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life in poverty. Hardly bestead and hungry, you have little to lose; and, if destitute of religion, may be tempted to curse your king and your God, and look upward. But the hope of the gospel will cause you to rejoice, even in this situation. Though no fruit appear on your vine, nor flock in your fold, nor herd in your stall; yet you trill rejoice in the Lord, and be glad in the God of your salvation.
6. A participation of God's special "mercy affords an assurance, that all the blessings before mentioned are but the beginnings of joy, the earnest of everlasting bliss.—Here we are at a loss. Note are we the sons of God, but it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but this we know, that we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. O happy people! Well are they exhorted to rejoice always, and again to rejoice—to sing aloud upon their beds—to count it all joy, even when they fall into divers trials, knowing that these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
To all this may be added, the earlier you obtain these blessings, the greater will be your enjoyment.—Early piety will save you from much wickedness. The conversion of a soul, especially at this period, hides a multitude of sins; and renders life much more happy as well as useful. Evil habits are broken with difficulty. Those who return to God in old age, seldom do much for him, or enjoy much from him. Manasseh, though he obtained mercy, yet did but little towards undoing the mischief which he had wrought in Israel. He could lead his people and his family into wickedness while he was wicked; but he could not lead them back again when he returned. Anion, his successor, imitated Manasseh the idolater, not Manasseh the penitent. And as to himself, though he cast the idols out of the temple, and out of the city, yet the far greater part of the work of reformation was left for his grandson Josiah. That amiable young prince began, in the sixteenth year of his age, to seek after the Lord God of his fathers; and in the twentieth, he set about a thorough work of reformation; and God was with him, and blessed him, and he, like his ancestor Abraham, became a blessing.
O, young people,.a thousand arguments and examples might be adduced to show the force and propriety of the petition '. If you have a spark of ingenuousness towards God in your hearts, you would not desire to put him off with the refuse of a life spent in the service of sin. You would offer him the first fruits of your days; the best of your time, strength, talents, and influence.— And this is not all. Time flies. Years roll over in quick succession. Death sweeps away the young as well as the aged. Out of the burials that we have had this year in our congregation, five out of six have been young people; some of them under twenty years of age, and others of them but little past that period. None of them seem to have thought much of dying, yet they are gone from the land of the living! Hark! from their tombs I hear the language of warning and solemn counsel! Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; forihere is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. Join with your pastor, join with your parents, join with all that seek your welfare, in praying, O satisfy us early with thy mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
What shall I say more? Will you, my dear young people, will you drink and be satisfied at the fountain of mercy; a fountain that is wide open, and flows freely through our Lord Jesus Christ? You cannot plead the want of sufficient inducements. Ministers, parents, Christians, angels, the faltering voice of death, the solemn assurance'of a judgment to come, and above all, the sounding of the bowels of Jesus Christ, all say, Come. But if, like those who refused the waters of Siloah, you prefer the follies and pursuits of the present life to the joys of immortality, our souls shall weep in secret places for you. Tribulation and anguish will overtake you, even in this life; and under it, instead of the consolations and hopes of the gospel, you will have to reflect, ' This I have brought upon myself; and these are but the beginnings of sorrows!'
Vol. VIII. 62
TO THE AFFLICTED.
Those whose Christian compassion induces them frequently to visit the sick, see and hear things of which others can scarcely form any conception. They see affliction, not merely in easy circumstances, wherein it is alleviated, as far as possible, by the comforts of life, but as it exists in the poor man's dwelling, aggravated by privations and hardships, many of which would seem intolerable to some, even in a time of health. They sympathize with you, and as far as they are able, it is presumed, administer to your relief.
But there is one thing which has particularly struck the writer of this address; namely, the different manner in which affliction is borne by religious, and by irreligious people. He wishes to be understood as speaking generally, rather than universally. Some who are thought to be religious, and are not so; and some that are truly religious, are the subjects of morbid nervous sensibility; while others who are not so, have much constitutional patience and equanimity. But other things being equal, he has perceived a wide difference in favour of religion. In visiting the dwellings of Christian people in times of affliction, his heart has been cheered by their cheerfulness. Their troubles have seemed to be more than balanced by their enjoyments. Hope has glistened in their very tears, and submission to the will of God has brightened their emaciated countenances. But on entering the abodes of the irreligious, such discontent, despondency, and misery have appeared, that he has come away quite dejected. The smile of hope, and the tear of joy, were there alike unknown: all was darkness, and the prospect of thicker darkness.
