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to the gloomy gulf of annihilation, and extinguished for ever.
5. We "sorrow as those without hope," when we distrust the kindness of God, and are filled with unbelieving and undutiful fears and apprehensions concerning our future lot in life. Perhaps it was the earthly stay of a family that was removed; a husband to whom his partner and children looked up for support. But let them not be filled with despair, while such precious promises to them are written in the book of God, and while his throne is established in the heavens.
6. We "sorrow as those without hope," when in the grave of a departed friend we bury the remembrance of the other mercies which God continues to us; when, because the wife, the child, the parent, is removed, we become perfectly thankless for that goodness which encompasses us with such numberless and undeserved mercies. Ah! such a temper shows so little benefit from past afflictions, that severer strokes may be expected to teach us the value of those blessings, which we ungratefully despise.
Such is the sorrow for departed friends, which is excessive and forbidden. Let us now,
III. Inquire what are those considerations which are calculated to mitigate our grief, and prevent us from sorrowing as those that have no hope..
The Christian finds sources of consolation, whether he looks to God, to the world, to himself, or to his departed friends.
Look up to God, O Christian mourner! and cease to sorrow, as those without hope; it is he who removed your friend. If your bereavement had sprung from a blind chance or a fatal necessity, you might with some reason refuse to be comforted: but you
know that this is not the case; you know that it was dispensed by your Lord and Ruler; by the providence and appointment of Him, without whom not a sparrow falleth to the ground. How resigned, how patient, how humble, should this remembrance make us in our afflictions! Shall we not acquiesce in the disposals of a God infinite in power, in glory, in majesty? of Him who governs, and who deserves to govern, the universe? "Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why doest thou thus?" Shall we presume to teach the All-Wise how to govern the world that he has made, and when to remove his creatures from it? Oh! let us rather cry with Eli, "It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good." Let us bend under his chastening rod, and in the words of our Saviour exclaim, "Not my will, but thine be done."
Christian mourner! "sorrow not without hope," but acquire resignation from the remembrance, not only of the authority and omnipotence, but also of the exhaustless goodness and love of Him who afflicts Those bereavements that distress you, are you. ordered by the same heart that loves you more than you love yourself-spring from the same rich fountain of mercy that gave the Redeemer to expire for you upon the cross. And shall we complain of the dispensations of Omniscience, guided by paternal affection? Our Redeemer, in the extremity of his agony, cried out, "The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?" In like manner, let the pious, when mourning over deceased friends, exclaim, 'It is our Father, our compassionate, benevolent Father, who giveth us this cup to drink, who visiteth us with this affliction; shall we not receive it from him with resignation and full acquies
cence of soul? Father of our Saviour, our covenant Father in Jesus! in the midst of the tears which nature forces from us, we rejoice in thy grace; we bless thy chastening hand; we triumph in our covenant-relation to thee.
2. After looking to God, fix your thoughts upon the world, and from a contemplation of it learn to moderate your excessive grief. You exclaim as though your situation were peculiar; but the path in which you walk has been traversed by thousands now in glory; is treading by countless numbers of the children of God. Why should you be exempted from the common lot of mortality? Trace the bloody steps of the apostles and martyrs, and of the Lord and supporter of apostles and martyrs, while they were in this vale of tears, and then say, Who art thou, that the cup of affliction should never touch thy lips? Ah! murmur not, lest thou experience those acuter trials which holier men than thou have endured! Hast thou, like Job, seen all thy family swept away at a single stroke? Or, like Aaron, beheld two sons struck into death in a moment by the indignation of the Almighty? Or, like the mother of the Maccabees, beheld seven children tortured and expiring before thy face, previous to thine own martyrdom? Ah, ungrateful murmurer! think of the agonies that are rushing upon thousands in various parts of the world, and be dumb.
Look again at the world: behold its falsehood and its treachery; see under the roses with which the imagination of youth decks it, thorns which deeply pierce us; calculate the sum of the happiness which it can afford; and then say, whether it is so great a felicity to walk up and down upon it
for a few years, that we should sorrow as without hope for those who have closed their eyes upon it.
3. Look again, bereaved mourner, at thyself! contemplate thy sins, and while thou acknowledgest thou deservest perdition, adore that grace which, instead of bearing thy soul to despair, only laid thy friend in the grave. Look at the mercies he has spared, and which are unmerited. Oh! when thou knowest thine own deserts, thou wilt not repine. Where affliction lieth heavy, sin lieth light. Consider too what benefits these bereavements may produce. Hast thou been careless? These may awake thee, feelingly convince thee of the vanity of the world, and make thee flee to secure an imperishable portion. Art thou a child of God? If sanctified, these afflictions will give an ardency to thy devotions, a fervour to thy prayers, new life to all thy withering graces, tenderness and compassion for others; they will make thee cling closer to God, and pant for that kingdom that cannot be moved.
4. Finally, to prevent you from sorrowing as those without hope, consider the situation of departed believers: their bodies sleep in Jesus, their souls exult in glory.
Is there any one who cries, Oh! that I could have this consolatory hope with regard to my departed friends-then I would be calm; but I fear that they died without God and without Christ, and are now in despair.'
God have mercy upon thee, poor mourner! The Father of consolations pour his balm into thy soul! He only can do it, for a sword has indeed pierced through thy heart. An ordinary degree of grace will not uphold thee. But still it is thy duty to submit to Him whose ways are righteous and true; still
he who consoled that afflicted king, who cried, "Oh! Absalom, my son, my son! would God I had died for thee!" can support thee.
But oh, how different is the situation of him who can confidently follow the ascending spirit of his friend to the bosom of his Redeemer! He looks at the inanimate corpse of him whom he loved, and exclaims, This insensible mass is not the person that engaged my affections; it is only his earthly habitation; the organ which united him to sensible objects; the covering of that spiritual and imperishable germ, upon which death has no power: my friend has dropped this covering, but he still exists; he has only exchanged this valley of tears and misery, this state of trouble and vicissitudes, for a state of peace and felicity. O thou, who wast the charm of my days, how consoling is it to me to remember, that when I reflect on thee amidst the business of the world, and think of thee in the silence of the night, it is not a deceitful phantom which flatters me, a vain remembrance which amuses me; but an object really and truly existing, though separated from me. Yes; and thou existest for me; the farewell thou hast given me was painful, but it is not eternal; thy journey through earth has been some years, perhaps only some months, shorter than mine; thou hast advanced before me to that country to which I aspire, and where I shall also dwell; my faith perceives thee there, though thou art invisible to sense there I shall rejoin thee, there our hearts shall be re-united; I shall see thee perfect in holiness and love, enjoying a felicity ineffable and eternal. Why then, should I sorrow as those without hope? The moment of thy death has been that of a new existence. Thou art a captive who has bro