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* there fell this voice from heaven, Thy kingdom is “ departed from thee. The same hour was the thing “ fulfilled.” Together with his kingdom, that monarch's understanding departed from him, and he was sent to graze with the beasts; because he knew not that the heavens do rule. Ancient Babylon; the lady of kingdoms, given to pleasures, and dwelling carelessly, trusting in her high walls, her gates of brass, and bars of iron, was in one hour made defolate. Men in honour, who reflect not from whom promotion cometh, are suddenly abafed.
“ God will destroy, and not build them “ up; because they regard not his hand.” The confidence of him who boasted in his abundance, and prefumed on many years' ease, presaged the summons from the Sovereign of life, This night thy soul shall be required of thee. .
Do we trust in man, and make flesh our arm? Our heart departeth from the Lord. Admit that our hua man friend is wise, and good, and able to help us ; he may, by the act of providence, be rendered unable. Or his breath may go forth, and all his thoughts for our welfare perish. We may, at any hour, be deprived of his counsel, support, sympathy, fociety and example.
Does any one know that a firm constitution will hold out many years ? A disease, or any accident, to which the strong are as much exposed as the feeble, may fud- . denly prove fatal.
Superior talents may be impaired or destroyed, as bodily health and strength; and by the fame means. “ Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom; nor the
mighty man in his might; nor the rich man in his i riches."
As to fame, however well deserved and spotless, it may be blasted. Never is it more exposed, than when security and self-complacency put men off their guard. But felf.complacency and security aside: The moft modeft worth, the most circumfpect behaviour, are no fure guards. Envy, ambition and pride are able to
tarnish the fairest character, and have, not seldom, risen on its ruins-risen indeed but to fall. For “the tri“ umphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the
hypocrite is but for a moment. Boasting of a false gift, elevated without talents or integrity, which alone can dignify an high station, their own counsel casts them down.
O man, whoever thou art, who boasteft of to-morrow! thou knoweft not what will be on the morrow, shouldst thou then be among the living. Thou knowest not what may befal thy person, property, or reputation, or thy dearest comforts-what may happen to thy body or mind. Thou doft not know whether thou fhalt continue to enjoy foundness in thy Hesh, and rest in thy bones, and the exercise of thy reason; or be chaftened with sickness on thy bed, and the multitude of thy bones with strong pain; or thy inward powers suspended. Whether thy house shall be, as at present, thy children about thee, in vigourous health, and thy substance untouched; or whether some great alteration of state may be nigh-Whether thou shalt have further opportunity for any purpose, however laudable. Why should you be exempt from frowns of woe? You never knew an instance of unmingled, uninterrupted prosperity. Not to expect in this world the afflictions common to men, is to lay a sure foundation for disquietude and vexation of spirit. Would you lie under the imputation of this folly? If you know not what will be on the morrow, or the next year, on what ground do you determine that your condition will then be more happy than it now is? You may just as well determine that the coming day or year will be an evil one. Neither of these conclusions is wise: The first is presumption: The last is distrust. Wisdom dictates the medium between the two extremes. Nei. ther presume, nor defpond. Be content with thy present lot. In patience possess thy soul. Defer not until to-morrow, or the next year, what you should do today. Trust the Providence which is over all, and do good; so shall you be provided for. The good you hope for shall be bestowed; and the evil
fear averted—if best.
Beside the mutability and uncertainty of every terrestrial good; and, of consequence, our entire ignorance of what may take place in time to come, admitting that we ourselves shall still live; it is further to be considered that life itself is altogether uncertain. What is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
This emblem of human life, has been verified in all times. A vapour vanishes while you behold it. Thine eye is on me, said Job, and I am not. Life pafseth as a weaver's fhuttle ; as a post that hasteth by; as the swift ships, which leave no track behind them; as an eagle hasteth to ber prey. The wind pafseth over the flower of the field, and it is gone. All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. When most fresh and fair, man is a prey for death. His days are measured by an hand-breadth: He is crushed before the moth. By such emblems the scriptures have represented the brevity, the extreme uncertainty of life-the fading glory of man. Verily every man at his best ftate is altogether vanity.
How numerous the avenues of death! 'how incon. fiderable and unobserved the means ! How early and how fudden with respect to a large proportion! Thofe of the firmeft constitution, whose strength is the strength of stones, and their flesh of brass, are as liable to common accidents and instant death as any of the human race, The tallest trees in the forest are foonest torn from the roots. Elevated rank and flourishing circumstances are a conspicuous mark for death. Some, who by lingering diseases are reduced to skin and bones, who wait and long for death, are spared and revive; while those who looked for their removal from day to day, unthoughtful of their own, have left them behind in the world.
Great is their folly, who, neglecting the duty of the pafling day, thoughtless of what may be to-morrow, are eager to get and keep all they can hold within their grasp—or eager in the pursuit of pleasures, or honour, or power, or fame. They waste all their abilities and advantages in projections for years which they may not live to see; or if they should live, they would not realize their ardent wilhes. Shall beings of so fhort and uncertain date? shall probationers for eternal retributions, take so much care for this life, and be indifferent and thoughtless with respect to that to come? Shall they be thus forgetful of the vicissitudes of the world, and of the hour of their departure? Other thoughts and cares are enforced by the evident instability of men and things on the earth, the certainty and nearness of death, and the eternal consequences depending on the state in which it shall find us.
' Do we know what a day may bring forth in respect to our moral and religious character? May the good man presume that no future temptation will overcome him ? None could be more confident than Peter, that, in all circumstances of trial which might be before him, he should continue to own his Lord--that, if all others should deny Christ, he never would that he would follow him to prison and to death. Call to mind his shameful defection the very night in which he thus refolved. See the great need of the caution, “Let him “ who thinketh he standeth, take heed left he fall." This instance alone is sufficient to prevent the fuppofition that our own virtue, or that of any other person, is impregnable to assault. Let the good man watch and pray, fear and tremble. Snares and dangers, of which he is not aware, may beset him. Faith may be weak. Love may grow cold. Courage may fail
. Lust may entice and draw aside. Human strength is weaknefs. What character is there that has no vulnerable part ?-that is exempt from passions and infirmities? The latent wickedness of the heart is not known till
the hour of temptation. “Be not high-minded, but « fear. Who can understand his errours? Cleanse " thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy fervant “ also from presumptuous fins.” What circumspection! what mighty aids of grace are requisite to keep the faint from falling! « Take heed to thyself, that “ thou lose not the things which thou haft wrought."
When the consciences of sinners are awakened, they are wont to stifle conviction, with the vain imagination of a more convenient season to repent and turn from the errour of their way. Do they know what a day may bring forth? They may not live till to-morrow. Or should they be among the living, they may be cast on the bed of sickness. Sickness is not so convenient a season as health to do the work on which they were fent into the world. It calls for the joy of a good conscience, and the hope that maketh not alhamed. What assurance has the delaying finner that be shall enjoy his inward powers to-morrow, or the next year? what assurance that divine influence may not be withdrawn? “ The Holy Ghost faith, To-day, if
will hear his voice, harden not your heart." In the last place, our subject points out the course of wisdom and duty. Teought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
The Sovereign of life only knows how long we have to live. The number of our days is with him. In his hands our breath is. It depends entirely upon him, wliether we shall live another year, or day, and do this or that. He is the proprietor of our time and talents.
From these obvious truths the plain instruction is, that all futurity is to be referred to him. In his natural and moral kingdom he“ worketh all things after " the counsel of his own will." Whether we acquiesce in his will or not, the whole disposal of our life, the term and the circumstances of it, is with him. By