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But there are other occasions also in this life, for the exercise of the grace of hope, viz. amidst huge and threatening diffi. culties, that relate to the public interests of religion. When the feeble and doubting christian sees the affairs of the church of Christ sinking daily, he is almost ready to sink and die too, and to despair for Zion; and it is the language of his unbelief, by whom shall Jacob arise, for he is small? But the stronger christian, who knows how to live upon a promise, can reply, that the God of Jacob is almighty, the king of Israel is the true God and everlasting king, and the interest of the church shall rise again, even though it were drowning"; for not all the floods on earth, nor even the gates of hell shail prevail against the church that is built upon Jents the rock of ages: And Jesus himself receives his special tribute of glory from his saints on earth, while they triumph in this hope.

There are also some seasons wherein a living saint honours God in this world, by inaintaining his hope in the midst of vari, ous trials that attend him in his private affairs, and especially when poverty and distress overtake him like an armed man, and he hath no other help nor hope left, but in some gracious words of proinise, and some unknown appearances of providence in his behalf. Blessed are the poor who can live by faith! A christian honours God also greatly in the days of sickness, and the hour of death, when he feels nature sinking, and flesh dissolving; yet he can look upon his withering limbs without dismay, in the hope of the resurrection, and speak in the language of holy Job, “ Though after my skin worms devour this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God;" Job xix. 26.

I grant that the saints who are in heaven, the spirits of the just made perfect, wait also, and hope for the resurrection of the body, and all the promised blessings of that day; but they have a bright and sure prospect of it by the light of glory, in which they read all the promises; and they have a pledge and pattern of it in the body of Jesus Christ raised from the dead, and glori. fied in the midst of them. Their hope lies under no darkness, no discouragement. The saints on earth therefore, in the exercise of this their hope, give a greater glory to God than those in heaven; for it struggles with mighty difficulties, and overcomes them all. It is such a hope as Abraham built on the mere promise of God, that he should have a son when he was a hundred years old, and his wife Sarah was ninety. “ He hoped in God who quickened the dead, and called those things which be not as though they were ; who against hope believed in hope, that he might becoine the Father of many nations, according to that which was spoken; so shall thy seed be. He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;" Rum. iv. 17, 18--20.

III. Liberality and compassion to the poor is another exercise of grace, for which this life only gives opportunity. The objects of our bounty on earth are both saints and sinners; for we are charged to imitate our heavenly Father, who commands his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and his rain to fall and refresh the just and the unjust ; Matv. 45. But in the world to come, the saints are raised far above the want of our compassion, and condemned sinners in their long everlasting misery are forbid all refreshment.

It is in this life only, that we can shew our love to Christ himself, by refreshing the bowels of his saints. It is here that we may treasure up matter for divine approbation and solemn applause, in the great judgment-day, when the alms that have been given in a private corner, where the left-hand has not known what the right-hand did, shall be published with honour before that innumerable assembly. “I remember," says our blessed Lord, “I well remember, when in yonder world ye fed my hungry saints, then ye fed and nourished me; when ye gave drink to them, ye gave drink to me, and relieved my thirst; when ye bestowed garments on them, it was 1 that was naked, and ye clothed and covered me; and when ye visited them in sickness or in prison, I was the prisoner, I was sick, and I take it as kindly as though ye had visited and comforted me." Astonishing condescension of the Son of God! Surprizing honour put on the liberal christian ! But here is the only place for acquiring these honours, though they are published hereafter.

There is no poor christian to be supplied in heaven out of the stores of your bounty, no naked saints to be clothed there. All the regions of heaven cannot afford any such object of your compassion and love. Many a saint on earth is hungry, and thirsty, and naked, and exposed to sore hardships and necessities, but necessities and hardships are unknown in heaven. Many a widow, and orphan, and poor destitute christian, lies sick and groaning as it were at the gates of glory: Let us seize the opportunity to feed, to support, and to comfort them; for there is no destitute creature, no sick, or poor, no needy widow or orphan, within the gates.

Life is given to some persons for this very end! Good Dorcas was even raised from the dead, and had her life lengthened out to make more coats and garments for the poor. Ministering to the saints is a delightful labour, and a business worth living for. In this world the rich christian has the honour of being a steward for God to feed his children ; but in the world above. there are no earthly treasures to receive such a sort of consecration as this is, no alins to be offered up as an acceptable sacrifice to God the Father, or to his Son Jesus. See then that ye practise this virtue as often as providence gives a proper occasion, and thus consecrate your substance to the Lord of the whole earth. Lend a little to the Lord in this manner, and it shall be paid with large interest : “ He that hath pity on the poor' lendeth to the Lord, and he will repay him ;" Prov. xix. 17.

Perliaps another week, or another day shall divide you from all your earthly riches; no more of them can be laid out for God: Perhaps death may send you into the invisible world, and ye shall have no more objects of your pity for ever; whatsoever thy hand then finds thee to do, do it with all thy might; Eccl

. ix. 10. You that are rich in this world, be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store a good foundation

against the time to come, that ye may lay hold on eternal life; 1 Tim. vi. 18, 19. And remember that he that sou's sparingly, shall reap sparingly; but he that soweth bountifully in his distributions to the poor, for the sake of Christ, shall also reap. . bountifully of the riches of glory, in the great day of reward; 2 Cor. ix. 6.

IV. Another grace which only the living can exercise, is, charity to our fellow-creatures under their mistakes, or infirmities, and a charitable and loving frame of spirit to our fellowchristians who differ from us either in principle or practice.

