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1 JOHN ii. ver. 17. latter part.
He that doeth the will of God, abideth for ever.
EW and evil have the days of the years of my life been," was the language of good old Jacob to Pharaoh, in ancient times. And little, I fear, is the state of man altered for the better since his days. We enter the stage of life in tears, we tread it, for a few short moments, amidst pain and anguish, and then descend with sorrow to the grave of our fathers.
And must we, then, end here? Are all our hopes and desires to be buried with us in the grave of mortality? When yon blue regions of heaven darken upon us, must the black mantle of eternal night overspread us? Must we bid an everlasting adieu to all our friends, wishes, and enjoyments? Is there no other world? Is there
no compensation for what we leave behind us? for the evils we have suffered, the fortitude with which we have resisted, or the patience with which we have endured them? Having been made in the image of God himself, and raised so high above the rest of the created world, must we lie down in silence with the beast that perisheth? Melancholy indeed would our lot be, were this the case; dark and gloomy the prospect of life, were it thus to be terminated by mute oblivion and torpid insensibility! But, blessed be God! the religion we profess affords us nobler expectations than these; it points out to us a better state hereafter, and comforts us under the fleeting fashion of all things here below, by assuring us, that "he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. "He that doeth the will “of God:" this is a just and lively description, it is the only true and sure criterion of religion. The Apostle does not say, He that knows the will of God; for we must know it in order to do it. But to know it is not enough: too many have knowledge without practice, faith without works, light without heat, and eyes without hands; who fancy that religion consists in mere speculation, and place all virtue in the understanding, rather than in the heart. But these are not the Christians that will abide for ever: the kingdom of heaven is not promised to those
who cry, Lord, Lord; but to those who add to their knowledge, virtue; who do the will of their Father in heaven.
Secondly, We may observe here, that he that doeth the will of God, is opposed to him that loveth the world, and is led away by the lusts thereof. And so we find it in other places of scripture. "For the grace of God," says the Apostle, "that bringeth salvation, hath ap ❝peared to all men, teaching us, that denying "ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live righteously, soberly, and godly in this present "world." He, therefore, that will do the will of God aright, must be crucified to the world: he must put off the old man, and be renewed in the spirit of his mind.
Thirdly, He that would do the will of God aright, must do it, not reluctantly, not by force and compulsion, but freely, willingly, and cheerfully; not by an external, pharisaic obedience only, but by the better and inward obedience of the heart, by which the whole man, and all his faculties, are led to bow to the divine instructions and precepts of his Maker; and that not by sudden fits and transient starts, as passion or humour prompts him, but regularly, constantly, and uniformly. This, and this only, is the obe
dience of a Christian, to which is annexed the glorious promise of abiding for ever.
But how can we say, that he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever, when we see him subject to the same vicissitudes, to time and chance, to pain and death, in common with the rest of the creation? He passes through the various states of existence like other natural beings, and undergoes the successive changes of increase and decay: he feels the follies of youth, the cares of manhood, and the infirmities of age; and after a few short turns upon the stage of the world, he passes away like other men: for "wise .. men die as well as the foolish and ignorant." How then can we say, that the righteous man abideth for ever?
In answer to this, we are to consider, that it is not the corporeal or animal life of the religious man; not his outward condition, nor his worldly ties and relations, to which this eternal permanency is promised; for these are subject to the same changes and alterations with the rest of the perishable things of this world; but it is the inward and spiritual life of the Christian, his relations to God, that abide for ever. It is not this poor, frail, fleshly tabernacle, this mass of disease and corruption, which we drag about for a few years,
years, but it is the sublimer part of our composition; in one word, it is not the man, but the Christian, that abideth for ever.
And well may the righteous man be said to abide. If we view him in the present life, he is firm and steady amidst all its changes and chances. If he meets with disappointments, he is not dejected if he is afflicted, he does not despair if he falls, through inadvertency or surprize, (and what man is there who does not sometimes fall?) he rises again by repentance, and supports himself by trusting in God. Inspired by this, amidst trials and temptations, he is enabled to fight the good fight of faith, and to come off victorious, though men and devils oppose his progress with united powers. For, as the Psalmist long ago observed, “ They that put "their trust in the Lord shall be even as mount
Sion, which may not be removed, but standeth "fast for ever." Relying therefore on Him, who is the Rock of Ages, he looks down on the storms and tempests of the world with tranquility he despises its vanities, and he fears not its frowns; being assured, that "neither death, "nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor " powers, nor heighth, nor depth, nor any "other creature, shall be able to separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus." In