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think with greater pleasure of retiring out of this world, if we were ignorant, if we were dubions, whether there were any other scene of being to succeed it ? Would the vale of death exhibit to us a more pleasing pros. pect, if it did not open into another and a more important world ? Could we go with greater satisfaction to lay our pious parents, our worthy friends, or our virtuous children in the grave, if we thought that we had then bid adieu to them for ever? Could we stand with so much serenity by the death-bed of the just, if we dared not to encourage our imaginations in following them ipio nobler life, and to a better world, where ten thousand times ten thousand bappy spirits are rejoicing in the friendship of their Maker, and whose number it may be is every moment receiving new accessions ? if we knew nothing of the New Jerusalem, of God, of Christ, and the innumerable company of angels, to which all just men, when they have left this fleshly tabernacle, shall be for ever united ?
No, my friends :--it is Faith to which we owe the most cordial consolations, under the heaviest pressures of mortality: it is Faith to which we are indebted for our sublimest pleasures; for it is Faith that discovers to us our virtuous predecessors exalted into all the happiness we could desire for them. It is Faith that teaches us to look upon this life, noble as is the rank we bold in the present world, and great as are the blessings we enjoy in it, as nothing more than the seed-time of human being, the school of our education, the childhood of our existence; and it is Faith that enables us to antedate the happiness of that better state, where our labours shall be recompensed by the noblest harvest, and our nature shall arrive at its full maturity and perfection." pp. 113, 114.
The sermons which come next, “on undue anxiety," and “the duty of thanksgiving in afliction," are among his consoJatory discourses; they contain representations respecting the cares and afflictions of life, well calculated to soothe and cheer those that are in trouble.
The seventh sermon is entitled, “Man the property of God;" illustrating the truth, that in every possible sense, man is absolutely and wholly dependent. The conclusion is a good example of the serious and impressive, or, as we may say, the close preaching which is often to be found in the volume.
"1. If we be the property of God, how highly reasonable is it, that we should study and obey bis will.
“ You bonour and obey your parents, and herein you do well. If any man feed, and clothe, and provide for you, you are modest, humble, grateful, and herein you do well. You are submissive, respectful, and faithful, to those who are set over you in authority, and herein you deserve our imitation and our praise. if any man deposit his property in your hands, you would dread the very thought of violating your trust, or of injuring your brother, and herein you prove yourself faithful and just. Remember then, that you are the creatures, the dependents, the subjects, the property of God; let your sentiments and conduct towards others, respecting each of these relations, instruct you in the sentiments and conduet which you ought to maintain towards the great Lord and ruler of the world. But more particularly,
Secondly, If you be the property of God, you have the highest reason to be thankful to him for every comfort, and to be resigned under every aliction,
• Had you been possessed of an independent being, had you been strictly and properly your own, had it been of your own accord that you had received the benefits, and become the subjects, and owned yourselves the property of God, you might then have pleaded that it was not an absolute, but a conditional engagement: you might then have received his bounties, as what were in justice due to you, and murmured against every thing that was unacceptable in your circumstances, as a violation of the treaty you bad made with God: but, if you be his without any merit in hecoming such; if you be his to do with you whatever seemeth to him good; if you have po claiin of right on your Creator, how highly does this consideration enhance your obligations to him for every comfort of your existence ? How indecent, how impious, how unnatural is it to murmur at any thing which he may appoint!
* In the tbird place, If ye be God's, not only by the necessity of nature, but by your own deliberate choice and your own voluntary engagements, consider how bigbly it behoves you to be steady to your choice, and faithful to your vows. If you suspect that you have determined rashly, think again : consider whether you can find a better master, or engage yourselves in a more gainful service. Remember that it were better for you never to have known the way of righteousness, than after having known it, to turo from the holy commandment delivered unto you; and tremble, lest to the guil: of profaneness and of rebellion, you add the accessory guilt of perfidy and falsehood.
