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3dly. This amendment, suggested by the Apostle, teacheth us to live in an habitual dependance on God, not only for life, but also for activity and prudence to carry our lawful designs into execution. There are two assertions in the 10th chapter of the book of Proverbs, which have a seeming opposition to each other. At the 4th verse, it is said, that “the hand of the diligent maketh rich;” where it would appear, that prosperity, in our worldly callings, is to be ascribed to our own activity and skill. On the other hand, it is asserted at the 22d verse, that “the blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich; and he added no sorrow with it." These two as. sertions are not opposed; but the one is subordinate to the other; and the meaning is, that the hand of the diligent, by the blessing of God, is the means of gaining wealth and honour. Accordingly, we find that God gave this caution to his ancient people. “ Beware that thou say not in thine heart, when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied, My power, and the might of my hand, hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth.” How often do we see the best laid schemes miscarry; while others, far less flattering, succeed in a wonderful manner? One man shall toil with incessant industry, rise early, and sit up late, and eat the bread of carefulness, and yet all in vain. Another, who, compared with this man, hath neither a head to contrive, nor hands to execute, shall prosper in all bis plans. “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; nei. ther yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” Men are too apt to
sacrifice to their own net, and to burn incense to their own drag.” In great mercy, therefore, God denies riches to those who may be said to live for no other end but to obtain them; wbile, on the other hand, they sometimes drop, as it were, into the lap of others, who have no talents and little anxiety to acquire them. These observations are not meant to discourage industry or skill in the management of our lawful business. For it is still true, notwithstanding wbat hath been said, that wisdom ex. celleth folly, as much as light excelleth darkness; and that without proper means being used, we have no title to expect the blessing of God upon our affairs. But they ought to teach us to “ commit our ways unto God” in well doing; to trust also in him that he may bring it to pass; to acknowledge him in all our ways, that he may direct our steps."-In the
4th and last place, This amendment, suggested by the Apostle, teacheth us to resign ourselves entirely to the will of God, and to submit all our schemes to him, to prosper or to disappoint them as seemeth good to him.. This is the true spirit of the text. “ If the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that.” Resignation to the will of God frees the mind from a grievous bondage, the bondage of earthly pursuits and expectations. Whatever God wills, is pleasing to the resigned soul; and when a Christian hath, by prayer and supplication, made known his requests to God, then the peace of God which passeth all understanding keeps his heart and mind through Jesus Christ. Then only is life truly enjoyed, when we relish its comforts, at the same time that we are prepared to part with them. The anxieties of the worldly man torment him with the pangs of a thousand deaths. His soul dies within him as often as he conceives the apprehension of losing those good things which he would wish always to enjoy. Whereas he who
hath resigned his will to the will of God, “eats his bread with joy, and drinks his wipe with a merry beart." Even the thought of his dying hour throws no damp on the joys of his mind. From the contemplation of God's goodness to him in life, he can pass without terror or amazement to the thought of his protection in the dark valley and shadow of death. Even in that gloomy passage he fears no evil; but commits bimself to the Lord his shepherd, who will make goodness and mercy to follow him all the days of his life, and at last will bring him to dwell in his house above for ever.
These are some of the instructions which we may derive from the amendment here suggested by the Apostle: “ For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that."
From what hath been said, let us learn, in the
1st place, To guard against that extravagance in laying down schemes for the time to come, which, upon cool reflection, appears so unjustifiable in the example before us. Had the persons here described, upon finding it inconvenient to set out immediately, asked themselves this question, What assurance have we of another day? this might have given them a timely check. But their imagination having taken possession of the morrow, it carried them forward without the least interruption, brought them safe to the end of their journey, fixed their residence, transacted business, and reaped the profits of the whole ensuing year. One presumptuous step leads on to another. The first object is near, and appears to be within our reach: but if we assure ourselves of possessing that before it actually become ours, then we see another object a little farther on, which appears as near to it again; afterwards a third but a little beyond that; and thus we proceed step by step, till we have passed the utmost bounds of probability, before we begin to suspect that we have gone any length at all. Let us then, in the
2d place, Realize this awful and important truth, That our life is but “a vapour, which appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Die we must, and we know not how soon. Our worldly enjoyments must be relinquished, our worldly plans and projects must perish. “The wind shall pass over us, and we shall be gone, and our place shall know us no more." Nature will look as gay on the day of our decease as it ever did ; the business of the world will go on as briskly as before; our habitations will make our successors as welcome as they made us; and even our names, in a few years, shall perish as if we had never been. What wise man, then, would build his house on such unstable sand? How wretched must that man be, whose inheritance lies wholly upon earth? What pangs must he feel at the parting hour? with what horror must he hear the sum. mons of dissolution?
Let us then be persuaded to raise our affections above the things of the earth to those things which are above. Let us plan for eternity, and let us choose the unchangeable God for our portion. Knowing that we have here no continuing city, let us seek one to come; a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Let the Lord Jeeus be our leader and guardian; under his conduct let us presently set out for the heavenly Jeru. salem; and in due time he will bring us safe to the city of the great and universal King, where we shall continue, not for a year only, but for ever; and where we shall get possession of substantial gain, even that gloriouis inheritance of the saints in light, which is incorruptible, and undefiled, and which fadeth not away. Amen.
EXODUS XX. 8.
Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy.
THE too general and growing abuse of the Christian Sabbath, must render a discourse on this subject both seasonable and necessary; and I propose therefore, in dependance on divine aid,
1st. To inquire how far the precept in this text is binding on us.
2dly. To show how this commandment ought to be kept or observed. And,
3dly. To enforce the observance of it by some motives and arguments.
First. I begin with inquiring how far this precept of keeping holy the Sabbath-day is binding on us.
Although your stated attendance on this day, for the worship of God, may be interpreted as a public declaration on your part, that you reckon this commandment binding on you, yet the inquiry I have proposed is by no means superfluous. We are exhorted in Scripture, not only " to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts,” but likewise “to be always ready to give an answer to every man who asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us.” And if we should at all times be ready to declare the grounds of our hope, we should certainly be at least equally ready to explain and to justify the reasons of our practice. Besides, although in the judgment of charity, " which thinketh no evil,” your weekly attendance