Billeder på siden


them, nor any heat; for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and lead them to living fountains of water ; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." Behold the true and the undecaying happiness of

This is worthy of his warmest affections, and unceasing efforts. Unlike the enjoyments to which he clings in youth, in manhood, and in old age, which desert him in the hour of dissolution, and leave him to those days of darkness which shall be many, the very hope of this will sustain him in affliction, irradiate the gloom of death, and make him feel the substantiality of the life and immortality beyond. This hope outweighs in blessedness all the ills of the world, and will make him feel under them, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall afterwards be revealed in us. It is in the pursuit of this that he is to strive to enter in at the strait gate—to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness,- to believe the gospel, and to obey it—and to deny himself daily, and take up his cross, and follow the Redeemer. This is a portion which will not disappoint his expectations, which he may freely obtain, whatever may be his rank or allotments in the world, which will never occasion him vexation or sorrow, and which will increase in its eternal enjoyment. To possess this is to be wise, and safe, and happy, in time and in eternity. “ Happy is the man that findeth this wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.

In the pursuit of this true happiness, are we to consider all the sources of earthly enjoyment as of

no value? By no means. If you are learned, enjoy the satisfaction of learning; or beloved, refrain not from the delights of social and friendly affection ; or honoured, do nothing to lower the influence of your name and reputation; or rich, extract from wealth, by temperately participating in its pleasures, and by doing good to others, all the enjoyment which it can yield. Use the world; but use it in entire subordi. nation to the love, and fear, and commandments of God; use it in subserviency to the high, the chief, the only true happiness of man; use it in no way as your portion, but as a means of promoting your convenience while travelling through the desert to the home of your

Father. “ This I say, brethren ; the time is short. It remaineth that they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep as though they wept not; and they that rejoice as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy as though they possessed not; and they that use this world as not abus. ing it. For the fashion of this world passeth away."

“ Godliness, with contentment, is great gain. For, we brought nothing with us into this world, and, it is certain, can carry nothing out. And, having food and raiment, let us therewith be content. For they that will be rich, fall into temptation, and a snare, and into many fooolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil, which, while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who

giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life *."

The Stoics in vain endeavoured to raise men to this temper, by teaching them that pain or ease, want or affluence, reproach or honour, were things in themselves perfectly indifferent; but as in this they contradicted the natural apprehensions and necessary feelings of mankind, they could not thoroughly believe themselves, nor be credited by others. Brutus, à zealous Stoic, found these principles fail, under the pressure of a heavy calamity, fled to self-murder for relief, and dying, exclaimed, as some report, on virtue as an empty name. Whereas revelation raises us above the injurious influence of external goods or evils, not by telling us they are things wholly indifferent; but by assuring us that God, who knows their nature, will direct them for our good; and by teaching us so to bear or improve either, as to make them instrumental in heightening our virtue here, and our happiness hereaftert.

* I Tim. vii. 6, 7, and 17, 18, 19.

mo Grove's Mor. Phil. vol. ï. p. 596.




When man had ceased to regard it as a privilege to seek his enjoyment in the favour and friendship of God, he might justly have been left to that misery which he had chosen, and to that " everlasting destruction” from the divine presence which his iniquity deserved. But, in infinite mercy, God devised å method according to which his character should be revealed in a light calculated deeply to affect the heart of man, and to win it back to the obedience of his law.

By this plan it was designed to vindicate the holiness and justice of the divine government, and to give the most touching display of the loving-kindness of God. These ends it has fully secured; so that glory is given to God in the highest, peace is proclaimed on earth, and good will to the children of men. By this means the friendship and fellowship with God which our first parents enjoyed in a state of innocency are gained by the penitent; so that, in Christ Jesus, he is delivered from condemnation, and has a participation in the benefits and privileges of his purchase. By this means he is restored to happiness by being restored to peace with him who is its fountain. He beholds the divine character and perfections through a medium that powerfully affects him,-in a way that produces hatred to sin as the greatest evil,


and a conviction of the entire emptiness and vanity of every portion in which God does not form the chief part, and an earnest desire to be conformed in heart and in life to the will of his heavenly Father.

We cannot tell all the happiness to which he is introduced on earth, by having the favour and love of God turned towards him. Having been thoroughly awakened to a sense of his wretchedness while at a distance from his Father, and knowing from the bitterness of his experience, that every prospect of good in which God is not contemplated, however fair, is most surely false, he values every gift only as it is an expression of the good will of the divine Giver, and as it is related to the Fountain of happiness. He is introduced into a new world, -into regions of unconfined beauty and loveliness, where the sunshine is scarcely ever darkened, and the fruits of which confer immortal blessedness. He thus forms a just estimate of the real importance of time, and of the far greater importance of eternity, and values all good, not according to its appearance, but to its real qualities and duration. The influence of the Cross, in changing his heart and views, gives him a taste for nobler food than that with which he was wont to content himself, and ever prompts him to seek his happiness in the conscious enjoyment of the favour and friendship of God.

This favour he possesses-he has its expressions in that communion with himself which God affords him,-in a deliverance from the wrath which abideth on the children of disobedience,- in the pardon of sin—and in the spirit of adoption and of filial confidence in God with which he is endued. The divine

« ForrigeFortsæt »