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from, a sense of duty, but is founded upon it, and grows out of it. When a holy soul has seen the infinite excel. lence and glory of the true God, loves him fupremely, and is devoted to him entirely, he also delights in him su. perlatively.
Such a person is fully convinced that those, and those alone are happy, whose God is the Lord, and that those who are afar off from him shall certainly perish. In a natural state, as the sure consequence of sin, the tranfgreffor flies from God, with a dread and horror of his presence. But the renewed soul returns to him with desire, and feels an uneasiness and want that cannot be supplied but by the intimation of pardon, and sense of divine love. The warmth and fervor of devout affection is expressed in the strongest terms in scripture : “ As the hart panteth after " the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. “ My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God, when “ shall I come and appear before God. * Because thy lo"ving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise " thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live, I will lift up “ my hands in thy name, my soul shall be satisfied as with “ marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise thee “ with joyful lips.”+
It is necessary that serving and delighting in God should be joined together on a double account. Their influence on one another is reciprocal. It is not easy to distinguish a conscientious ftudy to serve and glorify God, from a slavish obedience through fear of divine power, but by its being inseparably connected with a delight in God, as the choice of the heart, and centre of the affections. On the other hand, it is hard to distinguish cleaving to God as our portion and happiness, from an interested mercenary bargain in religion, but by its being preceded by, founded upon, nay, even resolved into, a sense of the supreme honor due to God for his infinite excellence. This reasonable service will then be attended with an unspeakable sweetness and complacency, and the all-sufficiency of God will be an unshaken security for the happiness and peace of those who put their trust in him.
* Psal. xlii. 1, 2. + Pfal. Ixiii. 3, 4, 5.
We may often observe these two dispositions jointly exerting themselves, and mutually strengthening one another, in the language and exercises of the saints in scripture. With what fervor of spirit, and with what inimita. ble force and beauty of style, do we find the Psalmist David expressing himself in both views. Sometimes he makes a full surrender of himself and his all to the divine service and disposal; at other times his soul “ makes her “ boast in God,” and he exults in his happiness and security under the divine protection : “ O my soul, thou hart “ said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord.* -The Lord " is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup, thou “ maintainest my lot: the lines are fallen to me in plea“ fant places, yea, I have a goodly heritage.”+
These two things are, indeed, often so intimately uni. ted that we are at a loss to know whether we should interpret the language of the facred writers as a profession of duty, or an expression of delight, as in the following words: " I will fing unto the Lord as long as I live, I will fing “ praise unto my God while I have my being.--My me. “ ditation of him shall be sweet, I will be glad in the “ Lord.” I How deeply the Psalmist was penetrated with a sense of the honor and service due to God, may be particularly seen in some of those animated passages in which his enlarged heart calls upon every creature to join in the work of praise : “ Bless the Lord ye his angels, that ex. "cel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening " to the voice of his word. Bless ye the Lord all ye his “ hosts, ye ministers of his that do his pleasure. Bless the
Lord all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless “ the Lord, O my soul.”'ll
It is easy to see how this distinguishes the natural from the new-born soul; nay, it is easy to see how this distinguishes the man who is renewed in the spirit of his mind, from all others, however various their characters, however different or opposite their pursuits. The design of man's creation is expressed in the Assembly's Shorter Catechism, in a way that can scarce be altered for the better; it was that he might “ glorify God, and enjoy him for ever.” As he departed from his duty by sin, so also, at the same tinie, from his happiness. As he refused to do the will of God, so he no more sought his favor, but placed his happiness and comfort in the creature “ more than the Crea" tor, who is God ble:Ted for ever.” All unrenewed perfons, in one shape or another, place their supreme happi. ness in something that is not God. In this one circumn. stance they all agree, though the different forms which the world puts on to folicit their affection, the different degrees in which they prosecute it, and the different ways in which they apply or abuse it, are so very many, that it is impos. sible to enumerate or describe them. Though there is but one God the idols of the nations are innumerable. There is but one way to peace, and if that is neglected, the unsatisfactory nature of all created enjoyments makes men fly froin one earthly comfort to another, till they feel, by late experience, the vanity of them all. Their state is justly described by the wise man, when he says, “ Lo this only “ have I found, that God made man upright, but they “ have fought out many inventions."*
* Psal. xvi. 2.
