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HYMN FOR SERMON XI.

Nearness to God the Felicity of Creatures, SERMON XII.

ARE those the happy persons here,
Who dwell the nearest to their God,
Has God invited siopers near?
And Jesus bought his grace with blood ?
Go then, my soul, address the Son,
To lead thee pear the Father's face;
Gaze on his glories yet unknown,
And taste the blessings of his grace,

Vain vexing world, and flesh, and sense,
Retire while I approach my God;
Nor let my sins divide me thence,
for creatures tempt my thoughts

abroad.

While to thine arms, my God, I press, No mortal lope, nor joy, nor fear, Shall call my soul from thine embrace ; 'Tis liear'a to dwell'for ever there,

12

The Scale of Blessedness: Or, Blessed Saints, Blessed Saviour,

and Blessed Trinity.

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Psalu lxv.4.-Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach

unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts.

THE SECOND PART.

By the entrance of sin into the world, man was first separated from God and happiness : God in righteous anger withdrew from his creature man; and man, obeying the dictates of his own inpious folly, runs farther away from his Maker God; He is born like a wild ass's colt, unknowing and thoughtless : and like a colt he runs wild in the forest of this world, roving amongst a thousand vanities in quest of happiness, but afar off from God still. He seeks substantial and pleasant food, but he meets with broad barren sands in the wilderness, or with brakes, and briars, and bitter weeds. He follows every foolish fire of fancy, till he is led into many a pit and precipice; He rises again, and changes the chase : He flies perpetually from object to object, but finds everlasting disappointment: Shadows, and painted hopes, flatter and tire, and delude him, till he lies down and despairs in death.

This is the case of mankind by nature; they live ignorant of God, and wilfully blind to their own felicity. Fatal blindness and wretched mankind! But blessed be God, that he has not renounced and abandoned all our race for ever, and fixed us in a state of eternal separation from him! Blessed be God, who has chosen, and already called many of the wanderers to himself again! He has built dwellings for himself on earth; he has appointed means for our return, and invites all to approach him. Good David had a full and lively sense hereof when he wrote the words of this song; Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts : Whence I derived this doctrine in the foregoing sermon.

Doctrine. Nearness to God is the foundation of a creature's happiness.

This doctrine appeared in full evidence, while we considered the three chief ingredients of true felicity, viz. the contemplation of the noblest object, to satisfy all the powers of the understanding, the love of the supreme good, to answer the utmost propen

sities of the will; and the sweet and everlasting sensation and assurance of the love of an almighty friend, who will free us from all the evils which our nature can fear, and confer upon us all the good which a wise and innocent creature can desire. Thus all the capacities of man are employed in their highest and sweetest exercises and enjoyments. Now it is God alone, the great and ever-blessed God, who can furnish us with all these materials of blessedness, who can refine our natures, and who can thus engage and entertain all the powers and appetites of our natures refined.

Having finished what I designed in the explication and proof of this doctrine, I proceeded to make various reflections for our information and practice. But the meditation which I proposed, and reserved for this discourse, was the sacred scale of blessedness, or the several degrees of felicity, that creatures are possessed of, according to their advancing approaches toward God; and we shall find blessedness, in its highest perfection, to belong only to God himself.

First degree of blessedness.--). Happy are they who, though they are sinners by nature, yet are brought so near to God, as to be within the sound and call of his grace.

In this sense the whole nation of the Jews was a people near unto God, for he shewed his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel; and upon this account they were happy, in ancient ages, above all kingdoms of the earth; Ps. cxlvii. and cxlviii.

Happy those countries where the apostles of Christ planted the gospel, and brought grace and salvation near them, though they were before at a dreadful distance from God! Happy Britons in our age! Though we are involved, with the rest of mankind, in the common ruins of our first defection from God, yet we are not left in the darkness of heathenism, on the

very confines of hell : But God has exalted us near to heaven and himself, in the ministrations of his word, and led us in a way to his everlasting enjoyment. He has built his sanctuaries amongst us, and established his churches in the midst of us. We are invited to behold the beauty of the Lord, to return to our obedience and his love, and thus be made happy for ever.

