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solution; hoping he shall go down by soft and easy steps, fast hold of that friend who was born to serve him in adversity, into the grave, and thence rise into the temple of that God, in whose presence is fulness of joy, and at whose
right hand there are pleasures for evermore."
WE OUGHT TO BE CONTENT WITH PROVIDENCE.
PSALM xvi. 6.
The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places ; yea, I have
a goodly heritage. “ TRUE," says one of my hearers, you had a goodly heritage, David; and I would say of my lot, as you did of yours, had 'I a Jesse for my father, a Solomon for my son, a palace for my habitation, gold and silver in abundance, ability to write scripture, and hope in a joyful resurrection :? but, recollect, if David had a Jesse for his own father, he had a Saul for his father-in-law; if he had one son a Solomon, he had others who were disobedient, rebellious, and wicked; if he had a palace, he could not sometimes get an hour's rest in it; he was weary with groaning, made his bed every night to swim, and watered his couch with his tears;" if he had riches, and abilities, and religion, he had also a lady for his wife who ridiculed religion, and despised him for employing his wealth and abilities in the service of it. In a word, happiness is distributed among mankind much more equally than most men imagine. My design, this evening, is to convince you of this, to persuade you to apply the language of the text to your own lot, and so to engage you to offer to Almighty God that noble evening sacrifice of content, gratitude, and praise.
Do not suppose, I am insensible of your afflictions. How is it possible, that a man, like yourselves, subject to the same sickness and pain, and calamities, and death, should be blind to such events? Even self-love obliges us to feel for others what we fear ourselves. I say more, I affirm that God himself 6 sees the affliction of his people, hears their cry, knows their sorrows, considers all the oppressa ions that are done under the sun, beholds the tears of the oppressed who have no comforter," and with a sympathy, beyond all conception, delicate and tender, reaches out in religion his own soft hand to 6 wipe away tears from all faces."
This sixteenth psalm is quoted by the apostle Peter, in his first sermon after the pouring out of the Holy Ghost, and applied to Jesus Christ: but the reason given by the apostle, why the latter part of the psalm was not fulfilled in David, furnisheth us with a reason why the former part of the psalm was fully accomplished in him. The latter part of the psalm speaks of rising from the dead before the body of the deceased person began to decay. This was not true of David; but it was true of one of his family, Jesus Christ, and of him David spoke in the character of a prophet: but the former part of the psalm speaks of living contented, and holy, and happy under the protection of God in this world; and ail this David experienced in his own person. He was willing to profit us, by telling his own experience, and therefore " said unto the Lord, My goodness extendeth not to thee, but to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent in whom is all my delight.” With this view he describes, in the fourth verse, the misery of such as live in idolatrous countries; 6 their sorrows shall be multiplied, that hasten after another God;" and the happy situation of himself and others, who had an inheritance in a land where the true God was known and worshipped. He calls his family estate a lot, because, when Joshua divided the land of Canaan among the tribes of Israel, to prevent all disputes, and in obedience to the express command of God by Moses, they drew lots for their parcels of land; and as some families, in all the tribes, were fewer than other families, these lots were subdivided, and measured out by a line. “Many had the more inheritance, and few the less inheritance,
family according to the number of names.” Thus God cast out the heathen, and divided his people an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents. The lot of the tribe of Judah is exactly described in the Gifteenth chapter of Joshua ; and the book of Ruth is a
pleasant history of the manner in which Boaz, the great grandfather of David, lived on the family estate.
My brethren, of such importance to the present and everlasting happiness of man is the knowledge of the true God, that we ought to prefer the condition of a beggar in the streets of a christian country, or that of a patient in a hospital, yea more, that of an unfortunate debtor in a county jail, in such a country, before that of the most rich and prosperous emperor in heathen ignorance and wickedness. Heathen countries are places of the earth, full of habitations of cruelty," and 56 the curse of the Lord is in every house of the wicked!" “O!” said the holy Psalmist, “ deliver not the soul of thy turtle-dove unto the multitude of the wicked!" If, therefore, I were only able to convince you, that in this valley of trouble there was a door of hope, that your dreary path led to your Father's house in heaven, I should have a right to require you to say, " The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage:" but though I am going to endeavour to convince you of this, yet I shall not content myself with this, but shall prove that you have so many accommodations on the road, that nothing but ignorance and ingratitude can make you discontented.
I will not conceal from you the principle on which I go in this discourse. I deny myself the pleasure of examining the general laws of Providence, by which the whole world is governed, from the smallest particle of dust to the noblest creature in it. It would be delightful, delightful beyond expression, to trace the wisdom and goodness, the power and the justice of God, through every part of his dominion : but it is with the mind as it is with the hand; if we would grasp too much, we lose all. Instead, then, of attempting to refresh you with the smell of all the flowers in the world put together, I pluck one, and bring you to night the Providence of God as it regards yourselves, the inhabitants of this little village, this very little spot of the boundless territory of God. Let us go to the subject.
Consider first the age of the world in which you live. Carry back your attention to the state of the world nearly six thousand years ago, and consider what a dreary desert the earth was before any of the works of art had been employed to render it an agreeable habitation. There was the same sun, the same rains, the same winds, the same tempests, the same long cold winters, in which Providence “ gave snow like wool, scattered hoar frost like ashes, cast forth ice like morsels,” and made men cry,
6 Who can stand before the cold ?" I say, there were the same inclemencies of seasons as now: but where were the carpenters, bricklayers, thatchers, colliers, clothiers, and all that multitude of benefactors, who contribute to the pleasure and safety of life? Even within the memory of some present, instruments of husbandry, and common conveniencies of life, have been rendered far more handy and commodious than they were formerly. In those ages, one part of the world produced one kind of fruits, and animals, and foods, and another part of the world produced different sorts; and hence, in those times, little variety, great scarcity, and frequent famine, in which men, like vultures, tore one another in pieces for the necessaries of life. We need not go so far back; we will just glance at our own country a few hundred years ago. There were no printed books, no paper, no spectacles, no glass, no clocks, no candles, no fireplaces, no linen, no silver or gold for common uses; the women rode astride through the streets of the best cities, in the mud; and wine was sold only by apothecaries, as a cordial, and hence came the word dram, which signified the eighth part of an ounce, the quantity then taken by our ancestors at a time. It would be endless, and almost incredible, to relate the abject condition of all nations, in the first periods of their history. They always appear one degree above a herd of cattle, and no more.
Let no one think we are trifling, and got out of the bounds of scriptural instruction. It is lamented in sacred history, that at a certain time there was
no smith found throughout all the land of Israel; but all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share and his coulter, and his axe and his mattock ; so that in the day of battle there was neither