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perhaps our very names perish! Some few may cherish the remembrance of us with mingled emotions of grief and pleasure; they may long deplore the vacancy which death has made in the ranks of human life. But the world in general will be little concerned; its business will go on without us; they who come after us, will eat and drink, buy and sell, plant and build, with as much eagerness, as if we had not lived and died: the place will be occupied by others, which knows us no more. Let us, therefore, consider the end, and learn in time to be wise. Pride was not made for man. The presumptuous builders of Babel may vainly imagine, that they have erected a tower whose top reacheth unto heaven; that nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do; that they have made themselves a name in the earth, which will continue for ever. But God, who exalteth the humble and meek, scattereth the proud in the imaginations of their hearts. We are strangers and pilgrims upon earth, as all our fathers were. Let us think soberly of ourselves, as we ought to think. The grave levels all earthly distinctions. He alone is truly pre-eminent, who vaunts not of his wealth, or power, or any other temporal possession; but who has acquired a title to glory, and honour, and immortality, in the heavenly kingdom of our Redeemer.
4thly. We may deplore the sad effects of sin; the misery and death which have been introduced into the world: but Christianity teaches us, not to be sorry as men without hope. Let us bless God for his infinite compassion in providing sufficient consolation for all our misery, and in pointing out the way by which even death himself may be vanquished. By the Gospel of
Christ, life and immortality are brought to light. As in Adam all die, so in Christ may all be made alive. The flower that fadeth in Adam, will bloom again through Jesus Christ, and then will die no more. What though death may for a short time, have dominion over us: the morning of the resurrection will soon dawn upon the darkness of the grave. This corruptible will then put on incorruption. The body that was sown in weakness, will be raised in power, and flourish in immortal youth, and never fading beauty.
When infidelity looks forward into futurity, what blackness of darkness must rest upon the prospect! The world is receding; and beyond it, there is no support, no consolation. The body is tending to dissolution in the grave; and there is no cheering prospect of its ever reviving. Temporal enjoyments are just coming to a conclusion, and they terminate in dreary annihilation. Very different are the glorious views which the Gospel opens before us. Here, light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. In every period of our existence here below, let us embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life. This is the only effectual comfort, when we are conflicting with the trials of the world, or when we are passing through the dark valley of the shadow of death.
Lastly; in this frail and uncertain estate, the necessary lot of all men; and more especially, at this season of wonderful changes and revolutions in human affairs; let our souls rest upon a wise and good Providence, as the best security, the surest protection from harm. Let us trust in the Lord for ever, who alone can supply us with effectual strength for every trial. This is the
conclusion which the holy Psalmist draws from his E reflections on the uncertainty of human life, and the transitory nature of all earthly enjoyments: notwithstanding the temporary disorders which prevail in the world, "The Lord," saith he, "hath prepared his "seat in heaven; and his kingdom ruleth over all:" notwithstanding the evils to which frail man is now subjected, "The merciful goodness of the Lord endureth "for ever and ever upon them that fear him." This kingdom which ruleth over all, will produce from partial evil, universal good. This merciful goodness which endures for ever, will make the short affliction of a moment terminate in a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. From his seat in heaven, the Almighty Creator extends the sceptre of his dominion over all the works of his hands; and his goodness is coextensive with his power. To those who love and serve him, in life and death, in the enjoyment of things present, and in the expectation of things to come, in time and through eternity, he can make all things work together for good.
Be not overcome of Evil.
ROMANS xii. 21.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
UPON hearing this positive injunction of the holy apostle, the humble man, conscious of his native frailty, will begin to tremble at the supposed impossibility of obedience; and the proud, and passionate, and resentful, will be inclined openly to revolt. "Is it not a "manifest absurdity, (it will be alleged,) to enjoin "creatures so infirm and depraved as we are, and who "are exposed to trials so numerous and severe, not, on any occasion, to be overcome of evil: and, instead "of attacking the wicked with severity, and repelling "their injuries with equal violence, to pursue the more " tedious and uncertain method of bringing them to a "proper sense of their crimes, by forbearance, and "gentleness, and goodness."
This mode of representing the subject before us, is well adapted to gratify the too predominant pride and stubbornness of the human heart. But, it is the intention of Christianity, not to indulge these odious dis
positions; on the contrary, to suppress and eradicate them. The blessed Gospel of Jesus Christ, breathing nothing but a spirit of mercy, peace, and love, encourages us with the promise of such supernatural aid, as will enable us to overcome the evils by which we may be assailed; and, it most expressly and repeatedly declares, that no provocation must ever induce us to return injury for injury; that it is more amiable, and commonly a more effectual method, to subdue the refractory spirit of the vicious, by exertions of courtesy and good-will, than by bitterness, and wrath, and clamour: that the noblest victory over vice is to show a superiority of virtue. To illustrate and enforce these important truths, shall be the business of the following discourse.
It will be observed, that the precept of the text is general, directed to all those who hear the Gospel; the apostle well knowing that to encounter evil under various forms, is the common lot of mortality. Since the apostasy of our first parents, what part of this sublunary world has ever been the seat of perfect felicity? What path of human life has ever been entirely free from the molestations of evil? Natural and moral evils, pains of body, and disturbances of soul, infest the degenerate sons of Adam in every period of their earthly pilgrimage: during the whole journey of life, from heedless childhood to decrepid old age, at various distances they lie in wait for their prey, and no passenger entirely escapes from their assaults. We are, therefore, to sustain with patience, what the very condition of our nature forbids us entirely to avoid. We cannot escape from the evil; but, by the grace of God, it may be overcome: nay, the short affliction of a