Hercules Collins’ Funeral Sermon

hercules-collins-funeral-sermonHercules Collins died on October 4, 1702. He was interred five days later at Bunhill Fields, the burial ground of dissenters. His funeral sermon was preached by John Piggott, a Seventh-Day Baptist who was renown for his funeral sermons. He preached a number of sermons around this time at the funeral services of prominent London Baptist pastors. The sermon was based on Matthew 24:44, “Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an Hour as you think not, the Son of Man cometh. 

The first part of the sermon focused on the biblical text. The latter part of the sermon summarized the life of Collins. This section of the sermon is excerpted below.

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In such a posture of soul was he, whose death occasions this discourse.  I doubt not but he was actually as well as habitually ready; you know I mean your late worthy pastor Mr. Hercules Collins, concerning whom I have need to say the less, because his doctrine you have heard, and his example you have seen for so many years; the former was agreeable to the sentiments of the reformed churches in all fundamental articles of faith, and the latter such as did adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour.

He began to be religious early, and continued faithful to the last. He was not shocked by the fury of persecutors, though he suffered imprisonment for the name of Christ.

He was one that had a solid acquaintance with divine things, about which he always spoke with a becoming seriousness and a due relish; and I must say, I hardly ever knew a man that did more constantly promote religious discourse (a practice almost out of fashion:) he shewed an unwearied endeavour to recover the decayed power of religion, for he lived what he preached, and it pleased God to succeed his endeavours in the gospel after a wonderful manner. Are there not here many that must call him Father, whom he hath begotten through the gospel? May it not be said of this man and that woman, they were born here?

If he had not some men’s accuracy, yet it was made up by a constant flame; for no man could preach with a more affectionate regard to the salvation of souls. And how well he discharged the other branches of his pastoral function, this church is a witness, whom he has watched over and visited above five and twenty years.

He had Luthers three qualifications for a gospel-minister; he was much given to meditation and prayer, and hardly any man was more grievously tempted of the devil than your deceased pastor: though for many years satan in a great measure was bruised under his feet, and God had so cleared up his love to his soul, that he could say, I know in whom I have believed, I know to whom I have committed my soul, I know that my Redeemer liveth; and I know that when this earthly house of my tabernacle is dissolved, I have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. His constant walk was in the fear of the Lord, and in the comforts of the Holy Ghost. He had a full assurance of the love of God for many years; yet this did not make him careless and negligent in duty, it did not lift him up above measure, but kept him at the foot of Christ.

How exemplary was his submission under personal and relative trials; his own indispositions were frequent and great, yet in patience he possessed his soul, and was always learning from the discipline of the rod: and how well he carried it under the affliction he had with a near relation, you cannot but know. I confess I have thought him in that respect one of the best examples that ever I knew; surely no person could be more tender and sympathizing. In a word, he was faithful in every relation, a man of truth and integrity, one entirely devoted to the service of the temple, and zealously bent to promote the interest of the Lord Redeemer. But alas! this useful minister is silenced, and a few days indisposition has given him a remove from the toils of the pulpit, to the triumphs of the throne.

I confess I had not the opportunity of conversing with him in his last illness; but I am informed by those that were with him, that he retained an excellent savour of divine things to the day of his death, and did discourse but the morning before he died after a very moving manner, being greatly affected with those words, They overcame by the blood of the Lamb (This was the last text that he preached on, it being on a funeral occasion.). ‘Tis true, he is fallen in battle, but he died more than a conqueror; and having fought the good fight, and finished his course, and kept the faith, he quitted the body, that he might receive an unfading crown of glory.  But we are left behind unripe for Heaven, and God is teaching us by terrible things in righteousness.  As we shall discover great stupidity, if we do not observe how God hath broken us with breach upon breach (Mr. Dennis and Mr. Thomas Harrison both died in the compass of six days in August last; and since the preaching of this sermon Mr. William Collins is deceased.): He hath removed both younger and elder ministers.  Therefore on this occasion suffer me to speak a few words to three sorts of people, and I have done.

