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pression upon the human mind, than the deaths of the young, or of the old. He knows how painful and distressing it will be to the dying, to have all their earthly desires and hopes destroyed; and he knows how distressing it will be to the living, to have those taken away on whom they had placed peculiar hopes and dependence. But he may see it best to disappoint all such mutual hopes and expectations, to teach them and others the vanity of the world, the uncertainty of life, and the infinite importance of being habitually and practically ready to go the way of all the earth.

of all the earth. Those who die in the midst of their days, and in their full strength and activity, commonly die suddenly and unexpectedly to themselves and others, which is a most alarming circumstance of their death. It speaks to the young and to the old, but especially to those who are in the midst of life, health, strength, activity, prosperity and promising prospects, and bids them to be ready also. They have no excuse for applying the voice of providence, in such instances, to any but themselves. Their views and feelings, and circumstances in life, tell them that they are the very persons to whom God is speaking, and giving a solemn admonition of their frailty and mortality, and of their duty to prepare for their dying hour. He knows how much they need such admonitions, and how difficult it will be to resist the impressions he designs to make upon their minds. Though they may have disregarded the voice of his word, they may regard the voice of his providence, which directly warns them of their danger and duty. And how often have such admonitions of providence proved the means of the saving good of the living!

5. If those in the midst of their days are the most unwilling to die, then those in this stage of life, in this place, are in a very dangerous situation. If we look round upon those who are between thirty and fifty years of age, how few can we find that have made their peace with God, and begun to live to his glory! How few are either habitually or practically prepared to leave the world! How many are entirely absorbed in the cares and concerns of the world, and are too busy to think, to read, to hear, to meditate, or pray! They are standing all the day idle, and refusing to enter into the vineyard of Christ. They neither worship God in secret, nor in private, nor in public. "They neither serve God, nor their generation according to the will of God, but serve themselves supremely and entirely; and throw their whole weight and influence to obstruct the cause of God, their own good, and the good of their fellow men. And is it safe to stand, and live, and act in such a manner, while God has need of you, and calls you into his service? Are you willing to live in this manner; are you VOL. III.

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willing to die in this manner? What account can you give of your time, your talents, and the religious advantages God has given you? Though your Lord has gone to heaven, he will soon, and perhaps suddenly and unexpectedly, call you to an account. Your feet stand on slippery places; and it is as much as your precious souls are worth, to wait for a more convenient season; it may never come; and if it does not, you are lost for ever.

Finally, this subject, and the late instance of mortality in this place, call aloud upon those in the midst of their days to prepare to follow one of their own age into that vast eternity whither he has gone, and never to return. He lived stupid, thoughtless, and secure in sin, until he was brought to the very sight of death. He was carried away with the vanity of the world, and the pleasing prospects of living, and abused the calls, the mercies, and patience of God, which gave him pain, self-condemnation and remorse. He was constrained to say, “ The world, the world has ruined me." He was brought to

give up all his vain hopes and expectations from the world, and to feel the duty and importance of choosing the one thing

needful. But whether he did ever heartily renounce the world and choose God for his supreme portion, cannot be known in this world. In his own view, he did become reconciled to God, and derived peace and hope from his supposed reconciliation. But it is more than possible, that like others on a sick bed, he built his hopes upon a sandy foundation. Let his case, however, be what it may, he is dead, and called away from his relatives and friends, just as he entered the meridian of life. His death, therefore, speaks with an emphasis to parents, brothers and sisters, and especially to those of his own age, to be wiser and better than he was, and not delay seeking and serving God to a dying hour. It is not I, but my son, who now preaches to you, whose voice once sounded pleasant in your ears. Be pleased, therefore, to hear his voice from the dead; and prepare to follow him to heaven, if he has been permitted to enter there.

SERMON X X X VI.

THE WORD OF GOD TAUGHT BY HIS PROVIDENCE.

APRIL 15, 1821.

