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They are waiting to welcome his arrival in the kingdom of their Redeemer, where they fhall meet in blifs unspeakable, never to part again. In the most trying hour, under dif pensations the most afflictive, he remembers, and he experiences, the confoling influence of the Spirit of God. He finds Him to be, what He was announced to be, the true Comforter. From that Spirit he receives unfailing fupplies of fupporting and strengthening grace. The fruits of that Spirit he ftill finds to be joy and peace. He hears the words of his Saviour; Let not your heart be troubled: and reposes with unclouded ferenity on His love. His patient endurance becomes thankful acquiefcence: and his holy calmness is at times exalted to joy unspeakable, and full of glory.
4. The religious man is delivered from the fear of the last enemy, Death. Through fear of Death ungodly men are all their lifetime fubject to bondage (j). From this thraldom, thraldom which renders life itself a burthen, the fervant of God has been refcued. His fetters are broken. Before him Death ftands difarmed of his terrors. What though the approach of Death excites tender folicitude for those whom the dying man leaves behind? He knows that the Power, who has protected
(j) Heb. ii. 15.
him, is able alfo to protect them. He liftens to the promise of his Lord: Leave thy fatherlefs children; I will preferve them alive: and let thy widow truft in Me (k). He liftens; and anxiety is at an end. What though the approach of Death be accompanied with temporary alarms at the profpect of ftanding before his Maker? The heart of the Chriftian is foon re-established. He remembers that he is to ftand before his Maker, not in his own righteoufnefs, but arrayed in the imputed. righteousness of his Redeemer. He knows that he fhall be complete in Chrift; that he fhall thus be without fault before the throne of God (). Sin, the fting of Death, is taken away. The gloom which overhangs the valley of the fhadow of Death becomes the twilight of an eternal morning. The grave is the gate of heaven. The moment which extinguishes mortal existence is the commencement of everlafting life. He longs to bid adieu to pain and forrow: he longs to be united to the glorified fpirits of the just whom he loved on earth, to join the innumerable company of faints and angels; to behold his Redeemer face to face; to be bleffed in the prefence of his God. It is thus that the righteous fall afleep!
(A) Jer. xlix. 11,
(Col. ii. ro. Rev. xiv. 5.
5. There yet remain various circumftances, which attend the religious man in the ordinary courfe of his life, and contribute no fmall acceffions to the daily amount of his happiness. By the integrity and the kindness of his conduct, for integrity and kindness are among the genuine fruits of true religion; he is on many occafions placed beyond the reach of those who may be defirous of injuring him. Who is be that will harm you; who is he that under common events will be able to bring you into trouble; if ye be fol lowers of that which is good? In domeftic life has not the religious man, and he alone, grounds for expecting permanent harmony and affection? Will not his friends, felected from among thofe who love their God, bet found tender and faithful? Will not his intercourfe with them be equally a fource of improvement and of delight? Will not the general temper of his mind be cheerful ferenity? Free from the dominion of ambition, of avarice, of anger, and of other diforderly paffions, he defcends quietly and contentedly along the ftream of life; little molefted by many of the ufual caufes of uneafinefs, and at a distance from many of the ordinary occafions of danger. From the common bounties of Providence he derives higher fatisfac
tion than other men, And he has continual experience of bleffings, which the wicked neither relish nor perceive. The interchange of day and night, the viciffitudes of revolving seasons, return to him with renovated joy. They prefent to his view the Author of all things, the Supreme Object of his gratitude and love. The contemplation of the works of God, meditation on the wonders of redemption, recollection of paft mercies, devout anticipations of future glory: these are fubjects which occupy and expand his heart, and cause it to overflow with that peace of God, which paffeth human understanding, Great peace have they who love Thy law, Q Lord. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whofe mind is ftayed on Thee; because he trufleth in Thee. Godliness has the promise of the life which now is, as well as of that which is to come (m). The ways of religion are ways of pleafantnefs; and all her paths are peace.
II. I proceed to apply the inftruction, which be drawn from the text, to perfons of three different descriptions.
1. I would firft address those who are decidedly wicked.
(m) Pfalm cxix. 165. Ifaiah, xxvi. 3.
1 Tim. iv. 8.
If the ways of religion are ways of pleafantnefs and peace; the oppofite paths of ungodliness muft be paths of mifery. What faith the Scripture? The wicked are like the troubled fea, when it cannot reft; whose waters caft up mire and dirt. There is no peace, faith my God, to the wicked (n). Do you doubt the truth of this declaration of the Omniscient? Confider the unrighteous. Do fuch men appear to you to be happy? Are the tempers of their minds, are their views, their plans, their fecret reflections, fuch as are likely to give birth to inward tranquillity and comfort? If they seem to enjoy peace, is it not the tranquillity of folly, the fecurity of ignorance, the ftupor of unconcern, the deadness of a conscience past feeling, the judicial infatuation of a reprobate mind? Is it not the peace of a mariner who knows not that a plank has started in the bottom of his veffel? Is it not the peace of a traveller who thinks not that the bridge on which he croffes the gulf is about to fink from beneath his feet? Is it not the peace of a criminal, who forefees not that the hand of justice waits but for the close of day to arreft him in his bed, to hurry him to trial and execution? Is the conduct of the wicked fuch as is adapted to
(a) Ifaiah, Ivii. 20, 21,