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truth, for the sake of popular applause, or to avoid, or silence the censures of mistaken and prejudiced men. He might therefore truly say with St. Paul, and take the comfort of it: “ We are not as many, which corrupt the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, speak we in Christ,” 2 Cor. ii. 17. And with the same apostle he might say again : “ Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, (or according to the gospel of God, and in a manner worthy of the favour we have received, and the high office we have been intrusted with,) we have had our conversation in the world,” ch. i. 12.
In brief, his preaching was scriptural, critical, paraphrastical, and consequently instructive. It was also very practical, and sometimes pathetically so at the conclusion.
As his preaching was mightily suited to form in men a rational conviction of the truths of religion, and to carry them on to perfection; so his audience, though not numerous, has usually consisted of the more knowing and understanding christians. And it must be owned, that they do honour to themselves who discern true merit, and cheerfully encourage an open and steady friend to truth and liberty. And they who receive such an one in the name of Christ, and honour him for his work's sake, as bringing with him the doctrine of pure and undefiled religion, especially when under difficulties, are entitled to a like reward with him. So he said to his disciples, who is truth itself, and never encouraged delusive hopes, or groundless expectations : “ He that receiveth you, receiveth me, and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a Prophet in the name of a Prophet, shall have a Prophet's reward,” Matt, x, 40, 41.
He ever was extremely cautious of assuming authority in the church of God. It was his common advice to persons arrived at years of discretion, ' to judge for themselves, and . act according to conviction;' which is very natural for those, who make the scriptures the rule of their faith, and have with care and diligence formed their own judgment upon them. Herein then, as well as in other things already mentioned, he showed himself a faithful servant of Jesus Christ. He remembered, that “ one is our master, even Christ,” and that “ all we are brethren,” Matt. xxiii. 8. So did St. Paul : “ We preach not ourselves,” says lie, “ but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake,” 2 Cor. iv. 5. Which is also agreeable to St. Peter's
directions to bishops, that they should not act as “ lords over God's heritage, but as ensamples to the flock.” Such he assures us, “ when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, will
, receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away," 1 Pet.
As yet I have represented but a part of his usefulness. His talents for instructing and improving the mind were not confined to the pulpit. His conversation also was a great blessing to many. I believe there are several families of God's people, beside those of his own congregation, where the younger, and perhaps some of the elder branches, are not a little indebted to him for a rational religion, and a well-grounded faith in the gospel.
His religious conferences were oftentimes accompanied with prayer. For as he daily prayed in his own family, so he likewise frequently prayed in the families of his christian friends and acquaintance.
Such was the strength of his memory, that this knowledge, though of a vast compass, was always ready for use; whereby he was eminently qualified to be communicative. And, whenever he met with an ingenuous temper of mind, and a disposition to attend, he failed not to bring forth out of his rich treasure. There are not a few, both near and afar off, men of good understanding, of different ages and stations in life, who will readily stand up, and acknowledge, that there is no man from whom they have received more useful hints concerning the important subjects of virtue and religion, than from him.
He has not published so much as might have been expected: however, enough to show his sentiments concerning natural and revealed religion, and to justify the character I have given him.
So the apostles of Christ, and their companions, usually called apostolical men, as an ancient writer observes,' either wrote nothing at all, or but little : (neither the gospels, nor the epistles of the New Testament, being of any great length:) yet they have ever been esteemed the most eminently, and most extensively useful ministers of Christ's kingdom. They who have received knowledge from him, will communicate it to others, both in public and private, in discourse and writing. Upon the whole, I always esteemed Dr. Hunt as useful a minister as any in his time. Which opinion has been as much founded upon the usefulness of his conversation as of his preaching and writing.
Σπεδης της περι το λογογραφειν μικραν ποιεμενοι φροντιδα. Εus. Η. Ε. 1. 3, c. 24, p. 94. D.
His sentiments in religion appear to be very just, and to deserve an attentive regard.
He was of opinion, that the facts, upon which the chris• tian religion is founded, have a stronger proof than any • facts at such a distance of time: and that the books, which
convey them down to us, may be proved to be uncorrupted · and authentic with greater strength than any other writings of equal antiquity.
. Piety,' says he, and extensive virtue, are final in re·ligion. Principles of truth are instrumental. What is ' positive is to be regarded only as means.'
Again: • The principles of truth, relating to natural or • revealed religion, and particularly to the christian doctrine,
are to be considered as instrumental and designed to bring • us to sobriety, righteousness, and godliness. And are not • available to our perfection and happiness, unless these are • produced by them.'
The respect due to moral and positive precepts is happily and briefly expressed by him in this manner: "Let us take
m care, that we do not raise positive duties above moral, which • are of eternal and immutable obligation, and the end of • true religion. And yet let us be careful to observe what
bears the stamp of divine authority: let us not insolently • make a religion for God, but receive it as he has delivered it to us by reason and revelation.'
