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correcting and chastising us ? Then let us neither 6 despise the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when we are rebuked of him.”
And will he enter into judgment with us in the great day? and bring to light all the hidden things of darkness? Then let us prepare to meet him at his bar; and, seeing that we look for such things, be diligent, that we may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless.” (2 Pet. iii. 14.)
DEATH SUCCEEDED BY IMMORTALITY.
Job xiv. 10.
Man dieth and wasteth away ; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and
where is he?
“O that they were wise," said Moses, (Deut. xxxii. 29,) “ that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end.” “So teach us to number our days,” he says again, (Psalm xc. 12,) 6 that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
LORD, make me to know mine end,” David prayed, (Psalm xxxix. 4,) " and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may
know how frail I am.'
In these passages, we are taught, what has been acknowledged by the wisest and best of men in every age and nation, that the frailty and mortality of man is one of the most necessary and profitable subjects of contemplation and knowledge. It is the soil in which wisdom, in all its branches, is planted, and grows to best advantage. Whereas, not to consider this subject is the certain way to folly and misery in time and in eternity.
But who are most capable of discoursing on this subject? Who will instruct us to most advantage ? Surely those whose own minds have been most impressed by it, and are most familiar with it; those who have walked most in the valley of the shadow of death, will instruct us best concerning it. Let us then hear this son of affliction, Job ;-- Man born of a woman.” This expression is either used to intimate the cause of man's misery, that he is born of a woman, a weak creature, (1 Pet. iii. 7,) and one corrupt and sinful, and of that sex by which sin and all calamity was brought into the world ; (th. xv. 14; Gen. iii. 17; 1 Tim. ii. 13, 14;) or to signify the universality of the thing :only one man was to be born, and, afterwards, was born without a father, viz., our LORD Jesus CHRIST; but no man was ever born without a mother.-" Is of few days :” few compared with God's eternity ; (Psal. xc. 1-12;) with the antediluvians; for the life of man is now contracted, and cut short ; few in themselves ; “Behold, thou hast made my days as a hand-breadth ; and mine age is as nothing before thee.” (Psal. xxxix. 5.) “As for
man, his days are as grass ; as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.” (Psal. ciii. 15, 16.)— And full of trouble,”-disquietude, fluctuation, fear, and distress; including the uncertainty of life, and every thing in it; the vanity of it, as answering no valuable end ; the misery of it, through labour and toil, care and fear, disappointments and losses, ingratitude of friends, disobedience of children, pain and sickness of body in ourselves or those dear to us, anxiety and distress of mind.
And yet he promises better at his birth." He cometh forth,” out of his mother's womb, « like a flower;" fair and flourishing, and promises to give, as well as receive, delight and pleasure. But he is “cut down,” by some sudden and untimely stroke of disease, or, if not, soon decays and withers by old age. 6. The grass withereth, and the flower fadeth, because the Spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it.” (Isai. xl. 7.)-“ Like a flower.” The expression may be intended to signify either the gradual opening of the parts and powers of man's body; or the tender composition of man's elegant frame, which is easily destroyed by the smallest accidents.
“ He fleeth as a shadow;" a shadow made by the sun having nothing substantial in it, and being in perpetual uncertainty, till it quite disappear. (Psal. cii. 11.) Such is man, and such his enjoyments ; so unsubstantial, uncertain, fleeting, and, with perpetual speed, hastening to their period!
" And dost thou open thine eyes upon such a one ?” to regard him, or take any thought or care about him. Or, to observe his ways, his tempers and behaviour, and make him accountable for them to thée. “And bringest him into judgment with thee?” chastising him, in the world, and, hereafter, trying him, and condemning him. Surely, this could not be, that God could " open his eyes” upon such a short-lived, miserable, and vanishing créature, were he not possessed of a rational and immortal soul!
“Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” Job did
not pretend to be faultless; and thought it impossible, descended as he was from fallen and corrupt parents, from sinful Adam and Eve. He considered himself also unable to cleanse and purify his own nature, the corruption of which he regarded as the source of misery and mortality.
Hence, “his days are determined.” Heb. cut short, contracted. The word here used is rendered, maimed, (Lev. xxii. 22 ;) signifying the loss of a limb by amputation. He alludes to the longevity of the antediluvians, and the present abbreviation of human life. “ The number of his months are with thee;" i. e. at thy disposal. “Thou hast appointed his bounds,” the limit of his days, beyond which he cannot prolong his life. Therefore, as if he said, “Let this short life, and unavoidable death, suffice for man's punishment; do not add further calamities."
“ Turn from him," withdraw thine afflicting hand, “ that he may rest,” enjoy some little ease and comfort, “ till he shall accomplish, as a hireling, his day;” till he finish his course, and come to the period of his life, which thou hast allotted him, as a man appoints a set time to a hired servant. For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again ;” but man, though a far nobler creature, is apparently in a worse condition, for when once he loseth his life in this world, he never recovers it. 66 Though the root wax old,” begin to decay, " in the earth, and the stock die,” to outward appearance, “yet through the scent of water, it will bring forth boughs, like a plant,” or like a tree newly planted; “ But man dieth and wasteth away, yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?”
