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 15 of 28)
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the flavery of the devil, and have deferted
his kingdom, are the chief objecfls of his rage
and malice j the fury of that roaring lion,

« Rom. 7. ii. I " Cant. 1. 7.

" Ver. 23. I

^ and

Serm. IV. of Mr. John Belcher. 201

and the fubtlety of that old ferpent, can't but
occafion them many fears and troubles, be-
caufe they are not Ignorant of the danger of
his artful devices, nor infenlible of the pain
of his cruel bufferings : and tho they have
the honour and happinefs to conquer him at
laft, yet the wounds they fometimes receive
from his fiery darts, fill their fouls M^ith hor-
ror and anguifh, during the fierce combats
in which they engage ; which makes a be-
liever often take up a complaint of his in-
commodious dwelling in the tabernacle of
his body, not unlike that of the pfalmift.
Wo is me that I fojourn in Mefech, that I
dwell in the tents of Kedar j my foul hath long
dwelt with him that hateth peace ^. While
on the other hand, the tempter endeavours to
rock the wicked afleep with fenfual delights j
and by entertaining them with a thoufand
dreams of imaginary happinefs, makes them
defirous of a continuance in this prefent
world, as their only paradife.

(4.) The experience of a believer, who
has not only on feveral occafions taken a near
profped of the world, and fo difcerned the
vanity of it j but has alfo tajled and feen that
the Lord is good ^ makes him undervalue the
perifhing fweetS of this life, and earneflly de-
lire a full enjoyment of the fubflantial plea-
fures of the other. This makes him argue
as Jonathan did, concerning the honey he

r Pfal. 120. 5,5. I «PfaI.34,8.


202 A fermon at the funeral

found in the wildernefs ^ ; if this little tafle
has fo enlightned my eyes, and fuftained my
heart, how much more both light and plea-
fure fliall I receive when I (liall enjoy a full
repaft of the fame dainties ? He fo difrelifhes
the meat that perifieth^ after having tailed
of the bread of life % that he cries out with
the difciples, hord, evermore give me this
bread ^ ; and having tafted of this old wine,
he does ?tot defre neWy becaufe he is convin-
ced the old is better ^. The pious foul, that
has had fome little glances of her beloved,
ftanding behind the wall^ looki?ig forth at the
windows J and fewi?ig hitnfelf thro the lattice %
longs for a clearer interview -, and having
heard his charming voice at a diilance **, de-
fires his nearer approach, and the fatisfacftion
of his kind embraces. Whereas the unrege-
nerate, who have never been able to tafle
the fweetnefs of the heavenly manna, defpife
it as light bread, and prefer it to the fefi-pots
and garlick of Egypt ^ : and becaufe they are
unacquainted with the delicious relifh of thofe
rivers of pleafure, which flow at the right
hand of God *", having never tailed any
drops of thofe living waters, find no fpiritual
third after them ; but defire rather to lick
the dujl of the earth ^, as if the ferpent's curfe

I Sam. 14. 29, 30.
John 6. 27.

Ver. 33,34,3$.
Luke 5. 59.
Cant. 2. 9.

d Vcr. 8.

« Num. 21.5.

f Pfal. U. II.

s Gen. 3. 14.


Serm. IV. of Mr. John Belcher. 205

were to be efteemed above heavenly blef-

(5.) A holy man who lives by faith, is
able to difcern things that are invifible ; and
by means of this divine perfpedive, to bring
diftant things near, and to render future
things prefent ; fo that all intervals of time
and fpace almoft quite difappear during the
lively exercife of this grace : and 'tis no v^on-
der if fuch difcoveries of that glory to one
that has an affured intereft therein, raife
fervent defires in his foul after the enjoyment
of it ; and together with the preflure of the
burden he groans under here below, make
him fometimes figh out the words of the
pfalmift's wilh, O that I had wings like a
dove ! for then would I fly away and be at
rejl ^ ; while thofe that live by fenfe, who
are without hope^ and without God in the
world ^ either believe not that there is fuch
a ftate of blifs to be enjoy'd by any, at leaft
that they are like to have any portion in it
themfelves ; or are fo brutirfi as to defpife
thofe pure joys, becaufe they are unattaina-
ble in this life, and becaufe they are only
prepared for, and adapted to thofe minds
which are refined by grace j an holy con-
formity to the image of God, being the ne-
ceffary condition of the beatifick vilion of
his face.

h Pfal, 55. ^. i » Eph, 2. 12.


