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less regretted, by the living. They have been expecting their death, and preparing their minds for the event. It gives them but a little shock. They feel very differently, however, when the young are prematurely called out of the world, in the midst of high hopes and promising prospects. They feel both for the dying and for themselves. When the aged are languishing under the decays of nature, instead of pitying we congrat ulate them in the prospect of the speedy termination of all their pains and sorrows. But the prospect of the blasted hopes and expectations of languishing and dying youths, extorts pity from every breast. To leave the world just as they have come upon the stage of life, looks like an awful disappointment to themselves. And it is certainly so to others, who naturally place dependence upon the lives and usefulness of the young. The late instance of mortality in this place is, therefore, in every respect, a very solemn and instructive event to the living. A youth's going to the dead, is like a youth's coming from the dead, to warn the living to prepare for eternity. Whether the deceased was prepared or unprepared, to leave the world, we have no right to decide. This instance of early death admonishes the aged of their obligations of gratitude to God for prolonging their lives in this dying world. They might have been cut down as early in life; and it has been owing to the distinguishing mercy of God that they have been preserved alive, amidst ten thousand dangers and accidents, and allowed so much time and so many opportunities and advantages of doing and getting good, and of preparing for a blessed immortality beyond the grave. God has done much more for them, than he did for the poor youth that has gone the way of all the earth. And he expects that they should be more ripened for a later and more joyful departure out of the world. The death of this youth speaks directly and solemnly to those who are greatly disappointed, and sorely bereaved, by her premature decease. Their minds have been painfully agitated by alternate hopes and fears, while they saw her languishing from month to month, from week to week, and from day to day, till she died. Their expectations are now completely blasted, and what they feared is come upon them. She is taken and they are left; and they are left, to prepare to follow her who will never return to them. Their fiery trial now speaks louder than words, and imperiously calls upon them to be still, and know that the Judge of all the earth has done right. They ought not to forget nor despise the chastening of the Lord; but they ought cheerfully to submit to his corrections, which, though grievous, may eventually afford them just cause of gratitude and praise. The death of youths has often been blest for the eternal benefit
of the living. The mourners, on this occasion, are under peculiar obligation to hear the rod, and him who has appointed it. God has thrown them into the furnace of affliction, which must have its effect, and a lasting effect, whether they are sensible of it or not. But it is to be hoped that the youth most deeply interested and affected, will from this day forward remember his Creator. And what I say to him, I say to all the youth in this place. The last year, God took the aged, and spared the youth; and he is still sparing them. But what has been the consequence of God's long suffering and patience towards you? Has it melted your hearts into gratitude and godly sorrow for the abuse of his mercy? Has it not rather stupified the hearts of all, and seared the consciences of many? Has childhood and youth ever produced more vanity than here, for years past? Have any children and youth, any where, become more stupid, hardened, profane, and obstinate in wickedness, than those who are now before me, and who have often heard my warning voice? How much soever I may have failed in the discharge of my ministerial office for forty-six years, I have not designedly been negligent in warning, admonishing, and reproving children and youth, as occasions have occurred. I have been so uniform and constant in this part of my duty, that both the young and the old have often anticipated reproofs, and taken pains either not to hear them, or resist them. And though they have so often and so long resisted, yet I do not regret the exertions I have made to awaken and convince and convert and restrain the children and youth. But whether I have met with the concurrence of others in my exertions so much as ought to have been afforded, I leave to the serious consideration and reflection of professing parents, and professing christians, and every one who regards the temporal and eternal good of the rising generation. But is there no hope? Most certainly there is. I can remember the time when some of the best christians now before me were vain and thoughtless youth. God arrested them in their career, changed their hearts, compelled them to come in and unite in building up his cause. The present children and youth are not beyond his reach. The voice from the dead and from the living, this day, may do what has not been done for years past. Though there is much ground to despair of veteran sinners, there is still ground to hope that God will raise up from the children and youth a generation to serve hin, when we who are aged are laid in the dust.
EVERY ONE DISPOSED TO THINK HIS AFFLICTIONS PECULIARLY SEVERE.
MAY 12, 1822.
Is IT nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger. LAMENTATIONS, i. 12.
