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ters of pleasure floro? Psal. xxxiv. 8. It is love which lays up all this goodness for us : Psal. xxxi. 19. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love, Hosea xi. 4.
Let us meditate on the love of God, who, being supremely happy himself, communicateth perfect happiness to us. Supreme happiness doth not make God forget us; shall the miserable comforts of this life make us forget him? Our attachments to this life are so strong, the acquaintances we have contracted in this world so many, and the relations we bear so tender; we are in a word, so habituated to live, that we need not wonder if it cost us a good deal to be willing to die. But this attachment to life, which, when it proceeds only to a certain degree, is a sinless infirmity, becomes one of the most criminal dispositions when it exceeds its just limits. It is not right that the objects of divine love should lose sight of their chief good, in a world where, after their best endeavors, there will be too many obstacles between them and God. It is not right that rational creatures, who have heard of the pure, extensive, and munificent love of God to them, should be destitute of the most ardent desires of a closer union to him than any that can be attained in this life. One single moment's delay should give us pain, and if we wish to live, it should be only to prepare to die. We ought to desire life only to mortify sin, to practise and to perfect virtue, to avail ourselves of opportunities of knowing ourselves better, and of obtaining stronger assurances of our salvation. No, I can never persuade myself that a man, who is wise in the truths of which we have been discoursing, a man, in whom the love of God hath been shed abroad by the holy Ghost given unto him, Rom. v.5. a man, who thinks himself an object of the love of the great Supreme, and
who knows that the great Supreme will not render him perfectly happy in this life, but in the next, can afford much time for the amusements of this. I can never persuade myself that a man, who hath such elevated notions, and such magnificent prospects, can make a very serious affair of having a great name in this world, of lodging in a palace, or of descending from an illustrious ancestry. These little passions, if we consider them in themselves, may seem almost indifferent, and I grant, if you will, that they are not always attended with very bad consequences, that, in some cases, they injure nobody, and, in many, cause no trouble in society: but, if we consider the principle from which they proceed, they will appear very mortifying to us. We shall find that the zeal and fervor, the impatient breathings of some, to depart and be with Christ, Phil. i. 23. the aspiring of a soul after the chief good : the prayer, Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly, Rev. xxxii. 20. the eager wish, When shall I come and appear before God ? Psal. xlii. 2. We shall find that these dispositions, which some of us treat as enthusiasm, and which others of us refer to saints of the first order, to whose perfections we have not the presumption to aspire; we shall find, I say, that these dispositions are more essential to christianity than we have hitherto imagined.
May God make us truly sensible to that noble and tender love which God hath for us! May God kindle our love at the fire of his own! May God enable us to know religion by such pleasures as they experience, who make love to God the foundation of all virtue! These are our petitions to God for you: to these may each of us say Amen!
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, 80 are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
I O, these are parts of his ways, but how little L a portion is heard of him! Job xxvi. 14. This is one of the most sententious sayings of Job, and it expresseth, in a very lively and emphatical manner, the works of God. Such language would produce but very little effect indeed in the mouth of a careless unthinking man : but Job, who uttered it, had a mind filled with the noblest ideas of the perfections of God. He had studied them in his prosperity, in order to enable him to render homage to God, from whom alone his prosperity came. His heart was conversant with them under his distressing adversities, and of them he had learnt to bow to the hand of him, who was no less the author of adversity than of prosperity, of darkness than of day. All this appears by the fine description, which the holy man gives immediately before: God, saith he, stretched out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them. He hath compassed the waters with bounds.' The pillars of heaven tremble, and are astonished at his reproof. He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud. By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens. But are these the only productions of the Creator? Have these emanations wholly exhausted his power? No, replieth Job, These are only parts of his ways, and how little a portion is heard of him! My brethren, what this holy man said of the wonders of nature, we, with much more reason, say to you of the wonders of grace. Collect all that pagan philosophers have taught you of the goodness of the Supreme Being. To the opinions of philosophers join the declarations of the prophets. To the declarations of the prophets, and to the opinions of philosophers, add the discoveries of the evangelists and apostles. Compose one body of doctrine of all that various authors have written on this comfortable subject. To the whole join your own experience ; your ideas to their ideas, your meditations to their meditations, and then believe that you are only floating on the surface of the goodness of God, that his love hath dimensions, a breadth, and length, and depth, and height, which the human mind can never attain, Ephes. iii. 18. and, upon the brink of this ocean, say, Lo, these are only parts of his ways, and how little a portion is heard of him! . This incomprehensibility of the goodness of God, (and what attention, what sensibility, what gratitude have we not a right to expect of you?) this inconceivableness of the goodness of God we intend to discuss to-day. The prophet, or rather God himself, saith to us by the prophet, My thoughts are not your thoughls, neither are your ways my ways : For as the heavens are higher than the Barth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts...