« PreviousContinue »
thoughtlessness are formed under the immediate pressure of distress and in the prospect of approaching dissolution, appear at the best in a questionable shape, and when put to the trial are commonly found to be delusive. In truth the season of health and vigour is that which is due to the service of God: we are to serve him then, when
strong in the Lord and in the power of his might,” we can endure and resist temptation :-then, when we
“ eschew evil,” not because we have lost the inclination or the power of sinning, but because he commandeth us: then, when our love of virtue can be shown not by ineffectual wishes, but by active and strenuous exertions in doing good :then, when we can offer him the full strength and glory of the harvest, not the wretched "
gleaning of the grapes after the vintage is done P.” As this is the way wherein we ought to serve him; so this is the only way, wherein we can be assured, that we serve him agreeably to his will. “ It is good indeed to be afflicted,” where
p Isaiah xxiv. 13.
Afiction leads us to the knowledge and practice of God's commandments; and they are happy, who are awakened by suffering from their former dream of carelessness or iniquity, and conducted to a sincere and permanent repentance. But happier still are they; more abundant is their recompense, and brighter will be their crown of glory; who having diligently 6 walked before the Lord in the land of the living," have been at length “ made perfect by suffering :" and thus trusting in the merits, and strengthened by the Spirit, of Christ, have both lived the life, and “ died the death, of the righteous.”
THE DEATH OF THE RIGHTEOUS.
NUMBERS xxiii. 10.
last end be like his.
“Of the righteous ;” that is, of the faithful worshipper of the true God, for such appears to be the signification of the word derived from an attention to the context. Balaam, a Prophet inspired by the Most High, was summoned by Balak the powerful Prince of the idolatrous Moabites, to 'denounce vengeance upon Israel, the chosen people of the Almighty. His inclination coincided with that of the Moab. itish Prince. But a more potent and an irresistible force overruled his depraved
will; and instead of curses upon
people of God, drew from him the blessings contained in the 23d and 24th chapters of Numbers ; and especially in that sublime apostrophe, which occurs at the opening of the 23d chapter, and which terminates with the words of the text : an apostrophe, undoubtedly designed to impress the idolatrous Balak with a sense of the real misery, notwithstanding the apparent prosperity, of those, who depart from the living God; and of the present peace of mind and ultimate happiness of those, who are faithfully devoted to his service.
That, which Balaam affirms in a special sense concerning the enviable condition of the Israelites, as contrasted with that of their idolatrous neighbours, is generally and at all times true with respect to such as are devoted to the service of God, when compared with the unbelievers and the disobedient, Death, the common and inevitable end of all men, appears with a very different aspect to men of different descriptions. To some it is an object of apprehension and terror ; by others it is contemplated