Joseph Stennett.

The Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryJoseph StennettThe Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 28)
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and Elias j becaufe he elfewhere fays, Be-
holdy I fiew you a ?nyflery ; ive jhall not all
Jleep, but we Jhall all be chajiged ; /;/ a moment^
m the twi7ikVmg of an cyc^ at the laji trump :
for the trumpet jhall founds and the dead fiall
be raifed incorruptible^ and we Jhall be chan-
ged ^. And again : We which are alive, and
remain to the coming of the Lord, Jl:all not pre-
vent them which are afleep ; for the Lord him-
felf JI2 all dej'c end from heaven with a Jhout, &c.
^hen we which are alive a?id remain, foall be
caught up together with them in the clouds to
meet the Lord in the air j and Jb fiall we ever
be with the Lord ^.

But I can't think this is the fenfe of the
apoftle in the words of our text, becaufe he
feems not to have expected the fecond co-
ming of Chrift in the age wherein he lived,
feeing he prophefies of thofe troubles that
fhould befal the church in future ages, by
the fubtlety and power of antlchrift ' ; and
becaufe it is not to be fuppofed that he had


B I Cor. M. 51, 5t. I i 2 ThcfT. 2. I Tim. 4.

* I ThcflT. 4. 15, 16, 17.



Serm. IV. of Mr, John Belcher. 185

any expedlation of furviving thofe many ages
of fufferings that the church was to be exer-
cifed with, feeing God was pleafed to reveal
to him how great things he Jhould fuffer for his
name's fake ^ ; and feeing he was able to pro-
phefy of his own diflblution in exprefs terms,
as he does to his fon Timothy, / am now
ready to be offer edy fays he, and the time of my
departure is at hand. I have fought a good
fight ^ I have finijhed my courfe ', &c. Nay,
that he and other chriftians not only ex-
pected, but defired to die, is evident from
thofe words of his a little after our text ;
We are confident and willing to be abfent from
the body, and to be prefent with the Lord ^ :
for this abfence from the body exprelTes the
foul's fepa ration from it, and is inconiiflent
with a fuppofition of having their bodies
transform'd in a moment without dying, as
the bodies of thofe faints fhall be, who (hall
be found alive at the fecond coming of

The meaning of the words rather feems to
be thus, We groan^^not for that we would be
unclothed ; q. d. " not (imply and abfolutely
" to be divefled of our bodies, but to be clo-
" thed upon ; q. d. to be adorn'd with glory
" and blifs. Death is not de(irable to us in
" itfelf, but as it is the way to happinefs and
" immortality." For the faints have the
dbntiments of human nature common to other

^h&s^.iC. I Afts zo. ii. 14, 38.

\ z Tim. 4. 6, 7. See alfo, \ J^ 2 Cor. 5. 8.


1 8^ A fcrmon at the funeral

men ; their fouls are join'd to their bodies
with the fame bonds, and they are confcious
of inward reluctances when death is before
them. Our bleffed Saviour himfelf was not
exempt from natural fears, but had an inno-
cent averfation from mifery and death, which
the refolution of his will fuperfeded, as ap-
pears by his prayer in the garden : O my fa-
ther^ if it be pojfble let this cup pafs from me j
neverthelefs not as I "doill^ but as thou ivilt ".
Thus it is with believers, they naturally
{hrink at the appreheniions of death j they
do not defire to die fimply, becaufe they
would be rid of their bodies, for they are a
part of themfelves, and felf-prefervation is a
principle deeply inlaid in human nature ; but
becaufe of two evils, one of which is inevi-
table, the leaft is to be chofen. Seeing they
mull either be abfent from the body, or be
abfent from God ; be diflodged from their
earthly houfes, or infefled with fm and for-
row J they cannot but on the moil deliberate
thoughts conclude, that 'tis befl for them to
be unclothed of flefh and blood, which can-
not, in its prefent condition, inherit the king-
dom of God ** j that they may be clothed with
perfed: fandlity and glory, immediately upon
the diilblution of their bodies : and this in
order to be clothed with glorious and im-
mortal bodies, at the happy day of the re-
furreftion of the jufl. For I take both the
glorification of the feparate fouls of the faints,

» Mat. i(J. 39. I " » Cor. 15. 50.

2 and

Serm. IV. of Mr, John Belcher. 187

and their farther glory when invefled with
refurredlion-bodies, to be comprehended in
the text. That the former is included, is
evident from the apoftle's faying a little after.
We are confident and willing rather to be abfent
from the body^ and to beprefent with the Lord p *
and that we are not to exclude the latter, ap-
pears from the laft claufe in our text, which
the apoftle mentions as the hope of believers,
and the reafon of their willingnefs to change
their flate, namely, that mortality might be
fwallowed up of life ; that is, that mortality
might vanifh and difappear, and eternal life
take place and fucceed it, the full accom-
plishment of which cannot be before the
refurredlion, when thefe mortal bodies fhall
have put on immortality j for then^ as this a-
poftle exprefly tells us, that faying^ equiva-
lent to this, fhall be brought to pafs. Death is
fwallowed up in viBory "i. I fhall therefore
confider the words in both refpe> Pfal. 139. tf. I 1 Job 19. 25,26,27.

