Графични страници
PDF файл

it is a messenger commissioned by God; and then we are led to inquire, Why did God send it?” This brings on a prayer : “Shew ine wherefore thou con tendest with me. Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” The Lord hears our request, and sets our sins in order before us. Then, instead of murmuring at the acuteness of our pain, we rather wonder that it is not worse; and acknowledge, with grateful admiration, that it is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed. Then, like Ephraim, we say, “ Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God. Surely, after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh. I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.” Then we discover the root of all this bitterness; and in the midst of our pains cry out, with sorrow and shame, " This is, indeed, the sad fruit of sin. But what I feel in iny body, is nothing to what I should have felt in my soul, if the Lord had not plucked me as a brand out of the burning.” Thus affliction often proves one of the greatest of our mercies.

We now proceed to the latter part of the text. “. My flesh is clothed with worms, and clods of dust. My skin is broken and become loathsome.” Our disorders may be of such a nature, as to be not only painful to ourselves, but offensive to those who are Dear us; and if duty or affection did not bind them, we should perish for want of necessary attendance.


When the gout or the stone, or a cancer, or any one of those tormenting and deforming distempers, first discovers itself, we are thrown into a mighty consternation, and puzzle ourselves with endeavouring to account for it. As we have, perhaps, never heard that any of our family were afflicted with it, and we have not brought it upon ourselves by intemperate or irregular living, it is strange, we think, how we should get the disorder. But we forget that we carry the seeds of these and many other sad distempers in our constitutions; though some of them may never appear, and others be kept under till a more adyanced period. Job was smitten with boils from head to foot, and became so loathsome a spectacle, that no one cared to attend him: and many men, in every age, have been rendered deplorably miserable in a similar manner. But we will leave this disagreeable subject, and mention two reflections to which it naturally leads us.

In the first place, then, be not proud of your bodies. Never boast of their strength, or complexion; for both may be destroyed by a short fit of sickness. Our foundation is in the dust, and we are crushed before the moth. When we are in full health, we'are ready to fancy, that our bones are brass, and our sinews iron, and that nothing can do us a serious injury: but the days of weakness and pain may begin before we are aware. It is not always the old and de. crepit who complain of restless nights and loathsome disorders; many have met with them early. Let not the strong man, therefore, glory in his strength: neither let those that are fair, glory in their come liness ; for, “ when the Lord, with rebuke, correcteth

Rather say,

man for his iniquity, he maketh his beauty to consume away like a moth. Verily, every man, at his best estate, is altogether vanity.” If then, you at any time visit persons afflicted with such disorders as we have described, do not come away boasting of your health, and the firmness of your constitution ; do not presumptuously say, “ I defy these wretched and frightful diseases. As I have lived many years, and have been exempted from them hitherto, I doubt not but I shall enjoy a long life, free from all such miserable or offensive disorders." “ Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is ; that I may know how frail I am.”

Hence learn too, the much greater loathsomeness of sin. Some of you do not know what I mean by this expression. You never could see any thing so disgusting in sin. Some grosser crimes, indeed, appear to you odious. But you are not offended at the sight of it in general, either in yourselves or in others. You can pass it by without notice; or you have many a good-natured excuse to make for it: and you understand not why you should ever do otherwise, But be assured, that sin is the leprosy of the soul; and is infinitely more offensive to God, than the foulest ulcers can be to ourselves. The scriptures always speak of it by an allusion to those things which are to us most disagreeable and loathsome; and if, as the Apostle says, the eyes of standing were enlightened, if you were renewed in the spirit of your minds, you also would detest whatever is sinful. Then, your intolerable pride, your ungovernable passions, your immoderate love of the

your under

[blocks in formation]

world, your hatred of the people, the word, and the ways of God, and many other sins, would appear to you as symptoms of your loathsome disease ; and, shocked at the sight of so much deformity and danger, you would hasten to Jesus, the only physician, from whose skill and compassion you might hope for a cure.

Finally, rejoice in the prospect of having better bodies hereafter. Diseases may disfigure us, but death will deform us much more. While our friends are living, let their disorder be what it will, however infectious or offensive, we cheerfully attend them by night and by day; and this constant attendance, by degrees, familiarizes us to what would other.wise be disgusting. But, when the breath stops, such a paleness, such a ghastliness, such a putrefaction presently ensue, that we can endure it no longer. We hasten away from the room or the house, into which death has entered. Our friends must be shut up in a coffin ; and that is not sufficient, they must be lodged in the grave, and there be left to rest and rot, with thousands in the same humbling condition. Remember then, that sooner or later, this will be also your portion. You will “ say to corruption, Thou art my father; and to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister.” But if you shall be found among those who die in the Lord, (and if not, wo, wo, to you; for a second death ten thousand times more dreadful will certainly follow,) I say, if you sleep in Jesus, your vile bodies will be fashioned like the glorious body of Christ; and when united again to your pure and happy spirits, you will ascend to meet the Lord in the air; and so will you ever be with the Lord.

[ocr errors]





Remember now thy Creator, in the days of thy youth;

while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.

Young persons will scarcely believe that such a time will ever arrive. They seem to think that it is only the gloomy imagination of the preacher, who had met with disappointments in life: and because he was out of humour with the world himself, supposed that every other person must be disgusted with it too. “ Life," say they, “is sweet; and every period of it has pleasures peculiar to itself. We know that youth has its pleasures. We have nothing else to do, but to enjoy ourselves; without any cares upon our minds, and with every thing in the world ready to contribute to our amusement. We are told, that there are pleasures in the middle of life, waiting for us in abundance. We shall then be our own masters, and shall have a house, a family, a trade, or a profession, of our own: and we have no doubt of being happy. We expect pleasure in old age too ; and look forward to it without any of those gloomy presages which the preacher suggests. We shall then have done with all labour and bustle; and sit down, and tell over our

« ПредишнаНапред »