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OF JUDGMENT TO COME.

PART IV.

THE GOOD EFFECTS OF THE ABOVE CONSTITUTION, BOTH UPON THE INDIVIDUAL AND UPON POLITICAL SOCIETY.

God is not wanting in his care of that constitution under which he hath placed the world; but accompanies the acceptance and obedience thereof, with all the rewards which the soul of man is capable of tasting in this sublunary state.

Being turned to contemplate those pictures of purity which the law contains, we forget all meaner things, and are delivered by degrees from the vulgar fears and ordinary measures under which we were formerly in bondage. The guardianship of human laws and the eye of man, the laugh of the world and the world's frown, to which we are such slaves, lose their power in proportion as conscience, which is the

eye of the mind, comes to take the oversight of our affairs. A liberty, a self-mastery, an independance upon

the opinions of others, and a mind ever conscious of a right intention, come instead of artifice and cunning and plodding adherence to customary rules. And this self.guidance is hindered from degenerating into self-conceit or self-willedness, by the constant superiority of the law of God, which is, as it were, the telescope through which conscience looks upon the world of duty. The spheres of honour and honesty and domestic worth and patriotism become absorbed, with all the estimable things which they contain, in the wider sphere of obedience unto God, which contains them as the primum mobile of the ancient astronomers contained the celestial spheres.

Now it cannot otherwise happen, than that a mind constantly accustomed to behold, and constantly training itself to practise whatever is noble and good, must grow greatly in its own esteem, and advance likewise in the estimation of

the wise and good, and rise into influence over the better part of men: so that there will attend upon the goings of the servant of God, a light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day, a harmony of motion pleasant to all beholders, and a liberty of action delightful to himself. There will also grow within his soul a unison of faculties through the tuition of the law of God ;-impetuous passions being tamed, irregular affections being guided in their proper courses, the understanding being fed from the fountain of truth, hope looking to revelations that shall never be removed, and will being subordinated to the good pleasure of God. Like a busy state, in which there is no jarring of parties, but one heart and one soul through all its people ; like the body, when every member doth its office, and the streams of life flow unimpeded; the soul, thus pacified from inward contention, and fed with the river of God's pleasure, enjoys a health and strength, a peace which passeth all understanding, and a joy which the world can neither give nor take away.

These and many other rewards, whereof the Scriptures contain the constant promise, are ever addressing the feelings and interests of man, in order to win him over to be a freeman and denizen of the divine government: and, as he enters himself with heart and hand to the duties of the same, these spiritual rewards grow apace, and he feels himself more and more emancipated from the bondage of all other laws and customs into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. It feels with his soul as when

escapes

from his stripes and weary toils unto his rightful liberty; or a free man of this land escapes from the spies of police, the inquisitions of prefects, the passports of men in power, and the thousand other degradations with which foreign nations are impeded and perplexed. There needeth no one to point out the new happiness which he possesseth. Nature speaks within : he is as man should be: he feeleth his state: he useth it: he rejoiceth in it. So doth the soul under divine government, compared with which the best human administration of law, and the most sweetly regulated intercourse of social life, is a masterful rule and a degrading servitude.

Nor are there wanting, upon the other hand, many foul degradations and cleaving curses to disturb the mind and wreck the peace of him who keeps aloof from this Goshen of the soul, which none of these plagues afflicts.

The accidents of life come upon him like an armed man upon his sleeping foe. He has no consolation when the sight of his eyes is taken from him with a stroke, when the

a slave

beauty of his health doth fail, or when disaster hath smitten the four corners of his house; but he feeleth like a dismantled ship upon the troubled waters, or like a desolate wreck upon the naked shore.

And though the outward estate of ungodly men should be prosperous, they are ever liable to be scorched and consumed within the soul by many fires. The fever of passion, the rage of appetite, the heat of riot and intemperance, the ardour of unregulated love, the glow of indignation and the burning of revenge, and the other furies of unregenerate nature are ever waiting an occasion to set the breast in a flame. And anon, like those unhappy regions of the earth which alternately are invaded by the pestilent Siroc of the South and the biting blasts of the North, the souls of such ungodly men are liable to as many invasions of an opposite kind. Disappointment of fond hope, defeat of strong desire, weariness of pleasure, the coldness of malice and hatred, the cruelty of wit and satire, and the indifference which every earthly good oft tasted begetsthese, like scornful and deriding demons, lie in wait at the extremes and issues of all their eager pursuits, to reward them with mockery and cold disdain for yielding such willing obedience. To these outward and inward grievances, to which they doom themselves that know not God, must be added many fears and many intrusions from the world around :—the fear that fortune may desert those channels which now with full tide she filleth, and leave us naked and waste—the fear that our hypocrisies may be detected, and our concealments disclosed to the eye of public scorn or legal justice—the fear of death, which will not be parried, but aye makes head again with every sickness ;-the intrusion of social customs upon our domestic liberty—the intrusion of fashionable follies upon our own good sense—the intrusion of rivals upon our beloved path-the intrusion of another's rights upon our rights, and the legal contentions to which this giveth rise-these, with many other fears and intrlisions which it were tedious to enumerate, are ever trespassing upon that mind which is not placed under the regimen of God:-which is the only regimen that arms the soul and body at all points to meet its disaster, and gives it to dwell in a land from the border of which these invaders are scared away as the frights and terrors of darkness are scared from the borders of light.

