Page images

transformed in the view of three of his disciples: "His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment became white as the light." The description given of that one transient glorification may help us to some imperfect idea of the present glory of the human nature of Christ in his state of exaltation; and of that in which he will appear, when he comes to judge the world. But though we cannot now distinctly conceive of it, we may be assured it will be such, as will raise the wonder of all, and afford every believer a pleasing surprise and joy. Each saint will have a glory of his own, with which he will be satisfied: all will admire, and be delighted with the transcendent glory and majesty of him who is their common Lord and head.

2. Another thing that will be admired at that time is the love of Christ in what he has done for his people, in order to bring them to the glorious and happy circumstances in which they then appear. This was always matter of wonder to those who duly considered it. It will hereafter appear more admirable. It was owing to the doctrine taught by him in a mean condition, and farther confirmed by his painful death and glorious resurrection, that their hearts were won to God and virtue. It was by "looking unto Jesus, who endured the cross, despising the shame, and then sat down on the right hand of the throne of God;" that they "laid aside every weight, and ran with patience the race that was set before them," Heb. xii. 1, 2. If he had not first overcome, neither had they overcome, as they have done, the allurements and terrors of an evil world. His victory encouraged them, and made them conquerors. So it is in the apostle's triumphant challenge: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us," Rom. viii. 35-37.

3. Another thing, that will be admired by them that believe, is the goodness of Christ in the kind and gracious reception he gives them, and the reward he bestows upon them. This may be argued from the representation, which our Lord himself has given of the solemn procedure at the end of the world: "Then shall the King say unto them on the right hand: come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat; thirsty, and ye gave me drink; a stranger, and ye took me in. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying: Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty,

and gave thee drink?" Matt. xxv. 34-37. It will appear amazing goodness in him, to consider, and reward acts of kindness done to their afflicted and necessitous brethren, as done to himself; especially as they are conscious, that the principle of virtue, from which those good works have proceeded, was formed by his care and institution, and was owing to that love, wherewith he first loved them, in living a life of sorrows, and dying a painful death for their sake.

Thus we have meditated a while upon the several parts of this text. And we perceive, the day of Christ's second coming will be a day of great splendour and magnificence: and shall it not be a day of joy unto us? shall we not partake in the glory and triumphs of that time? This well deserves our consideration. It was a desirable thing, to see the Saviour of the world, when clothed in the sinless infirmities of the human nature: it must be much more desirable, to see him coming in his glory: but neither of these his comings is of advantage unto all. They were his disciples only; and such others, as attentively heard his words, and received them into good and honest hearts, who were entitled to a blessing, as he says to them: "Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear," Matt. xiii. 16. So it will be likewise in the time of his second coming. He appears to complete the redemption of those only, whose salvation was begun here, and who were made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the sons of God.

This text leads us to two things necessary to our seeing Christ with joy; that we be saints, and believers; or, that we have a faith, which purifies the heart, and produces works of righteousness in our lives. So let us be prepared for the coming of the Lord: and let us be diligent," that we may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless," 2 Pet. iii. 14. Let us be such in the frame of our minds, and in all our actions, at every season, that we may be ready to meet him, whenever he comes. These are they, whom Christ pronounceth blessed, as before shown. His words at length are these; "Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching. Verily I say unto you, that he will gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them, And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants," Luke xii. 37, 38.

May this be our case, as we have reason to believe it was that of our honoured Pastor, whose death we, and many others, now lament! At the same time we ought to be

[ocr errors]

thankful, that he has been so long upheld by his Lord and Master in his service, and particularly, as pastor of this congregation, for the space of forty years and upwards: of which relation to this society, and the harmony that had all along reigned therein, he speaks with satisfaction in the preface to his discourses on the principal representations of the Messiah, throughout the Old Testament: Recommending them particularly to those of his own charge, to whom ' he had then stood so long related, and with whom he had • lived in an uninterrupted peace, and with many marks of a distinguishing respect;' which is to your, as well as his honour. He concludes that preface with these words, showing what was the constant aim of his labours, and what the reward he most desired: Such as they are,' says he, I make · a humble sacrifice of them to the honour of the blessed Redeemer, and lay them at his feet: having no higher ambition in this world, than to serve his interest, and be accepted of ❝ him; nor higher expectation and hope, than to be with him and behold his glory.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

