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On the PRESENCE of GOD in a FUTURE
PSALM XVI. II.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
HE apostle Peter, in a discourse which
he held to the Jews, applies this passage, in a mystical and prophetical sense, to the Messiah *. But, in its literal and primitive meaning, it expresses the exalted hopes by which the Psalmist David supported himself amidst the changes and revolutions, of which his life was full. By *Acts, ii, 25-28.
these hopes when flying before Saul, when SERMON driven from his throne, and persecuted by an unnatural son, he was enabled to preserve his virtue, and to maintain unshaken trust in God.-In that early age of the world, those explicit discoveries of a state of immortality, which we enjoy, had not yet been given to mankind. But though the Sun of righteousness was not arisen, the dawn had appeared of that glorious day which he was to introduce. Even in those
ancient times, holy men, as the Apostle writes to the Hebrews, saw the promises afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them; and, confessing that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth, declared that they sought after a better country, that is an heavenly *. Indeed, in every age, God permitted such hopes to afford support and consolation to those who served him. The full effect of them we behold in those triumphant expressions of the text, which are to be the subject of this discourse. They lead us to consider; first, The hope of the Psalmist in his present state; Thou wilt shew
* Heb. xi. 13-16.
SERMON me the path of life. And, secondly, the termination of his hope in that future state, where in the presence of God is fulness of joy, and at his right hand there are pleasures for
I. Thou wilt shew me the path of life. This plainly imports, that there are different paths, or courses of conduct, which may be pursued by men in this world; a path which leads to life or happiness, and a path which issues in death or destruction. These opposite lines of conduct are determined by the choice which men make of virtue or of vice; and hence men are divided into two great classes, according as their inclinations lead them to good or to evil. The path of life is often a rough and difficult path, followed only by a few. The opposite one is the broad way, in which the multitude walk; seemingly smooth, and strewed with flowers; but leading in the end to death and misery. The path of life conducts us up a steep ascent. The palace of virtue has, in all ages, been represented as placed on the summit of a hill; in the ascent of which labour
labour is requisite, and difficulties are to SERMON be surmounted; and where a conductor is needed, to direct our way, and to aid our steps.
Now, the hope which good men enter tain is, that this path of life shall be shewn them by God; that, when their intentions are upright, God will both instruct them concerning the road which leads to true happiness, and will assist them to pursue it successfully. Among nations where any suitable ideas of God or of virtue began to be formed, hopes of this nature also began to be entertained. It was consonant to the
nature of man, to think that the Supreme Being was favourable to virtue. Accordingly, in the writings of some of the ancient philosophers, we find various obscure traces of this belief, that there was a benign heavenly Spirit, who illuminated the minds of the virtuous, and assisted their endeavours to obtain wisdom and happiness. They even asserted, that no man became great or good, without some inspiration of Heaven.
But what they indistinctly conceived, and could not with confidence rely upoit,
SERMON the doctrine of Christianity hath clearly VII.. explained and fully confirmed; expressly and frequently teaching, that, not only by the external discoveries of revelation, but by the inward operations of his Spirit, he shews to the humble and virtuous, the path of life. While, by his word, he instructs them in their duty, by the influence of his grace he assists them in the performance of it. In all revelation there is certainly no doctrine more comfortable than this. It is to good men a noble and pleasing
of Israel, who
thought, that they which God has dis
are pursuing a path