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The mighty revolutions in Persia, in Greece, and in Rome had long since been lost in oblivion, had they not been attached to the immortal names of Cyrus, of Alexander and the Cæsars. So the virtues, the talents, and the mighty deeds of Washington, will do more to render the Americans famous in the annals of history, than all the fruits of his mighty exertions. If we mean to stand high among the nations of the earth, we must perpetuate the memory of the Founder of our nation.
By this, we shall also transmit a bright and amiable example, for the admiration and imitation of future Statesmen and Warriors. There is nothing equal to examples, to inspire the minds of young politicians and warriors. Alexander formed his character according to the standard of Homer's heroes. That Poem he always carried about with him. The life and character of Washington may form thousands to shine in the cabinet and in the field. This ought to animate us to send down the current of time our illustrious Washington, with undiminished lustre and glory. And I must add, that by doing justice to Washington, we shall do honour to God. For our sakes he raised him up. For our sakes, he gave him all his greatness and glory. Gratitude to God, therefore, requires us to commemorate his death, admire his character, imitate his excellencies, and be watchful of his fame. His fame and ours are inseparably united, and both deserve our gratitude to Him, who has made us a nation, defended our liberties, and placed us high above all other nations, in civil and religious advantages. Let us, therefore, sing aright of mercy as well as judgment, and exercise that gratitude and submission, which the smiles and the frowns of heaven, now loudly demand, Amen.
ON TRUE SUBMISSION TO GOD.*
JOB ix, 12.
Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, what doest thou?
JOB was afflicted not more for his own benefit, than for the benefit of others. God intended his scenes of sorrow should draw forth the feelings of his heart, and display his true character before the eyes of the world. And agreeably to this purpose he directed, that both his afflictions and his conduct under them should be recorded and transmitted to future ages, that mankind might hear of the patience of Job, and see the end of the Lord, in his fatherly chastisements. His discourses with his friends gave him a good opportunity of justifying the sovereignty of God, in the dispensations of his providence. This was the principal subject of dispute between them. They insisted, that God treated every man according to his real character, in his providential conduct towards him; but he maintained, that God acted as a sovereign, without any design of distinguishing his friends from his enemies, by outward mercies and afflictions. Accordingly, in the preceding verses, he gives a striking description of divine sovereignty, which he owns he had too often disregarded, but now most sensibly realized. And in the text he seems to admire, that any should not both realize and cordially submit to the sovereignty of God. “Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who
* Occasioned by the Death of Deacon ROBERT GILLMORE.
will say unto him, What doest thou?" These words present to our serious consideration this plain truth.
It is the natural tendency of afflictions to make the friends of God realize and submit to his Sovereignty. I shall first consider the natural tendency of afflictions to give the friends of God a realizing sense of his sovereignty, and secondly consider the natural tendency of this realizing sense of divine sovereignty to bring them to unreserved submission.
1. Let us consider the natural tendency of afflictions to give the friends of God a realizing sense of his sovereignty.
This is one of the essential and most amiable attributes of the Deity, which he continually displays in dispensing both good and evil to mankind. But saints, as well as sinners, are very apt to suffer God to pass by them unheeded in the course of providence, and to forget that he holds them and all their temporal and eternal interests in his holy and sovereign hand. This stupidity good men always lament, when they are awakened to realize his sovereignty. Job in his af fliction could say, "God is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered? Who removeth the mountains, and they know not: who overturneth them in his anger. Who shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. Who commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars. Who alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea. Who doeth great things past `finding out; yea, and wonders without number." These bright and glorious manifestations of divine sovereignty, he tells us in the next verse, he disregarded in the days of his prosperity. "Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not: he passeth on also, but I perceive
him not." But when God laid his heavy hand upon him, he cries out with great sensibility, "Behold, he taketh a way, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, what doest thou?"
Now, afflictions always display the sovereignty of God, and of course naturally tend to make his friends realize it. No afflictions for the present are joyous, but grievous, and never in their own nature desirable. Whenever God afflicts his children, he displays his sovereignty over them, and gives a practical and sensible evidence, that he has a right to dispose of them contrary to their views, their desires, and most tender feelings. But, of all afflictions, those which are called bereavements, give the clearest display of divine sovereignty. These constrained Job to turn his attention to this awful and amiable attribute of the Deity. "Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him?" He had taken away Job's comforts one after another, until he had nearly stripped him of every earthly enjoyment. Though he had given him the bounties of his providence in sovereignty; yet he displayed his sovereignty in a clearer and stronger light, by taking them away in such a sudden and unexpected manner. The reason of this is obvious. Mankind naturally think that they have a right to all they possess. After blessings are put into their hands, they imagine they have a right to hold them. They do not make the same claim to unbestowed favours. These they are more ready to allow, that God has a right to grant or to deny. But their children, and friends, and other outward comforts, which are in their possession; they are extremely apt to claim as their own. By bereavements, therefore, God practically declares, that he is greater than man; and has a supreme right to take away any thing, and even every thing, which he has,
in mere mercy, given him. God means to display his sovereignty, in the most sensible manner, to those whom he bereaves of enjoyments, to which they were the most attached, and to which they laid the strongest claim. Hence it is the natural tendency of afflictions, in general, and of bereavements in particular, to make the friends of God realize his absolute sovereignty. Under bereavements, the sovereignty of God is the most prominent perfection of his nature, and appears to comprehend and absorb all his other perfections. It meets the afflicted and bereaved, at every corner and in every object. It appears to be displayed so plainly every where, that they are astonished that they could ever overlook it any where.
Though the friends of God under the smiles of providence sometimes lose a sense of divine sovereignty; yet there is an aptitude in them to realize it, when it is clearly displayed by afflictions and bereavements. They have had such a lively sense of God's right to save, or to destroy their souls forever, that trials, afflictions, and bereavements naturally revive a realizing sense of his sovereignty in giving or taking away any inferior favours. I now proceed to show,
II. That such a realizing sense of the sovereignty of God in afflictions, has a natural tendency to excite true submission in every pious heart. "Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him?" This expresses a lively sense of divine sovereignty. "Who will say unto him, What doest thou?" This equally expresses unreserved submission to divine sovereignty. While Job realized the absolute sovereignty of God in taking away his dearest enjoyments, it appeared so reasonable and so easy to submit to him, that he seemed to think it impossible for him or any other person to refuse submission. "Who will say unto him, What do