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people, saith the Lord, even loving-kindness and mercies. Both the great and the small shall die in this land: they shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them." (Jer. xvi. 5, 6.) A similar denunciation was pronounced against Jehoiakim : "Thus saith the Lord concerning Jehoiakim, They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah, my brother!" (xxii. 18.) It is mentioned in Job as the peculiar calamity of the profane, that "those that remain of him shall be buried in death, and his widows shall not weep." (xxvii. 15.) And when the psalmist is describing the indignation of the Almighty upon rebellious Israel, he says, "Their priests fell by the sword, and their widows made no lamentation." (lxxviii. 64.)
If there be no sense of the rod, there can be no resignation. We cannot patiently bear what we never feel, nor humbly submit to that hand, the blow of which we do not regard. If we are insensible, the amendment intended by our trials cannot be produced, and we shall never cry with Job, "Show me wherefore thou contendest with me;" nor with the church in her distress, "Let us now search and try our ways."
We are permitted to add to these tears, prayers for comfort and humble groans before God: "Is any one among you afflicted: let him pray. Call upon me in the day of trouble." This is the order of God himself, which is joined to the cry of nature and the emotions of the heart. It is conformable to the practice of the scripture saints, and of believers in every age; for to whom can the soul that is bowed down and overwhelmed, better flee than to its Father? Where can it, in the day of oppression and
despondency, find more support than in the bosom of its God?
We may also express our sorrows to our fellowmen, and seek relief in their sympathy and condolence. Knowing that "a friend is born for adversity," we may cry with the patient patriarch of Uz, "Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of the Lord hath touched me!"
Yes, my poor, bereaved brethren; that religion which increases our sensibilities, condescends to the infirmities of our nature. He who was the "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," "who has been touched with a feeling of all our sufferings," is not offended because you weep over departed relatives, provided your tears are not those of murmuring and despair; provided they are tears tempered and softened by religion; tears of a heart penetrated with the most tender affection, but filled also with submission, with faith, and with hope. Religion does not destroy, it only regulates nature. In giving us a heart, God has permitted us to exercise its emotions; and sensibility, instead of being a weakness in man, is one of his noblest prerogatives, since it is one of the great sources of his virtues. From this pure source springs the grief which is caused by the death of those whom we love. It is the natural and legitimate effect of the love we bore to them, and of the intimate relations which attached us to them; and the tribute of tears that we pay to their memory, honours us as much as them, since it shows a heart that is affectionate, and formed for happi-. No! it is not the soul of a Christian which can be perfectly callous and insensible while stand
ing by the corpse or the grave of kind relatives; we recollect every incident in those days of peace, of bliss, of serenity, which we spent in, their society: that affection which mitigated our griefs; that tenderness which consoled us in moments of distress ; that soothing kindness with which, in hours of sickness, they watched around our bed; that lenient hand which so often supported our languid head, and dispelled the sense of pain; that pious deportment and those holy sentiments which warmed our hearts and inflamed our devotion; those smiles which so often compensated for the frowns of the world, and that steady attachment which supported us amidst its unkindness and ingratitude; while we recollect all the circumstances of the sick chamber. that face overshrouded with the gloom of mortality yet still dear; and those tender adieus, those ardent prayers for us, uttered when the heart had almost ceased to beat, in a moment when their sincerity could not be doubted. No! it is not the heart of a Christian that can be perfectly callous and insensible, when, immediately after the dissolution of beloved, lamented relatives and friends, we behold numberless memorials of them, but yet no longer hear the voice which cheered us; and find that closet, that place where we together conversed with God, empty and desolate: when we look forward to the future, and see our plans of felicity broken, and ourselves compelled to pursue our journey through life solitary and alone, without those who heightened our pleasures, by sharing them; who diminished our sorrows, by dividing them.
But if we are permitted to sorrow, we are commanded "to sorrow not as those without hope." Let us,
II. Inquire what is prohibited by this command. We" sorrow as those without hope,"
1. When in our hearts, or by our lips, we murmur against the disposals of God, and blame him for his cruelty and unkindness to us. In this respect Jacob was faulty, when he exclaimed, on the supposed death of his son, "All these things are against me!" In our severest griefs we must be persuaded that God acts not only with infinite wisdom, but also with infinite goodness; and that not only are his general dispensations merciful, but this particular dispensation which has afflicted us is the fruit of covenant love. The sorrow of the Christian makes God more lovely, while they who have hard thoughts of him in their bereavements, display a temper far different from that of the gospel. The mourning believer, "though his chastening for the present seemeth not joyous, but grievous," bends with humility without murmuring or repining; and cries, Since it has not been possible, in consistence with thine all-wise predeterminations, to remove this cup of affliction from me," thy will be done." A beautiful example of this union of deep feeling and unfeigned submission to the will of God, was given by the excellent Fenelon, on the death of his pupil and friend, the duke of Burgundy. On that occasion he exclaimed, "He is gone, who possessed and deserved my warmest love. With him are entombed for ever all my hopes of earthly bliss; yet, could I restore him to life by turning a single straw, for a million of worlds I would not turn that straw."
2. We "sorrow as those without hope," when our grief unfits us for holy duties, and prevents the exercises of devotion. Ah! brethren, you indeed deserve blame, if these afflictions lead you to inter
mit the duties of the closet and the sanctuary. What! because you specially need consolation, will you flee from the Fountain and Spring of blessedness? What! because one whom you loved is dead, shall your heart also become dead and lifeless in all spiritual employments, and as cold as is his inanimate body? What! shall your tears be continually flowing over a mouldering corpse, and your affections never be raised to a living God?
3. Our sorrow is criminal, when it never leads us to inquire what was the design of God in afflicting us. We violate our duty, if we occupy ourselves merely in venting our sighs and tears, and never inquire what God designs to teach us by this bereavement. Perhaps thou art impenitent, and without an interest in Christ. Oh! then suspend thy tears over a dead friend, and weep over a dead and corrupted soul. Look at him whom thou hast pierced by thine iniquities, and "mourn as one who mourneth for a first-born." Instead of "refusing to be comforted," admire the grace of God that he did not smite thee when thy friend fell; and since he has kept thee from the grave and from hell, strive to make the death of this lamented object the means of life to thy soul. Or if thou art a child of God, instead of being "swallowed up in overmuch sorrow," study by this calamity to feel more deeply the vanity of earth, the importance of eternity, the preciousness of Christ; study to be more conformed to God, and more dead to sin.
4. "We sorrow as those without hope," when we follow not our departed friends beyond the cold grave, the coffin, and the worm. When we cry in agony, they are no more,' and forgetting that their souls exist eternally, seem to imagine that they are plunged in