  1. To Surviving Ministers. I confess I am the unworthiest of your number; and considering my age, and before whom I stand, my words ought to be few.  Yet the sense I have upon my own soul concerning the methods of God’s providence towards us, inclines me to address my self to you, my Fathers, that were in Christ before me, and preached him before I knew him.  Suffer a son to put you in mind of doing the utmost you can for Christ while here; for you must shortly go, and what then shall we do to stem the tide of profaneness, and answer the cavils of sceptics against our holy religion?    O pity, pity the rising generation of young ministers; Pray for them, advise them, and do all you can to help them in their work, before you leave them: Be an example to them, that when you are gathered to your fathers, we may stand up and plead for your God and Ours.  And you, my brethren, that are younger, let me intreat you to apply your selves to close study and constant prayer, that you may shew yourselves workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
  1. To you, my Brethren of this Church, that have lost an excellent pastor. In the midst of your tears look up to Heaven, and pray to the Lord of the Harvest that he would send forth labourers into this harvest (Mat. 9.38).  Remember the God you pray to can dispense the Spirit in what measures he pleases, and qualify whom he will for the ministration of the gospel.  But let not that make you defective on your part: You must not expect that preachers will drop down from Heaven, or spring out of Earth; but due care must be taken fore the incouragement of humble men that have real gifts, and let such be trained up in useful learning, that they may be able to defend the truths they preach.  Your pastor’s mouth is stopped, and cannot speak to you; but this I am sure was the sense of his mind.  To close this head, labour to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace: And tho your Elder is dead, remember your relation to the Church is not dissolved, but you are bound to keep your places, and to do your utmost to promote the happiness of this congregation.  The Church is in a state of widowhood; and I hope you will not forget to sympathize with your Pastor’s distressed widow, to defend her right, and support her to the last.

Be as speedy as you can in filling up the place in the church of him that is gone: and may you have a pastor after God’s own heart.

  1. To you that were the constant auditors of the deceased minister. ‘Tis to be feared that many of you have not improved so much as you ought to have done: You are witnesses with what zeal and fervour, with what constancy and seriousness he used to warn and persuade you.  Tho you have been deaf to his former preaching, yet listen to the voice of this providence, lest you continue in your slumber till you sleep the sleep of death.

You cannot but see, unless you will close your eyes, that this world and the fashion of it is passing away.  O what a change will a few months or years make in this numerous assembly!  Yea, what a sad change has little more than a fortnight made in this congregation!  He that was so lately preaching in this pulpit, is now wrapped in his shroud, and confined to his coffin; and the lips that so often dispersed knowledge amongst you, are sealed up till the resurrection.  Here’s the body of your late minister; but his soul is entered into the joy of his Lord.  O that those of you that would not be persuaded by him living, might be wrought upon by his death!  For tho he is dead, he yet speaketh; and what doth he say; bot to ministers and people, but Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as you think not, the Son of Man cometh?

John Piggott, Eleven Sermons, 235-40. To read the sermon in its entirety and/or download the book, click here.

2016 Interim Session Report

It is a pleasure to share this report with you. We are currently in what is called the “interim session” in Frankfort. This essentially means that it is the time between the current year’s legislative session and the next year’s session. During the interim, joint committees made up of members of the Senate and House meet together in various committees to oversee various state agencies and to work on legislation for the next year. As such, members are only present in Frankfort sporadically during the interim, depending on which committees they serve. Therefore, I have focused my time on the year-round staff of both the legislative and executive branches during the interim.

Current Ministry:

Since May I have been having a weekly Bible study in the back room of the cafeteria in the Capitol Annex. This Bible study is open to all legislative, custodial, and kitchen staff. Actually, anyone in the building is welcome to attend and people attend from several different spheres of work in the building. This study meets on Wednesdays at noon. The idea was to allow people to come and buy or bring their lunch and spend thirty minutes studying the Bible with me each week. I am looking at moving this study to Monday in the near future as that day seems to be the least busy for the administrative staff because legislators rarely are in town on that day. Also, this leaves open the opportunity of continuing this study for staff even during the legislative session since things usually do not get to going full blast until Monday afternoons.

Also since May I have been leading a Bible study each Wednesday in the capitol building for executive branch staff. This has been a very encouraging Bible study. We have outgrown the first conference room that we began to meet in and are now in what is called “The Bunker” in the basement of the Capitol.

Future Opportunities:

I have three major events in the planning stages for the next 4-5 months. First, I plan to host an appreciation meal for the legislative administrative staff. These men and women are the unsung heroes of state government and I want to show appreciation to them as well as build relationships with them for future ministry. I will be having the meal catered for about 75 people. I anticipate being able to do this for around $375. I will use funds that have been and are being donated to the ministry. I’m planning this meal for Monday, September 12th. This meal will also mark the move of our weekly Bible study to Monday for the remainder of the year.

