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the one is guided by worldly motives, the other by the solemn declarations of the Holy Scriptures; the one increases sorrow, the other invariably produces happiness; the one common to all intelligent creatures, the other a distinguishing trait in the character of those who are taught of God, and therefore, made “ wise unto salvation." This wisdom which the Lord possessed from everlasting, from the beginning—Prov. viii. 22, 23—and which is represented to be the wisdom of the just, is that which you, my brethren, ought to be most anxious to possess, for without it you cannot know the path of duty in which you ought to walk; nor the motives by which you ought to be influenced in the performance of that duty; nor the multiplied encouragements you have, to face a frowning world, which is ever anxious to strew thorns upon the narrow path that leadeth unto life; nor the blessedness that is to be found in receiving the testimony of Jesus Christ; and in resolving the various trials, changes, and allotments of life, into the will of the sovereign and all-wise disposer of events, whose name is Love.
A wise and understanding heart is a blessing of no ordinary value, but one which excites very little interest in the world; business, senchoke the word and render it unfruitful: by them the minds of men are distracted, led in captivity, and eventually made miserable, so that it becomes indispensably necessary to rouse them from their stupor, to call them in from their wanderings, that they may consider their latter end and prepare to meet God. The preaching of the Gospel is the appointed means for effecting this important object: and we are told in the volume of inspiration, that faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Rom. x. 17. This weapon, so insignificant in the estimation of the world, is mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, 2 Cor. x. 4; and has been found effectual in bringing liberty to the captive, and comfort to the mourning soul; but like every other blessing, it is abused by the depraved, unthankful mind of man; and as he can with perfect unconcern behold the sun which shines upon him every day, and prevents the earth from being a dreary waste: so he can hear with still greater unconcern of the bright rising of the sun of righteousness, who alone is able to chase away mental darkness, and to make the “ desert rejoice and blossom as the rose.” Human events are ordered in a wise subservience to the accomplishment of God's purposes; and they are often employed as means to quicken the diligence of those who have been taught the value of salvation, and to arrest the attention of others who are evidently living without any recollection of their accountableness to Him, who will judge the quick and the dead at the last day. If ever there was a people loudly called upon to learn a lesson from such a source of instruction, we are that people. Judgments and mercies evidently bearing the marks of providential interposition, have been long displayed before our eyes, and a voice seeming to say through them all, “Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end.” Deut. xxxii. 29. :. Men in general, when speaking upon the providential dealings of God, utter sentiments which ill become those who are favoured with a divine revelation: theirs is the language of sullen discontent, or of open
accusation against that infinitely gracious God, who is no respecter of persons; who, with an unsparing hand, showers down the blessings of his providence upon the wicked as well as the righteous, and causeth his sun to shine upon the evil as well as the good. The long suffering of God rarely leads them to repentance, and we are frequently constrained Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is set in them to do evil-Eccles. viii. 11. There is no more general subject of conversation than the seasons of the year--and surely, there is not one which affords a greater proof of the unbelief which exists in the hearts of men: they would sometimes lead us to entertain the opinion, that God had altogether given up the government of the world, which owes its existence to his creative
and at others, that he is unable to overrule events for the furtherance of his own great purposes of love and mercy.
If such persons think that God deals hardly or unjustly with them, when he either withholds his rain altogether, leaving their fields to be parched with thirst, or sends it down in torrents so as to deluge them for a moment; what will be their feelings when they stand before his bar to be judged, and find to their unspeakable sorrow and dismay, that however they might have wrapped themselves up in the cloak of their own righteousness, and whispered peace to their souls, they must now not only give an account of the deeds done in the body, but receive the eternal punishment which is due to them? Severe visitations may doubtless oppress one people, while they are withheld from another;