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dauntless. His well-timed admonitions awe the profane; his affectionate warnings awaken the impenitent. Soothed by the consolations which, in that tenderness that breaks not the bruised reed, he administers, the dejected and afflicted are led to repose on the mercies of their Father in heaven, and find rest to their souls. Excited by those invitations which are warmed by his own experience of the fulness of mercy in Jesus Christ, the weary and the heavy laden, repairing to the cross of the Saviour, are eased of the burden of their sins. Animated by those exhortations which are dictated by a lively view of the exalted character and destiny of Christians, they are urged to press forward to higher attainments and to brighter hopes. He comes to the chamber of sickness, emphatically the messenger of the Most High, bearing the cross of his Saviour; alarming the impenitent by the view of that blood shed for him which he has trampled under foot, but directing the desponding soul of the penitent to that Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. At the bed of the dying Christian, like an angel of mercy, he is seen animating the departing spirit to enter with hope and with triumph the valley of the shadow of death. Here is the most exalted station, here the highest triumph of the Christian minister. Through the grace of his Master, he is made the instrument of exalting a soul that was lost, to the glories of eternity.
What character more exalted and interesting than a minister of Christ, who is faithful in the discharge of his elevated duties? and what propriety and force in the exhortation of the apostle— Very highly in love to esteem him who thus devotes
his time and his talents to the highest interests of his flock. His affectionate labours it is their duty to reward by every expression of kindness and attention. In order that his ministrations and duties among them may conduce to their edification and comfort, they should be also mindful of the apostolic admonition, to "be at peace among themselves" for discords and divisions are not only opposed to the spirit of the Gospel, not only unworthy of the character of those who, members of Christ, are members one of another, but are destructive of the happiness of a congregation, and render inefficacious the labours of the most faithful minister. His grateful flock should know him who thus unceasingly devotes himself to their spiritual good-know him, not only in rendering to him every mark of respect, of honour, and affection, but in the noble and generous aim to secure every temporal comfort for him, who, in his devotion to their eternal interests, and in his turning all his cares and studies towards the high duties of his sacred calling, is bound to lay aside the study of the world and of the flesh. Next to intercourse with heaven, to that communion with his Lord and Master from which flow those elevating joys which the world can neither give nor take away, the affectionate attention and support of his people constitute the highest consolations of the Christian minister, under the difficulties and anxieties, the perplexities and trials of his arduous course. Happy the minister who thus faithfully watches over the souls of his people! Happy the congregation who thus know the minister who labours among them, and esteem him very highly in love for his work's sake! Discharging faithfully their reciprocal du
ties, they flourish under the blessing of that gracious Lord whom they serve in his church on earth, and are thus prepared for a translation to those courts of the church triumphant, where the worship and service of the God of their salvation will be no more alloyed by imperfection, by sorrow, and sin; but, perfect and pure, will dispense a happiness transcendent as the infinite glories which they behold, and lasting as eternity.
THE HOUSE OF MOURNING.
ECCLESIASTES Vii. 2.
It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
THE present life is a state of probation for an eternal existence-it is a pilgrimage to a permanent and enduring country beyond the grave. Suited to this character of life are the different changes that mark our condition. One while the house of feasting opens to us its joyous courtsprosperity casting upon us its rays, gladness is diffused over every prospect, and the lively emotions of pleasure and felicity are awakened in our breasts: the business and pursuits of life are crowned with success: health and plenty pervading our dwellings, they resound with the voice of joy and peace. But some dispensation of Providence changes the house of feasting into the house of mourning. The plans concerted with the greatest prudence and foresight, from which we promised ourselves the plentiful fruit of emolument and happiness, are blasted by the stroke of disappointment: our families, the abode of health and pleasure, are invaded by disease; the dearest connexions are severed from us; and the sighs of
sorrow succeed the strains of joy-the house of feasting is become the house of mourning.
Pleasant indeed is it to take up our abode in the house of feasting-to enjoy all the comforts and the luxuries of life, without being subject to the corrodings of care, to the shocks of disappointment, or to the blasts of affliction. But the house of feasting is not the school in which to learn the lessons of heavenly wisdom: its fascinating charms and its luxurious pleasures tend to attach us to a world which we must soon leave-to make us forget that tribunal at which we must render an account of our actions—and to put far off that eternity on which we must speedily enter. Too often engrossed with the joys that in constant succession present themselves in the house of feasting, we forget our dependence as creatures, and our guilt as sinners; we live only for pleasure; we are devoted to the indulgence of our passions; and God and eternity enter not into our thoughts.
Better then, surely, is it to go to the house of mourning. In the disappointments and the afflictions which we there view, we behold the vanity of the world and all that in the world can interest us; and convinced of the folly of setting our affections on sublunary joys that are so fleeting, we are excited to seek the permanent and satisfying felicity of the kingdom of God.
"It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart."
The salutary lessons, then, of the house of mourning-the end of all men-these let us lay to heart. VOL. II. 32