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cause they view such enjoyments as lawful in themselves, and approved of God.
Christians are generally shocked rather than seduced by temptations to gross sins. They are ready to say, with the patriarch of old, "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God!" Yet they are in danger of abusing lawful things—and especially that of affection to creatures, and the consolation they are permitted to hope for from them. Their danger arises from their propensity to exercise an improper trust and dependence. Hence the importance of the dissuasion in the text, "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils."
III. It remains to enforce this dissuasion by several considerations.
1. To trust in creatures, or to place too much dependence on them, or to exercise an excessive affection towards them, is very sinful. It has the nature of idolatry, and is therefore highly provoking to God. He has said, "Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, or maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord." He has declared also, "That he is a jealous God, and his honor he will not give unto another." But if we love, or trust in any one, more than God, we transfer that honor to a creature, which belongs to God only, and this is heart idolatry.
Though we are commanded, in the scriptures, to love our friends and connections and all mankind, yet we are most pointedly cautioned against suffering our affection to creatures to rise into a competition with love to God. Very strong is the figure which Christ uses on this subject: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."
Mutual affection ought to subsist between the vad rious relations and connections in life, proportioned to their nearness and importance; and where it is made subservient to religion it cannot be too great. But when it encroaches upon that trust and affection, which are due to God alone, it becomes an idolatrous affection. It is exceedingly sinful and displeasing in the sight of God.
2. Another consideration to dissuade from trusting in creatures is their insufficiency to afford help or relief in trouble, were we permitted to trust in them. "Cease ye from man, for wherein is he to be ac counted of?" What is his strength or sufficiency to help either himself or others? Were it not sinful therefore, were it not forbidden, to trust in man, yet the folly of it would appear, for, "Vain is the help of man." Says the Psalmist," Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in wh there is no help." And again, "Lord, give us help from trou ble, for vain is the help of man.”
Of what avail can it be to look to creatures for help, when the soul is bowed down under afflictions? They may indeed, by the blessing of God, be made the means of some relief or consolation, through their sympathy and compassion-but, merely in themselves considered," Miserable comforters are they all."
What can the dearest and most faithful earthly. friend do, what can the united force and skill of creatures do, towards delivering us from the temporal and spiritual troubles, which surround us? Who can deliver us from pains and infirmities from sickness and death? Who can free us from the pain of a wounded conscience, or deliver us from going down to the pit, or give to God a ransom for our souls? We may receive help from God through the instrument ality of creatures, but if we look to them, or trust in any for aid, except the living God, we shall be, "Liko
the heath in the desert, which inhabiteth the parched places of the wilderness, and seeth not when good cometh."
3. The last dissuasive I shall offer against trusting in man, or exercising an excessive affection towards creatures, is their frailty. “Cease ye from man," says the prophet, "whose breath is in his nostrils." This is a striking expression, descriptive of the shortness and uncertainty of life. "Whose breath"-that upon which the life of man depends" is in his nostrils"-and may therefore be easily and quickly stopped. Whenever we breathe it out, we have not power, of ourselves, to draw it in again; nor do we know, that it will ever be permitted to return.
It is on this account chiefly-the frailty of manthat the prophet enquires, "Wherein is he to be accounted of?" Though we were permitted to trust in creatures, and though our friends, while they live, were able to give us all the aid and comfort we need, yet such is their frailty, that they are improper objectsof trust, and we should be unwise to entertain raised
expectations from them. As this is the argument urged by the prophet, let us, my hearers, dwell upon it, a moment, and examine the attestations of scripture and experience respecting it.
"Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils.” Death is ever near. We may ever say, "As the Lord liveth, there is but a step"-yea, a breath"between us and death." "The voice," says the prophet," said unto me, Cry. And I said, What shall I cry All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field. The grass withereththe flower fadeth, because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it-surely the people is grass."
In the book of Job we have numerous attestations of the like import: "For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing; because our days upon earth are a shadow. Man, that is born of a woman, is of few
days. He cometh forth as a flower, and is cut down. He fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. I said to corruption, Thou art my father, and to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister. One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet. His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with marrow. Another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth with pleasure.They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms cover them."
The attestations of our experience are the same with those of scripture. We find, that no age or condition of life, however promising or prosperous, is free from the stroke of death. What multitudes of children have been cut off in the early morning of life! How many youth, blooming and gay, have, in a moment, by some sudden and unexpected stroke of mortality and while they were promising themselves long life-been stopped short in their career, and called to exchange time for eternity! What multitudes, that have just entered the busy scenes of active life, and formed the tenderest connections, have been snatched suddenly from them to "the grave, the house appointed for all living!" "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return," is a sentence attached to every condition in life-to old age-to youthto childhood-to male and female-to rich and poorto bond and free. "There is no discharge in that "For it is appointed unto all men once to die, and man knoweth not his time." "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils, for wherein is he to be accounted of?" How forcibly then do these considerations dissuade us from trusting in man! With what unanswerable arguments do they urge us to trust in God-the living God alone-who giveth us all our abiding consolation and safety!
Having considered the proneness of mankind to place their affections upon creatures and worldly enjoyments, and to entertain raised and unreasonable
expectations from them-and having suggested some things to prove the sin and folly of it-I shall close the discourse with some inferences and reflections for our improvement.
1. The things which have been said, lead us to reflect upon the poverty and wretchedness of those, who, in their hearts, depart from the living God; and place their expectations and trust in creatures, or any worldly object. "Thus saith the Lord, Cursed is the man that trusteth in man; and whose heart departeth from the Lord." If we have no higher hopes than in worldly enjoyments--no better, more faithful, sufficient and permanent friend than man is -than creatures, "Whose breath is in their nostrils"—we are surely wretched, and subjects of the most melancholy, poverty indeed. For nothing is satisfying-nothing is permanent below the sun. "All flesh is grass." All creatures are feeble and frail. They are incapable of defending themselves either from the evils of life, or from death-or of lending aid sufficient to support one another in this world of evils and afflictions-or to prepare them for another world.
But what, in a dying hour, will it profit us to have had the whole world, with all its miserable enjoyments, if then our immortal souls have no friend who is able to stand by them? And what will avail the attempts of worldly friends to support and console? Alas! "Miserable conforters" will they all be. Surely, never did any shipwrecked, starving mariner, when driven about upon the fragments of his vessel, in the midst of a tempestuous ocean, need aid and refreshment more than we need a better friend, divine consolations, and a higher happiness, than this dying world can bestow. Hence,
2. We learn the inexpressible importance of real, personal religion, or a union of heart to Christ, the