Page images

endeavour to ascertain the time and the man- 1 ject before there can be enjoyment; if those ner, and the instrument of their conversion distinctions must be maintained which preand distress themselves because they can- serve the moral order and harmony of the not determine. But the grand thing is to world; if we must be like God, before we inquire—whether the work be done; whether can hold intercourse with him; if light can we have passed from death to life; whether have no communion with darkness, and rightwe can say, "One thing I know, that where- eousness have no fellowship with unrightas I was blind, now I see?” On the other eousness—then, upon every principle to hand, persons may talk of a change that took which either reason or religion conducts us, place in them at such a period, under such a every unrenewed sinner stands inevitably minister-of the reality of which it would be excluded from the kingdom of heaven. difficult to find any present evidence. But An exclusion, Finally, the most universal. what has your supposed conversion done for There are few things in the world so invariyou? In what state, in what temper has it ably established as not to allow of some left you? Wherein do you differ from others deviations. Every general rule has its exand from yourselves? Whom do you now ceptions.

Even the fixed laws of nature have resemble? The picture here pourtrayed ? been changed; iron has been made to swim, Do you resemble little children by your and flames have been forbidden to burn. But spiritual desires, your faith in God's word, be not deceived; our Saviour here reveals a your reliance on his providence, the kindness law that admits of no change; and lays down of your disposition, the humbleness of your a rule that allows of no exception. There mind? And is your want of more conformity never has been, there is not, there never will to this model your chief distress? And are be, there never can be an instance even to you praying, as if nothing comparatively had qualify this assertion : “Except ye be conbeen yet done, “Create in me a clean heart, verted, and become as little children, ye shall and renew a right spirit within me ?" not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

III. Let us observe THE IMPORTANCE OF Let us conclude with these additional rePOSSESSING THIS TEMPER. “Except ye be flections. converted, and become as little children, ye First. From our Saviour's address, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” learn to improve from the various objects we -An exclusion the most awful; the most behold in the world of nature. If you wish unavoidable; the most universal.

to hold communion with God, you may be First. The most awful. Many things reminded of him all the day long; if you court our attention that are by no means es wish to learn, you never need be at a loss for sential to our safety or welfare. We ought a teacher: “ Ask now the beasts, and they to be ashamed of the impressions they make shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, upon our minds; they are unworthy of our and they shall tell thee."

Hast thou a garhopes or fears; it is of little consequence den? And dost thou never walk in it but as whether we gain or lose them; and it will a creature-delighted with its flowers and be our wonder hereafter that we could ever its fruits? Dost thou never think of that have been so much influenced by them. But garden in which Adam fell ; or of that garden to be deprived of the blessings of the Gospel in which Jesus suffered? Hast thou childispensation; to be excluded from all the dren? They are cares; they may be comtreasures of grace and glory; to see iņfinite forts; but they must be instructers and adriches, honours, and pleasures, and to hear monishers, unless we are careless and stupid a voice saying, They are not for thee !- in the most criminal degree. * There shall be weeping and gnashing of Secondly. We see what a difference there teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, is between the opinion of the world and the and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the king- judgment of God. The natural man admires dom of God, and you yourselves thrust out." the temper that will endure no insults ; he If you do not deem these blessings of import- applauds the successful votary of wealth and ance now, it is because you never reflect power; he talks of a becoming pride, a noble upon them—but you will not always be able pride; to him it is a paradox that “all pride to banish thought: it is because you have is an abomination to the Lord;" that "the substitutes for them, and these divert, though meek shall inherit the earth;" that “ the slow they do not satisfy—but all of them will soon to anger is better than the mighty; and he be torn from you: and what in a dying hour, that ruleth his own spirit than he that taketh and in a judgment-day, will you do without a city.” He wonders to hear, that if "he an interest in this heavenly kingdom ! would be wise, he must become a fool that

An exclusion, Secondly, the most unavoid he may be wise ;" that to sink in his own able. If God has said in the Scripture that esteem is the way to rise in the esteem of “without holiness no man shall see the Heaven; that he who “exalteth himself shall Lord;" if God must be true, and the Scrip- be abased, and he who abaseth himself shall ture cannot be broken; if there must be a be exalted.” But such is the testimony of suitableness between the faculty and the ob- God; and his judgment is always according

to truth. Oh that we may take our views | spared, and appear like olive plants around our of excellency alone from him; and make his table, we ought to be thankful, and to rejoice; estimate our own. “For not he that com- yet to rejoice with trembling. When we mendeth himself is approved, but whom the reflect on the tenderness of their frame, and Lord commendeth."

