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of five or ten! To those who are thus gifted, religion looks for especial support, protection, and aid. She expects the appropriate labours of the learned, the munificence of the wealthy, the patronage of the powerful, the leisure that ease and affluence can command, the vigour which native talents can supply. Whereever good is to be done; wherever piety, virtue, and humanity are to be promoted; wherever truth is to be vindicated, or error to be discountenanced or restrained ; all ranks and degrees of men owe their respective contributions and exertions. In no other way can the sacred precept in the text be faithfully and effectually fulfilled.
That such examples do indeed abound among us in the present day, it were ungrateful to deny ;-examples of persons who, in every station or occupation, may truly be said to "adorn the doctrine of God their Sa"viour ";" and whose influence, whether more or less perceptible upon the mass of the community, cannot but be widely diffusive and extensively beneficial. Nor may we doubt that in the eye of an all-seeing God, whose glory is thus manifested to the world, these are among the surest tokens that, whatever may be our demerits as a people, we are not
n Titus ii. 10.
yet entirely cast out of his favour and regard. Fearful indeed would be the times, when" the "faithful" should "fail from among the chil"dren of men." No surer prognostick could be imagined of the impending judgments of the Almighty, than that a people should thus be bereft of its best human safeguard; if indeed any judgment could be more severe, or more certainly fatal, than that which leaves a nation to its own devices; undisciplined, unrestrained, uncontrolled by those feelings of love or fear towards HIM "whose king"dom ruleth over all," which alone can preserve it from working its own downfal and destruction.
They who view the subject in this light, and are sensible that "the loving-kindness of "God is better than life itself"," will be solicitous to increase the number and the influence of those whose purity of faith and practice may draw down the Divine blessing upon their country. To them, under Providence, will it be owing, that we may still flourish among surrounding nations, and that our Church may still continue to be "a praise “in the earth." Nor will they be discouraged from this perseverance in well-doing, under any circumstances of conflict, of diffi
。 Psalm xii. 1. P Psalm lxiii. 3. q Isaiah lxvii. 2.
culty, or of danger, under any obloquy or opposition from the enemies of righteousness and truth; knowing that it must ever be to their own temporal and eternal benefit, as well as to the welfare of the state, thus to acquit themselves as " "blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of
a crooked and perverse generation ;" and that they shall "rejoice in the day of Christ, "that they have not run in vain, neither la"boured in vain "."
r Phil. ii. 15, 16.
ISAIAH lvii. 1.
The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart.
WHATEVER may have been the particular occasion of this complaint, its immediate purport requires little explanation. In the preceding chapter, the Prophet gives some striking proofs of the deplorable state of religion and morals in the kingdom of Judah. In this, he begins with noticing the strange apathy and indifference of the people, with respect to events (then probably of recent occurrence) calculated to awaken them to serious reflection:-"The righteous perisheth, "and no man layeth it to heart.”
a Preached before the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn, on Sunday, May 31, 1812, on the occasion of the Assassination of the Right Hon. Spencer Perceval, and printed at the request of the Treasurer and Masters of the Bench, June 1812.
Conjectures have been formed, whether the Prophet here adverts to the death of any particular person of distinguished eminence; or whether he speaks, in general terms, of some unexpected and extraordinary diminution in the number of good and faithful men. This point cannot now be ascertained by historical evidence. But the force of the reproof, that no man laid the event to heart, is, in either case, the same; and the admonition resulting from it is of equal weight, to all for whose learning these Scriptures were written.
The Prophet, however, can hardly be understood to mean, that the death of such persons was universally disregarded, or that the event excited no degree of sympathy or concern among their fellow-countrymen. It will suffice, to justify his complaint, that there was a general want of consideration as to the probable design of Providence in occurrences so deeply affecting the public welfare. "No
man layeth it to heart :”—no man duly reflects upon it as a Divine visitation. Absorbed in their own personal interests, or given up to the pursuits of the moment, they regard not the hand of the Almighty, however visibly lifted up; nor recognise His purpose, though written in characters legible to all who will take pains to read them.