« PreviousContinue »
loss and dung", for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jefus his Lord. And indeed, there is no more proportion between our best performances and eternal life, than there is between a crown and a dungbill : Yea, he reckoned, that his sufferings ' for Christ, which were the greatest as well as the purest, part of his service for him, were not yoriby to be compared with the glory which Mall be revealed : So little reason had Mr Harrison, from the apostle's mouth, to conclude, that he had been viewing a crown, the-luftre of wbich was to bear a proportion to his attainments and labours. But no more of this. I
go on to consider another faulty paragraph of his, which you will find in page 20, it runs thus, “Should it not then raise our wonder, to the highest “ pitch, that he will recompense us for these short services which are very imper
feel, with an incorruptible crown ? That he will send his only begotten Son “ from his throne in heaven, to meet us, and conduct us to everlasting man“ fions ? well might St John say * God is love." The fame spirit of error appears in this as in the former paragraph; but if any thing, it appears here more barefaced : He acknowledges that our services are short, and very inperfe&t; and yet fays, that God will recompense us for them, and that with an incorruptible crown. Alas! what profit and advantage can our short and inaperfect services be to God, that he should recompense us for them after this. manner! 'Wbo bath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? Verily, there is a reward for tbe righteous; but not for his own righteousness sake, but for the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, which only can truly and properly denominate him a righteous man.
* In keeping of the commandments of God, there is great reward even in this world, but not for keeping of them; much less in that which is to come. God indeed does reward his own grace which he has bestowed upon his people, and therefore faith, hope, confidence, &co. have a great recompence of reward even now, and will be found unlo praise, and honour, and glory, at ibe appearing of Christ ; but God never rewards his people for their services, though he rewards them in his service; for when they have done all they can, they have done but their duty, and must acknowledge themselves ? unprofitable servants. Heaven is indeed called the reward of the inheritance', and the recompense of ibe reward; but as the apostle Paul says', the reward is not reckoned of debi, Give me leave, Sir, to transcribe one paragraph more, which is in page 21, " Let me therefore, says he, recommend this to you with the greatest earnest“ nefs, that you would now secure the favour of your judge: if you think “ seriously on the subject, you will confess, that it deserves your best regards, 66 whatever the language of your practice has been.". If by the favour of the judge, he means the love of Jesus Christ to sinners, that is not to be secured now, nor does it need any security from creatures. Christ fixed his love upon his people before the world began": When there was no depth, no fountains abounding with water, while as yet God had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the bigbest part of the dust of the world, Christ was rejoicing in the babitable parts of bis earth, and his delights were with the Sons of men, and these have continued with them ever since; for having " loved bis own which were in the world, be loved them to the end. : There is no danger of losing his love and favour where it is once fixed, for it is like himself, the same yesterday, to-day, and for everk. There can be no alteration made in it, nor any separation from it, for who', or what Mall separate us from the love of Christ? But if by securing it, he means getting an evidence, a manifestation, a knowledge of interest in his love, why must the Spirit of God be neglected as useless ? And why is the creature set to work for it alone, without any hint of gracious allistance from him, especially when it is his peculiar work? to take of the things of Christ, and shew them to us; the love of Christ', and shed it abroad in us; and so to direEt our hearts into it, that? we may be able to comprehend with ali saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ wbich palleth knowledge. Again, if by the favour of the judge, he means the favourable regards of Christ, considered in that character to criminals, and that those favourable regards are to be secured by their application to him, it is a vile reflection on him, as the judge of the whole earth, who always will do right; whofe judgment is, and ever will be, according to truth, not to be governed by favour and affection to any. He is of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord', be will not judge after the fight of bis eyes, neither reprove after the bearing of his ears, but with righteousness will be judge the poor, and reprove with equity, for the meek of the earth. He is not to be bribed with any of the gifts, presents, or services, that any of his creatures are capable of bringing him; his favour is not to be secured by any method of theirso: Will be esteem their riches? No, not gold, nor all the forces of strength.
but of grace.
* 1 John iv, 8.
Phil. jii. 8. m Pfal. lviii. 13. a Luke xyii. 10.
i Rom. viii, 18.
» Psal. xix. 11.
. Heb. X. 35.
i Rom. xi. 34.
$ Heb. xi. 26.
Could u Prov. viii. 24, 26–31.
John xiii. 1. * Heb, xiii. 8. y Rom. viii. 35 John xvi. 15. a Rom, v. 5.
12 Tbel. iii. 5. · Eph. iii. 18, 19. d Ifa. xi. 3, 4.
Job xxxvi, 19.
Could they give him thousands of rams, or ten thousands of rivers of oil, these would not ingratiate them into his favour : all their repentings, cries, and tears, can never work upon his affections ; nor can all their services and performances recommend them to his regard : nothing short of a perfect righteousness, answerable to the righteous law by which all shall be judged, will be taken notice of by him. If he of his own grace and favour, as a Saviour, does not secure them by cloathing them with his own righteousness, they can never secure his favour, as a judge, by any thing they can do. The saints themselves will be admitted into heaven, not by the favour of the Judge, but by the righteousness of the Redeemer ; their acquittance before men and angels will not be an act of favour but of righteousness. The same degree of strict justice will appear in the awful procedure with them, as with others; for we muß all appear before the judgment feat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in bis body, according to tbat be hath done, whether it be good or bad: and at this bar, their only security will be the righteousness of the Son of God, which will be sufficient, according to the strict rules of justice, to answer for them. If therefore Mr Harrison has any regard to the falvation of the fouls of men to whom he preaches, he ought to direct them, not to seek the favour of the Judge, but the grace and, righteousness of the Redeemer.