BLESSED is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy

law. Psalm xciv. 12,

Though this world is designed to be a moral school, and is adapted to teach mankind the most necessary knowledge, yet they are naturally dull of apprehension, and averse to receiving divine instruction. But, happy for them, God is able to employ effectual means to lead them to the saving knowledge of the truth. This the Psalmist plainly asserts in the words I have read. “ Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law." The spirit of the text may be comprised in this general observation. Those are happy whom God chastises in order to teach them out of his word. I shall,

I. Consider why God chastises men in order to teach them out of his word.

II. Consider how he employs chastisement to teach them out of his word. And,

III. Show that his instruction makes them happy.

I. Let us consider why God chastises men in order to teach them out of his word. He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. It is only if need be, that he ever afflicts or grieves them. If he could as well give them all necessary instruction, without chastising them, he would always do it. But they are all naturally unwilling to be instructed in his word.

They say unto him, depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways." The general reason, therefore, why he chastises them in order to teach them out of his word, is, because they disregard milder modes of teaching. They will not receive instruction from his works, which are suited to give them the most important instruction. “ The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge." But the Psalmist says in the context, that mankind are too stupid to read the character of their Creator in his works of creation. “ Understand ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity." It follows, “ Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law.” If men would regard the still small voice of God in his works, and read his character therein displayed, they would fly to his word for light and instruction, without needing or feeling his chastising hand.

But they will not open their eyes to see him, nor their ears to hear him, until they are constrained to do it by the rod of correction.

Nor will they receive divine instruction from the favors God bestows upon them. He often complains of his people of old, for refusing instruction under the smiles of his providence. “ The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” “I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This has been thy manner from thy youth.” The goodness of God is full of instruction, but there is nothing in him, which men are more prone to despise and disregard. The blessings which are constantly flowing from his kind and beneficent hand, and which are calculated to affect grateful and benevolent hearts, naturally serve to stupify the unholy and unthankful. They will not regard this mild mode of instruction.

Nor will men generally regard the messages of God, which he sends by the mouth of his servants. Pharaoh would not regard his messages by the hand of Moses. Manasseh would not regard his messages by the hand of his prophets. The Jews would not regard his messages delivered by Christ. And the world would not regard his messages by his inspired apostles. The same spirit has ever since reigned in the hearts of those in prosperity. Their attention and affections are too much fixed on other objects, to regard his word. This is the plain reason why God so often chastises men in order to instruct them in the knowledge of divine truth. When they will not be instructed by gentler methods, he sees it proper and necessary to throw them into darkness and distress, and in that way prepare them to hearken to divine instruction. He

expressly tells us that he takes this method to answer this purpose. He expressly says by Jeremiah concerning his people:

They refuse to know me, saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts : Behold I will melt them and try them.” Again he says by Hosea, “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face : in their affliction they will seek me early.” This, David acknowledges was the effect which divine chastisements had upon the Israelites in the wilderness. “ When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and inquired early after God.” God chastised Manasseh so severely because he would not be taught by milder means. “ And the Lord spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. Wherefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him: and he was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God.” Job gives the same reason why God chastises men in order to instruct them. “For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction." And again he says of incorrigible kings on the throne, " If they be bound in fetters, and be holden in cords of affliction, then he showeth them their work, and openeth also their ear to discipline.” God generally uses a great many gentle means with mankind before he chastises them with the rod of his wrath. But when all milder means fail of producing the desired effect, then he is under a moral necessity of chastising them for their good. He knows that if the inhabitants of the earth will not be instructed by his works, or by his mercies, they may be brought to learn righteousness by his judgments. I now proceed to consider,

II. How God employs chastisements to teach men out of his word.

The Psalmist plainly intimates that God makes use of afflictions as means of instructing men in the knowledge of divine truth. “ Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord,' and teachest him out of thy law.” By law here we are to understand not only the moral and ceremonial law, but the scriptures in general, or the whole word of God. The word law, through the whole book of Psalms, is used in this large and comprehensive sense. The law means the statutes, the

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