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DELIVERED AT THE
FUNERAL OF DR. TAPPAN.
Acīs xi. 24. He was a good man. THE solemn stilness and melancholy aspect of this assembly, silently, but expressively, apply this character to the man, whose obsequies we are called to celebrate. Ye fix your eyes on these relics, and your first thought is, He was a good man. A sentiment so spontaneous and so universal, as this, carries with it one of the strongest evidences of its justness and truth. With this witness in yourselves, therefore, ye are already prepared to attend to the delineation of the character, and happiness, of a good man, with special reference to the person, whose death we lament, and to the occasion, which hath convened us in this temple.
The person, to whom this character was applied in the passage now recited, was Barnabas. His very name denotes the benignity and sweetness of his temper; for it was given him by his fellow apostles, as expressive of his character. He was originally a Le. vite, of the Island of Cyprus; but had now become a sincere and zealous convert to Christianity. With the change of his religion, the apostles changed his name Joses, by surnaming him Barnabas, which signifies, The son of consolation. At the very first time of his introduction to our notice by the sacred historian, he appears in the generous act of selling his estate, to annex it to the fund, which the apostles were now raising for the regular and stated relief of poor Christians. We find him next engaged in the benevolent office of in, troducing Paul to the disciples at Jerusalem. When this Christian convert, soon after his conversion, attempted to associate with the disciples, “they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disci. ple. But Barnabas," with that benevolence and kindness, for which he seems always to have been distinguished, “ took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared to them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.” The extent of the benefit often rendered to an individual, and through him to the world, by one such seasonable act of kindness, performed by a good man, is incalculable.
In the next instance, Barnabas is presented to our view in the high character of an ambassador of Christ, employed on a very difficult, but most important mission. In Antioch, the capital of Syria, which for magnitude, situation, and other advantages, was the third city in the Roman empire,* there had recently been numerous conversions to the faith of Christ. The converts, made in this city, were the first fruits of the devout Gentiles out of Palestine, Of these converts there was formed a large Christian church, which was considered as the parent of the Gentile churches. In addition to these facts, chiefly collected from the sacred history, a credible historiant in
* See Benson's History of the first planting of the Christian Relige jon, I. 246.
forms us, that there was a Jewish university in the city of Antioch. What a combination of great and good qualities ought that Christian minister to possess, who should be set for the defence of the gospel, in such a city! No sooner did the church at Jerusalem receive intelligence of the success of the gospel in this Syrian capital, than it sent forth Barnabas, as the person best qualified to confirm the young converts in the faith ; and by his able ministrations, by his concilia. ting manners, and by his excellent spirit, to silence their adversaries, The event fully justified their choice. When Barnabas came to Antioch, and beheld the grace of God, manifested to the Christians in that city, he was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave to the Lord. The exhortation, from his mouth, was peculiarly graceful and energetic ; for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith ; and much people was added to the Lord.
In this amiable and excellent apostle, we discern some of the prominent traits of a good man. But this character requires a more particular delineation. A good man must not, for a moment, be imagined a phrase, to denote a perfect character. In an absolute sense there is but one good Being, that is God. There is not a just man upon earth, who doth good, and sin. neth not. Imperfection belongs to all creatures, es. pecially to the apastate sinners of the human race.
When therefore any one of the sons of men is call. ed a good man, nothing more can be justly intended by the expression, than that he is prevalently, and habitually, a man of virtue and piety.
A good man has radically a holy temper. By the Apostasy, the image of God in the human soul has become polluted and defaced. The restoration of this image to its original purity and glory is the grand design of that redemption, which is revealed and proclaimed in the gospel. The very name of the Son of God was intended to express this design. Thou shalt call his name Jesus ; for he shall save his people from their sins. This design the apostles of Christ, in conformity to the spirit of their Master's counsel and example, kept religiously in view. The doctrine of Paul was the doctrine of all the apostles : Our Saviour Jesus Christ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto him. self a peculiar people, zealous of good works. The ac. tual influence of the gospel, accompanied by the Holy Spirit, corresponds with the primary design of re. demption. It recovers sinners, of the most vile and profligate character, to a holy temper.
Such were some of you : but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. The tendencies of the renewed soul are turned from sin to holiness. The affections of every good man are supremely fixed on God, the holy and perfect Being, the source and the centre of all happiness. Whatever therefore is displeasing to God, is displeasing to him. He hates vain thoughts ; hut cherishes such as are innocent, and especially such as are of a virtuous and holy tendency. He abhors even himself, so far as he discov. ers himself to be opposed to God and virtue, and repents as in dust and ashes. Conscious of deep depravity, and of daily transgression, he entertains abasing sentiments of himself; and, while he takes the lowest place at the footstool of God, he is hum. ble in his intercourse with man. Instead of cher