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troubles and fiery trials which abound in this evil world. But such raised hopes and expectations of undisturbed and growing prosperity lay a foundation for the greatest disappointments, sorrows and afflictions. And it appears from observation and experience, that those who are most prosperous and freest from troubles in the earlier part of life, experience the greatest troubles, losses, and disappointments in their latter days. As adversity prepares men for future prosperity, so prosperity prepares men for future adversity.
And adversity is always to be expected in some period of life, or through the whole course of it. A whole life of adversity, however, is as uncommon, as a whole life of prosperity. Both are very rare instances. But the most prosperous in the beginning of life always have the most reason to expect the greatest disappointments, and consequently, the greatest afflictions, before the close of life. For they commonly have the highest hopes and the greatest interests and enjoyments to lose. Had not Job been the greatest and most prosperous man of the East, he could not have suffered the greatest losses, disappointments and afflictions. All sources of happiness may become sources of sorrow, and occasion a thousand wounds at once. The young, therefore, are extremely unwise to cherish high hopes and expectations that, by their own wisdom and precaution, or by the undeserved smiles of Providence, they shall escape the common evils and calamities of life, and pass through this troublesome world in uninterrupted prosperity. Nor is it merely unwise, but presumptuous. For God has forbidden them to boast of to-morrow, and seek great things for themselves.
5. Since all men are born to trouble in this world, as the sparks fly upward, they ought to live in the exercise of universal sympathy and compassion. They are continually seeing and hearing of one another's troubles, afflictions, and sorrows. Scarcely a day passes but the voice of joy is interrupted with the voice of the afflicted or bereaved. Their eyes and their ears ought to affect their hearts, and excite their sympathy and compassion for their fellow sufferers in this evil and troublesome world. They all know what trouble is, for they have all more or less drank of the bitter cup of the wormwood and the gall, and have wished for the pity and compassion of others. God has commanded them to weep with those that weep, as well as to rejoice with those that rejoice. And he has expressed his peculiar displeasure against those who are so attached to their idle pursuits and sinful amusements, as to be totally callous and insensible to the sufferings of others.
6 Wo to them that are at ease in Zion; that put far away the evil day; that chant to the sound of the viol, that drink wine in bowls, but
they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.” There is not a more universal mark of human depravity, than the want of universal sympathy and compassion towards the afflicted, the grieved and broken-hearted sufferers in this vale of tears. Man is continually going to his long home, and the mourners are continually going about the streets; and yet how seldom do they excite a tear or a sigh from those who are putting far away the evil day, and saying that to-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant!
6. Since God has ordained this to be a troublesome world, and all are born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward, they ought to live in the habitual exercise of submission to the sovereign hand of God. He has made the world for himself, he governs it for himself, and in the course of providence he is continually counteracting the desires, defeating the designs, disappointing the hopes, and wounding the hearts of mankind, for the sake of promoting his own glory, and the greatest good of his intelligent creatures. They, therefore, ought to bow their wills to his, and cordially submit to all the burdens and afflictions which he sees necessary to cause them to experience. This is the most reasonable and most constant duty of life. Nothing can be more reasonable than cordial submission to all the troubles, afflictions, bereavements, and sorrows, that an infinitely wise God sees it reasonable to inflict. As God has good reasons for all the evils he inflicts upon the sinful children of men, so there is always a good reason why they should be cordially submissive to his disposing will. Submission is an every-day duty, because of every-day troubles. But perhaps of all duties, this is the most difficult to perform, and of course most frequently neglected; which argues the great stupidity and depravity of mankind in this troublesome and trying state.
