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MINISTERS OF THE TRON CHURCH,
Taken from the Funeral-Discourse delivered April 80, 1809,
by Sir H. MONCRIEFF WELLWOOD, Bart. D. D.
ONE OF TH
It has been the good pleasure of God to take from the world, by a most unexpected death, your faithful and venerable pastor, at a time when he was as ardent and active in the service of the gospel as he had ever been ; and when, to human observation, there was every reason to suppose that he might have been reserved for many years of useful and honourable labours. The will of the Lord be done! -- but let us not forget what he was amongst us, and before all the people whom we have followed to the grave with such deep regrets, and whose face we shall see no more.
He feared the Lord from his youth; and, though he possessed advantages above the common lot for situations far more enviable in the eyes of the world, he early and earnestly resolved to devote himself to the service of God, in the ministry of the gospel.
He taught himself, from the beginning of his life, and was taught of God' to value the blessings of independence, chiefly as they enabled him, without distraction, to apply his mind to the duties of a Christian Minister ; and, as a faithful steward of the gifts of God, to be kind and useful to human beings, especially to them whom he believed to belong to Christ, as Providence gave him the opportunities. He was distinguished through life by a liberality, in which he knew no other limits than the extent of the means which he could conscientiously employ in usefulness to men, or fidelity to God.
How he was prepared to labour, in word and doctrine, by the tem per of mind which he possessed, and by all his views of conscien. XVII.
tious fidelity, I have no occasion to relate to you. The earnests ness with which he taught and exhorted, both publicly and from house to house, and the affectionate solicitude for your eternal interests, which was visibly marked on every part of his ministrations, have, I trust, left impressions on your minds, which ye will recollect with delight to the end of your lives.
But shall I not mention the known integrity and purity of his mind? -- the candour and sincerity which so eminently distinguished him through life, and which ever commanded the confidence of those who differed from him most in judgment? the fair, open, and generous spirit which he invariably discovered when he judged of other men, or acted with them? the scorn with which he ever contemplated an unfair, an interested, a disingenuous proceeding ? - the mildness of his temper, of which, by the grace of God, he had acquired the entire command, and (what can certainly be said of few amongst us all) which was scarcely ever known to have been roused into passion, either in public or domestic life? --- the earnestness and godly sincerity with which he followed every good work, and cooperated with other men whom he believed to be sincerely disposed to be useful ? - with no shade of worldly selfishness to pervert his conduct; without ostentation, superior to envy, and superior to pride : gentle and forbearing with all men, but firm and immoveable when he saw his duty before him, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord !
It must not be forgotten, that genuine piety, and the habitual power and experience of personal religion, were the great sources of his conduct, and gave the spirit and character to his public . ministrations.
The impressions of a sincere and ardent devotion, steadily cul, tivated through life, were ever on his inind. They accompanied and distinguished him wherever he was : - in his family, and among his friends, in his most cheerful state of mind; among those whom he endeavoured to assist or to edify by his private conversation, or his pastoral admonitions ; when he instructed the youth committed to his care, and conscientiously laboured to train them, not only in the sound knowledge of the gospel, but in genuine godliness, for the service of the church of Christ ; when he addressed you from this place, with the earnestness which was impressed on whatever he said, testifying the gospel of the grace of God, or exhorting you all with the solicitude of a man of God, that eternity and salvation by Christ might be ever in your thoughts, and that with purpose of heart ye cleave unto the Lord.'
Genuine godliness and faith unfcigned, were, in visible and prominent characters, impresxed on all his ministrations; and now that his labours have ceased for cver, and he is taken away, by the will of God, froin the service of the church of Christ,
and from all the evil to come, 'I am persuaded there is not one in this assembly, who truly knew him, who will not bear me witness, that I say no more than the truth concerning him, when I take you to record this day, That he was a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith,' - a distinguished example to the flock over which he was placed : that he made it his first concern through life, that Christ might be glorified in him; and that by means of his fidelity among the youth, and among all who heard him, "much people might be added unto the Lord.'
