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traveller. But the highways of holiness and all the pathsof piety afford not only the most refined and exalted pleasure in themselves, but they are secured by vigilant and invincible guards, and furrounded with most perfect safety. They that walk in them have God for their sun, Christ for their field, and hosts of angels for their defence. There is not merely peace in store for faints when they thall arrive at their journey's end, but they enjoy peace by the way. “Great is their peace " who love God's law.” That is, great is the peace of all who are truly godly. View religion in all its parts and in all its bearings, in every virtue, grace and duty, in all its exercises, comforts and joys, and you will perceive the picture of it here drawn by the wiselt of men, perfectly accurate, juft and beautiful, " That all her ways are pleasantness and all “ her paths are peace.”
To attempt the proof of this assertion would be impertinent, as it issues from the mouth of inspiration. But we shall en. deavour, by divine aid, to illustrate this important truth for our instruction and improvement, by directing the attention,
Tirt, to the nature of divine wisdom or true religion.
Secondly, to the high advantages and benefits it affords its friends.
Thirdly, to the pleasures ariGng from the experiences of those who have eatered into her ways, and travel in her peace.
First, let us attend to the nature of divine wisdom or true religion. Plealure charms the hearts of men, and whattoever affords pleasure attracts delire. But who can describe the peace and pleasure of religion? It mocks all the powers of
Thetorick and baffles the orator's art. It would be vain to at. tempt a description of the sweetness of honey, to one who had never tasted it. Give him but a talte thereof and it will do more towards affording him a true idea of its sweetness, than all the definitions and learned lectures in the world. Thus it is with vital and experimental piety. Were it poffible for me to convey to your hearts a taste of the grace of the gospel, it would do more to raife in you a feeling fense of its pleasantness, than all other things bolides. Preachers may speak, but it is God who must give the hearing ear ; they may make reprefontations, but he alone can open the eyus to see; and they at times may arouse the animal paffions ; but it is his preroga. tive to change the heart and sanctify the affections. Therefore, while we delineate the nature of religion, let your fervent aspirations ascend, that you may experience its power on your own souls. Religion in its frict meaning signifies binding together that which was loosed. And as fin had unlooled the soul from God, so religion forms again the holy connection between them. Knowledge is an effential link of this chain. Knowledge charms the mind and fills it with pleasure and delight. “ Tuly the light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the " eyes to behold the fun." But no light is pleasurable like " the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus “ Chrif." " Hence it is declared to be life eternal to know " the only true God and Jefus Christ whom he hath sent,” Is eternal life, peace, pleasure and felicity ?-So also is knowl. edge, and this knowledge enters into the eflence of true godliness. When perions commence a religious course, they begin to bchold a great and glorious light, and blessed are the cycs which are opened to see. " Apply thy heart to my
knowledge, faith Solonion, for it is a pleasant thing that
thou keep it within thee." As honey is sweet to the taste, to is the knowledge of experimental religion to the soul. There is no pleasure in any science, like that of learning Cluit and is things which belong to our cternul peare. Spiritually to know the perfections of the divine nature, the special riches of unsearchable grace, the mystery of our redemption and reconciliation to God by Jesus Christ, and his mediatorial offices ; luch knowledge is a feast to the soul, it is meat indeed and drink indeed. We find a certain delight in an acquaintance, friendship and intimacy of the great and good in this world, but what is this in comparison of an acquaintance, friendihip and intimacy with the Supreme Jehovah ? David: ia all his exaltation would leave his throne three times a dayto go and converse with bis God, his heavenly friend.
Religion also consists in committing ourselves to God and reposing upon the bosom of his love. Giving up our hearts in fupreme duty and love to him ; taking him for our por tion and our all. This is pleasure of the most refined and exalted nature. Thus we hear the Pfalmist addreffing his fpisit in favour of comfort and felicity in the frution of God, « Return unto thy rest, Omy soul;": nAg if there were no rest, peace or pleasantness but in him. Let us therefore have that joy, which the world can neither give nor take away, by placing our souls in the encircling arms of Jesus, and sweetly ref. ting upon his bofom.
Approaching to God as a father, in that new and living way opened in the gospel by Jesus Christ the Mediator, this contains in it the purest delight and the highest confolation; and this is an important constituent of pure and undefiled religion. And when we have made our approach to dwell there is the essence of every thing pleasurable.
« Blessed are they " that dwell in his courts, they shall be satisfied with the good "ness of his house, even of his holy temple." We read of the Eunuch, that when he was brought to believe in Chrift, he went on his way rejoicing. Thus by believing in him and approaching to God by him we may rejoice also. What fafety satisfaction and happiness is it, to lodge all the great concerns of our souls for eternity, in the hands of him, who is infinite ly able and faithful to keep that which is committed to him. against the great day of his appearance. The blessed foul of St. Paul is elevated on the wings of rapturous joy at this thought. • There is no condemnation to them who are in “ Chrilt Jesus. Who is he that condemneth, it is Christ that “ died, yea, rather that is risen again ?"? How does he pronounce his own happy experience in all the triumph of pleafure? “ I know in whom I have believed, and that he is able " to keep that which I have committed to him against that 6 day.” It is impossible for a creature to live in greater pleasure, “ Than to live by the faith of the Son of God." It is in faith and love, “ We are filled with joy and peace unspeak“ able and full of glory." Wherefore all who wish for pleafure and delight, let them enter into the paths of piety and Walk in the ways of religion, “ Whose ways are pleasantnets 66 and all her paths peace."
Religion is the enjoyment of God in all the creature comforts which we poffefs. The faint in all his poffeffions, tales « ard fees, that in them the Lord is good.” What a sweet, noble and refined relith does religion give to all the common bleflings of life, our health and ease, our rest and sleep, our food and raiment, our habitacions, friends and relatives ; We have peace in our dwellings, success in or callings, and happiness in all things, Is ii act pleasant to taste covenant love in all our mercies ?.To tee the bountiful hand of heavenly beneficence fpreading our table, and filling our cup with plenty? This puts gladness in our hearts beyond the joys of harvest. Thus let us rejoice, not only when the earth yields her encrease, but when God, even our God gives the blessing therewith.
Rcligion consists much in casting all our cares and burdens upon the Lord, with a sveet and transporting hope that he
eareth for us. Nothing affords a more sensible pleasure, than to be relieved from fome prelling weight, under which we are ready to fink. The exercises of true religion renders a person quiet is de variety of conditions in which he may be. It teaches him in whatever state he is therewith to be content. Religious contentment fheds joy and pleasure through the soul.
Prayer is an important branch of real piety. And all whọ. are employed in making known their requelts to God by prayer and supplication, have the precious promise, “That the peace “of God which paseth all undertanding shall keep their “ hearts and minds."
Holz rejoicing is also a branch of religion. The commanament is ever more to rejoice. Hence the gospel is filed, “ Glad tidings of great joy to all people.” It is the will of God, that his Ifrael should rejoice in every thing which he betioweth upon them. Now all those exercises are not only pleasing, but pleasantness itself.
Praife likewise is a delightful thing, and this enters deeply into the constitution of pure religion. « Praise ye the Lord, « for the Lord is good, ling praises unto his name for its " pleasant."
Time would fail me to mention faith, love, humility, meekness, mercifulness, &c. all which are essential constituents of religion, and the exercise of those graces and the practice of those virtues form the soul to the highest pleasure and delight; and in this pafling review of piety, we cannot refrain from joining in the divine declaration, “thzt all her ways are pleao < santness and all her paths are peace.”