Second, I plan to host a pre-election prayer walk at the Capitol on the Tuesday before the General Election (November 1st). I will be inviting Christians to meet at the Capitol that evening to walk around to several prayer stations that I will have prepared and pray specifically for our government leaders and our nation.

Third, I will be launching Bible studies for the legislators when they get back in town in January, 2017. Like last year, I will host a welcome lunch for the legislators to build relationships and good-will. This will likely cost around $500.

Help Needed:

There are a few ways that you can help with this ministry. First, please continue to pray for me and those that I am ministering to at the Capitol. This, like all Christian ministry, is a spiritual battle and I need special wisdom engaging with a diverse group of individuals with very different political commitments. My priority is to make the gospel of Christ the main thing and not be side-tracked by many of the other debates that often take the forefront in our highly-politicized climate. I respect and appreciate the necessary work that others do in these areas of public policy, but I have to focus on my unique role—ministering to the spiritual needs of all those working at our state capitol.

Second, please help me spread the word about the pre-election prayer walk. I will provide more details in the next several weeks, but I think people will respond well to this invitation to pray in this tumultuous election season when so much seems uncertain in our nation. This will be an opportunity for concerned Christians to gather at the Capitol and pray specifically for our federal, state, and local governments.

Third, please help me spread the word about the ministry that I am doing and invite others to partner with Capitol Commission. Those who want to be a part of this ministry can find out more information by visiting my website at www.capitolcom.org/Kentucky. Any financial help would be appreciated as it will allow me to do some of the things I have outlined above and more!

Please continue or commit to praying for the legislators and staff, and for me as I seek to minister to them on your behalf! Remember to use the website www.Pray1Tim2.org for daily reminders to pray for our government leaders. Thank you for your prayers and support. I am excited about what the Lord is doing through this ministry.

In Christ Alone,

 

Praying for VBS from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians

Guest post by Gretta Weaver. Gretta prepared this as a prayer guide for our church in preparation for our Vacation Bible School. I post it here in case others would like to use it for their Vacation Bible School or adapt it for other children’s ministries.

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
Galatians 1:1-3

  • Thank God for it the power of the gospel that He used to save us from our sins.
  • Pray that workers and teachers of VBS would proclaim the gospel that saves and allow it to motivate them this week in serving.

For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:11-12

  • Pray that God would reveal himself to the children through the gospel this week at VBS.
  • Pray that the teachers would be able to present the gospel clearly. Pray for the children to respond through faith and repentance.

Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
Galatians 2:4-5

  • Pray that God would have shield the VBS classes from untruths that would distort and confuse the gospel truth.
  • Pray for those who are hearing a false gospel regularly (at their home church or from their family) that they would hear the true gospel and respond by faith and repentance.
  • Pray that parents would recognize the difference and believe the true gospel.

Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
Galatians 2:10

  • Pray that God send poor, dirty, misbehaving children who have been hurt.
  • Pray that we would be compassionate and love them like Jesus would.
  • Pray that God would send outcasts and those who are difficult to deal with due to broken homes, poverty, and sin.
  • Pray that God would equip, by His Holy Spirit to minister to these children instead of criticizing them to others.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:14

  • Pray that this would be the attitude of workers toward each other, as well as the children.

But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. Galatians 5:15

  • Pray that as the week goes on and the workers get tired, that they recognize the temptations of the enemy to cause disunity and be intentional with encouraging one another and promoting peace.

 

Vincent of Lérins (434) on How to Steer Clear of Heresy

We said, further, that in this same ecclesiastical antiquity two points are very carefully and earnestly to be held in view by those who would keep clear of heresy: first, they should ascertain whether any decision has been given in ancient times as to the matter in question by the whole priesthood of the Catholic Church, with the authority of a General Council: and, secondly, if some new question should arise on which no such decision has been given, they should then have recourse to the opinions of the holy Fathers, of those at least, who, each in his own time and place, remaining in the unity of communion and of the faith, were accepted as approved masters; and whatsoever these may be found to have held, with one mind and with one consent, this ought to be accounted the true and Catholic doctrine of the Church, without any doubt or scruple.