1. THE FRAILTY AND MORTALITY OF MAN.
<< Man dieth.” This is the language of Scripture, agreeably with the threatening denounced to our first parents should they sin, (Gen. ii. 16, 17,) the sentence pronounced upon them after their fall. (Gen. iii. 19.) Hence, “ by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death 'passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Rom. v. 12; Heb. ix. 27.)
In consequence of this, “all flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.” (Isai. xl. 6-8 9
1 Pet. i. 24.) Of observation. Where are the ancient generations, the ages past? Those that lived before the flood, though many of them lived eight or nine hundred years ? Those that lived after the flood, and again peopled the earth? Where are the ancient and
powerful nations, the Assyrians, the Phenicians, the Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians, and the Carthaginians ?
of experience. Our innumerable infirmities, afflictions, pains, are but so many precursors of death.?
66 And wasteth away ;' the Hebrew word may mean, is debilitated and weakened. When the body is dead, man has not, like the root of a tree that is felled, any latent strength or vigorous principle remaining in him, to renew his life ; (see ver. 7, 8.)
“A tree which falls beneath the wounding steel,
But the declaration of the text does not imply that man is anni, hilated after death. We therefore consider,
II. HIS IMMORTALITY,
“ Man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?”
Is he therefore lost ? Did Job think so ? No, certainly. He intimates the contrary in this very chapter, (ver. 12—15,) and more especially, in ch. xix. 25, 26. A future state was known, and expected by the Patriarchs and Prophets. (Heb. xi. 13-16, 19; Psal. xvi. 10,11; xvii. 15; xlix. 15; xxiii.; xxxvi. ; Ixxiii; Isai. lvii. 1; Eccles. xii. 7; Dan. xii. 2; Wisdom iii. iv. 7.) The untimely and tragical death of Abel, together with the unequal distribution of rewards and punishments in this world, which they could not but observe, and likewise, the translation of Enoch, might confirm and strengthen this expectation; but it was most probably derived from Adam by tradition, and is very congenial to the mind of man, as appears in the case of the heathen, who had a faint hope of the same thing.
But “life and immortality are brought to light by the Gospel.” -The immortality of the soul, is clearly ascertained from the following passages:-Matt. x. 28; Luke xvi. 19, &c.; xxiii. 43, 46; Acts vii. 59; 2 Cor. v. 1; Phil. i. 21 ; 1 Pet. iii. 19.-The resurrection of the body, from John v. 25, 28; Rom. viii, 10, 17; 1 Cor. xv. 20, 22; 1 Thess. iv. 13.-We shall
III. Answer THE QUESTION, AND SHOW FROM THE Scrip.
TURE WHERE HE IS.
As to his body, he has joined the dust out of which he was taken, has been dissolved into the four elements out of which he was compounded; but his soul is in adns, the invisible world, till the resurrection. It is either in extreme misery on the one hand, (Luke xvi. 23, 25, 28; Jude 6, 7,) which misery will be much increased after the resurrection, and general judgment, when he shall be cast into the lake of fire ; (Mark ix. 44, 46, 48; Matt. xxv. 41, 46; 2 Thess. i. 7, 8; Rev. xx. 10, 15;) or in exceeding great happiness on the other; in paradise, (Luke xxiii. 43,) with Jesus, (John xiv. 3 ; xvii. 24; 2 Cor. v. 1; Phil, i. 21 ; Rev. xiv. 13.) The happiness to be enjoyed will be much increased after the resurrection. On the state of the new-raised body, see Phil. iii. 21; 1 Cor. xv. 35, &c.; on the future habitation of the saints, see 2 Pet. iii. 13; Rev. xxi; called an inheritance, (1 Pet. i. 3;) an eternal weight of glory. (2 Cor. iv. 17.) It will include the vision and enjoyment of God; the society of angels and saints. (Rev. xxi. 3; Heb. xii. 22.) “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Cor. ii. 9.)
But shall we obtain this happiness when we die? This depends on our repenting; (Luke xiii. 3, Acts iii. 19;) on our believing the Gospel, and on CHRIST, (Mark xvi. 16; John iji. 16; Acts xvi. 31 ;) on being in him; (Rom. viii. 1, Rev. xiv. 13;) and having him in us; (Col. i. 27;) on our being justified; (Rom. v. 1; Tit. iii. 7 ;) on our being converted and born again; (Matt. xviii. 3, John iii 3 ;) on our being sanctified, and made holy; (Heb. xii. 14; 2 Thess. ii. 13; Matt. v. 8; 1 John iii. 3 ;) on our obedience to the divine commandments; (Matt. vii. 21; Rom. ii. 6-11; Rev. xxii. 14.) Those who do not bear this character, and have not this experience, must have their part in the lake of fire.
Is death inevitable? Then let us lay it to heart. Let sider our latter end,” that it may not surprise us unprepared.
Is life uncertain ? Then let us not depend upon it, but sit loose from all terrestrial things.
Is it short at the longest ? Let us consider how much we have