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in the presence of a superior, or where his worldly interest has been concerned? If such inferior motives have been known to regulate his conduct, how inexcusable must he be, if motives of a more exalted nature produce not the same effects! such as, a regard to the authority, the favour and friendship of God, the love of man, his own happiness, and the peace of those with whom he lives. That a bad temper may be consistent with a state of grace, is a very common, but, I apprehend, a very erroneous and dangerous opinion. For, if it were true in the latitude in which it is generally understood, it would overturn that doctrine of which the gospel is so full-that regeneration, or a change wrought in the soul by the Spirit of God, a change of the temper and dispositions of the mind, is essential to the Christian character. It would suppose, that grace might dwell amidst unsubdued pride, malevolence, and rancour; and that heaven might be enjoyed by those who are strangers to peace and love. I grant, that a person who is naturally of violent passions may, even after he has been made a partaker of the grace of the gospel, occasionally be off his guard, and speak and act in a manner unbecoming his Christian profession; but the shame and grief it will afterwards occasion to him, will make him doubly cautious when a similar temptation occurs, till at length he is enabled, by watchfulness and prayer, to attain to selfpossession and self-command on the most trying occasions. And how pleasant is it to witness this blessed renovation! To see, as life advances, the
lion changed into the lamb; to see those who were formerly the plagues of social and domestic happiness, abounding in every office of courtesy and kindness! While the happy subjects of this gracious change experience in their own breasts a pleasure hitherto unknown, and are gradually ripening for that happy world, where love, and peace, and harmony for ever reign.
Thus have I shewn, in three important respects, how religion tends to procure rest to the soul.— And does not the promise in our text appear, from what has been said, to be exceedingly interesting and precious? But its interest and value will rise still higher in our estimation, if we consider,
In the 4th and last place, That this good way infallibly conducts those who walk in it, to uninterrupted and everlasting happiness in the world
The present life was never intended for a state of pure and unmixed enjoyment. I might therefore address you in the words of the prophet, Arise and depart, for this is not your rest. peace and rest of the Christian will never be completed till he arrive at the heavenly world, for there it is that the rest remaineth for the people of God. And if we be now walking, and shall continue to walk, in this good way, the time is fast approaching when the weary journey of life shall be ended, and we shall be able to say, with the apostle, we have finished our course. In the mansions which our blessed Redeemer hath gone before to prepare for us, we shall find a sweet repose from all our labours
and from all our sorrows. The peaceful gate of the heavenly Jerusalem that opens to receive us, shall be shut upon every thing that could lessen our happiness, or interrupt our joy. There shall be no temptation to alienate our hearts from God, no rival of our Saviour's love in our breasts. We shall no longer walk in doubt and uncertainty. In the light of heaven we shall see light clearly, and we shall know even as we are known. The mysterious conduct of Providence, now so perplexing, shall be unfolded; and the reasons shall be understood and admired, why we were visited in our pilgrimage through this world with trials and sorrows of whatever kind. And above all, the depth of the divine wisdom in our redemption shall be more fully perceived, more nearly contemplated, and more thankfully adored. And when we join the society of our fellow-travellers-when we come to mount Zion the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and are united in communion with angels, and with the spirits of the just made perfect; how unspeakably great will be our happiness, how delightful our converse! Behold how good and how pleasant it is, even in this imperfect state, for brethren to dwell together in unity! How good and how pleasant then, to be members of that harmonious family, where love and friendship will know no interruption; where a frowning countenance will never be seen, nor the voice of discord ever heard; where all will contribute to the general happiness, by offices of mutual benevolence! But our conceptions of the employments of the blessed,
our ideas of their happiness, are so faint and obscure, that we only darken counsel with words, when we attempt to describe them. It doth not yet appear what we shall be. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. This we know, that in the presence of God is fulness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures for evermore.
And now, since the ways of religion are thus pleasant, and afford such rest and satisfaction to the mind, allow me,
1. To put you upon your guard against those who would lead you astray from them.
When I consider that, by walking in this good way, my mind is relieved from the anxieties of doubt and scepticism-from that most terrible of all apprehensions, the sense of unpardoned guilt, and consequent dread of the wrath of an offended God-and from all those sources of uneasiness and disquietude which spring from disorderly and tyrannical appetites and passions-and that it will infallibly conduct me to a state of uninterrupted and everlasting happiness in the world to come: In other words, when I consider the blaze of evidence with which the sacred volume is surrounded, as well as the admirable tendency of its doctrines to promote the happiness of mankind, I find it utterly impossible to reconcile, with any principles of probity, the eager zeal of sceptics and infidels to discredit and undermine it. Every man proposes
to himself some end in his undertakings; every wise man has always some rational and worthy end in view to excite or reward his labours. But what do these men propose? If they can clearly shew, that they can produce a morality more pure; ᎥᏝ . they have discovered motives more powerful to the practice of every virtue than those which the gospel furnishes, then we will allow that their zeal is praise-worthy. Perhaps the end they have in view is merely to deliver their deluded fellowcreatures from that fearful looking for of wrath, which, agreeably to the doctrines of the gospel, must accompany the unrepented transgression of the divine law. But whom do they hope to deliver? Not the good, the sincere, the truly penitentfor the gospel speaks no terrors to them. On the contrary, it gives them every assurance which they can either ask or wish to receive, of pardon and peace, of comfort and happiness. The utmost, then, they can hope for from their most successful labours is, to free the vicious and profligate part of mankind from those misgivings of heart, those checks of conscience which they occasionally feel, and which prevent them from going all the length they otherwise might do in the perpetration of their crimes.-Allowing, then, that mankind in general could be delivered from the belief and fear of God, which is impossible, what would be the consequence of such a victory over this fundamental article of faith? It would be succeeded by fears more lasting, more terrible and unavoidablethe fear of one another. And, in the event of a