consider to how many accidents and diseases Thirdly. We congratulate those who have they are liable; and that many of their earthe Spirit of Christ. The world knoweth liest complaints cannot be perfectly ascer. you not: you think meanly of yourselves, and tained, and may be injured by the very neang you ought: for you are encompassed with in- employed for their relief-the wonder is that firmity—but you are heirs of the kingdom they ever reach maturity. which God hath promised to them that love

Near half of the human race die in a state him; an everlasting kingdom; a kingdom in of infancy. Some have the allotment which comparison with which the renowned em- Job so passionately wished had been hisown: pires of the earth vanish into smoke-the “ Why died I not from the womb? Why kingdom of heaven! What can you desire did I not give up the ghost when I came out more? How thankful, how satisfied, how of the belly ? Why did the knees prevent happy you should live!

me? Or why the breasts that I should suck?" And how holy !-

Others are dressed and appear on the stage Be concerned to maintain a behaviour an- of mortal life; but, long before the close of swerable to your state and expectation. You a single scene, withdraw, and are found no are princes. “ Walk worthy of God, who more. Others are spared longer, and mulhath called you unto his kingdom and glory." tiply attractions and endearments. Some

begin to open their powers, as well as charms.

You saw rising up the seeds of instruction DISCOURSE LVII.

you had sown; the child was forming into the companion—but you looked, and, lo! he

was not—and you sighed, “ Childhood and THE LOSS OF CHILDREN.

youth is vanity!"—Some lose one child from And he said, While the child was yet alive, I among many; and even this can ill be spared.

fasted and wept: for I said, w'ho can tell What then must it be to lose an only one: whether God will be gracious to me, that the and perhaps not the only one in possession, child may live? But now he is dead, but the only one in hope? What a mortality wherefore should I fast ? can I bring him is there in some families. How often have back again ? I shall go to him, but he shall some fathers and mothers been visited with not return to me.-2 Sam. xii. 22, 23,


upon breach. Here, as I walk over

the mansions of the dead, I find two buried THERE is much to censure in David. Yet in the same grave, and inscribed above them, He, whose understanding is infinite, and whose judgment is always according to truth, not divided.” There I find six slumbering in

• They were pleasant in life, and in death has pronounced him “a man after his own the same bed of dust, and the stone thus heart ;” and told us, that he did that which vents the anguish and submission of the pewas right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned rental heartnot aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the

“ The dear delights we here enjoy,

And fondly call our own, matter of Uriah the Hittite."

Are but short favours borrow'd now, The narrative of his crime has, it is to be

To be repaid anon," feared, been the occasion of hardening un- The death of David's child was predicted godly men in their iniquity. But this has by Nathan, and was the consequence of the been the consequence of perversion. It was father's sin. " Because by this deed thou written not for encouragement, but for cau- hast given great occasion to the enemies of tion. It cries, Let him that thinketh be the Lord to blaspheme, the child that standeth take heed lest he fall;" it shows the born unto thee shall surely die." But how is readiness of God to pardon the truly penitent it that the guilty father continues, and the who confess and forsake their sin ; and it ex- innocent babe is cut off? emplifies not only the efficacy, but the nature says an old writer, “may distrain on any part of genuine repentance.

of the premises he chooses.” We would You will not wonder that I have referred rather say, that there are many cases in to this awful event in David's history, since which he requires us to walk by faith, and the subject of our present meditation is de- not by sight: that he does all things well, rived from it. Let us consider-HIS AFFLIC- even when clouds and darkness are round TION-HIS BEHAVIOUR UNDER IT—AND THE about him: we would say, that be indemnEXPLANATION HE GIVES OF HIS CONDUCT. I. His AFFLICTION was the death of his while the father was punished, and suffered

nified this child by taking it to himself child. The death of a child is by no means more relatively than if he had died himself

. an uncommon event. If our offspring are The execution follows the sentence. « The

The landlord,"

[ocr errors]


Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bare Some disregard the duties of their stations unto David, and it was very sick."

and connexions in life; and weeping hinders II. Observe THE BEHAVIOUR OF DAVID sowing. But David knew he had a family WITH REGARD TO THE AFFLICTION.

that demanded his attention, and whom it It takes in prayer—"He besought God for behoved him to convince that the exercises the child.” What was so likely to enable him of religion can relieve and refresh the mind: to gain his wishes, or to bring his mind into “and when he required, they set bread before a state of preparation for a denial of them? him, and he did eat." Prayer is always proper: but how seasonable, Believers are “men wondered at;" and how soothing, how sanctifying, in the day they who are estranged from the life of God of trouble! Blessed resource and refuge! cannot comprehend the principles upon which may we always make use of thee. “ From the actions of believers turn. They consider the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, forgiveness of injuries as a proof of cowardice. when my heart is overwhelmed ! lead me to They mistake deep humiliation and fervent the Rock that is higher than I.”—“ Is any prayer for an inordinate attachment to creaafflicted, let him pray.”

tures; and view acquiescence and thankfulHe also humbled himself: “ He fasted, and ness under trials as senseless indifference. went in, and lay all night upon the earth." | " Then said his servants unto him, What There was doubtless something peculiar in thing is this that thou hast done? Thou didst this case : the child was the offspring of fast and weep for the child when it was adultery. Much of David's distress arose alive; but when the child was dead thou didst from reflection on his sin: his grief was rise and eat bread.” the grief not only of affliction, but of peni- "But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, tence. And when are our losses and trials though he himself is judged of no man.” His purely afflictions? Is there nothing in our service is a reasonable service; his conduct sufferings to bewail but the smart? Is it not results from conviction and motive. David sin that has made this world a vale of tears? therefore explains himself: “And he said, Is it not our remaining depravity that con- While the child was yet alive, I fasted and strains a merciful God to employ such painful wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God dispensations ? Are we not guilty of idoliz- will be gracious to me, that the child may ing or undervaluing the blessings we are live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I going to resign? May we not charge God fast ? can I bring him back again? I shall go foolishly in the trouble we are going to enter? to him, but he shall not return to me.” Is it not desirable to know wherefore he con- This brings us to the tends with us? Humiliation is as necessary III. part of our subject.—“ And he said, as prayer.

While the child was yet alive, I fasted and We have seen David's behaviour before wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God the death of the child; let us remark his will be gracious to me, that the child may behaviour after it. His servants feared to live?"-He deemed the event uncertain. It tell him of the event; for they said, “ Behold, is obvious that he did not consider the threatenwhile the child was yet alive, we spake unto ing as absolute and irreversible. He knew him, and he would not hearken unto our that many things had been denounced convoice: how will he then vex himself if we ditionally; and he knew also that the goodtell him that the child is dead? But when ness of God was beyond all his thoughts. David saw that his servants whispered, David As there seemed a possibility of success, so perceived that the child was dead: therefore the desirableness of the blessing led him to David said unto his servants, Is the child avail himself of it. One might have supposed dead? And they said, He is dead.” And that the death of a child so young would not what does he ?

have been a very considerable affliction, espeSome disregard their persons, and affect a cially as he would have been always a memoa slovenliness in grief. ' But David "aroserandum of his sin, and he could not have from the earth, and washed, and anointed questioned his future happiness; but he speaks himself, and changed his apparel.”

of his recovery as an instance of God's

grace Some remain invisible; and even the tem- to himself—so great is the force of parental ple sees nothing of them during the season affection. His attachment indeed seems to that peculiarly requires their attendance: for have been extraordinary; and this was doubt“God is known in his palaces for a refuge." less permitted of Heaven to render his corBut David “came into the house of the Lord rection the more severe. Such is the import and worshipped.”. It was to acknowledge of his reasoning: “I should have deemed it a the hand of God in his affliction; it was to peculiar favour had God spared my child; and say, with Job, “The Lord gave, and the Lord while life remained, the indulgence of hope hath taken away; and blessed be the name of was not improper, nor the use of means unthe Lord :" it was to praise him, that his sin, lawful. Submission follows the event." though chastised, was forgiven; and to be- But what led him to assuage his grief? seech him to proceed no further.