204 Afermon at the funeral

Having now palTed thro' the feveral heads
of difcourfe propofed, I fhall add fome few
reflections by way of ufe. And,

I. From the defcription our text gives of
the frail body of man, in calling it a ta-
bernacle, I might take occafion to fhew not
only that the body and foul are fubftances
of a very different kind, that the one dif-
fers from the other in feveral refpeCls, as
the inhabitant from the houfe or tent he
dwells in j and that the foul is feparable
from the body, and may fubfift, and be ca-
pable of happinefs or mifery when abfcnt
from it, as a man may live when ftripp'd of
his garment, or exil'd from his habitation,
which we have in fome meafure prov'd al-
ready ; but farther, that the foul is as much
more excellent than the body, as a prince is
preferable to the tent wherein he lodges j
that there is no comparifon to be made be-
tween the faculties of the former, and the
organs of the latter, tho thefe are curioujly
and wonderfully made ^ j and that the body
derives its principal beauty as well as ufeful-
nefs, from the refidence of the foul in it,
without which it is a ufelefs lump of inani-
mate matter, its members all become un-
adive, its organs all moiionlefs, and its figure
foon changes and diffolves into corruption
and duft. But I pafs over thefe confidera-
tions, to infer from hence,

^ Pfal. 139. 14,15.

2. That

Serm. IV. of Mr, John Belcher. 205

2. That it highly concerns us to make our
fouls our principal care, and to this end to
beware of fpending too much time, and of
employing too many thoughts in making
provifion for our bodies. What wife man
would be at any great expence in adorning
and beautifying a feeble and decaying cot-
tage, which the next violent blafl of wind
is likely to level with the ground ? Who but
a fool will deny himfelf neceflaries, that he
may furnifli his houfe with fuperfluities, or
will flarve his body to trim his clothes ?
And who but a greater fool than he will
fuffer his precious foul to pine and languifh
under fpiritual poverty, while he pampers
his vile body with the greateft luxury ; and
will curioufly deck this with gay apparel,
while the other is left unadorn'd and naked,
as unworthy of his care ?

3. Seeing the faints, however burden'd at
prefent, have the profpedl of celeftiai glory
before them ; this may ferve to convince the
world, that their ftate, tho conlider'd with
the greateft attendance of afflidlions, is to be
preferred to that of the wicked. 'Tis true,
we have before granted that the former find
many occafions of forrow, which the latter
are unacquainted with ; and that they are
much more prefs'd than thefe, with fome
circumftances of thofe troubles that are com-
mon to both. And let us farther fuppofe
that a holy man's life were a continued fcene
of calajnities ; fuppofe his forrows were yet


2o6 A fermon at th^ funeral

more piercing and grievous, and his mind
more fenfible of grief, and more inclin'd to
ruminate the wormwood and gall of his
fufFerings ; and fuppofe thefe were prolong'd
to many thoufands of years, they would ftill
prove light andy^o// afflictions, when oppos'd
to that exceeding weight of eternal glory '
which raifes his expedtation j and when com-
par'd with that load of mifery and anguifh,
which the wicked muft groan under to eter-

Nay, the advantage would certainly fall
on the fide of the righteous, if they fhould
ballance accounts with the wicked, in regard
of their prefent happinefs in this life. For
tho a holy man has many great afflid:ions,
he has alfo many peculiar bleliings j and if
his fufferings abound^ fo does his confolation
too " : befides, the troubles of the world the
lefs furprize him, becaufe he is taught to
exped them j and the pleafures of it are the
lefs defirable to him, becaufe he has learn'd
the vanity of them, and becaufe his affetlions
are Jet on things abcnje ". Whereas the trou-
ble of an earthly mind is inexprefflble, when
the delights of the world forfake it, becaufe
it hath nothing left to lean upon, or to take
complacency in ; fo that if you deprive a
fenfualift of thofe objeds that occafion carnal
pleafure, he is ready to cry out, Te have ta-
ken away my gods j and what have I more ° !

J 2 Cor. 4. 17, I n Col. 5. 2.

■ 3 Cor. 1. 5. I • Judges 18. 24.


Serm. IV. of Mr, John Belcher. 207

And the many reftlefs defires and trouble-
fonje projeds that agitate his mind, while
he purfues the things of the world ; and the
perplexing fears that often difturb him while
he enjoys them, as well as the mortal forrows
that bow down his fpirit when he lofes them,
render him for the moft part very uneafy.
Add to this the frequent gripes of a guilty
confcience, thofe fpiritual terrors that daunt
the ftoutefl heart, and fhake the firmell cou-
rage, which are often heighten'd toward the
period of his days ; when the amazed foul
finds herfelf hovering over an abyfs of eternal
mifery, and is unable to lay hold on any
thing capable of fuftaining her from finking
into that horrible pit ; and when the difeafes
of the body add weight to the troubles of the
mind, efpecially when ficknefs and death
have been haftened by intemperance and
folly, and the bones are wrack'd with pain,
becaufe^/ZV with thefms of youth p.

