DELIVERED DEC. 9th, 1812,
AT THE FUNERAL OF THE
REV. BELA HUBBARD, D.D.
Rector of Trinity Church, in the City of New-Haven
BY THE REV. HENRY WHITLOCK,
MINISTER OF SAID CHURCH.
VOTED, That the thanks of the Wardens and Vestry of Trinity church, be presented by the Clerk, to the Rev. HENRY WHITLOCK, for his Sermon delivered this day at the Interment of their late beloved Rector, the Rev. BELA HUBBARD, D. D. and that the Clerk request a copy of the Sermon, that it may be printed,
The above is a true copy of the vote of the Vestry.
JOHN BARKER, Clerk
New-Haven, December 9, 1812
DEUT. xxxii. 48-50.
And the Lord spake unto Moses that self same day, saying,
Get thee up into this mountain Abarim unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab,
that is over against Jericho, and behold the land of Canaan,
which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession.
And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people.
I RISE to address my audience on a subject peculiarly sad and solemn. The earthly tabernacle of the venerable and beloved Rector of this Church, lies here before us in ruins. The feet which went about doing good, and the hands which administered to the poor and afflicted, are now bound with the fetters and manacles of death. The eye that beamed with cheerfulness and philanthropy is closed. The mouth which was open to edify, to console, to make glad, is now silent. The head, which has anxiously studied your eternal [3/4] welfare, is now without sensation. The heart, which beat with the strong pulse of charity, compassion and devotion, is now at rest. The face, which was illumined with the splendour of intelligence, urbanity and love, we shall behold no more. The excellent spirit, which dwelt in him, has removed to invisible regions. For these things we mourn; for these we weep. But our tears are unavailing—our loss is irretrievable. No more will he enter these sacred doors to preach the word of God, to break the bread of life, to bless the cup of salvation, and to pour forth his whole soul in the worship. On this side the grave, he shall not awake till the heavens be no more. From these tender, but unavailing reflections, let us turn our attention to the history of the time, place, and circumstances of the death of Moses; and endeavour to draw therefrom instruction that may be profitable to us in the journey of life, at the hour of death, and on the present occasion.
His death was inflicted at the close of those forty years, during which he had conducted the Israelites from place to place through the wilderness. Behold now this illustrious personage at the head of the armies of Israel, and in sight of the land of promise, the place of their rest. Intrusted with a certain godlike power, he had wrought wonders in Egypt, and had delivered the chosen people from rigorous servitude—from oppressive bondage. Under the protection of the Divine Presence, manifested, by the pillar of a cloud and of fire, he had led them through the baptism of the cloud and of the sea. [4/5] He had brought streams of water out of the flinty rock. He had received the law, written with the finger of God, amidst the thunderings and earthquakes of Sinai. He had delivered this law to a disobedient people, whom he hath since led through a great and terrible wilderness, where he endured many severe trials, and the people were punished for their offences with plague, pestilence and famine. He has brought them after several victories, to the end of their journey, near to the brink of Jordan, and in sight of the promised inheritance. He has laid his hands on Joshua, and thus designated him as his successor in the government. In a most solemn charge, he pronounces in the ears of all the people, the blessings of obedience, and the curses of disobedience; and he then utters a divine and prophetic song, descriptive of the future destiny of the sons of Israel. Now he is commanded to ascend Mount Nebo, the highest peak of the mountain, Abarim. From this highly elevated position, he views the fertile fields, the blooming meadows, the extended plains, and the lofty hills of the promised inheritance. He had prayed the Lord to let him "go over and see the land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon." But in punishment of an offence, his petition was rejected. However, he is fully indulged with the grand and goodly prospect. "His eye was not dim;" it was clear, steady and piercing: "nor was his natural force abated;" all his faculties were in full strength and perfection. With a prospect so inviting, with a vision so distinct, and with faculties so perfect, his mind must have kindled into ecstacy. While his [5/6] affections are lifted up by a strong faith, to that better country, of which Canaan was but the type, his body is touched with the hand of death, and he is "gathered to his people." With a mysterious secrecy, the Lord buries him in a valley of the land of Moab; and the Israelites in testimony of their veneration and esteem, weep and mourn for him the spade of thirty days.
