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bour's good name. He takes not up an ill report, nor does he give countenance to the base assassin of character. He is the faithful busband, the tender parent, the humane master, if God have placed him in those relations ; the benevolent and obliging neighbour ; the honest and useful citizen. United to the great original of goodness and love, by the holy dispositions he has received from on bigh; his heart warmed and expanded by the benign principles of love to God, he embraces, as his brethren, the whole human race. In him the stranger finds a friend ; the widow, a husband ; and the orphan, a father. He wipes the tear from the cheek of misery ; sheds light, and joy through the mansion of poverty, and lights up a smile on the bed of pain. Having known, by experience, the truth and importance of the things of God, he is faithful to the eternal interests of men. While he relieves the temporal wants of the sinner, he administers also to the maladies of his soul. Now he remonstrates with the wicked man, while he tells him of the terrors of the Lord and now he holds up the trembling penitent, while he tells hiin of the love of Jesus, and by pointing him to the blood of the covenant, assuages the sorrows of his bleeding heart. Having himself beheld, in the lively oracles, the light of salvation, and experienced the virtue of the streams which flowed from the cross, he anxiously endeavours to send this revelation from God, to those who are perishing “ for lack of vision.” This is the character described in the text; devoted to God, and faithful to man; bearing the glory of Jesus, and reflecting, in some degree, the lustre of the moral attributes of God. This is the man who sheds light, and diffuses blessings, upon all around him. While ad
mitted to Dearness and communion with God, he is an honor and a blessing to the land in which he lives. That the removal of such characters, by the stroke of death, is, both to the church, and to the world, a sore calamity, is a proposition evidently founded on the text. This brings us to the second general division of our subject, which requires us,
II. To establish the principle, assumed by the Psalmist, that the removal, by death, of men eminent for their piety and usefulness, is, to the living, a sore calamity. “Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.”
That the removal from our world, of such excellent characters is a sore calamity, will appear evident if we reflect, for a moment, upon the vast chasm which their death has occasioned in society. Men of such distinguished virtues fill up a large space. They are stars of superior magnitude. The lustre which they shed around them enlightens, cheers, and animates extensive regions. Under their benign influence, in a restricted sense, the deserts rejoice, and the solitary places are glad. But when stricken from their orbs, in an evil hour, by the resistless hand of death, what darkness ensues ! How cheerless appear those regions, which before were flourishing as the garden of God! But a little while ago, benignant beams were seen to glitter on the gloons, which had settled in the chamber of afffic. tion and death ; but these beams are seen no more! A light was discovered in the mansion of sorrow, where “ Poverty kept the door;" but this light has gone out! “ The wintry blast, howls through the habitation," while deeper glooms, unpierced by a single ray, have thickened upon the deserted sufferer! Of what im
mense importance to the comfort and well being of society, is the life of godly and faithful men! They are blessings to the world; but the extent of the blessing is seldom known till they are dead. How many are looking up to them for counsel, in the hour of perplexiity ; for consolation, in the day of adversity ; for succour, in time of distress ; for their prayers, in the tempestuous night of divine visitation !! But now, that they are gone, how many faces must gather paleness ! how many hearts burst with anguish ! how many chords are snapt asunder! what breaches are made in the happiness of all !
2. The removal, hy death, of men eminent for pięty and usefulness, is, to tbe living, a sore calamity, because the sum of virtue, with all the blessings which flow from that fruitful source, is therevy diminished. The real bappiness of society will always bear a just proportion to the solid virtue which is found in it; and on the other hand, in the same proportion that vice triumpbs, will the bappiness, and glory of a people languish. Vice will always be kept down in proportion to the weight of virtue opposed to it. Whatever, therefore, diminishes the sum of virtue, gives a proportional spring to vice, with all the miseries which flow from it. In this sense it may be said that the death of every good wan, however obscure, is a calamity to the living, because the sum of virtue, and consequently the sum of happiness, is thereby diminished. But when men of pre-eminent virtue and piety are taken away, low great is the deduction ! how extensive lise calamity !
3. The removal of men eminent for their piety and usefulness,, is a sore affliction, because of the too prob
able evidence, which it furnishes, of the divine displeasure ; of the Lord's controversy with a sinful land ; of the kindlings of his wrath, and of impending judgment. In this light does the prophet Isaiah seem to have viewed the removal of the righteous, in his day. “The righteous perisheth, says he, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, nobe considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.' It was well said, in allusion to this declaration of the prophet, by a holy man, now with God; “ Doves ily home to their windows at the coming storm.” “When ambassadors are called home, it becomes the nation where they were, to reflect whether a rupture is not likely to ensue.” Not for the purposes of their own salvation merely, are the godly and the faithful contin. ued on earth. By their instrumentality does God call a guilty nation to repentance. By thein does he warn, admonish, and intreat. By them does he negotiate the treaty of peace, with these revolted colonies of his vast dominions. This is more especially applicable to those who have been commissioned as heralds of salvation, to a guilty world. To them has been committed the ministry of reconciliation. They have been constituted ambassadors of the King of kings. They have been authorized to state the conditions of pardon, and to offer eternal life to the penitent. Cloibed with divine authority; "shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;" “ having taken for an helmet the hope of salvation;" fired with zeal for the honor of their Prince, they seize the standard of the cross; they wave the banners of their king, streaming with the blood of the covenant; they ascend the watch tower, they leap upon the walls of Zion ; they cry in the streets of Jeru
salem, “Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.” “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near.” Panting for the consolation of Israel, fearing lest the blood of souls be found upon them, they “ lift up their voice like a truinpet;" they “ cry aloud, and spare not;" “ they shout, they thunder, they shoot the arrows of the Almighty ;" while “ with strong crying and tears," they beseech the Lord to crown their labours with success. Constrained by the love of Jesus, they melt into tenderness ; they point the impenitent to the agonies of the garden, and the streams of the cross. By all the arguments which the mysteries of redemption furnish, they urge sinners to be reconciled to God.” Ah, these are halcyon days ! precious seasons ! The mountains are dropping fatness, and the little bills are rejoicing ! Now the Lord may be found, and salvation secured. Now he waits, with much long suffering, while these, his servants, are going forward with their work. But if these days of grace be neglected ; if these ministers of mercy be disregarded ; if the articles of the treaty, which they are sent to negotiate, be rejected, and the insulted sovereign recall his ambassadors, does it not geem as if the breaking forth of judgment was near at hand? Thus it was in the days of Noah. One hun- . dred and twenty years did God wait upon the antediJuvian sinners, while his ambassador was continued with them; but they refused to repent; they spurned his messenger, and despised his grace. He recalled his ambassador, and “ lifted the flood-gates of vengeance !" Thus was it also in the days of Lot. The iniquities of Sodom, and the cities of the plain, had come to the full. They had despised the Lord's messenger, and misused