"In the fourth and last place, If we be God's, if owning him for our lawgiver and our judge, he owns us for his people, and his children, how solid is the ground on which our hopes are built, and how secure our happiness! Whatever comes to us, comes to us for our good, for it comes to us from an almighty friend, who knows our state, and tenderly regards our interests. Though there may be some things in our condition which are pot for the present joyous, but grievous, yet if we be God's, God is ours, and if God be ours, what security can we want of an ample indemnification in futurity ? Adictions are very tolerable when they are not the ministers of wrath; and prosperity is doubly acceptable when we can receive it as the testimony of divine favour. The men of the world are apt to boast themselves of their felicity, but if they now prefer the world to God, the time will come, when they will praise the Christian's choice. Their pleasures will decline, bis will be improving; their hopes will vanish away, his will be more than realized; their confidence will fail them, but the Christian rests upon the rock of ages. In the time of apprehension and of fear, in the hour of trouble and affliction, in the moment of death, in the solemnities of judgment, they will want, what the world cannot give its votaries; and what God only can bestow. In these trying seasons, when every thing about those who are without God, is dark, and gloomy, and distressing, the Christian, supported by his conscience, and encouraged by the divine promises, can derive light and comfort from the relation that he bears to him in whose bands are the fates of every living thing. When all sublunary comforts have taken their flight, when human friendsbips can no longer avail, the hope of the Christian remains uninjured, for in this world he placed not his happiness :-he had long fixed it there, where true joys only are to be found, whither he is now going to reap that glorious harvest, the gracious reward of his faith, patience, and obedience; for he knows who it is that hath said, be faittiful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.' ” pp. 156—158.
The subject of the eighth sermon, is “The obligation, importance and reasonableness of the love of God.” We quote
the following from the last head, in which he is showing the reasonableness of the duty.
"These reflections it were easy to amplily and enlarge, but enough, it is boped has been advanced to convince you. That the love of God is not a blind inexplicable principle, proceeding we know not whence, and tending we know not whither, and consisting in we know not what; it is not an un. accountable attraction; it is not an unenlightened glow of heart; it is not the overflowing of a sensual joy; it is not the ecstacy of a mysterious devotion ; it is nothing above the capacity of all men to understand, or above the power of all men to attain; notbing contrary to, or surpassing human nature : it needs not to hide itself for fear of disgrace, for it has no connexion with the perversion of any human principle; but, on the contrary. it is in the depraved heart alone that it cannot subsist: it has no dependence on ignorance or darkness; on the contrary, it is only from true and important knowledge that it can proceed.
** The love of God is one of the most natural operations of the human heart, the inost obvious and self-approved direction of its sentiments; for it is to admire, what is perceived to be trnly admirable; to esteem, what is infinitely worthy to be esteemed; and to cherish in our hearts with complacency and delight, the idea of what confessedly deserves our supreme affection : it is, to cultivate a grateful sense of kindness that exceeds onr tenderest thoughts, and of beneficence that passeth knowledge.-To be devoid of the love of God, not only betrays an unnatural opposition to the dictates of self-love, and of charity; but also to that other powerful and amiable principle, by whatever name you call it, which recommends all moral goodness to our hearts. It implies a strange insensibility to our own happiness, to the happiness of our brethren, and to the noblest obli. gations; a criminal prostitution of our affections, and a perverseness and inconsistency of character, alike wretched, deplorable, and guilty." p. 170.
We are not however to understand by such expressions, that this affection is so natural as to be unavoidable, or even to be easily maintained. We conceive that there are many things, to which the tendency is strong, and yet that tendency may be prevented. Nay, in certain situations there may be such obstacles opposed, as may render it exceedingly difficult to keep the natural direction. Such may be the situation of men in their present existence. They are so formed by their Creator as una soidably to love goodness, whenever they have a fair and full perception of it, and to love the Infinitely Good, whenever they receive a full impression of his character. But here is the difficulty, to receive this impression. The state of discipline, in which they are placed, has many hindrances. Their attention is perpetually drawn away and arrested by other objects, and the most glorious is obscured; so that without careful pains, diligence, reflection, watchfulness, they pass it by unheeded; they do not see it; and, not seeing, of course do not love it. For, intimate knowledge and close perception of the excellence of the Divine character are essential to the love of it. If a child be not intimately acquainted with its mother, it will not love her; yet love to parents is a natural affection.
Our author, aware of all this, goes on in the next discourse to speak of the circumstances which binder the growth of this affection, and the care and diligence required to keep it alive. It is full of wisdom, and cannot fail to delight and improve the serious reader. We quote from the first division.
"The very means by which the love of God must make its impression, are themselves capable of excluding it from our hearts, and instead of leading us to him, of engrossing our affection and attention to themselves. The works of God, the laws and events of providence, and even the word of God itself, are all capable of exciting in vs many different sentiments, besides the love of him; sentiments that have no connexion with it; and that, in some instances, are even repugnant to it.