Whereas the lafl days of a faint are com-
monly his beft, becaufe there is hope in his
end "^ : his joy increafes when he k^s himfelf
near the confines of the land of promife, af-
ter a weary pilgrimage ; and ready to lay
afide his armour, to bear the pahn of victory,
and to wear the crown of triumph : his foul
fprings for joy, when fhe finds her Ihackles
loofen'd, and her wings preparing for a fpee-
dy flight to the excellent glory ^ Mark the

P Job 20. II. I r 2 Pet. I, 17.

jjcr.31. 17. %


2o8 A fermon at the funeral

perfeB majt, and behold the upright ; for the
end of that man is peace ^

4. This may adminifter comfort to belie-
vers under all their grievances, and {hould
fortify them againft the fear of death. Why
fhould death be formidable to them, whofe
life is hid with Chrift in God ' ? Why fhould
that be a terror to them, v^hich is an occafion
of their highefl advantage ^ ? Death will
only unclothe them, that Chrift may adorn
them ■■, take off their mortal rags, that they
may be inverted with robes of immortality ;
knock off their galling fetters, that they may
enter into the glorious liberty of the children of
God " ; and rend the intercepting veil, that
they may fee him face to face ". Seeing the
king of terrors ads rather the part of a friend
than of an enemy to them, in filencing their
complaints, in appeafmg their groans, in
drying up their tears, and in accomplifliing
their wifhes : and feeing the diffolution of
their bodies, is in order to their refurrecStion,
the pulling down of thefe frail cottages, in
order to raife noble buildings out of them ;
they may well cry out with our apoftle, O
death, where is thy fting ? O grave, where is
thy viBory ^ f

5. This fhould moderate the grief of the
relations and friends of thofe who fleep in
Jefus "" : they are exhorted by our apoftle,

f Pfal. }7. 57. I " * ^°'' *5* *2*

« Col. 3. J. I "" ^ ^°'- M' 55.

« Phil. I. zi. I "^ 1 ThefT. 4. 14.

Rooi. 8. 21.


Serm. IV, of Mr. John Bekhcr. sop

to reftrain their trouble, and not to forrow
like thofe that have no hope y. We ought to
confider, that tho their fouls have abfented
themfelves from their bodies, they are prejhit
with the Lord \ and tho thele are left dead,
they (hall one day revive again, and receive
a glorious form. 'Tis true, the fouls of the
wicked fhall again be clothed with their bo-
dies too ; but their refurred:ion will be more
dreadful than their death, becaufe they (hall
then put on their bodies, as malefadors do
their clothes in order to be drawn to execu-
tion : whereas the fouls of the faints Ihall
put on their glorified bodies at the refurrec-
tion, as a bride decks herfelf with fplendid
attire the joyful morning of her nuptials.

After all, fomething remains to be faid
concerning our deceafed brother, whofe death
has given the occafion of our prefent aflem-
bling ; tho I fhall not fay much, partly be-
caufe I think it is not necefTary in an alTem-
bly that knew him fo well j and partly, be-
caufe I think that great modefty of fpeech is
to be obferved in fuch places, and on fuch
occallons as thefe j and that it becomes thofe
who preach, rather to inftrudt the living,
than to commend the dead ; and to excite
men to praife their Creator, rather than to
amufe them with panegyricks on their fel-
low-creatures. However, thus much I pre-
fume I may warrantably fay of our reverend

J' Ver. I J.

Vol. I, P brother.

2 1 o -^ fermon at the funeral

brother, whofe foul is fled from us to the re-
gions of glory, that he in a good meafure
experimentally knew what we have been ex-
plaining to you. He knew what it was to be
burden'd while he lodged in an earthly taber-
nacle, and thro' the grace of God he knew
what it was to be fupported under the weight
of it, thro' the many fervices and fufferings
he underwent for the fake of his Lord and
mafter, whom he began to follow before he
was far advanc'd in years, and who was the
fupport of his old age, as well as the guide of
his youth. He knew what it was to groan
under the burden of fin, having labour'd for
many months together under the anguifli of
a wounded fpirit, and under the violent ai^
faults of the fubtle tempter j from which he
was at length happily delivered by the fa-
vour of God, who difpeird the black clouds
of horror that benighted his foul ; and
made him glad with the light of his counte-
nance, which almoft conllantly fhin'd on
his fpirit thro'out the remainder of his

