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tions, and felt more in ourselves; there we shall fee in them nothing to offend us, and fhall fhew nothing to offend them. The connexion here was intimate; but the beft part of it was that which arofe from fimilarity of tempers and affections. The friendship of heaven will be wholly of this facred kind; it will therefore be perfect, uninterrupted and permanent.
5. The death of a friend urges upon us religion in all its various duties; for it folemnly teaches us the neceffity of religion to our comfort in life, hope in death, and happiness in eternity.
If fuch an affliction have its proper influence, we fhall commune with God in our clofets, wor. ship him in our families, converfe daily with his word, educate our children in his fervice, honor his name before men, compaffionate the afflicted, contribute in our places to advance the intereft of the gospel, and affift our fellow mortals in their preparation for death and the future world.
Thus we fhould endeavor to make our own affliction a benefit to thofe around us. Then may we hope, it will do them good, when we make it manifeft, that it has done good to us.
UI. This introduces our third observation, That any affliction, which befalls men, especially the death of the head of a family, calls for the attention of all around, as well as of the immediate fufferers.
The death of the prophet's wife was appointed, in providence, to be a fign to the people in gener. al, as well as an admonition to him. They were commanded to do the fame things, which were required of him. The event was a warning to them of impending calamities; the prophet's be haviour was a pattern to them of their duty under thofe calamities.
When we see a neighbor deprived of the defire of his eyes by a stroke, and left with the care of a family, who needed her nurturing and guiding hand, we feel a tender compaffion for him and them; we give him fome condoling words; we with him divine confolation and direction; we hope he will be wife. We obferve his fubfequent behaviour, to judge whether he derives any religious advantage from his painful affliction. If we fee him grave, ferious and heavenly-minded, we rejoice in his wife improvement of the folemn admonition. But if we fhould fee him quite the reverfe, we should cenfure his inattention to the voice of God, and fhould wonder, that he could fo foon forget fo loud a warning-fo foon forget his firft feelings and refolutions.
But let us remember, that our afflicted neighbor is a fign to us; that the voice, which speaks to him, speaks to us; that the ferious attention, which becomes him, becomes us; that the improvement, which ought to be made of the affliction by him, ought to be made by us; that we have no more right, than he, to disregard fuch a warning. The fame view of the vanity of the world and of the uncertainty of life; the fame piety and prayerfulness; the fame self-examination and ferioufnefs; the fame diligence in preparing for death, cultivating religion in the heart and promoting it in fociety; the fame prudence and fidelity in family education, which we would recommend to him, or which we expect from him, are, by the fame providence, urged upon us all. In his cafe, we fee that our friends are mortal, our connexions uncertain, our families appointed to change. The time is at hand, with respect to us all, when a cloud will be spread over our houses by the hand of death; when some will
mourn the loss of those, who go before them, and when these who are left, will follow those who are gone. In refpect of mortality, there is nothing peculiar to one family or another. Every change, which we fee, is an admonition to us all. And if thoughtlessness would be criminal in the family, in which a change took place the last week, it is alfo criminal in the families, in which a fimilar change may take place this week.
As a common expreffion of condolence to the afflicted, we say, "We with their affliction may be fanctified to them." But we ought to make the fame use of it ourfelves, which our benevolence wishes them to make. We pray for them, that they may be guided in the path of duty. If our prayer be fincere, we fhall walk in the fame path, in which, we think, they ought to walk. Can we really pray, that they should walk in it, when we turn from it? Our very prayers for the afflicted at a funeral, and in the house of God, reprove our neglect of religion, and our inattention to the daily warnings of providence. The cenfures, which we bestow on fome, who make light of their own afflictions, fall back on ourselves, when the fame afflictions are unimproved by us.
We live in a mortal world; we often fee changes and deaths; the providence of God, in various ways, is renewing and repeating its admonitions, fome of which are more painful than others; but all equally plain and intelligible. Let us hear and obey the exhortation, which speaks to us, "What your hands find to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor wisdom, mor device in the grave, to which you are going."
The Univerfal Obligation of Religion.
II. KINGS xvii. 40, 41.
Howbeit, they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner. So these nations feared the Lord and ferved their graven images, both their children, and their children's children: as did their fathers, fo did they unto this day.
AFTER the king of Affyria had conquer.
ed the kingdom of Ifrael, and had carried away captive the greater part of the inhabitants, he repeopled the country by colonies fent from his own empire. These new inhabitants were idolaters. They worshipped their own deities, who, they imagined, had given them the country, and against whom, they fuppofed, Jehovah, the God of the land, had not power to defend it. As the country, after they were fettled in it, was much infefted with lions, they began to conceive more exalted thoughts of the God of Ifrael. They apprehended, that he might have fome power in the country over which he prefided, and that, to keep at good terms with him, it might be beft to obferve the particular ceremonies which he was pleafed with, but which, at prefent, they did not un
derstand. They therefore sent to the king of Affyria an account of the trouble they met with, and of the probable cause of it. They faid, "The nations which thou haft removed and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land; therefore he hath fent lions among them; and behold they flay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land." They imagined Jehovah to be a divinity of the fame kind with their own, a local God, who prefided only in a particular country, and who must be honored with certain peculiar rites, in which they had not been inftructed. The Syrians had the fame idea. When they had been defeated in an engagement with the Ifraelites, they accounted for the difafter by the local power of the gods of Ifrael. "Their gods are gods of the hills, therefore they are ftronger than we but let us fight against them in the plain, and furely we shall be stronger than they."
Úpon information of the disturbance, which the new inhabitants of Samaria fuffered from the lions, the king of Affyria ordered, that one of the captive priests fhould return back to refide in Samaria, and teach these people the manner of the God of the land. Accordingly a priest was fent, who dwelt among them, and taught them, "how they fhould fear the Lord," or how they fhould ferve and worship the true God. But the priest was not able to bring them off from their attachment to their own deities and forms of worship. The moft he could do was to introduce the worship of Jehovah in conjunction with idolatry. "Every nation," the people of every province in Affyria, who had been tranfplanted to Samaria, "made gods of their own. They feared the Lord