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with all our certainty of death, we are too prone to live and act as tho we were never to die. I behold in this assembly a large number of youths, but there is one, who was educated in the first rudiments with you, who is not here. You, my young friends, will never see him again, no more on earth will you share his pleasant society, he has gone from you, and will never return. But you must follow him, and that shortly too. Perhaps you have already laid out business in your own minds, which would require a long life to perform; if so, I entreat you to consider that we may make our plans, but there is One who can disappoint and frustrate them all. Undoubtedly, the young man, whose decease we this day commemorate, had many flattering prospects before him; but how soon were they destroyed! Like the cloud of the morning before the bright sun, they all vanished away. Why it is so, that one who appeared to be every way qualified to live and be useful in society, should be cut down like a spire of grass, to us is unknown. This is one of the mysteries of God's providence, which we cannot comprehend. Then, my youthful friends, seeing it is thus, seek first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you. Should you be called to die while young, you will be prepared-prepared to sing the song of the Lamb, which is victory over death; prepared for everlasting happiness in the world of spirits.
But I pass further to notice, that there are not only occurrences in God's natural providence which are mysterious and incomprehensible, but also in his word, in divine revelation, there are many things written which we do not and cannot understand now. Jesus asserted this to his beloved and affectionate disciples. "What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter." The blessed Redeemer frequently spake to his followers in parables, and only in a few instances
has he left an explanation of them. We therefore are to make up our judgment of those parables which are given to us unexplained, according to our best understanding of the Savior's meaning. And if our brother does not agree with us respecting the sentiment of any parable, all we have to do is to wait till the period shall arrive, when we shall be more perfectly instructed. For we have the promise that we shall know hereafter; and more than this, the time is coming, when neighbors shall have no occasion to teach their neighbor, "saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know him from the least to the greatest." Happy period this! All men's opinions and faith will be changed to vision, and all human differences will cease, and one eternal day of harmony and praise will ensue. But until this glorious morning shall beam upon us, we ought never to be idle, nor let our precious moments pass away without improvement. If we have but one talent, we ought to improve that, and we shall be sure of our reward. I advise you, my brethren, to read the scriptures, and strive to know their true meaning for yourselves.There are too many at this day, who talk much about religion, but have never read the Bible but little themselves. Such ones will discourse as they have heard others discourse, and their observations are a mere repetition of some great man's opinion. Let us, my hearers, never do in this manner. May our opinions be formed by a careful reading of the oracles of truth. Let us not take the opinion of any man to be right, till we have proved it from the scriptures.
Altho we cannot attain to the highest state of perfection here, yet there is much knowledge which we might acquire by a faithful exercise of our powers, which would render us both happy and useful. It is, however, the complaint of some, that in reading the Bible, they can acquire no certain information; for one
man will give his opinion one way, and another directly opposite. This, to be sure, is the case in some instances, but not in all. There are certain important truths revealed in the scriptures, of which all men have but one opinion. I mean the two great commands, on which hang all the law and the prophets-that we should love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our minds, and our neighbor as ourselves. These are principles which we must possess, or we cannot be happy; and they are easily understood. Tho we cannot comprehend the meaning of every passage in the holy writings, let us be careful that we make a profitable use of those we do understand, and in due time we shall have more light.
Having thus noticed that we do not at present understand all the propriety of God's ways with us, let us not murmur nor repine. This is undoubtedly all for our good. As Mr. Pope observes,
"Oh blindness to the future, kindly given,
That each might keep the circle mark'd by Heaven!"
And as it respects moral evil, the same author remarks,
"If storms and earthquakes break not Heaven's design, Why then a Borgia or a Catiline ?"
Wherefore it ought always to be remembered by us, before we judge any matter relative to the divine government, that we in this mortal state only "know in part, and prophesy in part." But "when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." Hence we have reason to hope and expect the present checquered scene of our existence will terminate in brighter vision and greater glory.
II. I shall now notice and bring to view some of the evidences which are given us in the scripture relative
to an increase in knowledge. Jesus says, in the language of our text, "What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter." That the term "hereafter," here used, alludes to the future state of existence, I do not contend; yet it may have some reference to it. It appears that when our Savior had finished washing the disciples' feet, he spake to them in the following manner: "So after he had washed their feet and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his Lord; neither he that is sent, greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." 12-17. This is probably what Christ promised to make known to his disciples, and it is a very full and perfect explanation, and expresses that deep humility which he maintained in all his life. But if the human race should ever become perfect and happy, it must take place in another state of existence; there, through the goodness of God, we shall see as we are seen, and know as we are known. All the trials and troubles which we have endured in this world, will be made to appear, in all probability, both just and right. Sickness, sorrow and death, we shall see, were only means to bring about a glorious end. Our faith will be changed to sight, our hope will end in fruition; but charity, that noblest and most perfect of the christian graces, will unite us to God and all the heavenly host forever and ever. This heavenly state, where our knowledge in the Lord will be perfected, cannot at present be conceived as it will be enjoyed in reality. It is what eye hath not seen,
ear hath not heard, neither hath it entered into the
heart of man to conceive its glory. As the apostle expresses it, we know not how great we shall be made, we walk by faith, and not by sight. The revelation of this heavenly state, after death, must be a consolation to every person who believes it. It is calculated, in the effect it produces on the heart of the believer, to prepare him for death, to wean him from this transitory world, and incline him to a better state. As we are mortal and unprofitable creatures in this world, and every thing we behold around us is perishable, why should we not call in the aid of religion to support us, why should we not turn our eyes toward Mount Zion, and rejoice in hope of eternal life? Indeed, our Savior has come to give life to the world, his arms are opened wide to receive sinners, and his voice most pleasantly invites us all to come. Says he, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Let us never refuse this invitation. Our greatest happiness is connected with it. All who receive Christ by a true and living faith know him to be precious. They know that he does never promise more than he fulfils. His yoke is easy, his burden is light, and the rest he grants is inexpressibly glorious. It is a sweet repose from all the perplexing cares of this imperfect state. And those who come to Christ do learn of him, they increase in heavenly knowledge; they understand the fellowship of the Father and the Son. A new and living way is pointed out wherein they are to walk. It is a high way, where the ransomed of the Lord may journey and rejoice together. And at the end of our journey, having been faithful, we shall unite with all the redeemed to ascribe praise to God and the Lamb