During his laft ficknefs, which proved the
means of his diffoiution, he feem'd to have
much peace, and at fome times great joy in
his fpirit ; declaring himfelf the better fa-
tisfied in this flroke of the divine hand, be-
caufe he was taken ill while he was em-
ploying himfelf in his minifterial work, and
exprefling a very great refignation of mind
to the will of God, often faying he was cofi-


Serm. IV. of Mr. John Belcher. 2 j i

tent^ becaufe in the hands of God; tho he
rather chofe to be unclothed of his mortal
body, and to be with Chrift, than to lan-
guifh a long time under the burden of ao-e
and ficknefs, and to live in a condition un-
capable of rendering that fervice to God he
was wont to do.

He pafs'd the time of his illnefs without
any remarkable cloud on his foul, fo far as I
could difcern, who frequently vifited him ;
and that comfort and joy which fuftain'd his
foul was temper'd with humility and con-
trition. He join'd the felf-abafing remem-
brance of his fins to the hope he conceived
for pardon J and exprefs'd himfelf deeply
fenfible of his own unworthinefs, as well as
firmly affured of his intereft in the all-fuffi-
cient facrihce and interceffion of his Re-

God was pleafcd gracloufly to continue
to him the exercife of his reafon almoft to
the laft moments of his life. And but a very
little before his exit, after having taken his
folemn leave of his children and grand-chil-
dren, and implored the divine bleffing on
them, he with an audible and diftind: voice,
committed hh fpirit into the hands of God,

^ Thus he liv'd, and thus he expired, lea-
ving a fweet favour behind him, to the
praife and glory of the grace of God, who
alone can fupport the foul under the weight
of a declining body, and can refrefh her with
P 2 fpiritual

212 A fertnon at the funeral^ 8cc,

fpiritual pleafures, while the agonies of death
are upon her.

To conclude : Let us follow him as he
followed Chrijt ^ ; let us endeavour to alle-
viate the burdens we feel, by the profpe6t of
the glory which is to be revealed " ; let us
poji'ejs our fouls in pafieftce^ and our bodies
in JanBijication and honour ^ ; that when we
come to put them off by death, we may
chearfuUy refign them to be depofited in the
grave, in hope of reafluming them at the re-
furrediion, endowed with noble qualities like
thofe which adorn the glorified body of our
Saviour ; who, to procure us this privilege,
was pleafed to condefcend to dwell in an
earthly tabernacle like ours, and to be prefs'd
down to the very duft with the weight of our
fins % our ficknefles and our forrows **, and
now ever lives to make interceffion for his
people, that where he is, there they may be
alfo % that they who die in the Lord may
ever live with him : for bleffed are the dead
that die in the Lord, from henceforth ; yea,
faith the Spirit^ that they may refl from their
labour Sy and their works do follow them ^.

* I Cor. II. 1. I •* Mat. 8. 17.

» Luke II. ij. I « John 17. 14.

»> I ThcfT. 4. 4. I ' Rev. 14. 13.

«Ifa. 5j,4. '

( 213 )

A ferraon preach'd on Thnrfday the
7th oi September^ 1704. being the
day appointed by her majefty for
a folemn thankfgiving to almighty
God for the late glorious vi(5tory
obtained over the French and Ba-
varians at B/enheim near Hochjlet^
by the confederate forces under the
command of the duke of Marl-


Judges V. 31.

So let all thy enemies periJI?, O Lord . but
let them that love him be as the fiin "juhen
he goes forth in his might,-

|M H E S E words are the conclufion

\^^ of a fong of triumph, occafioned

^ by an eminent victory which God

1^: was pleafed to give the troops of

Ifrael, under the condud of De-

bora/h and Barak, over the army of Jabin

king of Canaan, which was commanded by

P 'I Sifera %

214 -^ thankfgiving fermon

Sifera : and 'tis not eafy to imagine, that any
thing could be better faid at the clofe of fuch
a fong ; for from the grateful refledion here
made on the glorious things God had already
done for his people, their hope is rais'd to
expedt like future bleffings from his favoura-
ble providence. Their diftrefs under the ty-
ranny of Jabin was very great, their vi(5tory
over him very fignal and compleat ; and the
thankfgiving of Deborah and Barak, toge-
ther with the reft of the joyful people who
fliared in the common falvation, was beco-
ming fo great an inftance of the divine com-
paflion and goodnefs : and as their months
were filed with joy\ and their tongues with
fnging s, and their hearts were full of gra-
titude to the Almighty for the great vi

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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 15 of 28)