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Our dependance upon him is the most comprehensive, complicated, and profound nature. Whatever name we give to its prop, God is the staff of every life. That whatever it be, on which it leans, leans upon him. When your seasons are fruitful, it is not only he who covers your vallies with corn, who causes to rise the suns that ripen it, who prevents your bread from failing;-but who gives to that bread its nutritive power. When your seasons are healthful, it is not only he who preserves your air from pollution, but who empowers the purest air to supply you with life. When your slumbers are sound, it is not only he who protects your pillow from pain, but who imparts to sleep its restorative property. The civil polity, that defends your person from violence, is the result of wisdom which he has illuminated, and of passions which he has implanted. The medical art, that raises you from the bed of sickness, proceeds from understandings, which his inspiration hath given, and is supplied with materials, which his hand hath furnished. The arm, that saves you from violent death, is an instrument made, and moved, by him..
So completely is our breath in the hand of God. He is the soul within us; he is the shield without us; the word by which we live; the word by which we die. So the Scripture tells us it is; so reason tells us it must be. Man, the partial maker of a single thing, possesses but a partial power over it; God the perfect maker of all things, must be every moment necessary to the support of every thing.
The habitual recollection of this close and intimate connexion between the giver and the receiver of life, between the living God, and the living creature, is what I would earnestly recommend to all before me, as being adapted, in the highest degree, at once to entertain the understanding of contemplative, and gratify the heart of affectionate, piety. The perfectly uninterrupted, and the infinitely extended activity of divine power, in the preservation of universal na
ture, presents to reason a contemplation, of all others the most sublime; while religious sensibility is soothed by the idea of being completely in the hand of a power, to whom it feels the most animated love, and in whom it reposes the most tranquil trust.
The Triumph of Life and the Triumph of Death.
SHARP is the sting of death, great the victory of the grave, shrill and terrible their triumph, when simply considered in themselves, and without regard to Jesus, the restorer of life, the vanquisher of the grave.
Terrible, in the first place, are the harbingers of death, formidable his menaces, tremendous the preparatives he makes for the destruction of life and the subversion of happiness. What a sable host of disasters, of diseases, of pestilences, march before him! What infirmities, what pains, what struggles announce his arrival! What tears, what sobs, what wringing of hands, what shrieks of agony are seen and heard in his train! And how numerous, how deeply-wounding, the darts supplied him for destruc tion! Is there any motion, any occupation, any afflic tion, any enjoyment, any gratification which may not prove mortal to man! How every thing shudders at his approach! How quickly as he advances fades every flower. on the path of life! How every sound of joy and gladness is hushed at his tremendous call.
What profound and awful silence, what dejection, what doleful apprehensions reign where he appears! How ghastly is the countenance of the man who lies pale and wan, faint and spiritless, on the bed of sickness, longing in vain for help, for relief and recovery, sinking ever lower under the burden of pains and
miseries, continually more incapable of joy, ever more insensible to comfort, anxiously fluctuating between death and life, between fear and hope, wishing for the return of his fleeting life, and trembling as he beholds. the near approach of death!
The dominion of death is, moreover universal,. and this too increases his furious triumph. It stretches over every living thing upon the earth. His de-vastations on this sublunary scene are in a manner un-bounded. No species of living creatures is exempt from the lot of mortality, no one is safe from the power of dissolution and corruption. As the flower fades, the leaf withers, the tree dies, so likewise man, the lord of the whole animal and inanimate creation, is a prey to death and the grave. Nume rous and manifold are the victims which the grim spoiler daily and hourly demands of the human race, throwing all of them into the dust, without distinc tion of age, of rank, of dignity, of merit.
