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divine perfections will probably shine brightest in those dispensations which once appeared most intricate and obséure. But it is at the great day that the justice and righteousness of the divine government will be displayed in its full lustre. The vision which John had in Patmos will then be realized, and the multitude of the redeemed will «unite with one voice in the song of Moses and of the Lamb: Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name ? for thy judgments are made manifest.
Let us learn from this subject,
1. To think and speak with reverence of the dispensations of Divine Providence towards ourselves and others.
It is not for us, who are but of yesterday, and know nothing, to find fault with the works and ways of God. Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall man be wiser than his Maker? From what we are able to discover of the dispensations of Providence, we have every reason to conclude, that the general system according to which God governs the universe is wise, holy, just and good. Many difficulties will, indeed, arise, as to what respects individual cases; but these can never be reasonably admitted as a sufficient objection against the equity of his government, but may be fairly resolved into our own ignorance of what he is doing now, and will fully explain hereafter. Let us then bow with submission to every intimation of his will, and every dispensation of his providence; not murmuring at any of his appointments, nor calling in question his right to dispose of us, and of ours, as seemeth good in his sight. Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?
2. Let us bless God for the assurance he has given us, that all things shall work together for good to them that love him.
In the firm belief of this animating promise, the apostle thus expresses himself, Romans, viii. 35, &c. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us. We also have a post of honout to maintain, and must take to ourselves the whole armour of God, that we may be able to stand in the evil day. When that day arrives we must not embitter it, by tearing up the wound which the hand of God hath inflicted, and refusing to be comforted. This is the sorrow of the world which worketh death; and it is this which constitutes the bitterness of death itself. How different, and how greatly superior to this was the conduct of David! His servants said unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? Thou didst fast and weep for the child while he was alive ; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. But David's trial was nothing to that whích Abraham had in prospect, as he journeyed onward towards Moriah. When he looked on the days of Isaac's childhood and youth, he saw the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; but when he looked on Moriah, all was blackness and darkness and tempest. But, as he staggered not at the promise of having a son, through unbelief, so he staggered not at the command to resign him, whenever, and in whatever way, God might demand him. How extraordinary the crisis-how awful the trial—how revolting the command-how far above the strength of unassisted nature the obedience which it required and how glorious beyond that of all the saints the triumph of his faith!
Among other important instructions, it illustrates the sovereignty of God in the trials which he assigns to his people. It said to Abraham, and it says to us, Be still, and know that I am God. And it becomes us to reply, Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight. Nor is this the only lesson which we learn from it. It shews us also how God makes his grace sufficient for his people in the seasons of their severest trials. Let us not, then, by murmuring and repining, lose both our children and friends, and our own souls. Let us humble ourselves under his mighty hand, and flee for refuge to the hope which is set before us, that
so our light affliction, which is but for a moment, may work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Let us wait upon the Lord, that we may renew our strength for the duties which yet remain to be performed, in the station which he has assigned to us. ' To relinquish that station, with the views and hopes which Christianity inspires, is to relinquish a post of honour, and to prefer that of sitting among sackcloth and ashes, to that of shining as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.
My Christian friends, allow me, before I conclude, again to express my heartfelt gratitude for the prayers which
have offered up for me, and for him who now needs them not, and for the almost unprecedented interest and sympathy which you have felt on the late trying occasion. A father is a very unfit person to delineate the charaeter of an only son. Nor is it necessary on the present occasion, even were he able to attempt it. Besides, there may be many things interesting to a parent, in regard to which it is hardly to be expected that those who are not placed in similar circumstances can enter into his feelings.
I shall conclude with a few general advices, addressed especially to the young.
God, my young friends, has cast your lot in a land with which no other land can be compared in point of religious privileges, if we may credit the testimony of those who have visited other lands. Let not those privileges be lost upon you, or they will greatly aggravate your future condemnation. Let the great end of your creation and redemption be kept constantly and steadily in view, and it will at once direct and sanctify all your studies, pleasures and pursuits. The few allotted years of human life will not then be spent, as they are spent by the great mass of mankind, in mistakes and miscalculations respecting happiness, to which their fallen nature is continually prone, and which serve only to entail upon them disappointment and bitterness of thought. Take the word of God for a light unto your feet and a lamp unto your paths. And if you are duly sensible of the absolute need in which you stand of the Spirit and grace of God, both to direct and preserve you in the ways of peace and holiness, and to enable you to shun the paths of self-destroyers, you will value above every other privilege the access which you have to a throne of grace; and will be able to judge for yourselves, Whose pleasures are the most exquisite? Whose enjoyments are the most lasting? Whose life and whose death are the most enviable ? His who barters his hopes of eternal welfare for a few fleeting moments of sensual gratification ? Or his, who, while he keeps heaven steadily in view, finds pleasure in the pursuit of important knowledge, in the conscientious discharge of his duties, in the exalted delights of communion with God, and in habitual and actual preparation for the joys of heaven? In the moments of sober reflection you will be convinced that there is no comparison be