« AnteriorContinuar »
have found out a few chosen friends, and have begun to enjoy that little circle in which we would wish to live and to die, an unexpected stroke disappoints our hopes, and lays all our schemes in the dust. When, after much labour and care, we have reared the good. ly structure; when we have fenced it, as we fondi ly imagine, from every storm that blows, and indulge the pleasing hope, that it will always endure, an invisible hand interposes, and overturns it from the foundation. Who knoweth what awaits him in life? Who knoweth the changes through which he is destined to pass ? Son of prosperity! Thou now lookest forth from thy high tower ; thou now glo. riest in thine excellence ; thou sayest that thy moun. tain stands strong, and that thou art firm as the cedar of Lebanon-But stand in awe. Before the mighty God. of Jacob, and by the blast of the breath of his nostrils, the mountain hath been overturned, and the cedar in Lebanon hath fallen like the leaf before the whirlwind. At this very moment of time, the wheel is in motion that reverses the lot of men; that brings the prosperous to the dust, and lays the mighty low. Now, O man! thou rejoicest in thy strength ; but know, that for thee the bed of languish ing is spread ; pale, ghastly, and stretched on thy couch, thou shalt number the tedious hours, the restless days, the wearisome nights, that are appointed to thee, till thy soul shall be ready to “ choose 6 death rather than life." Thou now removest from thee the evil day, and sayest, in thy heart, thou shalt never see sorrow; but remember the changes of this mortal life ; for thee the “cup of trembling" is prepared, and the 66 wine of astonishment is poured
co out." How often, in an instant, doth a hand unseen shift the scene of the world! The calmest and the stillest hour precedes the whirlwind, and it hath thundered in the serenest sky. The monarch hath drawn the chariot of state, in which he was wont to ride in triumph, and the greatest who ever awed the world have moralized at the turn of the wheel.
In the second place, The propriety of this temper will appear, if we consider the scene that soon awaits us, and the awful change of being that we have to undergo. The sentence of the Lord is passed upon all fesh.. Man, who art born of a woman ! one day thou must die. The decree is gone forth, and the time appointed for its fulfilment is approaching fast. Short is the period which is allotted to mortal man. In a little time the scene changes, and the places that knew us shall know us no more. We bid an eternal adieu to all below the fun; we enter on a new state of being, and appear in the immediate presence of God. After death comes the judgment. Thou must answer, O man! to the Searcher of hearts, for the deeds done in the body. The actions of thy past life shall rise up to thy remembrance ; the secrets of thy soul shall be disclosed ; and thy eternal doom be fixed by God, the Judge of all. In thy last moments, thou wilt be serious and stand in awe. The most thoughtless finner will stand aghast, and the stoutest heart will tremble at that awful, that parting hour, when, to the closing eye, God appears, with as full conviction, as if the curtain between both worlds was withdrawn, and the Judge in very deed descended to his tribunal. How serious wilt thou be when surrounded by the fad circle of thy
weeping friends, thou readest in their altered looks, that thy hour is come; when cut off from all con. nection with mortality, thou takest thy last look of what thou heldest dear in life; when the cold sweat, the shivering limb, and the voice faultering in the throat, announce thy departure into the world unknown! What manner of persons ought we to be, who have such events awaiting us! Ought we not to stand in awe; to join trembling with our mirth; to commune with our hearts alone, and be still as in the presence of that God, before whose tribunal we have foon to appear ?
In the third place, This frame of mind is peculiarly proper for you now, as a preparation for that so. lemnity which you are soon to celebrate. Holy is. every ordinance of the Lord; but this is the holiest of all, and should inspire us with reverence and god. ly fear. You are to be engaged in the most folemn ordinance of our religion. You are to be employed in the most important work of your lives, to seal your vows in the faith of everlasting redemption. You are going to transact with the God of Glory, before whom ten thousand times ten thousand angels and archangels bow down and admire and adore. You are about to commemorate the most tremendous event which is to be found in the records of time; that scene which made the sun grow dark, and which the earth trembled to behold. God shows himself to be awful, even when he manifests his mercy, and caufes all his goodness to pass before you. When he blesses men with the greatest testimony of his love, it is by smiting his own Son ; when the gate of heaven is set open to the world, it is opened by the blood of
One who is higher than the heavens. Whilst thou re. joicest therefore at the remembrance of thy redemp. tion, think with wonder upon the ransom by which it is accomplished, and implore the assistance of the Divine spirit, that you may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear.
JOB xxx. 23.
For I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the
house appointed for all living.
HIS book of Job contains the histo, ry of a righteous man, fallen from the height of profperity, into scenes of great distress. Almost every affliction which falls to the lot of mortal man embittered his life. His goods were taken away by robbers ; his body was fmitten by a loathsome and tormenting disease ; his family was cut off, and all his company made desolate by a sudden stroke from heaven; his surviving friends proved miserable comforters, and, instead of relieving, added to his afflictions. His head was bare to every blast of adversity, and his heart bled with all the varieties of pain. In the course of his complaint, he utters the genuine voice of sorrow, and pours forth his soul in lamentation and wo. He sets before us the evil day; he shows us the dark side of things, and presents to view those shades in the picture of human life, which must one day meet our eye. From there calamities, he passes, by a natural transition, to the considera. tion of the last evil in human life: “ I know that
ç thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house ap. si 46 pointed for all living."
Man is a serious being. There is a string in the heart which accords to the voice of forrow, and im: