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Ecclesiastes vii. 13, 14.
* CONSIDER THE WORK OF GOD : FOR WHO CAN MAKE THAT
STRAIGHT WHICH HE HATH MADE CROOKED ? IN THE DAY OF PROSPERITY BE JOYFUL, BUT IN THE DAY OF ADVERSITY CONSIDER: GOD ALSO HATH SET THE ONE AGAINST THE OTHER, TO THE END THAT MAN SHOULD FIND NOTHINO AFTER HIM."
The writings of Solomon, are an invaluable depository of divine truth--and have, ever since they were penned, afforded salutary counsel to the Church of God. They display in glowing colours the littleness of man, and the majesty of Jehovah ; the vanity of all earthly things, and the inestimable worth of “ the wisdom that is from above;" the folly which marks the pursuits of human beings, sunk by sin into a low state of degradation, and the unsearchableness of the judgments of him who “ordereth all things according to the counsel of his own will”—and “giveth not ac
count of any of his matters.” Job xxxiii. 13. In these writings we have not only the language of inspiration upon the subjects referred to, but that language uttered by a man who “saw all the works that are done under the sun,” 1. 14, and has left the result of his experience upon record in those memorable words, which the thoughtless and profane would do well to consider: “ behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” 1. 14. If this world were capable of affording peace and happiness to the restless and unsatisfied mind of man, Solomon would have enjoyed these blessings, when he “ kept not from his eyes whatsoever they desired," and “ withheld not his heart from any joy,” 1. 10.But the world was to him, what it must ever be to all who place their hopes upon it, a “ broken cistern”-a well without water-a cloud without rain. God said to man, when by a glaring act of disobedience he threw off that mild restraint, which was destined to be a test of his love and an earnest of his security,
cursed is the ground for thy sake”—but is the curse confined to the ground ? Is it only in the thorns and thistles which grow out of the earth when left without culture, that we can behold the blast of the Lord's displeasure ? Our contemplation may take a far wider range, and entering into the recesses of man's heart,
survey the miseries of fallen nature, in its complete alienation from God, and in the tyranny exercised by sin over every feeling of it. The curse has extended there also, the love of God has been supplanted by the love of self; the soul which will exist through all eternity, and is capable of being “filled with all the fullness of God,” Eph. iii. 19—has its desires chained to earth and bounded by time--so that we can readily trace the accuracy of the description given in the 9th ch. 3 v. “ the heart of the sons of men is full of evitand madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.”
We ought not to be surprised, that a being possessing an heart which is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, should forget the end of his existence should sport upon the brink of destruction—should pervert the blessings of Providence, and make light of the blessings of grace-should with a strange infatuation, make both prosperity and adversity minister to his misery, and should hope to improve his condition either by endeavouring to prove that there is no God, or that he does not exercise a control over the minor works of creation. There are not in nature two things more different, than true wisdom and its counterfeit: the one puffs up; the other humbles; the one is guided by worldly motives, the other by the solemn declarations of the Holy Scriptures; the one increases sorrow, the other invariably produces happiness; the one common to all intelligent creatures, the other a distinguishing trait in the character of those who are taught of God, and therefore, made “ wise unto salvation.” This wisdom which the Lord possessed from everlasting, from the beginning--Prov. viii. 22, 23—and which is represented to be the wisdom of the just, is that which you, my brethren, ought to be most anxious to possess, for without it you cannot know the path of duty in which you ought to walk; nor the motives by which you ought to be influenced in the performance of that duty; nor the multiplied encouragements you have, to face a frowning world, which is ever anxious to strew thorns upon the narrow path that leadeth unto life; nor the blessedness that is to be found in receiving the testimony of Jesus Christ; and in resolving the various trials, changes, and allotments of life, into the will of the sovereign and all-wise disposer of events, whose name is Love.
A wise and understanding heart is a blessing of no ordinary value, but one which excites very little interest in the world ; business, sensual pleasures, and cares, are the thorns which choke the word and render it unfruitful: by them the minds of men are distracted, led in captivity, and eventually made miserable, so that it becomes indispensably necessary to rouse them from their stupor, to call them in from their wanderings, that they may consider their latter end and prepare to meet God. The preaching of the Gospel is the appointed means for effecting this important object: and we are told in the volume of inspiration, that faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Rom. x. 17. This weapon, so insignificant in the estimation of the world, is mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, 2 Cor. x. 4; and has been found effectual in bringing liberty to the captive, and comfort to the mourning soul; but like every other blessing, it is abused by the depraved, unthankful mind of man; and as he can with perfect unconcern behold the sun which shines upon him every day, and prevents the earth from being a dreary waste: so he can hear with still greater unconcern of the bright rising of the sun of righteousness, who alone is able to chase away mental darkness, and to makė the “ desert rejoice and blossom as the rose.” Human events are ordered in a wise subservience to the accomplishment of God's purposes; and they are often employed as