Page images


We have now seen the beauty and benefit of belief, and the deformity and danger of unbelief, whether considered in reference to time, or to eternity. We have seen, that there must be a common object of regard; that it is reasonable that our Creator should be that object; and that consequently, it is not only our duty, but will be for our interest, to reverence and obey his Gospel.


If mankind at large would only draw nigh to God, so that he would draw nigh to them, what an animating, and healthful moral change would spread over the face of the earth. Yet how natural, and how simple is the duty required. The morality which the Scriptures inculcate is summed up in these few words: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength; and thy neighbour as thyself. This single principle is competent to the government of all intelligent nature. It is a band that would hold together the whole rational creation; and diffuse peace, order and happiness, wherever it existed.

'If mankind loved God supremely, there would be no idolatry upon earth, nor any of its attendant abominations; no profaning the name of God, nor making a gain of godliness; no opposing, corrupting, perverting, nor abusing the truth; no perjuries, nor hypocrisies; no despising of those that are good; no arrogance, ingratitude, pride, nor self complacency under the smiles of Providence; and no murmuring, heart-rising, sullenness, nor suicide under its frowns. Love would render it their meat and drink to fear, honour, and obey him, and induce them to take every thing well at his hands.

And if they loved their fellow creatures as themselves, for his sake, there would be no wars, rivalships, antipathies, nor breach of treaties between nations; no envyings, strifes, wrongs, slanders, duels, litigations, nor intrigues between neighbours; no flattering complaisance, nor persecuting bitterness in religion; no deceit, fraud, nor overreachings in trade; no tyranny, venality, haughtiness, nor oppression among the great; no envy, discontent, disaf

fection, cabals, nor evil devisings among common people.' Such would be the glorious effect of universal love to God, and love to man, which are the sum and substance of christian morality.

between them.

Let us then, my brethren and sisters, resolve to do our part towards producing this beautiful moral change in the world; and thus, not only set a good example to others, but draw down blessings upon ourselves. If we have sinned, let us sin no more. Say not thou, I will hide myself from the Lord, I shall not be remembered among so many people: for what is my soul among such an infinite number of creatures? Such a man only feareth the eyes of men, and knoweth not that the eyes of the Lord are ten thousand times brighter than the sun, beholding all the ways of men. If we meet with an unbeliever, let us compare his life with that of the believer, and thus judge The practice will be a plain commentary upon the doctrine. By their fruits ye shall know them. Let us turn from evil doers, and follow those who do well. If we are in prosperity, let us bless God. When you glorify the Lord, exalt him as much as you can; for even yet will he far exceed; and when you exalt him, put forth all your strength, and be not weary; for you can never go far enough. And if we are in adversity, let us also bless God. Fear not, my son, that thou art made poor; for thou hast much wealth, if thou fear God, and depart from all sin. Look at the generations of old, and see; did ever any trust in the Lord, and was confounded? or did any abide in his fear, and was forsaken? or whom did he ever despise, that called upon him?

Finally. In whatever state we are placed by Providence, let us remember, that if we draw nigh to our great creating, redeeming, and sanctifying Father in the Heavens, by a life of faith and obedience; he will draw nigh to us, his dutiful children on the earth, both in temporal and spiritual blessings. Let us ever remember that, if we take care of our duties, God will take care of our happiness.' Let this last sentence be, not only as a tablet in our hearts, but as a frontlet between our eyes; that whe23*


ther we go out, or whether we come in; whether in the church, or in the house; in the field, or in the street; at home, or abroad; among strangers, or among friends; we may ever read and follow its golden admonition: " If we take care of our duties, God will take care of our happiness.' Then may the Believer, when God thus draws nigh unto his soul, and fills it with his rich and abiding peace, and the full assurance of hope, exclaim, in the confiding triumph of his heart, with the devout CowPER:

• Give what thou canst, without THEE we are poor;
And with THEE rich, take what thou wilt away.'


[merged small][ocr errors]



IF ADAM had not fallen, man perhaps had enjoyed a happy immortality in an earthly Paradise; or been translated, like Enoch and Elijah, without death to heaven. But now, this world is a world of wo. On one side of the churchyard-gate stands SIN; and haunts our lives with those vultures of the mind disdainful Anger, Misfortune with her baleful train, skulking Shame, ghostly Fear, pining Love, Jealousy gnawing his own breast, wan Envy, faded Care, bitter Scorn, Sorrow with her piercing dart, hard Unkindness with her altered eye, moping Melancholy, grim-visaged comfortless Despair, grinning Infamy, keen-wasting Remorse, moody Madness, and the funeral cry of screaming Horror; these are the painful family of Sin. On the other side of the churchyard-gate stands DEATH; and sends forth his grisly troop to fetch us to his drear domains-ghastly spasm, qualms of heart-sick agony, convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs, cholic pangs, pining atrophy, wide-wasting pestilence, dropsies, and asthmas, and joint-racking rheums; this fires the veins, that rives the joints; this strains the labouring sinew, that gnaws deeper into the vitals; one of his train famishes us by pinching Poverty, another brushes us by the hand of rough Mischance; one burns the body from the soul by a fever, and another drieth it away by slowconsuming age. All tells, that man was made to mourn. In this life, the social man mourns over the pains of

[ocr errors]

another; the unsocial man repines over his own woes. Now, all must wade through the bitter waters of death, to arrive at the Haven of Rest.

But, What are these, which are arrayed in white robes? Those, who were arrayed in white robes, were the saints in glory, seen by Saint John the Divine, in his Apocalyptic Vision. Revelation declares, in one place, I knew a man, whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell, God knoweth; such an one caught up to the third heaven, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. In another place, That neither the eye, nor the ear, nor the heart of man, hath seen, or heard, or conceived the things, that God hath laid up for them that love him. Revelation, indeed, is full of assurances, that a Heaven of Happiness exists for the saints. Yet few inquire, what is the nature, and degree, of that felicity, which is the consequence of the death of the second Adam. As the subject is both pleasing and useful, it is proposed now to treat, in their order, with due reverence, and relying upon scriptural inferences, of the Residence, the Character, the Employments, and the Enjoyments, of Saints in Heaven.

I. The Residence. Heaven ought to be considered as a state, rather than a place. Yet, in whatever part of the Universe it may be, all revealed allusions to it are immensely grand, and gloriously majestic. It is called the Celestial Eden; the Canaan of the Skies; a City whose builder and whose maker is God; conceived by the allknowing Mind, and fashioned by the all-doing Hand. There reign the eternal Jehovah, disarmed of all his terrors; and the exalted Saviour, in his own glorified body; surrounded by the worshipping hierarchy; the commanding attitude of the Archangels, the serene brows of the Seraphs, and the beauteous locks of the Cherubs ;' and by the innumerable saints, clothed in the white robes of innocence, with harps of praises, and palms of victory in their hands, and crowns of glory upon their heads; and with countenances glowing with youth and immortality. Heaven is the birthplace of all that is magnificent, and

« PreviousContinue »