MAN is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward. The penal effects of the first apostacy have fallen upon the children of Adam in every age, and in every part of the world. Sin and sorrow have always been inseparably and universally connected. "In this shape, or in that, has God entailed the mother's throes on all of woman born, not more the children than sure heirs of pain." This sinful, has always been an evil world. As all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, so all have felt, in a greater or less degree, the tokens of the divine displeasure. God has wrung the hearts of millions and millions all over the world, with the keenest anguish and distress, by pains, sicknesses, and every species of afflictions and calamities. He has visited not only individuals with private, but whole kingdoms and nations with public calamities. He afflicted his own peculiar people with heavier calamities than he did any other nation in the world. These national calamities the prophet laments in the chapter which contains the text, though he represents the nation as one individual person. The reason of this was obvious. The national calamity was so great and so universal, that every individual had a large share in it, and every one could say, "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord
hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger." Though every person was ready to acknowledge that the evil he suffered came from the hand of God, yet he was disposed to complain of the weight of his afflictions, which was very unreasonable. Hence we may draw this just conclusion:
That the afflicted are extremely apt to imagine that God afflicts them too severely. I shall,
I. Show that the afflicted are very apt to imagine that God afflicts them too severely. And,
II. Show that they never have any good reason to think so. I. I am to show that the afflicted are very apt to imagine that God afflicts them too severely. There are a vast many minor evils, trials and troubles, which universally fall to the lot of the most happy and prosperous persons in the world, that ought not to be considered as real afflictions or sources of sorrow, and are perfectly consistent with a general state of joy. Accordingly we find the great majority of mankind commonly appear more joyful than sorrowful. It is only here and there, and now and then, that we find ourselves or others bowed down with sorrow and drowned in tears. The common and lower evils of life do not rise high enough to be called calamities, afflictions, or sorrows. But mankind in general, and especially those who have enjoyed long and uninterrupted prosperity, are extremely apt to magnify smaller evils into greater, and actually turn them into serious troubles and trials. There are many degrees and shades of difference in those evils which may be properly called afflictions. But those who suffer lighter troubles are very apt to let their imagination have its free scope, which can easily magnify light afflictions into great and heavy ones. So that mankind commonly afflict themselves more than God afflicts them. If God visits them with light afflictions, they are apt to think that they are much heavier than they are. They are so generally free from pain, that a little pain appears to be great. They are so used to enjoy prosperity, that a little adversity appears to be great. They are so habituated to pursue their designs without interruption, that a little interruption becomes a great and sore evil. They so generally attain the objects they pursue, that a few and small disappointments give them much trouble and afflic
tion. And if they happen to notice the hand of God in their misfortunes, they are apt to think he chastises them too severely. They compare their former prosperity with their present adversity, and the contrast naturally magnifies their adversity in exact proportion to their past prosperity. Those who have been the most prosperous are generally the most impatient under any adversity, and feel it the most sensibly.
There is another way, by which the afflicted are apt to magnify their afflictions. They compare their present afflictions, not only with their past prosperity, but with the afflictions of others; which leads them to imagine that their afflictions are not only great, but singular, and such as nobody else has suffered; at least, to such a great degree. This appears to be the conduct and feeling of him who speaks in the text. "Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow!" He was comparing his afflictions with the afflictions of others, and his imagination led him to conclude that God had chastised him more severely than he ever chastised any other poor miserable object; which greatly swelled the sorrows of his heart. This is not a solitary instance of such imaginary sorrow. Job indulged his imagination to magnify his sorrow, though at first he exercised the most cheerful and unreserved submission. "Job answered and said, Oh that my grief were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together. For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea; therefore my words are swallowed up. For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit; the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me." At many other times Job seems to exert himself to exaggerate and magnify his sorrows and afflictions. David also often run into the same error, and uses the same hyperbolical language in lamenting his great and heavy trials. He says to God, "Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts; all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me." The prophet in his lamentation employs the strongest language to exaggerate the evils God had inflicted upon him. "He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow." The afflicted naturally love to call up all the aggravating circumstances of their afflictions, and make themselves believe, that their sorrows are singular, and greater than have ever been endured by others. And under this impression, they imagine they have a right to call for universal pity and compassion. This seems to have been the opinion and feeling of the prophet. "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger." Job also indulged the same opinion and feeling, and expressed it in the same pathetic language. "Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me." Every heart knows its own bitterness, and every person is partial in his own favor. As every afflicted person values his own happiness more than he ought to value it, so he considers every thing that destroys or dimin