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The Wise Man says, at the 12th verse of this chapter, that Wisdom is a defence. It is better to go to the House of Mourning, than to the House of Feasting: for that is the end of all men, and the living will lay it to his heart. There is not a better lesson. It points to the end of man. If any thing will set him on thinking, it is, that this is what all must expect: every man must arrive at it. This house seals, therefore, on man's heart a most important fact, if he possesses any feeling.
There is not a person present, perhaps, who has not, in his youth, adopted the contrary sentiment. We all know, who have ourselves been desirous of going to the House of Feasting, that the very tendency and design of it is to make us forget every thing that we ought to remember and inculcate upon the mind. The House of Mourning is wholly the reverse in its tendency: if the man is sober at all, he is sober there: he must be far gone indeed, if he does not think then!
Thoughtless man builds a house, and consecrates it expressly to madness, folly, trifling, intemperance, and profaneness. But God mercifully provides another house, to bring him back to recollection, by shewing him the end of man : and thus, as the Wise Man says in the 3d verse, Sorrow is better than laughter: for, by the sadness of the countenance, the heart is made better.
It is a great thing, Brethren, to induce men to think at all. Men talk of thinking; but very few
think seriously: you rarely meet a man that has a recollected mind, who thinks to any purpose, and asks What shall I do in the end thereof? You can have made no observation on life, if you have not remarked this. It is the grand plan, of what I may call the ordinances of our Great Enemy, the House of Festivity,--to destroy all recollection: but the House of Mourning seems, among other objects, to be designed of God to bring men to thoughtfulness.
There are, therefore, better lessons to be learned in the House of Mourning, than in the House of Mirth.
2. It has BETTER COMPANY.
The heart of the wise is in the House of Mourne ing, but the heart of fools is in the House of Mirth. Now as far as a Wise Man is preferable to a fool, so far is it better to go to to the House of Mourning, than to the House of Feasting.
I know not a worse abuse of a term, than that of the “ best company.” Such a one “ keeps the best company:" that is, the most fashionable people; persons best acquainted with the sciences, and talk, and maxims of the day—who value themselves highly on such trifling, silly, empty accomplishments--and, because they are loquacious and know the small-talk of the day, they are called by others the best company!”. A thinking man, who endeavours to weigh things as they are, will generally call them almost the worst company he can meet; for were he to spend years in their society, would he be the wiser? would he be the better?-would he be improving in virtue, much less in religion—in the care of the soul--in the knowledge of God-in faith in Christ? I protest, therefore, against this abuse of the term.
I said that the House of Mourning has better company.
In this house men are so taught to think, and to lay things to heart, that even foolish and trifling men seem at least to have a wisdom there which does not belong to them.
But here are the redeemed of the Lord:-men prepared for any dispensation which God is pleased to afford-learning and studying his will, and asking what he would have them to do. And it is not a small part of the happiness of these men, that they are delivered from that which is the plague of the wise-I mean, Custom.
Here are found, also, “the glorious company of the Apostles, the goodly fellowship of the Prophets, and the noble army of Martyrs.”
There Christ himself was found the man of sorrows! This is the way to his table, and to his friends above.
My Dear Hearers, if you have found a friend, a real friend, thank God that he has raised
such an one to take care for your soul, to take pains with you, to set before you the falsehoods of life, the cheats and impositions continually put on men.
Thank God, if he has raised
such an one, that will take you by the hand, and say, “ Let us go and serve the Lord : and, if he call to the House of Sorrow, let it be the House of Wisdom.”
3. The House of Mourning has' BETTER.COM
This would be an inexplicable paradox to many -- Comforts, in the House of Mourning! there may be Lessons of Instruction ;-but what do you mean by Comforts ? Brethren! there is bread to eat in that house, which the world knows not of. Thanks be unto God, says the Apostle, who always causeth us to triumph in Christ; not only in the day of prosperity, but in the day of adversity. His friends have songs in the house of their pilgrimage. The drunkard, in his intoxication, may raise a midnight song: but who will compare his joys with the exultation of that song which was raised by Paul and Silas at midnight in a dungeon ?
You have the true description of those joys which are found in the House of Mirth, at the 6th verse of this chapter :-For, as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool. The joy of the House of Feasting is like the crackling of thorns-a blaze! a momentary blaze! leaving the man in darkness--vexed and chagrined-and frequently driven to commit suicide, in order to escape present disappointment and perplexity!
What is Comfort ?--not the intoxicating song
of the drunkard !-not the foolish talk of the trifler!--not the nonsense of the man who for amusement displays his wit, or rather his folly! What is comfort? It is a serious satisfaction something sedative---something well-grounded something that will administer consolation on a death-bed; that will bear up a man, and enable him to cry, O Death! where is thy sting? 0 Grave! where is thy victory?
Can you tell me of any thing of this sort in the House of Feasting? If there is nothing else in the House of Mourning to comfort us, there is the voice of our Master--the voice of faithfulness, power, and love, to accomplish what he has said: Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Here is the Comforter himself--a comforter that the world cannot: give, nor take away
si 4. A BETTER END awaits us in the House of Mourning
It was the advice of the Wise Man, Whatsoever thou puttest thy hand unto, look to the end, and thou wilt not do amiss. Here you may look to the end: you may ask your heart seriously, « What is the end of all this ? For what purpose does God bring me this way? Why? ---It is the way by which he leads his children, and he is leading them to a kingdom, and this is the path to that kingdom. I have not, indeed, what he had who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and