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cause to be ashamed of us, it is the grossest folly and presumption for the worldly wise man to glory in his wisdom, or the mighty man in his might, or the rich man in his riches. For, it would eventually profit us nothing to possess the kingdoms of the earth and all the glory of them, unless we have secured his approbation, who can bestow salvation on our souls. That we may so run the way of our Lord's commandments, as hereafter to obtain his precious promises, may God of his infinite mercy grant, through the merits and mediation of the same compassionate Redeemer; to whom be all praise, honour, and glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
On the Character of Barzillai.
2 SAMUEL xix. 39.
And all the people went over Jordan. And when the king was come over, the king kissed Barzillai, and blessed him; and he returned unto his own place.
THE sacred historian is here giving an account of the return of king David to Jerusalem, after he had been expelled, for a season, from the seat of his government, by the insurrection of his son Absalom. In the hour of his distress, when many of his most obliged friends had deserted him, and were persecuting him even unto death, Barzillai the Gileadite remained firm in his attachment, entertained him in his exile with great hospitality, and treated him with every mark of affectionate respect. When prosperity began once more to smile upon him, David wishes to compensate the favours which he had received, and to make his disinterested friend a more intimate partaker of his joy-"Come thou over with me," says the grateful monarch, "and I will feed thee with me in "Jerusalem." The good old man recommends his
son to the attention of his royal master; but, for himself, modestly declines the proferred kindness. So far as duty and respect required, he was ready to go; but, the world and its enjoyments were, to him, matters of little worth and significance-" Thy servant will go a "little way over Jordan with the king; and then, let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again, that I may "die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of
my father and my mother." His request was complied with, and he was dismissed with the strongest testimonies of gratitude and respect; "for the king "kissed Barzillai, and blessed him; and he returned "unto his own place."
The most effectual mode of conveying religious instruction is, by proposing examples drawn from real life. In this way, moral characters may be delineated with the utmost accuracy, the springs of human action may be clearly unfolded, and all the secret windings of the heart discovered and traced. Virtue and vice, in this manner, seem to be brought nearer to our view; and from a more distinct prospect of the beauty of the one, and deformity of the other, our love and abhorrence are proportionably increased. Although Jesus Christ has afforded a spotless example, by contemplating which, the Christian's emulation may be continually excited; we are, nevertheless, commanded, in general terms-" To be followers of all those who "through faith and patience inherit the promises." The only-begotten Son of God was a personage of a very superior nature; favoured with extraordinary communications from the great source of all perfection; entirely without sin, and full of grace and truth. Since the example which he has left us can never be
completely imitated by any imperfect mortal, we are too apt to invent excuses for our voluntary defects; and, instead of aspiring to the nearest resemblance, sit down contented with an inferior degree of virtue: what ought to be a reason for an unremitting progression in all goodness, is made an argument for our stopping in the midst of our career. But when we see persons in the ordinary situations of human life, who are blessed with no superior advantages, either of native excellence or adventitious instruction, by the mere force of incessant application, rising to eminence in wisdom and virtue; every excuse is obviated; our deficiencies stand justly condemned; for it is evident that our inferiority proceeds from wilful negligence, and not unavoidable necessity. Long before the Sun of righteousness arose upon mankind; before the way, the truth, and the life, were clearly revealed; under the obscure and imperfect institution of Moses, many instances of piety and charity were exhibited, which may cause us to blush who enjoy the superior privileges conveyed by the glorious Gospel. Of several of these characters, St. Paul has made honourable mention in his Epistle to the Hebrews. That of the good old Barzillai is, indeed, omitted. It is, nevertheless, worthy of attention, and deserves higher commendation than it has commonly received. To set this amiable character in such a point of light, as to attract your esteem and engage your imitation, shall be my endeavour in the following discourse.
And, in the execution of what is here proposed, I shall comply with the immediate requisitions of our Church, who, on this day, recommends the duty of brotherly love to our particular regard. After having
conducted our meditations through the various stages of our Redeemer's humiliation and exaltation to glory, she instructed us to conclude, on the last Sunday, one period of our ecclesiastical year in the public profession of a true faith-in acknowledging the glory of the eternal Trinity. We are now to show the purity of our faith, by the goodness of our works. We are now to proceed from meditations on the various scenes of our Saviour's life and sufferings, to the imitation of his virtues. And, as condescension and pity were the predominant dispositions of his heart; as all the law and the prophets are comprised in the two commandments, to love God with all our hearts, and our neighbour as ourselves; you observe, the Church has called your devout attention to these duties, by selecting the Epistle and Gospel which were read to you in the course of her service for this day. And can you hear the beloved disciple declare" Herein is love, "not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and "sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins"— Can you hear this affecting declaration, and not be inclined to follow him in the inference which he draws from it-"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also "to love one another?" Can you listen to the awful description of the misery to which the luxurious and unfeeling rich man was reduced, and not tremble lest the indulgence of a similar disposition should bring you also down to the same place of torment? Let our hearts expand with genuine charity to every afflicted Lazarus to every brother who stands in need of the offices of compassion. Let us diligently cultivate the blessed fruits of the spirit, by which we are to testify our qualifications for the enjoyment of the felicity of