Vincent of Lérins, “The Commonitory of Vincent of Lérins,” in Sulpitius Severus, Vincent of Lérins, John Cassian, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. C. A. Heurtley, vol. 11, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1894), 153–154.

Clement of Rome (c. A.D. 97) on the Peace and Harmony of the Universe

The heavens, revolving under His government, are subject to Him in peace. Day and night run the course appointed by Him, in no wise hindering each other. The sun and moon, with the companies of the stars, roll on in harmony according to His command, within their prescribed limits, and without any deviation. The fruitful earth, according to His will, brings forth food in abundance, at the proper seasons, for man and beast and all the living beings upon it, never hesitating, nor changing any of the ordinances which He has fixed. The unsearchable places of abysses, and the indescribable arrangements of the lower world, are restrained by the same laws. The vast unmeasurable sea, gathered together by His working into various basins, never passes beyond the bounds placed around it, but does as He has commanded. For He said, “Thus far shalt thou come, and thy waves shall be broken within thee.” The ocean, impassible to man, and the worlds beyond it, are regulated by the same enactments of the Lord. The seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, peacefully give place to one another. The winds in their several quarters fulfil, at the proper time, their service without hindrance. The ever-flowing fountains, formed both for enjoyment and health, furnish without fail their breasts for the life of men. The very smallest of living beings meet together in peace and concord. All these the great Creator and Lord of all has appointed to exist in peace and harmony; while He does good to all, but most abundantly to us who have fled for refuge to His compassions through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory and majesty for ever and ever. Amen.

Clement of Rome, “The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 10–11.

 

Andrew Fuller on Spiritual Preaching as Gospel Preaching

Near the end of his life, Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) ruminated on spiritual preaching in a letter dated February 21, 1813, to his Scottish friend Christopher Anderson.

I have been thinking of late [1813] of the force of the petition, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” As spiritual things are spiritually discerned, if the Lord leave us to ourselves, we shall lose sight of the gospel, and somehow get beside it. I have heard many ingenious sermons, and perhaps preached some, in which the gospel was overlooked; and if a sinner heard it, and never heard the way of salvation before, he might have died, and gone to the bar of God, for any thing he could have heard then, without having been told his danger, or the way of salvation. Take not thy Holy Spirit from us! It is for want of spirituality of mind, surely, that there is so much orthodox, and at the same so little evangelical preaching.

Joseph Belcher, ed., The Last Remains of the Rev. Andrew Fuller (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, [1856]), 361. For the full text of the letter, see Hugh Anderson, The Life and Letters of Christopher Anderson (Edinburgh: William P. Kennedy, 1854), 214-215.

Religious Liberty for Muslims: A Baptist Tradition

Baptists have historically argued for the religious liberty of all people. As a group that was persecuted in their early days, Baptists have consistently argued for four hundred years that the civil government does not have authority over the consciences of citizens. Baptists have recognized that we either have religious liberty for all or not at all. If the government can take someone else’s freedom today, they can take yours tomorrow. Below is a list of quotes evidencing Baptists’ historic commitment to religious liberty. These could be multiplied many times over. The unique thing about the quotations below is not their advocacy of religious liberty for all, but that they specifically identify Muslims as deserving freedom to practice their religion freely. (Note: “Turks” and “Turkish” was used as an identifier of Muslims.)

“For men’s religion to God is between God and themselves. The king shall not answer for it. Neither may the king be judge between God and man. Let them be heretics, Turks, Jews, or whatsoever, it appertains not to the earthly power to punish them in the least measure. This is made evident to our lord the king by the scriptures.” Thomas Helwys, A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity (1612)

“It is the will and command of God that, since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus, a permission of the most Paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or anti-christian consciences and worships be granted to all men in all nations and countries.” Roger Williams, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution (1644)

Roger Williams also cited in a positive fashion that Oliver Cromwell once maintained in a public discussion “with much Christian zeal and affection for his own conscience that he had rather that Mahumetanism [i.e. Mohammedanism or Islam] were permitted amongst us, than that one of God’s Children should be persecuted.”

“The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.” John Leland, “The Virginia Chronicle” (1790)

To add contemporary Baptist voices, I could add these excellent pieces by my friends Russell Moore and Bart Barber. These men and their arguments are right in step with the larger Baptist tradition of defending religious liberty for all.