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if we consider only this feeble, but essential part of the animal frame, life must appear precarious. But every part of the body, as well as this, is liable to casualty and disease. In this curious and complicated machine are innumerable threads, vessels and springs, on which motion and activity depend. And a wound or rupture in any of them may, under certain circumstances, be fatal. To casualties we are always exposed in our labours, journeys, diversions and employments. And the causes of disease may every where attend us. The air which we breathe, and the food, which we eat may be charged with death. Who then can at any time say, He is sure of another hour? We are often in such a critical situation, whether we discern it or not, that there is but a step between us and death.
Had we a clear discernment of the dangers, which attend us wherever we go, and of the weakness of the body in which we dwell, we should live in perpetual fear. It is happy for us, that many of our dangers are concealed from us; otherwise, it is probable, we should often be deterred from the necessary occupations of life. But we see enough to convince us, that we are fearfully made. This conviction should awaken our attention to the vast concerns of immortality.
If we are thus fearfully made, let us acknowledge the care of God's providence in our daily preservation. David, impressed with this thought, thus utters his grateful admiration of the mercies, which attended him. "I will praise thee, O God, for marvellous are thy works. How precious are thy thoughts unto me! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand. When I awake, I am still with thee."
How carefully should we examine ourselves, that we may know, what preparation is made for the change which is before us, and which may nearly, await us? Beings accountable to God, designed for immortality, soon to be removed, and insecure of another day, should not live at uncertainties, should not pass thoughtless along, as if no eye beheld them, and no change were before them. David, in this view of himself, was led to pray, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way ev erlasting."
How vain is the world? What find we here worthy of our supreme affection? It is but little, which we need; and a little should content us. If we have much, we must soon leave it, and have no more a portion in it. Nor can we tell how soon the parting time will come. "Our days on earth are a shadow, and there is no abiding." Let us live as strangers; indulge no anxiety about the things of this world, but direct our care to the interest of another.
Our experience of God's care in preserving us till this time, encourages us to trust his goodness still. It is happy that our time is in his hands. Let it be devoted to his service, and it will not be terminated too soon. He can preserve the frame, which he has made, tender as it is; and avert the dangers which surround it, numerous as they are. A life employed for his glory, whether. it end sooner or later, will end happily. To the faithful Christian death will be gain.
In the view of human frailty, nothing can appear more reasonable than daily prayer. If our life depends on God's will, to his care let us commit ourselves, and in his hands leave all our concerns. Would a man, who believed this day to be his last, neglect to call upon God? Would he go forth into
the business and company of the world without directing a thought, or addressing a petition to him?-No man knows on any day, but that it may be his last. Every man, then, on each morning of his life, ought to commend himself to God's protection, through the day to walk in his fear, at the close of day to review what he has done, repent of all his follies, acknowledge the benefits received, and dedicate himself afresh to his great Preserver and Benefactor.
We have the sentence of death in ourselves. Our frame speaks its own frailty, and predicts its own dissolution. One would think, we should need no admonitions, but those which we have from ourselves. We are fearfully made. If we hear not the solemn language of our own frail bodies, the language of weakness and pain, of sickness and decav, what language would command our attention, and impress our hearts? How unaccountable is the stupidity of mortals? They complain of infirmities and groan under pains, and yet seem scarcely to know, that these pains and infirmities tell them, that they must die, must pass to another world, must there receive according to the works which they have done.
Let us hear the voice, which speaks within us and around us; the voice of providence and of scripture, the voice of sickness and of health, the voice of reason and of conscience, the voice which cries, "All flesh is as grass; what your hands find to do, do it with your might, for there is no work, wisdom; nor device in the grave, to which you are going.'
Let religion possess our hearts, and peace will attend our path, and hope will brighten our pros pect. We may take pleasure in infirmities, for the power of Christ will rest upon us. For us to live will be Christ, and to die will be gain. or death, both will be ours.
MATTHEW, v. 33-37.
Again, ye have heard, that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths; But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king; neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black: But let your communication be yea, yea; nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil.
THERE is no institution so good, but that
it may be corrupted; nor so plain, but that it may be perverted. Almost every religious institution, which God has made for men, has in process of time undergone, in their hands, some material alteration.
This was remarkably the case among the Jews. The religion which God gave to them, consisted partly of moral, and partly of ritual iujunctions. The latter, which were in themselves of smaller importance, and designed to be subservient to the former, were by degrees so multiplied, as to be
come almost impracticable; and the other were, in proportion, disregarded and laid aside. Mint, anise and cummin were tythed with scrupulous exactness, while weightier matters, justice, mercy, truth and the love of God, were neglected with little con
The correction of these abuses is the principal object of Christ's excellent sermon on the mount. In this he recites the words of several precepts, points out the mutilations and corruptions which had been made in them, and then states their true meaning and just extent.
Among other corruptions, he mentions the general abuse, which had been made of the law relating to oaths. "Ye have heard, that it hath been said by them," or rather to them, "of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself." This the Jews understood as forbidding only perjury, or swearing falsely by the name of God. But Christ tells them, it extended farther, and forbad all kinds of profane swearing: For these are the words of the law, "Thou shalt not swear by the name of the Lord falsely; neither shalt thou profane the name of the Lord; and thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain; neither shall ye make mention of the names of other gods." By the law, therefore, they were forbidden, in their ordinary discourse, to swear at all, either by heaven, or earth, or Jerusalem, or their heads; for if they regarded these as the creatures of God, to swear by them was to swear by him, and to take his name in vain. It was to depart from that plainness and simplicity, which religion requires. "Let your communication," your ordinary discourse, "be yea, yea; nay, nay; for whatsoever is inore than these, cometh of evil."
There is a passage in James's Epistle similar to, and taken from this precept of our Saviour. bove all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by