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social, friendly and benevolent. It seeks the
gen. eral good. It studies the happiness of all within its reach. And wherever it extends its proper influence, it brings men together into a well regulated society. It puts every member and bone of the body in its natural place, and binds the parts one to another by the joints and finews of reci. procal affection, and mutual kindness.
There is sometimes a noise and shaking among dry bones, which is followed with quite different effects. The bones, instead of coming together, each in its place, to form a regular, compact body, fly off from one another, so that they can form nothing like a body ; or they meet in total confu. Gion and disorder, one bone rushing into the place, and one member assuming the office of another, and all without sinews to hold them together, and without joints to perform regular movements.
Thus they form, not a proper body, but a misshapen, discordant mass. Such a shaking as this, is very different from that which the prophet saw in the valley
Where real religion has dominion in the soul, it subdues turbulent passions ; it introduces and enlivens kind affections ; it brings all the faculties into subjection to God, and into harmony with one another. Where it spreads among a people, it inspires them with mutual love, joins them together in the fame mind, foftens their hearts to sympathy in affliction, and prompts them to encourage and aid one another in their spiritual interests. In a word, it forms such a body, as the apostle describes ; a body united to, and depending on its proper head, from which all the parts, by joints and bands, having nourishment minista ered, increaseth with the increase of God. Such a body will grow unto a perfect man, and will rise
to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
Charity is the bond of perfectness. It is this which completes the Christian character, It is this which consummates the beauty, and consolidates the strength of a Christian society. This is the mark which discriminates true religion from falfe zeal.
The edifying of the church in love is the end of all divine ordinances. We are to come together in the church, to worship together in the fanctu. ary, to fit together at Christ's table, to eat of his bread and drink of his cup, that we may be united together in one body, and may grow into an holy temple in him.
How joyful would it be to behold a revival like that, which the prophet beheld in vision-to fee dead finners arising from the dust, animated with fpiritual life, casting off their filthy garments and putting on the robes of righteousness, engaging with united zeal in works of piety and charity, encouraging each other in a devout attendance on all divine inftitutions, and keeping the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.
Such a revival will be seen in the latter day. Let us pray, that fomething of the same kind may be feen now.
Awake, ye that sleep, arife from the dead ; Chrift will give you light. Awake, awake, put on strength, o Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem. Arise, shake thyself from the duft. Let not the unclean pass through thee. Cleanfe thyfelf from all thy filthiness, and perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. Then shall thy children break forth into joy, and fing together. Then shall the wafte places become fruitful fields, and their dew shall be as the dew of herbs. Then the Lord shall make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and the ends of the earth thall see his falvation. Vol, V.
Birds and Beasts Preaching to Men.
JOB xii. 7.
Ask the beasts now, and they shall teach thee ; and the fowls of the air, and
they shall tell thee : ONE of the fathers of the Roman church, taking in the most ablolute fense Christ's command to his disciples, “Go, preach the gospel to every creature,” went and preached to birds and beasts. This certainly was no part of Christ's commiflion to his apostles. But though men are not commanded to preach to beasts and birds ; yet God in his providence has appointed these to preach to men. "Job, to confute certain erroneous opinions advanced by his friends, refers them for instruction to the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven. “ Ask them, and they will teach you.”
The scripture instructs us, not only by plain doctrines and precepts, but also by pertinent images and allusions. Among other methods of inItruction, it refers us to certain dispositions obfervable in the animals around us. For though these creatures are not capable of moral conduct, yet there are in them certain instinctive actions, which are emblems of human virtues. Hence the scripture often sends us to them for instruction and reproof. To them our text calls our attention.
But left, in the contemplation of these inferior creatures we should seem to descend below the dignity of a religious subject, we will confine ourselves to the examples presented to us by the scripture itself, which always treats the most familiar fubjects with such a dignity, as gives them importance and commands respect.
1. The beasts reprove our unmindfulness of, and ingratitude to our Divine Benefactor.
Hear, O heavens,” says the prophet, " and give ear, earth, for the Lord hath ipoken ; I have nourished and brought up children, but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know; my people doth not consider."
The prophet here selects for an example those creatures which are generally esteemed dull and intractable. Yet even these, he says, rebuke the unthankfulness of men ; for they look to the hand from which they have been fed, and repair to the crib from which they have been supplied. They wait for their master's bounty, and receive it with tokens of gratitude. But man, thankless man, forgets the heavenly benefactor, who daily loads him with benefits, and gives him all things richly to enjoy. Man lives on God's goodnels, yet God is feldom in his thoughts. He seeks his supplies without a sense of dependence, and eats his meals without an acknowledgment of obligation. He rises to his labour without imploring the divine blessing, and lies down to fleep without asking the divine protection. He has been, from his youth, sustained by God's care, continues in rebellion against him.
Look to your domestic animals : are they as unmindful of you, as you are of your God ? Do they treat you with the neglect, with which you
treat your heavenly parent? The want of language to express a sense of dependence they supply by significant actions. You have language: employ your tongue in prayers and praises to God. You have reason : let his mercies persuade you to glorify him in all your actions. While you live in disobedience and unthankfulness to God, without a sense of his goodness, and with. out a regard to his will, the beasts, which serve you, reprove and condemn you.
. II. How many are there, who, while they enjoy a fulness of worldly good, are discontented with their worldly condition, and always murmur. ing against the ways of providence, as if these were partial and unequal ? Do you see this disposition in the brutes ? “ Doth the wild ass bray, when he hath meat ? Or loweth the ox over his fodder ?”
The brutes have their natural wants; and when these are supplied, they are contented. But man is ever craving, and can never have enough. His avarice has no limits; his ambition knows no bounds. The wants of nature are few and small. The wants of imagination are endless and in. fatiable. The world is full of complaints. Every one seems more or lefs diffatisfied with his own condition, and desirous to exchange it for that of some other man. The general enquiry is, “Who will fhew us any good ?" But what do you want ? Have you not much good now? You enjoy health, liberty and competence. You have food to eat, raiment to put on, houfes to dwell in, and friends to converse with. You have security in your perfons and properties, ability to labour in your callings, and capacity to enjoy the fruits of your labour ; you use them as your own, dispose of them as you please, consume what you need, and lay by the rest for future occasions. And why are