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light can we be persuaded that our Saviour, by his meritorious obedience and passion, hath appeased God's wrath, and inclined his favor toward us, hath satisfied justice, hath expiated our offences, hath ransomed and rescued our souls from the dominion of sin and Satan, from death and corruption, from hell and everlasting torment, hath purchased immortal life and endless bliss for us? What comfort is there in being assured by the resurrection and triumph of our Lord over death, that our souls are indeed immortal, that our bodies shall be raised from the dust, that our persons are capable of an eternal subsistence in happiness? Will it not much please us with an eye of faith to behold our Redeemer sitting in glorious exaltation at God's right hand, governing the world for the benefit of his church, dispensing benediction and grace to us; interceding, as our *merciful and faithful High Priest,' for the pardon of our sins, the acceptance of our prayers, the supply of our needs, and the relief of our distresses ? If we be fully convinced that our Lord Jesus is the Christ, our Lord and Saviour, the author of eternal salvation to all that obey him,' how can we otherwise than follow those, of whom St. Peter saith, · Whom having not seen, ye love ; in whom, though ye now see him not, yet believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory?' So from the hearty belief of every evangelical truth we may suck consolation ; each of them is food of our soul; and to believe it is to eat it: which how can we do without a delicious or most savory
relish? 2. At least methinks that faith greatly should exhilarate us, which applieth those verities, (so worthy of all acceptation,') wherein God doth open his arms wide to embrace us, proposing most kind invitations and favorable overtures of mercy, on the fairest terms possible ; together with effectual remedies for all the maladies and miseries of our souls for if we are sensible of our heinous guilts, if we are laden with the heavy burden of our sins, if our heart is galled with sore compunction for our misdeeds, if we are struck with the “terrors of the Lord,' and • tremble with the fear of God's judgments ;' how comfortable must it be to be persuaded that God is fully reconcileable to us, is
very desirous to show us mercy, and gladly will accept our repentance ; that we have an advocate with the Father, who
hath propitiated for our sins,' doth mediate for our peace, hath both full power and certain will, if we sincerely do renounce our offences, wholly to remit them! so that there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit;' and that, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Will not this belief revive us, and make the broken bones to rejoice ?' will not the gospel of peace be hence in truth' a joyful sound' to us? might it not hence well be proclaimed in the prophet, Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people ; speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned ?
And if we find ourselves in habit of soul grievously distempered, laboring under great impotency and blindness, overborne and oppressed with the prevalency of corruption, pestered with unreasonable desires and passions, unable to curb our inclinations and appetites, to resist temptations, to discharge our duty in any tolerable measure, or with any ease ; is it not then comfortable to believe that we have a most faithful and skilful physician at hand to cure our distempers ; that we have a powerful succor within ken, to relieve our infirmities; that God is ready to impart an abundant supply of grace, of light, of spiritual strength to direct and assist us ? that if any man doth lack wisdom, he is encouraged with faith to ask it of God, who giveth liberally, and upbraideth not?' If any man want strength, God's Almighty Spirit is promised to those who with humble earnestness do implore it; so that we may be able to do all things (incumbent on us) by Christ who strengtheneth us.'
3. And what more hearty satisfaction can we feel than in a firm persuasion concerning the real accomplishment of those
exceedingly great and precious promises,' whereby we become capable of the most excellent privileges, the most ample benefits, the most happy rewards that can be? How can the belief that, by God's infallible word, or as surely as truth itself is true, an eternal inheritance of a treasure that cannot fail, of a glory that cannot fade, of a kingdom that cannot be shaken, of a felicity surpassing all expression and all conceit, is reserved for us, in recompense of our faithful obedience ; how, I say, can that be a dead, dull, dry belief, void of sprightly comfort and pleasure?
Likewise the faith of confidence in God's good providence and paternal care over us, (whatever our condition or circumstances be,) should infuse a cheerful refreshment of heart
It is in holy Scripture most frequently asserted that he who placeth his trust in God is a very blessed and happy person; and can we, without great satisfaction, partake of that beatitude ?
Can we, by such a trust, disburden all our solicitous cares, all our anxious fears, all the troubles of our spirit, and pressures of our condition on God, with strong assurance, that from his mighty power and watchful care, in due time, in the most expedient manner, we shall receive a competent supply of our wants, a riddance from our grievances, a protection from all danger and harm, a blessing on all our good endeavors and undertakings, without feeling much ease and peace in our hearts?
