« AnteriorContinuar »
their part, and for sympathy and compassion on the part of others. 5. This subject calls upon all to inquire whether the bereavements and ashlictions they have experienced have been instruc. tive and beneficial to them. You have all been born to trouble, in childhood, youth, and riper years, and you are ready to imagine you have had your proportion, if not more than your proportion, of the common evils, calamities, and troubles of life. The serious question now is, what instructions and benefits you have derived from them. Have they taught you to give your hearts and lives and all you have to God? Have they taught you the vanity of all earthly hopes and prospects, and led you to secure the one thing needful? Have they taught you, while young, to love and obey your parents? Have they taught you, since you became parents, to maintain the spirit and the forms of religion ? Have they taught you to do your duty to your children, to give them up to and bring them up for God? Have they taught you to instruct, to correct, and to restrain your children from every evil and false way ? Have they taught you to close your doors on the Sabbath, and on other days, against all corrupt and corrupting company ? Have they taught you to attend, and to cause all under your care and influence to attend, public worship 2 Have you instructed, and given opportunity to others to instruct, your children in the first principles of the oracles of God? If your bereavements or other afflictions have taught you these things, they have not been lost upon you, but have been very instructive and beneficial to you. But if they have not instructed you in respect to these important duties, nor disposed you to a faithful discharge of them, you have been very dull and inattentive scholars in the school of adversity, and have reason to fear, that those whom you have neglected to teach and restrain will sooner or later give you very painful, and not very profitable instruction. Stupidity and negligence under the afflictive and instructive dispensations of Providence seldom fail to produce visible and sorrowful effects. 6. This subject now calls upon all to prepare for death. You have heard and seen that this is a dying world, and that you are dying creatures. Death is continually coming to infants, to little children, to youth, and to all persons in every stage of life. Though children have outlived infancy, yet they have not outlived mortality. Though youth have outlived little children, yet they have not outlived mortality. Though young men have outlived youth, yet they have not outlived mortality. Though one aged person has outlived another, yet the oldest person has not outlived mortality. Death is on his way to meet the infant, the child, the youth, the young man, and the old man. Which of these persons, in the different stages of life, he will meet first, none can tell. Who then has a right to say to himself, I shall not be the first? No child has a right to say, that he shall live to youth. No youth has a right to say, that he shall live to manhood. No middle-aged man has a right to say, that he shall live to old age; and the oldest person has no right to say, that he shall not be the first to meet death. But do not the aged often reason like children, that because they have lived so long, they shall live longer; or like youth, that because they have lived so long, they shall live longer; or like young men, that because they have lived so long, they shall live longer ? This is a fallacious and dangerous way of thinking and reasoning on the awful subject of death. It has probably ruined the souls of thousands. Since the grave is without any order, and death may be as near to the child as to the youth, and as near to the youth as to the young man, and as near to the young man as to the old, every one ought to be prepared to meet death first. Should the question be put to the aged, Are you ready to meet death first 2 what would you say? Were the question put to the young man, Are you ready to meet death first 2 what would you say? Were the question put to the youth, Are you ready to meet death first what would you say? Or were the question put to the child, Are you prepared to meet death first he would in the simplicity of his heart say, No. And he would have the best excuse for his negligence. The mouth of every other unprepared person would be stopped. Will you any longer live a self-condemned life, and stand exposed to a self-condemned and eternal death ? You have no excuse for past neglect, and no just ground to hope for the farther forbearance and patience of God.
FUNERAL OF MRS. LONG, WIFE OF REV. DAVID LONG, OF MILFORD, JULY 2, 1824.
THE Lord save, and the Lord hath taken away : blessed be the Larae
God bereaved and afflicted Job not merely for his own benefit, but for the general benefit of mankind. He visited him with a complication of the heaviest calamities that ever fell to the lot of any one man. Under these severe afflictions he discovered a keen sensibility, and at the same time displayed the most cordial and unlimited submission. His views and feelings under his extreme sufferings are a mirror, in which all the afflicted may clearly see how they ought to feel and act under the correcting hand of God. As soon as he knew that his bitter cup of the wormwood and the gall was filled up, he prostrated himself before his heavenly Father, and by the most significant tokens, expressed a tender, filial, submissive spirit. He rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” These words, without any comment, suggest this serious truth for our present consideration:
That it becomes men both to acknowledge and to bless God, under the smiles and frowns of providence.