•^ a Cor. 5. 1. I " I John 3, i.

O 2 love

jgS ^ fermon at the funeral

love to him j ever moving towards him by
the moft ardent defires, and ever refting in
him with the moft perfedl fatisfaftion.

And now is it any wonder, if, on the one
hand, the weighty burdens which a faint
bears, and on the other the perfed reft and
happinefs which he expedls, make him,

IV. Exprefs both his great fenfe of the
weight that prefTes him, and his fervent de-
fire of the deliverance promifed him, by
groaning ?

For this term as well ftgnifies a defire of
eafe, as a fenfe of pain ; a longing after fu-
ture happinefs, as well as an uneafinefs under
prefent mifery ; becaufe thefe fentiments
meet together in the foul, and mutually ex-
cite one another : the more a man feels his
mifery, the more he defires deliverance ; and
the more he longs for a ftate of blifs, the
more uneafy he is in a ftate of trouble. And
therefore groaning and defiring are ufed in
fcripture as terms of like import i as appears
by thofe words of the pfalmift, Lord^ all ?ny
defire is before thee^ and tny groaning is not hid
from thee ^ And as our apoftle fays, the
whole creation groans ^ — to fignify, what he
before calls, the earneji expeBation of the crea-
tion ^ ; fo he expreftes the defire and hope of
believers after the fame manner : And not
only they, fays he, but ourfelves alfo who have

^ Pfal. 38. 9. I »> Vcr. 19.

s Rom. 8. 22.


Serm. IV. of Mr, John Belcher. ipy

received the jirjl-fr nits of the fpirit, even we
onrfelves groan within ourfelves, waiting for
the adopt ion^ to wit^ the redemption of our body '.
A paffage that runs parallel with our text,
which fays, believers groan — to be clothed
upon^ that mortality might be [wallowed up of
life J and with thofe words jull: before it,
tor in this we groan earnejily^ defiring to be
chthed upon with our houfe which is from
heaven ^.

Tho the fouls of the wicked, as well as
thofe of the righteous, are incumber'd with
mortal bodies, which occafion them many of
the fame kind of evils, and fome of them to
a far greater degree ; for if their afflictions
are not always fo many, their errors and fms
are more : and tho they defire happinefs
in general as well as the others, yet they do
not groan under the weight of thefe burdens,
and after that glorious ftate of liberty we
have been difcourfing of, as the others do.

The reafons why the deep fenfe of thefe
grievances, and earncft afpirations after de-
liverance are to be found in the minds of
holy men, and in theirs only, deferve to be,
at leafl briefly, inquired into.

(i.) The ftrong and lively convictions a
regenerate man has received, both of the
great evil and folly of fin, and of the excel-
lency and beauty of a ftate of perfeCt holi-
nefs, which is not to be enjoy'd but in the
other world, make him weary of his pre-

» Vcr. ij. I k I Cor. 5. a.

O 3 fent

ip8 A fcrmon at the funeral

fent ftatc, and very defirous of a change :
he is fo far enllghtned by the fpiiit of truth,
and. he fometimes looks upon fin with fo
ftri(ft and fevere an eye, that he fees that de-
formity and ughnefs in ir, which others ne-
ver difcern, or fo much as imagine. He
meafures the guilt of fin, by the objedt againft
whom it is committed ; and accounts it in-
finitely evil, becaufe diredtly oppofite to that
God who is infinitely good. He weighs his
iniqui'ies together with the many aggrava-
tions that attend them ; and calls to mind
againfi: how much grace and love, againfl
how much light and knowledge, againfl how
many calls and warnings from God, and
againfl how many vows and refolutions of
his own he has finned. His confcience is too
much enlightned, and too fenfible to be ap-
peafed and luU'd afleep by the many falfe-
glofl'es which others put on the divine laws ;
and by the foolifh extenuations and excufes
they employ, who cover their tranfgrejjions as
Adam, by hiding their iniquity in their bofom ^
And the more his mind is illuminated, the
more fenfibly is his heart affeded with his
guilt and the confequences of it ; fo that
when he remembers his ajiidfion and his mi-
Jery, the imrmivood and the gall, his foul is
humbled in him '". Thus the enlargement of
his knowledge gives him occcafion of trou-
ble on this account, as we have fliewn the
imperfedlion of it does on feveral others j

' Job ^r. 3 j. I "* Lam. 3. 19, zo.


Serm. IV. of Mr. John Belcher. \gg

and in this refpe

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Online LibraryJoseph StennettThe Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 28)