« PreviousContinue »
shall put on immortality. You shall enter upon a new and nobler state of existence, where your decayed faculties shall be restored, enlarged, and perfected; where you shall never grow old, nor your happiness ever decline; and where after millions of ages, you shall be increasing in vigour and happiness. For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed you; and lead you to living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes,
A PIOUS OLD AGE.
A Funeral Sermon for Afrs. Elizabeth Smith,
JOB V. 26.
Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a
shock of corn cometh in his season. Tuis day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. A fairer, fuller, riper sheck the world has seldom seen : and we are now met together to sing harvesthome. I doubt not but the celestial choir are joining with us: for if there is joy in heaven among the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth, surely their joy will be greater when the saint is arrived safely ia l'eaven.
There is generally a considerable distance between the seed-time and harvest. “ The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruits of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and the latter rain.” It was remarkably so in the instance before us. The seeds of grace were sown in the early part of her life; and as the season was favourable, the blade sprung up quickly. At that time religion was more in fashion than at present; and those who had taken up a profession, were not ashamed to wear it publicly. No sooner did any ask the way to Zion,
but many were ready to countenance and encourage them; and she found so much advantage from it herself, that during the remainder of her life, she was eminently active and useful, in the instruction and encouragement of others. In such a season, therefore, it is not wonderful that her growth in grace was soon observed. But even corn must not grow too rapidly. If the weather were to be always mild and moist, it would run up too much into stalk, and spend itself before the proper earing time has arrived. Providence, therefore, wisely orders intervals of frost and snow to check its luxuriance; that by taking deeper and firmer root in the earth, it may be better able to withstand any accidental storm, and to support the ear when it becomes full and heavy. This was the very method God took in his dealings with her. At her entrance into life, her prospects were fair and promising. But she was sent betimes to the school of affliction. She there learnt many hard lessons, and her profiting appeared to all men ; so that she could say with David, “ Blessed is the man whom' thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law :” and she could add, with the Apostle, “ I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Every where, and in all things, I am instructed, both to be full, and to be hungry; to abound, and to suffer need. For I have learnt, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” When her trials began, she was, perhaps, at a loss how to reconcile them with the kindness of God: for no affliction for the present is joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterwards, when she found it yielding the peaceable fruits of righteousness, when tribulation began to
work patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; when she saw that one grace after another was improved by this exercise, then the wisdom, love and faithfulness of God were fully vindicated: and she was always ready to acknowledge, that goodness and mercy had followed her all the days of her life. Under this fatherly discipline, she attained such a knowledge, in what we may call, with regard to a Christian's experience, the deep things of God, as few private Christians have acquired. She became so rooted and grounded in the love and practice of universal holiness, that those of us who have known her longest, never remember her, but as the house built upon a rock, which no storms could overthrow. Amidst a variety of distressing changes in life, she continued stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; till at length, in compassion to his good, old, faithful servant, God was pleased to send one of death's gentlest messengers, to bid her rest from her labours, and enter into the joy of her Lord.
The promise in the text was directed' to Job. It encouraged him to humble himself before God, and to make a right use of his affecting dispensations. If we look back to the seventeenth verse, we shall find Eliphaz talking like a wise and good man,
Behold,” says he,“ happy is the man whom God correcteth; therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty. He could have said nothing better; and upon a presumption that Job would hearken to his counsel, he assures him of a long train of blessings during his life, and a late, a happy, and an honourable death.
«« Thou shalt come to thy grave.” Yes, there is a grave marked out for every one, which they may call their own, and sooner or later shall inhabit. It is the house appointed for all living. In this sense the words sound harsh and threatening. But if we consider them as spoken to an aged believer, they will convey a different and more pleasant meaning. Thou shalt come to thy grave. As if it had been said, “ Do. not suppose that thou art forgotten, because thou art kept so long in the land of the living. There is a grave provided for thee; and when the time to favour thee is come, thou shalt enter into peace and rest in thy bed. Thou shalt not be dragged to it, like those who struggle hard with death; and who will not quit their hold of life without a violent effort : but thou shalt come to it voluntarily, eagerly, joyfully, as the tired traveller to his inn, or the wearied labourer to his chamber of rest.”
“ Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age.” Some are never satisfied with life. Let them live long, they would continue here a little longer. Under the Old Testament, temporal promises were frequently connected with religion ; and long life was considered as a mark of special favour. But old age is not essential to the happiness of a Christian; and therefore, since life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel, is not in itself to be considered as so important a blessing. But now and then, God raises up a burning and a shining light, the lustre of whose ex. ample is eminently delightful and useful: and, as if he were unwilling to deprive the world of such a lua, minary, he lets :it shine to fourscore years, or to a still later period. Then, indeed, it seems to us to be put