I shall first show, that it becomes men to acknowledge God under the smiles and frowns of providence; and then show that it becomes them to bless him under both.
I. We are to consider, that men ought to acknowledge God under the smiles and frowns of providence.
God is the creator, preserver, and governor of all things. He rules in the kingdoms of nature, providence, and grace. He causes all the revolutions of the sun, moon, and stars, and all the motions and changes which take place in the earth. He controls all the views, purposes, and actions of men. No good nor evil can come to them, but under his direction, and by virtue of his influence. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Neither doth affliction come forth of the dust, nor doth trouble spring out of the ground. “Is there evil in the city, saith the prophet, and the Lord hath not done it?” Yea, God himself claims the prerogative of sending good and evil upon mankind, according to his own sovereign pleasure. “I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil. I the Lord do all these things.” God always sends good and evil according to his original purpose and appointment. And for this reason he says to the afflicted, “Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.” Since God guides all the wheels of providence, and governs all secondary causes, all good and evil are to be traced up to his holy, wise, powerful, righteous and sovereign hand. He is to be acknowledged as the dispenser of all the good and evil which mankind experience through all the stages and vicissitudes of life. Neither mercies nor afflictions come to them by chance, but are sent by God, who has a right to give, or deny, or take away, as seemeth good in his sight. Accordingly, good men have always looked through secondary causes in the dispensations of providence, and ascribed the good they enjoyed, and the evils they suffered, to the hand and heart of God. Though Job knew that his great prosperity had been in a measure owing to his own care, activity, and diligence, and to the labor and pains of his servants, and to the aid and assistance of his fellow men, yet he acknowledges that God made him rich, and gave him all the good things he had enjoyed. And though he knew that Satan and wicked men had been concerned in slaying his flocks, and herds, and servants, yet he ascribes all his calamities to the agency of the first and supreme Cause of all things. He says, without a single exception, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.” And again he says, with peculiar sensibility and tenderness, “Have pity, have pity upon me, O ye my friends, for the hand of God hath touched me.” Joseph, in reviewing both the adversity and prosperity which he had experienced through the astonishing scenes he had passed, ascribes them all to the overruling hand of God. He sent me before you, says he to his brethren, to preserve life, and has made me ruler over all the land of Egypt. Thus it becomes all men to acknowledge God in all the good and evil they experience, whether he gives, denies, or takes away, with or without the instrumentality of second causes. For God is as really and constantly concerned in ordering the circumstances and condition of one person as another. And it can be owing to nothing but criminal stupidity, or infidelity, that any overlook the hand of God in what they suffer, or enjoy. The prophet reproves Belshazzar for his disregard to the care, protection, and goodness of his Creator. “The God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.” Whether men are rich or poor; whether they are prosperous or unprosperous; whether they are in health or sickness; whether their friends, relatives and connections are spared or taken away; they ought to acknowledge the hand of God in all his dispensations towards them. And this acknowledgment implies something more than a mere speculative belief that all the good and evil that falls to their lot comes through the overruling hand of God. Multitudes are willing to say in words, and they believe what they say, that God governs the world, and directs all events, prosperous and adverse; and yet neither realize nor love this most interesting truth. They feel and act, rejoice or mourn, hope or fear, as though God were not in all their thoughts. But Job realized and approved of the divine agency under his afflictions. He felt and enjoyed this consoling and humiliating truth. ... He said, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” And again he said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” He felt himself to be in the hand of God, as the clay is in the hand of the potter. And thus it becomes all men to acknowledge with deep sensibility, that it is God who gives or takes away their comforts and enjoyments, and who raises them up, or casts them down, by his holy and sovereign hand. Nor is this all. For, II. They ought to bless as well as acknowledge God, under both the smiles and frowns of providence. Job acknowledged that God had given and taken away, and then adds what was still more important, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” He blessed God in taking away, as well as in granting divine favors, though the taking away was extremely painful and distressing. And in this it is said, “he sinned not,” but felt and conducted perfectly right. He ought to have blessed God under both the smiles and frowns of providence. And what