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be miserable still; he would carry hell along with him in his sin; he would have no capacity for the services, no relish for the enjoyments of heaven. God himself cannot do that which contradicts the essential perfections of his nature, and he cannot make us happy with himself till he has made us holy like himself. "For "what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteous"ness? and what communion hath light with dark"ness?" Thus the very nature of things, as well as the word of God, necessarily limits this hope to the regenerate and sanctified. And therefore the grand inquiry should be, what evidence you have of this change, and what reason you are able to give of the hope that is in you? A more convincing and satis. factory one it is impossible to assign, than the apoftle furnishes,
PART II, When he tells us, Hope maketh not "afhamed, BECAUSE THE LOVE OF GOD IS SHED ABROAD IN OUR HEARTS BY THE HOLY GHOST, WHICH IS GIVEN UNTO US. Let us examine the connection there is between this love, and the accomplishment of our hope. The following considerations will render it obvious.
Firft. This love is the blessed proof of the divine regard; for the affection is mutual: "I love them "that love me," yea our love to him is the consequence of his love to us: "I have loved thee with an "everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have "I drawn thee: we love him because he firft loved "us." And what can we desire more than to know, we are beloved of God? What does not his friend
ship insure? With him there is no variableness or shadow of turning. He is able to do for us exceed. ing abundantly above all that we ask or think. He knoweth all things. He is very pitiful and of tender mercy.
Secondly. This love characterizes the persons for whom this happiness is reserved. Search the scriptures and see, who are authorised to claim the promise of eternal life. Not those who are enemies to God by wicked works, not those who live without God in the world. No ; but those and those, only, who desire and strive to please and to serve him-“We know " that all things work together for good to them that
love 'God.” “ Blessed is the man that endureth
temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive the “ crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to o them that love him.”. “ Hath not God chosen the
poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the “ kingdom which he hath promised to them that love « him?"
Thirdly. This love qualifies us for the glory which shall be revealed. Take a proper view of this happi. ness; is it not divine? does it not flow from the presence of God? from the display of his perfections ? from the adorations and praises which he will eternal. ly receive? What then can prepare you for it but the love of God? If you do not love a person, it would be a torment rather than a delight to be continually with him, and to hear him extolled. But the stronger the love is which you bear to another, the more pleasure you feel in his company and conversation, the more satisfaction you derive from the share you have
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But alas ! if the love of God was be impossible for you to live as you could not banish him from your re
in his regards, and from the confidence which enables you to say, he is mine. By loving God you are prepared for a happiness which is found only in him. And has he made you meet to be partakers of the inheri. tance of the saints in light? and will he fail to give you possession ? Has he qualified you for a situation which you shall never fill? and prepared you for a blessedness which he never designed you to experience ?
Fourthly. This love is indeed the beginning, and the foretaste of this happiness. We are always the same with the object of our affection. The image dwelling in the mind, leaves its impression. We take the likeness of the excellency we contemplate, and are exalted into the perfection we adore. If our love be fixed upon any thing mean and sordid, it will debase us. If it be fixed upon creatures, we shall partake of their changes and miseries. If it be fixed on the ever-blessed God, we shall become divine and heavenly; it will dignify, and refine, and tranquilize, and fill, and satisfy the soul. With this love we cannot be miserable. It renders difficult things easy, and bitter ones sweet. It makes the duties of religion to be “ways of pleasantness." We call “the sabbath “ a delight.” We are glad when they say to us, “let
us go into the house of the Lord.” It is good for us to draw near to God." O, “the comforts of “ this love!" They are heaven come down to earth. Heaven is the world of love." There it breathes; there it reigns; there it triumphs. It is all love, and only love" And he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth “ in God, and God in him.” Hence it fully appears,