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ITS SUITABILITY. It is this which secures our happiness.—To be happy requires not only a due proportion in quantity and quality of the good things necessary for the comfort and support of the body ; we must also enjoy those spiritual good things which are requisite for the immortal soul. The body is but part of the man, and the inferior part too; he therefore who knows no happiness except what arises from earthly enjoyments, lays hold of only half the happiness of which he is capable.—To say that, because these things are more within the reach of one than another, he who has most is the happiest man, will be difficult to prove; since nature requires but little, and he that has sufficient will have more real satisfaction than he who breaks the bounds of temperance. Nor should it be imagined that what this world affords may amount to as much, or more happiness, than what religion imparts; for were it even true that sensualists are happier in the present life than the truly religious, which is by no means admitted, still religion ought in reason to be preferred; because it forbids none of the innocent enjoyments of life, and rewards the soul with eternal felicity; while vanity and sensuality leave their votaries a prey to wrath and hopeless despair. We must then admit that he is the happiest man who devotes himself to God, he alone “having the promise of the life that now is and that which is to come.” We may rest assured that happiness does not arise from filling or shunning any kind of office in society; neither from the possession of wealth, more or less; nor from foolish pride and ambition ; neither is it derived from learning, independence, or the favour of the great ; nor from success in our undertakings, supplanting of rivals, or conquest of our adversaries ; nor any outward thing what
It is found in union with God, in contentment of mind, purity of heart, conformity to the Lord Jesus, in universal conscientiousness, evangelical obedience, and in placing our affections on things above. Then the Lord is our portion, and we are his : he becomes our Shepherd, and
leads us into green pastores, beside the still waters, and causes us to rejoice in the prospect of an endless state of felicity.
It is vain to attempt to find a substitute for this; for none ever was, or will be found. Men may suffer their thoughts to run after pleasure or business; yet, what will this avail ? When death approaches, where is their happiness ? Supposing, with Solomon, they could possess whatsoever their eyes desired, what would be the amount of their gains and their joys on the brink of eternity ? Could they laugh and be merry, give themselves to wine and folly, make them great works, build houses, plant vineyards, gardens, and orchards, with all kinds of fruit-trees, make pools of water to please the eye or water the plantations; could they have servants, maidens, and slaves, the best stocked farms, riches of all kinds, the most celebrated singers, and the most skilful musicians; could they entertain themselves and others by their own knowledge and dexterity on musical instruments of all sorts; and, in short, be great and renowned, as excelling all other men in every art, science, and profession; what would be the end of all but vanity and veration of spirit, if the Divine blessing and favour were want, ing? Eccles. ii. 1, &c. Oh how much better it is to have him for our friend, and to partake of his paternal care and goodness, than to depend on created good! His comprehensive mind beholds all things, from the smallest animaleule to the brightest seraphs before his throne. Read but the account that Moses gives of him, when his glory passed before his ravished eyes, and ask yourselves whether he who perfectly understands the nature, uses, connexions, dependencies, and consequences of all creatures and things, and supports them all—who can use such language, and make such a manifestation as he describes, is not most worthy of our love, and alone can make us happy? “ The Lord descended in the cloud, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and in truth, keeping
mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin.” If what follows is dreadful, it is not less useful to deter us from sin, than the other is calculated to inspire us with confidence in the Divine compassion: “And that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and fourth generation;” that is, as the second commandment explains it, “ of them that hate him;" while mercy is reserved for “ thousands of them that love him, and keep his commandments.”