From this account of the time, place, and circumstances of the death of Moses, let us draw out for our use, a few particular remarks.
I. The death of Moses occurred at the end of the journey through the wilderness. He had fulfilled his ministry and had finished his course. He had been "faithful to God in all his house;" and had in general maintained an unblameable conversation. In one instance, however, he had offended a jealous God, who will not suffer with impunity, his glory to be given to another. When the people murmured with thirst, he was commanded to relieve them by an exertion of that divine power with which he was only intrusted, but which he seems for a moment to have regarded as his own. "Hear now, ye rebels," said he, "must WE fetch water out of this rock?" As he smote the rock twice, it is probable the first stroke, through his self-dependence and want of faith, was unproductive; and when the second stroke was effectual, he did not in the eyes of the people, sanctify the Lord as the great source, both of his power, and of the marvellous supply of waters.—Though meekness was his distinguishing virtue, yet in this instance he offended through an irreverent reliance on himself, and withheld from JEHOVAH [6/7] the honour due to that holy name. For this offence, he was sentenced to die, without entering the promised inheritance. [* If even Moses was sentenced to die for a defect in his most distinguished virtue, let us be assured our very best virtues have so many blemishes, that even when offered by the strongest faith, they can be sacrifices acceptable to God, ONLY through Jesus Christ our Lord.] When the journey through the wilderness was at length brought to a close, the inexorable decree was enforced. The Man of God, full of faith, and devoutly submissive, ascends the elevated mountain, views the goodly heritage, and then finishes the journey of his life.
My dear brethren, the things which befel the Israelites in the desert, "are our examples." The world in which we live, bears but too near a resemblance to "a great and terrible wilderness, wherein are fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there is no Water." Through this wilderness, lies the journey of the Christian life. Having been redeemed from the bondage of sin and death, by the blood of the Paschal Lamb, we are baptized into Christ, as the Israelites were unto Moses. In the washing of regeneration we "see the salvation of God,"—are delivered from the power of our spiritual enemies, and become partakers of "the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free." We take our lot and portion with the Church militant, which is now in the wilderness, on its way from the house of bondage to "a better country, that is, an heavenly." In the riches, pleasures and honours of this fallen world, there is a drought of all spiritual sustenance; hungry and thirsty after the [7/8] joys of immortality, our inner man is fainting and perishing for lack of the word and spirit of God. But as the Israelites in their necessity, were fed with manna from heaven, and with water from the rock, so we are supplied from above with the true bread, and with the water of life. Christ is the rock and the manna, by which our souls are strengthened and refreshed. His flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed. As the Israelites in the wilderness, though free from their former oppressors, were frequently corrupted and ensnared by the mixed multitude which followed them; so we, under the gospel, though saved by baptism from our original captivity, are still exposed to those three enemies of our salvation, "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life;" these are continually at hand, to disaffect us towards the way of holiness and seduce us into sin, to lull us into a deadly security and reduce us to servitude and distress. Having passed through various temptations, dangers, and sufferings, and having received many deliverances by the arm of the Most High, we come at last, to the end of our journey. And now it is, that being under the sentence of temporal death, like Moses, (who may herein be regarded as a pattern of our fallen nature) we put off, like him, our mortal body; and being found faithful, we are conducted to the rest eternal in the heavens. Happy indeed will be our lot, if our piety and faithfulness shall fit us, in our last hours to ascend with Moses, and to behold with enraptured eye, the goodly heritage which shall never fade away. But alas, how many fall by the way, and perish in the [8/9] wilderness! For we are to remember that the Lord having saved the people out of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. Though we have been baptised into Christ, and admitted to the full enjoyment of the means of grace, yet, unless we give diligence to make our calling and election sure, we shall fall back unto perdition. We are therefore to take heed, lest a promise being left us of entering into rest, any of us should seem to come short of it.
2. Moses had notice of his death. God forewarned him, that having ascended the mountain, and having beheld the promised possession, he should close his eyes on this figurative prospect, and open them on the great realities of the heavenly rest. How desirable to understand, like Moses, the time when our departure is near! In the litany, we pray God to avert from us the terrible danger of unreadiness: "from sudden death, good Lord deliver us!" Had not Elijah been previously advised of his ascent, his disciples might have feared the fiery chariot was a token of consuming wrath. Various are the methods by which a merciful God forewarns us of our departure; and it will be happy for us if we understand the admonition, and are ready. The summons, "go up and die," would not then fill our minds with dismay. We should obey the mandate with serenity and hope. But if we have lived without faith; if while sojourning with the people of God, we have turned back in our hearts to the world, which we renounced at our baptism, we have abundant cause to tremble, even now; but what inconceivable terrors will agitate us in the hour death!
 3. Moses had only a prospect of the good land without entering it. Joshua succeeded him, and led the people through Jordan into the promised possession. "The very acts of God in old time were allegories. Where the law ends, there the Saviour begins. In the law we only see the land of promise—Jesus the mediator of the New Testament (whom Joshua prefigured in name as well as in office) can alone conduct us into it." [Hall's Contemplations, by Glasse. Vol. I. p. 168.] Under Joshua, a safe way was miraculously opened through the waters of Jordan, so that the people passed over on dry ground into the land of their final settlement: but under the great leader and captain of our salvation, an entrance will be administered unto us abundantly, into his everlasting kingdom, where peace, liberty, and joy, forever dwell.
4. Moses was "gathered to his people." This not being true of his body (which was buried by itself in the valley of Moab) it must have been spoken in reference to his soul. Therefore when he died as to his body, his spirit continued to live. It was gathered to the great assembly of the spirits of just men departed. Being absent from the body, we hope to be present in spirit with the Lord, and also "with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven."
Even, our earthly tabernacles, at the hour of dissolution, are not lost, but laid up unto the resurrection. They are only "fallen down," they shall be "built, again" with an exceeding glory; The body of Moses, the giver of the law, was mysteriously hid by [10/11] the Lord; but that of Elijah, the great restorer of the law, was carried up gloriously in a chariot of fire. Both bodies were received into the custody of their Maker, and both appeared with the body of Christ in glory, at his transfiguration on "the holy mount." Whether our bodies dissolve in the earth, or ascend in flame to heaven, they are so kept by the power of God, "that when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory." We shall see him as he is, and converse with him concerning the wonders of his death, burial, resurrection and glorious ascension, and be ever with the Lord. Having therefore, this hope, we are to purify ourselves even as he is pure. Then we shall fall asleep in Jesus, awake with his likeness, and be satisfied with his glory.
How welcome will be the day of our own transfiguration, when we, like our Lord, shall put on glorious apparel, and shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars, for ever and ever!
My dear brethren, we are now to deposit in the grave a body, which we trust will remain in the divine custody, until it come forth to the resurrection of life, and appear with Christ in glory. Our venerable friend has finished his journey through this troublesome world, in a good old age. That the time of his departure was at hand, the providence of God had given him unequivocal notice, which he clearly understood and joyfully received. Standing on that eminence of prospect to which the gospel had raised him, he looked back without repining, and forward with the most ardent hope.
Forty and five years he has fed this flock with [11/12] unremitting diligence, uniform fidelity, and the most tender solicitude. Under his ministry, what numbers have been baptized, not unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, but into Christ, in the washing of regeneration, preparatory to the journey of the christian life. He has fed this people, not with manna from heaven, nor with water from a rock, but with the body and blood of Christ, in the holy supper. In his doctrine, he has set forth the true bread which cometh down from heaven, and the living water springing up into everlasting life. In that perilous season, when the foundations of civil polity were for a time disturbed by the revolutionary contest, he did not desert his charge; and though ardent in his political attachments, he was inoffensive in his deportment, and by his prudence, forbearance, and watchfulness, he conducted his little flock in safety through a wilderness of difficulties, to a state of prosperity and enlargement. In a time of the most alarming mortality this city ever experienced, he did not flee from his flock, but stood with a holy courage, between the dead and the living, interceding that the plague might be stayed. With what activity of benevolence did he then administer, even in temporal things, to the necessities of the sick, the afflicted and the forsaken; and with what tender solicitude did he stand over the dying bed, assisting the departing Christian to trim his lamp, and go out to meet the bridegroom! Most of you have observed with what fervid piety, and peculiar sensibility, he at all times performed the holy offices for the sick, the dying, and the dead. How many fatherless children and widows might [12/13] attest, with tears of gratitude, that he visited them in their affliction, and poured wine and oil into the bleeding wound. How many poor and needy have rejoiced in that warmth of charity with which he administered to their necessities. The resident stranger, and the occasional guest, have been honoured with his polite attention and primitive hospitality. He has been with you at all seasons, speaking the things pertaining to the kingdom of heaven, dwelling with emphasis on the glories and excellencies of the Church, the consistency of her doctrines, the primitive purity and efficacy of her sacraments, the beauty and magnificence of her worship, the propriety and venerable style of all her holy offices, and the apostolic institution of her government. He went about from house to house, weeping with those that wept, and rejoicing with them that did rejoice; taking a lively interest in whatever concerned the happiness of mankind, reconciling those at variance, strengthening the ties of brotherly love, endearing the social relations, and enriching his conversation with the fragrance of charity, and the sweet savour of peace. Having served the Church of God almost half a century, he received the summons to go up and die, in prospect of the promised inheritance. During a long season of languishing, and the frequent paroxisms of a most disheartening and vexing distemper, he consoled himself with the firm belief, that his sufferings were precisely such, as infinite wisdom and goodness had allotted for his particular case; and therefore he neither despised the chastening of the Lord, nor fainted under his severe rebukes. [13/14] Whenever the terrors of death fell upon him, they were soon dispelled by a holy trust in that Divine Presence, which opened a safe passage through Jordan into the promised rest. He could therefore exclaim, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff comfort me." The same night in which he expired, and after his speech had become, for the most part, unintelligible with regard to his bodily wants, and his senses seemed nearly closed upon this world, he still recovered strength to join with us in the Lord's Prayer, which he repeated with a clear, and distinct voice, and concluded with a hearty Amen. We then proceeded to commend his soul into the hands of the Father of spirits. Having lived in charity, he died in faith and hope, and has been gathered to his fathers in peace.
[Doctor HUBBARD was born at Guilford, August 27th, 1739; was graduated at Yale College 1758; was ordained Deacon, in the King's Chapel, city of London, on the 5th of February, 1764; and Priest in St. James' Church, Westminster, on the 19th of the same month. On his return from England, he officiated at Guilford and Killingworth, until the year 1767, when he was appointed the Society's Missionary at New-Haven and West-Haven. He died on Sunday, December 6, 1812.]
When the Israelites lamented the death of Moses, it would be natural for them not only to review the particulars of his life, but to form an estimate of his character and worth. On the present occasion let us pay the same tribute of respect to the memory of our much lamented father. He was a [14/15] man of great vivacity of intellect, and genuine goodness of heart. His education, his sentiments, and his manners, were liberal. His conversation and deportment were easy and unaffected, always indicating good will, and generally exciting strong personal attachment. Having a ready discernment of character, he knew how to please and instruct by "a word fitly spoken;" and was so courteous and kindly affectioned as to approve himself, even on a short acquaintance, an intimate friend. In conversation, his peculiar sensibility often manifested itself in sudden emotions, and by frequent interchanges of tears and smiles; it was like a cheerful sun brightening with his rainbow a weeping sky. With habits strongly social, he was an excellent companion, a warm friend, an effectionate husband, a tender parent, a kind brother, an obliging neighbour, and a real philanthropist. In his disposition, he was open, generous, hospitable, and without the least tincture of avarice. As a citizen, he had great urbanity of manners, liberality of sentiment, and condescension to men of low estate. As a parish minister he was faithful, assiduous, and affectionate; loving his people most tenderly, he was in return, dearly beloved. A most endearing and well known trait in his character, was his tender concern for the poor and needy, with unremitting exertions for their relief. Strong in his attachment to the doctrines, government, and worship of the Church, he cherished a sincere good will towards all men, loving their persons while he discerned their errors, and exhibiting the admirable example of disagreement in principle, without the breach of charity in [15/16] practice. His piety was lively, and his devotion fervent. Susceptible of the highest ecstasy from the impression of sacred music, he delighted most rapturously in the praises of the Lord: and we shall not soon forget, with what enkindling energy and affecting solemnity he uttered the prayers, and with what emphasis and life he read the lessons in our public service. In the desk his power was universally acknowledged. His full heart was ever ready to his subject: the flowing tear, the changing voice, the involuntary pause, the impassioned recovery—manifested the deep emotion of his soul, and diffused through the sacred assembly, an overpowering sympathy, opening the understanding, and arresting the heart. As a preacher, he was plain, practical, and impressive. As a divine, he embraced in full the doctrines of the Protestant Episcopal Church, as expressed in her creeds, her articles and her liturgy; these he believed to be scriptural, primitive, and truly evangelical: and as in his parochial instructions, he always spake the language of the Church, he was happy in observing as great a uniformity of sentiment among his people, as can be expected in an age when there is such diversity of religious education. Having often seen the pernicious effects of a false misguided zeal, he had a settled dislike to religious enthusiasm; believing that the power of godliness is best promoted by a due attention to its form. On the whole, his character is enriched with so many good qualities as to be highly valuable, his "name is as ointment poured forth," and his memory as "the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed."
 But however much we may lament his death, it would be injurious to wish, that good men should live forever. Having laboured their appointed time, they enter into rest, and enjoy blessings of a more exalted nature, than this miserable world can give.
The relatives of our deceased friend, while they sustain an irreparable loss, have good ground, we trust, both of submission and consolation. He has been spared to a good old age, and they have been long blest with his society, his affections, and his friendship. If he has finished his work, they have no reason to complain that he has been dismissed in peace, and called to the felicities of the heavenly rest. Would they pay a worthy tribute of respect to his memory? Let them diligently follow his example. Would they finally enjoy the company of the spirits of just men made perfect? By a life of faith, let them hold themselves in readiness for that eternal home, where holy friends from their distant abodes will meet, never more to suffer the pangs of separation. Would they profit by their present affliction? Let them seek the gracious assistance of that blessed Spirit, whose office it is to quicken, to sanctify, and to console. He who is "the God of the widow" will not be unmindful; his ears are open to her prayers; his eyes are over her for good; his hand will support her under every trial, conduct her through the lonely wilderness, and open a safe entrance into the promised rest.
My dear friends, the parishioners of this Church, while we commend the afflicted widow to the kind care and protection of heaven, let us not fail to render her [17/18] that respect, and those human consolations, which on every account are most justly due.
You, my friends, have long enjoyed the conversation, the friendship, and the pastoral services of our deceased father. Long has he laboured to build you up in the faith, the hope, and the charity of the Gospel, and to bring you to the perfection of the christian life. Having served God in his generation, he has at length been called away from watching for your souls, to render an account of his ministry. As he has had the rule over you, and has spoken unto you the word of God, you will feel yourselves obliged to remember him with gratitude, affection and reverence, and to follow the faith which he taught in his doctrine, exemplified in his life, and confessed until his death. But that you may be the more incited to follow his faith, you will "consider the end of his conversation," or result of his manner of life, as we trust it may be viewed in his peace of mind, in his patient endurance of affliction, in his blessed death, in his glorious resurrection, and in his admission to the crown of life and the joys of immortality. A due consideration of the rewards of a life of faith, operates as a powerful incentive "to run with patience the race that is set before us." We are indeed to look unto Jesus as our chief example; but we are also to follow his ministers, even as they follow him. I will not believe that the services and example of your venerable Rector have been ineffectual, or will soon cease to have influence. Though dead, he yet speaketh and will be regarded. Long may his doctrine, his charity, his courtesy, his devotion, his zeal for the [18/19] Church and her holy services, abide in you, and be exhibited in your lives. For you he prayed, for you he laboured, for you he exhausted his life. Through the whole course of his late sickness, the prosperity of this Church was his favourite subject of conversation. And, it was a source of peculiar satisfaction to him, that in proportion to the decline of his health and usefulness, the affection of his people increased, and was manifested in the most substantial manner, not only by continuing his customary maintenance, but by procuring an assistant; and that, instead of being cast off as a burthen, he has received from you every token of respect, every tender assiduity, which could alleviate his infirmities, soothe his pains, and cheer the evening of his life. With this truly honourable and Christian treatment, his heart was full—it overflowed. My dear friends, in this season of affliction and of mourning for one of the best of ministers, may suitable impressions sink deep into your hearts, sanctify your sorrows, confirm your faith, and invigorate your virtue.
As for me, I need not tell you my grief; I will spread it before Him, who hath taken away my head, my father, and my friend.
When Elijah ascended into heaven, and his mantle fell from him, it was taken up by Elisha, who had witnessed his ascent: from which time it was said, "the spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha." So far as our departed father had the temper of a Christian minister, may his spirit be found to rest on his successor! Most eagerly would I take up his mantle, put on his virtues, wear his character, and, [19/20] like him, enjoy your affection. Brethren, I beseech you pray for me, that, stirring up the gift that is in me, I may attain to the maturity of the pastoral character, discharge with fidelity the arduous duties of my holy office, and be an instrument of bringing many sons to glory.
Right reverend Father, and reverend Brethren; a most impressive lesson is now open before us, in the book of Providence. Let us attend to the instruction, and be wise. Seldom have we been called to celebrate the funeral solemnities over one of our own number. In the last fourteen years there have died but two of our brethren of this diocese. [The Rev. Dr. Leaming, and Rev. Mr. Todd.] But let us not decline into a fatal security. We know not what a day may bring forth. The remains of our venerable and dearly beloved brother admonish us, that however many of our parishioners we may lead out to the grave, we must be conducted thither ourselves, and be called to give an account, how we have warned and instructed, not only those who have departed before us, but those whom we leave behind. Are we faithful in our work? How have we fed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood? To discharge our duty successfully, is to save a soul from death; but to neglect the Church, is to incur blood-guiltiness. This is therefore a matter of life and death, not only to the flock, but to ourselves. Could we hear this night, without dismay, the summons of our Judge; "Give an account of thy stewardship; for [20/21] thou rnayest be no longer steward?" The Lord spare us, and give us grace to be faithful. Let us not be slothful in the business of our holy calling, but fervent in spirit. Let us preach the word, be instant in season, and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine. With effectual fervent prayer, let us use the means of producing holiness, and then ascribe their efficacy to God. If, in smiting the rock, even Moses sinned by not sanctifying the Lord in the sight of the people, as the author of the miracle; let us take heed lest we offend God by the like presumption. In the use of the sacraments, in the application of the word, in the preaching of repentance, and in all our ministrations, let the agency of the Almighty be set forth conspicuously, as the great governing principle, which alone makes them efficacious. If we thus give glory to God, he will honour our work, and make it prosperous, and great will be our reward in heaven.
To conclude: my dear audience, let us not deceive ourselves with the vain hope, that this world is our real home. The voice of God's providence is daily admonishing us, "Arise and depart ye, for this is not your rest." Though we know not like Moses, the precise time of our death, it cannot be far distant, it may be surprisingly near. Our journey through this troublesome wilderness may soon terminate. Let us walk with God, and follow the example of his saints. Let us live in faith, rejoice in hope, and be perfected in love. Let us feed on the living bread, and drink abundantly of the water of life. Let our hearts be pure and meek, but [21/22] fervent in its affections, and "whole with God." Then may we lift up our eyes to that better country, which Moses beheld in figure; and when we come to the confines of the eternal world, Jordan will be divided, and a safe passage administered into the promised inheritance. Having resigned our mortal body to the custody of its Maker, we may pass over in peace, saying "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, and conduct me through the valley of the shadow of death, to that high and holy rest, which remaineth to the people of God."