What made him I will not say insensible, but resigned? Attend, ye who have sustained the reflection of a pious man* after burying bereaving providences, and behold your model. his child :-“ And now one of our family is “But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? gone to take possession of the sepulchre in can I bring him back again? I shall go to all our names. Ere long I shall lie down him, but he shall not return to me.”—The with my child. Perhaps many of the feet unavailableness of grief-the certainty of his that followed it shall attend me thither. It own dissolution—the hope of a union in hea- is a warning of Providence, that these conven-these were the sources from which his cluding days of my life may be more regular, resignation flowed.

more spiritual, more useful, than the former." First. Continued grief was unavailing. Thirdly. He expects to follow his child not “Now he is dead, wherefore should I fast ? only into the grave, but into glory; and antican I bring him back again ?" Ah, no! says cipates a renewed union with him in heaven. one; but this is the very accent of my loss. This was unquestionably David's case ; but “ There is hope of a tree if it be cut down, this part of our subject must be limited. that it sprout again, and that the tender When we see people in affliction, it seenis branch thereof will not cease; but man lieth hard to deny them consolation ; but we dare down and riseth not.” I have seen my child not administer every kind of comfort to every asleep, but I could awake him at pleasure; kind of character-it would be only deceirbut no call can pierce the ear of death. I ing and destroying their souls. This part of have taken leave of my child for a journey, our subject then must be limited two ways. but the pain of parting was alleviated by the First, as to the dead. We cannot join hope of meeting again; but now I shall see his those in heaven who are not gone there; and face, and hear his voice no more. I am re- all do not go there when they die. We are minded of his presence throughout the long not called to pronounce positively upon their day; he meets me no more in my favourite misery; but what hope can we entertain, walk; at table his seat is emptyand the without offering violence to the Scripture, of places thạt once knew him will know him no the salvation of those who lived without more for ever. But, upon this very princi- prayer, who profaned the Sabbath, who were ple, grief is proved useless; and what cannot slaves to avarice and pride ? In many other be prevented or removed, must be endured. cases, if we have a hope concerning the de Such is the appointment of Heaven; and his ceased, it must be weak, and ought to be condetermination is not only sovereign, but cealed: weak, from the deficiency of evidence; righteous and good. To alter it is therefore and concealed, from the fear of mischief. not only impossible in the execution, but But of others, when they die, we have a rebellious in the attempt.

scriptural and a pleasing persuasion. And Secondly. He contemplates his own death why should we mourn for them? They have as certain : “I shall go to him.” By this he overcome and are crowned. They have done intends the grave; and this part of our sub- with trouble, and have entered the rest that ject is common to all mankind. As sure as remains for the people of God.” Now this any of your connexions are gone, you are consolation extends to all children who die in going after, and will soon join them“ in the a state of infancy. I know there are some house appointed for all living.” And has not who believe in the damnation of infants

. this a tendency to moderate your grief? Does They have no higher a notion of a God of it not remind you of the vanity of life? Does love, the Father of mercies, the God of all it not proclaim that “time is short; and there- grace, than to suppose that he will punish fore it remains that they that rejoice be as eternally creatures whom the Scripture itthough they rejoiced not, and they that weep self calls innocent as to personal and actual as though they wept not ?" If we were to transgression, and whose condition depended live here always, or to live here long, we entirely upon himself. Admitting this barshould be justified in feeling a deeper interest barous notion; could such a Being ever be in its events; but we are only like a way- trusted in? or loved? But the God we worfaring man that turns aside to tarry for a ship is not Moloch; neither is the punishnight, and in the morning goes on his way.-

ment we contend for in a future state sepaAnd does it not show me that my chief busi- rate from the effects of conscious guilt, regret, ness is to prepare for my own removal

, rather self-accusation—of all which those who die than to lament the departure of others? I in infancy are incapable. We listen not to have no time for unprofitable sadness-I am unfeeling and system-hardened divines, but just going to take a journey of infinite im- to that Šaviour - who gathers the lambs with portance

his arms, and carries them in his bosom,"

and who, having invited our own souls to " Awake, my soul, with solemn care

rest, cries, “Suffer little children to come Thy true condition learn; What are thy hopes ? how sure, how fair ?

unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is And what thy great concern ?"

the kingdom of heaven."

