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upon you the Necessity Op Diligence In
I. God affords you Opportunities For Good. He favours you with seasons which may be considered as your harvest
In this view we may regard the whole period of life. While you are continued in this world, you have "space for repentance; and the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation." You are blessed with a season of Gospel groce. While many are sitting in darkness, and in the region of the shadow of death, upon you "hath the light shined, to guide your feet into the way of peace." You not only live in a country where there is a written revelation, but your "eyes see your teachers, and your ears hear a voice behind you, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn aside to the right hand, or to the left.'' Though the preachmg of the word is neglected by some, and despised by others, it is an invaluable privilege. By this, the Scripture is explained to the mind, and enforced on the conscience: by this, you are warned of your danger, and encouraged to flee for refuge; you are called upon to draw nigh, and assured that "all things are now ready." "Faith cometh by hearing; and hearing, by the word of God." And this reminds us that you have a season of civil and religious liberty. You have the Bible in your hands, and are not fined for reading it You may assemble together in public, and hear the word of life without danger. Your devotions are sanctioned by law, and you may "sit under your own vine, and under your own fig-tree, and none make you afraid." What advantages do we possess, above many of our ancestors who suffered for conscience' sake! They laboured, and we have entered into their labours. "They took joyfully the spoiling of their goods. They had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings; yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins: being destitute, afflicted, tormented: of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens, and caves of the earth."
Some are living in a religious family, where they have the benefit of instruction, prayer, and example. Some, like Timothy, have been trained up by a mother and a grandmother, of unfeigned faith, and, "from a child, have known the Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation."
Who, in passing through a vale of tears, has not experienced a day of trouble? From such a period, many have had to date their saving acquaintance with Divine things. Affliction is favourable to religion: it abstracts, it softens, its awes the mind: it strips the world of its attractions, and starves us out of the creature into God.
Where is the person, who does not know what we mean by a season of conviction? Conscience has sometimes forced you to a stand. Like Felix, you have trembled under the power of the world to come. You have sometimes been pleasingly affected: you have wept, and prayed, and sighed—"Wow, Lord, what wait 1 for? my hope is in thee."
But can I forget another season? Can I forget to urge the admonition of wisdom and friendship—" Remember now thy Creator, in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them!"— Never, never, my young friends, will you have a season in which your hinderances are so few, or your helps so many. Every thing now invites; every thing constrains you. "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
II. I would enforce upon you the NecessiTy OF DILIGENCE TO IMPROVE YOUR REAPING SEASON.
And first Consider how much you have to accomplish. You have the work of a husbandman in harvest—Will this allow you to be drowsy and idle? Does it not require you to rise early, and be active all the day? To
'o seize every moment, and secure every assistance? The salvation of the soul is a great and arduous concern; and many things are required of you. For though you are not left to yourselves, nor called to act in your own strength, yet religion is a race, and you must run; it is a warfare, and you must fight The blessings of the Gospel are free, but they are to be sought and gained. It is God that "worketh m us to will and to do of his own good pleasure;" but we are commanded, notwithstanding this, yea, because of this, to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling." Spring then from the bed of sloth; shake off every impediment: you have sins to be pardoned, passions to be subdued, graces to be exercised, duties to be performed—a harvest to gather in!
Secondly. Consider the worth of the blessings that demand your attention. The advantages held forth by the prospect of harvest animate the husbandman to diligence, and reconcile him to exertion; but what are the blessings of the field, compared with the blessings of salvation! The one is perishable, the other is eternal—the one is for the body only, the other is for the soul. What is an earthly portion in a barn, to "an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us!" I would address you as rational creatures. Is it not desirable to be redeemed from the curse of the law? to be justified freely from every charge brought against us at the bar of God? to be delivered from the tyranny and rage of vicious appetites and passions? Great is the happiness of those that belong to God here;
out who can describe the exalted glory and | joy that await them hereafter i Do you not wish to enter in with those who shall be for ever | with the Lord i "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the | sun light on them, nor any heat For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." Will not this indemnify you for every sacrifice, and abundantly recompense all your toil?
