Page images


Dissatisfaction of Life, and desire of Death.


AND Job spake and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which was said, there is a man child conceived. Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it. Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it, let a cloud dwell upon it, let the blackness of the day terrify it. As for that night let darkness seize upon it, let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months. Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein. Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning. Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light but have none, neither let it see the dawning of the day, because it shut not up the doors of my mother's womb, nor hid sorrow from my eyes. Why died I not from the womb? for now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept, then had I been at rest; or as a hidden and untimely birth, I had not been; as infants that ever saw light. There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary be at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they hear

not the voice of the oppressor.

The small and the great are there, and the servant is free from his master. Wherefore is light given unto him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul, which long for death but it cometh not, and dig for it more than for hid treasures; which rejoice exceedingly and are glad when they can find the grave, Job iii. 2-22. My soul is weary of my life, I will leave my complaint upon myself, I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. O that I had given up the ghost, and that no eye had seen me, Job x. I, 18. O that I might have my request, and that God would grant me the thing that I long for; even that it would please God to destroy me, that he would let loose his hand and cut me off; then should I yet have comfort. I would harden myself in sorrow; let him not spare, Job vi. 8—10. Thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions, so that my soul chooseth strangling and death, rather than my life. I loathe it, I would not live alway, Job vii. 14-16. Therefore now, O Lord, take I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live, Jonah iv. 3. And he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree, and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am not better than my fathers, 1 Kings xix. 4. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. We are confident, say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord, 2 Cor. v. 1-8. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour. Yet what I shall choose, I wot not; for I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better, Phil. i. 21–23.

ADDRESS. A desire to leave the present state of existence, to which the providence of God has introduced us, has strongly marked at times both the righteous and the wicked; though this desire has proceeded from very different motives, and been characterized by very opposite feelings. Human nature is averse to suffering. Pain of body, disappointment in worldly expectations, agony of conscience, and fear of future and anticipated evils, have made many a sinner long to quit a scene so uncongenial to his nature, so contrary to the purposes he is


wont to form, and the prospects in which he is disposed to indulge. “The sorrow of the world worketh death,” and leads the unhappy being to desire the end of life, that he may rid of that burden of affliction, which presses so heavily upon him. He desires this termination of existence, at the hazard of encountering more dreadful evils, in a future and untried state of being. He often fearlessly and foolishly rushes on to meet the last foe, thinking it better to venture upon unknown ills to come, than to endure the present intolerable burden of his sorrows. But alas! it has been a fatal expedient. To escape from present sorrow and calamity, he has heedlessly plunged into misery infinitely more dreadful. It has been only an exchange of transient for eternal torments. Instead of affliction leading the wretched individual to the appointed refuge of the guilty and the miserable, he has, in the madness of his heart, welcomed death as the supposed terminator of his earthly griefs, not looking beyond at the awful sufferings which await the impenitent in eternity. So anxious is the sinner to be delivered from the present weight of his sorrows, that if death do not speedily and in a natural way come to him, he will hastily run to meet death.

Look at the unregenerated man on a bed of sickness and death. The body is the subject of disease, and the soul is filled with anguish. Day and night is he racked with agonizing pain. Life is a burden, and he longs to quit it; death he thinks a blessing, and he pants to experience it. He looks to the hour of death as the period of his release, and therefore wishes in himself that he might die. And in many cases this dissatisfaction with the present painful condition, and this earnest desire of death, is considered by the victim of bodily disease, and by the relatives and ignorant attendants upon a sick bed, as a proof of piety. The sick man has no wish to live, no relish for the world, no dread of dying, no doubt of heaven, and therefore it is concluded that the soul is infallibly secure, and perfectly prepared to enter the presence of the Almighty above. But alas! whence does this desire to: leave the world arise, but from selfishness ? Is it not, when investigated, found to be merely a dislike to suffering, which the most abandoned of mankind often feel? It is no test of personal religion, no satisfactory proof of safety, no unequivocal sign of fitness for so solemn an event as dying, to desire deliverance from that which troubles either the body or the mind. The fallen angels and the lost spirits in a place of torment, long to be in heaven, simply because where they are there is not a drop of water to cool their parched tongues. In this dissatisfaction which the afflicted sinner feels at the present state, there is no spirituality; in this desire for death there is nothing enviable. There has often been the most ardent desire to die, when there has been the least preparation for it; there has

« PreviousContinue »