It doth therefore appear, that this government of God, whose unseen rewards we are about to disclose, is patronized, during the whole of human life, by all the watchmen

and zuardians of our spiritual welfare ; and that the adverse government of the world, whose unseen miseries we are also about to disclose, hath many warnings of an unhappy mind and an uneasy condition, to remove men away from the evil star under which they pass their lives. These goods and ills with which the soul is visited, according to the choice it makes, are the only instruments which God has employed in order to make way for his revealed law. He hath not endeavoured to work upon men by the high places and emoluments of the earth ; nor bribed their senses, like the God of Mahomet, with indulgence here and higher indulgences hereafter ; nor ministered to vanity or pride or ambition or any of the inordinate affections with which the world tempts the nature of man. Riches and possessions and beauty and pleasure are not proffered by him as the rewards of obedience, which he requires in the frown of every thing that nature loves, and in the eclipse of every thing in which the world glories.

Hence it cometh to pass, that between the peaceful, spiritual rewards of religion, and the outward ambitious rewards of the world, there is waged a contention for the heart of man; and a division takes place of those who cleave to the divine constitution from those who reject it. This division supersedes every other distinction in the eye of God, who is concerned chiefly for the honour of that institution which he hath been at so much pains to reveal. He hath made an appeal to every good and noble principle of nature, he hath introduced it with a moral grandeur which made the host of heaven to admire, at a sacrifice whose value none but himself doth know, and he has sustained it with every advantage present and to come: and, having done so much, he standeth to a side and waiteth the determination of man. From earliest youth to latest age we are solicited to accept his overtures ; our former delinquencies are offered to be cast into the shade, and our late obedience to be accepted, as if it had been yielded from the very beginning of life. It argues in the heart by which such easy and advantageous offers are rejected, a callousness and deadness to the voice of God, in lieu of which, it is not to be expected that any attainments in knowledge, reputation, or morals will compensate. Our Creator is not served with the powers which he gave, nor is our Preserver acknowledged for the blessings which he sent, nor our Father loved in return for that love wherewith he hath loved us our King is held at noughtour Redeemer is trampled under foot-heaven is not sought

hell is not eschewed: meanwhile the world is courted, the approbation of our fellow men is hunted after, every fleeting pleasure is grasped at, and every phantom of hope pursued; and, though life be as unstable as the morning cloud, it is doated on and preferred to all which God is able to bestow. In sum, God in his most gainly attributes arrayed, is rejected for the sake of this world, clothed though she be with sickness and sorrow and change, and every symptom of speedy dissolution.

It is reasonable to expect that such wicked contempt of all that our Creator can do for our honour and advantage, should draw down upon our heads fatal consequences both in this life and that which is to come. Either it argues in the heart which remains impassive under such overpowering influences, a stupidity or obstinacy which cannot long co-exist with the finer parts of human nature, or it argues that heart so overmastered by some adverse sinful influence, as will likely carry it headlong into evil excesses. Accordingly it will be found that the fruit of deliberately rejecting the constitution of God, when conscience hath presented it in its proper amiable bearings, is either to sink the unfortunate party out of the region of the noble and the good into besotted callousness and brute-like indifference to honourable avocations, or to drive him into the arms of some restless prone ambition, which pricks him with constant discontent, and urges him onward without control. There are, indeed, multitudes in every Christian land who get so involved with other knowledge and with other affairs, as never during the whole of life to come to the knowledge or the feeling of its value ; these do not pay so dear a forfeit to their offended conscience and their despised God, but remain under the guidance of unrenewed nature and the sanction of worldly profit. But being once known and felt, coolly to reject this dispensation of law and grace is to commit a suicide upon the highest faculties of our nature and the highest hopes of our being. While to remain in voluntary ignorance of so sacred a treasure is attended with a barrenness and poverty of soul in the greater number; and when some are found of a spontaneous fertility, they are incident to many a chilling and hostile invasion, unrelieved by any of that resource and consolation which the smile and sustenance of their good father would have afforded them. I know how boon Nature of her ownself hath suggested deeds which blaze through dark ages like stars in the vault of night, and I know how bountiful a mother she is still in bearing sons and daughters strong

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