Imágenes de página

that you may also. “ Be ye followers of God as dear “ children ; and walk in love, as Christ also loved you, “ and gave himself for you." Great is his goodness, and great is his beauty. rea, he is altogether lovely. Shall He who is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person, who was full of grace and truth, be thought to have no beauty that you should defire him? Will you unite with those who despise, reject and abhor him God forbid. May he open your eyes and your hearts to see the King in his glory and beauty; and shed of his beauty on each of your souls. So shall he greatly desire thy beauty. Souls, adorned with the Redeemer's image and loveliness, are “ beautiful as

Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, and terrible as an army “ with banners.” He who hath thus renewed them in righteousness, will make them an eternal excellency. For righteousness is immortal.

If heaven excels earth, the righteous is more excellent than his neighbour. Believe it, I beseech you, that there is an excellency in wisdom more than in folly ; that the former excelleth the latter as far as light excelleth darkness. It giveth life to them who have it. Therefore approve the things that are excellent; be sencere and without offence until the day of Christ. This is the excellent way which we fhew unto you. God your ears may hear the voice pro

: claiming, This is the way, walk je in it.-AMEN.

grant that



PSALM XXxiv. 8.



N life is joyless. The young and inexperienced are efpecially liable to imbibe this opinion. If it be a just one, how shall we persuade them to be religious ? At their entrance on life, and at the stage for the enjoy. ment of it, must they be called upon to forego pleasure? We suppose not: The present discourse Thall be devoted to the removal of this groundless prejudice. There are indeed the pleasures of sin. These must be shunned. But are there no other pleasures ? or none that are superior or equal to these?

Our view of religion is not taken from the cruel and frightful superstitions of the heathen ; nor from the monafteries of the middle ages. In our view it requires not the sacrifice of humanity or of reason : It interferes with no rational enjoyment: It allows us to enjoy our portion and our friends. Yea, under its regulations, the pleasures of society and friendship; and the just pleasures of the animal life, are best enjoyed. O taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

In what does the enjoyment of life, or true pleasure confift? Where, from what object, is it to be sought? The sea faith, It is not in me; and the depth

faith, It is not with me. Neither earth nor kies can give it. The enjoyment of life consists not in riches, or honour, or fame, or sensual delights, or health, or friends. With any or all of these, man may have his happiness to seek, and still enquire, “ Who will shew “ us any good?” He is the fubject of moral government. He feels the pains or pleasures of an accusing or excusing conscience. This principle within him is, to his conduct as a moral agent, what the organ of vision is to his natural actions : It is placed in his breast as a regulating power to his thoughts and affections, to his whole conduct towards God, or man, or himself.

The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord. The man who chooses and acts in opposition to the dictate of this rational spirit, or attempts by any means to extinguish or darken this candle of the Lord, is, in a moral view, guilty of like folly and madness, as it would be, in a natural view, to throw himself from a precipice with his eyes open; or wilfully to shut them, that he may not see the danger on which he rusheth. As this is contrary to the powerful principle of selfpreservation, common to mankind and the animal creation; so that is contrary to the rational and divine principle, which requires him to take care of his bets ter part-to save his foul alive.

Shall creatures, to whom God hath given underftanding, and made next in rank to the angels, call evil good, and good evil ? put darkness for light, and light for darkness? If the dignity of man confifted in mere intellect, Lucifer far excels any of the human race. The dignity of an intelligent creature consists in the knowledge and worship, the resemblance and enjoyment of his Creator. All ranks of moral agents, men of all diversity of genius and opportunities, are therefore under indispensible obligations to use their means and advantages for improvement in the knowledge of God, and their duty to him, to one another, and their own souls.

Added to the light of nature, we have the much clearer light of revelation, to assure us what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. Revelation only guides our feet into the way of peace. It exhibits Jesus Christ as the only source of rest to the soul. No other hath the words of eternal life. The fall of man rendered it necessary that a new foundation of religion should be laid, in a divine proclamation of pardon and grace to rebels. This proclamation is as life from the dead to a condemned sinner, sensible of his condition : It offers reconciliation to enemies, a ransom for the guilty, and brings life and immortality to light.

The soul of man is of such capacity and duration, that it aspires after other delights than earth can give, and which endure and improve forever. Compared with these, every

other interest is of no value. It leflens the value of any present good, if we know that it is shortlived. It heightens a present enjoyment, if we are persuaded that it is lasting. Nor can any enjoyment be of much intrinsic worth, unless it be permanent. The human soul, and the exercises and enjoyments suited to it, being the only durable part of our frame and of our bliss, what is man's highest wifdom and happiness ?—the happiness adapted to his dignified rank among the works of God, and in the possession of which he will be satisfied ? When he is viewed in a state of apoftacy-when it is considered that the crown is fallen from his head, that he is obnoxious to the judgment of God, and enquires, Wherewith shall I come before the Lord? what shall I give for the sin of my soul? it must afford the strongest consolation to be assured from the God of truth, the Father of mercies, I have found a ransom. This ransom, while it Mews man bis transgression, delivereth from going down to the pit. Redemption, which in one view proclaims man's fin and shame, in another view proclaims his dignity—the great worth of his soul, which, when funk in fin and shame, was bought with a price above

filver and gold ; even the precious blood of EMMANUEL, God with us. O taste and see that the Lord is good! We cannot express or conceive the greatness of his condescension and friendship, or the value of this gift of God-or the value of the soul thus redeemed. All that a man hath will he give for the ransom of his temporal life. But the owner of a world cannot give a ransom for the soul, any more than the beggar : It called for a ranfom more precious-a ransom of a far different kind.

Learn from the boundless grace of God and the Redeemer how to prize your souls. Angels minifter for their falvation. The God of all grace expoftulates, Why will ye die ? Sinners, who have forsaken the fountain of living waters for broken cisterns, can save their fouls alive only by coming and taking freely of the waters of life. A fountain is opened for fin and uncleanness. Christ giveth living water to them who ask him-the well of water which springeth up to everlasting life-emblem of the pure river of water of life, which issueth from the throne of God and the Lamb.

With the view of illustrating and establifhing the truth before us, that religion is the most pleasant and happy life, it may be useful to contemplate it in vari. ous lights.

First, In the act of doing and suffering what it enjoins, religion yields superior satisfaction to any which those who neglect and despise it can enjoy.

It is a source of substantial pleasure, as the contemplation of natural beauty is delightful to the judges of it. It requireth labour, circumspection, engagedness and self-denial. But men do not expect the accomplishment of their worldly hopes without taking pains, without encountering difficulties. They rise up early and sit up late for the supplies, and conveniences, and ornaments of life. The dearest connections, and the source of their greatest comfort, subject them to great care and folicitude. Religion requires no other la

« AnteriorContinuar »