« PreviousContinue »
they suffer, if they still continue to run the same intemperate round, and to drain pleasure to the last dregs, it shall come to pass, that they who now contemn life, and are impatient of its continuance, shall be the persons most eager to prolong it. When they behold it in reality drawing towards a close, and are obliged to look forward to what is to come after it, they shall be rendered awfully sensible of its value. They will then grasp eagerly at the flying hours; anxious to stop them if they could, and to employ every moment that remains in repairing their past errours, and in making their peace, if possible, with God and heaven. According as they have sown, they they now reap. They are reduced to eat the fruit of their own ways, and to be filled with their own devices.
THERE remains still a third class of those who from discontent are become weary of life; such as have embittered it to themselves by the consciousness of criminal deeds. They have been, perhaps, unnatural to their parents, or treacherous to their friends; they have violated their fidelity; have ensnared and ruined the innocent; or have occasioned the death of others. There is no wonder that such persons should lose their relish for life. To whatever arts they may have recourse for procuring a deceitful peace, conscience will at times exert its native power, and shake over them its terrific scourge. The internal misery they endure has sometimes arisen to such a height, as had made them terminate, with their own hands, an existence which they felt to be insupportable. - To the complaints of such persons no remedy can be furnished, except what arises from the bitter
ness of sincere and deep repentance. We can do no more than exhort them to atone as much as is in their power for the evils they have committed ; and to fly to the divine mercy through Jesus Christ for pardon and forgiveness. Let us now,
II. Turn to persons of another description, and consider the sentiment in the text as extorted by situations of distress. These are so variously multiplied in the world, and often so oppressive and heavy, that assuredly it is not uncommon to hear the afflicted complain that they are weary of life. Their complaints, if not always allowable, yet certainly are more excusable than those which flow from the sources of dissatisfaction already mentioned. They are sufferers, not so much through their own misconduct, as through the appointment of Providence; and therefore to persons in this situation it may seem more needful to offer consolation, than to give admonition. However, as the evils which produce this impatience of life are of different sorts, a distinction must be made as to the situations which can most excuse it.
SOMETIMES, the exclamation in the text may be occasioned by deep and overwhelming grief. When they whom we had most affectionately loved, and in whom we had placed the felicity of our days, are taken away, our connection with life appears to be dissolved. Why should we survive those to whom « our souls were tied? Would to God we had died “ before them! Now when they are gone, all plea“ sure and hope is gone as to jis. To us the sun no
longer shines with its usual brightness. No longer
« cheerfulness invests the face of Nature. On every
object a sad gloom appears to rest ; and every
employment of life is become an oppressive bur• den." With the feelings of those who are thus distressed we naturally sympathise. They are frequently the feelings of the most virtuous and amiable minds : And yet such persons must be told, that grief may be indulged so far as to become immoderate and improper. There are bounds which are prescribed to it both by reason and by religion. A Christian ought not to mourn like those who have no hope. While he feels his sorrows as a man, he should also study to bear them like a man, with fortitude; and not abandon himself to feeble and fruitless melancholy. Let him have recourse to a strenuous discharge of the duties of his station, and consider it as incumbent on him to make the best improvement that he can of those comforts which Providence has still left in his possession.
AGAIN; it sometimes happens that, apart from grief, great reverses of worldly fortune give rise to the lamentation in the text. This was the case with Job himself. A sudden fall from opulence into indigence and want ; some undeserved disgrace incurred, or some unexpected cloud thrown over former reputation and fame; the unkindness and desertion of friends, or the insolent triumph of enemies, are apt to overwhelm the minds of men with gloom, and to reduce them to be weary of life. To persons under such calamities, sympathy is due. That sympathy, however, will be proportioned to the degree in which we consider them as free from blame in the misfortunes which they suffer. As far as, through their
own misconduct and vice, they have been the authors to themselves, of those misfortunes, we withdraw our pity. The burden which they have brought on themselves, we leave them to bear as they can; and with little concern we hear them exclaim that their souls are weary of life. Not only so, but even in cases where calamities have fallen on the innocent, to the pity which we feel for them will be joined a secret contempt, if we perceive that together with their prosperity, their courage and fortitude have also forsaken them. To abandon themselves to dejection, carries no mark of a great or a worthy mind. Instead of declaring that his soul is weary of his life, it becomes a brave and a good man, in the evil day, with firmness to maintain his post; to bear up against the storm; to have recourse to those advantages which, in the worst of times, are always left to integrity and virtue; and never to give up the hope that better days may yet arise.
It is good for persons in such situations to remark that, though Job was for a long while severely tried by a variety of distresses, yet his condition was not lest finally unhappy. On the contrary, the goodness of that God whom he had served returned at last to shine upon him with greater brightness than ever. His riches were restored to him twofold. The losses in his family were repaired by a new offspring. His name became again renowned in the East; and the latter end of Job, we are told, was more blessed than the beginning
But still, it may be asked, will not the continuance of long and severe disease justify the exclamation in the text, My soul is weary of my life? To persons who are forsaken by all the blessings of health, and who have no prospect left, but that of lingering under sickness or pain, Job's complaint may assuredly be forgiven more than to any others. Though it might be suggested to them, that even in old age and sickness, except in very extreme cases, some resources are always left, of which they may avail themselves for relief; yet it must be admitted, that lawfully they may wish their sufferings to be brought to an end. Still, however, they must re. member, that resignation to the pleasure of Heaven continues to be their duty to the last. As long as any part remains to be acted, as long as their continuance in the world can serve any valuable purpose, it is more honourable to bear the load with magnanimity, than to give way to a querulous and dejected spirit. It remains,
III. To address myself to another order of men, among whom, though more rarely than among those whom I have described, the sentiment of the text is to be found. They are persons who have no particular complaint to make of the injustice of the world, or the afflictions of their state*** But they are tired of the vanity of the World, of its insipid enjoyments, and its perpetually revolving circle of (trifles and follies. They feel themselves made for something greater and nobler. They are disgusted and hurt with the scenes of wickedness that are often passing before their eyes. Their hearts are warmed with the thoughts of a purer and more perfect existence designed for man; and in the moînents of aspiration after it, the exclamation breaks forth, "My soul is weary of my life. -Oh! that I had