« AnteriorContinuar »
prevented by the goodness of God, and to have a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness !
Oftentimes he causes the humble and upright Christian to rejoice in the hopes of glory, and the shortness of that interval that bars him from his immediate and everlasting presence. God enables the contrite one to anticipate the joys of that blessed season, when he shall be admitted to see him as he is ;-when fin shall be no more, and forrow have an end ;-when the imperfection and vanity of this present state shall no more obstruct the vigour of the foul, but his songs and praises to God and the Lamb be as ardent and sincere as those of saints and seraphims around the throne.
Thus, God is a fun, in communicating joy and gladness to the hearts of his people.
III. God, by his influences, renders true Christians fruitful in every branch of goodness.
It is the influence of the natural sun that makes the earth productive of fruits necessary for the life of man and beast : In like manner, it is the influence of the Sun of Righteousness that makes Christians fruitful in all good works. Their improvements in piety and virtue will always be in proportion to the degree and frequency of these influences.-Without them there is no progress to be made.-Without me, says our Lord, ye can do nothing. How much is the truth of this affertion the experience of every true Christian? If Christ does not animate him by the secret power of his grace, how dead the heart to every spiritual exercise!-How does grace languish, and things divine lose their sensible relish from day to day! - Just as you have seen things in early spring in the natural world, when the beams and influences of the fun are intercepted by thick clouds and frosty winds, the ver.
nal, sal beautiful appearances fade--grass, and herbs, and flowers decline and languish, till the clouds and cold are dispersed, and the fun resumes its splendour, and sheds abroad its genial warmth by its unrebated rays, then all nature flourishes again. Thus it is in the Christian life. When God lifts up the light of his countenance, every grace begins to spring, and the soul becomes gay and blooming as the garden of God. And now, there is much fruit to the glory of their heavenly Father. Praise and joy and holy walking employ every hour. But alas ! when God hides his face, troubles again return. Sin and the world renew their attacks, and too often, former victories are disgraced by new defeats; but when the Sun of Righteousness shines upon them, grace grows, and every good work abounds.
1. We here learn of what high confideration, the being, government and communications of God are to good men.—There is no supposition more terrible and distreffing to a pious mind than this, that there is no God. No attempts made by Satan to disturb the peace and tranquillity of good men, are so insupportable as those which confist in bringing into question God's existence and government: Let the foundation be attempted, and there is no resource nor rest.--On the supposition that God did not exist, it were better not to be. Existence is a blessing only on condition of God's existence ; without this, life itself would be a curse.
But O! what pleasure has the true Christian at times, in the single reflection, that God is.—The character of God, as represented in his word, is also an essential con
fideration of happiness, as well as his existence itself. If those perfections are retrenched, which he has ascribed to himself in his own revelation, the happiness of real Chri. stians is subverted in its original foundation. For it is in a realizing sense of heart, of the reality and holy excellency of them, that their souls are much formed to a supreme duty, and respect to him and his ways. And they have not only sweet delight, that God is, but that he is what he is. I AM THAT I AM, was the name by which he revealed himself to Moses, for the comfort of Israel.
The universal and particular providence of God is likewise a principle, in which all good men are extremely interested. Were it not for this support, there would be no spirit left in them. As it creates them the greatest pain, not to be able by faith, to see that God, who is invisible ; fo, a full afsurance and feeling sense of his agency and concern in all things, is to them a reviving cordial. It is a solitary condition with a good man, when his sense of these things is abated, and though God is on his right hand and on his left, yet he cannot behold him.-And indeed, my brethren, it is not an easy matter to live in the realizing sense of the being, perfections, and providence of God. He knows but little of himself, and what it is to have a true faith of these things, who thinks not so. To assent to these truths, indeed, is an easy matter; and to be free from all hesitation and doubt about them in our judgment; but he grossly mistakes who imagines this is that faith, in these things, which belongs to true Christians. There is a divine sense of it that is more or less their aim and consolation; and the whole compass of creature enjoyments is not able to compensate the want of this faith.
2. We may be here led to enquire, my hearers, whether the Lord God is our sun ?
Do we perceive God's nature, perfections and influences of such high consequence and importance to us? Are these the sources of our truest enjoyment, and sweetest consolation ? Is God's existence our life and delight? His perfections, his glory and felicity, our pleasure and entertainment ?-His holy and enlightening influences, the blessings for which we pant and languish ? Is God our sun? Does he form our day? Is it his presence makes our heaven? Is it his beauty, his excellency and glory fhining in the face of Jesus Christ, that we admire?-Are our thoughts taken up with God ?-Is he our light and our joy?
If we can answer understandingly in the affirmative to these queries, then, blessed are ye of the Most High. Blessed is that people whose God is the Lord, to whom the Lord God is a Sun. He is a Being of universal dominion; he is the Creator and Preserver of all; he sits at the helm of government, and his eyes run to and fro through all the earth. He beholds the thoughts and councils of men, and nothing can happen to his people, whereby they are affected, but what shall work for their highest good. How blessed are ye, O Christians ! who have a friend of this character, of such universal fway and influence !--You know his absolute and uncontrollable power. He will do all his pleasure-he can save, when every resource fails, and all things look desperate. You know that all happiness is in his gift ; in his presence is fulness of joy ; whom he blesseth, is blessed indeed. Out of his favour there is no such thing as true happiness. The pleasures of such are but as crackling thorns under a pot. Happi. ness, derived from this world, is like the light of a meteor, which instantaneously ends in darkness. The joys of the wicked cease with their breath, and as these cease, everlasting forrows commence. But then the happiness of those who choose God for their portion, will eminently begin to such, a natural death will be but the commencement of everlasting life and bliss... To his people, he delights to lhew his mercy-he will give grace and glory,
God is more inclined to do good to those who walk uprightly, than the most affectionate parent is, to be kind and tender to a favourite child. A woman may forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the fon of her womb; but God will never forget those who put their trust in him, he will never leave you nor forsake you. O Christians ! live in this light-bak in his rays,—and may you enjoy an unclouded sun, until you be introduced into immortal day. It is but a little while till your sun shall never set or grow dim, but it will shine with increasing brightness, for ever and ever.
O then! walk worthy of your high calling and dignity.
3. Are there not some in this assembly, who are under the power of an absolute indifference in respect to all these things who have never had any discovery of Divine glory-to whom worldly prosperity is the most important confideration of felicity? Abundance of this world's goods can satisfy you without God; and do you, my hearers, in this situation, look upon yourselves to be real Christians ? Can you read your Bible, and not hesitate about your pretensions to so high and refined a character? Can God be your exceeding joy and great reward, and yet never feel your hearts exult in his existence, perfections and universal dominion? Can he be your sun, and you never felt the warmth of his beams, quickening your hearts into love and devotion? Can he be your centre, rest and bome; and you never experienced the attractive power of his excellency and glory, drawing your hearts into union with him, and disposing you to long and