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then, if at any time, feel how short and transient this life is ; enter into a serious examination of our. selves; and form new resolutions to improve the uncertain remains of life in the practice of religion.
The vanity of the world never appears more man. ifest, than when they, on whom our worldly joys chiefly depended, are removed into darkness. How empty the world looks to one, whom lover and friend have forsaken; What finds he now worth living for? In this solitary condition his medita. tions will rise to that better state, where more lasting connexions will be formed, and these melancholy changes will afflict him no more.
The removal of friends is an admonition to draw near to God, and place our hope in him.
“ She that is a widow indeed, trusts in God, and continues in prayers and supplications night and day.” And well she may ; for God, her maker and her husband, has given her this kind invitation and promise, “Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them; and let the widow trust in me." When friends are about us, we place a confidence, alas! too great a confidence in them, when they are put into darkness, we feel how just is this caution, “ Trust not in man, whose breath is in his nostrils ; For wherein is he to be accounted of? We then repair to God as the only unfailing friend. On him we cast our cares, and to him we make known our requests. We find our souls more enlarged in communion with him ; can open our hearts more freely and fully ; perceive a greater sensibility of mind, fervency of desire, fixedness of attention, and copiousness of expression, than we ever found in those dull periods of life, when prosperity deadened our affections, and the world engrossed our thoughts.
Religion now stands confessed in its reality and importance.
In the smooth seasons of life, we can pass along with little help from religion. We satisfy ourselves, perhaps, with a general belief of its truth, and a formal attendance on its duties. But in the day of affliction, we find no source of real comfort, but in religion. We look not to the world for re. lief; for this we see to be full of sorrow and disappointment. It is only a belief of God's perfections and government, a consciousness of our love to him, an application of his promises and a hope of future joys, that can make affliction sit soft and easy upon us, and enable us with dignity to sustain its weight.
When a friend is removed, we naturally think how important religion was to him : But our thoughts, which anxiously follow him to another world, soon returns back in this homefelt reflection “As necessary as religion was to him, so recessary it is to us. We are as mortalas he was. Our solicitude must be no more about those who are gone before us; but about ourselves who are soon to follow them."
We now learn the reasonableness of contentment.
At ordinary times, how anxious are we about our worldly condition ! How fearful of this and the other possible evil! How easily discomposed by trifling incidents ! But now, when a real affliction : nas befallen us, trifles appear what they are. We see that former accasions of disquietude, were unworthy of the attention which we gave them. We now think, we could submit to them all, without one uneasy thought, if we might be, as in months past, when our lover and friend was with us. We now learn to rebuke those foolish anxieties, which, in prosperous days, so often vexed our spirits, and imbittered our comforts.
Affliction teaches us humility. When we look on the breathless remains of an intimate friend, we see what all men are that we
ourselves are creatures of dust, returning to dust again. What is all the glory of maii, but a fading flower? What is all the pride of worldly distinction, but'vanity and corruption? What can we see, as a pretence for exultation, in ourselves, who are sinners, under sentence of death ?
Afriction teaches us compassion. While we feel the sorrow which attends the dissolution of our intimate connexions, we learn what others feel in similar trials : We see the propriety of the apostle's advice; “Remember them who are in bonds, as bound with them; and those who suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” Finally ;
-The death of friends is of use to awaken into exercise our faith in Jesus Christ, who died to redeem us from the grave ; has risen to assure us of immortality, has ascended to prepare for us a place in heaven; and now lives that we miglit live also.
Let us extend our views to that glorious state whither he is gone; live under the influence of his religion, în imitation of his example, and in the hopes of his kingdom; and thus console our hearts in all the sorrows of life, reckoning that all the sufferings of the present time, are unworthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed.
Thankfulness to God for his daily Benefits.
PSALM, Ixviii. 19.
Blessed be the Lord who daily loadeth us with benefils, coen the
God of our saldation. A BEING, whose presence pervades the universe, whose power: sustains all worlds, and whose goodness supplies the wants of every living thing, is the most grand and delightful thought, that can fill and warm the human mind. template the perfections and works of this Being, to adore him for what he is, and praise him for what he does, is the noblest exercise, that can em. ploy a rational creature. This is the principal work of angels and saints in heaven, and not a small part of the employment of godly souls on earth.
Sudden and surprising interpositions of providence may deeply affect those, who in ordinary circumstances, live without God in the world. But they, whose minds are formed to an habitual sense of his government, will seriously observe his daily benefits, and regard them as calls to daily devotion. Under a sense of these, David was pressed with a
load of gratitude, of which he could disburthen himself only by daily praise.
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits.”
To illustrate the propriety of this acknow. ledgment; and to shew our obligations to praise our great Benefactor, is the design of the present discourse.
1. We will illustrate the propriety of David's thankful acknowledgment.
Common and daily mercies are those, with which we are principally loaded. From them arise our highest obligations to gratitude. For,
1. God's daily benefits are, by far, the most
“How precious are his thoughts unto us? How great is the sum of them? If we should count them, they are more in number than the sand.”_"How many are the wonderful works, which he has done ; and his thoughts which are to usward! They cannot be reckoned up in order to him. If we would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.”
The frame of our bodies, and the faculties of our minds display the goodness of the Creator. “I will praise thee," says David," for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.”
How curious, and complicated is the body in which we reside! Every part is adapted to some important end. Every member has its obvious use : Every vessel and fibre answers some essential purpose in the animal economy.
The several senses are ministers of information and enjoyment. They stand as monitors to warn us of danger, and wait as guides to direct us in our path.
As this decaying frame is kept in repair by con.