« ПредишнаНапред »
There are reasons, however, which we may perceive, fufficient to justify these difpenfations, or, at least, to filence our complaints.
God is sovereign. All creatures are his, and he has a right to do what he will with his own. “He taketh away, and who can hinder him? Who shall say to him, What doeft thou ?"
God has appointed all men to death. The appointment is just, for all have finned. He has fent his Son to redeem us from the misery of the world to come; but the sentence of death remains, as a ftanding testimony of his displeasure against fin, and a standing admonition to lay hold on eternal life. Our acceptance of the purchased salvation does not exempt us from natural death. By the death of Jesus a future life is is procured ; by our own death we must pass to the enjoyment of it.
The wisdom of God has subjected our mortal race to great variety in the time and manner of their death, that all might see the necessity of early preparation for it. If none died, but in old age, none would expect to die, and few would prepare to die, at an earlier period; and by lorg indulgence, men would generally become hardened in their wickedness. It is for their general benefit, that there should be all the variety, which we fee, in the circumstances of their death, that all, admonished of their danger, might be always ready.
God destroys the hope of man, that man may place his hope in God. When we see promising appearances in the young, especially in our own children, it is natural to entertain pleasing expectations ; but often these expectations rise too high. They need a rebuke. The death of a hopeful youth is a warning to parents, and to all, not to look for comfort in earthly things, but to seek
happiness in God. This is the language in which it speaks, “ Truft not in man, whofe breath is in his noftrils, for wherein is he to be accounted of ? But trust in the Lord forever, for with him is everlasting strength.” We never shall enjoy ourfelves in this world, until we learn to look beyond it. All things here are uncertain, and the more confidently we rely upon them, the more frequent and painful will be our disappointments. God is allsufficient and unchanging ; his promises are sure and faithful ; he is always near to us; he is a very present help in trouble ; his favour is life. When we devote ourselves to him, place our confidence in him, commit our interests into his hands, and refign all our concerns to his disposal, then we best enjoy our earthly blessings, and then only we
The death of a pious youth, though it seem a lofs to us and to the world, yet by the grace of God may prove a great and extensive benefit. We think, that if such a youth might live, his exam ple and conversation would have a happy influence on many around him. But who knows what ita fluence his death may have? When the young, who were his associates, see how religion supported him in the distresses of sickness, and comforted him in the prospect of eternity ; when they hear his dying exhortations to early piety, and his fole emn cautions against neglecting the care of their fouls, perhaps some of them will receive useful and lasting impressions. Perhaps his death, and his dying example and advice may do more to con, vince them of the truth and importance of relia gion, and to awaken their attention to it, than all that he could say and do in many years of health. Who knows, but some, brought by his death to embrace and exemplify religion, may do all the Vol. V.
good in their life which we hoped from him? Who knows, but the important end, which we wilhed might be accomplished by his means, will be accomplished by means which God fees to be more effectual ?
The pious youth may be taken away from evil to come. Man is born to trouble. This attends him in every stage of his progress through the world ; death awaits him ; from this there is no discharge. The world is full of temptations ; the young Christian, while he lives in it, has many dangers to meet, and many conflicts to endure. Early death places him in a happy security from all the evils, which attend the saints who furvive him. Had he lived to a greater age, he might have attained to higher glory. But he now at. tains to his proper measure of glory with greater facility and with a shorter probation.
To the godly there are advantages resulting from long life; and there are advantages resulting from early death. God knows how to order the time and manner of every one's removal. To the true believer life will not be too long, nor death too soon. Whether life, or death, both are his.
In the calm death of a religious youth, it appears, what religion can do. Hence parents may learn how to find comfort in the death of their children.
In the death of the young the greatest confolation of a parent is a consciousness of his fidelity in their education, and a persuasion that his labour has not been in vain. To part with a child is a great affliction. If this child be driven away in his wickedness and with terrors of conscious guilt, the affliction is inexpressibly aggravated. But, on the contrary, it is greatly softened and mitigated by observing his hope in death, and by reflecting
that his virtuous life has accorded with his dying hope.
If in the review of our own conduct we can say, we have faithfully discharged our parental obligations; and in the retrospect on a child's behav. iour, we can say, he has been observant of our instructions and obedient to our counsels, has conducted with fobriety and discretion, and appeared to make his duty his rule of action ; if in the distreffes of sickness we see him patient and resigned ; and in the near expectation of death, hear him committing his soul to God with expressions of humble hope ; we feel a refreshment, which makes us almost forget our sorrow.
Such an example teaches all parents, how to provide themselves with means of consolation against similar trials. They well know, that they are liable to afflictions of this kind. There is not a parent, but who, in his children's death, ardently desires consolation. There is no consolation equal to the hope, that their death is their gain... Let every parent then train up his children in religious sentiments and virtuous manners, and exhort them to, and aslift them in a timely preparation for death and eternity, that if they be early called away, he may have hope for them, and they may have hope for themselves. If it be a comfort to us to see the friends, who go before us, depart in peace, it will be a comfort to the friends who survive us, to see us depart in the faine manner. Let us then leave to them the confolation, which we esteem so valuable for ourselves.
The observations, which we have made, come to us strongly enforced by the providence of the
We have seen a youth of promising abilities and hopeful virtues taken from his affectionate pa.
rents and brethren, by a casualty sudden in its attack, and fatal, though flow, in its effect. We have seen his friends anxiously watching the fymptoms of his malady, and suspended in anguish for days together between hope and despair. We have seen the youth enduring his uncommon diftress with calm fubmiffion, and meeting his death with serene hope. We have feen the painful difappointment, which they suffered in his early death, and the consolation, which they derived from his virtuous life and dying resignation. We have feen, in this affecting cale, a proof of the value of religion, and of the importance of embracing it in early life.
As he, just before his death, addrefled the young, who stood around his bed, and urged their pious improvement of the casualty which had befallen him, and of the death which threatened him ; I cannot forbear to second his address in a more public manner, than he had opportuni- . ty to make it.
Conceive, then, my youthful hearers, that you stood by his bedfide, and heard him speak to you in the following manner ; “ You see, my friends, the situation that I am in. A few days ago I was in health like you. By a sudden accident I am confined to my bed, and probably fhall soon be laid in my grave. None of you knows how foon his condition may be like mine. You see in me the necessity of being early prepared for death. I advise you to think seriously of the uncertainty of life, and to prepare diligently for its end. Delay not such a work any longer : no; not for one single hour. You may as well attend to it now, as at a future time. Make it a present businefs. I particularly advise you to reverence the fabbath and the house of God. There are some young people,