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be distinctly heard for two or three miles round about, Such phantastical miracles as these, make up a great part of his history. And, admitting all these to be true, which a wise man would be loth to do, our departed friend had that which is much greater and more excellent than all these, a fervent charity to God and men ; which is more than to speak (as they would inake us believe St. David did) with the tongue of men and angels ; more than to raise or remove mountains.
And now methinks it is pity so good a design, so happily prosecuted, should fall and dic with this good man. And it is now under deliberation, if possible, still to continue and carry it on; and a very worthy and charitable person pitched upon for that purpose, who is willing to undertake that part which he that is gone performed so well. But this will depend upon the continuance of the former charities, and the concurrence of those worthy and well-disposed persons in Wales to contribute their part as formerly ; which I persuade myself they will chearfully do. I will add but one thing more concerning our deceas'd brother, that though he meddled not at all in our present heats and differences as a party, having much better things to mind; yet, as a looker-on, he did very sadly lament them; and, for several of the last years of his life, he continued in the communion of our church, and, as he himself told me, thought himself obliged in conscience so to do.
He died in the seventy seventh year of his age, Oetober 29. 1681. It so pleased God, that his death was ve. ry sudden; and so sudden, that in all probability he himself hardly perceived it when it happened ; for he died in his sleep. So that we may lay of him, as it is said of David, After he had served his generation according to the will of God, he fell asleep.
I confess, that a sudden death is generally undesirable, and therefore with reason we pray against it; because lo very few are sufficiently prepared for it. But to him, the constant employment of whose life was the best preparation for death that was possible, no death could be sudden : nay, it was rather a favour and blessing to him, because by how much the more sudden, so much the more caly; as if God had designed to begin the reward of the E 2
great pains of his life in an easy death. And indeed it was rather a translation, than a death ; and, saying that his body was left behind, what was said of Enoch, may not unfitly be applied to this pious and good man with respect to the suddenness of his change : He walked with God, and was not ; for God took him.
And God grant that we who survive may all of us sincerely endeavour to tread in the steps of his exemplary picty and charity; of his labour of love, his unwearied diligence and patient continuance in doing good, that we may meet with that encouraging commendation, which he hath already received from the mouth of our Lord, Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou jizto the joy of thy Lord.
Now, the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you always that which is pleasing in his fight, through Jefus Clrift; to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
S E R M O N XXIV. Preached at the funeral of the Reverend Benjamin Whichcot, D. D. May 24. 1683.
2 COR. v. 6. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that whilst we
are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.
Hefe words contain one of the chief grounds of I encouragement which the Christian religion gives
us against the fear of death. For our clearer understanding of them, it will be requisite to consider the context, looking back as far as the beginning of the chap er, where the Apostle pursues the argument of the
foregoing chapter, which was, to comfort and encourage Christians under their afflictions and sufferings, from this consideration, that these did but prepare the way for a greater and more glorious reward : Our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exa ceeding and eternal weight of glory. And suppose the worst, that these sufferings should extend to death, there is comfort for us likewise in this case : verf. 1. of this chapter, For we know, that if our carthly house of this tabernacle were disolved, we have a building of God, &c, If our earthly house of this tabernacle : He calls our body an earthly house; and that we may not look upon it as a certain abode, and fixed habitation, he doth, by way of correction of himfelf, add, that it is but a tabernacle, or tent, which must shortly be taken down; and when it is, we Mall have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. This is a description of our heavenly habitation, in opposition to our earthly house or tabernacle. It is a building of God; not like those houfes or tabernacles which men build, and which are liable to decay and dissolution, to be taken down, or to fall down of themselves; for such are those houses of clay which we dwell in, whofe foundations are in the duft; but an habitation prepared by God himself, a house not made with hands; that which is the immediate work of God, being in scripture opposed to that which is made with hands, and effected by human concurrence, and by natural means : and being the immediate work of God, as it is excellent, so it is lasting and durable, which no earthly thing is; eternal in the heavens, that is, cternal and heavenly.
