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“Behold here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good to him.” These good men had correct ideas of the nature and extent of true submission to divine sovereignty. They saw the same reasons for submission under the heaviest, as under the lightest afflictions. And it becomes all the afflicted at this day, to be followers of them, who through faith, and patience, and submission, inherit the promises. I hope my dear brother, the respected pastor of this people, will please to apply to himself the thoughts that have been suggested, so far as they appear adapted to his present afflicted and bereaved situation. I know he has been a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief. His serious, devout, contemplative mind, has led him to anticipate, in a measure, the heavy loss which he now feels and laments. He can adopt the language of Job in the day of his adversity: “The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.” But anticipation of trouble and affliction is commonly mingled with hope, which calms the mind, and lightens the weight of the evil feared; and when it comes without hope, it comes with a redoubled weight and pungency. This, those know to be true who have been placed in a similar state of suspense between hope and fear. But be this as it may, God has at last poured out a bitter cup of wormwood and gall to the pastor of this people. He has bereaved him of his nearest and dearest connection in life. He may be allowed to weep. Christ wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus. But he has no reason to mourn as those who have no hope. Mrs. LoNG exhibited beautiful marks of virtue and piety. She resembled Hannah, the mother of Samuel, and Elizabeth, the mother of John, who walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless. But while her virtue, piety and usefulness, seem to alleviate the sorrows of the bereaved in one view, they equally serve to aggravate them in another view. The more virtuous, pious and useful she was, the greater and more grievous is the loss he has sustained, and the greater is his obligation to exercise cordial and unreserved submission. God knew the value of the blessing he has taken from him. God knew all the conflicts of his mind under such a fiery trial. God knew all the consequences which would flow to him and to his young and rising family, by this bereaving stroke of providence. But he saw good reasons for striking such a heavy and painful stroke. And could he only see all the reasons of God's conduct, he would be fully convinced that God has done nothing but what he ought cordially to approve, and to bless him for. And it may console him to believe that what he knows not now, he shall know hereafter. He ought at present to be dumb, and not open his mouth, because the Lord has done it. Submission is his present duty, and the best source of present comfort. The happiness which flows from submission is superior to the happiness that can flow from any earthly enjoyment. If he will cast his cares and burdens upon the Lord, he will graciously sustain him. He never had, perhaps, in the course of his life, a better opportunity both to glorify and enjoy God. Affliction is the good man's shining time. Now is the time to set a good example of suffering affliction to his people, and to exhibit the beautiful character of the christian and the minister, and to show the reality and importance of that pure religion which he has long and faithfully preached. Only do this, dear brother, and your light affliction, which is but for a moment, shall work for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. I heartily sympathize with the young and very promising children of the family, who are bereaved of their dear mother, who bare them upon her heart, devoted them to God, carried them to the throne of divine grace, watched the motions of their hearts, poured pious instructions into their tender minds, and gave them salutary counsels and cautions. They have sustained an irreparable loss, in the most critical period of life. Their father will do all that a father can do for them; and though their mother is gone, has she not left an example which it is their wisdom and duty to follow 2 And has she not made such impressions on their minds, as they ought never to forget, nor eradicate 2 It behooves them to remember their Creator in the days of their youth, and to avoid every evil and false way. Though their mother has forsaken them, and can do no more for them, yet it is devoutly to be desired and hoped that God will take them up, and guide them in the path to everlasting life. The aged and respectable mother of the deceased has sorrow upon sorrow, in an evil time when she is least able to bear it, and needs the care and support of her dutiful children, which she will undoubtedly enjoy. But she has learned, we hope, by long and happy experience, to trust in the Lord Jehovah, in whom there is everlasting strength. All her trials on earth are coming to a speedy close, and her path, we trust, is like the rising sun, which shines brighter and brighter to the perfect day. She may be soon absent from the body, and present with the Lord, where all tears will be wiped away. While the surviving brothers feel their heavy loss, they will bow in silent and cordial submission to the afflictive and instructive hand of God. The religious society in this place must feel themselves deeply affected by the death of Mrs. Long, whom they have had so much reason to esteem and respect. As a christian, she has desired, and in various ways promoted, the peace and prosperity of this people. They have sustained a heavy loss, which calls them to mourning, and silent submission to the bereaving hand of providence. This instance of mortality reads them a solemn lesson on their own frailty and mortality. Their days are numbered, and the bounds are fixed over which they cannot pass. They must soon follow her whom they this day lament, into that world from which she will never return. The day of death cannot be far distant from the aged, and may be much nearer to the young and to those in the meridian of life, than they are ready to expect. It highly concerns all to stand in the posture of servants waiting for the coming of their Lord. Let. me say to every one, what the wisest of men has said: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”
PUT not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help, His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. — PsALM crlvi. 3, 4.
THERE is one great error to which all mankind are extremely liable; and that is, the error of misplacing their confidence. Being naturally weak and insufficient to take care of themselves, they naturally fly to some foreign cause for aid and support. But they generally depend upon a broken reed, which eventually pierces them to the heart. God, therefore, who knows them better than they know themselves, kindly cautions them against such a great practical mistake. He knows their propensity to trust in each other, and seasonably and solemnly bids them to forbear. “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” These words convey this melancholy truth: That mankind are naturally disposed to place that supreme dependence upon each other which God has forbidden. I shall, I. Show that mankind are naturally disposed to do this. II. That God has forbidden it. And, III. Why he has forbidden it. I. The first thing to be considered is, that mankind are naturally disposed to place undue dependence upon each other. God never gives men unnecessary cautions, nor lays unnecessary restraints upon them. Were they not prone to neglect placing their supreme dependence on his supporting arm, and to lean upon each other, he would not have given them the prohibition in the text. “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.” Man is the most dependent creature in the world. He cometh forth like a flower, weak, frail, delicate. He grows up, lives and dies in a state of dependence. In every stage of life, mankind are necessarily dependent on each other. God has ordered it so, that we are obliged to depend upon our fellow men for support, instruction, direction, and the supply of all our wants. In infancy we should have perished, had not the hand and heart of compassion supported and protected us. In youth and riper years, we were indebted to others, to form and enlarge our minds. And through every stage of life we are constrained to lean more or less upon the power, wisdom, and kindness of our fellow men. In this respect, all stand very nearly upon a level. The young depend upon the old, and the old upon the young. The poor depend upon the rich, and the rich upon the poor. The servant depends upon his master, and the master upon the servant. The subject depends upon the ruler, and the ruler upon the subject. The child depends upon its parent, and the parent on the child. Is it strange therefore, that such creatures as we are, in our present state, should depend too much upon each other ? We early form this habit, which is constantly strengthening through all the changes and periods of life, and which God originally intended we should form and cultivate. But he never meant that our dependence upon each other, should be a just ground of our renouncing our supreme dependence upon himself. He is the only self-existent and independent being. He carries all other beings in his hand. They can do nothing for themselves, or for one another, without his supporting and guiding influence. And he has given sufficient evidence to all his intelligent creatures, that they are under his supreme control. But though they know that he is the only proper object of their supreme dependence, yet they are extremely apt to renounce their dependence upon him, and to put their highest trust in one another. I proceed to show, II. That God has forbidden them to do this. For, 1. He has indirectly required them to place their supreme dependence upon himself. He every where in scripture requires them to view him as the supreme object of dependence, and to confide in him as such. We find this duty plainly and abundantly inculcated in the book of Psalms. There we read, “Trust in the Lord, and do good.” “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” “Blessed is the man that maketh the Lord his trust.” “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him.” WOL. III. 40