What can be more cheering than a persuasion that all our concerns are lodged in the hands of such a Friend, so wise, so able, so faithful, so affectionate, so ever readily disposed to help us, and further our good? They who trust in God are said “to abide under the shadow of the Almighty,' and ' to be covered with his wings;' God is often styled their rock, their fortress, their shield and buckler, their defence and refuge; and are they not then impregnably safe? why then should they fear any disaster ? at what occurrence should they be disturbed ? Have they not huge reason to say with the psalmist, In the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice;' The Lord is my strength and my shield, my heart trusteth in him, and I am helped ; therefore my heart danceth for joy, and in my song will I praise him. May not each of those confiders in God well repress all insurrections of trouble and grief, with that holy charm, Why art thou so vexed, O my soul, and why art thou so disquieted within me ? • O trust in God—for he is the health of my countenance, and my God.'
II. We should evermore rejoice in the practice of Christian hope, making good that aphorism of Solomon, • The hope of the righteous shall be gladness ;' and obeying those apostolical injunctions, that we should rejoice in hope ;' that we should • retain the confidence, and the rejoicing of hope firm to the end.' Those excellent and most beneficial truths, those sweet proposals of grace and mercy, those rich promises, which faith doth apprehend as true in a general reference to all Christians, hope doth appropriate and apply as particularly touching ourselves; improving the knowlege of our common capacity into a sense of our special interest in them. God, saith our faith, will assuredly receive all penitent sinners to mercy, will crown all pious Christians with glory, will faithfully perform whatever he hath graciously promised to all people, hath a tender care for all that love and fear bim; but God, saith our hope, will have mercy on me, will . render to me the wages of righteousness,' willóverify his good word to me his servant,' will protect, will deliver, will bless me in all exigencies : if so, being conscious of our sincere endeavor to serve and please God; if discerning, from a careful reflexion on our heart and ways, that in some good measure with fidelity and diligence we have discharged the conditions required of us, we can entitle ourselves to God's special affection, we can accommodate bis word to our case, we can assume a propriety in his regard, how can we forbear conceiving joy?
All hope, in proportion to the worth of its object, and the solidity of its ground, is comfortable; it being the anchor of the soul,' which stayeth and supporteth it in undisturbed rest; it appeasing unquiet desires ; it setting absent goods before us, and anticipating future enjoyments by a sweet foretaste : seeing then, if we have a good conscience, and our heart doth not condemn us,' our hope is grounded on the rock of ages,' (on the immutable nature and the infallible word of God ;) seeing it is the hope of the most worthy, the most sublime, the most incomparable and inestimable goods, it must be most extremely de. lightful.
If it much pleaseth men to conceit themselves next heirs of fair estate, to have the reversion of a good office, to be probable expectants of a great preferment, (although death may intercept, or other accidents may obstruct the accomplishment
of such hopes,) how much more shall that lively hope, of which St. Peter speaketh, of an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, (which hope therefore can never be dashed or defeated,) breed a most cheerful satisfaction, far transcending all other pleasures, which spring from the most desirable fruitions here; according to that admonition of our Lord, · Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'
III. We should evermore rejoice in the performing the duty of charity ; both that which we owe to God, and that which is due to our neighbor.
Love is the sweetest and most delectable of all passions ; and when, by the conduct of wisdom, it is directed in a rational way toward a worthy, congruous, attainable object, it cannot otherwise than fill the heart with ravishing delight.
And such (in all respects superlatively such) an object is God: he infinitely beyond all other things deserveth our affection, as most perfectly amiable and desirable, as having obliged us by innumerable and inestimable benefits, all the good that we have ever enjoyed, or that we can ever expect, being derived from his pure bounty; all things in the world, in competition with him, being pitifully mean, ugly, and loathsome; all things, without him, being vain, unprofitable, and hurtful to us; so that the psalmist might well say, “Who in heaven can be compared unto the Lord ? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord ? • Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth that I can desire beside thee.' He is the most proper object of our love; for we chiefly were framed, and it is the prime law of our nature, to love him; our soul from original instinct vergeth toward him as its centre, and can have no rest till it be fixed on him; he alone can satisfy the vast capacity of our minds, and fill our boundless desires.
He, of all lovely things, most certainly and easily may be attained; for whereas commonly men are crossed in their affection, and their love is embittered from their affecting things