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Sermons & Study Guides

Directory For The Publick Worship Of God Pt. 13 - Concerning Burial Of The Dead.

James Dodson

Directory For The Publick Worship Of God

Concerning Burial Of The Dead.

Question  1.—When any person departs this life, should the dead body, upon the day of burial, be decently attended from the house to the place appointed for public burial? Answer.—Yes.  Luke  7:12-14.    The  body,  being  prepared  for  burial,  John  19:40;  Acts 9:37, upon the day of burial is to be decently attended from the place of preparation to the place appointed for public burial.  The place of burial is not to be under the “altar,” or in the place of assembling the Church, for the Word and sacraments as Papists do, but in some public place either near the church or some enclosed field, because the Jews sometimes buried  in  a  cave,  Gen.  25:9;  sometimes  in  a  valley,  Deut.  34:6;  and  sometimes  in  a garden, 2 Kings 21:18; John 19:41. Question 2.—Is it there immediately to be interred, without any ceremony? Answer.—Yes. 1 Kings 13:29-31.  Though Scripture records many burials, yet it gives no countenance to the notion of burial ceremonies or services for the deceased.  Though there  is  mention  of  lamentation  and  mourning,  yet  there  is  no  indication  of  any  other activity at the interment of the corpse, 2 Chron. 26:23; Acts 8:2. Question  3.—Should the custom of kneeling down, and praying by or towards the dead corpse, and such other usages, in the place where it lies before it is carried to burial, be laid aside as superstitious? Answer.—Yes. 2 Kings 18:4.  Even those things good and laudable in themselves may and often have been corrupted and turned to superstitious use.  God provided that Moses should  be  interred  secretly,  so  that  ‘no  man  knoweth  of  his  sepulchre  to  this  day,’  Deut. 34:6,  lest  the  Jews  should  have  abused  it  to  idolatry,  wisely  and  graciously  guarded against a practice which He foresaw would easily degenerate into superstition.  When they began to lose the purity of their religion, one way in which they corrupted themselves, was by  joining  in  the  funeral  services  and  commemorations  of the  heathen  by  ‘eating  the sacrifices of the dead,’ Ps. 106:28, and ‘weeping for Tammuz,’ Ezek. 8:14. Question  4.—Should  praying,  reading,  and  singing,  both  in  going  to  and  at  the  grave, having been grossly abused, be laid aside, as no way beneficial to the dead, and having proved many ways hurtful to the living? Answer.—Yes. Eccl. 9:4, 5.  As coming into the world, so neither interring and burial is performed  in  the  Word  of  God  with  preaching,  reading  service  over  the  dead,  singing Scriptures  (as  Papists),  or  singing  of  Psalms  (which  has  been  forbidden  amongst  the Reformed churches), all which tend to superstition, therefore we use only with a company of Christians in decent manner to convey the corpse to the earth with moderate mourning, in  conference  concerning  our  mortality,  as  Sarah,  Gen. 23:2,19;  Abraham,  Gen.  49:31; Joshua, Josh. 24:30; and Samuel, 1 Sam. 25:1; and Josiah were buried, 2 Kings 23:30. Question  5.—Is it very convenient, that the Christian friends, which accompany the dead body  to  the  place  appointed  for  public  burial,  apply  themselves  to  meditations  and conferences suitable to the occasion? Answer.—Yes.  Acts  8:2;  Eccl.  7:1-4.    Mourning  for  the  death  of  friends  is  very consistent with true piety, providing always that it is in moderation, mixed with submission to  God,  and  comfort  drawn  from  the  faith  of  the  resurrection,  Matt.  5:4;  1  Thess.  4:13; 
James  4:6,  9.    So,  too,  it  is  very  appropriate  for  the friends  of  the  deceased  to  seek  to bring some comfort to the remaining family members, Job 2:11; John 11:19, 31. Question  6.—Should the minister, if he be present, as upon other occasions, so at this time, put them in remembrance of their duty? Answer.—Yes.  Eccl.  12:9-11.    It  is  the  duty  of  the  minister  to  be  conscientious  in  his work of exhorting and calling the people of God to remembrance of their duty, 1 Tim. 4:6; 2 Tim. 4:2.  Therefore, he ought to be careful not to study to please the corrupt and sinful humors in men by concealing necessary truths, or venting anything contrary to truth, Gal. 1:10;  by  extenuating  men’s  sins,  or  speaking  peace,  and comfort  to  them  in  their  evil ways,  Ezek.  13:17-23;  yet  it  is  very  lawful  for  him  to  study such  a  strain  and  method  in delivering truth, and such a timing thereof, as may be most pleasing to his hearers for their good to edification, Rom. 15:2. Question  7.—Should the lack of ecclesiastical ceremony be extended to deny any civil respects  or  deferences  at  the  burial,  suitable  to  the  rank  and  condition  of  the  party deceased, while he was living? Answer.—No. Jer. 34:4,5.  The Biblical principle is to render honour to whom it is due, Rom. 13:7.  Clearly, this was observed amongst God’s people in the paying of respects to the deceased, 1 Sam. 28:3; 2 Sam. 3:31-39.