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thou goest, I will go : where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God : where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried; the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me." It is to your honor, madam, and I think it right to speak of it, you had the smiles of your departed father-in-law ; you had behaved with deference and love; he was very fond of you. God make you a comfort to your surviving mother, who has adopted you, and may the Lord Jesus Christ enable you to take God to be your portion.
As for you that are the relations of the deceased, there is one of you that has been honorably called to the service of the ministry : you, sir, was sent for by an endearing uncle ; you have been a stranger in a strange land : the Palatines will bless your ministry ; God has, I hope, blessed it, and provided you a place to preach in. May God grant that the church may be filled with his presence and his glory; and you, madam, be made the instrument of sending the news to heaven for your husband, that, this and that man was born of God there. As for you, the other friends of the deceased, may God grant that when you die, and when you are buried, the people may follow you with tears as they did dear Mr. Beckman last night. I was told by one this morning, that walked along with the funeral, that it was delightful to hear what the people said when the coffin passed by ; they blessed the person contained therein ; oh! he was a father to the poor.
have indeed lost a friend; and I believe there has not been a man, a tradesman in London, for these many years, that has been more lamented than the dear man who now, I hope is at rest. You will know how mindful he has been of you, and that soon after the decease of his disconsolate widow, his substance will be divided among some of you. Give me leave to tell, and entreat you, by the mercies of God in Jesus Christ, to be kind to the honored widow. Do not say, Mr. Beckman my uncle is dead, come pluck up, let us plague her now she is living, we shall have all when she is dead. The plague of God will follow you if you do: if you valued your dear uncle, do all you can to make her life easy ; pay her that respect which you would pay the deceased, were he now living ; this will show your love is genuine, and not counterfeit, and do not lay up wrath against the day of wrath. Follow the example of your dear deceased uncle; the gentleman was visible in him as well as the christian ; he would be in his warehouse early in the morning, that he might come soon to his country house, and there employ himself in his friendly life, and open the door to the disciples of Jesus. It is time to draw to an end, but I will
speak a word to the servants of the family, who have lost a good and a dear master. May the Lord Jesus Christ be your master for ever, that you may be the Lord's servants, however you may be disposed of in this world ; that you may meet your master, your mistress, and all the family in the kingdom of the living God, then we shall have a whole eternity to reflect upon the goodness of a gracious God. O may God help us to sing the forty-sixth Psalm; may we find him to be our strength and our refuge, a very present help in the time of trouble : may the river of the living God make glad your hearts, and may you be with God to all eternity, through the Lord Jesus. Amen and Amen.
3 John ii.
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper, and be in
health, even as thy soul prospereth. What a horrid blunder has one of the famous, or rather infamous, deistical writers made, when he says, that the gospel cannot be of God, because there is no such thing as friendship mentioned in it. Surely if he ever read the gospel, having eyes he saw not, having ears he heard not : but I believe the chief reason is, his heart being waxen gross, he could not understand; for this is so far from being the case, that the world never yet saw such a specimen of steady and disinterested friendship, as was displayed in the life, example, and conduct of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
John, the writer of this epistle, had the honor of leaning on his bosom, and of being called, by way of emphasis, the disciple whom Jesus loved ; and that very disciple, (which is very remarkable concerning him,) though he was one of those whom the Lord himself named Sons of Thunder, (Mark iv. 17.) and was so suddenly, as Bishop Hall observes, turned into a son of lightning, that he would have called down fire from heaven to consume his master's enemies : consequently, though he was of a natural fiery temper, yet the change in his heart was so remarkable, that if a judgment may be formed by his writings, he seems as full of love, if not fuller, than any of his
fellow apostles. He learned pity and benevolence of the Father of mercies; and, to show how christian friendship is to be cultivated, he not only wrote letters to churches in general, even to those he never saw in the flesh, but private letters to particular saints, friends to whom he was attached, and wealthy, rich friends, whom God had, by his Spirit, raised up to be helpers of the distressed. Happy would it be for us, if we could all learn that simplicity of heart which is displayed in these particular words : happy if we could learn this one rule, never to write a letter without something of Jesus Christ in it; for, as Mr. Henry observes, if we are to answer for idle words, much more for idle letters ; and if God has given us our pens, especially if he has given us the pen of a ready writer, it will be happy if we can improve our literary correspondence for his glory and one another's good. But what an unfashionable style, if compared to our modern ones, is that of the apostle to Gaius. The superscription, from the elder to the well beloved Gaius whom I love in the truth ; there is fine language for you! Many who call themselves Christ's disciples, would be ashamed to write so now. I send this,
I and that, and the other; I send my compliments. Observe what he styles himself, not as the pope; but he styles himself the elder. A judicious expositor is of opinion, that all the other apostles were dead, and only poor John left behind. I remember a remark of his, “ the taller we grow, the lower we shall stoop.” The apostle puts himself upon a level with the common elders of a church, that he might not seem to take upon himself authority, not to rule as a lion, but with a rod of love; the elder to the well beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. This Gaius seems to be in our modern language, what we call a gentleman, particularly remarkable for his hospitality. Gaius mine host ; and this Gaius was well beloved; not only beloved, but well beloved ; that is, one whom I greatly esteem and am fond of; but then he shows likewise upon what this fondness is founded; whom I love in the truth. There are a great many people in writing say, dear sir, or good sir, and subscribe your humble servant, sir; and not one word of truth either in the beginning or end; but John and Gaius's love was in truth, not only in words, but in deed and in truth; as if he had said, my heart goes along with my hand while I am writing, and it gives me pleasure in such a correspondence as this, or whom I love for the truth's sake, that is, whom I love for being particularly attached to the truth ; and then our friendship has a proper foundation, when the love of God and the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, is the basis and bond of it. One would think this was enough now;
the epistles originally were not divided into verses as now, that people may the better find out particular places, though perhaps not altogether so properly as they might. The apostle's saying beloved is not needless tautology, but proves the strength of his affection ; I wish that thou mayest prosper, and be in health, even as thy soul prospereih. Gaius it seems at this time felt a weak constitution, or a bad habit of body: this may show, that the most useful persons, the choicest favorites of heaven, must not expect to be without the common infirmities of the human frame ; so far from this that it is often found that a thousand useful christians have weakly constitutions.