For in this we grone earnestly; that is, while we are in this body, we grone by reason of the pressures and afflictions of it. Defiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven : if so be that being clothed we Mall not be found naked. Defiring to be clothed upon; that is, We could wish not to put off these bodies, not to be stripped of them by death ; but to be of the number of those who, at the coming of our Lord, without the putting off these bodies, shall be changed, and clothed upon with their house which is from heaven, and, without dying, be invested with those spiritual and glo
rious and heavenly bodies which men shall have at the resurrection.
This, I doubt not, is the Apostle's meaning in thcfe words; in which he speaks according to a common opinion among the disciples, grounded, as St. John tells us, lipon a mistake of our Saviour's words concerning him: If I will that be tarry till I come. Upon which St. John tells us, that there went a faying among the brethren, that that disciple hould not die; that is, that he should live till Christ's coming to judgment, and then be changed; and consequently that Christ would come to judgment before the end of that age. Suitable to this common opinion among Christians, the Apostle here says, In this ane grone earnestly, defiring to be clothed upon with our houlé zhich is from heaven ; if to be that being clothed, ve Mall not be found nakeit. It hath puzzled interpreters what to make of this passage: and well it might ; ior, whatever be meant by being clothed, how can they that are clothed be found naked? But I think it is very clear, that our translators have not attained the true sense of this paffage, Εύγε και ένδυσάμενοι, και γυμνοί ερεθηcóueld, which is most naturally rendered thus, If ro be we lhall be found clothed, and vot naked ; that is, if the coming of Christ shall find us in the body, and not diverted of it; if at Christ's coming to judgment, we shall be found alive, and not dead. And then the sense of the whole is very clear and current: We are desirous to be clonied upon with our house from heaven, (that is, with our spiritual and immortal bodies), if so be it shall so happen, that at the coming of Christ we shall be found alive in these bodies, and not stripped of them before by death. And then it follows, For we that are in this tabernacle do grone, being burthened, (that is, with the afflictions and pressures of this life) ; not that we would be unclothed, (that is, not that we desire by death to Be divested of these bodies), but clothed upon, (that is, if God see it good, we had rather be found alive, and changed, and, without putting off these bodies, have iinmortality as it were superinduced), that fo mortality might be swallowed up of life. The plain sense is, that he rather desires, if it may be, to be of the number of those who shall be found alive at the coming of Christ,
and have this mortal and corruptible body while they are clothed with it, changed into a spiritual and incorruptible body, without the pain and terror of dying : of which immediate translation into heaven, without the painful divorce of soul and body by death, Enoch and Elias were examples in the Old Testament.
It follows, v 5. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing, is God; that is, it is he who hath fitted and prepared us for this glorious change; who also hath gi- ven us the earnest of the Spirit. The Spirit is frequently in scripture called the Witness, and Seal, and Earnet of our future happiness, and blessed resurrection or change of these vile and earthly bodies into spiritual and heavenly bodies. For as the resurrection of Christ from the dead, by the power of the Holy Ghost, is the great proof and evidence of immortality; so the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelling in us, is the pledge and earnest of our resurrection to an immortal life.
From all which the Apostle concludes in the words of the text, Therefore we are always confident ; that is, we are always of good courage against the fear of death, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, šv dnp.ov v tes e’v tỘ owpati, which may better be rendered, whilst we converse or Jojourn in the body, than whilst we are at home; because the design of the Apostle is, to shew, that the body is not our house, but our tabernacle; and that whilst we are in the body, we are not at home, but pilgrims and strangers. And this notion the Heathens had of our present life and condition in this world. Ex vita discedo (saith Tully) tanquam ex hofpitio, non tanquam ex domo ; commorandi enim natura diversorium nobis, non habitandi locum dedit : “We go out of “this life, as it were from an inn, and not from our “ home; nature having designed it to us as a place to ” sojourn, but not to dwell in.”
We are absent from the Lord; that is, we are detained from the blessed sight and enjoyment of God, and kept out of the possession of that happiness which makes heaven.
So that the Apostle makes an immediate opposition between our continuance in the body, and our blessful