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of God, the benignant aid of an influence omnipotent and divine, arming him with patience and fortitude amidst all the vicissitudes of life. It supports him in his warfare with the world, and comforts him under the deprivations incident to his mortal pilgrimage. But above all, it is the Spirit of God which can shed a ray of consolation on that dreary hour, when the world is fast receding, and the eye rests on the dark valley and the shadow of death. The soul would long to linger here, afraid, yet compelled to leap, were it not that the Spirit whispers, Be of good cheer, for I am with thee. Then, by the aid of this holy Comforter, death is robbed of his sting, and the grave despoiled of its victory.
I have now, my friends, finished three of the leading divisions of my discourse, and have sought to impress upon your minds, by every variety of argument and illustration, the greatness of the work of religion. 1. From the greatness of its objects, the glory of God and the salvation of souls; 2, from its opponents; and 3, from its aids. I have represented the aids, as comprising, 1, the approbation of the great God; 2, the aid of God's ministering spirits; 3, the aid of God's resources and his providential dealings; 4, the aid of all God's people; and 5, as in the present discourse, the aid of the Holy Spirit to crown the whole.
One word, and I have done. I have sought, my friends, to impress on your minds the greatness and infinite importance of this work of religion. I have faithfully sought to show you all the difficulties and obstacles which are in the way; and I know that I have presented to you a fearful and appalling cata
logue. But I have also stated your auxiliaries on earth and in heaven; God's approval; God's hosts; God's treasure; God's people; God's omnipotent Spirit. Truly may we say "More are they that are for us, than they that are against us."
Are there any among you who refuse to enter on this work? Be it so; you are but treasuring up to yourselves wrath against the day of wrath. Are there any engaged in this work, but timid, fearful, doubting, anxious, persecuted, perplexed? Rise up, hear the language of God:-"Fear thou not, for I am with thee: be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water."*" When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned;
* Isaiah xli. 10-13. 17, 18.
neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."* Take encouragement
The soul that to Jesus has fled for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes,
That soul, though all hell shall endeavour to shake,
A greater work there cannot be, than that which bears the impress of God-which has for its guarantee the faith of God, and which has for its strength the omnipotence of God. Happy is the man who is thus engaged on the Lord's side; for when eternal ruin must be the portion of every opposer, he alone can stand, on the Lord's side on earth, at his right hand on the day of judgment, in the radiance of his throne, throughout eternity.
* Isaiah xliii. 2, 25.
THE GREAT WORK OF RELIGION.
NEHEMIAH VI. 3.
THE end of our faith, says the apostle, is the salvation of the soul. And the end, or issue of the great work of personal religion, which is the production of faith, is precisely the same, the everlasting felicity of heaven.
It was the issue of the work of religion which I placed before you as the last particular, which gave to that work the character of greatness. It is this which decides the relative importance even of all earthly works. That is a work of nobler conception, and of more splendid achievement which issues in some grand benefit to the human family, than that which issues in the establishment of an individual's prosperity or honour. Robert Raikes was a greater man than Alexander or Napoleon; and the Sundayschool system, which has been reared on the foundation which, in the providence of God, Raikes was permitted to lay, is a work which far outweighs in grandeur all the achievements at which Alexander or Napoleon ever laboured. And thus, what they were desirous of accomplishing for themselves, and have failed in the attempt, he has, under God, accomplished for himself.
I have stated that the issue of the work of religion is the eternal blessedness of heaven, and this constitutes the greatness of the work. In the present discourse, my purpose is to show this from the intrinsic nature of the happiness of heaven. And yet, on the very threshold of this discussion, I am met with a difficulty which it would seem must, of necessity, embarrass, if not stay my progress. How am I to give you any information as to the intrinsic character of the happiness of heaven? Is not this something beyond the conception of man? Are we told sufficiently about it in the Scriptures to authorize speculation? Is there any thing beyond a glimpse? I am aware that the apostle has said"Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."* And I am aware that God, in his infinite wisdom, has not let us into the secret of those delights which make up the eternal felicity of the saints in light, in their inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. I am aware of all this, and it gives me a timely admonition to place a rein on imagination, lest I darken counsel by words without knowledge. There appears to me no way to discuss the nature of the happiness of heaven, but to determine to go no further than the Scripture has gone; to stretch the raptured vision as far as the horizon which the revelation of God has established; contentedly to stop where Scripture stops, and to wait till the time when all else shall be revealed in the light of eternity itself.
1 John iii. 2.