An Elegy Upon the Death of That Reverend and Faithful Minister of the Gospel Mr. Henry Forty, Late Pastor of a Church of Christ at Abingdon, in the County of Berks, who departed this Life in the 67th. Year of his Age, and was Interred in Southwark, Jan. 27th. 1692/3.
Mourn, mourn, O Sion! thou hast Forty lost,
Wave upon wave, with Tempest thou art tost
Our Sorrow’s great, and worser things draw near,
Sad Symptoms of most dismal Days appear:
Christ’s blest Ambassadors are call’d away,
And few these things unto their hearts do lay.
Many we lost before, for which we mourn,
And shall we Forty lose without a Groan?
Shall we not sigh for him who lately fell?
Or not deem him a Prince in Israel?
Say if you can, what cause gave he to fear,
He was not ev’ry way a Man sincere?
How many years did he his Master serve?
And never from Christ’s Truth did start or swerve
Shall Envy then his Name or Glory stain?
Or Prejudice wound him to death again?
O let his Name! his precious Name still live,
And to his Ashes no Abuses give.
Near Twelve long Years he did in Prison lie,
As Exeter can fully testify,
For witnessing unto God’s holy Truth,
Which he most dearly loved from his Youth;
An Instrument was he in Jesus Hand
In his Converting many in this Land:
Nay, his own Father and his Mother were
Ev’n both Converted by him (I do hear)
I think without offence, I may declare
Few godly Preachers, gone more spotless were;
Or with more Clearness did the Gospel Preach,
And in his Life shone forth what he did teach.
He was no flash, he lik’d no upstart Strains,
New Schemes he loath’d, which now our glory stains:
By the Text he left to be insisted on,
And opened when he was dead and gone;
You may perceive on what Foundation he
Did build his Hope of bless’d Felicity.
Altho’ my house is not ev’n so with God,
My Heart is dead, and I under the Rod:
Tho’ Grace in me do’s greatly seem to fade,
And many Deaths and Sorrows me invade;
Tho’ friends seem strange, and wants do theaten me,
And Pain and Anguish much increased be;
Altho’ I faint for the sweet water Streams,
And feel not those Soul-warming Sun-like Gleams,
Tho’ in my Father’s House I can’t appear,
To have Communion my poor Soul to cheer
At the bless’d Table of my dearest Lord,
Which formerly did so much Strength afford;
Tho’ I sit all-alone and weep each day,
And nights seem grievous rest b’ing took away,
Altho’ my Heart is alost broke with Grief,
Sin so abounds, and Sion wants Relief;
Her Sorrows still abide on ev’ry hand,
Her Sons divided are, so is the Land;
Sad Wars without, and Wars also within
Such Wars ‘mongst Saints has scarcely ever been.
Both Earth and Heav’n too, now shaken be
Plain signs of some dismal Catastrophe:
Altho’ my Faith is small and Love is cold,
And am distressed by what I behold;
And tho’ the Pillars of my house do shake,
My Eyes grow dim, and Hands grow very weak,
And tho’ in my own self I nothing am,
And for my Sins God might me justly damn:
Yet he a Covenant hath made with me,
Which is Eternal, cannot broken be;
For it is order’d well in ev’ry thing,
And ’tis from hence my Hope and Joy do’s spring.
Nay, this is all my Hope, and my Desire,
‘Tis this that raises up my Soul yet higher.
And when on this I do contemplate
I neither matter Mens nor Devils Hate:
This Covenant affords me such Relief
It strengthens me, and kills my unbelief:
I hereby see, and know God is my God,
And tho’ I for my sins do bear his Rod;
Yet he his Loving-kindness won’t remove,
Altho’ he doth me fatherly reprove.
After this sort, methinks I heard him speak,
Whilst he was here, and lay so sick and weak;
But now he’s gone to that sweet place of Joy,
Where Sin nor Sorrow shall him more annoy:
He fell asleep in Jesus, and shall lie
In his sweet Arms unto Eternity.
This Covenant hath set upon his Head
That glorious Crown his Saviour merited;
A Morning without Clouds his Soul do’s see,
Which so shall last unto Eternity.
Like to the Sun’s sweet shining after Rain,
Or, like a Captive Prince turn’d home again
That has in Bondage been for many year
And when Christ comes, his Glory will appear.
Which now approaches and draws very near.
His Body therefore tho’ Intomb’d in Earth,
Shall quickly rise and gloriously shine forth.
Awake ye Virgins then, and sleep no more.
Prepare with speed, the Bridegroom’s at the door;
O watch! look out! ye little think or know,
What things the mighty God’s about to do.
Here Forty lies a little while asleep,
‘Twill not be long before he shall awake;
Forbear therefore his Friends and do not weep
For of great Glory does his Soul partake.
He’s gone before, see you as ready be
For Joy above, and bless’d Felicity.
Benjamin Keach (1640-1704) was a Particular Baptist pastor and prolific writer. He was converted to Christ in his youth and in 1659 began to preach the gospel under the auspices of a free will Baptist church in Buckinghamshire. In 1664, he was arrested on charges of publishing a schismatical catechism for children. He was sentenced to two weeks’ imprisonment, fined twenty pounds and pilloried for several hours in Aylesbury and Winslow. In 1668, he moved to London and was appointed the Pastor at the Horsleydown congregation in Southwark. Having now come into contact with several Particular Baptist ministers, he began to nurture Calvinistic views of the gospel, becoming one of the leading Particular Baptist ministers in London. He served thirty-six years as the Pastor for the Horsleydown church, was one of the signers of the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith and was the author of more than forty books.