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the knowledge of God, preferring to him the creatures which he has made; we are impressed with his claims to our affections, and fear his just wrath for our sin; and, seeing the way opened for our return to him, we admire the wisdom, holiness, and grace of the provision, and, confiding in his overtures, we every one say, "What have I to do with idols? Lo, we are of the generation that seek after God; to know and glorify him, to enjoy his presence and favor, and be conformed to his holiness; to do his will and be assured of everlasting nearness to him and communion with him; to have "this God for our guide until death, and our God for ever and ever," is in our view, the substance of all good. The sentiment of our hearts is that of David: "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on the earth that I desire beside thee." "As the heart panteth for the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for Godthe living God. When shall I come and appear before God?"
2d. Taking God for our portion, we make him the object of our ultimate confidence. Fixing on him our supreme desire, we are assured by him that he will meet and satisfy that desire. "Because he hath set his love on me," is his word to us in that case, "therefore will I deliver him. I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him, I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and show him my salvation." Believing the promise, we make him our confidence according to it, we depend on his wisdom to guide, his power to protect, and his goodness to forgive, to sanctify, to sustain, and eternally bless us; and, in this confidence, we surrender ourselves to the disposal of his providence and the guidance of his word. There is indeed a subordinate confidence due to other objects, as voluntary agents in his kingdom, and means of his goodness, but on him as the source of all which they receive, is our ultimate dependence. God is our refuge and strength; to Him we repair, and pour out our hearts in every thing; by prayer and supplication we make known to him our requests, and the peace of God which passeth all understanding keeps our hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.
3d. Taking God for our portion we rest in him as our chief joy. It is not the part of true religion to despise common blessings. They are given to be enjoyed; and when received religiously with thanksgiving, certainly they are not on that account enjoyed the less. Christians enjoy their family connections, their social circles, and all the circumstances of comfort and of privi lege not less, but far more, than those whose portion is in this life. It is not by their disrelish of earthly good, they are weaned from the world, but by their superior enjoyment of God. Tenderly as they love their friends, and pleased as they may be with the other gifts of Providence, they love God more; and propor tioned to their love to him, and their confidence in him, is their
enjoyment of him. If the possession or expectation of any good gives joy, and proportioned to its apprehended value, what must be supposed to be the joy of those who carry with them the blessed assurance that the living God is their God. There may be less of rapture and ecstacy in their joy, but how much more of stability and satisfaction! in the sense of his presence and glory, in the exercises of communion with him, and the work of serving and glorifying him; in the consciousness of his smiles, and the assurance that he will be their God forever and ever; they have a peace which passeth understanding. Are they in prosperity? they say, "Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us, for thou hast put joy and gladness into our hearts more than in the time that their corn and their wine are increased." Are they in affliction? they say, "Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall there be fruit in the vine, the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stall, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." "They joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ by whom they have received the atonement, and therefore they rejoice in Christ also, with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
Thus the Lord, the living God as revealed in Christ, the covenant God of his people, and as received by them according to his offers, becomes their portion, the object of their choice, their supreme desire, confidence, and joy.
All this, as I hardly need to say, is attended with imperfection, of which, in the trials of life, they are painfully conscious. Too much are their desires, their confidence, and their joy engaged by worldly things, or at least too feebly and inconstantly are they centred in God. Still he is the object of their supreme affections. He, in distinction from all inferior good, is their portion. I would now show:
II. How as such he is distinguished from every other portion.
1st. God is the only sufficient portion. There is no other of which we can say in the possession of it, "We have all and abound." The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing. Riches cannot supply all want, nor honor fill all desires, nor pleasure dispel all anxiety and woe. There is no earthly friend that is adorned with all the excellence, or that is possessed of all the resources, or whose love and friendship have all the constancy and permanency, or on whom we may depend for counsel, sympathy, and support, with all the security that we might desire. The created universe, were it at our command, would be insufficient to meet our wants, as sinful and accountable; and, apart from the good will of Him on whom it depends, is of no account. Creatures the most excellent, as objects of
ultimate confidence, like the idols of the heathen, are vanity; "in the day of his visitation they perish." "The portion of Jacob is not like them. He is the former of all things, the Lord of Hosts is his name." He who has this Glorious Being for his friend and portion, has all things. He has all the good which creatures are capable of affording him; for under the government of God," all things shall work together for good, to them that love him ;" and in God he has infinitely more than all "that he can desire or comprehend:" power, wisdom, goodness, dominion, honor, and glory, infinite and eternal, for all these are engaged to make him blessed. There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heavens in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The Eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He, and only He, is sufficient for us, and particularly as the God of our salvation, to forgive our sins, redeem our souls, and bring us, ransomed from the grave and from hell, to that perfection in body and in spirit-that exceeding and eternal blessedness in himself that will fill and satisfy our expanding desires forever.
