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our inferiority in religious zeal to our puritan ancestors, we are yet willing to make some sacrifices for the honour of God and the religion of Jesus. In every part of our country, there are some to be found, and thousands, I hope, in this capital of the state, who would be unhappy in a privation of sacred privileges, and who are willing to deny themselves many enjoyments, and practise many mortifications, for the love they bear to the interests of religion, and the hope they entertain of its blissful rewards.
There is in man a propensity to roam. He loves novelty and variety. Were it not for this disposition, no improvements would be made ; no sciences nor arts would be cultivated. Society would remain stationary, or rather be retrograde. Every man would contentedly continue in the condition, in which his father left him, and indolence, torpor, and sensuality would creep on all the bodily and mental faculties. Look at the condition of the chinese. Shut up within themselves, they have no enterprise nor ambition. The understanding is shackled,and errours are perpetuated ; and, though they may be free from the agitations of more improved soci.
ety, their repose is that of the grave. : And now, Lord, what wait we for? What is our heart's desire ? Is it wealth? Or splendour ? Or power? Or the pleasures of sense ? No, thou omniscient being, thou knowest, that we want thy presence, We want the rest, which springs from peace of con. science, from sense of repentance, hope of thy pardon and the prospect of heaven. If thy presence go not with us in the bestowment of these favours, carry us not up hence.
Justified therefore, my brethren, to our own consciences, in this important transaction, let our future conduct be such, as shall meet the approbation of God. For let it never be forgotten, that, if we would have God's presence go with us, we must go with God's presence. We must fear the divine power, imitate the divine benevolence, and obey the intimations of the di. vine will.
Finally. In whatever place and under whatever cir. cumstances we may hereafter celebrate the praises of God, let us be careful to render him an acceptable service. Henceforth, if possible, let our worship be puri. fied from all superstition. Let no motives of worldly interest or ambition enter into our religious performances. Let us carry with us this truth to our new temple, and bear it about with us continually, that the publick offices of devotion are designed to promote the practice of virtue ; and that, if they fail of attaining this end, the Almighty will demand of us, “ Who hath required this at your hands to tread my courts ?"
May the author of wisdom and power teach us the knowledge, and aid us in the performance of our whole duty, that, having served him voluntarily, sincerely, and faithfully, on the earth, we may at last be admitted to the general assembly and church of the first born in heaven! Amen,
THE DESIRES OF GOOD MEN WILL BE GRATIFIED.
DELIVERED AT FIRST CHURCH, BOSTON, ON :: JURSDAY, 21 JULI,
1808, WHEN DIVINE SERVICE WAS FIRST PERFORMED IN
THAT EDIFICE. BY WILLIAM EMERSON, THE PASTOR.
Exod. xxxüi. 14.
And is there a place in the universe, where thou art not? Omnipresent and eternal God! Whither shall we go from thy spirit ? Or whither shall we fly from thy presence ? The immensity of space is thy constant abode, and every portion of it is filled with thy glory.
Yes, my brethren, the vast creation is the dwellingplace of the Most High. Every ray of light is a proof of his presence. The awful womb of night is the pavilion of his rest.' You feel his breath in every wind, that blows. His pencil is at work in every opening flower. His voice is audible in the musick of the for. est as well, as in the thunder of the skies and the roar of earthquakes. To mortal eyes he is indeed invisible. You go forward, but he is not there ; and backward,
but you do not perceive him ; yet he is as really present in this place, as ye yourselves; and you can as easily fly from, yourselves, as from the beams of his eye, or the grasp of his hand.
Although however the presence of God is universal, it is not yet universally manifest. The Deity was as truly present in the bush, which Moses saw, before, as after, it was enveloped in flames. He was as really existing in all portions of the aerial expanse, always, as when the pillars of smoke and of fire conducted the steps of the hebrew pilgrims.
To this extraordinary and benignant display of the divine presence the venerable prophet alludes in the text. But a most heinous offence of the Jews awakened the anger of the Almighty, and caused him to threaten them with the loss of his presence. As God however is usually better to us, than our fears, and always better, than our deserts, so, in the case before us, he repented of the neglect, which he thought to show to the erring Israelites; and he showed it not. Upon their penitence and promises of obedience, he blotted out their sin, and renewed his declarations to conduct and settle them in the land of Canaan. “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”
Although there is a propensity in man to roam, yet there is also in his nature an almost unconquerable love of rest. These two permanent principles in human nature the Creator has set over, one against the other, as mutual, salutary checks to the excesses of each. Thus if, in the ardour of youth, we love to go in quest of adventures, in the torpor of age we are desirous of repose. We are with difficulty prevailed upon to quit our native
air, and remove to scenes, with which we have associated no sentiments of tenderness and affection.
Yet no man; in this probationary state, is permitted to gratify all the wishes of his heart. Good and evil are wisely blended together, in every stage of our terrestrial career. Contrary to their wishes, many times, those, who love tranquillity, are obliged to enter into the tu. mult and confusion of the world; and there are those again, who delight in the bustle and noise of the multitude, who are compelled to walk in the path of seclusion.
Such, nevertheless, is the versatile nature of man, the all conquering power of habit, and the unchangeable goodness of God, that the ingredients of happiness are ever within the reach of virtuous men. A man, at ease in his conscience, and satisfied with his own endeavours, can hardly be rendered miserable. A faithful servant of God may assuredly calculate on the favour of him, whose favour is life, and whose loving kindness is better than life. The presence of God may be always expected by a virtuous community. The desires of good men, having for their object the approbation and guidance of heaven, cannot fail of being eventually gratified. If God is infinitely good, he never would have created human beings, unless, in favour of those beings, he intended to display the benignity of his nature. The very existence of man is a proof of the goodness of God. The desire of happiness, in a creature, evinces the possibility of a happy condition. The appetites of hunger and thirst afford proof, that bread and water may be obtained ; and they, who hunger and thirst after righteousness,are already pronounced happy ; ; so certain is it, that they will be filled.