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In naked helplessness appears,
Weapon, nor wing, nor sleight has he ; Yet, like the sun, he brings his morn,
And is a king from infancy. For, him no destiny hath bound
To do what others did before,
And be a man, and be no more :
His father's joys and sorrows share,
And leave his likeness in his heir ! No; infinite the shade between
The motley millions of our race ;
Alike in purpose, or in face;
That pants for more than earth can give : Man, to this narrow sphere confined,
Dies when he first begins to live. 0! if there be a world on high
To yield his powers unfettered scope ; If. man be only born to die,
Whence this inheritance of hope ?
Wherefore to him alone were lent
For life and happiness, was given;
Too much for any state but heaven. It is not thus ;-it cannot be,
That one so gloriously endowed
Should shine and vanish like a cloud:
Which brute sensation never taught,
But grow immortal with the thought.
TO LIVE ALWAYS NOT DESIRABLE.
We would not wish to live always, when we consider the state of things around us. They are subject to dissolution, and are actually dissolving. Every year we behold proofs and symptoms of this. The flowers wither, and the corn is cut down; trees and shrubs, which survive the season, yet drop their leaves, and wear symptoms of decay; the mountain oak, which flourished for ages, now stands a blighted trunk, inspiring melancholy. Places renowned of old for beauty and defence, are known to us only by their names and ruins. Here and there are ruins of temples where our fathers worshiped. Of Jerusalem, and the temple of Mount Zion, of which such glorious things are said, there is not one stone left upon another. Babylon the great is fallen. Families, and states, and empires, and churches, have their rise, and glory, and decline. The earth itself is waxing old. The sun, and stars, and elements, shall at last dissolve. Years, as they pass, speak to us of the consummation of all things. Listen to their parting voice. In still but solemn language, they speak of the angel who shall lift up his hand to heaven, and swear by Him that liveth for ever and ever, “Time shall be no more!”
And is it a thing desirable to live alway in the dissolving scene, to see the decay of so many seasons, and so many generations, and still eke out a weary life till all be dissolved ?
Secondly, we are led to say with Job, “I would not live alway,” from the condition of mankind. “One generation goeth and another cometh. The people are like the waves of the ocean ; like the leaves of the forest they pass away in the blast, and other leaves lift their green heads.” Think, my brethren, on the age that is past. The persons venerable for age and wisdom, to whom we looked up in early years, have we not also seen going down to the grave?
“Our fathers, where are they?” Are we greater than our fathers? Is it not meet that we be gathered to them? Gathered to our fathers, not scattered and lost in the abyss of annihilation. Gathered, not to a foreign land, nor to persons unconnected and unknown, but to our fathers, the objects of our first and purest love, whose
memory is still dear to our hearts.
“Our fathers, where are they?” Our hearts enquire after them, and search out the place where they be at rest, and forebode lying down with them. “Why should not my countenance be sad?” said Nehemiah to the king of Babylon, “seeing the city, the place of my father's sepulchre, lies waste?” The city is endeared by means of that sacred memorial.
A father's sepulchre is a school of wisdom. One considers there, whence he came, and whither he is going. He reads, in humble and affecting characters, “Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return.” He says to corruption, “Thou art my father." The garment of mortality hangs loose
Let us change the scene. They who are in the early stages of life, through which we have passed, remind us that our day is far spent.
We are attached to those who succeed us in the world; whose attention, and cheerfulness, and strength, engage and delight and assist us; and whom perhaps we might otherwise envy and grudge a little, even this transient possession. Parents are
attached by instinct; their image is renewed and their memory embalmed by children. While you learn from them your passing state, you are led by attachment to transfer the world to them, and to rejoice in their joy.
From this the young will probably look forward, and think of a time when they shall see us who now occupy the world, laid in the grave, and another generation arise. Your desire of see. ing many days is natural; and if you add a desire of serving God, and of teaching wisdom to the succeeding race, may your desires be accomplished ! Still it is meet to warn you that the morning of life is often clouded with pain, and darkened with the shadow of death. To warnings of mortality the ears and hearts of the young open. I have seen their resignation while the hour drew nigh. I often see you, at the burial of the dead, standing round the grave with looks of thoughtful earnest attention. You think it is a cold, and dark, and lonely house. Gladly then would I announce immortality, and present to your mind's eye “this corruptible putting on incorruption," and hear you also saying, with Job, “I would not live alway.”
Thirdly, we are led to think and say with Job, “I would not live alway,” from difficulty in the duties of life.
Favourable circumstances often attend our entrance into the world. The vigour of youth, the pleasure of novelty, conscious dignity from acting a part, pleasant connexions that are formed, coun