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tions, and felt more in ourselves, there we shall fee in them nothing to offend us, and fhall thew nothing to offend them. The connexion here was intimate ; but the best part of it was that which arose from similarity of tempers and affections. The friendship of heaven will be wholly of this facred kind ; it will therefore be perfect, uninterrupted and permanent.
5. The death of a friend urges upon us religion in all its various duties; for it folemnly teaches us the necessity of religion to our comfort in life, hope in death, and happinefs in eternity:
If such an affliction have its proper influence, we shall commune with God in our closets, wor. ship him in our families, converse daily with his word, educate our children in his service, honor his name before men, compassionate the afflicted, contribute in our places to advance the intereft of the gospel, and assist our fellow mortals in their preparation for death and the future world.
Thus we should endeavor to make our own affiction a benefit to those around us. Then may we hope, it will do them good, when we make it manifeft, that it has done good to us.
UI. This introduces our third obfervation, That any affliction, which befalls men, especially the death of the head of a family, calls for the attention of all around, as well as of the immediate fufferers.
The death of the prophet's wife was appointed, in providence, to be a sign to the people in gener. al, as well as an adınonition to him. They were commanded to do the same things, which were required of him. The event was a warning to them of impending calamities; the prophet's behaviour was a pattern to them of their duty un. der those calamities.
When we see a neighbor deprived of the desire of his eyes by a stroke, and left with the care of a family, who needed her nurturing and guiding hand, we feel a tender compassion for him and them; we give him fome condoling words; we with him divine consolation and direction; we hope he will be wise. We observe his subsequent behaviour, to judge whether he derives any religious advantage from his painful affliction. If we lee him grave, serious and heavenly-minded, we rejoice in his wise improvement of the folemn admonition. But if we fhould see him quite the reverse, we should censure his inattention to the voice of God, and should wonder, that he could fo foon forget fo loud a warning--so soon forget his first feelings and resolutions.
But let us remember, that our afflicted neighbor is a sign to us; that the voice, which speaks to him, speaks to us; that the serious attention, which becomes him, becomes us ; that the im. provement, which ought to be made of the affliction by him, ought to be made by us; that we have no more right, than he, to disregard such a warning. The same view of the vanity of the world and of the uncertainty of life ; the fame piety and prayerfulness ; the same self-examination and seriousness ; the same diligence in pre. paring for death, cultivating religion in the heart and promoting it in society; the same prudence and fidelity in family education, which we would recommend to him, or which we expect from him, are, by the same providence, urged upon us all. In his case, we see that our friends are mortal, our connexions uncertain,, our families appointed to change. The time is at hand, with respect to us all, when a cloud will be spread over our houses by the hand of death ; when some will
mourn the loss of those, who go before them, and when these who are left, will follow those who are gone. In respect of mortality, there is nothing peculiar to one family or another. Every change, which we see, is an admonition to us all
. And if thoughtlessness would be criminal in the family, in which a change took place the laft week, it is also criminal in the families, in which a fimilar change may take place this week.
As a common expression of condolence to the afflicted, we say, “ We wish their affliction may be fanctified to them.” But we ought to make the fame use of it ourselves, which our benevolence wishes them to make. We pray for them, that they may be guided in the path of duty. If our prayer be sincere, we shall walk in the same path, in which, we think, they ought to walk. Can we really pray, that they should walk in it, when we turn from it ? Our very prayers for the afflicted at a funeral, and in the house of God, reprove our neglect of religion, and our inattention to the daily warnings of providence. The censures, which we bestow on some, who make light of their own afflictions, fall back on ourselves, when the same afflictions are unimproved by us.
We live in a mortal world ; we often fee changes and deaths; the providence of God, in vari. ous ways, is renewing and repeating its admoni. tions, some of which are more painful than others; but all equally plain and intelligible. Let us hear and obey the exhortation, which speaks to us, “ What your hands find to do, do it with your might ; for there is no work, nor wisdom, mor device in the grave, to which you are going.”
The Universal Obligation of Religion.
,11. KINGS xvii. 40, 41.
How beit, they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner. So
these nation's feared the Lord and served their graven images, both their children, and their children's children : as did their fathers, so did they unto this day.
AFTER the king of Assyria had conquer. ed the kingdom of Israel, and had carried away captive the greater part of the inhabitants, he repeopled the country by colonies sent from his own empire. These new inhabitants were idolaters. They worshipped their own deities, who, they imagined, had given them the country, and against whom, they supposed, Jehovah, the God of the land, had not power to defend it. As the couna try, after they were settled in it, was much infested with lions, they began to conceive more exalted thoughts of the God of Israel. They apprehended, that he might have fome power in the country over which he presided, and that, to keep at good terms with him, it might be best to observe the particular ceremonies which he was pleafed with, but which, at present, they did not un
derstand. They therefore sent to the king of Alfyria an account of the trouble they met with, and of the probable cause of it. They said, “ The nations which thou hast removed and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land ; therefore he hath sent lions among them ; and behold they lay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land.” They imagined Jehovah to be a divinity of the fame kind with their own, a local God, who presided only in a particular country, and who must be honored with certain peculiar rites, in which they had not been instructed. The Syrians had the same idea. When they had been defeated in an engagement with the Israelites, they accounted for the difafter by the local power of the gods of Israel. “ Their gods are gods of the hills, therefore they are Itronger than we : but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they'
Upon information of the disturbance, which the new inhabitants of Samaria suffered from the lions, the king of Affyria ordered, that one of the captive priests should return back to refide in Samaria, and teach these people the manner of the God of the land. Accordingly a priest was sent, who dwelt among them, and taught them,“ how they fhould fear the Lord,”-or how they fhould serve and worship the true God. But the priest was not able to bring them off from their attachment to their own deities and forms of worship. The moft he could do was to introduce the wor. ship of Jehovah in conjunction with idolatry. “ Every nation,” the people of every province in Affyria, who had been transplanted to Samaria, “ made gods of their own. They feared the Lord