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PSALM 1. 21.




Ir is by no means necessary, that we should have committed the precise sins enumerated in the preceding verses, in order to implicate us in the charge of guilt, which my text contains. It applies, in the full spirit of its meaning, to every unconverted child of Adam. And yet, tremendous as is the state of all, who have not, in penitence of heart, returned to God, no angry voice is heard, nor avenging arm stretched forth: all is still and motionless, as if none in heaven regarded. Sinners triumph, and iniquity abounds: but no palpable signs are given, that there is a witness on high, a God to whom vengeance belongeth. "These things hast thou done, and I kept silence."

That which, to the filial heart, and awakened soul, causes sin to appear exceedingly sinful, and makes all departures from duty doubly painful, all inward reproaches of unfaithfulness, intolerable

and "sharper than a serpent's tooth;"-I mean the long-suffering of God :—this is the very thing, I say, which hardens the children of this world, in their insensibility and crimes. Dead to every elevated and generous feeling, they pervert God's best means of saving them to their own destruction. They despise "the riches of his goodness and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth"-(that it is intended and calculated to lead them) "to repentance." If it thundered out of heaven; if the Almighty were to cast forth his lightnings and tear them, to shoot out his arrows and consume them when they committed open sin, or resisted the inward voice of conscience, they would be all submission, all zeal, all activity, all devotedness. If they could not love God, at all events they would fear him, and strive hard to love him, with every faculty and energy of their souls. But because he is patient, he is provoked every day; because he is gentle, mild, and slow to anger, his mercies are disregarded, and his omnipotence defied. "These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; and" (what was the consequence of this forbearance?) "thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself."

"No man hath seen God at any time." He does not shew himself in any outward manner to

us. He does not openly or palpably concern himself, or declare how he feels disposed, respecting what is going on here. Even when the most heinous provocations are calling aloud to heaven; God is still retired, withdrawn, secret, and invisible. Hence it arises, that men's notions of the Divine nature are so infinitely various. No fixed standard is laid down; no common object is presented, by which their judgment can be brought to agree, upon this all-important point. The volume of Scripture is to the unawakened mind scarce less indefinite than that of nature. In both, materials are supplied, from which each individual can form a combination for himself; and out of these, we are instinctively led to frame such a notion of God, as may best suit the peculiar temperament of our several characters of mind. Hence the justice of that charge which lies against the wicked in my text; "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself." And hence that universal law, by which a correspondence will be always found between the worshipper and the object which he worships, between what each individual discovers in himself, and what he thinks of God.

But how can they, to whom it is given in a Scriptural sense, to know the Lord, presume that the Being, whom they have learned to worship

in spirit and in truth, is such an one as themselves? The believer's God is the true God; and what correspondence can there be between sinful dust and infinite perfection? I admit that the same light which reveals God to a soul reveals that soul to itself, and presents the height and holiness, and glory of the one, in overwhelming contrast with the degradation and vileness of the other. But still the Spirit of God can move upon the face of these dark waters. There is no limit to His power and goodness. No barriers can oppose Almighty love; and where sin abounds, grace can much more abound. There are no depths which sovereign mercy cannot reach; no clouds of darkness through which God cannot shine, and manifest himself to the soul. And it is a fundamental law of spiritual nature that the soul which sees God must be like him. To have the vision of God, and to bear his image, are things inseparable. They reciprocally produce each other; they are mutually, cause and effect. In proportion as God is manifested, his image is drawn upon the heart; and in proportion as that image grows, new visions of God delight the soul. Thus it is, that by resembling God, we know him; and that by knowing him, we resemble him. Which of these two first begins the life-sustaining process in the soul, it may be

more curious than important to inquire; possibly it is not given to man to know. But every child of God, acutely as he feels his own depravity and vileness, sees, from the lowest depths of his selfabasement, some faint image of the Saviour whom he loves. He must infallibly see it in the love which is shed abroad in his own heart, for God. is love. Thus it is, that the pure in heart see God. It is not that they have any open vision of the Almighty, that they can grasp that boundless essence which fills all space, or soar into that inaccessible light which veils the Creator from the creature. No; it is by another mode of apprehension. It is not by their ascent of God, but by God's descent to them, that they can truly know him. In the mirror of their own heart they see him. By moral tact and spiritual sympathy they feel after him and find him. By the streams which refresh their own souls, they have experimental proof what the fountain must be. By the light which visits them from above, they know that God is light; and he who commanded the light to shine out of darkness shineth in their hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. However various the exhibitions of this great truth may be, the whole resolves itself into this simple principle, that if we would know God rightly,

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