Thirdly. Remember that your labour will not be in vain in the Lord. "Be not weary in well-doing, for in due time you shall reap if you faint not" The husbandman has many uncertainties to contend with; insects, blights, droughts, and storms-^but probability stimulates him,—how much more should actual certainty encourage you!" They that sow in tears shall reap m joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
Fourthly. Remember that your season for action is lunited and short Harvest does not last long. Your time in the whole compass of it is but "a few days:" and how little of it deserves the name of life, or can be applied to any important services. When infancy, sleep, busmess, recreations have engrossed their share—is the remainder, think you, too long a period to acquire the kingdom of God and his righteousness! Uut your time is uncertain as well as short The present only is yours—you know not what a day or an hour may bring forth. The fool in the Gospel talked of " goods laid up for many years," when he had but a few moments left: God put his finger upon his conscience, and said, "Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee." "Man knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time when it falleth suddenly upon them." Youth is no certain protection from the grave. Death does not go by age, nor does it always wait till it has sent a warning. Your time is always in motion: if you are idle, time is not; but hurrying you forwards. If you do not perceive your progress, every hour, every moment, brings you nearer to your end. And your time once gone, cannot be recalled. God has plainly told you that there is a season when he will not be found: "therefore seek ye the I/jrd while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. In vain those who despised the warnings of Noah clung to the sides of the ark when the door was shut: it was then too late. "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye
begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know ye not whence ye are: then shall ye begin to say, we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are: depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out"
Therefore, finally. Reflect upon the consequences of negligence. Is a man blamed for sleeping in harvest? Does every one reproach him as a fool? Does he deserve to sutler famine? You act a part far more absurd and fatal who "neglect this great salvation," and will not embrace " in this your day the things that belong to your peace before they are hid from your eyes." Having made no provision for futurity—for eternity, your ruin is unavoidable. It will also be insupportable. "It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you." For a strict account will then be required of all your talents and opportunities: and what can you answer i O the feelings of sinners in hell who have perished under the means of grace!—How will their consciences upbraid and condemn them! O the anguish and despair of sinners, when, dropping from time into eternity, they exclaim, "The harvest is past the summer is ended, and we are not saved!"
Let us conclude, first by blessing God for the harvest with which he has again favoured our country. We went forth with anxious hope: we saw "first the blade, then the ear, and after that the full corn in the ear." We lifted up our eyes and saw "the fields already white unto harvest," and with tears of joy said, "Thou hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor." We only wanted "the appointed weeks of harvest"—and lo! the weather is favourable; and the precious treasure will soon be secured!" It shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth, and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine and oil; and they shall hear J c .• reel." However numerous the means and the second causes are which concur to enrich us with plenteousness, God is the original mover, and to him our praise is to be addressed. Without his blessing, the ox would have ploughed, and the husbandman would have sowed, in vain. How easily could he have shrivelled up the grain by heat drowned it by showers, destroyed it by insects! By his permission, an enemy might have invaded our borders, and war have spoiled "the finest of the wheat" Every thing is full of God, he lives through all life, ana while seeming to do nothing, is doing all. "Every good gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights." To him let our praise ascend in a perpetual flow of affection and obedience. Whde we live upon Divine goodness, shall we never acknowledge it, or acknowledge it in word only? Is this our kindness to our Friend? O that our insensible hearts may be aflected, and that "the goodness of God may lead us to repentance! O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! Bless the Lord, O my soul!"
But let us remember, that "man liveth not by bread alone;" nor is he to "live here always." He has a soul within him, and an eternity before him; and he would be worse than a brute were he only concerned to provide fix the inferior part of his nature, and the shortest period of his existence. What will these things be to us when we come to die? What are they now? We feel far greater wants now than any of these things are able to supply. We want "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ"
And, blessed be God, they are attainable. Let us therefore improve this season by making it a religious monitor. As we walk in the fields, or reflect while at home on the process of harvest, let us say, "O my soul, thou too hast thy season; and every thing forbids thee to be slothful. See 'the children of this world:' how wise they are 'in their generation." And shall they labour so eagerly for ' the meat that perisheth,' and I be all indiflerence to acquire that 'meat which endureth unto everlasting life?' 'I must work the work of him that sent me while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work.'"
THE FUNERAL OF A YOUTH.
AW when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there wat a dead man carried out, the only ton of hit mother, and the -wat a widow: and much people of the city wat with her. And when the Lord taw her, he had compattion on her, and said unto her. Weep not And he came and touched the tier: and they that hare him ttood still. And he taid. Young man, I tay unto thee, Arite. And he that wat dead tat up, and began to tpeak. And he delivered him to hit mother.—Luke vii. 12—15.
As we follow our Saviour in the evangelical history, we verify the words of the Apostle, when he says of him—"he went about doing good." This character marks his diligence, and the cause in which it was employ
ed. His life was one continued career of goodness. He did good to the soul and to the body. He did good by preaching, and by miracles.
Every thing recorded of him is worthy of our attention; but the narrative before us is beautiful and impressive in the highest degree. We behold grandeur blended with simplicity, and omnipotence with compassion. The circumstances progressively rise in importance; the mind is at last powerfully attracted to a single point, and all the passions remain in awful suspense, till the joyful event relieves us by a flood of tears.
The miracle requires a few Remarks and
a few REFLECTIONS.
