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it will be highly important to improve our affliction for our own admonition and instruction-- It reminds us of the uncertainty of our best and most rational enjoyments here:- It reminds us of the narrow bounds of human life on earth: Wherefore then do we suffer our affeciions to be unduly attached to the blessings which are already on the wing, to flee away forever? Why do we, at any time, put confidence for happiness in the life of mortals, or in their capacities, and improvements, and kindnesses, who may so easily be sundered from us? Why do we ever delay the necessary preparation for futurity, when death, whose shaft is never idie, is daily diminishing the number of those who entered into life with us, and pointing to the grave already waiting to receive us!--Let us gird up our loins, and keep our lamps trimmed and burning, that whensoever our Lord cometh he may find us watching.
The worthy relict of our inestimable friend, is entitled in this place, to particular attention. To you, madam, the loss we deplore is unspeakable. The excellency of character which endeared your worthy husband to a numerous acquaintance; and raised him so high in the estimation of the best judges of real merit, must have endeared him still more to you. To describe your exquisite feelings, in the recollection of scenes of sublimest pleasure gone forever, would be more than I ought to undertake-No sympathy can do justice to your keener sensibility on so trying an occasion. The will of providence, however, is accomplished in respect to his faithful servant. A constant witness of his fervent piety, his animated zeal in the cause of God and religion, his steadfast faith, and his persevering assiduity in promoting the best interests of his fellow men: a witness of the calm submission with which he endured affliction; of the unshaken confidence with which he met the king of terrors, and of his humble trust in the Saviour whom he had preached to others, I witness of his last testimony, when bis faith in the Son of God failed not, but enabled him to finish his course in triumph, you have every consolation such a bereavement can admit!
All the circunstances of your affliction were ordered in infinite wisdom: In respect to the most important circumstance it has had an happy issue. While, therefore, you justly mourn, there is infinite reaso: why you should perfectly acquiesce in the divine dispensation. But it is not necessary to instruct you, Madam, in the religious considerations which will contribute to your support--Your past experi.. ence of infinite mercy is your instructor- Your faith already stays upon the grace and goodness which preside in the direction of all the affairs of men Already placing your confidence in God, you will be enabled to sustain and improve your sorrow with dignity, and to advantage. The Lord will not be wanting to you in the fulfilment of his promises.-Every jot and tittle of them shall be accomplished, till he shall have brought you by a right way to a city of habitation, where every tear shall be wiped from your weeping cye; and what you sow in sorrow you shall reap in unceasing joy. lo the mean time, permit me to commend you to his care, who has said, “ Leave thy father. less children, I will preserve them alive, and let thy widows trust in me” And to him be glory, and honor, and dominion, and power, forever and ever- Amen.
THE GOSPEL TO BE PREACHED TO THE POOR.
MATTnew xi. 4, 5.
* Go and shew John again those things which ye
do hear and see : The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached unto them.”
It has been doubted by commentators, whether John sent his disciples to Christ for his own satisfaction, or theirs. Most probably his intention was, as he expected he himself would soon disappear, to give his disciples an opportunity of being fully convinced that Christ was the Messiah, that, on his decease, they might become followers of the true Light..
However, it may also be conjectured, that John labored under the common prejudice of his nation, that the Messiah was to be a temporal prince, and would place not only the nation in general, but every individual Jew, in a state of prosperity. This appears to have been the mistake of his most intimate disciples to the very last. John there. fore not fully instructed in the mission of Christ, might from the difficulties of his own situation, be led into doubt, and hesitation on the subject. Christ therefore says, “ blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me;" that is, who shall not be prejudiced against me, for any difficulties which may attend the profession of my doctrines, or the followers of me, as the promised Messiah. John, though “ more than a prophet,” felt as a man; and the seclusion, and sufferings of a jail, might have operated with unfavorable influence, on the faith he had before exercised. This was afterwards, according to Christ's prediction, the case with many who had seen his miracles, and followed him for a time. Though John may have doubted, we may confidently believe that he died in the faith.
The message of Christ expressed those important facts which Isaiah had predicted, as characteristic of the time of the Messiah. “ Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf be unstopped, the lame shall leap as an hart, the tongue of the dumb shall sing, and the poor shall rejoice with mirth because of the Lord.” Correspondent to these last words, and as an accomplishment of the prediction, Christ says" to
the poor the Gospel is preached.” The Latin vulgate is more correct; it says, “ the poor are evangelized–The old English translation is still more accurate, “ the poor receive the Gospel.” They not only hear it, but embrace it—they believe it, and are saved.
As this discourse commemorates an Institution for the benevolent purpose of sending the Gospel to the poor, who have not the means of supporting a stated ministration, I propose to shew I. That instructing the poor in the Gospel, is the
highest act of beneficence that can be per
formed to mankind. II.—The peculiar encouragements of sending the
Gospel to the poor.
1.--That instructing the poor in the Gospel, is the highest act of beneficence that can be performed to mankind.
1. The doctrines of the Gospel give true elevation to the mind. The poor want the means of cultivation; and their minds, like the barren lands which they inhabit, are incapable of maturity of thought. Their ideas are all depressed, and cannot rise, from the impediments of their situation, to the true dignity of their soul. This is generally the case; but there are instances of genius breaking through all difficulties, and taking a sta