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proceeding in the paths of ungodliness, without attempting to reclaim him from the error of his ways, for as much as he also is a son of Abraham.
And this sensibility to the dangers of their perilous and forlorn condition, proceeds not from a wayward sentimentalism, such as might be excited by a tale of fictitious distress, but is the result of a deeply-seated conviction of the inevitable misery which lies before them.“God is not a man that he should lie, neither the son of man, that he should repent. Hath he promised and shall he not perform--hath he purposed, and shall he not make it good ?” These are, with real believers, no sounding words—they never resolve this solemn declaration of the unchangeable nature of the divine decrees into boastful and empty phraseology. They consider it literally and emphatically descriptive of the irreversible nature of the condemnation of those who resolve to live and die in their wickedness ;-—and the reality of this deep conviction thus impressed upon their minds, appears from their persevering and systematic exertions for the salvation of themselves and others. This is the true, and, indeed, the only test of a settled religious persuasion, concerning the decrees which proceeds from mere human good nature is capricious and unsteady—that which flows from a principle of actual piety, is permanent and constant-the one varies according to
our temper or spirits—the other is always equable and serene. The one is commonly excited by vanity, quickened by competition, and directed by fashion—and is ever liable to be chilled by age, repressed by ridicule, or soured by disappointment. The other seeketh not the praise or the notice of men—it letteth not the right hand know what the left hand doeth, and endeavoureth to be as secret and unobserved, as it is genial and constant. The one is frequently overcome by evil—the other always overcomes evil by good. In a word, the one is a principle of worth implanted within us, always modified and frequently counteracted by the evil with which it is united-the other is a principle of purity communicated to us, which overmasters and subdues our bad propensities, and vindicates, both in its nature and influence, its divine origin, in that it is a never-ceasing incentive to good works, and is the same “yesterday, to-day, and for ever.”
Oh! that it might now be felt stirring in the bosoms of those who hear me, and moving them to offer some token of their love and
sympathy to their poor fellow-sinners who stand here feebly supplicating their commiseration ! Alas! Age and misery are hard task-masters. Is it because you have not experienced them yourselves, that you can afford no pity to those who are bearing the double burden of poverty and years ? May you, my beloved brethren, be for ever shielded from all adversity. May your prosperity be founded upon a rock, and no affliction come nigh you. But there was, perhaps, a time when the suppliants now before you, as little expected any such reverse--as little apprehended that they should ever have to encounter this bitter hour of anxiety and humiliation. And you cannot, indeed, be ignorant, thật there are daily occurring, in the regions of fashion and of folly, affecting instances of the instability of fortune, (where Providence, by visible judgments, arrests the offender in the career of his iniquity) which, the man who has been seduced by the illusions of prosperity, must not only be destitute of goodness and of grace, but of reason and reflection, not to be startled by, and awakened to a sense of the necessity of seeking, in this most perilous world, for some more secure rock of defence, in this most calamitous world, for some more abiding consolation. leading to the works of mercy, which Providence so frequently finds it necessary to teach by heart-rending and melancholy experience. The poor creatures whom you see before you once had husbands, whose labour sustained them in comfort and independence—but the grave has long since closed
their mortal remains. Children, but they are either absent or no more ;-some of them, perhaps, serving in distant lands ;--some, perhaps, having fallen the victims of war, fighting the battles of their country:
“ All gone ! all vanished! they deprived and bare ; How shall they face the remnant of their age? What will become of them ?” But heaven is gracious. God has raised up friends and protectors, who will be to them instead of the dear and precious relatives who have departed. Upon you, my brethren, devolves the blessed work of thus administering divinest consolation ; of acting, in some measure, as the ambassadors of Providence, and banishing want from the presence of the aged mourner
“ Like silent-working Heaven, surprising oft
The lonely heart with unexpected good.” And in being placed in this pre-eminence, and called upon to perform this service, are you not, indeed, highly favoured ? The same
God who has given you the means, now gives you the opportunity of being merciful. Alas! it is but a little thing which your poor afflicted fellow-creatures, who stand here, require of you. No luxuries--no comfortsnot even fire or shelter—but bread, just to support life-and clothing, just to shield them from the inclemency of winter. Look upon them, and tell me, are you prepared to say, in the presence of your Saviour, that you suffered the burden of poverty to press upon
their aged shoulders, until it brought down their grey hairs with sorrow to the grave ?
But if, witnessing such a case, you could withhold your aid, you would be even more pitiable objects than those whom you left to perish—for death would soon release them from their misery, and, perhaps, make them one with their Saviour. But
But you-you would be cursed with hard hearts-and, as you disobeyed the commands of God, should live in the eye
of his displeasure. Are you prepared for this? Are you prepared to sink into a luxurious indulgence, and shut the ears of your hearts against the cries of the wretched in this their útter extremity, while you yet expect that the Lord will graciously hear you, when you call
upon him for a continuance of those