The first thing we behold is a Funeral Procession. This is a scene which we have all witnessed; a scene by no means unusual —but, alas! owing to its frequency and familiarity, it fails to impress. It is however an occurrence unspeakably interesting in itself, and it ought to rouse our attention. How many lessons, were we disposed to learn, would a funeral supply!
Place yourselves under a tree in a meadow, along which lies the pathway to the lonely churchyard. You say within yourself, " Here it comes, in slow and silent sadness. See! every one has some importance. Who could bear to die unmourned! What a loss is the death of some? See those who walk nearest to the corpse—these are the bereaved. The rest are friends and neighbours, and a heedless rabble drawn by the spectacle. 'Man goeth to his long home.' 'It is the end of all men, and the living should lay it to heart' Soon the like services will be performed for me. When carried along myself, how insensible shall I be to all those things which now agitate and perplex me! Of what importance will it then be, whether I have been poor or rich, honourable or despised ?—' But one thing is needful.' Oh! may I 'choosethat good part which shall not be taken away from me.'—'Let me die the death of therighteous, and let my last end be like his.'"
But let us draw near, and contemplate this funeral solemnity. It was the funeral of a young man. We are not informed whether he died by disease or accident slowly or suddenly; but he was carried off in the prime of life. "One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet His breasts: are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with marrow. Another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth. with pleasure. They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them." "What is our life? It is even a vapour which ap-peareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away?" What is beauty, strength, youth \ "Verily, every man, at his best estate, isaltogether vanity." Think of this, ye young. Remember, the old are not the only victims' of death. Enter churchyards: measure graves: read inscriptions:
"What pathos in the date!
— Few Uocturs preach sO well!"
He was the "only son of his mother." There is an ocean of love in the hearts of parents towards their children. Witness the reluctance and exclamation of Jacob—" We have ye bereaved of my children. Joseph is not, Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away!—All these things are against me." Witness the mourning of David, even over a bad, a rebellious son. "The king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said: O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" But this parental affection is stronger on the side of the female, than of the male. Not only has the mother more natural sensibility and tenderness than the father, but the child, if I may so express it, is much more here than his; it is hers by months of anxiety, and pangs of anguish; it is hers by a thousand nightly watchings and daily cares; it is hers by numberless pleasures given and received, in which neither stranger nor friend intermeddles with her joy. Thus the performance of duty is secured and sweetened. But that which renders duty a privilege, in the very same proportion increases the fear of loss, and the anguish of separation. What then were the feelings of this mother—deprived of her only son? Had he been one of many, the loss would have been partial, and the affliction more easily endured—but he was the only pledge of virtuous affection, the only hope of future years—her life was entirely bound up in his. Mourning for an only son is mentioned in the Scripture as the extreme of grief. "O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only eon, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us."
But what closes the melancholy tale of this woman is—that she was a widow! A widow is always an affecting character, as she is liable to injustice and oppression, from those fiends who take advantage of weakness and distress; as she is deprived of the companion of her journey, and compelled to travel alone; as her anxieties are doubled, and there is none to share them with her. In this state, a child may seem an addition to her difficulties—but if he excites care, he diverts grief: he is some company in her solitary hours; in him something of the husband remains; in his face the father's image is admired. He will render himself serviceable by dutiful attentions; he will place on her the regard which he owed the deceased, and love her with a double affection. He will
also plead her cause, and become her profector and her refuge. But—such is no longer the condition of this poor wicow. None is now left to support her tottering age; her last leaf is shaken down; her " last coal in Israel is quenched." And she is now, it is probable, going to bury. her only son, in the same grave with his father. The openmg of a husband's tomb would make her wounds bleed afresh—What would be her agony, when she would turn round, and leave the sepulchre—"There have I buried all my earthly happiness and hope—O for the day when I shall come hither too—and be gathered to my kindred dust!"
Sorrowful as the occasion was, she attended the funeral herself. And we commend her. It was following her only son as tar as she could go; it was deriving from the scene all the instruction it could afford, and all the impression it could produce. But in our age of improvement, and refinement, and feeling, friends and relations seldom accompany the funeral of their connexions. A minister often buries a child, when he has no other audience to address than the few individuals who carry it to the grave! Yea, we are told—and we only wish to know some things by hearsay— that in genteel life, as soon as the patient has expired, they withdraw from the very house, and leave the dead to mercenaries— so that the minister can only meet the undertaker and his company, whose profit is entirely of another kind! Whither are these things tending? And have people now, more sensibility than formerly? No—but tbey have more affectation; they have more love to the world; they have more aversion to every thing serious! But are men determined to banish and to keep from their minds every intimation of their mortality? With what surprise and horror will death come upon those who never think of it! Are persons afraid of sorrow ?" It is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of mirth. By the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better." What advantages did this widow derive from her personal attendance in such trying circumstances!
