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to say, that remaining indwelling sin, in itself, and as it appears in external act, by remissness in duty, inattention to means, and positive sinful indulgence, is that alone which prevents Christians enjoying, at all times, that peculiar nearness to God, and communion with him, which have been described.
Let the children of God, therefore, under all darkness and affiction, be humble, taking all blame to themselves : Let them seek, in God's appointed way, still further degrees of holiness both in heart and life: For it is sin only, which brings darkness upon them; it is this only which intercepts the beatific vision of God's face, God does not willingly afflict and grieve either liis own children, or the children of men.
Thus I have endeavored, briefly, to describe the nature and blessedness of that peculiar nearness to God, so much desired by Job in the text, and by all the children of God, and pointed out the reason of their not enjoying it, at all times. I shall close with a brief
And from what has been said, let Christians be.induced to aspire, more and more, after communion with God, and to obtain that nearness to him, that light of his countenance, which alone can support, and give consolation, and afford a happiness, worthy a rational and immortal soul. And in order to this, let them be persuaded to attend diligently upon all the means of grace, looking to God for assistance ; and especially endeavor to take off their affections, more and inore, from the world, and to let their lives be hid with Christ in God. For they who are Christians ought to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts. Christians !
you live in a troublesome world; you sojourn in a vale of tears. But you have the support of religion-you have a covenant God, to ap
66 Be strong,
proach, and so long as you are in the lively exercise of love to God, so long ::s you maintain a close walk with God, and keep near the throne of grace, you will rise above the frowns and flatteries of the world, and will reckon that the sufferings, and afflictions of this present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed, in God's heavenly pres
But the great danger is, you live in an ensnaring world ; you are sanctified but in part; Satan has much ground to work upon, and he has many devices. Hence there is danger of being in a measure led astray from God.; allured into such practices as will quench the spirit, and wound your own souls. Therefore watch, and be sober. only in the Lord, and in the power of his might."
ci Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For ye wrestle against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” “Wherefore take unto yourselves the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all to stand." And as a motive, remember that he that endureth to the end shall be saved-saved from all sorrow and affliction—from all temptation and imperfection from all darkness, and admitted to enjoy the presence of God, in a more glorious manner, than heart can conceive. If you delight in God's presence here, if you delight to draw near to him, in his ordinances, and in prayer, and praise, what fulness of joy will you have in his heavenly presence, and in the worship of heaven! So great is it, that the most perfect sense and enjoyment which any have of God's presence and favor, while at home in the body, is called, being absent from the Lord. . And let all remember, and especially aged Christians, that they soon must be absent from the body, and ought to keep their lights trimmed and burning, since they know not when their Lord will call.
The king of terrors is constantly doing his work. How many of your Christian friends and acquaintance, “ with whom you used to take sweet counsel together, and go up to the house of God in company,” have gone before
you-gone from all sin, sorrow, and darkness, to him who is “light, and in whom is no darkness at all.”
They are now near him indeed—and can go even to his seat, and fill their mouths with arguments. Not such arguments however, as we are wont to use in this militant state ; they have no temptations now to disturb them-no darkness to be removed-no sinful imperfections to mourn ; but adoration and praise—with joy unspeakable, is now their employment. “For in his presence is fulness of joy, at his right hand there are pleasures for ever more.
To conclude. Let us remember, one and all, that
without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” And that those of us who take no delight in religion, nor in drawing near to God, by prayer, in public and in private, can never meet him in peace, without a change of affections.
The heavenly presence of God will be enjoyed by none, but those who can adopt the language of the Psalmist ; and God grant that it may be the language of all our hearts :
“ Were I in heaven without my God,
I long for none but thee.
Hath joys substantial and sincere,
EXPORTANCE OF HEARING CHRIST'S VOICE IMME
HEBREWS III. 15.
To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts
TIME is the gift
. of God, and the man of trus wisdom will improve the present, by securing an in terest in Christ, and laying a foundation for a happy futurity. The salvation of the gospei is of such in finite importance, and delays respecting it are so dangerous, that no possible excuse can justify the sinner in neglecting it a single moment.
The term of probation is a precious talent, purchased by the blood of Christ, and no part of it therefore may be spent, before we honor him by hearkening to his voice, and complying with his gracious proposals. Hence, the Holy Ghost says in the text, 5 To day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” But let us attend a moment to the connection.
The apostle in the context speaks of three important things, with particular application to his hearers.
The voice of Christ-the sin of unbelief, or hardena ing the heart against his voice, and the consequence of this, falling short of the rest of God. God's rest is spoken of in three senses : The rest of the seventh day : The rest of the land of Canaan, promised to all the faithful Israelites who came out of Egypt ; and the rest of the heavenly Canaan, of which the Christian sabbath is, to the believer, a foretaste.
The earthly Canaan was an eminent type of the heavenly. From this, many of the Israelites were cut off, and fell in the wilderness, God having sworn in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest. The occasion of this the apostle informs us, was their unbelief, or hardening their hearts against the voice of Christ. And that this also, if continued in, will be sufficient to cut off from the heavenly rest.
The voice, against which it is represented that mankind harden their hearts, is the voice of God in his revealed word, the voice of Christ the great head of the church, by which he hath been addressing mankind ever since the fall. All the invitations and warnings, which have ever been addressed to sinners, are the voice of Christ to them. In the antediluvian world he addressed them by Enoch, who prophesied the destruction of the wicked ; and by Noah, who was a preacher of righteousness, and preached by the Spirit of Christ to the spirits that are now in prison. Afterwards he spake by his servants Abraham, Moses, David, Samuel, and the prophets ; and last of all, in his own person on earth, and by his apostles ; whose words are recorded, and at his command repeated and enforced by his embassadors, the ministers of the gospel.
To enforce the importance of hearing Christ's voice, the apostle cites the words of David in the xcv. Psalm, when under divine inspiration, he reasoned with the then present generation, and warned them against delaying repentance; and hardening their heart against the voice of Christ, as did their