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constitution of their nature, renders it impossible to hold them? The immortal spirit of man can never be completely satisfied with the transient gratifications of this earth; with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. Observe the conduct of those who have no higher hopes nor wishes. They are pouring in delight after delight without intermission; and still the vessel is ever empty. One amusement, one gratification, is succeeded by another; and still, the thirsty soul is never satisfied. And how can it be otherwise ? Our beneficent Creator has animated these frail bodies with never-dying souls—with spirits of a superior nature; reaching forward to the comprehension of all truth; longing after immortality; and plainly evincing, by their unwearied exertions, that nothing but God and the pure bliss of heaven is completely adapted to their spiritual nature, and commensurate to their enlarged desires.
Looking forward to the comforts which the Gospel was to supply, the encouraging language of the evan gelical prophet is, “ Ho, every one that thirsteth, come
ye to the waters, and drink freely!” And when the Messiah appeared upon earth, he repeated the affectionate invitation; “ If any man thirst, let him come “ unto me, and drink.” The blessed Gospel of Christ is profitable for all things, having the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come. Although, with respect to our temporal affairs, it offers no stores of wealth ; by teaching us temperance and industry, it commonly supplies us with competency, with food that is convenient for us; and it relieves the immediate pressure of want, by animating us with patience and resignation, and inspiring us with the hope VOL. II.
of better things to come. But, in all our spiritual necessities, the religion of Jesus affords abundant relief: to the thirsty soul it is a fountain of living waters. From a consciousness of guilt, do we want the consoling promise of the remission of our sins? From a deep sense of our native infirmity, are we looking up for the aid of heaven? Amidst the perplexing darkness, the grievous trials of this sublunary world, are we longing for the light, and glory, and bliss, of that celestial state, where we shall see face to face; where sorrow and sighing are done away for ever? By the Gospel of our compassionate Redeemer, repentance and forgiveness of sins are preached to all people; the Holy Ghost is sent to help our infirmities; life and immortality are brought to light.
From the whole of what has been now said, let us draw the three following important points of practical instruction :
Ist. Let us learn the great absurdity of seeking our supreme felicity from any other source than that to which God has directed us--the knowledge and love of himself, and sincere obedience to the dictates of his religion. He knows whereof we are made. He knows what gratifications are best adapted to our nature. He created us for eternity ; and, therefore, justly expects that we should love not the world, nor the things of it, as the chief sources of our bliss; that we should elevate our desires above all those things that must perish in the using, up to those substantial and permanent delights, which will survive the dissolution of this material universe. The earth may be dissolved; the elements may melt with fervent heat; the heavens may pass away with a great noise; but the spirits of the just
will rejoice for ever in the new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.
2dly. Let us keep close to this fountain of living waters : let us never forsake God, who is our best portion for ever: let us, in this remote place of our earthly pilgrimage, maintain a friendly communion with him by meditation, and prayer; by constant attendance on the solemnities of religion, the preaching of his word, and the administration of his sacraments; by devout attention to the duties of both public and private devotion.
Lastly; let us remember, that although in our thoughts, and affections, and practices, we may forsake God; he will never forsake us: he will keep near to us in the manifestations of his mercy, or he will visit us in the inflictions of his wrath. Whether we are so wise as to go up to heaven, or so rash and foolish as to descend into hell; we shall not escape from his presence, nor go from his Spirit. Let it, then, be the great concern of our life to secure his loving-kindness and mercy; so that when the earth and all its enjoyments are vanishing away, we may be enabled to exclaim, “ In thy presence is the fulness of joy, and at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.
The uncertain State of Man.
PSALM ciii. 16.
As soon as the wind goeth over it, it is gone; and the place thereof
shall know it no more.
VAIN and thoughtless mortals take this for the place of their rest, and seem to be little affected by the unceasing mutability of all human affairs; their presumptuous language is, “We shall never be removed, our “ mountain is made so strong.” The considerate Psalmist entertained more just conceptions of the frail and perishable estate of man-of man fallen from happiness and immortality, subjected to all the vicissitudes of time and chance, to a life of misery, and then to death, and dissolution in the grave. Surely, the tear of compassion must be ready to start in the eye of every person who reads the pathetic description of man's uncertain condition, contained in the words of the text, and in the preceding verse of this psalm: “ The days of man" says holy David, “ are but as
grass;” like that, he springeth out of the earth, and remaineth but a little while upon it: “he flourisheth as
a flower of the field;" fair, but very transient: he
unfoldeth his beauty in youth; he continues for a short time in the vigour of manhood; but soon the penalty denounced against the first transgressor is inflicted, the breath of God's displeasure passes over him, and “he " is gone;” like the dying flower, he boweth his drooping head, and mingles again with his native dust; his friends and his companions look for him in vain at the accustomed spot which was once enlivened and beautified by his presence: the earth has opened her mouth; the dreary mansion of the grave has received him; “he is gone, and his place shall know him no " more.”
And is this the sad termination of all our earthly pursuits? Is this the melancholy conclusion of the busy scene which surrounds us? Is it for this that the covetous toil for wealth, the ambitious struggle for power, and the voluptuous for earth-born gratifications? Vain man would be accounted wise; but surely, there is little wisdom in thus grasping at fleeting shadows, and disquieting ourselves to no valuable purpose. Happy are they, who, from a just sense of the transitory nature of all earthly possessions, have been induced to lay up permanent treasure in heaven; who, from serious meditations on the brevity of human life, are inclined to seek for glory and immortality in those blessed regions where death has no more dominion over us.
The Psalmist, in the passage before us, particularly alludes to the uncertainty of our existence, our perishing condition, in this world : and nothing can be more expressive of the frailty of human life, than the images which he here introduces. But, in the following discourse, I shall take the liberty to extend the Psalmist's observation to other objects besides the life of man :