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sum of infinite excellence, but that his conduct is one mighty impulse to that which is good; in other words, that the divine disposition is an infinite propensity to delight in happiness, as already existing, or to produce it where it does not exist. But be it recollected, that the benevolence of God is the love of a governor or ruler, and not merely that of a philanthropist, or a father; and who, in the exercise of his good-will to any particular part, cannot sacrifice the welfare of the whole; and, consequently, whose benevolence is not only compatible with the exercise of retributive justice, but requires it.
Such is the disposition of that divine mind, to which, by Christian love, we are conformed: that benevolence of the Deity, which, in its propensity to delight in happiness, and to create it, makes him infinite in patience, to bear with the millions of crimes which daily insult and provoke him; infinite in mercy to pardon the most aggravated transgressions; infinite in kindness to provide for the wants and comforts of his creatures. The highest pre-eminence in Christian love; the richest gem in its crown of honour, is its resemblance to God. There is nothing remotely analogous to faith, or hope, in the divine nature. He that is omniscient, cannot be said to believe; nor he that is infinitely blessed, and possessed of a divine fulness, be said to hope: but he can and does love. Resemblance to God is the highest glory of man. We should esteem it an honour to bear a faint impress of some of the more distinguished of the human race. It would be thought a high compliment, to have it said that our genius
resembled that of Milton, and our benevolence that of Howard: that our faith was like Abraham's, or our meekness akin to that of Moses; but how much greater is the distinction to bear, by love, the image of God.
5. Love is eternal in its duration; it ascends with us to the skies, to live in our hearts, as the temper of our souls, for ever and ever. It is questioned by some, whether the other two graces will cease in the celestial state. It has been contended, that as the glories of the divine nature are illimitable and innumerable, and the glorified mind will not attain to a perfect knowledge of these at once, but be continually receiving fresh communications on this vast theme, there must be both faith and hope in heaven; for as we successively receive these, we must believe in the assurance of those which are to come, and must perpetually look forward with expectation and desire. But does not this assume what cannot be proved that our knowledge of God and divine things will be communicated in heaven by testimony, and not be acquired by intuition? It is not at all necessary that our growing knowledge, our eternally accumulating ideas, should be thus conveyed to us; for they may, for aught we know, be the reward of pleasant study, or they may flow into the mind, as the ideas of sensation do into the soul, without any effort, and may also come with all the certainty of that intuition by which we perceive the truth of axioms. To say that this is belief, is to confound two things essentially distinct,-knowledge and faith. So that it does not appear plain, that faith, in any sense of the term, will exist in heaven. But
though it could be proved that, in some modification of the term, it would be exercised in the celestial state, such a belief would differ so materially from that which we now possess, and by which we are justified and saved, that it may with propriety be said, faith will cease in heaven. All the great objects to which faith now refers are absent: we believe in their existence, through the report which is made of them in the word of God; but in heaven they will be immediately present to the senses of our glorified body, or the perceptive faculty of our spirit made perfect. Nor, as it respects hope, is it by any means certain that this will exist in the heavenly state; for although it is difficult to conceive how there can be otherwise than a futurity, even in eternity, and how there can be a state of mind otherwise than the desire and expectation of future good, -yet, as in hope there is usually some degree of doubt and uncertainty, the state of mind with which glorified spirits contemplate and anticipate future good, may be an indubitable certainty, which excludes the restlessness of desire, and the incertitude of expectation.
In the hour of death, the believer closes the conflict with his spiritual enemies, enters a world where no foe shall ever exist, and where, of course, he no longer needs either defensive or aggressive weapons. He takes off the helmet of salvation, for hope is not needed when he is brought to full possession: he lays aside the shield of faith, for seeing and knowing have succeeded to believing, and he will be beyond the fiery darts of the wicked one: the breastplate of sincerity he retains, not as a weapon, but
as an ornament-not as a means of defence, but as a memorial of victory: his feet are no longer shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, for he will no more have to tread on the snares of the destroyer, nor be exposed to his missiles: the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, shall be sheathed, and hung with the trumpet in the hall: praying will cease, where there is no want to be supplied-no care to be alleviated-no sin to be forgiven-no sorrow to be soothed: watchfulness will no more be necessary, where no enemy is found, no danger arises the means of grace will all be useless, where grace is swallowed up in glory: submission will never be called for, where there are no trials and even many of the properties of love itself will seem to be absorbed in its general principle; many of its modifications and operations will cease, amidst its eternal delight in perfect excellence and happiness: for there can be no forgiveness of inju ries where none will be inflicted; no long suffering where there is nothing to suffer; no concealment of faults where none can be committed; no self-denial where there will be nothing to try us: nothing of love will remain, nothing be exercised, but a pure and unmixed delight in happiness and how should it stimulate us to the exercise of mutual forbearance and commiseration now, to consider that it is the only state where these virtues can be indulged!!
ADOPTING the method pursued by the old Divines, I shall take up this part of the subject in the way of INSTRUCTION.
1. May we not infer from it, the divine origin of those Scriptures, which give such a pre-eminence to the duty of love.
The contents of the word of God have ever been considered, and very justly, as a voucher for its divine authority. The Bible is its own witness: the sublimity of its doctrines, surpassing alike the invention and the comprehension of the human understanding; the harmony of its writers; the grandeur of its style, the more remarkable if we consider the illiterate character of many of those who wrote it; the elevation and purity of its morality, especially when contrasted with the condition of the whole world; the view it gives us of the nature and attributes of the Deity, of the character of Jesus Christ, of the state of human nature, of the scheme of redemption, of the elements of evangelical piety', of the certainty and glory of immortality ;—are all the handwriting of Jehovah, and, together, form this