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he has shewn them. He beholds them SERMON here in a state of great imbecility; surrounded with much darkness; exposed to numberless dangers, from the temptations that assault them without, and the seduction of misguided and disorderly passions within. In this situation, can they ever suspect that the Father of mercies will leave his servants, alone and unbefriended, to struggle up the hill of virtue, without stretching forth a compassionate arm to aid their frailty, and to guide them through the bewildering paths of life? Where were then the God of love? Where, those infinite compassions of his nature, in which all his worshippers have been encouraged to trust? No: He will send forth his light and his truth to bring them to his holy bill. For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness, and his countenance beholdeth the upright. With him there is no oblique purpose, to turn him aside from favouring the cause of goodness. No undertaking to which he has given his countenance shall prove abortive, No promise that he has made shall be allowed to fail. Whom he loveth, he loveth to the end. The secret K
SERMON of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant. The meek will be guide in judgment, and them will he teach his way. His grace shall be sufcient for them, and his strength be made perfect in their weakness. They go from strength to strength; every one of them appeareth before God in Zion *.—Such the hopes with which good men in the present life set forth on a course of piety and virtue. Thou wilt shew me the path of life. Let us now proceed,
II. To consider the termination of these hopes in a future state. In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. All happiness assuredly dwells with God. The fountain of life is justly said to be with him. That supreme and independent Being must necessarily possess within himself every principle of beatitude; and no cause from without can possibly affect his untroubled felicity. Among created dependent beings, happiness flows in scattered and feeble streams that are often tinged
*Pfal. xxv. 14.9. 2 Cor. xii. 9. Pfal. lxxxiv. 7.
with the blackness of misery.
But from SERMON
before the throne of God issues the river of life, full, unmixed, and pure; and the pleasures, which now in scanty portions we are permitted to taste, are all derived from that source. Whatever gladdens the hearts of men or angels, with any real and satisfactory joy, comes from heaven. It is a portion of the pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty; a ray issuing from the brightness of the everlasting life. It is manifest, therefore, that every approach to God must be an approach to felicity. The enjoyment of his immediate presence must be the consummation of felicity; and it is to this presence the Psalmist here expresses his hope, that the path of life was to
The whole of what is implied in ar riving at the presence of the Divinity, we cannot expect to comprehend. Such expressions as these of Scripture, beholding the face of God; being made glad with the light of his countenance, and satisfied with bis likeness; seeing light in his light; seeing no longer darkly as through a glass, but face
SERMON to face; seeing him as he is; are expressions
altogether mysterious, conveying sublime though obscure ideas of the most perfect happiness and highest exaltation of human nature. This we know, that the absence of God, the distance at which we are now placed from any communication with our Creator, is one great source of our infelicity. Faith exerts its endeavours, but often ineffectually, to raise our souls to him. He is a God that bideth himself. His ways seem intricate and perplexed. We frequently cannot reconcile them to the conceptions which we had formed of his nature; and with many a suspicion and doubt they perplex the enquiring mind. His works we survey with astonishment. We wonder and adore. But while we clearly trace the footsteps of their great Author, his presence we can never discern. We go forward, but he is not there ; and backward, but we cannot perceive him; on the left hand, where he worketh, but we cannot behold him; he bideth himself on the right hand, that we cannot see him*. Hence, amidst the various sorrows and discouragements of the present
* Job, xxiii. 8, 9,
state, that exclamation of Job's is often SERMON drawn forth from the pious heart, O that I knew were I might find him, that I might come even to his seat ! *.
Surrounded by such distressing obscurity, no hope more transporting can be opened to a good man, than that a period is to come when he shall be allowed to draw nearer to the author of his existence, and to enjoy the sense of his presence. In order to convey some faint idea of that future bliss, by such an image as we can now employ, let the image be taken from the most glorious representative of the Supreme Being, with which we are acquainted in this world, the Sun in the heavens. that resplendent luminary cheers and revives the universe, when after the darkness of the tempestuous night, it comes forth in the morning with its brightest lustre, and inspires every heart with gladness; as ascending gradually through the heavens, it converts that whole vast extent, over which its beams are diffused, into a region of light; and thus changes
* Job, xxiii. 3.