Infirmities and mistakes belong only to the present state : This life is the only time when a fellow-saint can be overtaken in a fault, and when we are capable of restoring such a one in the spirit of meekness. It is here only that the proposed motive has any room or place; consider thyself lest thou 'alsa be tempted; Gal. vi. 1. And though we are bound to maintain an everlasting aversion to every sin, yet we should imitate and honour the forgiving mercy of our God, by speaking peace and consolation to a returning sinner.

Be not too severe in your censures, you who have been kept from temptation, but pity others who are fallen, and mourn over their fall. Do not think or say the worst things you can of those who have been taken in the snare of Satan, and been betrayed into some grosser iniquities. When you see them grieved and ashamed of their own follies, and bowed down under much heaviness, take occasion then to speak a softening and a healing word. Speak for them kindly, and speak to them tenderly. “ Have compassion of them, lest they be swallowed up of over much sorrow;" 2 Cor. ii. 7. And remember too, O censorious christian, that thou art also in the body, it is rich grace that has kept thee hitherto, and the same God, who for wise ends has suffered thy brother to fall, may punish thy severity and re

proachful language, by with-holding his grace from thee in the next hour of temptation : and then thy own fall and guilt shall upbraid thee with inward and bitter reflections, for thy sharp censures of thy weak and tempted brother. This life is the only time wherein we can pity the infirmities of our brethren and bear their burdens. This law of Christ must be fulfilled in this world, for there is no room for it in the next; wherefore bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ; Gal. vi. 2.

This world is the only place where different opinions and doctrines are found amongst the saints ; Disagreeing forms of devotion, and sects, and parties, have no place on high: None of these things can interrupt the worship or the peace of heaven. See to it then, that you practise this grace of charity here, and love thy brother, and receive him into thy heart in holy fellowship, though he may be weak in faith, though he may observe days and times, and may feed upon herbs, and indulge some superstitious fovies while thou art strong in faith, and well acquainted with the liberty of the gospel. Let not little things provoke you to divide communions on earth; but by this sort of charity, and a catholic spirit, honour the Saviour and his church here in this world; for since there are no parties, nor sects, nor contrary sentiments among the church in heaven, this christian virtue can never find any room for exercise there. This kind of charity ends at death.

V. Sympathy with mourners, and pity and relief to those that are oppressed with many sorrows, is a virtue that belongs only to the saints on earth. There are no sorrowful christians in heaven, and the various methods of comfort, which we practise toward our suffering brethren here below, are therefore impracticable in the upper world. « The God of all comfort is he who comforteth us in our tribulations, for this reason, that we may be able to comfort those that are oppressed with their heavy aftlictions ;" 2 Cor. i. 4. “ This is pure religion and undefiled; to visit the fatherless and the widows in their afflictions, as well as to keep yourselves unspotted from the world;" James i. 27 But it is the religion of the church on earth, not the religion of heaven.

Go, then and visit thy brother in distress, visit poor afflicted and suffering christians: Go mention the promises of divine grace that belong to them in a suffering state, and lead them to rest upon some happy promise: Go teach them the benefit of afflictive circumstances : Let the twelfth chapter to the Hebrews be your text, and raise many a sweet inference for the support of sufferers. Tell them of the fruits of holiness that grow upon the bitter tree of earthly sorrows ; and that the wood

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of the cross blossoms with grace and glory. Put them in mind of the examples of divine deliverance, when there has been no outward prospect of help and hope. Lead them to a meditation of the heavenly state : Point their thoughts upward: Direct their faith and their hope thither : teach them to look at the things that are unseen and eternal, that they may be able in the language of faith to say, “ These light aftlictions which are but for a moment, are working for us an eternal weight of glory;"! 2 Cor. iv, 17.

There are no sorrows among the inhabitants of heaven, no sufferings there, no pain, no complaint; nor is there any need of your consolations: Tbis is a work you cannot do in paradise, but God delights to see his children here comfort one another in their travels through this valley of tears, this tiresome wilderness; 1 Thess. iv. 18. Then let us give our fellow-christians their due of consolation, and offer to our God the sacrifice of his delight.

VI. Forbearance and forgiveness of real or supposed injuries, is a grace to be practised only by the living christian.Christ Jesus our Lord demands it, and lays a bar upon your hopes of the forgiveness of God, if ye refuse it to your fellowcreatures; Mut. vi. 14, 15. And the great apostle entreats you to practise it. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of merries, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forhearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man hath a quarrel against any: Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye; Col. iii. 12, 13. Charity, or love, as it should be translated, suffers long, beareth all things, and hopeth all things; and though considered in the general notion of love to the saints, it lives for ever in heaven; yet these special exercises of it belong to this world. Charity or love is not easily provoked, it thinketh no evil, gives every thing the best turn that it will bear, and puts the best sense upon all things that are spoken. O that every living christian might adorn his profession with the exercise of this virtue; 1 Cor. xii. 4--8.

Meekness is a grace which has no place in the upper world, in this respect, that it has no trials there. Glorify God your Saviour therefore in the days of your trial here below, and be ye meek and lowly as he was; be ye slow to anger, and swift to forgive, as God your Father is. When you hear a word of offence or reproach spoken, and feel the rising ferment of the blood, watch against it, subdue it : This is the hour of battle, see that ye come off conquerors. When there is a word of bitternesss upon your tongue, stifle it, and keep silence, subdue the temptation, and prevent that sin; give glory to God in this manner, which the saints in heaven cannot do.

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