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Ecclesiastes ix. 10.
WHATSOEVER THY HAND FINDETH TO DO, DO IT WITH ALL THY MIGHT;—FOR THERE IS NO WORK, NOR DEVICE, NOR KNOWLEDGE, NOR WISDOM, IN THE GRAVE-WHITHER THOU GOEST."
If these words require any recommendation to our attention, the character of the person who wrote them, will afford sufficient:~He had tried every department of life; he had been placed in every circumstance of society ; he had exhausted every pursuit of man; and had entered into every research, which could furnish experience of what the present world could present or promise.
He was as preeminent in wisdom, and in knowledge, as in station and in opportunity; and at this time also, he was under the inspiration of God, which giveth wisdom and understanding even unto the simple.
But to advert to these recommendations
to our attention is unnecessary. The words themselves speak with a voice of power
which we cannot resist, and in a language which we cannot misunderstand; and we feel that, if we overlook their warning, we overlook them at our soul's peril.
They present a very melancholy view of the future destination of man. They depict his last abode as a place, where there is neither device, nor knowledge, nor work : and on this they ground a most important injunction. Let us together, humbly beseech God of his infinite mercy in Christ Jesus, to make it come home to the heart of each of us, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might;--for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave—whither thou goest.”
We have here brought before us a very melancholy period of our existence; bier, and the shroud, and the mattock, and the spade, the lowly grave, and cold dark damp vault.” No one here present is exempted from this prospect, however variously classed in rank or different in age, whatever may
be their variety in usefulness or piety: earth's highest glory ends here: here it concludes its noblest work.
Let us glance for a moment at the ideas con
tained in the latter part of the verse.
« There is neither work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave,” whither we are all going. When we reach that every thing is dead alike. The body lies there in insensibility-no feeling can be excited there-the mind, the most exquisitely sensitive is there in inactivity—the soul the most acutely alive to the happiness or sorrows of its friends, has there no sympathy with their joys or miseries ; afflictions
like a flood invade its dearest connexions, peace may pour forth like an overflowing well—but to both alike it is unconscious and unfeeling. There is no knowledge there.
There is there too no wisdom-what distinguishes man from the brute ceases ;-manproud man-has there no talent, nor genius, nor conception, any more than the beasts that perish.
There is there no exertion nothing can be planned for the grave, or done in the tomb. There is no wish can be executed in the vault. The most excellent of the earth—the most eminent in holiness—the most useful in the Church of God, are then all for ever laid aside. How pre-eminently active was Paul -how industrious—how energetic-how he traversed sea and land-city and country,
man's habitation and the desert-to bring his fellow-sinners unto God ;--but from the moment of his entering into his resting place in the earth all his activity, industry, and energy ceased.
Think then, my beloved friends, if the soul be neglected now, nought can be done for its salvation even by God in the grave—if you leave the immortal spirits of those you love in ignorance until death, you can render them no service-if your own soul's immortal state be neglected now, no attention can be directed then to their best interests.
On this melancholy topic it is impossible not to stop and offer a few obvious reflections. Is the body to be committed to the groundearth to earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashesis it to become the loathsome mass where corruption may riot? Is it to be separated from all who loved it? Why should this noblest work of God be thus marred? Why should what the wisest of the ancients in wonder called the little world be thus thrown aside in contempt ? Why should this curious frame, which presents the creature--next to the great intelligence-the Creator of all things, be thus vilely cast away? Why should God's vicegerent upon earth be thus fixed on for such a melancholy display?
It shews us what the Bible plainly tells ;that man sinned, and that “ sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and that thus death has passed upon all men, in that all have sinned.” Is it possible for the Almighty God by any objects around us in the present world, by any thing that he could do to give a more striking display of his displeasure against sin, than the death he inflicted on the body, or to exhibit more clearly the fatal and destructive influence of sin ? When we see the body thus crumble into dust, we witness one of the most conspicuous displays of sin's fatal power. However dear man was to God, his chiefest, noblest, greatest, best work in a creation, that was all“ very good;" as soon as ever he became a transgressor he was obliged to declare, that as dust he was, so to dust should he return. Thus, man returns to the earth from whence he was taken-thus we have all become brothers of corruption and the worm.
From these effects on the body, let us estimate its effects on the soul. The body is destructible-death strikes it through, and there is an end of the matter-but the soul cannot be thus destroyed--the soul cannot thus die-the power of insensibility can never reach itit cannot, like the body, go to a place where there is neither knowledge, nor device, nor