Images de page
PDF
ePub

shall have praise of God. In the mean time, let us not judge and condemn one another; but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block, or occasion to fall, in his brother's way.. Why should we judge and set at nought our brother? We must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Since we cannot look into the hearts of our brethren, we must hope all things, and leave the decision of their state to him, whose judgment is according to truth. We are not to exclude men from our charity and fellowship on mere suspicion, or for want of the highest evidence of sincerity; but whoever professes subjection to the kingdom of Christ, and contradicts not that profession by an ungodly life, him we must receive as a fellow citizen with the saints, and of the household of God. Let us therefore be likeminded one toward another, according to Christ Jesus; and receive one another as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. Let us comfort and encourage one another, as fel. low workers to the kingdom of God, unite our influence to increase the number of his subjects, and to enlarge the extent of his kingdom on earth, and, in all things walk worthy of him, who has called us to his kingdom and glory.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Innumerable gone to the Grave, and every Man drawing after them.

JOB, xxi. 39

And every man shall draw after him, as there are innumerable before him.

THE main purpose of Job's discourse in

the preceding verses, and indeed through a great part of this book, is to shew, that no judgment can be formed of men's characters by the present dispensations of Providence toward them; for good men often meet with great calamities in the course of their life; and some are early cut off by the hand of violence; and wicked men, on the other hand, as often prosper in their worldly de signs, live to old age, and go down to the grave by a natural death; and consequently we must look for another state, in which an equitable dis tribution of rewards and punishments may take place.

He particularly observes concerning death, which is the greatest of worldly evils, and the most dreaded by the sons of men, that it is appointed, not as a punishment merely for a few distinguished

offenders, but as the common lot of all; and therefore from the time, manner, and circumstances of a man's death, we can conclude nothing concerning his character.

When we see one, by any means, or at any age, brought to the grave, we may properly make the same reflection which Job makes in our text-Every man shall draw after him, as there have been innumerable before him.

Such an event, however common, is very solemn. It admonishes us of the mortal condition of the human race, and of our own mortality in particular.

Job observes, that innumerable have already been brought to the grave. This was true in his day : It is more emphatically true now.

The numbers which have mingled with the dust, since man was first placed on the earth, exceed all computation. The human race has existed almost six thousand years. Before the flood the succession was less rapid, and probably the world less populous, than it is now. Procreation seems to have begun later in some proportion to the greater length of life. In the antediluvian genealogy no mention is made of a parent younger than sixty five years. But still, as the longevity of men, in that period, gave time for numerous families to spring from each progenitor, we must suppose, that the numbers, which were born and died, in the space of sixteen hundred years, were vastly great.

For a few generations after the flood, human life was still prolonged to a considerable extent. But it is now more than three thousand years, since it has been reduced to its present scanty measure. The earth is supposed to change its inhabitants, at a medium, three times in a century. The change, in this part of the world, is not so rapid; but applied to the world in general, perhaps the estimate

is not far from the truth. The number of people on the globe, at any one time, cannot possibly be ascertained to any degree of exactness. But it must doubtless amount to many hundreds of millions. Some have reckoned about nine hundred millions. Probably this calculation does not exceed the truth. Now suppose so many souls passing off this stage, and as many coming on, thrice in the space of one hundred years, which will be nearly eighty thousand in a day; and suppose this to have been the rate of succession for several thousand years past, and you will easily conceive the propriety of the expression-innumerable have gone before us. The numbers, which have already lived and died, utterly surpass our comprehension.

The fate of past generations will be the fate of the present, and the future. When we see a man go down to the grave, this is a natural thoughtEvery man will draw after him. Had we no other evidence of our mortality, but what arises from the multitudes which have died before us, this would be sufficient to put it beyond a doubt.

Our knowledge of future events, in the natural world, chiefly depends on observation and experience. That which has uniformly been the course of things, in former time, we expect will be their course in time to come. That the sun will rise again, after it has set, that summer will succeed to winter, that harvest will follow seed time, that fire will warm us, and our food will strengthen us, we conclude with a sufficient degree of certainty, be. cause this has ever been the steady course of nature. And experience gives us the same evidence, that we must go down to the grave, for innumerable have gone before us. For many thousand years there has not been an instance of a man's liv ing to any considerable length of time, in this VOL. I

O o

world. When we look around, we find but here and there one, but who was born within seventy or eighty years; and much the greater part within half that time. To expect immortality here, would be as absurd, and as contradictory to all human experience, as to expect perpetual summer, or unchanging sunshine. And to conduct as if we were never to die is as irrational, as it would be to order our affairs in summer, on the presumption that there is never to be another winter.

Though no man needs evidence to convince him, yet every man needs warnings to remind him, of his mortality. Providence, therefore, so orders events as to give us continual admonitions of this serious and most interesting change. Every death which we see, though it can hardly be called a proof of what is already as evident as possible, yet is a fresh call from God to the sons of men, to think of, and prepare for, their own approaching death.

Admonitions of this kind are of all the most solemn and impressive, because they not only tell us, but shew us, that we must die. And that they may be suited to persons of every age and condition, may come with greater power, may strike the mind with some solemnity, and may not lose their effect by growing too familiar, God is pleased to send men to the grave by different means, in a variety of ways, in every period of life, and under the greatest imaginable diversity of circumstances. In almost every death, there is something new and affecting. Job observes in the preceding verses; One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet, his breasts are full of milk, and his bones moistened with marrow: Another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth with pleasThey shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them.

ure.

« PrécédentContinuer »