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bereaved of a promising child, in whom all his hopes and expectations centered, -or a wife were left deftitute to mourn the loss and protection of a kind and tender husband, Seneca ou Epictetus would tell the pensive parent and disconfolate widow-that tears and lamentation for the dead were fruitless and absurd; that to die was the neceffary and unavoidable debt of nature ;-and as it could admit of no remedy,—'twas impious and foolith to grieve and fret themselves upon it.
Upon such sage counsel, as well as many other les. fons of the same stamp, the fame reflection might be applied, which is said to have been made by one of the Roman emperors, to one who administered the same confolations to him, on a like occafion-to whom, advising him to be comforted, and make himself easy, since the event had been brought about by a fatality, and could not be helped, - he replied, " That this was so far from leffening his trouble, that it was the very circumstance which occafioned it."
So that upon the whole-- when the true value of these, and niany more of their current arguments, have been weighed and brought to the test,--one is led to doubt, whether the greatest part of their heroes, the most renowned for constancy, were not much more indebted to good nerves and spirits, or the natural happy frame of their tempers, for behaving well, than to any extraordinary helps, which they could be fupposed to receive from their instructors. And there. fore I fould make no scruple to assert, that one such
instance of patience and resignation as this, which the Scripture gives us in the person of Job, not of one moit pompoully declaiming upon the contempt of pain and poverty, but of a man sunk in the lowest condition of humanity, to behold him when Itripped of his estate, his wealth, his friends, his children--cheerfully holding up his head, and entertaining his hard fortune with firmness and serenity ;-—and this, not from a stoical ttu. pidity, brit a just sense of God's providence, and a-persuasion of his justice and goodness in all his dealingssuch an example, I say, as this, is of more universal use, speaks truer to the heart, than all the heroic precepts, which the pedantry of philosophy has to offer.
THE CASE OF ELIJAH AND THE WIDOW.
OF ZAREPHATH CONSIDERED.
I KINGS, XVII. 16.
of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord which he
HE words of the text are the record of a mi
racle wrought in behalf of the widow of Zarephath, who had charitably taken Elijah under her:
roof, and administered unto him in a time of great scarcity and distress. There is something very interest . ing and affectionate in the manner this story is related in holy writ : and as it concludes with a second still more remarkable proof of God's favour to the same person, in the restoration of her dead son to life, one cannot but consider both miracles as rewards of that act of piety, wrought by infinite power, and left upon record in Scripture, not merely as testimonies of the prophet's divine miflion, but likewise as two encouraging instances of God Almighty's blessing upon works of charity and benevolence.
In this view I have made choice of this piece of facred history, which I shall beg leave to make use of as the ground-work for an exortation to charity in general: -and that it may better answer the particular purpose of this folemnity, I will endeavour to enlarge upon it with such reflections, as, I trust in God, will excite fome sentiments of compassion which may be profitable to so pious a design.
Elijah had fled from two dreadful evils, the approach of a famine, and the perfecution of Ahab, an enraged enemy: and, in obedience to the command of God, had hid himself by the brook of Cherith, that is be. fore Jordan. In this fafe and peaceful solitude, blessed with daily marks of God's providence, the holy man dwelt free from both the cares and glories of the world: by a miraculous impulse the ravens brought bim bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flejh in the even: ing, and be drank of the brook; till by continuance of
drought (the windows of heaven being shut up in those days for three years and six months, which was the natural cause likewise of the famine) it came to pass after a while that the brook, the great fountain of his support, dried up; and he is again directed by the word of the Lord where to betake himself for shelter. He is commanded to arise and go to Zarephath, which be. longed to Zidon, with an assurance that he had difpof ed the heart of a widow woman there to sustain him.
The prophet follows the call of God: the same hand which brought him to the gate of the city, hadded also the poor widow out of her doors, oppressed with forrow. She had come forth upon a melancholy rand, to make preparation to eat her last meal, and phare is with her child.
No doubt she had long fenced against this tragical., event with all the thrifty management which self-prefervation and parental love could inspire; full, no doubt, of cares aud many tender apprehensions best the slender 1tock fiould fail them before the return of plenty.
But as she was a widow, having loit the only faith. ful friend, who would best have assisted her in her vir. tuous struggle, the present' nece lity of the times ac length overcame her; and she was just falling down an eafy prey to it, when Elijah came to the place where she was. And be called unto her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a veljél, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, be called unto her, and said
Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine band. And She said, as the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake but a bandful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a crufe: and behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my fon, that we may eat it and die. And Elijab faid unto her, Fear not, but
and do as thou haft faid; but make me thereof a little cake forf, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and thy for, For tbus faith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal Shall not wafle, neither shall the crufe of oil fail, until the day that the Lord send rain upon the earth. :
True charity is always uirwilling to find excuses elfe here was a fair opportunity of pleading many: the might have insisted over again upon her situation, which necessarily tied up her hands-fhe might have urged the unreasonableness of the request;-that the was reduced to the lowest extremity already—and that it was contrary to justice and the first law of nature, to rob herself and child of their last morsel, and give it to a stranger.
But in generous spirits, compassion is sometimes more than a balance for self-preservation. For, as God certainly interwove that friendly foftness in our nature to be a check upon too great a propensity towards selflove-so it feemed to operate here. For it is observable, that though the prophet backed his request with the promise of an immediate recompence in multiply. ing her stock; yet it is not evident, she was influenced at all by that temptation. For if she had, doubtless it