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« field should yield no meat; though the flocks " should be cut off from the fold, and there shall be se no herd in the stall, yet will I rejoice in the Lord, "I will joy in the God of my falvation."
Thirdly, with respect to appearances of moral evil and disorder, it is afflicting to the mind to behold disorder in the universe of God : bad men of ten exalted, while the good man's lot is bitterness and pain : virtue depressed, and vice triumphant. He who caused light to arise out of darkness, and order and beauty to spring from chaos and confusion, can correct these irregularities. He not only restrains, and says, “ Hitherto, and no further." He also overrules and makes the wrath of men to praise him. Hear how he gives commission, and sends Sennacherib against Israel, as a general sends a weapon of war.
“ O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, “I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and “ against the people of my wrath, to tread them 66 down like the mire of the streets. Howbeit he “ meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think fo ;" that is, neither doth his heart think that he is a mere instrument in the hand of God. David was raised to the throne of Israel by those steps which his foes devised against him. The enemy of mankind, seducing our first parents, was the means of their being elevated to a greater degree of happiness
Lastly, With respect to our departure from this world, and entering upon a new state of being, we know that the time is appointed, when dust shall return unto dust, and the spirit unto God who gave it. But it is awful, it is alarming to nature, to call up
hour when the union between foul and body shall be diffolved; when our connection with all that we held dear in life shall be broken off; when we shall enter upon a new state of existence, and become inhabitants of the world unknown. But even then the providence of God will give us comfort. The Lord reigneth king for ever and ever. The dominions of the dead are part of his kingdom ; time and eternity, the world that now is, and the world that is to come, confess him for their Lord. . When thou goeft through the dark valley, he will go with thee: in the hour of dissolving nature, he will support thy fpirit. Thou canst not go but where God is. Around thee is infinite love, and underneath thee arę the everlating arms.
The path of the just is as the shining light, that jineth
more and more unto the perfect day.
HUMAN life has been often compared to a journey, for this as well as for other rea. fons, that we are always making progress in our way. In whatever path we set out, there is no standing still. Evil men wax worse and worse : the corruptions of their nature gather strength : the vices which they have contracted grow into habit ; the evil principle is for ever on the increase, till having attained the ascendant over the whole man, it subjects him entirely to its own power, the willing and obedient servant of fin. Good men, on the other hand, make advances in the paths of righteousness The grace
of God, which is given unto them, lies not dormant. The better mind with which they are endowed, incites them to virtue : the new nature which they have put on, pants after perfe&tion. They give all diligence to add to their faith virtue, and to virtue temperance, and to temperance brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity, until having abounded in every good work, they perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. Such a life is here called the path of the just. By the just in Scripture, are not meant those who merely abstain from doing unjust and injurious things to their neighbours.
The just man is he who possesses that sincerity of heart, and that integrity of the whole life which God requires of man,
The life of such a man is here compared to the light of the morning. Nothing in nature is more lovely than the light. When the Spirit began to move upon the face of the deep, light was the first effect of his creating power; and when the six days' work was finished, light collected and centred in the sun, continued to be the grandest and most beautiful work of nature ; so grand and beautiful, that among many of the heathen nations it was worship ped as the visible divinity of the world. What light is to the face of external nature, the beauty of holiness is to the soul. It is the brightest ornament of an immortal fpirit ; it throws a glory over all the faculties of man ; and forms that robe of beauty with which they shine, who walk in white before the throne of God.
But it is chiefly on account of its progressive nature, that the path of the just is here compared to the shining light. In order to illustrate this, I shall, in the first place, show you how we shall know if we have made progress in the paths of righteousness. Secondly, Give you some directions how to make further progress. Thirdly, Exhort you to a life of progressive virtue.
I am first then to show how we shall know if we have made progress in the paths of righteousness.
In the first place, let me ask you, are you sensible of
your faults and imperfections ? The first indica. tion of wisdom is to confess our ignorance, and the first step to virtue is to be sensible of our own imper
fections. The novice in science is puffed up with his early discoveries ; when the first ray of wisdom is let in upon his mind, he thinks that by it he can see and know all things. Deeper views and maturer reflection convince him how little he knows. In like manner, he knows little of religion, and has been but a short time in the school of Christ, who is blind to his own imperfections. Our fall from innocence was by pride, and we must rise by humility. “ He that humbleth himself shall be exalted,” is the doctrine which our Lord delivered upon all occafions. Till we feel our own weakness, we can never be strong in the Lord; we never can rise in the Divine fight, till we sink in our own estimation. We often meet with persons in life, who talk very strangely upon this subject. They tell us that they are as good as ever they expect to be ; that in looking back upon their past life, they see nothing done which they would wish undone ; and that if they were to begin life anew, they would act precisely as they have acted. Concerning such persons, we may safely pronounce that they have made but little progress in the path of the just. They are strangers to their own hearts, and have not proper ideas of the Divine law. They measure the law of God by the laws of men, and think that if their external conduct is blameless, they have acted their part well : not considering that the law of God extends to the heart, and punishes for the omission of duty as well as for the commission of fin. Such errors the Pharisees taught of old; and such notions of duty Paul had imbibed before his conversion to christianity. “ After the straitest sect of our religion,” says he,