« IndietroContinua »
should suffer with it; and if one member rejoices, all the members should rejoice.
The second thing proposed, was to shew you the suitableness of this temper of mind to our present state.
And, in the first place, it is suited to that dark and uncertain state of being in which we now live. Human life is not formed to answer those high expectations which, in the era of youth and imagination, we are apt to entertain. When we first set out in life, we bid detiance to the evil day; we indulge ourselves in creams and visions of romantic bliss; and fondly lay the scene of perfect and uninterrupted happiness for the time to come. But experience soon undeceives us
We awake, and find that it was but a dream. We make but few steps in life, without finding the world to be a turbulent scene; we soon experience the changes that await us, and feel the thorns of the wilderness wherein we dwell. Our hopes are frequently blasted in the bud; our designs are defeated in the very moment of expectation, and we meet with sorrow and vexation, and disappointment, ori all hands. There are lives besides our own, in which we are deeply interested ; lives in which our happiness is placed, and on which our hopes depend. Just when we have laid a plan of happy litë; when, after the experience of years, we have found out a few chosen friends, and have begun to enjoy that little circle in which we would wish to live and to die, an unexpected stroke disappoints our hopes, and lays all our schemes in the dust. When, after much la-bour and care, we have reared the goodly structure ; when we have fenced it, as we fondly imagine, from every storm that blows, and indulge the pleasing hope, that it will always endure, an invisible hand interposes, and overturns it from the foundation. Who knoweth what awaits him in life? Who knoweth the changes through which he is destined to pass ? Son of prosperity! Thou now lookest forth from thy high tower ; thou now gloriest in thine excellence ; thou sayest that thy mountain stands strong, and that thou art firm as the cedar of Lebanon.-But stand in awe. Before the mighty God of Jacob, and by the blast of the breath of his nostrils, the mountain hath been overturned, and the cedar in Lebanon hath fallen like the leaf before the whirlwind. At this
At this very moment of time, the wheel is in motion that reverses the lot of men ; that brings the prosperous to the dust, and lays the mighty low. Now, man! thou rejoicest in thy strength, but know, that for thee the bed of languishing is spread ; pale, ghastly, and stretched on thy couch, thou shalt number the tedious hours, the restless days, the wearisome nights, that are appointed to thee, till thy soul shall be ready to “ choose 16 death rather than life.” Thou now removest from thee the evil day, and sayest, in thy heart, thou shalt never see sorrow; but remember the changes of this mortal life ; for thee the “ cup of trembling" is prepared, and the “ wine of astonishment is poured 56 out.” How often, in an instant, doth a hand unseen shift the scene of the world! The calmest and the stillest hour precedes the whirlwind, and it hath thundered in the serenest sky. The monarch hath drawn the chariot of state in which he was wont to ride in triumph, and the greatest who ever awed the world, have moralized at the turn of the wheel.
In the second place, the propriety of this temper will appear, if we consider the scene that soon awaits us, and the awful change of being that we have to undergo. The sentence of the Lord is passed upon all flesh. Man who art born of a woman ! one day thou must die. The decree is gone forth, and the time appointed for its fulfilment is approaching fast. Short is the period which is allotted to mortal man. In a little time the scene changes, and the places that knew us shall know us no more. We bid an eternal adieu to all below the sun ; we enter on a new state of being, and appear in the immediate presence of God. After death comes the judgment. Thou must answer, O man! to the Searcher of hearts, for
the deeds done in the body. The actions of thy past life shall rise up to thy remembrance ; the secrets of thy soul shall be disclosed ; and thy eternal doom be fixed by Go:l, the Judge of all. If thy last moments thou wilt be serious, and stand in awe. thoughtless șinner will stand aghast, and the stoutest heart will tremble at that awful, that parting hour, when, to the closing eye, God appears, with as full conviction, as if the curtain between both worlds was withdrawn, and the Judge in very deed, descended to his tribunal. How serious wilt thou be when surrounded by the sad circle of thy weeping friends, thou readest in their altered looks, that thy hour is come; when cut off from all connection with mortality, thou takest thy last look of what thou heldest dear in life; when the cold sweat, the shivering limb, and the voice faultering in the throat, announce thy departure into the world unknown! What manner of persons ought we to be, who have such events awaiting us! Ought we not to stand in awe ; to join trembling with our mirth ; to commune with our hearts alone, and be still as in the presence of that God, before whose tribunal we have soon to appear?
In the third place, this frame of mind is peculiarly proper
you now, as a preparation for that solemnity which you are soon to celebrate. Holy is every ordinance of the Lord; but this is the holiest of all, and should inspire us with reverence and godly fear. You are to be engaged in the most solemn ordinance of our religion. You are to be employed in the most important work of your lives, to seal your vows in the faith of everlasting redemption. You are going to transact with the God of Glory, before whom ten thousand times ten thousand angels and archangels bow down and admire and adore. You are about to commemorate the most tremendous event which is to be found in the records of time : that scene which made the sun grow dark, and which the earth trembled to behold. God shews himself to be
awful, even when he manifests his mercy, and causes all his goodness to pass before you. When he blesses men with the greatest testimony of his love, it is by smiting his own Son; when the gate of heaven is set open to the world, it is opened by the blood of One who is higher than the heavens. Whilst thou rejoicest therefore at the remembrance of thy redemption, think with wonder upon the ransom by which it was accomplished, and implore the assistance of the Divine Spirit, that you may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
For I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the
house appointed for all living. THIS book of Job contains the history of a right
eous man, fallen from the height of prosperity, into scenes of great distress. Almost every affliction which falls to the lot of mortal man, embittered his life. His goods were taken away by robbers ; his body was smitten by a loathsome and tormenting disease ; his family was cut off, and aļl his company made desolate by a sudden stroke from heaven'; his surviving friends proved miserable comforters, and, instead of relieving, added to his afflictions. His head was bare to every blast of adversity, and his heart bled with all the varieties of pain. In the course of his complaint, he utters the genuine voice of sorrow, and pours forth his soul in lamentation and woe. He sets before us the evil day; he shews us the dark side of things, and presents to view those shades in the picture of human life, which must one day meet our eye. From these calamities, he passes, by a natural transition, to the consideration of the last evil in huinan life :-“I know that thou wilt bring me to death,
and to the house appointed for all living.”
Man is a serious being. There is a string in the heart which accords to the voice of sorrow, and impressions of grief take the strongest hold of the mind, There is a time when solitude has a charm; when cheerfulness gives place to melancholy; and when the house of mourning is better suited to the soul than