This is a matter of divine choice and peculiar favour. Blessed England, whom “ He hath chosen, and caused to approach" thus far towards himself! And why was not the polite nation of China chosen too ; And why not the poor Savages of Africa, and the barbarous millions of the American world? Why are they left in a dismal estrangement from God, “ Even so, Father, because it pleased thee," whose counsels “ are unsearchable, and whose ways of judgment and mercy are past finding out.”

“ Blessed are the people who hear and know the joyful

SERMON XII.

The Scale of Blessedness: Or, Blessed Saints, Blessed Saviour,

and Blessed Trinity.

Psalu Isv.4.-Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach

unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts.

THE SECOND PART. By the entrance of sin into the world, man was first separated from God and happiness : God in righteous anger withdrew from his creature man; and man, obeying the dictates of his own inpious folly, runs farther away from his Maker God; He is born like a wild ass's colt, unknowing and thoughtless : and like a colt he runs wild in the forest of this world, roving amongst a thousand vanities in quest of happiness, but afar off from God still. He seeks substantial and pleasant food, but he meets with broad barren sands in the wilderness, or with brakes, and briars, and bitter weeds. He follows every foolish fire of fancy, till he is led into many a pit and precipice; He rises again, and changes the chase : He flies perpetually from object to object, but finds everlasting disappointment: Shadows, and painted hopes, flatter and tire, and delude him, till he lies down and despairs in death.

This is the case of mankind by nature; they live ignorant of God, and wilfully blind to their own felicity. Fatal blindness and wretched mankind! But blessed be God, that he has not renounced and abandoned all our race for ever, and fixed us in a state of eternal separation from him! Blessed be God, who has chosen, and already called many of the wanderers to himself again! He has built dwellings for himself on earth ; he has appointed means for our return, and invites all to approach him. Good David had a full and lively sense hereof when he wrote the words of this song; Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: Whence I derived this doctrine in the foregoing sermon.

Doctrine. Nearness to God is the foundation of a creature's happiness.

'This doctrine appeared in full evidence, while we considered the three chief ingredients of true felicity, viz. the contemplation of the noblest object, to satisfy all the powers of the understanding, the love of the supreme good, to answer the utmost propen

grace.

sities of the will; and the sweet and everlasting sensation and assurance of the love of an almighty friend, who will free us from all the evils which our nature can fear, and confer upon us all the good which a wise and innocent creature can desire. Thus all the capacities of man are employed in their highest and sweetest exercises and enjoyments. Now it is God alone, the great and ever-blessed God, who can furnish us with all these materials of blessedness, who can refine our patures, and who can thus engage and entertain all the powers and appetites of our natures refined.

Having finished what I designed in the explication and proof of this doctrine, I proceeded to make various reflections for our information and practice. But the meditation which I proposed, and reserved for this discourse, was the sacred scale of blessedness, or the several degrees of felicity, that creatures are possessed of, according to their advancing approaches toward God; and we shall find blessedness, in its highest perfection, to belong only to God himself.

First degree of blessedness.--I. Happy are they who, though they are sinners by nature, yet are brought so near to God, as to be within the sound and call of his

In this sense the whole nation of the Jews was a people near unto God, for he shewed his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel ; and upon this account they were happy, in ancient ages, above all kingdoms of the earth; Ps. cxlvii. and cxlviii.

Happy those countries where the apostles of Christ planted the gospel, and brought grace and salvation near them, though they were before at a dreadful distance from God! Happy Britons in our age! Though we are involved, with the rest of mankind, in the common ruins of our first defection from God, yet we are not left in the darkness of heathenism, on the very confines of hell : But God has exalted us near to heaven and himself, in the ministrations of his word, and led us in a way to his everlasting enjoyment. He has built his sanctuaries amongst us, and established his churches in the midst of us. We are invited to behold the beauty of the Lord, to return to our obedience and his love, and thus be made happy for ever.

This is a matter of divine choice and peculiar favour. Blessed England, whom “ He hath chosen, and caused to approach" thus far towards himself! And why was not the polite nation of China chosen too ; And why not the poor Savages of Africa, and the barbarous millions of the American world? Why are they left in a dismal estrangement from God,“ Even so, Father, because it pleased thee, whose counsels" are unsearchable, and whose ways of judgment and mercy are past finding out.”

“ Blessed are the people who hear and know the joyful

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