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that aged Sovereign, whose present happy unconsciousness of the dire blow which has lighted upon his house, may, at last, almost be numbered among the grounds of our thankfulness to Heaven !
ON THE CONSOLATIONS OF RELIGION AMIDST
HUMAN FEARS AND SORROWS.
ISAIAH xl. 6.
The voice said, Cry. And he said, What
shall I cry? All flesh is grass. THESE
HESE are words, my brethren, which the ear of man is often forced to hear, however he may seek to close it to their entrance. Amidst the utmost gaiety and carelessness, the traces of mortality are ever obtruding upon our view ; and it is wise, nor is it altogether unpleasing, to contemplate them more nearly, and to derive from them that instruction which they are so well adapted to bestow. Whenever, indeed, we turn our thoughts inward, we shall hear the voice
* Preached January 11th 1818, being the last day of the performance of Episcopal service in the Chapel in the Cowgate.
which spoke to the Prophet. The activity of our worldly career may be hurrying us on, or the pleasures of life may be seducing us into forgetfulness; but, whenever we return into the chambers of our own hearts, there we are met by the sounds which tell us of the insecurity of every thing human, and that “ all flesh is grass.” There are, however, particular occasions when we are more alive to such impressions. They rise upon us with greater vivacity in the very hours when we seem most to discard them. In the moments of social happiness, and amidst the mutual warmth of our affections, we are apt, at times, to feel most intensely the transitoriness of all mortal enjoyments. When the harp, and the viol, and wine are in our feasts, the hand-writing on the wall seems to come forth before us and to appall us, and even while we resign ourselves to the most kindly feelings or dearest ties of our nature, we are sadly conscious how soon they may be torn and dissevered.
1. The voice which spoke to the Prophet may then, in the first place, be heard amidst the greetings and friendly intercourse of the present season. The day which gave birth
to the Saviour of the world, has every where been felt as a call, not only to religious thankfulness, but to sympathetic rejoicing; and there is something, perhaps, in the very pictures presented to us at that season in the writings of the Evangelists, which calls upon us to banish all care and anxiety, and to give ourselves up with unrestrained gratitude to the best and purest of our affections. It is the hour in which Angels seem to descend to mingle with the common employments, and among the unforced sentiments of Human Nature -the hour in which a radiance from Heaven encircles the humblest home of man, and in which we seem to be called by God himself to repose our anxious thoughts upon the innocent countenances of childhood, and on the well known expression of domestic love. It is the hour in which all men meet with a kinder feeling, and with more united hearts; in which separate interests seem to be forgotten, and that bond of universal brotherhood is felt which is expressed in the cordial looks, and the reciprocal wishes for happiness and prosperity. It is, in a word, the hour of Christian charity in its simplest and most natural form. Yet, while we open our hearts,
under the sanction of Heaven, to all those kind emotions, is there not, at the same time, a cry of desolation within them, which bursts from them amid our tears ? -The uncertain continuance of all that is best and most excellent in human nature rises upon our thoughts, amidst the feelings themselves of admiration and joy : the voice of winning instruction, upon which we now hang with breathless attention, may
cease to sound, the friendly greeting which now delights our ear may not be heard when the social season again returns the forms of youth and of beauty upon which we now fondly gaze, may then have glided from before our eyes, the countenances of innocence or of love may suddenly disappear, and we feel, even while our affections are most closely bound to the mortal objects around us, that “ all flesh is ” yet but “
but “ grass."
II. If these are the sentiments of thought and of melancholy, which spring, at this season, from the very heart of our rejoicings, they are, in a second view, still farther pressed upon us by an, other most affecting circumstance, the beginning of a New Year, and the departure of a former season, with all its joys, and all its sorrows,