I shall not, Sir, trouble.you any longer with remarks of this kind. I can not bút observe, that this is the usual strain of Funeral Sermons published to the world; for which reason I cannot have the greatest opinion of them. I must confess there are some exceptions from this observacion, and I cake Mr Richardson's sermon to be one, which was preached upon the same subject, and for the same purpose as this. There are many things in it, which I persuade myself will be grateful and pleasing to you. I will just give you some few hints, which shew his regard to the doctrines of the Gospel.
In page 18,' he gives a plain intimation of his faith in the doctrine of election; a. doctrine that has always been a burthensome stone, an immoveable rock to all its adversaries, where, speaking of the glories of heaven, he has these words, “There, says he, the whole elect of Jesus, who have lived in the “ differenti ages, and dwelt in the several corners of the world, Ihall make * one glorious body, one triumphant affembly."
In page 14, he expreffes himself on the head of Christ's suretyship engagements, and undertakings for his people, and his compleat performance of them, after this manner : “ As the Redeemer failed not in any part of his
“ undertakings fe Cor, v. 30
“ undertakings for his people, agreeable to his own engagements, fo the Fa“ cher has obliged himfelf to bestow all the glory and felicity upon his seed, “ which he has purchased for them.” Which is a brief summary of the covenant of grace.
Again, page 12, fpeaking of the righteousness of Christ, he has expressed his sentiments very judicially, “ When, says he, the Christian hath made the “ greatest advances in holiness, he camnot but reflect upon the whole of his “ conduct with shame and blushing : it is in the righteousness of the Redeemer only, we can appear spotless at the throne of God; this is the Christian's
fole dependence, this his joy, this his comfort, under a view of his own “ imperfections, even this, that he has a righteousness to truft to, and depend
upon, which is equal to all that the law has demanded." This one single paragraph, I will venture to say, is worth Mr Harrison's whole fermon.
In page 22, he ascribes the work of grace in its implantation and exercise, to the Spirit of God, and asserts the absolute necessity of it, to the performance of good works with acceptance ; where, speaking of the meetness or fitness of saints for Christ's appearance, he fays; « This, divines call either “ habitual or actual; by the former, they understand chose graces that accom“ pany salvation, and are implanted in the foul by the Holy Spirit, whereby
they are turned from darkness-to-light, and from the power of Satan unto God. “ And by the latter, a lively exercise of those graces'implanted by the Spirit; " for grace in the soul is an active principle, and the best teacher of good
works, without which indeed, none can be performed acceptable unto God.” And, in page 11, he says, that “God carries on this work, notwithstanding " all difficulties and oppositionswith victorious efficacy.” He afferts, in page 10, the necessity of " receiving strength from Chrift for performing the *“ several parts of evangelical obedience." And in page 9, gives his thoughts of the final perseverance of the faints, in these words ; “ Many snares are laid “ in the Chriftian's way to hinder his progress towards heaven; yet is he “ enabled to walk agreeable to the rules which Christ has prescribed, without
being led away with the error of the wicked, or falling from his own « ftedfastnefs."
These, Sir, 1 presume, are the reasons why this discourse was Aighted and discouraged, and designed to be filled in the embryo, never to have feen the light'; the above doctrines not being agreeable to the taste of the polite part of the town; but sure I am, they are so to every one that has tasted that the Lord, is gracious.: And I am very glad to observe, that they were to the lady
deceased. I think that part of her character, which Mr Richardson has given, adds a glory to the whole of it, when he tells us b : “ Her hopes of everlast
ing life, as she declared to him, were entirely placed on Christ and his righ“ teousness, using these words, There we are safe.” i
But, Sir, before I conclude, I must beg leave to return again to Mr Harriyon. He has been pleased to favour us with the oration which he delivered at the grave. I shall not trouble you with remarking his unguarded sentences, his low thoughts, and mean compliance to a certain set of men, which are too visible in it: I only think, it is pity he had not published his own prayer, and the Lord's prayer, with the benediction at the end of it, which it seems were also delivered at the time of interment, and then we should have had a compleat form of service for the burial of the dead. He observes to us, that “ The service frequently performed amongst the Diffenters, at the burial of “ the dead,” is in this form, whereas there are but very few Diffenters in the nation that use any service at all, at the burial of their dead, but in this city of London; where the greatest part also make no orations at such times, and some of those that do, make no prayer at all, and still fewer use the Lord's prayer : But perhaps, our Orator, is in expectation of making this practice, in time, more common by his example.
He has also published an ode, sacred to the memory of the deceased lady: I confess, Sir, I have but little judgment in poetry, yet I am ready to conclude, it is the best of these his performances,
In the dedication of his sermon to the worthy gentleman and lady there addressed, he appeals to their senses, that it was composed at their request, though in order to be preached by another ; and therefore it is very cautiously expressed : “A request, says he, which was contrary to my expectation,” and, indeed, an unheard of one, and which a man of any honour would never have complied with; though he has the vanity to add, « but founded on reasons “ which both to you and to me (fine language !) appear to be capable of the 4 fullest vindication." And pray now, What were these reasons ? Why, suspicions of Mr Ricbardson's ability to compose, preach, and publish a sermon, which might be acceptable. What little reason there was for those suspicions, the world is now capable of judging, seeing the discourse is made public; and you, Sir, may easily conclude, from the few hints I have extracted out of it, Mr Harrison tells them, “ A very small time was allotted “ him for finishing the discourse;" time enough, unless it had been better performed. He goes on with compliments upon Sir and Madam, and concludes with praying for them, that they might long “ enjoy together the
* Page 30