That great and sweet singer of Israel, Dr. Watts, I remember about two and thirty years ago, told me that he had no sleep for three months, but what was procured by the most exquisite art of the most eminent physicians; and my dear hearers, none but those that have such habits of body can sympathize with those that are under them. When we are in high spirits we think people might do if they would, but when brought down ourselves we cannot: but notwithstanding his body was in this condition, his soul prospered so eminently, so very eminently, that the apostle could not think it a greater mercy, or the church a greater blessing, than that this bodily health might be as vigorous as the health of his soul. I remember the great Colonel Gardiner, who had the honor of being killed in his country's cause, closes one of his last letters to me, with wishing I might enjoy a thriving soul in a healthy body; but this is peculiar to the followers of Jesus, they find the soul prospers most when the body is worst; and observe, he wishes him a prospering body above all things, that he might have joy and health with a prosperous soul; for if we have a good heart, and good health at the same time, and our hearts are alive to God, we go on with a fresh gale. I observe, that the soul of man in general must be made a partaker of a divine life, before it can be said to prosper at all. The words of our text are particularly applicable to a renewed heart, to one that is really alive to God. When a tree is dead we do not so much as expect leaves from it, nor to see any beauty at all in a plant or flower that we know is absolutely dead; and therefore the foundation of the apostle's wish lies here, that the soul of Gaius, and consequently the souls of all true believers, have life communicated to them from the Spirit of the living God. Such a life may God of his infinite mercy impart to each of us! and I think if I am not mistaken, and I believe I may venture to say that I am not, that where the divine life is implanted by the Spirit of the living God, that life admits of decrease and
increase, admits of dreadful decays, and also of some blessed revivings. The rays of the divine life being once implanted, it will grow up to eternal life; the new creation is just like the old when God said “let there be light, and there was light,” which never ceased since the universe was made, and the favorite creature man was born. Upon a survey of his own works, God pronounced every thing good, and entered into his rest ; so it will be with all those who are made partakers of the divine nature. “ The water that I shall give him, shall be a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
My brethren, from our first coming into the world, till our passing out of it to the spirits of just men made perfect, all the Lord's children have found, some more, and others less, that they have had dreadful as well as blessed times, and all has been overruled to bring them nearer to God: but I believe, I am sure, I speak to some this night, that if it was put to their choice, had rather know that their soul prospered, than to have ten thousand pounds left them; and it is supposed that we may not only know it ourselves, but that others may know it, that their profiting, as Paul says, may appear to all. Because John says, I wish above all things, that thy body may be in health, as thy soul prospers. O may all that converse with us see it in us! We may frequently sit under the gospel, but if we do not take a great deal of care, however orthodox we are, we shall fall into practical Antinomianism, and be contented that we were converted twenty or thirty years ago, and learn, as some Antinomians, to live by faith. Thank God, say some, we met with God so many months ago, but are not at all solicitous whether they meet with him any more ; and there is not a single individual here that is savingly acquainted with Jesus Christ, but wishes his soul prospered more than his body.
The great question is, how shall I know that my soul prospers? I have been told that there is such a thing as knowing this, and that I can be conscious of it myself, and others too. It may not be misspending an hour, to lay down some marks, whereby we may know whether our souls prosper or no. If there be any of you of an Antinomian turn of mind, (I do not know there are any,) I do not know but you will be of the same mind of the man that came to me in Leadenhall twentyfive years ago. Sir, says he, you preached upon the marks of the birth. Marks, says I, yes, sir. O thank God, says hie, I am above marks, I do not mind marks at all : and you may
be assured persons are upon the brink of Antinomianism, that say away with your legal preaching. I wonder they do not say, as they go along the streets, away with your dials, away with