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are the providences of God: none of you can tell, whether the fate of those for whom I plead, may not be your fate ere long. The most prosperous are in danger as well as others. The times in which we live, you know, are shifting, and the changes which they produce unexpected and distressing. None of you can tell, in a day like this, whether you are safe from imprisonment for debt. Your prospects may be good; your character fair; but for want of money, you may be consigned to the house of bondage. As ye do now to others in that situation, ye may hope for a recompense if trouble and distress overtake you.
Besides this, remember the state of these prisoners. They are deprived of liberty; prevented from exercising the faculties of their minds and powers of their bodies, for their own benefit, or the good of others. They cannot visit; their feet are confined within the four walls, which bounds their exercise and their enjoyment.
You who value freedom, who think much of its blessings, assist in affording relief to those who are captives; captives confined
in prison; captives for whom the laws of your land make no provision, and who therefore naturally look to you for food and relief.
They are moreover deprived of the advantages and comforts of religious ordinances. They hear not the voice of mercy and of pardon, for no provision is made to administer spiritual comfort to their temporal sorrow. They are alike destitute of the means of grace, and of the legal support of the State. To you, who value the Gospel, and who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, this is, it cannot but be, a powerful plea in their behalf. Will you withhold your charity from those who have not the opportunity of serving God, and who do not stand in the liberty of the children of God? "Ye "know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, "that though he was rich, yet for your "sakes he became poor, that ye through "his poverty might be rich"." Ye dare not refuse to imitate your Master. His example has a paramount authority over your Remember what he has said, "I was in prison, and ye visited me not.”
e 2 Cor. viii. 9.
f Matt. xxv. 43.
Those for whom we plead, are torn from their homes.
"Home! word delightful to the heart of man,
And bird and beast! small word, yet not the less
Whatever to affection is most dear,
Is all included in that little word,—
Wife, children, father, mother, brother, friends."
Fathers! Mothers! Parents! Children! you may be separated from each other. You may be called to encounter the sadness, the dreariness, the bereavements, the sorrows of a prison! God is overturning, overturning, overturning, not only the monarchs of the day, but their subjects. In this country and in this city, instances of the vicissitudes of his providence are daily occurring. Improve the lesson which they teach you. Do good to the afflicted, that if you are call- . ed to suffer, good may be done to you. The duty is plain; the reward is certain. Imitate Ebed-melech, who trusted in God's mercy, and displayed the fruits of that mercy, in his humanity to the prophet. Remember that the sighs of the prisoner are heard by Him who shall judge us. Be merciful as he is merciful, and God will bless you. AMEN.
THE RIGHT USE OF THE PROVIDENCE
ECCLESIASTES IX. 7-10.
Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart: for God now accepteth thy works. Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest, all the days of the life of thy vanity which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might: for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
THOUGH" righteousness and judgment are "the habitation of Jehovah's throne," yet "clouds and darkness are round about
"him"." The dispensations of his providence are oftentimes mysterious, and to us incomprehensible.
"Our understanding traces them in vain,
Such knowledge is too wonderful for us; it is high, we cannot attain it. Our duty is to exercise a cheerful and unqualified confidence in the moral government of God at all times, and under all circumstances.
"Since the days of our life are but vanity, "we ought cheerfully to partake of all the "sweet contentments of this life, without "omitting the duties of our calling, this being the entire portion which we can "here possess of all our labours"."
To this line of conduct, the wise man in the text, exhorts the righteous, that is, those who trust that God has already accepted their works, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. He gives particular directions
a Ps. xcvii. 2.
c Bishop Reynolds' Com. on Eccles. on the text.