Let us try to find out the causes and the cure of this state of mind, which adds so much to the miseries of life. If every one could tell his tale, and would tell the truth, we might hear softie such accounts as these:
• My heart was set upon certain things, and I seemed almost to have gained them, when unexpectedly I was seized with this heavy affliction. And now all my plans are broken ; I seem likely to die disappointed ; and what is worse, I have thought nothing, or next to nothing, of an hereafter.'
• I have lived,' says another, ' a thoughtless and careless life, putting the evil day far from me. I began by entertaining.a dislike to the worship of God, and so forsook it, and turned the Sabbath into a day of sports. I kept bad company, and soon began to doubt the truth of the Bible. I drank, swore, and when in cornpuny laughed at religion ; though a secret persuasion that it would prove true sometimes made me very unhappy when alone. 1 laid my account with living as long as my neighbours; but I am afraid now I shall not recover, and that my soul is lost. Oh, how little did I think a few weeks ago that I should be so soon arrested in my course! What have I done ?- What can I do?'
'I have lived a sober life,' says a third, 'and have not been used to doubt but.that through the merits of Chris?, this would answer every purpose : but since I have been laid aside, I have been thinking, in case I should die, whether this ground will bear me; and the more I think of it, the more it seems to sink under me. I am a sinner, and know not how my sins are to be forgiven.'
• I have been brought up in a Christian family,' says a fourth, 'and have heard the gospel from my childhood ; yet my conscience tells me that I am not a Christian. 1 heard the truth, but never received it in the love of it, that I might be saved. I conformed to family worship, but my heart was never in it. So much was it against the grain of my inclination, that 1 longed to get from under the yoke. At length my father died, and I had what I wished for, my liberty. Since then I have been very wicked. And now I am brought down to death's door. I know what will be the end. The Lord have mercy upon me!'
If any of these cases be yours, or nearly so, allow me to remind you that a time of affliction is a time when God calls you to a serious inquiry into the state of your soul In the day of adversity consider. It is the only time, it may be, in which the voice of religion and conscience can be heard. You may have been as the wild ass used to the wilderness, neither to be turned nor restrained; all those who have sought to reclaim you have but wearied themselves: but as in her month she was to be found, so are you in yours. Consider then that God has laid his hand upon you, that he may cause you to feel what he could do, and induce you to hearken while he reasons with you. He has awakened you also to some sense of your danger, that you may feel your need of the salvation of Christ, ere it is for ever hid from your eyes. I dare not comfort you on the consideration of your distress of mind, as though it were a hopeful sign of salvation. If it lead you to the Saviour, you will be saved; but if not, it may be to you but the beginning of sorrows. Your sins are much more numerous and heinous than you are aware of ; it is an evil and bitter thing to have departed from the living God, and to bave spent so large a part of the life he gave you without his fear being in you. God might justly cut you off, and cast you into perdition. But consider the faithful saying, Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, even the chief of sinners. You have doubtless heard of this, but perhaps have never considered its import. If Jesus came into the world on such an errand, he must be the Messiah foretold by the prophets, the Son of God, and the Saviour of men. If he came into the world to save sinners, the world must have been in a lost and hopeless condition. If any thing could have been done by man towards saving himself, it would doubtless have been left to him : God would not unnecessarily have inter. fered, especially to send his Son to be made a sacrifice for us. It does not comport with the wisdom of God to send his Son to suffer and die, to accomplish that which might have been accomplished without him. Moreover, if Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, he must have come with a design, which is what no mere creature ever did. Whatever design there may be concerning our coming into the world, we are not the subjects of it: but Christ was the subject of design. He took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and this from a state of mind that we are called upon to imitate, Phil. ii. 7. His com. ing into the world was nothing less than the Word being made flesh and dwelling among men ; or, that eternal life that was with the Father being manifested to us. But if all this be true, sin must be