« PreviousContinue »
to his humility to acknowledge a fault. Good sense. will preserve us from censoriousness; will lead us to distinguish circumstances; to draw things from the dark situation of prejudice which rendered them frightful, that we may candidly survey them in open day. Good sense will keep us from looking after visionary perfection; "The infirmities I behold are not peculiar "to my connections, others if equally near would betray
the same; universal excellence is unattainable; no "one can please in every thing. And who am I to de-. "mand a freedom from imperfections in others, "while I am encompassed with infirmities myself!" Good sense will lead us to study dispositions, peculiarities, accommodations; to weigh consequences; to determine what to observe and what to pass by; when to be immoveable and when to yield. Good. sense will produce good manners; will keep us from taking freedoms and handling things roughly; for love is delicate, confidence is tender. Good sensewill never agitate claims of superiority; it will teach us to "submit ourselves one to another in the fear "of God." Good sense will lead persons to regard their own duties, rather than to recommend those of others.
Fourthly. We must go beyond all this, and remind you of those RELIGIOUS PRINCIPLES by which you are to be governed. These are to be found in the word of God; and as many as walk according to this rule, mercy and peace shall be upon them. God has engaged that if you will walk in his way, you shall find rest unto your souls. If it be said, there are happy families without religion, I would answer, First,
There is a difference between appearances and reality. Secondly, If we believe the Scripture, this is impossible; "the way of transgressors is hard; there is no 'peace, saith my God, unto the wicked." Thirdly, Religion secures those duties, upon the performance of which the happiness of households depends. Would any man have reason to complain of servants, of children, or of any other relation, if they were all influenced by the Spirit, and regulated by the dictates of the Gospel? Much of religion lies in the discharge of these relative duties; and to enforce these, religion brings forward motives the most powerful, and always binding, calls in conscience, and God, and heav en, and hell. Fourthly, Religion attracts the divine blessing, and all we possess or enjoy depends upon its smiles. God can elevate or sink us in the esteem of others; he can send us business or withhold it; he can command or forbid thieves to rob, and flames to devour us; he can render all we have satisfying, or distasteful, and they that honour him he will honour. "The house of the wicked shall be overthrown, but "the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish. The 66 curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: "but he blesseth the habitation of the just." Finally, Religon prepares us for all events. If we succeed, it keeps our prosperity from destroying us; if we suf fer, it preserves us from fainting in the day of adversity. It turns our losses into gains; it exalts our joys into praises; it makes prayers of our sighs; and in all the uncertainties of time and changes of the world, it sheds on the mind a "peace which passeth all un"derstanding." It unites us to each other, not only A Aa
as creatures, but as Christians; not only as strangers and pilgrims upon earth, but as heirs of glory, honour, and immortality. For you must separate; it is useless to keep back the mortifying truth. It was the condition upon which your union was formed. O man! it was a mortal finger upon which you placed the ring, vain emblem of perpetuity. O woman! it was a dying hand that imposed it. After so many mutual and growing attachments, to separate! What is to be done here? O Religion, Religion, come and relieve us in a case where every other assistance fails; come and teach us not to wrap up our chief happiness in the creature; come and bend our wills to the pleasure of the Almighty, and enable us to say, "It is the Lord, let Him do what seemeth him good; "the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, and "blessed be the name of the Lord;" come and tell us that they are disposed of infinitely to their advantage; that the separation is temporary; that a time of reunion will come; that we shall see their faces, and hear their voices again.
Take two Christians who have been walking to gether like "Zechariah and Elizabeth in all the com"mandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." Is the connection dissolved by death? No. We take the Bible along with us, and inscribe on their tomb; "Pleasant in life and in death not divided." Is the one removed before the other? He becomes an attraction to the other; he draws him forward, and is waiting to "receive him into everlasting habitations." Let us suppose a pious family re-uniting together, after following each other successively down to the grave.
How unlike every present meeting! Here our intercourse is chilled with the certainty of separation. There we shall meet to part no more; we shall be for ever with each other, and for ever with the Lord. Now affliction often enters our circle, and the distress of one is the concern of all. Then we shall "rejoice "with them that rejoice," but not "weep with them "that weep;" for "all tears shall be wiped from our eyes, and the days of our mourning shall be ended." Come then, my dear hearers, and invite the religion of the blessed Jesus, this one thing needful, this universal benefactor of mankind. It has "the promise "of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." It secures our individual and our relative happiness; it brings peace into our bosoms, and joy into our dwellings. Let us resolve to pursue it ourselves; let us enforce it upon our connections; let us dedicate our tabernacles to God; offer the morning and evening sacrifice of prayer and of praise; and whatever be the determination of others, let us say for ourselves, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
HAPPINESS IN DEATH.
2 PETER i. 11.
FOR SO AN ENTRANCE SHALL BE MINISTERED UNTO YOU ABUNDANTLY, INTO THE EVERLASTING KINGDOM OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS. CHRIST.
MY Brethren, among the various motives with which Revelation abounds, there are none. more solemn and impressive than those which are derived from-DEATH. Hence the sacred writers often refer to it. They remind us of the suddenness of its arrival. They forewarn us of the nearness of its approach. They also intimate the importance of its consequences as terminating this state of trial, sealing up our characters, and transmitting them to the judg ment of the great day, to be opened and published before an assembled world.
The apostle Peter urges the MANNER of our dying. He would have us die WELL, not only in a state of salvation but of peace and triumph; "So an entrance "shall be ministered unto you abundantly, into the "everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus