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ceives them from the hand of his heavenly Father; he tastes his love in them; he cries, “O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men ! Bless the Lord, O my soul !—who gives me all things richly to enjoy," and who provides, not only for my relief, but delight. I will live to him who lives in so many ways for me, and moved by “his mercies, I will present my body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto him, which is my reasonable service."
III. Let us observe and adore this wonderworking God in renewing the face of the earth. How many times has he done this since the creation! He does it every year. The change is equally remarkable and pleasing. See the winter drawing off his army of winds, and frosts, and snow, and hail—and spring succeeding the monarch of desolation. Under his soft and gentle reign, all begins to smile: life in a thousand ways breaks forth; all is verdure, and fragrance, and beauty : all is joyous-what variety of colours, what harmony of sounds.
The valleys stand thick with rising corn, and the little hills rejoice on every side,” while a voice from the fields and meadows calls—" arise-and come away; for lo ! the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth ; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”
Let us remember, that he who renews the face of the earth can renew the church. Think of any particular cause, however depressed, he can revive it: however small, he can increase it When his influences descend, “his word comes down like rain upon the mown grass, as showers that water the earth ;” and his people are filled with all the fruits of righteousness—the congregation is like a field which the Lord hath blessed. Or think of his cause at large.--He can drive away errors, and superstition, and animosities from the nations of the globe, and bless the world with the gospel of peace, and the means of salvation; and the wilderness, and solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon ; they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.”
He can also renew the soul. The fall has reduced our spiritual powers to a state of desolation the most deplorable. Now, when a sinner is led to see and feel this, he prays, • Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. And we read of the renewing of the Holy Ghost; and of being renewed in the spirit of our minds. Thus God “beautifies the meek with salvation ;" and the change in nature is an imperfect representation of the change made in the soul by divine grace. This can illuminate the darkest understanding, and soften the most rebellious will: this can tranquillize the most troubled conscience, and sanctify the most depraved affections. After conversion, the people of God may have a winter season: their growth may be checked; everything may appear to be dead ; they may feel the chilling absence of the sun of righteousness, and sigh, when wilt thou come unto me! But when he returns all revives : then the believer is quickened, and expands, and buds and brings forth “ much fruit.—He has life, and he has it more abundantly."
Again. He can renew the body. Has sickness invaded thy frame ? art thou “made to possess months of vanity, and are wearisome nights appointed unto thee?” Art thou saying, “ My purposes are broken off—mine eye shall no more see good ?” Remember “he killeth and maketh alive; he bringeth down to the grave, and raiseth up.” Every disease is under his control, and goes at his bidding. He can recolour thy cheeks,
strengthen thy weak hands, and confirm thy feeble knees, so that thy youth shall be renewed like the eagle's." Let the body die-even then we are not hopeless-he shall renew it. “ So is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body, it shall be raised a spiritual bodyAccording to his promise, we look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.—And God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes: and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain : for the former things are passed away.”
To conclude. The seasons of the year have often been considered as emblems of human life. Youth is the spring. Yes, my dear young friends, yours is the season of which nature, lovely nature, now reminds us. Think of this in all your walks. How pleasing and how beautiful is spring ! But how short, how fading !--yet how important! On this all the year depends. If no blossoms now appear, or if those blossoms be destroyed-no glory in summer, no abundance in autumn, no provision in winter.
My young friends, you are now forming your future destiny, and giving a character to your future years. O seize these valuable hours for purposes the most momentous—The improvement of your understanding, the correction of your tempers, the formation of good habits, the enlargement of your capacity to serve God and your generation, and, above all, employ them in
working out your salvation with fear and trembling.” And thou God of all grace, hear our prayer. “Let thy work appear untó thy servants, and thy glory unto their children, and let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us : and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands, establish thou it. 'That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth, and our daughters as corner-stones, polished after the similitude of a palace." Amen.
THE HAPPY FAMILY.
Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
John xi. 5.
THE Scripture is not filled with the creations of worlds, the revolutions of empires, the palaces of kings, the intrigues of politicians, the exploits of heroes. In perusing it, we are often led into
common and private life; and are called upon largely to observe individuals who made no splendid figure in the eyes of mankind. But a character may be important and interesting without secular honours-He that is born of God is truly great, and he that is beloved of the Saviour is truly happy. Many persons of distinction who once lived in Judea are now forgotten ; their names, their places of abode, their connexions have all perished from the earth ; but there is one family transmitted down to our own times with peculiar marks of regard, and which will be had in everlasting remembrance. It resided at Bethany, and consisted of a brother and two sisters. These three happy individuals lived together in harmony and in piety; and what crowned the whole was this : “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." Let us considerthe objects of this love—the nature of it—and the manner in which it was expressed.
I. The objects of this love were Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. It is worthy of our observation, that several of our Lord's immediate followers were related to each other. Peter and Andrew were brothers; John and James were brothers; so also were James and Jude. The ruler, whose son our Lord cured, believed, and his whole house. And here our Saviour had three disciples in one dwelling, when perhaps the whole village scarcely produced a fourth.
I pity the family where there is no one beloved of Jesus--no friend to attract the Saviour's regard-no protector to stand in the breach and keep back invading judgments-no intercessor to draw down the blessing of Heaven-no good example to reprove, encourage, stimulate. What