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at poverty and meanness of circumstance in my present pilgrimage! nor think it strange if the world scorn and abuse ine, or if Satan, the foul spirit, should assault and buffet me sorely! Dare I hope to appear in glory, whien Christ, who is my life appears; and can I not bear to attend him in sufferings and shame? Am I better than my blessed Lord ? What poor attendants had the Son of God, at his first entrance into our world! How mean was every thing that belonged to him on earth! What vile and despicable raiment, unworthy of the Prince of glory! What coarse provision, and sorry furniture, to entertain incarnate godhead! And how impious was the treatment he found among men, and impudent temptations from the same foul spirit! He had snares, sorrows, and temptations, watehing all around him: The sorrows of death compassed him about, and the powers of darkness crouded him with their envious assaults; earth and hell were at once engaged against him; they hung him bleeding on a cursed and infamous tree, listed on high to be made a more public gazing-stock, and an object of wider scorn! Blessed Saviour ! how divine was thy patience to endure all these indignities, and not call for thy Father's legions, nor thy own thunder.
But, this was the hour of thy appointed combat, the place of thy voluntary obscurity, and the season of thy hidden life; and thy saints must bear thy resemblance in both worlds. How unspeakable were thy past sorrows ! and thy present glories all unspeakable! How ivfinitely different were these dark and mournful scenes, from the joys and honours thou hast purchased by those very sufferings ! Sacred honours and joys without alloy, which thou art now possessed of as their great forerunner, and hast made ready for thy subjects in thy own kingdom! What robes of light shall array thy followers in that day; What bright planet, or brighter star, shall be the place of thy dwelling? or shall all those shining worlds be mansions of various residence, as thou shalt lead thy saints successively through the vast and numerous provinces of thy boundless dominion Sorrow, sin, and temptation, shall be named no more, unless to triumph over them in immortal songs. The fairest spirits of light, in their own heavenly forms, shall be the companions and attendants of the children of God. Jesus, the Lord of glory, is their king and head, the leader of their triumph, and the pattern of their exaltation. Jesus shall appear in his meridian lustre, as the Sun of Righteousness in the noon of heaven ; yet the beams of his influence shall be gentle as the morning-star. There needs no other sun in that upper world; the Lamb is the light thereof. Jesus, the ornament of paradise, and the delight of God, shall be the eternal and beatific object of their senses, and their souls; they must be where he is, to behold his glory.
The blessed God shall dwell among them, and lay out upon them the riches of his own all-sufficiency, riches of wisdom, grace, and power, all-suprising, and all-infinite. Divine power shall then reveal all the glory that has been laid up for them, of old, in the purposes of God, or in the promises of the book of life. But it was fit it should be hidden there, while the time of their probation lasted ; it was fit they should live by faith, and under some degrees of darkness, while the ages of sin and temptation were rolling away: It was divinely proper that eternal life should not break forth; nor the splendours of the third heaven be made too conspicuous, till the six thousand years of mortality and death had finished their revolutions round the lower skies, and had answered the scheme of divine counsel and judgment, on a world where sin had entered.
But life and heaven must not be hid for ever. The almighty word, in that day, shall bid the ancient decree bring forth, and the promise unfold itself in public light. What new worlds of unseen felicity! what scenes of delight, and celestial blessings, never yet revealed to the race of Adam! When the rivers of pleasure, that had runt under ground from the earth's foundation, shall break up in immortal fountains.
Mercy and truth shall lavish out upon men with an unsparing hand all those treasures of life which were hid in God, and in the gospel for them. The All-wise shall please himself in making so noble creatures, out of so mean materials, dust and ashes. Glorified saints are master-pieces of divine skill; and the blessed original, or first exemplar of them, the man Jesus, is the perfection of the contrivance of God; here he has abounded in all wisdom and prudence. Then the inhabitants of upper worlds shall see an illustrious and holy creation, rising out of the ruins of this wretched globe, involved all in guilt, and weltering in penal fire. When this scene opens, what sounding acclamations shall echo from world to world, and new universal honours be paid to Divine wisdom! The morning-stars shall sing together again, and those holy armies shont for joy. The grace of God descending to earth, in days past, had in some measure prepared his children for glory: But in that day he shall enlarge their capacities, both of sense and of mind, to an inconceivable extent,
and shall fill the powers of their glorified nature with the fruits of his love, new and old.
And what if the limits of our capacity shall be for ever stretching themselves on all sides, and for ever drinking in larger measures of glory; What an astonishing state of ever-growing pleasure! What an eternal advance of our heaven! The godhead is an infinite ocean of life and blessedness, and finite vessels may be for ever swelling, and for ever filling in that sea of allsufficiency. There must be no tiresome satiety in that everlasting entertainment. God shall create the joys of his saints ever fresh: He shall throw open his endless stores of blessing, unknown even to the first rank of angels; and feast the song and daughters of men with pleasures a-kin to those which were prepared for the Son of God. For verily he took not upon him the nature of angels, but the likeness of sinful flesh : And when he shall appear the second time without sin to our salvation, we shall then be made like him, for we shall see him as be is. Amen.
