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have troubles in doing their duties; and sometimes for doing them. They have troubles for omitting their duties; and still greater ones for doing that which is not their duty. They are afflicted by the temptations of Satan. For he who "goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour," will distress, if he cannot destroy. He is a troubling, as well as a troubled spirit. Good men likewise are often heavily afflicted in their bodies, their circumstances, and their families. In fact, they are continually being taught the lessons of scripture, that "man is born unto trouble ;" and that "it is through much tribulation that we must enter into the kingdom of God." The men of the world, and the wicked of all classes and characters, may be free from many of these troubles; but they have others of a different kind. With all their efforts they cannot secure what they profanely call a merry life. "The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." Their hearts are full of contending passions, warring one against another. Their turbulent desires, polluting lusts, and unquiet consciences render them like the tempestuous ocean. The wicked therefore are full of trouble as well as the righteous; but with this difference: the trouble of the former is only the common current of their misery, which will be consummated throughout an awful eternity. On the other hand, the trouble of the people of God will soon come to its end. Their "light affliction, which is but for a moment, shall
work out for them a far more exceeding, and eternal weight of glory." How different their everlasting settlement in " a city of habitation," "whose builder and maker is God," to the "few and evil days" of their pilgrimage in this vale of tears! "In thy presence is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."
3. Job next speaks of the sinfulness of man's life. "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
not one." Here the sacred writer intimates the important truth, that man is born in sin; and that his nature is altogether corrupt and depraved. Hence it is, that actual transgressions are the natural result of habitual corruption. Original sin is the cause and source of all other sins. Job therefore traces the streams of sin up to the fountain, from whence they all flow. In conformity to this doctrine, the psalmist says, "Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." We are thus reminded that all stand in need of purification; and of our Lord's declaration to Peter, equally applicable to the whole human race, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." We also see that no man can either sanctify or redeem himself or another. Such is the corruption of man that nothing short of the almighty grace of God can cure it.
4. Job now proceeds to speak of the fixed period of man's life.
"His days are determined; thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass." It is determined in the counsel and decree of God how long we shall live, and when we shall die. The number of our months is with Him. Our days are at the disposal of His power, which cannot be controlled. Our life is under the ken of His omniscience, which cannot be deceived. Our times are in His hand. The powers of our nature depend entirely on Him, and act under His influence. "In Him we live, and move, and have our being." The means and the end of life are determined by Him. We cannot pass the bounds which God has prescribed; for His counsels are unalterable, and His foreknowledge infallible. We are immortal till our race is run; when this is finished, the end of life is come, and we enter on our future and eternal state of existence.
5. Job, having made these remarks on the life of man, at length comes to his reflection on its termination.
"Man dieth and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?" Man is a dying creature; and in this short reflection he is described by what he is before death, in death, and after death. Before death, he is continually wasting away; he dies daily. In death, he giveth up the ghost: the soul leaves the body, and returns to God who gave it; and after death, "where is he?" This leads me to consider,
II. Job's devout reflection on the important consequences of man's mortality.
"Man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?" Let us consider the last part of the reflection, containing the question, in four points of view.
1. In the first place, let us notice it in relation to man's connexion with the present world.
Where is he ? —This question does not imply annihilation. Every being must have a place; that which is no where, is nothing. We here consider the question as having reference only to the present world. When man givcth up the ghost, the place that has known him shall know him no more. "Now shall I sleep in the dust (says Job in another place) and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be." The man is gone: you may seek him at home, you may look for him abroad; but he is no where to be found. Where is he?—where his riches,—where his honours,—where his pleasures,— where his purposes, his wisdom, his plans, his designs, his counsels, his thoughts, with respect to the present world? All his imaginations, all the curious fabrics of his brain, have ceased and died with him. His breath "goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." "For there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest."
2. Secondly, let us view the question with respect to man's preparation for the eternal world.
Where is he, as to his opportunity of serving God? He had five talents, or two talents, or one talent committed to his trust. But has he improved 'them? Whether he has or not, nothing more can now be done by him. His power, his time, his wealth, are all gone for ever; and he can now do no more for God or for man in the world, than if he had never existed in it. Where is he, in respect to any farther preparation for his eternal state? The fight is terminated, the race is run, and the crown is either awarded or lost. There is no return to the field of action; no scope for any amended efforts. "As the tree falls, so it must be." Pardon, peace, and holiness are now at an unapproachable distance from all who have not attained them in the present world.
3. Let us consider the question thirdly, with reference to the different characters of men.
Look at the presumptuous sinner: the man who is running a race of sin, who transgresses against conscience, warning, and example: who never troubles himself about faith, or repentance, or holiness; and who, notwithstanding this, presumes that all will be well with him at last. His time is come, " he giveth up the ghost, and where is he 1"
Consider the character of the unbeliever. This is the man who hardens his heart against the threatenings and promises of God: who endeavours to persuade himself that the Bible is not a true book. His evil heart of unbelief causes him to depart from the living God. He rejects the counsel of God against his own soul : he despises the offers of mercy, and will not lend an ear to the invitation of the Saviour of sinners. At length he finishes his course, his race is run, he is undeceived !" He giveth up the ghost, and where is he?"
Reflect on the state of the hypocrite. This is he who may put on religion as a cloak to cover his