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And, above all, that universal respect and honour will complete it-] These views, however, are very erroneous
(We deny not but that these sources of enjoyment afford a present gratification
Nor do we say that wealth, or ease, or pleasure, or reputation, may not be very innocently enjoyed
But it is a great mistake to think that happiness consists in these things
Or that, if possessed in ever so great abundance, they would compensate for the want of spiritual blessings
There are riches of far greater value than the wealth of this world
Nor can any one possess those, who is very solicitous about this
None can know his need of divine grace, and not pant after it
In such indigent creatures a Laodicean state is abominabled
Moreover, God calls men to mourn and weep for their sins
Is it desirable then to possess a light and vacant mind?
Such too is the enmity of the world against God, that it is not possible to retain the friendship of both at the same time
Should we then consider human estimation as of transcendant value?
Surely these things may shew us how erroneous the world's judgment is ] Nor is there any delusion more fatal
[Our Lord could not be mistaken in his judgmentYet he denounces the heaviest woes against the rich, the full, the gay, and the respected
And distinctly assigns his reason for each denunciation
They who are occupied with carnal gratifications, make no provision for their eternal welfare
Hence, when bereft of the things of this life, they will be for ever destitute
Having had their portion now with the men of this world, they will participate in their lot hereafter
We may see these truths realized in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus]
bo Matt. xiji. 44. c Ps. xlii. 1. & Rev. iii. 16, 17. & James iv. 9, 10. f James iv. 4.
He was & No flagrant evil whatever is imputed to the rich map. not wholly deștitute even of liberality, since Lazarus received his
Having exposed error, we would establish truth, by shewing II. The representations of happiness given us in the
scriptures Poverty, dissatisfaction, sorrow, and contempt, are, it must be confessed, not pleasing in themselves —
Nor indeed does any blessing necessarily attach to them
But under certain circumstances they may be a desirable portion
[Poverty and sorrow often have been, and still are, endured for Christ's sake
Nor is there any thing more common than for his servants to be reviled and despised for their fidelity to him
It should seem indeed that the world could not hate and execrate those, whom God esteems and declares blessed
But the treatment which the prophets, and Christ, and his apostles, met with, proves the contrary
If we then be treated like them, we have no reason to be dejected
Yea, rather, we may consider it as an honour conferred on us by Godk]
In a spiritual sense, poverty, hunger, &c. are great blessings
[No doubt there is a spiritual meaning also in our Lord's words
And what so desirable as to feel our need of Christ?
And what so desirable as to be hungering after his righteousness?
And what so desirable as to be mourning for our corruptions?
And what so desirable as to endure shame for his sak?ek.
They who experience most of this state, find most delight in it
The are most fortified against the incursions of worldly sorrow
And most abound in spiritual consolations-]
And all who now submit to the pressure of spiritual afflictions, shall be abundantly recompensed in the eternal world
daily subsistence from his table. The reason of his condemnation was, that, while he abounded in wealth, ease, pleasure, and honour, he wept not for his sins, nor hungered after the blessings of grace and glory.
h Phil. i. 29. Compare Matt, v. 3, 4.
k Acts v. 41.
[In heaven there is enough to repay all our laboursThe riches of glory will compensate for all present lossesThe fulness of joy in those blest abodes will satiate the hun
The inconceivable delights will far outweigh our transient sorrows
And the honour which God will put upon us in the society of saints and angels, will make us forget our short-lived disgrace
Christ, the true and faithful witness, has repeatedly affirmed this
And he who declares such persons blessed, himself will make them som] ADDRESS 1. The mistaken votaries of this world
(All profess to seek after happiness But how many mistake the shadow for the substance
We may even appeal to you to declare who are truly blessed
O that we would take eternity into our estimate of present things!