HYMN FOR SERMONS IX. and X.
The Hidden Life of a Christian.
O HAPPY soul, that lives on bigh, His pleasures rise from things waseen,
While men lie grovelling here! Beyond this world and time, His hopes are fix'd above the sky, Where neitber eyes nor ears have been And faith forbids bis fear.
Nor thoughts of mortals climb. His conscience knows no secret stings, He wants no pomp, nor royal throne While grace and joy combine
To raise his figure here ; To form a life, whose holy springs Content, and pleased to live unknown.' Are hidden and divine.
Till Cbrist his life appear.
He waits in secret on his God;
His God in secret sees :
He dwells ia beavenly peace.
He looks to heaven's eternal bills,
To meet that glorious day ;
How long is thy delay!
Nearness to God the Felicity of Creatures.
Psalm Ixv. 4.-Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to ap
proach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts.
THE FIRST PART.
It was an elegant address that the queen of Sheba made to Solomon, when she had surveyed the magnificence of his court, and heard his wisdom; “ Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, who stand continually before thee !” 1 Kings X. 8. And there was much truth and honour in her speech. But the harp of David strikes a diviner note ; Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, O God, that he may approach unto thee, and dwell in thy courts, in the holy sanctuary.
Whether, in these words, the Psalmist blesses those levites and priests, whose duty it was to attend the ark, and to dwell pear the tabernacle, or whether he pronounces blessedness on every man of Israel, whose habitation nigh the ark gave him frequent opportunities to attend at that solemn worship, is not very necessary to determine. Either of these may be called dwelling in the courts of God. But it is most probable, that the sacred writer designs the second sense of the word, and that he includes himself in the desire or possession of this blessedness, though he was neither a priest nor a levite; for he uses the same phrase in several places, and applies it to himself; Ps. xxvii. 4. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after ; that I may
dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. Ps. kxii. 6.-I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. By which he intimates, that he would seek the most frequent opportunities of approaching God in public worship.
It is sufficient to my present purpose, that the holy Psalmist makes the blessedness of man to depend upon his near approaches to God.
Here we should remember that God is necessarily near to all his creatures, by his infinite knowledge, by his preserving and governing power: He is not far from every one of us: for in him we live, and more, and have our being ; Acts xvii
. 27, 28. But the privilege which David speaks of in my text, is a peculiar approach of a creature to God, which is a fruit of divine choice and favour. The souls who enjoy this blessing are chosen to it, and by divine providence and mercy are caused to approach him. What further explication of this phrase is necessary, will be sufficiently given in the following parts of the discourse.
Let this then be the doctrine which I shall attempt to confirm and improve, viz.
Doctrine. Nearness to God is the foundation of a creature's happiness.
This may be proved with ease, if we consider, what it is that makes an intelligent being happy: and how well such an approach to God furnishes us with all the means of attaining it. The ingredients of happiness are these three: 1. The contemplation of the most excellent object : 2. The love of the chiefest good : 3. And a delightful sense of being beloved by an all-sufficient power, or an almighty friend.
1. T'he contemplation of the most excellent object. And he who is nearest to God, has the fairest advantages of this kind. The understanding is a noble faculty of our natures ; truth is its proper food ; and truth, in all the boundless varieties and beauties of it, is the object of its pursuit, when it is refined from sensualities.
This is the delight of the philosopher, to search all the hidden wonders of nature, and pursue truth with a most pleasurable and restless fatigue: For this he climbs the heavens, traces the planetary and the starry worlds : For this he pries into the bowels of the earth, and sounds the depths of the ocean; and when, with immense toil of mind, he has found out some unknown natural truth, how are all the powers of his soul charmed within him, and he exults, as it were, in a little paradise !
But the souls who are admitted to draw nearest to God, contemplate infinite truth in its original. They converse with that divine artificer, who spread abroad these curtains of heaven, who moulded this globe of earth, and furnished the upper and the lower worlds with all their admirable varieties. He is a God of glory and beauty in himself, as well as the author of all the beauties of nature. All his perfections, as well as his works, yield heavenly matter for contemplation : He eminently contains in himself all the amazing scenes of nature, and the more transporting wonders of the world of grace; those mysteries wherein he has abounded in all wisdom and
prudence: How the ruined sons of Adam were rescued from death, by the Son of God dying in their stead ; how Satan was baffled in his most subtle designs, and the deepest policies of hell undermined, when the prince of Vor i.