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have as little concern with the world, as those who lived before the flood. What one calls his, and another calls his, soon will belong neither to the one nor the other, but to some successor, as mortal as himself, who must again leave it to the man who comes after him; and he still is mortal. Thus it passes from mortal to mortal, till it shall be lost in the wreck of nature.
Learn then to moderate your worldly affections. Be patient in want, beneficent in fulness, contented whether in fulness or want. Place your affections on things above, and lay up durable riches in the heavenly world, where, on your arrival, you will find them secure, and ready for enjoyment.
5. Our subject teaches us, what reason we have to pity, console and succour the afflicted.
A world of mortality must be a world of sorrow. Here is not only pain and distress of body; but, that which is often more painful and distressing, the loss of most pleasant and intimate friends, on whom the bigger half of life's joys depended. When a mortal, in the midst of his expected days, is torn from his near connexions, how many hearts bleed with the wound. There you will see a solitary companion, and here disappointed parents; helpless offspring on one hand, and weeping brethren on the other. The fall of such a man, like the fall of an uprooted tree, spreads wide ruin around, and rifles the bloom of all who are near.
When we see, what we often see, numbers distressed by the death of one, let us reflect, that their distress may soon be ours. The man, who died last, was not the only one who was mortal. Every man must draw after him, as there are innumerable before him. We have not a friend on earth, who is not as mortal as he was, not a friend on earth, but may soon leave us in sorrow and anguish. Let us then bring home to our hearts the sorrow of our
neighbours, take a sensible share in it, and remember those who are in bonds, as bound with them; and those who suffer adversity, as being ourselves also in the body.
6. We are taught the danger which attends too strong a reliance on earthly friends.
Every man must go down to the grave. Cease then from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of. Trust in the Lord forever, for with him is everlasting strength.
The loss of friends, is a call from heaven to raise our thoughts and affections there. When our earthly dependence sinks under us, we must lean more fully on the power and wisdom, the mercy and faithfulness of God. In him we must seek our comfort in every adversity. The world, which is itself so full of trouble, cannot be a source of comfort in trouble. Our comfort we must seek in another place; our refreshments we must draw from another fountain. A settled persuasion, that a God of infinite wisdom, power and goodness, governs the world; that he orders all events, and extends his care to all creatures; that we are interested in his favour; and, all things, under his direction, will work for our good; that heavenly joys will soon recompence all our earthly sorrows; this is the only sure principle of comfort, hope and courage, in our worldly afflictions.
Let us then be quickened to a life of undissembled religion, which is necessary to our comfortable passage through this world, and our happy en
trance into a better.
Religion exempts no man from affliction, or from death; but it does more; it gives him substantial comfort in affliction, and sure preparation for death, and thus turns both to his advantage.
Since religion is so supremely necessary, life so precarious, and death so surely approaching, let us call off our thoughts from this world, and direct them to our future and everlasting concerns. This is the dictate of reason, of scripture, and of providence. Let us realize human frailty, pity those in adversity, and stand prepared for similar trials. Let not the prosperous flatter themselves, that they never shall be moved, nor the young and vigorous imagine, that their mountains stand strong. The day is hastening, when the strong must bow themselves. Health, strength, youth, and vigour, when death approaches, can make no resistance. Virtue, usefulness, helpless dependents, and weeping, praying friends, cannot procure an exemption from the grave.
Whatever your hands find to do, do it with your might; there is no work in the grave, whither ye are going. Let your repentance be speedy, that death may not prevent it; let your hope be well founded, that death may not disappoint it; and let it be improved, and confirmed by the constant exercise of piety, that your departure may be comfortable, your entrance into heaven abundant, and your reward rich and glorious.
JEREMIAH, v. 24.
Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our" God, that giveth rain, both the former and the laller rain in his season: He reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.
AMONG the many instances of the great corruption and degeneracy of the Jews, enumerated in this chapter, one of the plainest, is their inattention to, and disregard of, the constant govern. ment of God's providence, when there were the most obvious and familiar proofs of it daily before their eyes. They paid their devotions to inanimate idols and imaginary divinities, and renounced the worship and service of that almighty and most glorious Being, whose hand created, and still sustains, the whole frame of nature, and whose goodness supplies the wants of every living creature.
"Hear this, O foolish people," says God by his prophet, "a people without understanding, who have eyes, and see not; who have ears, and hear not:-Fear ye not me ?-Will ye not tremble at
my présence, who have placed the sand for the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it; and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; and though they roar, yet can they not pass over it ?"
The restraint of the ocean, that tumultuous body of waters, which the Jews, living near the Mediterranean, had frequent opportunities to observe, is often mentioned in scripture, as an effect of God's watchful providence, and an evidence of his mighty power. This is selected from among the numerous proofs of God's government, not because it is more immediately his work, but because the grandeur and majesty of the scene strikes the mind with a deeper and more awful sense of his continual superintending influence, than most other appearances in the natural world.
The direction of the seasons, the interchanges of rain and sunshine, and the timely returns of harvest, are, if not so grand, yet as plain and convincing proofs of God's providence, as the control of the ocean. To this God appeals in the text, and complains, that while his people partook of his bounty, they regarded not his hand. "But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart: They are revolted and gone; neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord, who giveth us rain, the former and latter rain in his season, and reserveth to us the appointed weeks of the harvest."
There is frequent mention of the former, and the latter rain. The one came on just after seed time; the other, not long before harvest, and is called, "the latter rain of the first month," or the month in which harvest began. The fruitfulness of the season depended much on these rains, which seem to have been periodical in that country. If either of them failed the harvest was small.