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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 they live. 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 line where they discover light, a darkness broods which they strive in vain to pierce.
These words indicate :
IV. A CONCLUSION. “I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.”— I perceive then that there is nothing better than for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. Having before us mystery to adore, Solomon points out a privilege to enjoy, and a duty to discharge. We are not forbidden, we are encouraged, to study the works and ways of God; nevertheless we are taught that it is extremely unwise to perplex and afflict ourselves, on account of our imperfect knowledge of what God has made, and is doing, in the universe. Instead of making ourselves unhappy about mysteries which we cannot fathom, there is nothing better than to cultivate cheerfulness of heart. But in what should we rejoice ? Not in wisdom;—for our knowledge is comparative ignorance; not in wealth ;—for riches are both uncertain and unsatisfying; not in amusement;—for it is empty as a tinted bubble. Solomon writes “vanity” on all these things : hence, he cannot commend rejoicing therein. Our rejoicing therefore, must be in God. Thus the Old Testament commends what the New Testament commands, “ Rejoice in the Lord always, rejoice evermore.” We have not only a privilege to enjoy, we have also a duty to discharge. We are called upon to do good, as well as to rejoice. The statement, “There is nothing better than to do good,” is a fine development of sacred philosophy; for it shows that the design of our being, is not the gratification of selfishness, but the exercise of benevolence—not to grow wise, accumulate wealth, and revel in pleasure, but to do good. “ Jesus of Nazareth went about doing good." He did good to the bodies of men. We should do likewise. He did good to the souls of men. We should do likewise. In doing so we shall realize (1) Inward satisfaction. Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We know what pleasure results from
receiving, but a purer, richer, fuller joy is produced by giving. This happiness will be ours. (2) The gratitude and love of those we befriend. Human hearts soon respond to acts of kindness. Those whose condition we ameliorate, or whose steps we turn into the way of life, will utter heartfelt thanks and regard us with strong affection. They will speak of us as their benefactors, and pray that the blessing of God may rest upon us. (3) The smile of Jehovah. The smile of royalty, consequent on bravery, or uprightness, produces profound satisfaction. But what is the smile of an earthly monarch, when we think of the smile of the King Immortal ? The smile of God is better than life.
Brethren! The years of our life are swiftly passing away -the gloomy and sorrowful hour of death will soon be here!
When we bid a final adieu to weeping friends; when we experience sensations to which we have hitherto been strangers; when we feel the icy hand of the last foe resting heavily on our hearts; all pursuits and all interests will be seen in a new light-time will appear as nothing, and eternity as everything! What, think ye, will adequately sustain and cheer your departing spirits at that sad and solemn crisis? Will the recollection that you have labored with all your might to improve your earthly circumstances; that you have accumulated a few hundred, or thousand pounds, and that while doing so you have sat at ease in Zion ? Ah,
Such recollection will bite like an adder, and sting like a scorpion. The memory that will refresh your souls in death, and brighten your prospect of a fairer world, will be that which rests on joy in God, and efforts to do good. How brilliant will be the crowns of rejoicing, whose flamy gems are glorified spirits ! Such crowns may yours.
P. J. WRIGHT,
SUBJECT :-Gethsemane, or God's Nearness to Man.
“ Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death ; tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”—Matt. xxvi. 36-39.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Sebenty-second.
The sun has set, and now the full orbed moon floats in the clear sky, shedding its cold ray upon the valley of Jehoshaphat, and its distorted image dances on the murmuring eddies of the brook of Kedron. The air is chilly, the earth is cold, and covered with hoar frost, and the heavy dew-drops changed to icy gems, upon the lowly shrubs, reflect the rainbow beauty of the moonbeam. Amid the silent solitude, when the breezes slumber and nature is asleep, the gentle foot-falls of anxious men are heard. The tall stiff grass quivers as they pass along. Some whisper to each other, while others, more reflective, are absorbed in anxious thoughts, and others weep in silence. Jesus and His eleven disciples make their last journey to Gethsemane, a spot peculiarly sacred to them all, where they have often been before, drinking comfort from streams of heavenly love, and feeding on angels' food upon their weary earthly pilgrimage.
Jesus leaves eight of His disciples at the gate, and with only three, retires to a distance, out of the hearing, if not out of the sight, of all the rest. They sit, wearily, beneath the shadow of an ancient olive tree, and Jesus speaks. He, then, alone, goes further still and prays.
This incident was full of lessons for them, and is for usfor all.
Jesus taught by actions as well as by words, as often by the one as by the other. Never was there a teacher so thoroughly original, not only in matter, but also in method.