2d. God is the only sure portion. Whatever else we may desire is uncertain in the attainment, as well as insufficient in the possession. But few, after all their toil, attain the prize of riches: fewer still are extensively known in the heraldry of fame; of the votaries of pleasure also, what multitudes there are who "mourn at the last when their flesh and body are consumed;" and in our earthly friends, as well as possessions, how variously we are liable to disappointment! What indeed are the eager multitudes who are seeking happiness in worldly things, but, according to the description given of them by the prophet, "as when a hungry man dreameth, and behold he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty; or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and behold he drinketh; but he awaketh, and his soul hath appetite?" But how different is the case of those who seek their happiness in God! Here "every one that seeketh findeth." Here is a portion as sure in the possession, to those who make choice of it, as it is sufficient in the enjoyment. It costs nothing. The poor may have it as well as the rich; for there is no respect of persons with God. The greatest number may enjoy it as freely and as surely as the least. There is no occasion for competition in the pursuit of it, except that of loving one another, as Christ hath loved us, nor for fear of exhaustion on account of the multitudes who apply; for with God is the fountain of life" in his presence is fullness of joy-and at his right hand are pleasures for ever more." The most sinful and miserable, as well as the most poor and destitute, are welcome; for "the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him." Their miseries move his compassion; iniquities he waits freely to forgive; and his word is pledged that whosoever will may come and take of the water of
life freely. "Ho, every one that thirsteth," the call is, "come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat -yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money, and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear and come unto me; hear and your soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."
3d. God is the only unfailing portion. Riches make to themselves wings as an eagle, and fly away. Honor is not less fleeting. Friends also sicken and die; and we ourselves are frail, as are the earthly objects of our confidence. "All flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The wind passeth over it and it is gone." But God is the same. Unchangeable in himself, he is unchangeably the portion of those who make him their trust. Their choice of him is a fruit of his own everlasting love to them, and therefore he binds them to himself in cords of love, that will endure to everlasting. They have chosen him as their portion forever, and the covenant of his grace, in which he engages himself to them, provides that it shall be according to their choice. Never shall they depart from him, and never will he leave or forsake them. He will be their guide until death. Here is the crowning excellence of the believer's portion-that while it is large as his desires, it is lasting as the soul. The worldling lies down upon the bed of death, and with despairing apprehensions waits the sentence, "Son, remember that thou in thy life-time hadst thy good things." The Christian lies down, and says, "My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
In application of these thoughts, let me propose two inquiries. 1st. Who of you can truly say as David did-"Thou art my portion, O Lord." To you, in the condescension of his grace, he offers himself, as he was offered to David for this purpose; and with clearer light, and more abundant love, in Christ, as God manifest in the flesh, the propitiation for our sins, risen from the dead, making intercession for us, and bringing life and immortality to light; and, from the first moment of your capacity, has never ceased to invite you to receive him as your Saviour and Lord. But have you listened to his voice? Have you acceded to his proposals? Have you turned from idols to the living God? Is he above all others the object of your desire? the knowledge of him, above all other knowledge; communion with him, above all other communion; the adorning of his holiness, above all other adorning; the guidance of his counsel, above all other guidance; employment in his service, above all other employment; salvation through grace, above all other salvation; and his favor, through the blood of the cross, above the favor of the
universe beside? Do you depend on him, according to his word, to meet these desires-to guide you by his counsel, enlighten you by his Spirit, sustain you by his providence, comfort you with bis presence, and save you by his grace; and, in this confidence, do you repair to him in your wants, cast your burdens on his arm, and commit yourselves to his disposing hand? Desiring him above all other objects of desire, do you depend on him to be to you what you desire? and, depending on him, do you rejoice in him above all other objects of rejoicing; and do you show that this is the case, by your serenity of mind when worldly delights fail you, and by your voluntary surrender of worldly interests when these come into competition with his will? When David said, "Thou art my portion, O Lord," he added, as the consequence of his choice and the proof of his sincerity, "I have said that I will keep thy words." Have you the same evidence of sincerity? Can you say to him in sincerity and truth, "I will keep thy words?" Here, after all, is the decisive test of our real desires. Jesus said, "If a man love me, he will keep my words. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings." Whom, according to this test, have we for our portion? What object gains our active obedience-our devoted service-God or mammon?
2d. Who of you will now make the choice of David, and say, "Thou art my portion, O God?" Many persons, at one time or another, in view of such considerations as I have now presented to you, have done this-many who before had taken up with a portion in this life-and you all have the same need of doing this as they had, and are under the same obligation. And will you hesitate whether the living God or this world shall be your portion? He is willing to be yours, and his terms are not hard. Though you have rejected and offended him, still the overture is "Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord." And are you immortal beings, within a few years to take a final leave of all things below, and enter on a state of eternal retribution, and have you now the opportunity of securing in the friendship of God, a blessed immortality, and will you refuse his friendship? Think of the guilt as well as the folly of this-the immeasurable guilt of treating with this neglect and ingratitude, the God who formed, and the Saviour who died for you; of turning your backs on his invitations, hardening your hearts under his calls, trampling under foot his precious blood, contemning his authority, his justice, his grace, and in this manner, not only cutting yourselves off from the inheritance of the just, but ensuring to yourselves a portion with unbelievers in eternal sorrow. Why will any of you do this? Why will you die? Most assuredly the hour is on the wing, when you will feel this world to be as fleeting and vain as you now know it to be-when God, as the portion of the soul, will appear to you to be as needful, and without him will be found to be as miserable,