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them another moment from death, but the same sovereign mercy which has hitherto supported them in life. O may this thought sink deeply into all our hearts, and effectually deter us from abusing the patience and forbearance of God, who carries our lives, and all our interests for time and etermity, in his holy and sovereign hand. 5. Since God discovers no order in death, it becomes the bereaved and afflicted on this mournful occasion, to submit to his holy and absolute sovereignty. This is the only ground of submission under your present bereavement. God has called away the deceased without any order and without any warning. And though he saw reasons sufficient for cutting him down by a sudden and unexpected stroke, in the midst of his days, yet he has not discovered those reasons to you, and hence you have no right to say unto him, “What doest thou?” You ought to be dumb, and not open your mouths, because he knew what was best, and has done what is right. When God acts as a sovereign, he means that his creatures should submit to his sovereignty. Though he does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men, yet he often throws them into the furnace of affliction on purpose to bring them to the most sincere and unreserved submission to his will. This is your situation, who are called to endure a sudden, unexpected, and sore bereavement. God knows the darkness and distress in which you are involved; but yet he requires you to believe that he has treated both you and him you lament, according to infinite wisdom and goodness. And it is only in the belief and love of this truth, that you can enjoy any peace and consolation in your present affliction. If you either overlook or oppose the amiable and awful sovereignty of God so clearly displayed in your bereavement, you will increase your sorrows and aggravate your guilt. But if you sincerely submit to his will, and cast your burdens upon his arm, he will give you that peace which the world cannot give, and which the world cannot take away. The loss of a husband, the loss of a father, the loss of a son, and the loss of a brother, may be more than made up, by the enjoyment of God. But it is only in the exercise of faith, and love, and entire submission to God, that in his light you can see light, and find rest to your souls, in the view of the sudden and solemn instance of mortality which you are called to lament. Be entreated, then, to draw near to God, that he may draw near to you, and give you beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Finally, this subject, and this occasion, unitedly admonish all to prepare without delay for their great and last change. Our eyes and our ears teach us that death is without any order,
and may come as suddenly and unexpectedly to one as to another. Though it is probable that some here present will live many days, and arrive at old age, yet it is no less probable that some here present will die, not many years, not many months, not many days hence. It would be far from strange, if some individual who is called to attend this striking instance of mortality, should stand next on death's commission, and be the very first to follow the deceased into eternity. And this may justly excite each individual to cry with deep sensibility, “Lord, is it I?” The youth who imagines he is far from the grave, may be the next to be covered with the clods of the valley. The man who is boasting of to-morrow, and disdaining the fear of death, may be the next to moulder in the dust. And either of the mourners may suddenly and unexpectedly follow the deceased into that eternal state, from which he will never return. Week after week, death has come among us without any order. And why has God given us these repeated warnings and admonitions? Is it not because there are many who have despised and abused all other warnings and admonitions, and still totally neglect to prepare for eternity? This may be one of the last solemn calls that God will ever condescend to give to some poor, stupid, impenitent creatures, who stand upon slippery places, and whose feet will soon slide into the grave. God's spirit will not always strive, nor his patience always last, with those who hate instruction and despise reproof. Can any of this character realize that death is without any order, and yet give sleep to their eyes, or slumber to their eye-lids, until they have made their peace with God, and are prepared to meet and conquer the king of terrors ? Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. To-day, therefore, if ye will hear the voice of God in his word and in his providence, harden not your hearts. Amen.
DEATH OF DR. ABIJAH EVERETT, JANUARY 2, 1804, IN HIS 48th YEAR.