—Let us reflect a little upon these words. He calls himself MERCIFUL, pitying us for the miseries that our folly and wickedness have brought upon us, and not casting us off in his displeasure—GRACIOUS, providing us a Saviour to redeem, and bring us back to his favour and similitude in righteousness and true holiness LONG-SUFFERING, waiting for our repentance, and bearing with our manners, till we seek our salvation at his hands, and expect happiness in him-ABUNDANT in Goodness and TRUTH, making the most ample provision for the supplying of our wants, and filling our souls with gladness in his service and ordinances, and making known by his word and Spirit the delightful paths of holiness and peacekeeping MERCY for thousands, removing their guilt, filling their hearts with his love, and giving them the secret pledges of their acceptance in the Beloved, and of his reconciliation with them—but just also, unalterably determined to punish with everlasting destruction from his presence the finally impenitent, and permitting many temporal calamities to fall upon their children and descendants, necessarily flowing from their immorality, extravagance, &c. Is this then the character of him with whom we have to do? And doubt. less it is. Then we see that such as continue in sin can never be truly happy, that man being happy alone who has the “ Lord for his God.” Now, as we must allow that the purposes of God cannot be frustrated by the feeble arm of a mortal creature that is soon to mingle with the dust; and as it is his purpose that none shall be happy that go on frowardly in their evil ways, then we must be converted in order to be happy; and as it must be admitted that no man can be happy too soon, we must also admit that conversion ought not to be delayed. Let not then the maxims or practices of voluptuous epicures, nor infidel and subtle logicians, nor dogmatical irreligious philosophers, nor self-conceited formalists, blind our eyes, or keep us from immediately turning with all Cour hearts to the Lord, especially, considering that he calls us to part with nothing, except what would prove injurious to us if kept; and not to seek after any thing, nor do it, but vhat, unsought and neglected, would prove pernicious to our souls, and rob us of present and eternal happiness. His , compassions should draw, and his terrors drive us immediately to surrender up ourselves to him, whose loving-kindness is better than life itself, and all that is connected with it.
It corresponds with the promises and commands. That these are made and given to mankind, that they may honour and glorify their God, cannot with truth and propriety be denied ; and as none ought ever to have dishonoured him for a moment, such as have done it hitherto, should this moment cease from their impiety, and learn without delay to do that which ought always to have been performed. This clearly points out to all, that their conversion should not on any account be delayed. The promises and commands of God are nearly allied, as both are descrptive of his will, and set forth the privileges of those that receive and observe them. For instance, “ The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart-to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart:" this is the promise. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart:" here is the command. And who that understands will deny that both set forth a most valuable privilege belonging to God's people? Because love is not only the sum of true religion and virtue, it is also that which prepares the soul for endless glory and felicity. Now, as no man in his present fallen state can fulfil the commands aright, without receiving the grace held forth in the promi
ses which were given to support and comfort us, and which would be useless, if our weakness did not require them; it is the duty of all to ask of God the fulfilment of these promises, that they may do his most righteous and holy will. At the same time, it must be remembered that, although the promises are made to promote obedience, they cannot be obtained in any other way than by our compliance with the conditions they require; and what are these ? That to-day, if we will hear his voice, we harden not our hearts—that we turn at his reproof-that we seek him while he may be found; and that is now, while he is calling, stretching forth his hands, striving, and inviting. “Behold now is the day of salvation.” Thus as God promised that in Christ all nations of the earth should be blessed, he calls and invites them to partake of his Spirit; and those that comply will in due time be put in full possession of all his precious promises. And is not all this to liying men? What have these things to do with the dying or the dead? Are we not all called to remember our Creator in the days of our youth ? Are we not kindly invited when we thirst to come to the waters ? Are we not expostulated with for spending our money and strength for that which cannot satisfy ? Has he not bid us hearken diligently” to him, that we may eat that which is good, and that our souls may delight in fatpess ? Isa. xxxv. 1, 2. Surely if we are eager to drink when we are thirsty, and to eat when we are hungry, and to attend willingly to that which promises us any worldly good, we ought, without postponing it another hour, to enter upon our conversion to God; without which promises and commands, with all their privileges, will be totally and for ever lost on us. Let a man attend to what St. James says of one member of the body only, and he will be constrained to acknowledge that such as will continue to drink of the poison. ous bowl of sin, drink of it to their everlasting undoing, and must render themselves hateful in the sight of the Holy One of Israel. I allude to the description of a wicked tongue. He calls it "a fire, a world of iniquity--it defileth the