a Savour of Life unto Life to your Souls." He was orthodox in Principle, and found in
the Faith "once delivered to the Saints." Imitate him in this. "Be ye Followers of his Faith; consider the End of
his Conversation." "Hold fast the Form of sound Words which ye have heard of him, with Faith and Love which is
in Christ Jesus." "Be not soon shaken in your Minds," or turned aside from the Faith and Order of the Gospel, as
professed and maintained in these Churches, of which he was so able an Advocate, and so fast a Friend.
His Life, was a Life of exemplary Piety and Holiness. Imitate the good Example he has set for you, "and be Followers
of him as he also was of Christ." And while you "consider the End of his Conversation," while you recollect with what Calmness
and Composure, with what Christian Fortitude and Resignation he met his great Change; be diligent and persevering in the devout and
daily Exercise of Faith, Prayer and every Christian Duty, that so, having lived the Life of the "Righteous you may finally die his
Death," and "your latter End be Peace" and Happiness like his.
But is it not to be feared, that many of this Congregation, notwithstanding all the singular Advantages they have
enjoyed, while they sat under his Ministry, "are still in the Gall of Bitterness and in the Bonds of Iniquity?" Still
alienated in their Minds, from GOD by wicked Works," and utter Strangers to Christ, and the Power of
his blessed Gospel? To such I must say, your Condition, O Sirs! is truly deplorable, your State amazingly dangerous.
Hitherto you have abused the Patience and long Suffering of a merciful GOD, and practically slighted and
rejected the kind Messages of his Grace, so frequently brought you by his Servant. And now he has testfied
his Displeasure against you in this sore Bereavement. What will be the Consequence, GOD only knows. This,
however, is certain: A Perseverence in Sin, will soon, and unavoidly end in Ruin. If you persist in your Impenitence,
and continue finally to reject an offered Saviour; all those faithful Warnings, those kind and endearing Offers
of Mercy, and compassionate Invitations of divine Love and Grace you have so often heard from this Place, will
rise up in Judgment, and be swift Witnesses against you at the great Day, to your utter Confusion, and dreadfully
That tis may not be your unhappy Lot, be exhorted, even now, "to fly for Safety
to the City of Refuge," and speedily make your Peace with GOD. And while you "remember," as it is your
Duty to "remember" your departed Monitor; be deeply troubled that the "Grace" of the Gospel, by him dispensed,
has been by you, "received in vain," Mourn over the Iniquities of your past Life. Make a solemn
Pause. Stand still, and consider your State and Danger; and earnestly implore the special Assistance of divine Grace,
that you may be enabled "to break off your Sins by Righteousness, and your Iniquities by turning to the Lord."
Finally, let it be the Care of this whole Church and Congregation, seriously to lay to Heart, and wisely to improve
this bereaving Dispensation. "He that walks in the Midst of the golden Candlesticks, and holds the Stars in his right Hand,
hath somewhat against you," as appears by this righteous Rebuke. And is it not "because you have lost your first Love?"
Have you not too much forsaken the GOD of your Fathers, and departed from the Faith, Holiness, and Purity of your pious Predecessors?
"Remember then from whence you are fallen, and repent and do your first Works," lest the great Head of the
Church be provoked more awfully to content with you, "lest he come to you quickly, and remove your Candlestick out of his Place,
except ye repent."
And as you are now "as Sheep without a Shepherd," be concerned, in an orderly and regular Way,
to attain the resettlement of the Gospel Ministry and Ordinances, as soon as conveniently may be.
Beware of Contentions and Divisions. "Maintain the Unity of the Spirit in the Bonds of Peace." And may the great
Head of the Church pity you in your broken State. May the "Lord of the Harvest thrust forth a faithful Labourer
into this Part of the Harvest, and in his own Time direct you to the Choice of another Pastor, who shall long live to be a Bloessing to you.
"Brethren, we commend you to GOD, and to the Word of his Grace which is able to build you up, and to give you
an Inheritance among them that are sanctified."