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extinguish the ingenuous feelings of our nature, and to cast a gloomy shadow where he has spread around us light, and cheerfulness, and joy. But why will not men recollect that to such pleasures as are pure and rational, and becoming the dignity and accountability of our nature, religion never objects? And surely, to acquaint ourselves with him who is the Giver of all good and perfect gifts, cannot detract from our enjoyment of those gifts, but must add gratitude, security, and confidence, to every other feeling with which we partake of them.
But when we find the enjoyments of the world incompatible with a knowledge and recognition of God; when they lead our hearts away
from their devotion to him, and cause us to disrelish and neglect his service; when they engross all our thoughts, and occupy all our desires; then we have passed, in their pursuit, the boundary which religion and our true interest would dictate. Then we are rapidly approaching the discovery, that in the excess of pleasure there is a re-action which causes pain; that the pursuit of worldly joy, unchastened and unrestrained by principle, is productive of misery; that satiety, disgust, and aversion, follow closely in the train of immoderate indulgence; and bring with them the loss of selfrespect, cheerfulness, character, health, and life.
Thus many, overlooking the calm and sober satisfactions which religion offers, and rushing
forward to grasp more inviting joys, have returned from the pursuit with ruined hopes, disappointed and mortified; and have been compelled, when too late, to limit all their wishes to pardon and peace.”
Those pleasures which sickness may intermit, and death must terminate, can never be worthy of very intense desire. Disappointments too are ever to be looked for, and sometimes deep and saddening calamities destroy the very capability of enjoyment. And even though our success and relish be uninterrupted, yet, at the last, our hearts wither, and our spirits sink, as we look back upon a life where pleasure only has been consulted, and the world has reigned. How often, at that hour, conscious of having sacrificed every high and valuable object, would the recollection of a thousand cherished enjoyments be given up for the remembrance of a single benevolent action, for one instance of virtuous self-denial, for the consolation of one good deed performed in the name of Christ, for one solitary preference of God to the world! How does the votary of pleasure then regard with envy the humble selfdenying Christian, who has made it the study of his life to acquaint himself with God, and who, in return, enjoys that peace which the former, until then, despised! In comparison of that, how does every other thing, however eagerly or successfully it may have been pursued, dwindle then into insignificance and nothingness! What stores of worldly knowledge would then be surrendered in exchange for the knowledge of salvation, and reconciliation to God! What days, months, and years, of recollected vanity, or of pleasurable indolence, would gladly be erased from the mind, if
composure might take the place of apprehension, cheerfulness of despair, hope of terror! and if, instead of remorse and dismay, there might be realized the peace of God!
My brethren, it is the knowledge of God, now in time, which, influencing the life, possesses the power to procure for us all these blessings. This only can impart true satisfaction and serenity to the mind; and the peace which it gives is not a torpid insensibility, a deadness to all joy, but a cheerful expectation of future blessedness, a lofty hope of the glory to be revealed, an assurance of the favour of God, and of his protection here, and a looking for of the fulness of joy, and eternal felicity, hereafter.
Such an acquaintance with God, as our reconciled Father, can still the tempests of worldly passion, make us superior to earthly trials and afflictions, spread hope and consolation over scenes from which the light of gladness seemed for ever to have fled, and raising our sorrowing thoughts from the grave, where we had bid farewell to every earthly solace, can cause them to glow with the confidence of a renewed existence, VOL. II.
through him who is “ the resurrection and the 66 life.”
If we believe that these advantages flow from acquainting ourselves with God, there will be little need to impress the wisdom of prosecuting this knowledge. This we all confess to be important; and there are few who do not propose to attend to it at some future day. It is my duty, however, in the last place, to urge you to prosecute it without delay; in the language of my text, to beseech you now to acquaint yourselves with God.
There are many reasons which should influence every judicious person not heedlessly to postpone that which he feels a necessity for doing. That the mind will be relieved, and be at liberty to apply itself to other concerns without distraction; that we may enjoy the conscious approbation which arises from having performed our duty; that we may avoid the hindrances which will perhaps fatally.interpose; are reasons which are all in favour of immediately attending to any important work before us.
But in the work of our salvation, of all others emphatically the one thing needful, these reasons exist in their highest force. He who has arrived at years of accountability, if he has made God his friend, if he has become reconciled to him by a living faith in Jesus Christ, and a steadfast obedience to his will, is prepared for all events; has lived to all the valuable purposes of his being; life and death, things present and things to come, all are his, if he is Christ's. But he who has lived his four score years, and well done all things else, if he has neglected the great salvation, has not lived to the only purpose and end of his life; he has neither acquainted himself with God, nor sought to glorify him here, and strange indeed would it be if he expected to enjoy his presence hereafter. As for the things of this world, for which, during that four score years, he has toiled, the day which consigns him to the tomb effaces all their value; and for the endless ages to come he is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. He goes to his last account with the history of actions performed only in reference to the existence of an hour, while, with lamentable folly, he has slighted the concerns of for ever. Like a foolish traveller, he has expended all his wealth upon the conveniences of a short journey, while he has reserved nothing for the permanent happiness and requirements of home. He is ushered into the presence of his Judge, there to receive the sentence of one who has preferred time to eternity, the pleasures of a day to blessedness everlasting. He goes, it may be, with great acquirements of worldly wisdom, to be convicted of folly for not acquainting himself with God. Ah! there is a short-sightedness, my brethren, about