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4. A disposition to pray to a supreme power, in times of trouble, is common to all men.
Let us be careful, while we exercise this duty, not to provoke the Lord to punish us more severely, by offering up the prayers of wickedness; but let us call upon him in sincerity and truth; and let all our prayers be offered up in the name of Jesus.
5. The character of the divine Being is an en couragement to pray in offliction. He is full of compassion, and waits to do his needy creatures good. He pities men in their troubles, and his arm is stretched out to help and deliver. “Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgivéand plenteous in mercy to them that call
thee. 6. It is dreful to see a man plunged into deep affliction without the desire to pray. It some. times happens (let us think on it with horror) that men curse God in affliction : but they are like devils and damned spirits. O beware of a murmuring spirit, lest thou shouldst be hardened to such a degree as to curse God and look upwards! In which awful case, there could be but little hope of thy salvation. O let us pray with all prayer, and may God both hear, and answer, and bless!
A Message from God.
ISAIAH iii. 10, 11. Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with
him : for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.
Woe unto the wicked: it shall be ill with him ; : for the reward of his hands shall be given him.
THE world may be divided into two classes; the righteous and the wicked. The righteous are friends of God; the wicked are his enemies. Ministers, who are God's messengers, are commanded to comfort and encourage the righteous; but to denounce woes and threatenings to the wicked.
Our text contains two parts: first, it shall be well with the righteous : secondly, it shall be ill with the wicked.
I. IT SHALL BE WELL WITH THE RIGHTEOUŞ.
1. A righteous man believes what God has revealed, and obeys what God has commanded. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness—But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without
works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect.”
2. It shall be well with the righteous in this world. Outward circumstances may be unpromising ; but the inward state of his mind is well. He has omniscience to direct him, omnipotence to protect him, and infinite fulness to supply his wants. God is present with him as a cloud by day, and as a pillar of fire by night. Is he poor? He can trust in God. Is he rich ? His riches are sanctified, and enable him to do good. Is he in pain? He knows it will work for good, otherwise his heavenly Father would not have permitted it to come upon him. Do men despise him? He knows God sets a great value upon him, and looks down with complacency. It is well with him in times of public danger. The sword may go through the land; but he is safe. The plague may rage ; but he fears no danger. Earthquakes may shake the ground; but he stands firm on the Rock of Ages. Famine may prevail ; but his bread shall be sure, and his water shall not fail. Thus he lives : but how does he die? When death approaches all is well. His work is done, and he lies down in peace. God is with him, and he fears no evil. Holy angels stand
around his bed, and wait to conduct him to his Father's house. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." o the calmness, the sweetness of a dying saint! He would not exchange his situation with the proudest monarch on earth. The world has nothing to court his stay: heaven has every thing that his soul desires. “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.” Death is the end of this life, and then another life begins.
3. But it shall be well with the righteous in the world to come.“ They shall eat the fruit of their doings.” This is a figure borrowed from husbandry. The husbandman breaks up his ground, sowş his seed, and watches over it with constant care. He labours hard; and meets with many discouragements. Perhaps the seasons may be unfriendly, the fowls of the air, or the beasts of the field may visit his inclosure, and noxious weeds may spring up in abundance; but he waits for the harvest, when all his labour and care meet with a full reward. He gathers his corn, he makes his bread, and eats the fruit of his doings. This life is a seed time. “Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” We sow. with labour and care; but the harvest comes, and we eat the fruit of our doing. God will reward the righteous. They do not deserve what he will give; but he is gracious. The
reward will not be of debt, but of grace. God has promised, and he is faithful. We claim no merit, but our claim to the reward is as good as if we had all the merit to which some pretend.
Look forward, ye righteous, ' with joy. ful hope! You may sow in tears, but ye shall reap in joy, You may go forth sorrowing, but ye shall return rejoicing, bringing your sheaves with you. Think nothing of your toils, and pains, and labours. Heayen will recompense the just. Only be faithful to the end. Turn not aside from the holy commandment. Prize your present privileges; and prize your future hopes. Never exchange them for any thing that this world can give. If it were to give you all it has, you would be infinite losers by the exchange. You would exchange solid happiness for vanity and disappointment; you would exchange a heaven of glory for a hell of pain and shame!
II. IT SHALL BE ILL WITH THE WICKED.
Wickedness is either secret or open, All are wicked by nature; but some endeavour to conceal it, and others glory in their shame. The wicked who conceal their wickedness are abhorred of God, and the openly wicked are abhorred both of God and man. It shall be ill with both. The woes of God belong to them alike.