CAST thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee. — PsAI.M. lv. 22
DEATH is one of the most fruitful sources of sorrow in this evil world. It not only carries terror and distress to the dying, but plants daggers in the breasts of the living. It has produced more tears and sincere sighs than any other calamity which has fallen upon the children of men. Every instance of mortality causes a smaller or larger circle of sorrow. The living are continually lamenting the dead, and a large portion of mankind are every where exhibiting the signals of bereavement and mourning. “Man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets.” But God who does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men, is abundantly able to heal the wounds which he gives. There is always a remedy for every mourner, and this remedy is pointed out in our text. “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.” To set this gracious declaration in a plain and practical light, I shall, I. Show what we are to understand by burdens. II. Show what is implied in men's casting their burdens upon the Lord. III. Make it appear that God will sustain those who cast their burdens upon him. I. Let us consider what we are to understand by burdens. A burden properly signifies a load; and to carry a load is always more or less tiresome, and sometimes extremely distressWOL. III. 6
ing. A burden, therefore, is a very proper figure to represent any thing which is disagreeable, painful, or afflictive. In this figurative sense the word burden is used in the text, and in various other places of scripture, as well as in common discourse. When we speak of any natural evils which have fallen upon ourselves or others, we very commonly call them burdens. By this metaphor, we are to understand all natural evils, whether of body or of mind. Wounds, bruises, diseases, and every species of sickness, may be properly called bodily evils; but bereavements, disappointments, and all the marks of divine displeasure, may more properly be termed mental evils. These two kinds of natural evil are intimately connected, and very frequently enhance each other. Pains of the body are painful to the mind, and pains of the mind are sometimes painful and even destructive to the body. These bodily and mental evils are more in number than can be reckoned up; but many of them are so short in duration, and so easy to be borne, that we never consider them as burdens. As we hardly perceive the weight of those things that we daily carry about with us, so we scarcely take notice of the light and common evils of life. But there are severe pains and sicknesses, and severe losses and bereavements, which are properly called burdens, and which greatly abound in this evil and sinful world. Men are here born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward. How often are their bodies racked with pain! How often are their eyes filled with tears! How often do their bosoms heave with sighs! How often are they called, in a sudden and unexpected manner, to part with their nearest and dearest friends! These are heavy burdens, too heavy for them to bear, without divine support and consolation. Even Job himself was ready to sink under the bereaving strokes of providence. He cried out in the anguish of his heart, “Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me!” When God visits any with sore and sudden bereavements, he causes their hearts to stoop, and constrains them to feel the propriety and importance of casting their burdens upon him. This leads me to show, II. What it is for the afflicted to cast their burdens upon the Lord. This implies various exercises of the mind. 1. It implies a realizing sense that God has laid their burdens upon them. They must know the rod, and him who hath appointed it, in order to know where to cast their burdens. All afflictions come from God, and are marks of his just displeasure. Though they flow from love, yet they flow from that love which frowns upon sin. No affliction is for the present joyous, but grievous; and God does not grieve mankind to express his
love of complacency. It is the expression of his displeasure, which gives the heaviest weight to the heaviest affliction. There is nothing which is capable of giving so much anguish and distress to the human heart, as a realizing sense of the just displeasure of the greatest and best of beings. And when the afflicted realize the frowns of God under his bereaving hand, they are fully convinced of the necessity of going to him, and casting their burdens upon his arm. But, 2. They cannot do this without acknowledging that God has a right to lay their burdens upon them. God is the sovereign Lord of all his creatures, and always has a right to lay such burdens upon them as he sees best. He has a right to lay a burden upon one and not upon another, and to lay a heavier burden upon one than upon another, without assigning any reason for such a disparity in the dispensations of his providence. He giveth not account of any of his matters; and none may say unto him, what doest thou? He sees through all the relations and connections of things, and knows how to lay burdens upon his creatures in the most proper time, and in the most proper degree and duration. Infinite wisdom cannot err, and perfect goodness cannot injure; the judge of all the earth cannot but do right. This men must believe, in order to cast their burdens upon the Lord. For if he should injure them by any burdens which he lays upon them, the injury could not be removed by any created being, nor even by himself. If he should take off an unwise or unjust burden, this would not repair the injury; or if he should grant a good to the person, greater than the unjust evil he has inflicted upon him, this would not repair the injury. Were God to afflict any person more than he deserved, the person would always have reason to complain; and while he complained he could not cast his burden upon the Lord. The afflicted, therefore, must be fully convinced that God has a right to afflict them in the manner and measure he actually does, before they can be disposed to cast their burdens upon him. For, 3. This implies entire submission to the conduct of God, or a willingness to endure the burdens which he pleases to lay upon them. The prophet Micah speaks the proper language of one who is suffering under the correcting hand of God. “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him; until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me.” It is the perfect rectitude of God's conduct in afflicting mankind, which is the only proper ground of their entire submission. Since God always acts wisely and justly in laying burdens upon them, they always have reason to be submissive under his burdens, and to bear them cheerfully. So Job felt and said