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the sanctions and blessings of His ministers, you vowed love and fidelity, mutual comfort and support, through this your pilgrimage. But even then, in the very hour of joy and seeming strength, arising from the union of hearts and pledges of mutual support, the Church suffered you not to lose sight of the mere temporary interest you have in all that
you could confer upon each other here. The utmost extension of this interest is but as a span long. The words, "till death us do part,” while they declare that you were joined together in a bond which is not to be broken in this life, remind you also, that it is the contract of mortals, and that the time must come, when those, whose hands were joined together, must be put asunder; and they must pass to that kingdom where there is “ neither marrying nor giving in marriage.” When that separation is to come upon each, God alone knows. But come it must. The grass will wither, and the flower fade. Hearts, united by the closest ties of affection, must feel the pangs of separation by the hand of death. Olet not the trial of that hour be increased by the memory of mutual unkindnesses. Let not the termination of the contract be clouded by the reproaches of conscience for its violation. Remember those duties which we have urged, and others which your own reflections may suggest; apply them to your conduct in the year now passing, and thence take cautions for turning the next to the best advantage, that God,
under whose sanction you were joined in the bands of earthly wedlock, may hereafter call you, with all those who have been faithful, to rejoice in the marriage of the Lamb with His Church, in a kingdom where hearts joined together in holy love shall neither be disturbed by infirmities, nor separated by mortality.
IV. Servants! Hear ye also "the voice.” In the last year your master, your fellow-servants, yourselves, might have withered, and passed from this transitory scene. And, at all events, you know that the voice saith true, that you will all in a few short years fade like flowers of the field. place on earth will be known no more. Let all your duties be performed under a lively sense of this awful truth. For, like Gehazi ', you will one day stand before a Master, whose spirit is ever present with you, and is privy to every thing you do, or say, or think. He will speak to you in a power far more terrible than that in which Elisha rebuked his guilty and covetous servant. Before Him, all your misdeeds and negligence will rise up and condemn you. You will be covered with shame if your conscience shall reproach you with purloining, and not showing good fidelity to your earthly master. If Gehazi was speechless with terror and confusion when Elisha said, “ Went not mine heart with thee ?” what will be your confusion when God shall question with you. How will you depart from His presence at His rebuke? A leprosy more dreadful than Naaman's will cleave to you—the leprosy of Divine wrath for ever and ever. How then have you acted this year? Have you considered your duties to God and man? have you conducted yourselves, “not with eye-service as men-pleasers,” but as looking to a more enduring state, and “serving the Lord ?”
* 2 Kings v. 20—27.
V. To all the voice utters its warning. It tells us that all here is transitory, our pleasures, our possessions, the objects of our pursuit, of our love, and fondest affections-nay, our very life itself. All the relations of this world will pass away, all the things that excite contention, and envy, and discontent, and murmuring. Every thing here is unstable and withering ; nothing is fixed and permanent. Of every thing around us, as connected only with this world, we may exclaim, “ Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” They will, if we fix our hearts and hopes upon them, deceive and betray us in the hour of need. As the mariner, who has been tempted by the immoveable and solid appearance of a grounded iceberg to seek refuge under its lofty sides, finds in the hour of trial a faithless haven; and that the mighty mass to which he looked for protection, may itself be driven by the current, and wielded by the heaving surge, till it shall hurry into fresh perils, or overwhelm in awful destruction the ill-fated bark which had been attached to it for repose and safety : so will it be with those who rest their peace and security on even the most specious and promising things of the world. All here is perishable; all will wither like grass : to be ever safe, we must attach ourselves to something more solid and permanent.
And the “ VOICE,” which shows the insecurity and uncertainty of all other things, likewise declares where we may find a solid resting place, “THE WORD OF OUR GOD SHALL STAND FOR EVER. On that, and that only, is our sure dependence. Let years roll on, let disease, or age, or loss of friends, or the daily triumphs of death over great and lowly, rich and poor, young and old, all join, with the prophetic voice, in proclaiming that all flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field: yet we also know that “the word of our God shall stand for ever." “And this,” says the Apostle Peter, “is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you 1."
On that alone let your trust be established. Year after year be more familiar with its doctrines, more practised in its precepts, more bound up in its hopes, more sensible of its blessings, more desirous of the consummation of its promises. In all the relations of life make it your motive, your guide, your strength, your consolation. Then, when our years shall be numbered, when the grass shall wither, and the flower fade, may it contain the seeds of immortality in bliss ! May the grave be to our mortal bodies as the furrow of a fruitful field to the grain of wheat', to render them up again at the last day glorified bodies; when the “ trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,” when “death shall be swallowed up in victory,” when the thanks of the redeemed, amidst the songs and shouts of angels and archangels, shall be poured out before the throne of God, who "giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ;" and who, by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, hath enabled His servants to be “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as they know that their labour is not in vain in the Lord,” and are assured that “THE WORD OF OUR GOD SHALL STAND FOR EVER.”
11 Pet. i. 25.