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and of all the truth which thou hast showed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan, and now I am become two bands.”
Surely you will retire before the Lord as did David, and say, “O Lord God, what is my house that thou hast brought me hitherto ? And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God, but thou hast spoken also of thy servant’s house for a great while to come ; and is this the manner of man, O Lord God ?”
Thus continually and gratefully recognise the hand of God in all your
mercies. Repress pride and self-sufficiency. Guard against those occasions and circumstances of temptation peculiar to a state of prosperity and abundance. Ever keep in mind how undeserving you are of benefits so rich and so numerous. Consecrate yourselves and all your blessings to the Lord, and strive the more you receive at his hand the more to prepare for giving in an account of your stewardship. “So shall your hearts be ever lifted up in the ways of the Lord.”
ROBERT HARLEY, F.R.A.S.
SUBJECT :-Rejoicing in God and Doing Good.
“He hath made everything beautiful in his time : also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.” Ecclesiastes iii. 11, 12.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Seventy-first.
Tae wisdom of Solomon entitles his judgment respecting the design of our existence to profound respect; and the fact that he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, renders that judgment binding on our conscience. Concerning earthly possessions and gratifications, he tells us ; “I builded houses, I planted vineyards, I made gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruits.
I made pools of water, I got servants and maidens, and I had large possessions of great and small cattle. I gathered silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and the provinces. I got men singers and women singers, and inusical instruments of all sorts. Whatsoever my eyes desired I kept not from them; I withheld not my heart from any joy, and behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit.” Concerning knowledge and wisdom he states; "I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven. My heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun, and behold all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” His general estimate of human life is given in the dirge-like strain, “ Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” But he does not leave successive generations to read and ponder without hope these dark and melancholy pencillings. From the outer edges of his cloudy representations he pours a 'stream of holy light to illumine and cheer the human race. He vindicates the ways of God, and opens unto man the path of enjoyment and usefulness. He testifies, “Jehovah has made everything beautiful,” &c.
These words indicate :
“God has made everything beautiful in his time,”-in its season. We should not interpret the word “ beautiful” in the definite and restricted sense of pleasantness to the eye, but in the large and comprehensive sense of suitableness to effect a benign result-of being done wisely and well by Jehovah.
First : God has made everything beautiful in its season in creation. The seasons are beneficial. Winter, with its fantastic frosts, affords rest to the ground, and prepares it for fruitful
Spring, with its winds and showers, causes grass to grow, trees to bud, and flowers to bloom. Summer, with its light and heat, makes the valleys stand thick with corn, and the little hills rejoice on every side.
Autumn, with its golden radiance, gives glowing tints and mellow ripeness to
the fruits of the earth, that we may have all things richly to enjoy. The tides of ocean purify its waters, and the ocean yields resources to refresh the fields.
Thunder storms, fierce winds, and rolling floods, remove noxious elements, and render the atmosphere healthful. The calm and clear blue sky imparts a sense of duty and enjoyment. The strata of the earth furnish mineral treasures; the forests of the wilderness supply useful timber; the quiet river invests an extensive region with fertility; the sun fills the hemisphere with light ; noble quadrupeds, birds of bright plumage, and glittering insects, fulfil important objects in the economy of nature; human beings, with high faculties and strong affections, associate as families, tribes and nations, working out there by the wonderful designs of God. “O, Lord, how manifold are thy works, in wisdom hast thou made them all.”
Secondly: God has made everything beautiful in its season in providence. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die,” &c. This element of change is highly expressive of wisdom and kindness. Without it life would lose its sweetest charm. Without it we should have to endure a monotonous existence. Melancholy would cloud our minds, and the years which note the progress of our being, would seem long and dreary. But we are not thus dealt with,
are not situate where nothing shifts, where nothing alters. God has placed us amidst scenes and circumstances which are ever changing.. Innumerable objects, interests, and pursuits, arrest our attention, and employ our powers. Thus our thoughts, feelings, and energies, are brought into new combinations, and kept in gratifying exercise. We wake, we sleep ; we toil, we rest ; we keep silence, we converse; we feel anxious, we feel at ease; we part with friends, we meet with friends; we contend with difficulties, we move on prosperously; we shed tears, we brighten into smiles; we are downcast with fear, we are animated with hope ; we go forward on our earthly pilgrimage, we arrive at its end. Words cannot express how largely these vicissitudes excite
our sensibilities, invigorates our faculties, and promotes our happiness. The deep meaning there is in them, and the benign issues to which they give birth, evince that “God is wonderful in working,” and “doeth all things well."
These words indicate :
II. A DISPOSITION. Also, he has set the world in their heart”—put it into the hearts of men to examine the world.
First: Men have a disposition to examine creation. The present age illustrates this more fully than any former age. Never before were efforts so various, vigorous, and untiring, put forth to search out, and, if possible, fully comprehend, the universe. Men examine the strata of the earth, classify the fossil remains they discover therein, and bring to light the organic beings that lived, ere man was made in the image of God. Men examine the elements, ascertain their powers, and employ them to subserve secular interests. Men examine the physical constitution of humanity, adapt medicines to its diseases, and furnish rules to promote its longevity. Men examine the starry heavens, they determine the distance, the magnitude, and the velocity, of numerous shining spheres ; they discover new planets, new comets, and new suns; they continually augment their knowledge of the wonderful works of God.
Secondly : Men have a disposition to examine providence. The depths of Providence are not less profound than the depths of nature. Men look into them with thoughtful solicitude, and make vigorous efforts to fathom them. Especially do they study the vicissitudes of life. They endeavor, to ascertain why the members of a family dwelling together in love, are suddenly separated from each other, and their habitations fixed far apart in foreign lands; why the heir of an ancient dynasty, the rightful reigning sovereign of an empire, is driven from his throne, and either loses his life, or becomes an exile in a distant country ; why a rude tribe
is made strong, and led forth from conquering to conquer, till it grows into a great nation ; why an individual who was penniless and friendless in early life, has been made the possessor of enormous wealth, and one of the nobles of a powerful kingdom; why an individual who had been prosperous for a series of years has been reduced to poverty; how the manifold events which befall the righteous are working together for good; and what will be the final issue of the changes which are taking place in human affairs. Nothing abates their curiosity in relation to these, and many other mysterious circumstances. It is constantly in action, seeking light to relieve the darkness which overhangs the deep things of God.
These words indicate :
III. A DIFFICULTY. “ So that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end :"-yet no man can fully understand creation and providence.
First : No man can fully understand the works of God. What men know is as nothing in contrast with what is hidden from them. The animalcule which, when looked at through the microscope, is found to be as wonderfully made as the ponderous elephant or the mighty eagle, suggests inquiries to the intellect which it strives in vain to answer. The silver planet, shining forth when looked at through the telescope a magnificent world, does likewise. No man can descry the bounds of space. No man can tell the number of the glorious worlds that roll therein. No man can describe the inhabitants of the stars, and the economy under which
No man can fully explain his own physical, mental, and moral, constitution. Nature is full of mystery. A blade of grass, a leaf, a flower, an insect, as well as stupendous objects, indicates this. “None by searching can find out unto perfection” the works of God.
Secondly: No man can fully understand the ways of God. Individuals of strong intellect may look deeper into the dark profound of providence than others; but below the