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ciple a practical authority and predominance, which it could not generally obtain under a darker economy.
Love is, even in this world, an unfailing source of happiness. It is so in the natural constitution of things ; just as fear is a source of pain, and confidence, of courage. Whoever truly loves God has a secret fountain of joy within his bosom, which the distresses of this life can never quench, though they may sometimes a little disturb it. It is this inward peace, this heart-felt satisfaction, which alone truly deserves the pame of happiness. It was this which sustained the apostles and martyrs of the first ages, and made them, in the midst of suffering, more than conquerors. It is this which still pours its sacred influence around us, and sheds
mild, a holy light upon the path of our pil. grimage,
“ Perfect love casteth out fear." How full of encouragement and peace is this blessed declaration ! And it is the language of nature in our hearts, as well as of the word of God. Let us love God
above all things. This surely is no hard precept, ' no heavy service. What is it that Christianity en:
joins us to contemplate that which is most perfect; to admire that which is most lovely; to imitate that which is most excellent; to cultivate feelings and affections which are essentially amiable, suited to our nature, and the sources, even in this world, of almost all the happiness we can enjoy or bestow; to be matured for everlasting bliss; and by the perfect sanctification of our souls, become meet for that kingdom, where faith shall be lost in knowledge, and hope in possession, but where charity, unextinguished and unextinguishable, shall reign and triumph for ever.
I conclude with a passage which should be graven upon every heart :-“ God is love and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in
Man was created pure, and placed in a world which the bounty of his Maker had stored with every thing that could supply the materials of knowledge to his mind, and minister delight to his senses. But man rebelled against his Creator ; his appetites were corrupted, and his reason depraved. The same world, which was intended to be the scene of his happiness and improvement, becaine the theatre of his guilt and misery. The faculties with which he had been endowed, that he might contemplate the nature and imitate the perfections of his heavenly Father, were perverted to supply the means of selfish gratification; and all that rich store of blessings, which the bounty of Heaven had showered around him, furnished only 'multiplied incentives to his cupidity. Sin had poisoned the very fountains of happiness, as the bee extracts the venom which arms her sting from her own honey. Yet God remained unaltered and unalterable. His law had assigned, by an everlasting sanction, to ho
liness, glory and immortality ; to guilt, confusion • and misery. Amidst the gloon of that fearful night which had enveloped the earth, some gleams of a heavenly light were still visible. Amidst all the perplexity and contradictions, the strange appearances and inextricable mystery, which seemed to have taken possession of the world, which confounded the most wise and daunted the most courageous, there were feelings within, which whis. pered a present Providence; there were indications without, which pointed to an ulterior dominion, 'to a day of righteous retribution, to the final triumphs of virtue and piety.
What then was the foundation of religion to beings thus situated, of that religion, I mean, which, separated from the pomp of processions and sacrifices, established its domivion in the heart, and became, however imperfectly, a rule of moral concuct? Faith, undoubtedly ;-a persuasion of the righteous government of God, sufficiently powerful to overcome the solicitations of the senses; to induce a rational regard to his will, in contradiction to present appearances. Faint, indeed, was the light, and feeble the influence of this blessed principle. Yet it existed even under the darkest dispensation, and waited only a happier hour to break forth in its full lustre.
That hour at length arrived, when the Immanuel descended from heaven to redeem his guilty servants. A new era now opened on the world; the Gospel of pardon and reconciliation was published abroad ; and Faith was declared to be the great principle of the new dispensation, by 'which Jew
and Gentile should be justified and brought nigh to God. It was the same faith which had been since the world was ; " by which the elders obtained a good report ;” “ the substance of things hoped for ; the evidence of things not seen ;” but it was enlightened by the revelation of the most important truths, and directed chiefly towards a new object. “ This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” The language of the New Testament is quite unambiguous; it offers salvation to sinners through faith in the Redeemer. The nature of the Gospel declarations can excite surely no surprize in any mind that is adequately impressed with the value of the discoveries which Christianity imparted. The great truths of natural religion remained, indeed, unaltered: in their nature they are eternal, and incapable of diminution. But to man, helpless and criminal, something was wanting far different from a more distinct view of the glory of God and of his holiness. That sight, which exalts the bliss of the most perfect spirits, would have overwhelmed him with horror and consternation. He could not dare to approach the ark of the living God, lest he should perish. Man needed a Saviour; and when He who was appointed to that glorious character appeared, proclaiming with Divine authority forgiveness to a race of condemned and suffering sinners, was it possible that he should not claim and attract to himself their chief attention? Faith in God and his