« PreviousContinue »
glorious Being is holy and just; when we are taught His claims and demands; when we find that we owe complete subjection to His righteous authority; when we learn that the renunciation of error, the world, and sin, that the acceptance of truth, mercy, and grace, that the regulation of our hearts and lives by holy laws, are essential to our welfare; then we discover the perverseness and rebellion of human nature. Man does not dislike or oppose religion: but he dislikes and opposes the true religion.-Consider now the following plain observations on this subject.
1. God is our happiness. I need not enlarge here. God is perfection; and all perfection proceeds from Him. The soul, in order to be happy, must have perfection; that is, must have communicated influence from God. The more we are like Him, the more perfect and happy we are: but this likeness results from His grace working in the soul. While we are without Him, and far from Him, we cannot be happy.
"Thou art the source and centre of all minds,
2. God, in order to be our happiness, must be known as He is revealed to us. When we speak of God in reference to our salvation, we do not regard the metaphysical abstractions of the sage,
or the splendid imaginations of the poet: our business is with the Jehovah of the Scriptures of truth. Creation proclaims the power and godhead of its Maker: but of His justice, holiness, mercy, love, and truth it gives no information adequate to our wants. Here Revelation comes to our relief: and to be happy in God, we must know and acknowledge Him as He is revealed to us.
3. God, to be our happiness, must be known in spirit and in truth. Mechanical and formal services cannot make us really happy in our souls: and equally unavailing to this end are vague notions and brilliant fancies. If the cherished frame of the soul be not right, if its settled principles and affections be not sound and pure, the individual cannot be happy in God. He is a Spirit. Religion is substantially a spiritual matter; and unless we treat it as such, we cannot derive much benefit from it.
4. God, to be our happiness, must communicate Himself to our souls. God, as an object of contemplation, about which we are to have certain notions, and God as a Being of communication, imparting Himself to his creatures-these, I say, are very distinct things. As to the former, we are only intelligent creatures exercising our mental powers but as to the latter, we are recipients of spiritual blessings we are made "partakers of the divine nature:" "out of His fulness have we all received." Mere contemplation, however large,
splendid, or vivid, does not radically remove any imperfection of our nature, or correct any of its disorders. Of our ascended Lord it is said, that "He hath received gifts for men :" and it is by the reception of these gifts, pardon, divine favour, grace, and peace, that the soul is happy. Here is Christian blessedness.
5. God, to be our happiness, must be practically regarded as our chief good. We must give up our whole selves to Him. Every idol must be ex
pelled from the heart. Every evil way must be renounced. He must be our object-the sole object of the undivided man. There must be no reserve, no hypocrisy, no inconsistency. We must live to Him spiritually, practically, truly, all our days. He is to be habitually in our thoughts; the object of our adoring veneration, of our grateful love, of our entire confidence. In short, true piety is a state of soul, a frame of soul, a habit of soul, a walk, a perseverance in well doing. It is derived from God, and it is leading us to the greater enjoyment of Him here, and to the perfect enjoyment of Him hereafter.
What I have said amounts to this; God is our only true happiness: but that He may be such to us, far more is necessary than a vague knowledge and formal acknowledgment of Him. There must be a true knowledge of Him according to the Gospel; a union with Him; a spiritual and practical submission to Him, to His counsels and laws, un
reservedly and universally. There must be amity and communion between Him and the soul. The question, therefore, is-Will you thus regard God, and seek for happiness in Him and in His service; or will you cleave to the world, and be satisfied with its muddy, faithless, and transient streams? In other words, Will you become, by divine grace, the children and servants of God, and be blessed here and for ever; or will you be the slaves of sin, and spend your days in vexation and disappointment, and go down at last to the chambers of eternal woe? Consider well the question: and I trust you will be urged to seek strength from above, in order that you may choose the good part.
"O God, who hast prepared for them that love Thee such good things as pass man's understanding; pour into our hearts such love towards Thee, that we, loving Thee above all things, may obtain Thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord." Amen.
Eternal, Infinite, and Ever-blessed Jehovah, Thou hast declared Thy Name to man. art "the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear
the guilty." Thou art Perfection: Thou art light, and Thou art love and Thou only canst make Thy creatures truly happy. The perishing world may gratify our mortal senses: but Thou only canst satisfy the desires of an immortal soul. If the whole world were mine, yet if I were destitute of Thee, I should only grasp trifles, shadows, and emptiness. How then can I think of choosing the world for my portion! O deliver me from all delusion, and powerfully impress upon my heart the undeniable truth, that if I have Thee I have happiness, and that if I have not Thee, I am a miserable creature, even in the brightest hours of life. Enable me, O Lord, to renounce the world, with all its pomps, pleasures, and vanity; and to seek my happiness in Thee, in Thy favour and service. Thou art revealed to us in Christ Jesus. O Spirit of truth and grace, enlighten my mind, and purify my heart; and grant that I may experience, through Thy power, the good work of religion in my soul; that I may be happy in God while I continue in this world, and happy with Him for ever in the world to come. Look, O Lord, in mercy upon Thy imploring creature: reveal Thyself to my soul, according to the gospel of Thy Son and do more for me than I can express, or even conceive, according to Thy mercy in Jesus Christ; to whom with Thee and the Holy Spirit be everlasting praise. Amen.