The design of the ordinance of the Lord's supper has been thus represented by him ; . By receiving the sacra• ment men do not enlist themselves in any party : but only • in general profess themselves christians, and thereby de• clare their resolution to pursue steadily religious' virtue, • as the last design of the institution of Christ.
If it should be asked, what is meant by religious virtue, some other words of his will explain it. Virtue is doing
· • what is right, fit, and agreeable to the truth of things. And • it becomes religious virtue when practised out of a regard • to God: who, as a perfect moral agent, must, in consequence, will, that such creatures as are made capable of it, should conform to what reason dictates.'
Our friend, whose decease we lament, had a wonderful strength of mind. I remember him to have said to me some years ago, though without vanity, (from which no man was more free,) that he believed he could with consideration recollect almost all the sermons he had ever preached. This has been lately confirmed to me, and more distinctly, by a common friend, in these very words: His judgment was
m See his Sermon upon Penance, p. 37.
so exact, that when he had once fixed the sense of a text, • his memory would retain it for many years; and he could • easily, and in a very little time, recollect the method in · which he had treated it, the inferences he had made, and o the whole sermon. This was surprising, as he had no • notes : and yet I have known him preach a sermon upon • half an hour's recollection, which he had preached about • fourteen years before: and he himself told me, he did not « believe he had missed three sentences. This was not a
peculiar case: but he had fixed bis sermons in general in • his head. What an uncommon strength of judgment and memory was this !
This great capacity had been cultivated with care and diligence : accordingly his acquired attainments were proportionable. As much may be easily inferred from what was before said of his preparatory studies. He well understood the several schemes of ancient and modern philosophy. To the
end of his life he continued to read, by way of amusement at least, the celebrated ancient writers both Greek and Roman, whether poets, philosophers, or historians. These are authors, with which men of the learned professions are generally acquainted. But I presume, I may say, without disparagement to any, that he was a better judge of their beauties and perfections, blemishes and defects, than most are. He had also read the remains of the ancient Greek mathematicians, which is an uncommon part of literature. He had a good knowledge of the civil law. In early life he was celebrated for skill in the Hebrew language and Rabbinical learning. He was well acquainted with ecclesiastical history, and had read the ancient christian writers. But the Bible'was his principal study : and the knowledge, in which he most excelled, was the knowledge of the scriptures. Few men, I believe, can be named in any age, who have equalled him therein.
To this last particular, more especially, I apprehend to be owing the great contempt he had for infidels, commonly called deists; who pretend to condemn revelation, without ever having carefully studied and considered it: and though they are apt to give themselves airs of superior knowledge, he looked upon the whole body of them as a sort of men who have only a very superficial knowledge both of scripture and antiquity. To this ignorance of theirs he in part ascribed their infidelity: for he used to assert, that all antiquity confirms and corroborates revelation; and he had a strong persuasion, that the next age would be as remarkable for enthusiasm, as this for infidelity : forasmuch as those
two extremes, he said, take turns, and mutually produce, or occasion each other.
If our friend was a man of great capacity, and various learning; yet sincere piety, uncommon meekness of temper, and mildness of speech and behaviour, most amiable and unaffected modesty, and remarkable inoffensiveness and peaceableness, are as distinguishing parts of his character, as learning and knowledge.
He was a tender husband : as he too was happy in a consort, who by her prudent management of the aftairs of the family afforded him entire liberty to pursue his studies, and discharge the offices of his ministerial function without distraction.
What care he took to instil the best principles, and impart the most useful knowledge to his children, as their minds gradually opened, their own consciences will bear him witness: and it is to be hoped (which indeed I have no cause to distrust) that their future behaviour in life will show, that his paternal care and concern have not been in vain ; and that they will prove every way worthy of such constant, familiar instruction and example.
The benevolence of his temper, his sincerity, disinterestedness, and communicativeness, rendered him a most desirable and valuable friend.
He sympathized with the afflicted: and though he was a man of strong reason, and had a rightly informed judgment and understanding, he did not deny the use of the passions; which have been placed in us by our Creator, and make a part of our constitution.
I have reason to think, that he was liberal to the the utmost of his circumstances, if not beyond them. And he has wished, that men of wealth would sometimes visit the habitations of the poor and sick : supposing, that a near view of their scanty accommodations might soften their temper, and dispose them to afford all the relief that is in their power.
In his latter years he has been several times afflicted with severe fits of the stone and gravel, the acute pains of which he bore with exemplary patience and resignation. And he had behaved likewise with great firmness and steadiness under some very trying afflictions and difficulties, which he met with in the former part of his life.
For about a year before he died, there appeared in him a visible decay; and he seemed to feel it himself: for his prayers and conversation turned much upon his approaching change. He would also lament, that he could be useful no