« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
cernment to us how little mankind know, or how much they who may know us misjudge of us ; nor how soon the memory of be wiped away and forgotten among them.
We are not told the age of this youth whom our Lord called back into existence. He seems, however, to be very young by our Lord's delivering him to his mother, and from other circumstances.
It is gathered from exact calculations of the number of births and burials, that one half of those who are born into the world die un. der twelve years old.
This is a powerful and awakening consideration to parents, if they have any real affection for their offspring, to begin to instil into them the · love and fear of the great God that made them, and the knowledge of his mercy
and goodness manifested by Jesus Christ, as soon as their little understandings dawn to perceive it, and their hearts are capable of becoming impressed with it. And this is at a much earlier period than many will imagine who have never tried them: though there will be always a considerable difference of capacities and dis
positions, with respect to ripeness, and aptness to receive and retain instruction.
They may then have unspeakable satisfac, tion in them, if their own lives are lengthened out, and find them the prop and support of their declining years; and, at their departure hence, entertain the joyful thought that they have been instrumental in bringing into the world, and in forming those who will be faithful servants of God when they are no more.
And should they be nipt in the blossom, in the flower of their age, by the cold hand of death, they will commit their withered remains to the dust with assured hope that those pious and virtuous dispositions which have taken root in them here, will grow and improve for ever.
But careless and ungodly parents can only expect those who have the misfortune to spring from them, to be like, or rather worse than themselves, as there is commonly a progress and declension from bad to worse.
How cutting must it be to such persons, if ever touched with one serious thought, to reflect that their children, intrusted with them by Almighty God, and created capable of knowing him and of cultivating every thing
holy, just, and good, have gone, or are likely through their fault to go, out of the world without that salutary knowledge ; in danger, through shameful ignorance, or early vice and impiety, to be separated from God and goodness !
To draw to a conclusion :
The providence of God hath ends, unknown and unfathomable by us, to serve, in abridging the lives of so great a part of the human species, and allowing them to act so short a part on the stage of life. Sometimes the child is taken to save the
parents, when it weaned their hearts too much from God, and the being bereaved of it would more surely humble them in the dust, and lead them to him.
Sometimes a bad neglected character is permitted to live to be a scourge to its parents and to others.
And oft a pious promising youth is suddenly swept away, because the Supreme Disposer of all things foresaw some hidden snare, dangerous to virtue, in which it would be fatally involved; and therefore, in mercy, snatched it from the evil to come. But we must ever own, that we are here
much in the dark; that these are only uncertain conclusions and conjectures, which we may sometimes humbly make concerning the dispensations of the divine governmenr, in removing his creatures of mankind, some sooner, others later, into that unseen world; and in granting to some a longer, to others a shorter day of trial. Our comfort and security is, that we are in the hands of a Being of boundless, everlasting goodness! who would have all his reasonable creatures saved, and none to perish; who gives means and opportunities to all to recommend themselves unto him; and who will not cut short the thread of life while there is any hope of the sinner's return and amendment.
O Almighty and everliving God! who are the only stay and support of thy creatures who depend upon thee! who, before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth and the world were made, art God from everlasting to everlasting !
With the profoundest humility we desire to adore and thank thee, for thine unspeakable favour to us who are now before thee, in that
thou didst not leave us in our original nothing; and however mean the materials of which we were composed, yet didst thou breathe into that dust out of which we were taken the breath of life, and a portion of thine own spirit; and hast made us capable of the highest attainments of truth and good
Sanctify, O Lord God! thy gift unto us, and go over again thy workmanship in us, whereinsoever any of us have sinned against thee, and have fallen away from truth and integrity.
Enable ns to make use of life and all its powers in thy service, which is nothing but our own greatest ultimate good ; in purifying ourșelves from every evil and inordinate affection; in advancing thy truth amongst our fellowcreatures, and laying hold of every opportunity of improving ourselves by these holy exercises, in which we have now been engaged ; that we may learn, whilst we are here, the business of heaven, and become acquainted with thee; before whom, we have humble hope of living for ever, when this whole scene of mortality shall be over. Our times are entirely in thy hands, O