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wheat, would be deemed a fool. But are we not equally foolish? What are the principles we imbibe, the dispositions we cultivate, the pursuits in which we are engaged, that we are concluding they will issue in glory, honour and immortality? Is there any relation between these? Do not the steps of the road we travel take hold on hell?— Misery is not only the reward of our works, but the very tendency of our sin. Hear this, ye covetous and unfeeling. Your hard heartedness is not punishable by any human tribunal-but see your crime meeting you at the bar of God; "He shall have judgment without mercy, that showed no mercy." Think of this, ye despisers of the gospel-he now addresses you in vain: Because I have called, and ye refused: I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof." And hereafter you shall address him in vain: "I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you: then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find
Finally. I see in this scripture the hand of God acknowledged, while men only are employedGOD hath requited me. But who saw any thing of him? Were they not the sons of Judah and of Simeon that cut off his thumbs and his great toes? It was.
But "Is there evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it? I form the light and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. I,
the Lord, do all these things." War is as much a judgment from God as famine, or pestilence.And not only are lawful princes and magistrates the ministers of God, but he makes use of robbers and tyrants; as it is written: "Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together."
But admitting this to be true-how came Adoni-bezek, a very wicked man-a heathen-how came he to acknowledge it? The case is this:"The Gentiles who have not a written law," says the apostle, "are a law unto themselves; their thoughts also in the mean time accusing or else excusing one another." There is a conscience in every man; the principle belongs to human nature; and no wickedness is able completely to banish it. And calamity has always been observed to have a powerful effect to enliven it. So that the man who in the day of prosperity and ease banished reflection, never thought of God, or if he did, considered himself perhaps as the favourite of heaven, because he was so much indulged on earth-is now abstracted; impressed; softened: he is left alone with his conscience: this tells him of his desert, and awakens all his fears. Hence sickness, accidents, and death, are dreadful they stir up the apprehension of deity. He suspects more in the storm than thunder and lightning-God is there. The shaking of a leaf seems to say, what is this that thou hast done?
A good man perceives the hand of God in all events, and he wishes to see it. The Lord, says Job, gave, and the Lord hath taken away. What! shall we receive good at the Lord's hand, and shall we not receive evil?—this calmed him. And
this discovery of God, is the Christian's relief and comfort in affliction-because he knows that God is his father and friend, and will not, cannot injure him. But it is otherwise with the sinner. His apprehension of God is forced upon him: he would gladly get rid of the conviction: it is all terror and dismay to him-for he knows that God is his adversary, and he may now be coming to lay hold of him-he knows that he has a long account to give, and this may be the time of reckoning. Hence, the bitterness of affliction: it is regarded, not only as a trial, but as a punishment. The sinner's distress seems to be the effect of chance, but he feels it to be the consequence of design. He discerns in it the injustice of men, and yet is compelled to confess, that it is the righteous judgment of God. And thus, by the medium of his penal consciousness, God maintains his moral empire in the world, without deviating from the usual course of events, or breaking in upon the stated laws of nature. He works no miracle, yet his agency is believed. He does not render himself visible, yet his presence is felt and acknowledged; and common calamities are made to operate like positive tokens of divine displeasure.
Though the subject has been very instructive and practical, I wish to add two exhortations:
First. Abhor cruelty. It is equally disgraceful to religion and humanity. It renders you unpitied of God and man. I hope none of you would be so dreadfully savage as this monster, to torture and mangle your fellow creatures, if you had it in your power. But let me speak a word for the poor brutes, who cannot speak for themselves, though unhappily they have the power of
feeling. My dear little friends! never torment animals. Never sport with the misery of insects. Never cut off their legs or wings. God's tender mercies are over all his works. He hears the young ravens that cry. Be followers of God as dear children.
And if we speak of the brute, what are we to say of the soul? Adoni-bezek was merciful compared with those who endeavour to draw others into sin. This is not only to injure the body, but to cast the soul into hell: and what is any present suffering, compared with endless misery?
Secondly. Profit by examples. If they were not particularly adapted to do us good-the word of God would not be so full of them. Never read them carelessly. Lodge them in your memory. Often reflect upon them.
And make use of the dreadful as well as the pleasing. It is necessary that sin should be made to be hateful: It is necessary that we should be awakened to flee from the wrath to come.
And do not suppose that such a character as Adoni-bezek is alone exposed to danger-"Except YE repent, YE shall ALL likewise perish." For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God: and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences."
THE CHEERFUL PILGRIM.
Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.-Ps. cxix. 54.
How different are the views and feelings of men in the review of life? How dismal and terrifying is it to look back on years, barren of good and filled with crime; to look back upon time wasted, opportunities misimproved, faculties perverted, mercies abused, character destroyed, and a long train of evils ready in succession to fall upon us; to look back and find nothing from which the mind can derive a future hope, or acknowledge a past satisfaction.
But it is pleasing and edifying to look back-I will not say upon a well-spent life-but upon those years in which we have known God, or rather have been known of him; in which we have loved and endeavoured to serve him; in which we have enjoyed something of his presence and his smiles. It is delightful to call to remembrance, places and seasons made sacred by communion with him; and to think over the advantages and pleasures we have derived from his ordinances, and-from his blessed word.
David does this. "Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage."
Hence we observe three things. I. A good man views his residence in this world as only the house of his pilgrimage. II. The situation, how