—She was not alone—" Much people of the city was with her." This showed the esteem in which the family was held. But though numbers of the friends and neighbours of the widow attended her on this mournful occasion, sympathising with her under the heavy aflliction and wishing to comfort her, little relief could they afford. They kindlv commiserate her case, but cannot restore her son. Submission and patience were the only lessons they could preach or she could learn. But here comes advancing towards them another company, the leader of which can "save to the uttermost" The two parties join in the suburbs of the city.— Observe our Lord and Saviour.
First, he knew all the particulars of the case. Those who were with him could only see, as they were passing by, a funeral—but he knew the corpse stretched upon the bier; he knew that it was a young man; that it was the only son of his mother; and that she was a widow!
Secondly. He did not wait to be implored. Some of his miracles were wrought in answer to the supphcations of the individuals themselves; for he never refused any who applied to him—and this should teach us to pray for ourselves. Some of his miracles also were performed in consequence of the intercession of others: thus we find neighbours and relations were more than once honoured by obtaining a cure for their connexions—and this should encourage us to pray for others. But of several he could say, "I am found of them that sought me not" Sometimes, before we call he answers: such a very present help is he in trouble. In the case before us, the relief was entirely spontaneous and selfmoved.
Thirdly. When he saw her, he had "compassion on her." By nothing was our Saviour more distinguished than by pity and tenderness—He was "touched with the feeling of our infirmities." His eye affected his heart He made all the miseries he beheld his own, under the influence of this compassion.
Fourthly, he "said unto her, Weep not" How unavailing, not to say impertinent, would this have been from any other lips! Were you officiously to advance, and breaking the silence of the funeral train, to say to the chief mourner, "Woman, be happy; weep no more;" would it not be deemed equally singular and vain? And it is more than probable that, in the case before us, the language of our Saviour would excite surprise, especially in the widow herself. Holding back her veil—she would look to see what stranger passing by thus interested himself in her grief, and gave her advice so easy to offer, and so impossible to take. When lo!
Fifthly, Jesus, without any ostehtatious ceremony, " went and touched the bier— anil they that bare it stood still;" all amazement and expectation. Every eye is fixed upon him. What a moment of suspense and eagerness! At length, in a tone of uncontrolable authority, * he said to the young man, / say unto thee. Arise!" He does this in his own name. He claims a power which controls even the dead. And the event justifies the pretension. He never spake in vain. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the blood begms to liquefy and flow through ihe veins and arteries; the lungs heave again; the eyes open—he "that was dead sat up and began to speak"—my soul, what did he
Finally, observe the application, the deli-
cacy—what shall I call it—of the miracle: and "he delivered him to his mother!" Ha did not say, Go, preach the Gospel; or, Come, follow me. It was a prodigy of " lovingkindness ;" of " tender mercy." He would comfort her, and therefore he prefers Aer satisfaction to the honour he would have gained by the attendance of such a disciple on himself. What a present was here !" He delivered him to his mother!"
How striking the whole scene! To see a man instantly called back—from the invisible world! What awe would it produce; what wonder would it excite! Some would be ready to flee from him—but the mother— she would embrace him after this second birth, and "remember no more again her anguish, for joy that a man is born again into the world." But would the son engross all her attention? Would she not think of Jesus? this friend in trouble; this restorer of her happiness i I see her kneel and adore.
Let us conclude by three general reflections.
I. What A Vale Of Tears Is This World! How various and numerous are the evils to which human life is exposed !" Man that is born of a woman, is of few days and full of trouble!" "Surely every man walkcth in a vain show, surely they are disquieted in vain! he heapeth up riches, and cannot tell who shall gather them." His pains are great, his disappomtments frequent, his cares corroding. His possessions generate alarms: and in proportion to his affections are his afflictions : his roses grow on thorns, and his honey wears a sting. Here we see a fellow-creature pining with sickness. There we hear a voice saying, " I sit, and am alone as a sparrow upon the house-top. Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness." It is impossible to walk the street, or pass along the road, without being assailed by sights and sounds of distress. And how peculiarly lamentable are some of these!—But
II. Let The Afflicted Remember That
THEY ARE NOT LEFT WITHOUT RESOURCE. Let
them learn where to flee in the day of trouble. It is to the Friend of sinners. Why, is the Saviour any longer on earth that we may apply to himl Unquestionably—how else could he fulfil his promise, " Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them?" His bodily presence was not necessary to his assistance "in the days of his flesh:" he could speak a cure at a distance. He is now essentially and spiritually near—near enough to hear all your complaints, and to afford you succour. He knows and observes all your distresses, and he has the same tenderness, and the same power as of old. Is your condition very trying and alarming? You liave no cause for despair. "At even-tide it may