Pfal. xvi. 5, 6. Pfal. civ, 33, 34. || Pful. ciii, 20, 21, 22.
It may not be improper here, just to hint at a few of the principal pursuits by which the characters of men are di. versified, their hearts and cares divided, and the one thing needful forgotten and disregarded. Some there are who yield themselves up to the unrestrained indulgence of pleasure. Sensual appetite and passion carry them on with unbridled fury. The lust of the flesh, the luft of the eye, and the pride of life, posless their affections, and their prevailing desire is to gratify these appetites, as far as their situation and circumstances enable them, or the rival pur. suits of others will permit them. This, which is usually the first attempt of unfanctified and ungoverned youth, is well described by the wise man, in the following strong caution against it: “ Rejoice, O young man, in thy “youth, and let thine heart cheer thee in the days of thy “ youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the is sight of thine eyes : but know thoa, that for all these ~ things, God will bring thee into judgment.”* This is the path of the abandoned and heaven-daring profligate, who cafts off all fear of God, who bursts alunder every bond, “who draws iniquity with cords of vanity, and fins " as it were with a cart rope.”
* Ecc!ef. vii. 29.
Again, There are some whose hearts are set upon prefent gain. Instead of making that sober and moderate use of this world and its enjoyments, which becometh mortal creatures, they look upon it as their home. Instead of confidering it only as a mean to a higher end, they have it as their chief or principal view, to secure or en. large their posseffion of it. These “ say to the gold, Thou “ art my refuge, and to the fine gold, Thou art my con“ fidence.”—They think their “houses will endure for“ ever, and their dwelling places to all generations." This is often the fin of riper years : and, that the brutish folly of finners may more eminently show itself, it is often the reproach and scandal of old age, when its ab. surdity is most sensible and apparent. What doth it fignify how much men of this character despise the levity of youth, or hate the filthy receptacles of sensuality and lust, while their affections are supremely set upon the present world, while “ they bless the covetous, whom the Lord * abhorreth ?"
It is often sufficient to raise in every serious person a mixture of compassion and indignation, to hear those with whom poverty is the only crime, openly pleading for, and boasting of their attachment to the world, or treating with a smile of contempt those who tell them, from the word of God, that it is vain. Though nothing is more frequently confirmed by experience, it is usual to consider this as only pulpit declamation, a part of our business and profession, but containing a maxim that cannot be applied to common life. Let all such be informed, whether they will hear it or not, that, however regular and abstemious they may be as to all sensual indulgence, however diligent, eager, and successful in trade, “except they be born
* Eccles. xi. 9.
" again, they cannot see the kingdom of God.” And, that they may not deceive themselves, but know in part at least, wherein this change consisteth, let them peruse and ponder the following passage of the apostle John : “ Love not the world, neither the things that are in the “ world: if any man love the world, the love of the Fa. “ther is not in him."'*
Once more. There are some who walk in the path of ambition. Pride and vain glory is the idol at whose shrine they bow. There, indeed, may be divided into very different classes. Pride, which may be called the masterpassion of the human frame, takes in the most extensive and universal range. There is scarce any state in which it is not able to exert itself, scarce any circumstance which it is not able to convert into the means of its own gratification. All natural advantages which men enjoy over others, whether in respect of body or mind; all the addi. tional trappings of fociety, viz. wealth, station and office; all acquired advantages, intellectual, or even moral, become the fuel of pride. As some endeavor by extraor. dinary actions to spread their fame in public life, others, though in a narrower sphere, are under the habitual government of the same desire. While great men are taking cities, and destroying kingdoms, to get themselves a name, others of meaner rank are vying with one another in dress, furniture, and equipage, or such inferior arts as they have been able to attain. Nay, those who never did any thing that could merit praise, too often shew them. selves under the government of the most hateful and detested kind of ambition, by a rancorous malice and envy against such as excel or outshine them. We may go a step farther, and say, there is great reason to believe, that in some, the cultivation of their minds, long and assiduous application to study, zealous and successful endeavors to promote the public good, ought to be ascribed to no other fource, to no higher motive.
I thought I could not fall upon any way to illustrate this part of my subject, which would make it more intel
• 1 John ii. 15.