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bosom. But why should affliction enervate or unman us? Have' we forgotten that the same God who gave the day gave also the night-the storm as well as the calm ? They serve the same purpose in the moral as in the natural world. They teach us by contrasts the value of the Divine gifts, and tend to purify the heart from its carnal corruptions. Oh, how many have been indebted to affliction's school! It is thus that they have learned themselves and the nature of the world, the mode of enjoying as well as of suffering; and, with the apostle, they have known both to be full and to be hungry, to abound and to suffer need.
Let it not be said, that this fortitude is constitutional. Humanity always rebels against suffering; and resignation is acquired by remembering our relation to God and the world, and the moral benefits resulting from momentary pain. The merchant, the scholar, the man of pleasure, the ambitious zealot, knows and practises it; for they rerceive that in acquiring treasures much is to be endured. In preparing for heaven, the richest of all prizes, the Christian schools his mind to trials, as the pupil to his studies, knowing that they are the means of purifying his nature, and exalting his affections more ardently to God. His constitutional passion bows to the influence of his faith. He invokes the aid of the Spirit of THE ALMIGHTY, by whom his virtues and graces are quickened, his repentance and devotion, enlivened and perfected; and enlarging at the top like the holy palm, he is filled with the light and consolations of the Gospel, and goes on his way rejoicing, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of his faith.
III. The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree in their duration.
Ever verdant, and beautiful, this tree flourishes as well in å desert as on the banks of a river—in a temperate valley, as on a stormy mountain in the limits of perpetual snow. In winter as well as summer, they blossom throughout the year; and they last to a vigorous old age, regardless of the storms and hurricanes that rage around them. A modern traveller* informs us that “the palm tree arrives to its greatest vigor about thirty years after transplantation, and continues 30 seventy years afterwards ;* after this period it begins to decline, and usually falls about the latter end of the second century."
* Dr. Shaw.
In length of days, also, shall the righteous flourish as this tree. Regarded as a temporal promise, the blessing of a long life may, undoubtedly, be viewed as the heritage of the pious. Solitary cases affect nota general principle, foralthough many followers of CHRIST are called away in the morning and noon of life, yet regular and virtuous habits, springing from love towards God, tend to protract the existence to a venerable age. On the contrary, vicious indulgences, irregular living, and rounds of worldly folly, generally curtail the span of our pilgrimage, while consistent piety, removed from all these excesses, carry it forward to a distant term.
But though we desire old age, yet we all fear its approach, and though willing to live, yet we are afraid to die. Old age is a lease which nature grants but to few, and that, upon condition of enduring all its trials.
It has been the prayer of the great and good, that they might never outlive their usefulness: and when we behold the aged, hoary, not with wisdom, but with hairs, we tremble lest they have lived in vain. But when we contemplate the pious patriarch spared for three score years and ten, who has been both parent and priest of his domestic flock, he resembles, indeed, a fruitful palm tree, which, still yielding fruit in its old age, is only waiting for the transplantation of the master of the vineyard. Many are they which have flourished thus around us; but their time of vigor and usefulness bas expired, and now they beautify, and enrich the paradise of God. Holy and immortal spirits ! the tears of a whole generation, the Church, and your pious friends, hallow your remains ! We love, we honor, we embalm your memory! Once you stood among us, indeed, like venerable palm trees, and though long living under your refreshing shade—though enjoying the rich fruits your love and wisdom imparted, we never
* What a singular illustration is this tree, in this particular, of the period of the vigor and the term of the life of man!
tasted their sweetness till now-we never realized your worth till you were gone!
" Like birds whose beauties languish, half concealed,
But the resemblance, faint as it is, goes beyond this world. Though the righteous be gathered to their fathers, yet it was only the separation of mind from matter which we wept over ;-their immortal spirits soared far beyond these mortal precincts to perfect the life they here began. Oh! my brethren,'tis not the whole of life to live, nor all of death to die! See the crystalis cast off its leafy covering, and mount upon golden wings into the air! Behold the torpid insect and bird resuming their suspended vitality, and living again after being enshrouded in a temporary oblivion ! Immortal offspring of God! are ye not much better than they, and feel ye not holier, and loftier aspirations ? Recollect Enoch and Elijah conveyed to Heaven on chariots of fire! Remember him who burst the icy fetters of the tomb, and became the first fruits of them that slept !
Former generations have been swept away,--we ourselves are rapidly following the sad procession, but our immortal spirits cannot die more than matter which merely changes its form. The souls of the righteous are still alive, and, though like the air invisible to flesh and blood, yet they exist before God, in a glorious form. God, is the Godof Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, though
โ their bodies have long ago been mingled with the dust; and although the remains of those we love have been consigned to the winds of Heaven, yet God is not a God of the dead, but of the living, for all live unto him.
The promise that the righteous shall flourish like the palm tree, still cheers and sustains their souls. They are waiting in the world of spirits, in holy hope for the final catastrophe of nature, when the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. They are waiting under the altar for the advent of the Son of Man with clouds, when every eye shall see him, and the impenitent alone shall quake, and call the rocks and mountains to cover them! They are waiting for the army of angels, and arch-angels, Cherubim, and Seraphim, who are coming to convey them to the joy of their Lord. They are waiting to hear that beloved voice which shall pronounce to them like the seven thunders—well done good and faithful servant ! -and to listen to that mighty chorus of much people in Heaven saying ALLELUJAH! SALVATION, AND GLORY, AND HONOUR, AND POWER UNTO THE LORD OUR GOD!
Then, when the worldly and profane shall be like the chaf, which the wind scattereth away from the face of the earth: When the formalist and the sceptic shall both be withered and cut down as the barren fig-tree by its Lord; when all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall be stubble, and the day that comcth, shall burn them up saith the LORD of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch :Then men and brethren, amidst the vast and glorious company of angels whose music is waxing ever sweeter and louder--in the Heaven of Heavens, among ten thousand times ten thousands, and thousands of thousands, where they shall be dazzled and delighted by the glories of its treasures—then, and there,—the righteous shall flourish like the palm tree-then, and there, ye faithful servants of Jesus Christ, ye shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon, for those that be planted in the house of the Lord, shall flourish in the courts of our God! Then, and there, may all of us become trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified—and to every one of us, whether young, or aged, whether bowed down by affliction, or rejoicing in the lap of prosperity—whether elevated by rank, or depressed by the pangs of poverty--may the blessed promise be realized in rich, and enrapturing reality,- THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL FLOURISH LIKE THE PALM TREE. Amen and Amen.
THE RIGHTEOUS FLOURISHING.
Holy palm! to heaven tending—