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The Love of Life, A Duty.

The Love of Life, A Duty.

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Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in
truth, and Avith a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy
sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. Isal\h xxxviii. 3.

Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in
truth, and Avith a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy
sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. Isal\h xxxviii. 3.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jun 23, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE LOVE OF LIFE, A DUTY.BY REV. D. MERRILLRemember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee intruth, and Avith a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thysight. And Hezekiah wept sore. Isal\h xxxviii. 3.Hezekiah was not -willmg to die even when a message cameto him from the Lord, saying, "Set thy house in order, forthou shalt die, and not live." The message was in form abso-lute and unchangable, — " Thou shalt die, and not live." Butthen, he did not so understand it, and the result shows that itwas not designed to be thus understood. It was no more, infact, than that his disease in its own nature was mortal, and of itself must terminate fatally. Whether God would interfereand arrest the disease, and restore him to health, was anothermatter entirely. This question he had no means of decidingwith absolute certainty. He knew that diseases were underthe control of Him that sent them — that they went and cameat His bidding, and that nothing was too hard for the Lord.There was a natural desire to live, and in this case special rea-sons to confirm and increase that desire. The possibility of restored health and contmued life, laid the foundation of hope.For, in the uncertainty, he hoped the best — viewed the brightrather than the dark side, and thought more of the powerof God, than the power of the disease. And hope encourag-ed prayer. God had given him life, and that life still re-mained ; and it was his business to live while God should lethim live, and to use all appropriate means to that effect ; and26 REV. D. Merrill's sermons.the appropriate means, in his case, were prayers and tears.And there was no submission to death, or giving up to die,while there was a possibility of life. His life was given himin charge to keep, and he was anxious to keep it, and used allappropriate means to keep it, till he who gave it should recallthe gift. He was not sick of life, and therefore anxious tothrow off its duties, and burdens, and responsibilities. Norwas he so charmed by that which comes after, as to make thisworld seem a fleeting show, or a dreary wilderness. His de-sire and prayer to God was, that he might live. But was notthis his weakness and inj&rmity, and so recorded for our warn-ing and not for our example ? This certainly is an importantquestion, and deserves careful consideration ; for even the
pious have not always done or felt right, nor is it safe in allcases to imitate their example — to do or feel as they have doneor felt. Job was a pious man, and yet he had an over-anxietyto die ; and Hezekiah was a pious man, and why might he nothave had an over-anxiety to live ? Mere human nature cer-tainly is capable of both these extremes, and the latter, per-haps, is far more common than the former. Was this desireto live his infirmity and weakness, or was it right in the sightof God — such as God approved ? This question must be de-termined by the circumstances of the case, viz., liis prayer andthe answer to his prayer.His prayer was founded upon the fact that he had employedlife in the service of God, and for the benefit of his fellow-men." Remember now, Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walkedbefore thee in truth and with a perfect heart,, and have donethat which is good in thy sight." He does not build uponthis as his righteousness, by which he is to be justified beforeGod, but pleads it as an evidence of his interest in the greatTHE LOVE OF LIFE, A DUTY. 27salvation. He does not demand life as a reward for his ser-vices, but yet in bis extremity pleads a gracious remembranceof these services. He bad reformed the kingdom, taken awaythe high places, cleansed the temple, and revived neglectedordinances, and what was better than all burnt oJfFerings andsacrifices, he had approved himself to God with a single eyeand an honest heart ; not only in these outward things, but ina regular course of holy living. I have walked before thee intruth and sincerity, and with a perfect and upright heart — foruprightness is a perfection, the only perfection man knows onearth — and have done that which is good in thy sight.It is worthy of remark that his plea was founded upon whathe had been and had done, and not, as is too often the case,upon what he intended to be or to do. He avows no inten-tions, makes no promises for the future. He leaves that wholematter to be inferred or supplied. There is a kind of con-sistency in all beings, and it might be expected that he whohad walked in truth and done right in the sight of the Lord,if life were spared, would still do so. The answer to his peti-tion surely would not make him less a friend of God, or lessdevoted to his service. His first instance of loving kindnesswould be a new incentive to holiness of heart and purity of life ; a new inducement to serve his generation according tothe will of God. But he makes no mention of this. His plea
is founded, not upon fair promises and good intentions, butupon a heart upright and good already done ; upon what tvas,and not upon what was to he. And the Lord hearkened andbeard him, and thus confirmed the truth of his plea ; and thesame prophet that was sent with a warning to prepare fordeath, was sent with the promise of recovery. " I have heardthy prayer, I have seen thy tears ; behold, I will add unto thy28 REV. D. Merrill's sermons.days fifteen years." His anxiety to live, then, was not his in-firmity or weakness. It was the legitimate product of his piety.God approved it, and gave him his desire ; and the grantingthe request was a token of divine approbation. Indeed wemay say, perhaps, that the whole object of tliis visitation wasto bring out the real spirit of the man — the right spirit thatpossessed him. Therefore a disease, in its own nature mortal,and a warning to set his house in order, was sent. Did hevalue life so little that he could give it up without a struggle ?Did he dread pain so much that he could seek a shelter fromit even in the grave ? And to make the trial complete, deathmust be brought very near and all hope of averting it removed,except from the interposition of God. To say that he mightdie, would not answer the purpose ; for that, as far as any onecan know, may be true of any man at any time. The wholecircumstances must be such that he shall be made to see thatdeath is near, even at the door. And to make the trial com-plete, a prophet announces from the Lord, " Thou shalt die,and not live." He has the full possession of his powers, forall this has come suddenly, and not by lingering disease.Now, what are his feelings ? What is his heart's desire ? Itis to live. But why? Is he not prepared to die ? There isno question of that — he had no question of it. "I have walkedbefore thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have donethat which is good in thy sight." "Why not willing to die,then ? Is he afraid of death ? He had no cause to fear it —there is not a particle of evidence that he did fear it. Has notGod said, " Thou shalt die, and not live," and ought he notto submit to the will of God ? And has not God said, " Thesoul that sinneth, it shall die," and ought not every soul thathas sinned to submit to everlasting death ? The saying,THE LOVE OF LIFE, A BUTY. 29** Thou shalt die, and not live," showed the natural result of the

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