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scenes of this present evil world, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and discern his loving kindness in all the dispensations of providence. This is the only thing that can give them that peace, which the world cannot give, nor take
I 4. Good men ardently desire to behold the beauty of the Lord, because it spreads a light and beauty over his word. The Bible is full of darkness to those, who have not a spiritual discerning of spiritual things. Unholy men often complain, that they cannot understand the scriptures, and reconcile the dark and inconsistent things contained them. And the very imperfect discernment, which good men have of the beauty of the Lord, often subjects them to great difficulties in underderstanding his word. The history of his conduct towards angels, towards our first parents, towards the Jews, towards the heathens, and towards those, who embrace and reject the gospel, often appears dark to the children of God. So do the commands, prohibitions, and threatenings of the divine law. Sodo divine invitations and promises. So do the predictions of great future events. And so do the final decisions of the great and last day. But a clear view of the beauty of divine benevolence spreads a beauty over all these dark and difficult things in scripture ; and enables those, who are holy as God is holy, just as God is just, and good as God is good, to see why he commands, all men to love him supremely upon pain of his everlasting displeasure ; why he saves a part and only a part of mankind ; why he causes so many natural and moral evils to abound ; why he has conducted all things as he has done ; and why he will settle all the affairs of the universe in the manner he has told us in his word. In
deed, it is the moral beauty, glory, and rectitude, of the Deity, which spreads a supreme glory over himself and over all his works.
I shall conclude at present with one reflection.
It appears from this subject, that the worthy communicants at the table of Christ have a precious opportunity of seeing and enjoying the beauty of the Lord.--God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in their hearts to give them the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ..... God has made the brightest display of his goodness, which is the supreme excellence of his character in so loving the world, as to give his dearly beloved Son to pour out his soul unto death on the cross, to make atonement for the sins of his guilty and perishing creatures, and to open the way for their restoration to his forfeited favor. While Christ crucified is clearly exhibited before the eyes of his enlightened followers, by the symbols of his body and blood, they have the most precious opportunity, that they can have this side of heaven, to behold the beauty of the Lord, shining with its brightest lustre in the face of Jesus Christ. Behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, that you may be changed into the same image from glory to glory.--The season will be delightful and edifying, if you please to make it so, by grateful reflections and joyful antici. pations.
1. If it be true, as has been said, that the supreme beauty or glory of God consists in his pure and universal goodness ; then sinners hate God for that, for which alone, they ought to love him supremely. It
cannot be denied, that they are disaffected to God ;
that their heart is alienated from him, and that they have a carnal mind, which is enmity against him, not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. But why are they enemies to him? They do not hate him for any of his natural attributes. They do not hate him because he is eternal, self-existent, independent, all-wise, or allpowerful. They have no objections against his having such an existence, and possessing such perfections. Why then do they hate him? No other reason can be given for their hating him, but his goodness in employing all his perfections to promote the most wise and benevolent purposes. If he would employ them solely for their personal, private good, they would be highly pleased, that he not only exists, but that he governs all things. But he has told them in his word, and confirmed it by his providence, that he is not altogether such an one as themselves.
He has required them to exercise pure, disinterested love, and forbidden them to exercise the least partial, selfish affection. He has declared, that he will reign in righteousness, and bring the private interests of individuals into subordination to his own glory and the higher interests of the universe. And who can say, this is not an expression of pure, perfect, disinterested, universal goodness ? But it is for this, and this only, that sinners hate him. Their eyes are evil, because he is good. They hate his moral character, which is his supreme glory, beauty, and excellence, with perfect hatred. Their selfish, stout hearts say, that he shall not reign over them. His goodness has no form or beauty in their eyes, wherefore they should love it. Though there are many shades of difference in the external
tonduct of sinners, yet they all agree to hate God, and to hate him precisely for the same thing, that is, for his goodness, for which they ought to love him supremely. Why do sinners murmur and repine under divine providence ? because it displays divine goodness. Why do sinners hate the Bible ? because it displays divine goodness. Why do sinners deny the Bible ? because it displays divine goodness.Why do sinners deny the existence of God ? because they suppose if he exists, he must be good Every sinner says in his heart, there is no God. That is, he wishes there were no God of perfect goodness.--Though many say, that the only reason why sinners hate God, is because they are ignorant of his moral beauty and excellence; yet the truth is, that they hate him, because they do know the excellence of his moral character. Christ, who knew the hearts of sinners, said, “ They have both seen and hated both me and
2. If saints sincerely and ardently desire to behold the beauty of the Lord, then they are essentially different from sinners. Saints view the goodness of God as constituting his supreme beauty and glory, and sincerely desire to see the glory of his goodness ; but sin. ners do not desire to see his goodness, and when it is most clearly exhibited before them, they hate it more than any other trait in the divine character. These different views and feelings, in respect to the supreme beauty and glory of God, demonstrate that saints are radically and essentially different from sinners. It does not arise from knowledge on the one side, nor from ignorance on the other. They both know enough of divine goodness to love it, and to hate it.--Why then do saints love it, while sinners hate it ?... Sinners are very fond of believing, that saints do not essentially differ from them ; and often endeavor to account for the external difference in their conduct, in the same way, that the accuser of the brethren, attempted to account for Job's external conduct. They suppose that it is owing to their selfishness, that they pay external obedience to the divine commands. They suppose they outwardly pay respect to God, either because they have received, or expect to receive peculiar favors from him, and not because they love him for the moral beauty and excellence of his character.--But it appears from what saints say of themselves, and from what God says of them, that they love him for his supreme moral excellence. And if this be true, there is no way to account for it, but by supposing, that saints have a new, a better and more benevolent heart than sinners, which is a radical and essential difference. So that if God should place saints and sinners in precisely the same circumstances, they would feel and act differently towards him. If he should place them in the same state of prosperity, they would feel and act differently towards him. Or if he should place them in the same state of adversity, they would feel and act differently towards him. Or if he should place them in heaven, they would feel and act differently towards him. This has been demonstrated in a thousand instances. Saul and David were placed on the throne of Israel, but they felt and acted differently.--Judas and the apostles were placed under similar circumstances, but they felt and acted differently. Let saints and sinners be placed in the same situation, in any part of the universe, and they would feel and act