“We may gaze upon the works of nature, and be highly entertained with the views that they exhibit to ns; we may attend to the course of providence, and be deeply affected by the various scenes through which we pass; we may have the word of God every morning and every evening in our hands, and yet, for all this, the love of God may be a stranger to our hearts-a stranger there it will be, if, whilst we are conversing with his word, his providence, and his works, we have it not in our intention and desire to conceive and to cultivate this affection. Each of them present a variety of objects in every scene that they set before us, capable of excit. ing a variety of affections: and unless, whilst we contemplate this variety, our attention be particularly and expressly directed to the display manifested by them of those attributes of God, which render him the object of our admiration and love, our minds will be diverted from one object to another, and distracted by a succession of very different impressions and affections.
" To love God, we must have lively apprehensions of his excellencies, and to attain these, our attention must not spend itself on those sensible and external things which comprehend the notices of them; it must not be wasted on the mirror, it must look upon the image it contains; it must not be diverted by any foreign object, but fixed and regulated by the sip. cere desire, and the express intention to possess our hearts with the love of God. And, after all, to whatever degree of vivacity this affection may be raised by the power of serious contemplation, it will quickly need to be revived again. It is a plant too delicate not to stand in need of constant and unwearied tendance, and perbaps, with all our care, it may be impossible in this world that it should at all times be preserved in equal health and vigour. Yet, the influence of the love of God upon our temper and conduct, may be, and ought to be habitual. To render them habitual however, it is necessary that the impressions of the divine excellencies abould from time to time be renewed upon our hearts; that the affection should from time to time be rekindled there, and that the iutervals of renewing and rekindling these impressions and affections, should not be too distant.
“ Though the effects of any sentiment upon our temper and conduct may remain after the sentiment itself has subsided in our hearts, yet these effects will be impaired by the power of time alone; and the succession of other sentiments will assist the power of time to impair them. The influences of any affection whatever, which survive the affection itself, will be
in proportion, not only to the vivacity in which the affection is conceived, but also to the frequency with which it is cherished and revived.
• They who are best acquainted with the love of God, in whose hearts it is most familiar, and over whose lives it has most power, can tell you, how much this sentiment, and the salutary influences of it, are liable to suffer from the cares of this world; even from the uecessary avocations and the indispensable business of life. They can tell you, how this affection needs to be refreshed from day to day, by serious conversation with the works, the providence, and the word of God. They can tell you, what power it derives by withdrawing from the cares and influences of the world, to attend upon the ordinances of religion ; and they can tell you too, how necessary a devout and habitual attendance is, not only to its improvement, but even to its preservation. With all their solicitude and care, they do not boast of its vivacity and power; they regret the inter ruptions that it often suffers, and the weakness in which it often languishes : their comfort is, that God knows their frame and their condition, that they can appeal to him for their sincerity, and trust his mercy as to their imperfection. If, then, we are really desirons that the love of God should retain its due influence, we must, in the first place, exert a coostant vigilance to guard against the various unfriendly influences of the many different objects by which we are surrounded, and of the various occupations in which we are necessarily engaged.” pp. 175—177.
The sermon is concluded by some animated and glowing appeals on the utter juconsistency of worldly-mindedness with this holy affection.
There are four other discourses connected with the same subject, showing the incompatibility of the love of pleasure with the love of God, and describing the characteristics of those who are governed by the love of pleasure. And, we must be permitted to say, we consider these discourses among the most admirable we have seen, for their solemn and impressive eloquence, the high standard of moral purity ibey uphold, and the hallowed spirit of piety they exhibit. And yet, though they allow no quarter to fashionable levity, or vulgar vice in any form, but would sweep them as foul contaminations froin God's earth; yet there is nothing like indiscriminate railing against the enjoyments of time ; no cynical and fanatic outcry against even the innocent pleasures of life. The preacher keeps his temper, and does not lose sight of his common sense. He begins, as a man of enlarged views would always do, with stating that every species of pleasure is not incompatible with the love of God, or religion; well knowing that thus he should gain a greater influence to his reasonings and exhortations respecting those which are incompatible.
We bave not room to quote as Jargely as we wish. Our readers must be content with a few short extracts, until they can read the whole for themselves.