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at his feet, or would he seek safety in any exertions of his own, were there within his reach, a sure hiding place from the wind, and covert from the tempest? But, men and brethren, such a situation is yours. The overwhelming blasts of adversity may assail you in a moment: the storms of divine indignation hang over you, ready to burst; and a retreat has been opened, a shelter reared, by the man Christ Jesus. Will
Will you neglect, then, to flee for refuge? will you prefer the vanities of sense ? or will you depend on your own arm for succour?-Would the pilgrim, parched with thirst, and painfully traversing a burning sand, under the rays of a scorching sun, hesitate to betake himself to the refreshing stream, under the cooling shade of a mighty rock? His situation is also yours. Ye stand in need of refreshment and consolation : and for you a fountain is opened, a shade provided. This man is also likened to “ rivers of water in a dry
place,” and to “ the shadow of a great rock in a is
weary land.”—The text, then, suggests for our consideration
I. The protection from evil afforded by our Saviour, as intimated in the first part of the verse; and - II. The positive blessings which he bestows, as expressed in the second.
1. Jesus affords protection from evil. He is “as “ an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from [cac the tempest.'
Man, in common with all that live, seeks present comfort. It is peculiar to him, among the inhabitants of this world, to look forward with anxiety for future rest. The first ingredient in the former is protection from the evils of this life; and in the
latter, security from suffering in the next. This general head of discourse, therefore, resolves itself into two particulars, viz.
1. The protection asforded by our Saviour to his people, under the afflictions of a present world; and
2. His delivering them from eternal miscry, in the world to come.
Let us attend, then, first to the protection which he affords, under the evils of a present world.
In whatever period of life, or department of society, we contemplate man, we see the assertion of Eliphaz confirmed, that he “ is born to trouble.”* In the first stage of his journey, ere he can have felt the plagues of his heart, or the corroding cares of the world, infirmity is stamped upon his character and state : he is more helpless than the offspring of the brutes that perish. He begins his progress amid cries and tears; as if nature meant to acquaint him that he is born to misery, and is ranked among human creatures, only to share in their wants, weaknesses, and afflictions. In childhood, he is still a feeble dependent on the care and bounty of others; and both in infancy and childhood, he is exposed, not only to many perils, but to an host of diseases, which may destroy life in the bud, or mark its after growth by deformity and pain. Even when he reaches that period, when“ his breasts are full of " milk, and his bones moistened with marrow," when he supposes himself wise for his own direction, and strong for his own defence, can you say that he has power or foresight to prevent the approach of evil? His trust in his own arm, and his security in his own wisdom, expose him but the
Job v. 17.
more to danger. A confidence without experience, the tumultuous movements of sensual passion, the fire of ambition, the desire of riches or renown, nay, the blood which boils in his veins, and causes his strength and beauty, are the means of involving him in continual peril; are the lurking seeds of disease, and the instruments of death. Man is weak, at his best estate ; and youth is not the season, in which he stands in need of no defence from above. It hardly can be necessary, then, that, to prove his want of a protector, I should remind you of that period,” when the keepers of the house tremble,
and the strong men bow themselves, and the
grinders cease, because they are few, and they “ thąt look out at the windows are darkened :"* that pitiable period, when man becomes a second time a child, when memory and judgment fail, when desire expires, when the silver cord begins to be loosed, and the dust is about to return to the earth as it was.—Think of these things; and say, Do you not feel the want of a refuge, where you may find rest, in every stage of your journey; of a hiding place from the perils, anxieties, and sorrows of life? Behold those trees, that now wave their green heads in the breeze, and rejoice in the light of the sun : not more certain is it, that the sudden tempest may scatter their branches on the ground, or that winter shall soon wither their leaves, and deface their beauty, than that you are each moment liable to the visitation of disease or sorrow, and speedily shall fall by the stroke of death. And though you yourselves may have hitherto known little of the pains and the infirmities of life, have
Eccl vi. 3.
you never felt a wound in the distresses of your friends; and perceived, in their afflictions or decease, how frail you are? The receptacle of the dead, now before me, * contains the ashes of those who have bid adieu to life at every age of our dearest relatives, who have left us to weep behind them.
There sleep the parents, of whose affection and cares we were once the objects; and there, those who lay in the same womb with us, and were nourished at the same breasts. The stones and green hillocks, which stand around, as memorials of the departed, are witnesses that man's help is not in himself; and that miserable is the state of him who has not a refuge in the evil day.
Were these evils without remedy; were there no consolation for the distressed, no covert, to which the endangered might retreat, I would be far from
* To explain the allusions to local scenery, which occur in this part of this discourse, it may be necessary to mention, that it was originally written for the tent, in the author's native parish, and first delivered there. -As some persons, into whose hands this volume may fall, may not understand what is meant by the tent, it
proper to add, that, owing to the dispensation of the Lord's supper occuring but once a year, in most parishes of Scotland, there was generally a greater conflux of people on such occasions, than the respective churches could contain. To prevent the overcrowding of the churches, and to furnish every one with an opportunity of attending to religious worship and instruction, tents were erected somewhere near. These are a sort of covered pulpits, from which the assistants of the minister, in whose parish the ordinance is dispensed, address the people seated on the ground around them; and conduct the usual solemnities of public worship long as the service continues within. In many cases, for want of a more convenient situation, the burying ground is employed for this purpose. It was so at Largo. It may be conceived, therefore, that the feelings of many of the audience, who occupied the spot beneath which the ashes of their departed kindred reposed, must have been forcibly and usefully awakened by the language of the preacher. This may perhaps account, in part, for the powerful impression which this discourse produced at the time, and for the lively emotion with which it is still recollected by many in that part of the country. One circumstance, in particular, tended to render the impression deeper, as it strongly agitated himself, while he spoke of “ those who lay in the same womb, and were « nourished at the same breasts :" The grave of a beloved sister, whose remains, not long before, had been consigned to the dust, was within his eye.
Owing partly to the introduction of a more frequent dispensation of the Lord's supper, and partly to the abuses, of which the assemblages of people at the tents afforded an opportunity to the giddy and profligate, tents are rapidly falling into disus. In many places they were never known. (EDITOR.
“ Go thy
adding, by such reflections, new gall to the troubles of your lot: I would exhort you rather to shut your eyes to the prospects of misery, and to harden your hearts against the tenderness of sorrow. In such a case, I would say with Solomon, in the literal sense, “ There is nothing better for a man than that he " should eat and drink, and that he should make
his soul enjoy good in his labour.”
way: eat thy bread with joy; and drink thy wine “ with a merry heart.”* But God hath opened for you a hiding place from calamity; and seč up a covert from every storm. Though the chief, it was not the only end of Christ's coming into the world, to save us from eternal ruin : it was also to render our lot more secure and comfortable here, by shielding us from the sting, and mitigating the bitterness of natural evil: “ For we have not an high-priest, " which cannot be touched with the feeling of our “ infirmities;" but “ forasmuch as the children are
partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself like“ wise took part of the same ;”+ and deeply shared án all our wants and pains. Did he submit to these, then, that we might never feel them? No; but that, having “ himself suffered,” he might be the better « able to succour them that are tempted.”I He was not always, as on the sea of Galilee, to calm the wind, and bid the tempest cease; but to be "an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from " the tempest :” and it may be more for our advantage, that our souls should be exposed to trial, provided they are so shielded as to be able to endure it with cheerfulness and patience, than that trial itself should be totally removed. * Ecel, i. 24. and ix. 7. + Heb. iv. 15. and iii 14. of Ibid. ii. 18,