The circumstances of his death were most eminently suited to his assiduous ard conscientious life.
From the commencement of the short illness which occasioned his dissolution, he thought himself aware of its termination; and he earnestly and pathetically expressed, not merely an entire resignation to God, but the most interesting satisfaction and delight, from the immediate prospect of entering on the possession of eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The prospect of meeting with those precious friends who have gone before me,” he said, is most enlivening ; but it is nothing, when compared with the assurance of being with Christ, which is far better. I am dying in peace with God and man: Í die in the firm belief of the certainty and importance of the everlasting truths which I have declared to others. This body shall moulder into dust; but I know that Christ shall raise it up at the last day!'
He said this, and much more in the same spirit, during the progress of a dissolution, which he regarded as the certain passage to his desired home. When his friends intimated their wishes that a physician should be called, he cheerfully acquiesced, and said, 'I am ready to use every mean for restoration ; but think it probable I shall not recover.
What a pleasing prospect to a Christian, that he is going home! - for to die, is to go home indeed, to be with Christ for ever! When he had said to one of his attendants, “I am sensible that my dissoJution is fast approaching,' - and was answered, that the change would be a blessed change to him, ' O yes,' he replied, “I shall be ever with the Lord ! One of his medical friends, asking him how he had been through the night impiediately preceding his death, -- he said, “I am free of pain ; and am going fast into the eternal world! I have had much delight through the night, in committing my family to God.'
These particulars, equally interesting and consolatory, represent the state of his mind better than any description. He possessed his understanding, with little interruption, clear and entire to the last moment, when he was able to pronounce articulate sounds. He expressed the most visible delight in uttering the affectionate concern, which seemed to dwell on his thoughts, for the congregation entrusted to his pastoral care, and for the youth he had laboured to instruct for the church of God; and he desired, with earnest solemnity, that it sbould be told to his friends, and told to his brethren, That he died in the blessed and lively hope of the gospel !
Among the last words proceeding from his departing spirit, these were distinctly heard : None but Christ, none but Christ!' and when an attendant said, “Sir, you will soon be with Christ, he replied, with visible eagerness and joy, "Yes, yes!'
It is most useful to contemplate such an example as this, of life and of death. Full of the Holy Ghost and of faith,' he lived and died, as he exhorted you, 'Cleaving to the Lord * How precious an attainment, to be able, in any degree, to follow his faith unfeigned, his godly sincerity, his mild and gentle spirit, his animating and triumphant hope in death!
How blessed, to be prepared to adopt, with the same ardent mind, as we go down to the dust, the last words which his voice was heard to utter on the evening on which his last illness commenced, while he believed himself to be still in possession of perfect health! They were naturally suggested by a conversation, of which they were the close: I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness; which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me; and not to me only, but to all them who love his appearing. I know in whom I have believed ; and am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day.'
Amen, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord! Yea, saith the Spirit, they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.' Amen.
The following short Account of Dr. Hunter's Death is taken
from the Christian Magazine for June : On Saturday, April 16, Dr. Hunter attended public worship in the church of North Leith, where the Lord's Supper was to be celebrated on the Sabbath following. He was then in his usual health ; but next morning was seized with an inflammatory disorder, which put an end to his valuable life on the evening of Friday, April 28, in the 66th year of his age, and 39th of his ministry. He was ordained minister of the new church in Dumfries, 1770, and translated in 1779 to the New Grayfriars Church, Edinburgh. In the same year he was associated with the late Professor Hamilton, as conjunct Professor of Divinity; and on the
death of Dr. George Wishart; one of the Ministers of the Tron Church, Dr. Hunter succeeded him in that collegiate
* The text on which the funeral-discourse was founded, Acts ii. 23, 24, • Barnabas exhorted them all, 'That, with purpose of heart, they would cleave unto the Lord; for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith ; and much people was added unto tbe Lord.'