« הקודםהמשך »
only admit, but feel, that while he executes judgment "he remembers mercy.” Suppose, however, he does sometimes bow our necks to the dust with the weight of his Almighty arm,does he leave no blessing behind ? Does he exhaust his power of chastisement upon us ? Are we not still objects of his providence, of his mercy, of his love ? Suppose we are called
upon to endure the privation of those who are dearest to us, might not the privation have been more heavy? Should we be deprived of an object endeared to us by the strongest natural ties, in the prime of youth and of hope, undepraved, and full of excellent promise,-might he not have lived to make that promise void, and us much more miserable than we can be even in his loss? Might not disease have visited him, and rendered him a burthen to himself and to those around him ? Might not idiotcy or madness have enforced a still more painful separation ? Might not temptation have withdrawn him from our society into that which would have corrupted his body, perverted his spirit, and prepared him for a doom hereafter which it is appalling to contemplate ? Ought we then to give way to a morbid sorrow, when we consider that by his removal to a better world he may have escaped all these miseries, and that he has perhaps already become a companion of angels in the Paradise of God ? Should we grieve at his hap
piness? Could we wish, in the selfishness of our grief, to recal him from a state of perfect fruition to one of contingency and care? Would we desire his return from heaven to earth, and hear him upbraid us with the cruelty of having withdrawn him from bliss to trouble ? No, no! this were indeed a criminal selfishness. God is wise, and knoweth all things, and if worse evils would have befallen those whom he is pleased to take unto himself, had they remained among us, surely his mercy is greater in taking than in leaving them ; our grief, therefore, when carried to excess, is an offence to him. Our tears, indeed, are not ungrateful to him, because they are the overflowings of our natural and kindly emotions, but the moment they exceed all reasonable bounds they rise up as false witnesses against the Divine mercy.
Do we not often see persons labouring under far worse afflictions than have ever been allotted to us, who nevertheless “ bear them patiently,” not grieving “as men without hope ?” And what is supportable to one is equally supportable to another. If God tries us, it is our duty to submit. It is our duty to bend our necks to the yoke of sorrow, when he determines that we should bear it, and if by that punitive discipline he exercises his paternity towards us, “ dealing with us as with sons,” should this be no alleviation to the suffering which that chastening may oc
casion ? Let us only look back upon our past lives, and examine whether his blessings or his inflictions have superabounded. If we find that the former have greatly prevailed, is there not sufficient reason for falling upon our knees before him, and pouring out our souls in thankfulness that his mercy so much“ rejoiceth against judgment ?" As God is constantly bestowing his blessings, can we have any reasonable plea for repining if he withdraws as well as bestows ? If he chastens us as a necessary act of his Providence, is not absolute resignation to his will the only proper feeling of creatures erring, dependent and infinitely weak towards one who is perfect, independent, and infinitely mighty? Has he not a right to visit us with his judgments, and if we “grieve with overmuch sorrow,” this is virtually to question the equity of his punishment, and therefore to be guilty of an incipient act of passive rebellion. Besides, when we repine at the loss of those who are dear to us, there is much of different passions mixed up with our grief. It is not the abstract loss that grieves us so much as the worldly association which it snaps asunder. But these are feelings which God cannot recognise ; it is therefore a religious duty, as well as a social obligation, to subdue them; and our best relief against the heaviest afflictions will be the assurance that whenever God smites he smites in mercy.
Let us also never fail to bear in mind, that if we suffer but few trials here, and thence conclude that there can be no punishment in store for us hereafter ;-if we allow an uninterrupted course of worldly enjoyments to exclude from our minds that momentous period when, arraigned at the bar of heaven, an account must be delivered in of all that we have done in the flesh, how shall we be prepared to meet that solemn hour when the partition wall between time and eternity shall be broken down ; when the warning voice of death shall, as it were, realise to our fading senses all the terrors of a future world, and convulse our souls with the dark presage of the doom that may perhaps await them? The best among
those renowned men whose actions the sacred writers of the New Testament have recorded, were, with scarcely an exception, all distinguished, for their afflictions as well as for their virtues. “ Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus,” they made him their example of suffering patiently under every trial, and have left us, their spiritual descendants, patterns of conduct which, if we, and especially under affliction, uniformly imitate, we shall not lose our reward. The less we endure here the more highly will the vast majority among us be disposed to value the things of this vain world. In proportion as we set our affec
tions on these, heavenly things will lose their importance in our minds; and when once we begin to estimate them below their value we play a desperate game, and expose ourselves to the frightful risk of reverting to the gloomy condition of outcasts from the blessed family of heaven. We
indeed be surrounded by the pomps and vanities” of this life ; pleasures may be “in our right hand, and in our left hand riches and honour," still if the grace of God be withheld from us here we can have no portion in his glory hereafter. Be it our aim then to do the Lord's service, always “humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God that he may exalt us in due time. And may the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him, together with the Son and Holy Ghost, be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
This sermon was preached in consequence of the melancholy death of the only son of Joshua Bates, Esq., of 30, Portland Place, Mr. William Rufus Gray Bates, who was accidently shot by a friend.