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is happiness, and sin misery: love and obe
dience constitute the antepast of heaven; diso; bedience is the foretaste of hell. The very idea
of a deviation from what God commands would savour of the bottomless pit, were not our minds blinded and corrupted. It would be hell to an angel or to a saint made perfect.
In our natural state we abhor what God com, mands, and love what He prohibits. “The “ carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not 6 subject to the law of God, neither indeed can « be.” While this enmity remains, there can be no friendship nor intercourse beiween God and us;. for “how can two walk together ex
cept they be agreed” in the objects of their love and aversion? Oh, let us examine our, selves by God's commands, viewing them in their spirituality, their reference to the heart as well as to the life; and inquire whether we do cordially consent to them. Vain is our hope of happiness, either here or hereafter, unless onr inclinations be in unison with God's commandments.
Even in a converted state of soul in which our collect supposes us to be, (and O that the supposition may be founded both as to the writer and every reader or hearer of these pages !) even in a converted state we have still need to pray for grace that we may “ love the thing $ which God commandeth,” It is not the reluctant obedience of a slave that is acceptable to God, but the chearful compliance which love produces in the bosom of an affectionate child. The Christian believer, alas ! still finds a considerable reluctance to that intire submiss sion which is required to God's commandments. He “loves" indeed “the law of God after the
sinner inan; but he finds another law in his s members warring against the law of his mind." Though a divorce has taken place between the believer's will and sin, so that “it is no more ss he that doth it but sin that dwelleth in him;" though so the law in the members” is opposed by the renewed will, and maintains its sway only in the inferior powers of the soul, and not in the will and understanding, yet still it is a law of disturbance though not of obedience. It keeps possession of its residence as an enemy, though it is discarded as a friend. It retards the obedience of the soul, though it is no longer productive of habitual and allowed disobedience. Let the Christian reader say if this be not a mournful truth. Does an angel or a saint made perfect feel as we do respecting God's commandments? O where is the alacrity of delight in the path of duty-where is the swift motion of the soul, which love is calculated to produce, in running the way of God's commandments ?
We have need therefore to pray for grace that we may “ love the thing which God coms mandeth;” that the requisitions of our heavenly Father, though they should extend to the amputation of a right hand or foot, or to the excision of a right eye, may chearfully be submitted to under a conviction that the will of God is our salvation. Lord, “ draw me, and I shall « run after thee!".
We, moreover, implore grace “that we may " desire that which God doth promise.” His promises are “exceedingly great and precious.” There is nothing which we can want either for time or eternity, which God has not promised to bestow on His people. These immensely great promises are “exceedingly precious," not only on account of the intrinsic value of the things which are promised, (though that surpasses the human understanding) but also on account of the source from which they are derived. They are spontaneous streams of Divine mercy. They flow to us through the channel of our Redeemer's death on the cross. « For “ all the promises in Him are Yea and in Him
Amen, to the glory of God.” Whatever infinite love could suggest, infinite wisdom contrive, infinite power execute, infinite merit procure--whatever we are capable of receiving, or God is able to bestow, through a series of eternal ages; all this is provided in the covenant of grace. It is all secured by the faithful promises of an unchangeable God,
In our natural state we feel no desires after those spiritual blessings which God has promised to bestow on those who diligently seek Him. Pardoning and sanctifying grace, communion with God, and even heaven itself, are considered by the unrenewed mind either as things unnecessary, and are therefore treated with indifference, or else as evils, and therefore are treated with aversion. A diseased stomach feels a nauSea excited by the sight of the most wholesome and delicious viands. The body when in a fever is restless on the softest bed of down.
And though as converted persons we may hare experienced some desires after promised blessings, yet how faint they are! How weak is our faith in the truth of the promises ! And how languid is our expectation of their fulfilment ! Oh! how feeble are our endeavours to lay hold on them! How slow is our pace in the pursuit of the objects which they exhibit to our view!
Do we not live on from day to day contented in the absence of what God has promised to bestow on His people here? And where is that earnest stretching forth of the neck* in eager longing after heavenly joys? How little of that hunger and thirst after God of which the Scriptures speak do we feel and manifest ! Surely wę have need to pray for grace that we may desire what God hath promised, for the present torpor of our souls is a disgraceful reflection on Divine munificence.
The end for which we implore sanctifying grace is very important, viz. “ that among the
sundry and manifold changes of the world our “ hearts may surely there be fixed where true “joys are to be found.” This happiness can only be attained in proportion as we are enabled to “ love the thing which God commandeth, and ! to desire that which He doth promise.' For without a spiritualized frame of mind we are “ like the troubled sea which cannot rest, whose “ waters cast up mire and dirt.
There is no “ peace, saith my God, to the wicked;" and such are all those who love not God's commandments, and whose affections are not “set " on things above."
The world passeth away and the things “ thereof”-most affecting and alarming truth to those who make the world their portion ! Their portion is a bubble; for like a vesicle inflated with air, however gay and alluring it may appear to the eye, it will soon burst and disappoint all their expectations. In the vast deserts of Asia and Africa, the light sand of which they are composed is frequently so affected with whirlwinds, that new mountains are raised, and new vallies sunk, and the whole face of nature intirely changed in a very short period. In this wild uproar of elements, in which earth and heaven are intermingled and confounded, whole caravans of merchants or of pilgrims often perish in an instant. This scene affords a fit emblem of “the sundry and manifold changes of the “ world,” Earthly friends, fortune, health and life, are things transitory and perishing. To fix our hearts on any sublunary good is to build for happiness on a quicksand or on a wave of
* Amoxaca.doxia. Rom. viii. 19. Phil. i. 20.
Surely it is the part of wisdom to withdraw our affections from every thing which is thus perishable and uncertain, and to grasp that which is permanent and durable, if there be
ару such thing to be found. Does not the shipwrecked mariner gladly quit the billow for the rock ? That man is to be pitied with the deepest commiseration who is looking for peace and comfort to the creature. He is like the idiotish rustic of the heathen poet, who is represented as waiting on the bank of a river till its waters are run by, in order that he may pass to the other side. * His hopes are sure to be disappointed, His imaginary paradise of worldly pleasure and contentment is not attainable. Like the fog bank which excites the joy and kindles the hopes of the weary voyager, it both flatters and deceives.
But is there any thing amidst the devastations of the hurricane and the earthquake which is certain and unperishable, to which our attention
* Rusticus expectat dum defluat amnis, at ille Labitur et labetur in omne volubilis ævum.