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ken his fetters; an exile who has returned to the bosom of his country; a traveller who, after many fatigues, has arrived at home. All that I have loved, all that I have admired in thee, all that has attached me to thee, all thy wisdom, and all thy tenderness, still exist; but freed from weakness and infirmity, clothed with immortality. I see thee not in the tomb, which contains only the spoils of mortality, but in heaven, encompassed with glory. I see thee, not in this state where thy mind was bounded and thy heart checked in its impulses; but in the world of light, where the eyes of thy understanding, renewed and fortified, are fixed upon the Sun of truth; where thy heart, purified from all its blemishes, delivered from all its cares, experiences continually the most sublime and touching emotions. I see thee united to that God who gave thee being, and whose power accomplishes in all their extent those promises which his goodness had made to thee. My tears then shall be dried, or if I still shed any, they shall be tears of tenderness at the view of thy happiness.'
CHOICE OF DAVID UNDER ANTICIPATED JUDGMENTS.
1 CHRONICLES xxi. 13.
Let me fall now into the hand of the Lord, for very great are his mercies; but let me not fall into the hand of
"IT is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." We cannot, my brethren, have this declaration of the apostle too deeply impressed upon our mind whenever we are called to decide whether we shall obey God or man, whether we shall incur the anger of the Eternal or of the world. If looking beyond the present life, we think of the great day of retribution, in which the Judge of all the earth will avenge upon impenitent sinners his outraged justice and mercy; if we put in the balance the power of God and that of man, we cannot hesitate a moment on the choice that we ought to make. Ah, rather a thousand times fall into the hands of men than into those of this Almighty Judge! Rather a thousand times be the victims of their anger, than expose ourselves to his! Rather have the whole world, than God
alone for our enemy! What comparison is there between the evils that mortal creatures can inflict upon us, and those which we have to fear from a God immortal and omnipotent? What comparison between those who kill the body, and after that have nothing else that they can do, and him who can cast both body and soul into hell? But, my brethren, if changing our point of view, we consider not everlasting miseries, but the woes of the present life, if we compare the compassions of God with those of men, his goodness with their wickedness, the wisdom and equity of his ways with the injustice and irregularity of theirs, then we must change our language, and the penitent sinner, even at the moment when he sees heaven angry for his crimes, will exclaim, "Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for very great are his mercies, but let me not fall into the hands of men." These are implacable in their hatred; their vengeance knows no bounds; their weak goodness is soon exhausted. But God, though angry with us, is yet our father; his mercy is felt through his severest chastisements; and " though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion." It was the deep conviction of this truth that led David to adopt the words of the text.
Let us, in order to feel the force of his expressions, rapidly review those circumstances which induced the king of Israel to adopt them. David, distrusting the promises of God, or actuated by secret pride and ambition, ordered Joab to take an exact account of the number of all his subjects. This act was probably connected with some circumstances of which we are ignorant, which marked it as manifestly criminal, since Joab strongly remonstrated against it. His remonstrances, however, were vain,
and the prince persisted in his design. His conscience being at last aroused, he felt and confessed his guilt, and importunately deprecated the divine wrath. While thus humbled, the prophet Gad went to him by revelation, to inform him of the Lord's anger, and determination to punish him; at the same time referring it to his choice whether he and his people should suffer by famine, by war, or by pestilence. In the meek and submissive language of the text, David chooses the last, because it ргоceeds more immediately from the hand of God.
But, you ask, did David reason justly? When we are suffering under war, or any other calamity whatever, are we not in the hands of God? Are not the different agents of the universe, men, angels, elements, equally the ministers of his justice, or of his mercy? Yes; and no one more fully or explicitly acknowledged this universality of Providence than did David. He always, without justifying the wickedness of the instruments, bowed submissively to the disposals of God in all his persecutions. When Shimei breathed out his execrations against him, David meekly replied, "The Lord hath said unto him, Curse David;" that is, the Most High, in the adorable course of his providence, has permitted it.
But still, my brethren, there is a wide difference between those afflictions which come to us directly from the hand of God, and those which come by the intervention of men. Ah, how sensibly does the pious heart feel this difference! When men are the immediate authors of our sorrows, though it is always true that it is God who permits them; that it depends only upon his pleasure to arrest them: still in the sufferings which they cause us to endure, it is they whom we first behold; it is their unkindness or
enmity which first strikes us; and this view irritates the wounds of our souls, and agitates our afflicted hearts. It is often with difficulty that we elevate our eyes to the Supreme Governor of all, to acknowledge his sovereign justice in those same sufferings that are unjustly inflicted by our fellow-men.
Besides, the malignity of the principle whence our woes proceed, when they come from men, permits us to hope neither for bounds nor mitigation to them, because the hatred and passions which produced them still may continue. The heart then feels the present with bitterness, while it beholds no resource in the future. All these visible causes affect our senses and our mind, and hide from us more or less the invisible hand of God. What a difference when our afflictions proceed immediately from heaven! Then the believing soul sees only its God; it adores with submission the paternal hand which chastens it. Through his just anger, it discerns his infinite goodness. It doubts not, since "very great are his mercies," that they will temper, mitigate, arrest finally the chastisement. In these calamities, the first emotion of a child of God is to cast himself into the arms of his heavenly Father. Though this Father be angry, though he be armed with thunders, though he appear ready to inflict the severest punishment, yet his child, full of love, abandons himself to him with confidence. He knows what is the design of these chastisements. He knows that this God is "merciful and gracious, forgiving iniquity, transgres sion, and sin ;" and that an humble penitent always has access unto him. Happy in his bitterest woes that nothing interposes between his God and him; that no other object intercepts his view, he opens an asylum in the bosom of divine mercy against the