7. Since God has made this a troublesome world to all who live in it, it highly concerns all who live in it to be truly religious. The afflicted always feel the need of religion, and of that religion which is sincere and genuine. Though men in prosperity cast off fear, and restrain prayer before God, and in their hearts say unto him, “ Depart from us; we desire not the knowledge of thy ways;" yet when they come into great trouble, affliction, and sorrow, they find their want of that peace and support which the world cannot give, and which God only can bestow upon those who exercise true submission. But none can exercise true submission without a truly holy heart. It concerns the high and the low, the rich and the poor, and the young as well as the aged, to give their hearts to God, and renounce this troublesome world, as the source of happiNow let me ask all, what effect this troublesome world has had upon you? What effect has it had upon you who have lived the longest in it?
What upon you who have enjoyed the most in it?
What upon you who are mourning the loss of an only daughter, and an only sister ? You have enjoyed prosperity, and are now suffering adversity. Your situation is trying and critical. God is now trying you not only for time, but for eternity. Your duty is plain and indispensable. You must submit, or eventually sink and perish.
DEATH IN EARLY LIFE.
NOVEMBER 21, 1824.
AND when he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat upon her
knees till noon, and then died. -- 2 KINGS, iv. 20.
There was something very remarkable in the character and conduct of the parents of this child, and in the circumstances which attended the child from its birth to its death. They appear to have been pious persons, and very fond of pious company, especially of the company of the prophet Elisha, whom they treated with peculiar respect. The prophet was not unmindful of their tokens of regard, but felt a strong desire to remunerate them for their kindness. He first proposed to recommend them to the king, or to some of his favorites; but this proposal did not meet their wishes. After much deliberation, he finally determined to recommend them to God, and interceded with him to bestow upon them a child, which they had long desired. At the time predicted, the child was born, and every thing served to endear it to its parents. But “when he was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father in the field. And he said to his father, my head, my head. And he said to a lad, carry him to his mother. And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat upon her knees till noon, and then died.” In the morning, the fond parents beheld their only and amiable child in health and vivacity, but in a few hours after they stood around it, a pale, lifeless corpse. It is easier to conceive than to describe the extreme anguish of their hearts under this sudden and severe frown of providence. There is hardly any part of God's conduct more dark or mysterious, than his so often bereaving parents of their young and tender offspring. It seems strange that he should bring rational and immortal creatures into this state of probation, and then call them out of time into eternity, before they are capable of knowing their Creator, or the world in which they live, or the end for which they were created. Those who are destined to such an early death seem not to live or die for themselves or for their Maker. But we must suppose the Father of spirits has some wise and important purposes to answer by the life and the death of children and youth. Accordingly it is the design of the present discourse to inquire why God cuts off so many of the human race in the morning of life. And here I shall,
I. Inquire what proportion of mankind die before they come to years of maturity. And,
II. Inquire what purposes we may suppose God designs to answer, by bereaving parents of their children so early in life.
I. Let us inquire what proportion of mankind die before they arrive to years of maturity. A great deal of pains has been taken to gain information on this point. Not only pastors of churches and congregations, but many other men of learning and leisure have been careful to keep accurate bills of mortality in parishes, towns and cities. They have compared such bills of mortality, and endeavored to form as just an estimate as possible, of the proportion of mankind that die in the first, second, and every year of life, to the most advanced age of
It is to be supposed that the most accurate bills of mortality must be very different in different nations, and in different parts of the same nation. And it is to be supposed that the calculations founded upon the accounts which different men have had opportunities of examining, must be considerably different. Hence authors, who have published on the subject, have formed different estimates of the proportion of the human race that die in the early stages of life. In New England, it is estimated that more than half die before they arrive at twenty. It is estimated that, in other countries, more than half die before they are seventeen years old. But a celebrated European physician tells us, that according to the most accurate calculation, taking the whole world together, more than half of the human race die before they are eight years old. If this be true, what an immense number of mankind are called out of the world while they are mere infants and little children! And if we consult observation and experience, we must be convinced that infancy and childhood are the most dangerous stages of human life.
Where do we find a numerous family of children, who all live and grow up to maturity ? Such instances are extremely rare. There is indeed here and there a