Elegy on the Death of John Gill (1771)
An Elegy on the much lamented Death of that Eminent and Faithful Servant of Christ, and laborious Minister of the Gospel, John Gill, D.D. Who changed this Life for a glorious and immortal one, October 14, 1771. Aged 74. Printed by M. Lewis in Paternoster-Row, for the Author M. Bayly, a Member of the Congregation from October 2, 1715, to this present Time.
Ye learned muses, now exert your skill,
And tell the sorrows of our Israel!
As great a man this age did ever show
Is snatched hence, unto our grief and woe.
Since the apostles days few did appear
To open scripture truths so very clear,
As this great Champion, who, with courage bold,
Struck at all error, whoe’er it did hold.
But now this man of war from us is gone,
Mourn, Zion, mourn, and put your sackcloth on!
He fought our battles, and did win the field,
And to our enemies did never yield.
His very name doth pierce me to the heart,
To think that we with the Great Gill must part!
He always fed us here with living bread,
For two and fifty years we have been fed.
My heart doth pant, my soul doth tremble too,
For in this day there are but very few,
But mix the chaff with the purest wheat,
S that the saints have little else to eat;
But the Great Gill did preach up sov’reign grace,
Which did in all his holy works take place;
Eternal truths he did assert most free,
Which was in God’s own thoughts eternally.
He shew’d that these were manifest in time,
Which proved him to be a great divine;
The Trinity he boldly did maintain,
And fully prov’d that there was Three in One.
No human soul was at the counsel board
When the creation or the world was form’d,
Or Adam made a holy creature pure,
But God’s eternal Son, he then was there.
The great Redeemer, the begotten Son,
Who then was Surety for his creature man;
As he was God he had all things in view,
And knew what man would bring himself into.
This great momentous truth Gill did explain,
With many more hereafter we shall name;
O read his Body of Divinity, }
Where he electing love doth there display, }
That we were chose in Christ eternally. }
God was not mov’d by any thing in us,
For as in Adam we must bear the curse;
Had not Love chose us in our glorious Head,
Who then stood Surety in our room and stead;
And said to justice, ‘Hold thy hand, for I
Will pay thy debt, and in their stead will die.’
And in our Head we then was justify’d;
Tho’ men in common do this truth deride.
But as our Husband cleared off the score,
The law nor justice can demand no more;
And our adoption was of the same date,
Before the world or Adam was create.
Because we’re sons, he calls us by his grace,
Which shews we’re sons before this work took place,
The Father lov’d us then as in his Son,
Before the world was made, or time begun.
These were the truths this noble warrior taught:
Arminian tenets he did set at nought:
Proving from scripture, we can nothing do,
Till by the Spirit we are born a new.
Sabellian schemes with zeal he did defy,
That robs the Son of his divinity;
Which say, The Father took a human form,
And the eternal Son they hold in scorn.
T’ Socinian errors he brings forth his sling,
Who robs us of Christ’s glorious suffering;
But with his stone and sling he brings them down,
And then on Jesus he doth set the crown.
He did oppose the Arian heresy,
Who say, Three Gods are in the Trinity;
The one superior, the others are not so,
Only as magistrates are here below.
The Unitarian also doth deny
Three glorious Persons in the Trinity;
’Tis only names and characters in one,
No God the Spirit, nor no God the Son.
With all these heretics the valiant Gill
Did fight, did conquer with unequal skill;
To God the Spirit he did honour give, }
Who worketh faith in us for to receive, }
And by his pow’r enables to believe. }
He shews our right and title to the same,
And gives us faith these ancient truths to claim;
He lets us see we have Christ’s righteousness,
That fully covers all our nakedness;
That Jesus’ blood hath wash’d us from all stain,
That law and justice hath no legal claim.
These are the truths this heav’nly man hath taught,
But, to our grief, he to the dust is brought.
In after ages when his works are seen,
They can’t believe one man compos’d the same.
With so much learning and such heav’nly skill,
Sure never was a greater man than Gill;
Except them moved by the heav’nly Dove,
Immediately anointed from above.
He liv’d the truth, as well the truth did prize,
Now he’s ascended far above the skies.
His conversation here was ever briht,
Now with his Lord, he’s cloath’d in garments white.
While he lay on a bed of languishing, }
The truths he preach’d to him did comfort bring; }
His springs of joy did sweetly flow from them: }
No murmuring was heard in all his pain,
Nor of the hand of God did he complain;
Now with the saints loud Hallelujahs sing,
Eternal praises to his God and King!
While ministers and people here lament
The loss of such a useful instrument.
His works will prove he was a great divine,
In after ages they will brightly shine:
The church, in which his past’ral work was done,
Doth greatly mourn the loss of such a one;
T’ many of them he was a father dear, }
And others by him they establish’d were, }
Which caused each t’ pour out many a tear. }
His family must now be grieved sore,
Their father and their friend to see no more.
O may they find they have a father dear,
Who never changeth in his love and care,
Until he brings them to the realms above,
To join in songs of everlasting love!
May Zion’s mourners with one voice unite }
To supplicate their King both day and night, }
That he would send us such a man of might! }
All you that to this tomb draw near,
Come with a mournful eye;
A great Ambassador lies here,
One of great dignity!
But now he’s gone unto his King,
In triumph for to reign;
And everlasting songs doth sing,
’Till Christ shall come again,
To reign on earth a thousand years,
The bodies rais’d shall be;
Then shall be wash’d away all tears,
To all eternity.
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