O that we would cease from circulating our fatal errors! And acquiesce in the unerring declarations of God! We can easily see, that a man who should drink a palatable but poisonous draught, would be no object of envy
Let us be persuaded then that momentary delights can never constitute us blessed He alone is happy, who is happy for eternity-] 2. The humble followers of Jesus
(Let not your hearts envy the prosperity of sinners" Remember that you are the only blessed people upon earth
Your very griefs and sorrows are grounds of self-congratulation
The time is shortly coming, when men's apparent states will be reversedThen will be fulfilled that glorious prophecy of IsaiahoBe content then to “fill up the measure of Christ's sufferings"And take for your comfort that delightful promiseP--]
12 Cor. iv. 17.
m Comment on the text according to the world's views; “ Woe to you poor, &c.: but no woes to you that are rich, &c.; ye are blessed:"Who would endure such a comment? Ps. xxxvii. 1, 2. o Isai. Ixv. 13, 14. p Ps. cxxvi. 5. 6.
DXXII. SOWING IN TEARS.
Ps. cxxvi. 5. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
THIS seems to be a general truth founded on the experience of those who returned from the Babylonish captivity, and the correspondent experience of all who return from the bondage of sin and Satan. The Israel. ites, like Peter liberated from his prison, were so astonished at their deliverance, that it seemed to them more like a dream than a reality. The very heathens themselves wondered at it, and ascribed it to the influence of Jehovah, as also the Israelites did with joy and gratitude, taking occasion from it to implore the speedy and perfect restoration of all their tribes. Such also are the wonder and joy occasioned by the conversion of a soul to God; and such are the desires which instantly vent themselves in fervent petitions for complete deliver
But as among the captive Jews, so in the inslaved soul, a season of sorrow precedes the time of emancipation. Nevertheless it shall be found universally true, that they who sow in tears shall reap in joy.
Let us enquire
“ The sorrow of the world worketh death; and therefore cannot be that to which the promise is made. To sow in tears implies 1. A painful recollection of past sins
[We are all sinners from our earliest youth: and every sin we have ever committed, is as fresh in the remembrance of the Deity as if it had been committed this very hour. Nor should we think the less of our sins because they have been long passed: on the contrary, we should view them with all the shame and sorrow that they excited in our bosoms the very instant that our consciences first accused us. Like God's people of old, we should be bowed down greatly in the recollection of them, and earnestly intreat, with David, that God would not call us into judgment for them.'] 2. A penitent concern for present infirmities
a Ver. 1-4. The rain which descended in torrents on the southern or hilly country of Judea, often filled the vallies with rapid streams, which quickly passing away as soon as the rain ceased, the rivers were suddenly transformed into verdant fields. Thus sudden and perfect the Israelites desired their restoration to be.
[The very best of men has much within him to mourn over.
It is but in part that any of us are renewed. Many are the corruptions that yet work within us; and the very imperfection of our prayers and praises is enough to make us go mourning all the day long. St. Paul found so much conflict in his soul by reason of his indwelling corruptions that he exclaimed, “O wretched man that I am;" and groaned earnestly for death as the season when he should be freed from all the imperfections of his nature, and serve, as well as enjoy, God with unabated ardor. Thus should we also “go softly before God in the bitterness of our souls, ," and loathe ourselves before him in dust and ashes.]
3. An overwhelming sense of God's goodness
(Nothing is more characteristic of true piety than this. Every day and hour we have reason to adore the divine goodness. What patience does God exercise towards us under all our backslidings! What readiness does he manifest to return to our souls the very instant we return to him, yea, often revealing himself to us, and shedding abroad his love in our hearts, when we had no reason to expect any thing but some heavy token of his displeasure! The Psalmist, impressed with such views of God, exclaims, “O how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee, which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!"" But the most striking example of this frame of mind is afforded us by the poor woman, who, to express her love and gratitude, kissed the feet of her Saviour, and washed them with floods of tears. Would to God that such were the state of our minds, and that we might ever be found, as to our souls at least, in that posture!)
Omitting many other grounds of weeping, we proceed to enquire II. What encouragement we have to weep
To those who sow their corn, there is but one harvest: but to those who sow in tears there are two 1. We shall reap in this world
[God will not despise the broken and contrite heart:k on
Ps. xxxviii. 3-8. Jer. xxxi. 19. and iii. 25. Ezek. xvi. 63. e Ps. xxv. 7..
d Rom. vii. 14-24. e 2 Cor. v. 4. * Isai. xxxviii. 15. & Job xl. 4. and xlii. 8. h Ps. xxxi. 12. i Luke vii. 38. k Ps, li, 17.