His sermons in the stated course of his ministry were judicious and practical, filled with just sentiments, and texts of scripture aptly applied; composed with great propriety of expression, and exactness of order and method; suited to meaner, as well as better capacities; the fruit of much study, serious thought and consideration. The subjects of his preaching were of a large compass, taking in the general principles of religion, with the grounds and evidences of them, and the important duties of the christian life, recommended by forcible motives and considerations: not neglecting any of the various wants and exigences of men, but aiming, by proper and well-chosen arguments, to awaken the secure, quicken the slothful, comfort the afflicted, and strengthen the weak; nor always laying the foundations of religion, but carrying on good beginnings toward perfection. Thus, as a faithful steward and wise overseer, he divided to every one a portion. How he performed some other branches of his pastoral office, many of you must likewise be very sensible, and can bear testimony to the fidelity and tenderness with which he admonished, warned, advised, comforted in private, as the circumstances of things required. His performances at the public ordinations of ministers were always greatly esteemed. In funeral discourses, whether for ministers, or other useful christians, he had a happy art of giving the best likeness without flattery. His delivery, as you well know, was grave and manly, entirely free from affectation, with very little action, in a word,

worthy of himself. As his assistance was much desired in many other places, and his preaching was generally acceptable; I trust there are many, in whom he has been, under God, the instrument of forming a principle of virtue, and of cherishing and improving it by the word of God dispensed by him; who shall be to him, in the great day, a crown of glory and rejoicing. Notwithstanding the exactness of his own compositions, he was a candid hearer of others; and was a true friend, as well as an excellent pattern to younger ministers, in preaching and in conversation.

In his family he was a watchful guardian, a faithful monitor, an affectionate friend.

He had a great command of his temper and his words. He was scarce ever seen to be angry. He very seldom said any thing to the disadvantage of any one; and was much more apt to commend than find fault.

He was a steady friend. If any, who stood in that relation to him, came into trouble, he did not desert them, but liberally relieved, and affectionately comforted them, and persisted to take care of them under continued distresses and afflictions; though sometimes some such returns were made, as could not be altogether agreeable.

He was happy in the esteem and respect of great numbers of his brethren in the ministry, and many others; men of much reading, sound judgment, unquestioned probity, and eminent in their several spheres and stations. Not now to insist on the regard shown him by those of the congregation, to which he was more especially related, and in whom he had much comfort; which was mentioned before.


He scarce ever lost any friendship entirely for being always master of himself, he never irritated by hasty and offensive expressions the displeasure, which any through prejudice might conceive against him: and, as good-will had never ceased, nor enmity taken place, on his part, when opportunities offered, (which were not unlikely to happen, considering his reputation and influence in the world,) he cheerfully performed offices of kindness for such persons, or their friends, and thereby laid them under fresh obligations. Thus he overcame evil with good, and regained the love and esteem of those, who for a while had been estranged from him.

He was a sincere friend of religious and civil liberty: and was always of a catholic spirit, loving good christians of every communion.

Such were his attainments, that it may be well supposed he was particularly fitted for the conversation of men of

rank, and of extensive knowledge: but he could condescend; and in the society of meaner persons he was the same man; as well pleased, and as free and communicative, as in any other; provided he found an inquisitive temper, and some good understanding in the things of religion. In those seasons he appeared very amiable to such as were attentive, and disposed to observe.

The best judges have acknowledged the pieces published by him, which consist of several volumes, and are upon divers subjects and occasions, to be the works of a masterly hand. How constant he was in the public services of his ministerial office in this place, and how frequent elsewhere, are things well known: and when it is considered how laboured and finished all his compositions were; and that, besides, he read much, both in ancient and modern authors; had a numerous acquaintance, and a large epistolary correspondence; and that with care he revised many works of his learned friends, and kindly forwarded some of them to public view, and performed abundance of other good offices in private, and had a concern in many great and useful designs of a more public nature; it may be somewhat difficult to conceive, how he should have sufficient time and strength for what he did: but he was blessed with a most ready apprehension, which fitted him for quick despatch; and moreover, he loved employment, and could endure long and close application.

But to draw to a conclusion: Dr. Harris may be said to have excelled among good men, on account of the number of virtues possessed by him in a conspicuous degree; and on account of the great uniformity of his temper and conduct in the several occurrences of his life. Among great men, in like manner, he had a distinction, inasmuch as there have been few in whom so many accomplishments have met together and been united. What may serve to confirm this part of the character, however exalted it may appear, is his great reputation in the world, which a began very early, and

a Dr. Harris was for a short time assistant to Mr. Read in Gravel Lane, Southwark. In 1698, the twenty-third year of his age, he was chosen to succeed the very eminent Mr. Timothy Crusoe in the pastoral care of the congregation in Crouched Friars, London. In 1703, he was entrusted by the executors of Mr. Nathanael Taylor with the publication of the posthumous papers of that celebrated preacher; to which he prefixed a preface, an example of that excellent manner, by which all his writings are distinguished. How great his credit has been of late years, is well known. I add no more. But, for some farther memoirs of Dr. Harris, would refer to the funeral sermon preached by Dr. Grosvenor.

« PreviousContinue »