Here the saint has no pre-eminence over the sinner; the benefactor and reliever of his brethren no pre-eminence over the destroying conqueror and the cruel tyrant. Here lies the babe, who scarcely saw the light of the sun, close by the hoary head which could no longer sustain its beams. There are mingled the ashes of the blooming youth with those of riper man,. the ashes of the great and the powerful with the ashes of their meanest slaves. Here falls the strong, man, who seemed to brave every toil, every burden, every misfortune; there decays the beauty, who flourished like the vernal flower, and promised her. self and others so rich a harvest of delight. All, all · that is of the earth must revert to the earth from which it was taken. Whoever thou art, O man, that walkest on the ground, thou walkest on the territory. of death; wherever thou settest thy foot, thou treadest on the graves of the dead, thou raisest the dust that was formerly animated, the fleshly garment of. thy brother.
Terrific is the triumph of death, as his arrival is
generally unexpected and his power irresistible. Now he seizes one of us in the intoxication of pleasure, then in the careless repose of the night, now amidst preparatives for the enjoyment of life, then in the various distractions of business and affairs. Now he suddenly snatches one from the circle of his gay companions, then the poor man from his bosom friend, now an unexpected mischance at once strikes him down, then an apparently trifling disorder in a few days or hours becomes incurable. Rarely do we hear his footsteps from afar, seldom are we aware of his approach, ere his hand is already lifted for the fatal blow. And of how little avail are in general the earlier warnings of his approach! How vain all the efforts of art, how fruitless the struggles of nature ! Here neither youth nor vigour, nor grandeur and authority, nor virtue and merit can protect. Death appears, and the most subtle energies of man recoil dismayed, and his most shining prerogatives disappear, and every attempt at resistance, is a proof of the utmost imbecility.
And the proper business of death, how tremendous! Who is not seized with profound horror at the sight of it! Gradual decay of the vital powers, total cessation of all spontaneous and mechanical motion of the body, universal darkness, profound night, frigidity, numbness, rigor, separation from the whole visible world, the grave, corruption, dissolution: this is the work of death; this the victory which he obtains. over all that is mortal! And now consider besides the circumstances of this awful scene, the agony that seizes on the dying person, the wishes for longer life which are only abandoned so late, the ties which knit. him to the by-standers soon to be dissolved, the multiplication of his sufferings by theirs, the reproaches which his conscience often makes him, and the apprehensions that so frequently torment him with prospects of an uncertain futurity: how much more dreadful must not all this make the triumph of death!
Yes, terrific is this triumph; since even the conse
quences that attend the ravages which death commits, are deplorable, are abundant sources of tears and lamentation. How painful the separation, how deep, how incurable the wounds of the widow and the or phan; how irreparable is frequently their loss! Here a worthy father taken from his still weak uneducated sons, a careful affectionate mother from her daughter, still in want of her further support and example ;there one hearty, generous friend carried off from another. Here a thousand wise, public-spirited plans and projects are rendered abortive; there the quickest and most lively parts are checked in their activity and hopeful capacities prevented from unfolding. Here the industrious man is deprived of the fruit of his labour; there the buds of noble actions blighted in their first efforts. Here pleasure, transports, hopes, happiness of a thousand kinds are destroyed, there full and various sources of want, of trouble and misery are opened. Here the forlorn widow and helpless orphan, sit bathed in tears; there distress and indigence surround others who are bewailing the loss of their benefactors, their patrons, their guides. Thus sad and gloomy, my dear friends, is the path of death! Thus terrific his appearance and the doleful consequence of his destructive sway! Thus tremendous his triumph over all that lives and breathes! Yes, in this ghastly form must death appear to every one who considers it solely in itself, solely in its proximate effects, and without the light of superior information, without the prospect of a better futurity.
Is then, however, this triumph of death entirely what it appears to be? Is it likewise to the christian, what it must be to the unbeliever and to the doubter? Rests it on a solid basis? Will it last for ever? No, christians, to-day ye are celebrating with me the resurrection of our Master and Lord. To-day we are celebrating the triumph of life, of life regained and fixed for ever by the risen Jesus. Oh rejoice in this with me, and ponder with me, how much grandeur,,