• Gracious Covenant and Election,  Joseph Hart

What Makes Mistaken Men Afraid

Revelation 3:14-21: “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”

Joseph Hart (1712-1768) was an English Independent Sovereign Grace preacher and hymn writer. In 1759, he was appointed pastor of the church meeting in Jewin Street, London. He served in this position for nine years, ending with his death in 1768. John Gadsby wrote of him:

“Joseph Hart was born about the year 1712. As his "Experience," written by himself, must have been read by nearly every one under whose eye this can fall, and as those who have not read it may procure it for a penny, I shall not attempt to give it here. He received a classical education, and his civil calling was that of a teacher of languages. He was delivered from bondage in the Moravian Chapel, Fetter Lane, London. He began to preach about 1760, and is said to have delivered his first sermon at the Old Meeting House, St. John's Court, Bermondsey, and was afterwards settled at the Independent Chapel, Jewin Street, London. His ministry was most abundantly blessed to a large and prosperous church, and his congregations were equally numerous. He was determined to keep his pulpit free from the errors of the day, not allowing, as Toplady says of him, an Arian, or Arminian, or any unsound preacher, to occupy it even once. His usual saying on this matter was, "I will keep my pulpit as chaste as my bed." Mr. Hart continued preaching, valiant for the truth, to his congregation, even while sinking under the pressure of bodily suffering. I have no account of the duration of his last illness, or of the nature of it; but it may be judged to have been somewhat lingering from the observations of Mr. Hughes, his brother-in-law, when preaching his funeral sermon: "He was like the laborious ox that dies with the yoke on his neck; so did he with the yoke of Christ on his neck; neither would he suffer it to be taken off, for you are witnesses that he preached Christ to you with the arrows of death sticking in him." He died on the 24th of May, 1768, aged 56 years, having been about eight years in the ministry. His remains lie interred in Bunhill Fields burying-ground, where a tombstone to his memory may be seen. An oration was delivered at his interment by Andrew Kinsman, of Plymouth; and his own hymn, beginning "Sons of God, by blest adoption,” was sung over his grave by the multitude. It was said that his funeral was attended by the largest number of persons that were ever assembled on those grounds, there being upwards of 20,000. Mr. Hart left behind him a widow and five children. Being in destitute circumstances, Mr. Hughes's sermon was published for their benefit, and subscriptions were made among the friends of the deceased for the same end. Mrs. Hart survived her husband nearly 22 years, dying in 1790, aged 64; and now lies with him in Bunhill Fields. The last survivor of Mr. Hart's children died in the year 1836, at an advanced age. He had been a barrister. Having married an heiress of Lincolnshire, and assumed her name, he was not known by that of his family. Of late years he was a local preacher among the Wesleyans, and preached twice the day before his death. Several grandchildren of Mr. Hart are now living; one of whom is Mr. Joseph Hart, music-seller, Hatton-garden, London. After the death of Mr. Hart, who was not a Baptist, the choice of the church falling upon Mr. Hughes, who was a Baptist, to succeed him, a division took place in the church. The Independent part of it, among whom was Mr. Hart's widow, sat under the ministry of Mr. John Towers. Mr. Hughes's sermon shows him to have been a man of like spirit with Mr. Hart, and a suitable person to follow him in the same place, to feed the flock of God just bereaved of their beloved pastor. He survived his predecessor only five years, as he died on the 29th of May, 1773, and was also interred in Bunhill Fields. In his last moments he exclaimed, "I have no other refuge for my immortal soul than this: God loved me from all eternity, loved me when a sinner in my blood, and will love me for ever." The pharisaical Dr. Johnson says, "Easter day, 1764, I went to church. I gave a shilling; and seeing a poor girl at the sacrament in a bed-gown, gave her privately a crown, though I saw Hart's hymns in her hand!" The editor of the "New Spiritual Magazine," 1786, says, "This valuable minister was for some years a pastor of an Independent chapel in Jewin Street, London, and was there made a very useful instrument for the conviction, conversion, and establishment of the elect of God. He spared no pains to set forth the glory of Christ and the blessedness of his kingdom." His funeral sermon was preached by his brother-in-law, Mr. John Hughes, who gave the following testimony concerning him: "It is well known to many, that he came into the work of the ministry in much weakness and brokenness of soul, and laboring under many deep temptations of a dreadful nature; for, though the Lord was pleased to confirm him in his everlasting love to his soul, yet (to my knowledge) he was at times so left to the buffetings of Satan, for the trial of his faith, and to such clouds and darkness in his soul, that he has been ofttimes obliged to preach to the church with sense and reason flying in his own face, and his faith at the same time like a bruised reed, insomuch that he has often done by the church as the widow of Serepta did to the prophet Elijah, who made him a cake of that little she had, when she herself seemed at the very point of starving. He gave a proof of the soundness of his faith by the soundness of his repentance, openly confessing his sins to all the world, and forsaking them. Though he knew assuredly that his sins were for ever pardoned, yet he was contented to stand in the porch of the house of the Lord all his days, alone bearing his shame, that others might learn to fear the Lord by the things which he suffered." Mr. Hart's little volume of hymns will live while the world stands. Before his call by grace, he is said to have composed several profane songs, which are still extant in the world.”