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they fly. Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses; some rely on riches, or the consolations of human strength or friendship; others take shelter under the specious arguments of human wisdom and vain philosophy. These, and such like, are the broken reeds of comfort, to which men, in all ages, have had recourse for help in the day of trouble. .
Amidst this perplexing uncertainty of vain hopes and deceitful expectations, the Royal Psalmist wisely undertakes to direct our wandering steps, and points out a fountain of comfort, which can never fail or deceive us. And who was better able than the Royal Psalmist to give us this information ? He had felt all the miseries' that mortal' man is heir to, he had tried all the consolations which human strength can afford; and, after all, declares, as the result of his latest and best experience, that it is better to trust " in the Lord, than to put any confidence in 6 man. is į di ; if : ;
This declaration I shall endeavour to illustrate by a consideration of the following particulars :
First, That man can be no true object of trust and confidence.
Secondly, That God is such an inexhaustible fountain of power and goodness, that he can never fail those who put their trust in him.
That man cannot be a proper object of confidence, will be evident from the slightest survey of human nature and its leading principles. His will, which is the great spring of all his actions, is ever fickle and inconstant in all its propensities and aversions, not only driven about with every sudden gust of humour or passion, but even attached by secret likings and inexplicable sympathies, and alienated and estranged by as sudden and unaccountable hatreds and antipathies. What dependance then can there be on that which is scarce a moment the same, which is seldom in our own power, and at all times deceitful above all things?
Nor is this perverse fluctuation of the human will to be controlled by any laws, or restrained by the strongest tyes and obligations we can lay upon it. For how often do we see the parent abandon the child, for whom he is bound by the laws of nature to provide; abandon him without remorse, to danger, calamity, or death; and how often, again, does the child as unfeelingly trample under foot the sacred bonds of gratitude and filial duty? And if these, whom the most cogent laws of God and nature have apo pointed for a mutual comfort and support, can yet fail and deceive each other, what trust or confidence can we repose in the help of man, when he is bound by no laws, or inclined only by the weaker repulses of gratitude or friendship, to relieve us ? :)
Should so plain a point as this still want confirmation, read the history of mankind, and you will soon be convinced, how little faith is due to the common professions of friendship and esteem. Whilst fortune smiles upon us, and our tables are crowned with riches and plenty, we shall not want numbers to devote themselves to our ser. vice, and declare themselves, like the faithless Peter, even ready to die with us : but let the providence of God change the scene, and scatter the blessings he had poured upon us, then, like Peter also, will they be ready with an oath ta deny us. Their protestations of service will then be changed into frivolous excuses, and we shall be left to mourn our folly in putting any con. fidence in nan.
But let me not be misunderstood. I mean not here to depreciate the value of true friendship, which every reasonable man is bound to honour, as the noblest balm of life, which God hath
bestowed in compassion to the manifold infirmities of our nature. : But I must at the same time observe, and, I fear, the experience of too many will confirm the observation, that he, who flatters himself with the hopes of enjoying this blessing, will find by long trial, that as it is more precious, so also it is more difficult to be acquired than gold, yea than much fine gold.
But even should we succeed in our persuit of this inestimable treasure, how far are we still from having obtained any security against the various ills that surround us in life! The hand of friendship may indeed be stretched forth to relieve and support us; but our calamities also may be beyond the reach of human aid. Can even our dearest friends restrain the storm that lays waste our grounds, or stop the lightning from heaven that may blast us in a moment? Can they coinmand the sun to chear, or the breeze to refresh us? Can they relieve the breast that throbs with the violence of a fever, or ease the head that sinks with unutterable anguish? Can they stop the raging fire that alarms our midnight slumbers, and in a moment swallows up our lives and fortunes ? Can they support the feeble knee, revive the broken heart, or stay the chill cold hand of death? Alas! the power of man is, like his existence, short and limiteda
Omnipotence and all-sufficiency are to be found in God alone, from whom all things are derived. Even the noblest works of his hands are so far from being able to afford help to others in every time of need, that even themselves too often groan under the weight of evils which they can neither redress nor alleviate.
If, therefore, we would secure to ourselves a firm and unchangeable support, we must not rely on the arm of flesh, but on the power of God; since there are a thousand accidents in life, in which the services of our best friends can be of no avail to relieve us.'
· But, even allowing that men should be at all
times both willing and able to relieve us, yet still there is another consideration, which ought to wean us from putting too great trust in them. We should remember that man that is born of a woman is of few days: his being is momentary and uncertain ; in the beautiful language of scripture he is justly said to be “cut down like “ a flower of the field; to flee as a shadow and “ continue not.” The soul and body, in whose union life consists, are held together by no stronger tye than the breath of our nostrils; a breath which a blast of air or shower of rain may extinguish; and then fall the stoutest and the