Слике страница

the prophet." Yet all this left the heart of this covetous person quite unchanged. Over and over he tried, by sacrifices, to prevail on the God of Israel to give up His people, and give him leave to curse them. And when he found it was all in vain, he did not indeed venture, in spite of GOD'S SPIRIT, to pronounce a curse on them with his lips. In word, he faithfully delivered God's message, prophesying all manner of blessings to them; but his heart all the while, or very soon after, was engaged in the vilest of all contrivances for their utter and complete ruin. Finding that he could not prevail on their God to cast them off capriciously, he endeavoured to prevail on them to cast off their GoD presumptuously; and he succeeded but too well. He taught Balak to put a stumbling block before them, to persuade them to join in idol sacrifices, and to commit fornication; and thus for a time brought a curse upon them, for thousands of them were cut off by pestilence.

Such was the mind and heart of the man who first uttered those affecting words, “Let me die the death of the righteous.” He was for ever about the Devil's work; doing all he could to corrupt souls, and make GoD and man enemies to each other, for the sake of a little filthy lucre. Yet, no doubt, even Balaam was for the time sincere in the wish,.that he might at last be like those in his death whom he least resembled in his life. He meant what he said just then; but when it came to matter of practice, he had no courage, no principle, to keep him up to his own good feelings. His words have passed into a kind of proverb, as describing a happy death: his own death was perhaps the most miserable of all that are recorded in the Old Testament.


Let no man, therefore, deceive himself, nor imagine that all is, as yet, tolerably right between him and his GoD, because he feels his heart warm at devout expressions like this of Balaam; because when he thinks of it, he would wish to die the death of the rightYou cannot have surer knowledge, more thorough conviction, than Balaam had, who was a prophet specially inspired by the HOLY GHOST; who heard the words of GOD, and saw the vision of the ALMIGHTY; to whom God, by especial revelation, showed the REDEEMER who was to come. You cannot well have more reason than he had to think yourself a particular favourite of GOD; and certainly no such miracles have happened to you as

were vouchsafed to warn him of the error of his ways.

However strong in faith you may seem to yourself, you cannot be more certain of the things of GOD than was this chosen messenger of GOD, when he heard the dumb ass reproving him with a man's voice, and when he saw the angel of the LORD with his sword drawn in his hand.

Do not then depend on your convictions; do not think that all is right, because you are as yet right and undoubting with respect to the substance of what you believe. Such a faith as that may be the faith of Balaam, and will prove no better at last, except it be nourished by right practice.

Again who would dare to trust their own temporary and passing feelings, however strong, and however good, when they read this wish of Balaam, and compare it with his conduct afterwards? You cannot well have a stronger or livelier impression of any thing which God has done for you, or would have you do, than he had, when he uttered these words. You see what became of him: be not then high-minded and sanguine; do not indulge flattering hopes on the strength of your being able, or rather feeling as if you were able, to enter into the spirit of moving words; not though they be the words of the Holy Scripture. Do not rest satisfied with any thing at all, short of consistent Christian practice. Other ways may make you comfortable for a time, but this will bring a man peace at the last.

In what has been hitherto said, I have had respect principally to those who do know and feel something of religion, and are obliged to take some pains to quiet the misgivings of their consciences with regard to their duty to their SAVIOUR. But I fear there are a good many who are not even got so far as this, who do not yet feel at all (what however they must own in words) the greater blessedness of the death of the righteous. I fear there are many who never allow such thoughts to dwell at all on their minds, but get rid of them as fast as they can, because they interrupt their business or amusement. They will not meditate on the death of the righteous, because they will not meditate, if they can help it, on death in any shape at all; their minds are so wedded to present things. It is too great an exertion for them, too much out of their way, to look forward to a time when this world will be absolutely nothing at all to them; when eating and drink

ing, sleeping and waking, working and resting, pleasure and gain, will be quite passed away for ever, and the only difference between men will be, whether they have been good Christians or no. Whatever they hear of that sort falls dead, as it were, upon their ears; they no more attend to it than as if it were uttered in a strange language. What is the consequence? Life goes on, and that evil hour which they will not think of, the hour of old age, of decay, and of death, draws silently and surely near them, and finds them at last unprepared. They go into the other world with their hearts as full of this as ever; with no sort of liking or longing for the true happiness, there only to be found, Communion with JESUS CHRIST in heaven. St. Paul has a few fearful words concerning certain unworthy Christians of his time, which seem but too suitable to the thoughtless ones of our time. "Their end," says he, " is destruction; their god is their belly, and their glory is in their shame;" for "they mind earthly things." One hardly knows how to reason with such men, or what awful circumstances of death and judgment to set before them with hope of prevailing; before whom all that Holy Scripture says has been set long ago, and they have paid no regard to it. But God's own example must be followed, who graciously perseveres, year after year, in renewing warnings long slighted, and calling those who refuse to listen. And the example of the Church must be followed, who is never tired of praying for persons to whom she has been offering, all their lives long, the means of grace and the hope of glory; and all their lives long they have slighted her offer; yet still she sends up her daily petitions to the Father of our Lord JESUS CHRIST, to bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of His word. Surely, if there are any who need the prayers of their brethren more than others, they are those unhappy and inconsiderate persons, who have been born and bred among Christians, and yet have never so much as thought how they might secure themselves the blessing of a truly Christian death.

They need our prayers; and they need also-(what is, by God's special grace, entirely in each man's own power,)—they have great need to receive from all Christians a good, a winning, and an engaging example; such as may show them, that the timely



remembrance of death and judgment, and of what will come after, instead of making life melancholy, is the way to the truest cheerfulness of heart; such a cheerfulness as will not pass away, like the vain flashes of mirth and enjoyment, on which the children of this world pride themselves; but will, as it were, settle down in men's hearts, and make them happier as they grow older, because they are so much the longer used to the fatherly care of their gracious GoD, and the healing and comfortable influences of steady and practical faith in His Holy Son. So that, whereas to the mere worldly man the prospect of old age is no better than growing darkness and dimness of anguish, to a faithful and obedient Christian, passing through old age to death, that is fulfilled which the Wise Man speaks; "The path of the just is a shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day."




PSALM 1xxxii. 6—8.

"I have said, Ye are gods: and ye are all the children of the MOST HIGHEST. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. Arise, O GOD, and judge THOU the earth; for THOU shalt take all heathen to thine inheritance."

DEATH is the most awful of earthly things to all persons of all ranks; but there is something in the death of a King peculiarly solemn and instructive to all who are willing to consider matters with the fear of God before their eyes. And if we suffer it to pass from us without improving it to holy purposes, undoubtedly it will be so much added to the sum of that heavy account, which we shall have to render very soon, of calls from Heaven slighted, and opportunities of amendment thrown away. And it seems peculiarly fitting to call your attention once more to this solemn subject: since, as most of you probably know, it was only last night that the remains of His late Majesty King William IV. were to be laid in the grave. Three weeks ago he was a crowned king, bearing the cumbrance, and the burthen, and the strife, of this great and turbulent people; now he rests in that home whither his ancestors have departed before him, and to which we his subjects shall every one of us follow him before many years Men, women, and children, throughout his dominions, those even who were farthest from His Majesty's person, and who knew and cared least about public affairs in general, have been

are over.

« ПретходнаНастави »