The second limitation regards the living. How natural, how beautiful, how solemn is

* Dr. Doddridge.

[ocr errors]

You cannot join those who are gone to hea-. That world is a world of condescension, of ven, if you do not go there yourselves. And kindness, of love. There are pious friends. if you are not “new creatures ;" if you do not There are angels who attended them here. * deny yourselves, and take up your cross and There is your Father and their Father, your follow the Redeemer,” you must join another God and their God.” “ Thus saith the Lord; assembly, to whose taste you are now con- a voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, formed, and whose portion you have here and bitter weeping ; Rachel weeping for her chosen. Death separates the precious from children, refused to be comforted for her chilthe vile, and unites only those of similar dis- dren, because they were not. Thus saith positions. But where we entertain a hope the Lord ; Refrain thy voice from weeping, concerning our connexions, and concerning and thine eyes from tears : for thy work shall ourselves, the bitterness of death is passed. be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall

Let us close. What parents are the most come again from the land of the enemy. And afflicted? Those who have children living—there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, but living in sin and- walking according to that thy children shall come again to their the course of this world. Where is the fa- own border.” ther who would not a thousand times rather follow his son to the grave than see him growing up an enemy to God by wicked

DISCOURSE LVIII. works? There is no hope of meeting such a child again. And yet instances like these are by no means unusual. But surely they

THE BREAD OF LIFE. should become subjects of serious inquiry And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of surely parents should ask themselves whe- life: he that cometh to me shall never hunther they have faithfully discharged the trust ger ; and he that believeth on me shall never comrnitted to them. And while we ought to

thirst.-John vi. 35. be tender of those whose hearts are bleeding “ YEA, doubtless, and I count all things but over undutiful and ungodly offspring, we loss for the excellency of the knowledge of should not overlook the word that says, Christ Jesus my Lord.” Such is the excla“Train up a child in the way that he should mation of Paul. And he does not despise go, and when he is old he will not depart what he could not possess, or undervalue from it."

what he did not understand. He was a man As for those who have buried early hopes; of genius and of learning. He had examined remember that by their removal you have an the claims of human science, and knew how opportunity afforded of exercising the grace little it could do for man in his most importof submission, and are left more free to attend ant interests. He was also no stranger to to other duties. Guard against an excess of the knowledge of his Lord and Saviour. The sorrow, which will drink up the spirits and Son of God had been revealed in him; and work death. Comfort one another with the from that blessed hour his acquaintance with assurance that their death is their everlasting him had been constantly increasing. He knew gain. Here they were in an enemy's coun- whom he had believed; and such was the try surrounded with snares; and who can tell efficacy of this knowledge, in purifying his how soon they might have fallen the victims passions, in tranquillizing his conscience, in of temptation? They are infinitely happier refreshing and delighting his heart, that he than it is possible for you to conceive, and was led comparatively to depreciate every their blessedness is secured beyond the power thing else; and determined to know noof injury.

thing save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Remember they are not separated from you And is not this the determination of every for ever—you are going to them. They are Christian? And is it not justifiable ? Is it waiting to receive you into everlasting habi- not wise? Need we wonder that his Satations. On your arrival there, you will viour is every thing with him, since he is every know them, and they will know you ; even thing to him ?-his sun and shield-his guide they will know you there, who never knew and guard—his physician and friend-his

righteousness and strength—his clothing and And may you not indulge the expectation, his food. And Jesus said unto them, I am not only that you will know them, but be ser- the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall viceable to them—be employed in forming never hunger; and he that believeth on me and in teaching them? Oh! the pleasing shall never thirst." work of a mother, to rear a child in that bet- Observe, I. A REPRESENTATION OF THE ter country, free from sin, perverseness, pain; Saviour. II. THE WAY IN WHICH WE ARE without anxiety, and without fear !

TO DERIVE ADVANTAGE FROM HIM. III. THE Nor imagine that in the mean time they HAPPINESS HIS FOLLOWERS SHALL ENJOY. are disregarded or overlooked, because of their 1. A REPRESENTATION OF THE SAVIOUR. tender age, or their inferiority of any other “ I am the bread of life.” All life is valuakind. Selfishness and pride only reign here. I ble, and there are several degrees of it rising

you here,

« PreviousContinue »