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plating, we may form some idea of the felicity of the heavenly state.
True contentment is a portion of heaven brought down into the soul, while it still remains on the earth; and a part of the happiness of heaven will be contentment, acquiescence and submission in that degree of perfection, which will oppose and exclude every thing that stands in opposition to their exercise. None of the corruptions of nature will exist to struggle against the holiness of heaven. The inheritor of heaven will live in a complete rest, complacency, and acquiescence in God, as his satisfying portion for ever. If the believer in his best season, has been sometimes enabled to say of his gracious God and Saviour, "He doeth all things well:—it is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good :— though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:"—how much more reason will he have to acquiesce and rest in God, when he has tasted the fruits of his love, and received the proofs of his faithfulness in the actual possession of all his gracious promises 1 Do you, dear brethren, expect this happiness? Then, "be content with such things as you have.' "In patience possess your souls." Walk humbly with your God, with acquiescence in all his present dispensations, and look forward with expectation and hope to the period, "when that which is perfect shall be come, and that which is in part shall be done away," when you shall see your Saviour as he is, be made like him, and rest in his love for ever.
REFLECTIONS ON MAN.—WHERE IS HE?
Job xiv. 10.
MAN GIVETH UP THE GHOST, AND WHERE IS HE?
There are some truths so plain, and so open to daily observation, that none can deny their stern reality. But although they are universally acknowledged, they are not generally so felt as to become leading motives of our conduct. We know that "it is appointed unto man once to die." "There is no discharge in that war." This world's ever-shifting scenes forcibly demonstrate the brevity of human existence. "For what is our life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away." We see these things written as with a sun-beam in the Holy Scriptures, and constant experience confirms their truth. Our relations, our friends, our neighbours, are continually removed from us by the stroke of death; sometimes by lingering diseases, and sometimes suddenly and without previous warning. Yet how few are there among us, who so realize these affecting events, as to be influenced by them? We are convinced also, that when man is removed from his present state by death, he takes his flight into the
REFLECTIONS ON MAN: WHERE IS HE? 137
invisible world, and returns no more to the concerns of this life. But how little are the minds of men in general affected with the consideration of their mortality, and the infinitely important consequences connected with it! May God, my brethren, awaken our minds to an abiding sense of the important truth that "in the midst of life we are in death;" and may He "so teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."
We have in the book of Job many reflections on the subject of death, and the circumstances connected with it; among which the passage selected for our text is not the least striking and affecting. "Man giveth up the ghost; and where is he?" The text will not easily admit of the regular division usually prefixed to a sermon. The words however affirm our mortality, and suggest a serious inquiry into our future existence. For the sake of some degree of order, let us consider them as containing,
I. An impressive remark on the mortality of man.
II. A devout reflection on its consequences.
I. We are to consider the words as containing an impressive remark on man's mortality.
Before Job introduces this observation on man's giving up the ghost and leaving the world, he makes some important remarks with reference to the nature of his life. Let us briefly notice them.
1. In the first place, he speaks of the shortness and uncertainty of life. "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not." The life of man is here computed not by years, nor by months; but by days. And of these days, there is not one that we can call our own. "Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." Our days here are spoken of as few; and in fact they are much fewer than we are apt to imagine. Compare them with the days of the years of the pilgrimage of the patriarchs, and they dwindle away into a very limited space. Compare them with the everlasting state to which the duration of our existence is destined, and they sink into nothing. "Mine age is as nothing before thee." If you live to the age of threescore years and ten, your days will be soon cut off and fly away. In that case they will not amount to twenty-six thousand; and when these few thousand days are past, you will enter on the days of eternity; with which, time past, present, and to come, will bear no degree of comparison. But how few are there, comparatively, who reach the period emphatically called the age of man, the days of our years, which are threescore years and ten. This is a point to which the greater part of the human race never arrive. But whether individual life be more or less prolonged, it quickly reaches its termination. "Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live:
He cometh up and is cut down like a
flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay." May the consideration of the brevity of life, lead us to serious reflection on the apostle's exhortation on the subject. "This I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives, be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it; for the fashion of this world passeth away."
2. But Job speaks also of the calamitous state of human life.
"Man is of few days, and full of trouble." His life is not only short, but sad. Some indeed are ready to say, " Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die ;" let us run the race of sensual pleasure until death terminates the pursuit. But the scripture cannot be broken—the word of truth declares that man "is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward;" and that, during the few days of his life, "he is full of trouble." The wise man declares that every thing under the sun is grievous; "for all is vanity and vexation of spirit." Few days pass without some vexation or trouble. Something is continually arising to disorder either the mind or the body. Whatever be man's state or character, we cannot avoid calamity. Good men have their trials. They are troubled on account of their sinfulness. They groan under that body of sin and death, to which they are tied and bound; under the weight of their corruptions; their unbelief, their pride, their deadness of spirit, their hardness of heart. They