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the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee, how much less any house that is built for thee ?" Yet the Lord is near to the churches of his saints, when they worship him; he is near to
n all that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth ; Ps. cxly. 18. And his word is near us, even in our hands, and on our lips ; that word which teaches us the way to approach God, and ensures the blessedness.
Ogive glory to God, the great and holy God, that he should ever be willing to let sinners approach him; that the Majesty of Heaven, and the supreme Lord of all, who had been highly provoked by his rebellious creatures, should ever come into terms of reconciliation ; that he himself should provide a reconciling sacrifice, to satisfy his own governing justice, and a reconciling spirit to reduce the rebel man to his obedience and love. This divine condescension, O my soul, demands thy, wonder and thy worship.
2. Adore the mystery of the incarnation, and bless God incarnate ; for this is the ground of all our habitual nearness to God, and all our actual approaches to him and heaven. It was the Son of God, who is one with the Father, that stooped down, and approached to our nature, and took a part of it into union with himself, that we might approach to the Deity: No man cometh to the Father but by the Son ; Jobn xiv. 6, For ever had we, the wretched offspring of Eve, been banished from the courts, and the presence of God, had not this man Jesus the Son of Mary, been caused first to draw near, and to dwell near; and blessed be his name for ever.
We rejoice with all the powers of our souls, to think how pear to God the man Jesus is, for since he approaches the throne, we shall approach too; Rev. üi, 21. We shall be blessed through his blessedness; Gal. iü. 8, 14, He was first chosen to draw near, and we chosen in him ; Eph.i. 4. Nearness to God is still a matter of divine choice and distinction : He approaches to God above, accepted in his own spotless righteousness, and we in him : lle is in a more transcendant manner one with God, and we must be united to God by him, and so made somewhat like him; John xvü. 24. When our Mediator approaches to the Father in worship, he, as our High-priest, bears the name of the whole church in heaven and earth, on his breast, and on his shoulders ; Ex. xxxviii. 12—29. In his beauty of holiness, we unholy creatures are presented before God, and caused to approach with glorious aeeeptance.
Stand still here, O ye saints of the Most High, and survey your privileges and your honours.; and remember that whensoever you draw near to God in the courts of his house, it was Jesus who drew near first, it is Jesus who still dwells near to make you
acceptable : it is he who maintains the nearness of your state, and your peace with God, by ever presenting your natures in his person : He appears in the presence of God for us; Heb. ix. 24. It is Jesus, who, by his Spirit, lifts you up near to the Father ; and it is by his best beloved and nearest Son, that God the Father draws near to all his children.
3. Be not found amongst the mockers of approach to God, and holy converse with him in worship. They despise felicity itself. Such there have been of old, and such there are in our days; and because they are afar off from God themselves, they deny all nearness to him, they ridicule our approaches to God, as the vain effects of a wild imagination, and the mere sensible commotions of a warm fancy.
But is it not a very rational and intelligible thing, for a soul in public worship, so to draw near to God, as to learn more of him, and to know more of his perfections and graces than he knew before? May not such a worshipper have his love to God raised and warmed by such advancing knowledge ! he not arise, by holy inferences, to a livelier and surer hope that he is beloved of God too, and solace himself in this assurance ? What is there in all this which is not perfectly agreeable to reason, or that should provoke an impious jest? But let such have a care, lest they blaspheme God and his Spirit ; let them take heed, lest they be thrust down to hell, and set at a dreadful distance from God, without remedy, who deride the joy of heaven.
4. Take heed of those deceits of being above ordinances, lest, you lose true happiness through pride and vain conceit. Abandon the vain fancy of living nearer to God in the neglect of them. God is glorious in himself, but he has appointed ordinances, as means whereby we may approach and see him. Some stars,' though large in themselves, yet are not visible without glasses ; and others that are visible to the naked eye, yet appear much fairer and larger by this help. Even so those glories of God, which are unknown to reason, and to the light of nature, are discovered in the ministrations of his word; such are his subsistence in three persons, and his forgiving grace: and those glories of his nature, which are traced out by human reason, stand in a diviner light, with all their splendors about them, in the gospel, and the sanctuary.
5. Never rest satisfied without approaching to God in spirit and in truth, when you attend on his ordinances. This is the goodness of his house that must satisfy the holy soul of the Psalmist, as he expresses it in the following words of my text : He shall be satisfied with the goodness of thine house.
What a folly it is to be pleased with empty ordinances without God! 1 Tim. iv. 8. Bodily exercise profiteth little. To make a serious matter of mere external things, and to make nothing of spiritual ones! These formal and silly creatures come to the palace of the king, and turn their backs on his person, to play with his shadow upon the wall : ridiculous and childish folly! And yet how often is this the trifling practice of the men of wisdom? And sometimes persons of true piety are tempted to indulge in it. Let me ask my conscience, “Did I never let my curiosity dwell upon the just reasoning, the correct style, the pretty similies, the flowing uratory, or flowery beauties of a sermon, while I neglected to seek my God there, and to raise my soul near him? Or perhaps I was charmed with the decency and voice of the preacher; or, it may be, was better entertained with some zealous party flights which flattered my own bitter zeal, and seemed to sanctify my uncharitable censures; and when I returned from the place of worship, I had a pleasant remembrance of all these.” But it had been better, if conscience had reproached my folly, and made me remember that I had forgot my God there.
It is also a dreadful abuse of gospel-ordinances, and a high mockery of God, to come to his courts, and not draw near him; Jer. xii. 2. “ When God is near in our mouth, but far from our heart.” Ordinances are an appointed medium for man to come to God by them. If we use them not as such, we either make idols of them, by placing of them in God's stead, or we make nothing of them, no means of converse with God: both ways we nullify them, for an idol is nothing, and mere vanity, as the prophets and the apostles speak : So ordinances are vain and unprofitable, and utterly insufficient to make us happy without God, They are mere images, and shadows without the substance,
To seek after God, and endeavour to approach him in all his own institutions, is the way to be recovered from the miseries of the fall. To live in a holy nearness to God, is a restoration to the pleasures of innocency. It is the full happiness of reasonable natures to be always with God ; It is our noblest honour, and oan sweetest consolation, in this state of darknes and trial, to get as near him as earth and graoe will admit; and it is also the best preparative for heaven and the state of glory, where we shall dwell for ever near him, and be for ever blessed. Amen.
HYMN FOR SERMON XI.
Nearness to God the Felicity of Creatures.
ARE those the bappy persons here, Vain vexing world, and Resh, and sense,
Nor let my sins divide me thence, And Jesus bought his grace with blood ? | Nor creatures tempt my thoughts
abroad. Go then, my soul, address the Son, To lead thee near the Father's face ; While to thine arms, my God, I press, Gaze on his glories yet unknown, No mortal hope, nor joy, nor fear, dod taste the blessings of his grace. Shall call my soul from thine embrace;
| 'Tis hear'a to dwell for ever there
The Scale of Blessedness: Or, Blessed Saints, Blessed Saciour,
and Blessed Trinity.
Psalm kxv. 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 bis own impious 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. IIe 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 utinost propeu