Tuesday, February 22

The Puritans: From John Howe

John Howe was Oliver Cromwell's Chaplain. This is an exerpt from Funeral Discourse for the Death of Queen Mary

HEBREWS xii. 23. "AND TO THE SPIRITS OF JUST MEN MADE PERFECT."

Her singular humility adorned all the rest. Speaking once of a good thing, which she intended, she added: 'but of myself I can do nothing;' and somewhat being, (by one of two more only, then present,) interposed, she answered: 'she hoped God would help her.' She is, as the text speaks, gone to Mount Sion, in the highest sense of that phrase....

We should look upon funeral solemnities for such, with more prospect than retrospect, and consider them as directing our eye less downward to our own forsaken world than upwards to the celestial regions and inhabitants. To such, - to die is to be born; they die only out of our mean world, and are born into a most glorious one. Their funerals should be celebrations of their ascent; and an exulting joy should therefore, in that case, not be quite banished from funeral sorrows, but be allowed to mingle therewith, as sunbeams glittering in a cloud. When the greatest person was leaving this world, that ever lived in it, he says: "If ye loved me, ye would rejoice that I say, I go to the Father."

We should bear our part in the joys of heaven upon this occasion, if we relate to it. And when we are told there is joy there, among the angels of God, for the conversion of such who are thereby but prepared to come to their assembly, we may conclude there is much more for their glorification, when they are fully come and joined to it. Funeral solemnities are very dull melancholy shows, without such references forwards and upwards. With how different a temper of mind would two persons have been the spectators of Jacob's funeral, the one of whom should have looked no further than the Canaanites or Egyptians did, who would only say,'Some great person is dead;' but the other, by Divine illumination is enabled to apprehend.

This dust here mingles with the earth of this land, to presignify this people, of whom he was the head, must possess it. Yea, moreover, here the great God will fix his residence and throne; upon such a mount shall be the palace of the supreme King. Here, after great mutations and revolutions, and great destructions both of the Egyptians and Canaanites, shall this people have a long succession of princes and rulers that shall be of themselves: and all this but as representing a King and kingdom that shall rule and spread over all the earth, and reach up at length into heaven. Canaan shall be a holy land. Unto Sion's King shall tributary princes bring their gifts out of Egypt, and Ethiopia stretch out her hands, and all nations serve him. His empire shall confine with the universe, and all power be given him both in heaven and earth.' With what a large and raised mind would such a one have beheld this funeral ! - What better Canaan, than we now behold, we shall have in this world, God knows; and we should be the less solicitous to know intermediate things, when we are so fully ascertained of the glorious end of all things. And. let us reflect upon the solemn pomp of that late mournful assembly, that lamented our queen's departure out of our world, comparing it with the transcendent magnificence of that triumphant assembly into which she is received above.

Biography of John Howe
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