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those whom we tenderly love; and are careful not to risk their favour, by an act that is likely to provoke their displeasure.
Just in the same way shall we demean ourselves toward God, if a filial regard for his holy name predominates in our souls. Inflamed with zeal for his glory, we shall aspire after goodness, as that which he most approves in his rational creatures; and we shall dread iniquity, because it is offensive to him, and ruinous to ourselves. Influenced by these considerations, we shall exclaim with Joseph, in the hour of temptation, "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God!"
6. True love to God is evinced by a delight in him, as the highest source of satisfaction; and by an ardent desire to obtain his favour. Men wish to be esteemed by those whom they venerate, and think it a great satisfaction to procure their appro
bation of their behaviour.
The manifestation of the Divine regard to penitent sinners produces affection in their minds towards God. When "they have tasted that the Lord is gra cious," their happiness is entirely made up in him. Meditations on his matchless compassion, in selecting them as special objects of his love, produce the most satisfactory delight. And when his favour is attained, they feel a holy anxiety to preserve it; which leads them to pay a conscientious attention to his sovereign pleasure, yea, "to watch and pray," lest the fervour of their love should abate, and thus their comfortable experience of divine things should be either lost or suspended.
7. Furthermore, it is the property of sincere affection to wish for continual intercourse with the object of its regard. During its absence, it is remembered
mn Psalm civ. 34. cxxxix. 17, 18.
with the greatest pleasure. The thoughts frequently ruminate upon it; whilst any good qualities, for which it is distinguished, present themselves forcibly to the mind. Even the temporary loss of its company is a privation severely felt, which is manifested by the actions, and words, and lamentations of those persons whose affections are thus engaged.
It is precisely the same with a soul which sincerely loves its God. The devout aspirations of David justly represent its feelings :-"Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks, so longeth my soul after thee, O God. My soul is athirst for the Living God when shall I come to appear before the presence of my God"?" His smile irradiates the mind. When he indulges it with communion with himself, all is joy and peace; the graces of the renewed soul prosper; and fruit is brought forth to perfection. But if God withdraw the light of his countenance, it is plunged in gloom, and mourns over His absence, as a calamity too heavy to be endured°. Nor can it rest satisfied, until, by persevering efforts, it regains some tokens of the Divine favour.
Exod. xxxii. 29. Consecrate yourselves to-day to the Lord. GRATITUDE to the Lord of Heaven and earth, for our creation, and the multiplied favours which he heaps upon us in the dispensations of his providence, will constrain us to inquire, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me?" The
voice of Scripture and reason distinctly reply, "Serve God in righteousness and true holiness all the days of your life." Such a devotion of ourselves to him, by a particular act of consecration, is what we are going to recommend, as a duty fraught with the most important advantages.
Dedication imports the setting apart of a person or thing to an especial use. Thus, the high-priests, and the inferior ministers under the Law, as well as the order of Nazarites, were devoted to the service of God, by certain rites and ceremonies observed for that purpose; by which they covenanted with Jehovah to be his faithful servants for ever". The whole
furniture of the Tabernacle, with all its vessels and utensils, were consecrated to religious uses; so that it was not lawful to profane them by an application to any other purpose.
The Temple of Solomon, like our modern sanctuaries, was dedicated to the Most High, by pious ceremonies, and by prayers, in which the presence and blessing of God was invoked for those who might worship therein.
1. When, therefore, we dedicate ourselves to God, we express, by that act, our wish to become his unalienable property, and to "serve him continually, with a perfect heart and a willing mind":" and He thus becomes our God, Father, and everlasting friend; consults our temporal and eternal happiness; and engages, by his covenant, never to leave nor forsake us, till he has performed the promises by which he binds himself to bless us bb.
In this way, every one should live devoted to the Lord, who has a peculiar right to the homage of his
a Lev. viii, 1-36. Numb. vi. 1—22. 1 Chron. xxviii. 9.
2 Chron. vi. 1-42.
cc Jer. xxxii. 38-42.
creatures. He has formed us in his own image, with a view to secure the devout exercise of our affections for himself; and afterwards to translate us to his kingdom above, where blessedness without end is prepared for his obedient people. If then, Reader, you are under the influence of that love to God which was described in the last discourse, it will sweetly constrain you to dedicate yourself to him, by every token of filial obedience: you will esteem his service, as honourable in itself; and delight to promote his righteous cause throughout the world.
2. The act of dedication, which we now speak of, includes the devotion of soul and body, as well as those holy dispositions which are requisite for this end. Every faculty of the former, and power of the latter, will perform, in this case, its right and appropriate functions; and the whole will concur in rendering unto God a true and laudable service. The persons thus consecrated, must look on themselves as no longer their own, but as vessels of honour and glory, prepared for their Heavenly Master's use. His smile will more than compensate their obedience whilst on earth: but who can tell the rich reward of grace which they shall receive in heaven?
Let, then, the endowments and faculties of the mind be actively engaged in serving God.
3. With our understanding, let us seek information, from the Scriptures, concerning the nature, works, and commands of the Lord, in order that we may know how to please him on whom our felicity depends.
Let us beware of the guilt which will be contracted by the wilful misuse or abuse of our reason; 2 Tim. ii. 21. 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20.
and pray that God would grant unto us a right "understanding in the way of godliness," that we "may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints d "
4. With our will, let us implicitly submit to the requirements of God's most holy word, and the dispensations of his providence; not murmuring at his appointments, but fully acquiescing in all he does, as the result of the profoundest wisdom and the most enlarged goodness. When his dealings appear inexplicable to us, instead of cavilling at them, we should leave them till that day when our improved knowledge will enable us to see the propriety of them; and, in the mean time, let us exclaim, in admiration of His matchless perfections, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
5. Let us invariably set our affections on those things which God approves, and which tend to the edification and profit of our souls. Following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who alone can enlighten our understandings, let our hearts aspire after the favour of God, and the everlasting joys of heaven.
Whilst many debase their minds by confining them to objects and pursuits merely carnal and secular, let us raise our souls up to God, and meditate on the glories of his kingdom.
6. Let our memories be depositories of heavenly truths and maxims, to be drawn from this treasury, and applied to every occasion and circumstance of