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night which covered him with darkness, refreshed him with repose; that the laboured earth brought forth wine to make glad his heart, and oil to make him a cheerful countenance, and bread to give him strength; above all, that his spirit, shrinking from annihilation, fed itself with lofty and aspiring hopes, with thoughts of a future and better state; all these were proofs that the Most High had not entirely deserted him; that some purposes of goodness were yet reserved; that man might still hope to "acquaint himself with "God."
My brethren, this is the faint and doubtful glimmering of reason-the conjectural and almost contradictory testimony of natural religion; but over its coldness and darkness, the word of revelation pours the warmth and brightness of meridian day. It tells us that man was indeed created upright, and originally possessed the favour of the Most High; that by transgression he forfeited that favour, and is even now suffering the consequence of his rebellion and disobedience. But the Scriptures do not leave us to regard our Creator as an angry and unrelenting Sovereign; for they declare that God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. God is in him recon
ciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto men their trespasses; so that now, in Christ Jesus, we who sometimes were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Conditions, undoubtedly, there must be, of repentance and faith, obedience and holiness; but in the same revelation the means of procuring and increasing these are explicitly made known, and freely offered.
To search the Scriptures, then, is the chief mode of acquainting ourselves with God. There we shall learn his character, and discover our obligations; and though our knowledge of our duty be at first but small, and though it be but gradually disclosed, yet so far as we perceive, we must make it our study to perform it. The precepts which are recorded for the government of our conduct, and in obeying which we have the promise that we shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, are very plain; but lest, in their abstract character, they should not suitably impress us, we may still farther acquaint ourselves with God, by beholding those precepts fulfilled, and his perfections embodied in our Saviour's most holy and harmless life. Thus do the Scriptures furnish us not only with the maxims, but with the model of our duty; and we are therefore doubly bound to regard them as "a light to our feet, and a lamp to our paths."
We shall not, however, have proceeded far in our endeavours to arrive at the perfection of obe
dience which they require, without discovering our own weakness and insufficiency. Corruption and sinfulness will mingle themselves with our best efforts, and often overcome our strongest resolutions; and we shall find that the good which we would, we cannot perform; and the evil that we would not, we do.
To give us ability, therefore, and to keep us from despair, God has not only provided a Saviour to die for us, but has also promised his Holy Spirit to strengthen and support us; to renew and sanctify us; to lead us into all truth; and to make us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.
But in order to gain these advantages, it is our duty to pray for the Spirit to enlighten our minds, to convert our wills, to purify our hearts, and to quicken us to do what all our sinful habits and desires revolt at and refuse. And if we thus pray in sincerity, we have the unfailing promise of God, that he will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.
If, then, in answer to our prayers, we feel in ourselves the working of that Spirit, mortifying the works of the flesh, and drawing up our minds to high and heavenly things, confirming our faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, and fervently kindling our love towards God, it should be our desire, as it is our privilege, to enjoy the further means of acquainting ourselves
with God, and of holding communion with him, which he has provided in his holy Church. We should, therefore, visibly unite ourselves to God, by undertaking or renewing the covenant of our baptism; we should come out from the world, declare ourselves to be on the Lord's side, and confirming our vows of obedience and faith, should endeavour to walk in all his ordinances and commandments blameless. More particularly should we resort, in humility and love, to those holy mysteries which our Saviour has instituted and ordained to be received in faith, to nourish our spiritual life, to confirm our good dispositions, excite in us pious desires, and animate us in our religious duties.
Thus to acquaint ourselves with God, to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and to be assured, in the holy supper, of his favour and goodness towards us, and that we are very members incorporate in his mystical body, and also heirs through hope of his everlasting kingdom, is to attain to the highest and most solemn approach to God, which it is. possible for us to make, until this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality.
It is constantly to be remembered that all these means, without the righteousness of Jesus. Christ, could avail nothing; but deriving an efficacy from his appointment, and applied by
the Holy Spirit, they need only to be used in humility, faith, and perseverance, to give us a saving knowledge of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, whom to know is life eternal.
The advantages of acquainting ourselves with God are the second thing to be considered. These are summed up in the promise of peace. "Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at "peace." This may seem a cold inducement to the votary of the world, to him who is in pursuit of pleasure, eminence, or earthly glory; yet it is the highest promise which our Saviour made to his people during their pilgrimage here; the only legacy which he gave when he ascended to prepare for them mansions of glory.
The world holds out, it must be confessed, more seducing and captivating rewards. It has promises of sparkling joys and tumultuous gratifications. Its pleasures are obtrusive and ostentatious, its delights perceptible, and immediately realized. All these the world lifts high as the prize of devotion to its pursuits. But these are not, and cannot be, the objects of desire to the Christian, whose character is that of a stranger and sojourner upon the earth.
It would be vain to deny that God has made us sensible of numerous sources of enjoyment, and that the world has many things every way calculated to gratify and delight us. And it would be ungrateful to pretend a warrant from God to