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seen Father of them. All they can reach in this nether pilgrimage, is but a glimpse and a foretaste of the coming revelation and as to that glory, which, while in the body, they shall never behold with the eye of vision, they can now only rejoice in the hope of its full and abundant disclosure in the days that are to come.
It were presumptuous, perhaps, to at tempt any conception of such a disclosure -when God shall show Himself personally to man-when the mighty barrier of interception, that is now so opake and impenetrable, shall at length be moved away
that is ready to be revealed in the last time. We cannot speak in detail upon a subject that has yet to be revealed. We cannot lift away the veil, from what another apostle tells us is still a mystery, when he says, that it doth not yet appear what we shall be. But we may at least carry our observation to the extent of the partial disclosure made to us by the same apostle, when he says, though "it doth not yet appear what we shall be, yet we know, that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him-for we shall see Him as He is." From this we at least gather, that we shall have a direct perception of God. when the great and primitive Father of You know how much it is otherwise now all, shall at length stand revealed to the -how, though He is not far from any one eye of creatures rejoicing before Himof us, He is as hidden from all observa- when all that design and beauty by which tion as if removed to the distance of in- this universe is enriched, shall beam in a finity away from us-how, though locally direct flood of radiance from the original He is in us and around us, yet to every mind that evolved it into being-when the purpose of direct and personal fellowship sight of infinite majesty shall be so temwe are as exiles from His presence-how pered by the sight of infinite mercy, that all that is created, though it bear upon it the awe which else would overpower will the impress of the Creator's hand, instead be sweetened by love into a most calm of serving to us as a reflection of the and solemn and confiding reverence-and Deity, serves as a screen to intercept our the whole family of heaven shall find it discernment of Him. It is not true, that to be enough of happiness for ever, that the visible structure of the universe, leads the graces of the Divinity are visibly exman at least, to trace the image, and to panded to their view, and they are admitrealize the power and operation of that ted into the high delights of ecstatic and Divinity who reared it. It is not true, that ineffable communion with the living God. he is conducted upwards, from the agents But it will be the glory of His moral perand the secondary causes that are on every fections, that will minister the most of side of him, to that unseen and primary high rapture and reward to these children Cause who framed at first the whole of of immortality. It will be the holiness this wondrous mechanism, and still con- that recoils from every taint of impurity. tinues to guide by His unerring wisdom It will be the cloudless lustre of justice all the movements of it. The world, in unbroken, and truth unchanged and unfact, is our all; and we do not penetrate changeable. It will be the unspotted beyond it to its animating Spirit; and we worth and virtue of the Godhead-yet all do not pierce the canopy that is stretched so blended with a compassion that is inabove it, to the glories of His upper sanc-finite, and all so directed by a wisdom tuary. The mind may stir itself up to lay hold of God; but, like a thin and shadowy abstraction, He eludes the grasp of the mind-and the baffled overdone creature is left, without an adequate feeling of that mysterious Being who made and who upholds him. To every unconverted man, creation, instead of illustrating the Deity, has thrown a shroud of obscurity over Him; and even to the eye of a believer, is He seen in dimness and disguise, so that almost all he can do is to long after Him in the world; and, as the heart panteth after the water brooks, so does his soul thirst after the living God. The whole creation groaneth and travaileth, under the sentence of its banishment from Him who gave it birth; and even they who have received the first fruits of the Spirit, do groan within themselves, under the heavy incumbrance that weighs down their souls as they follow hard after the yet un
that is unsearchable, that by a way of access as wondrous as is the Being who devised it, sinners have entered within the threshold of this upper temple; and, without violation to the character of Him who presides there, have been transported from a region of sin to this region of unsullied sacredness. And there, seeing Him as He is, do they become altogether like unto Him; and there are they transformed into a character kindred to His own; and there that assimilating process is perfected, by which every creature who is in Paradise, has the image of glory, that shines upon him from the throne, stamped upon his own person; and there each, according to the measure of his capacity, is filled with the worth and beneficence of the Godhead; and there the distinct reward held forth to the candidates for heaven upor earth, is, that they shall see God, and become like unto God-like Him in His
hatred of all iniquity, like Him in the in the possession of a sound and a welllove and in the possession of all right- poised mind, prepared for the attack of every temptation, and with all its ready You will be at no loss now to under-powers at command, on the intimation of stand, how it is that he who hath this hope every coming danger-in the triumph of in him, purifieth himself even as God is those noble and new-born energies by pure. It is by progress in holiness, in which he can clear the ascending way of fact, that he is making ground on that a progressive holiness, through all those alone way which leads and qualifies for besetting urgencies that are found to enheaven. There is no other heaven truly tangle and to discomfit other men-and, than a heaven of godliness; and by every above all, in those hours of sweet and sowilful sin that is committed, does man lemn rapture, by which he diversifies a lose so much of distance from the pro- walk unspotted in the world, with the lofty mised reward, and puts himself more devotion of his occasional retirements hopelessly away from it. You will see by away from it. Who shall say that rightthis that faith in the gospel and a delibe- eousness is not the road to a believer's rate following after sin, is a contradiction | heaven, when it is righteousness, and that in terms. The very road to heaven is a alone, which gives its breath and its being road of conformity to the will, and of un- to all the ecstacy that abounds in it? Or ceasing approximation to the resemblance who shall say that the grace in which he of the Godhead. The great object of the is taught to rejoice, encourages to sin, dispensation we sit under, is to be restored when it is sin that wrests every foretaste to his forfeited image, and to be reinsta- of the coming blessedness from his soul; ted in all the graces of the character that and darkens, if not to utter and irrecowe have lost. The atonement by Christ verable extinction at least for a period of is nothing-justification by faith is no- deep and dreadful endurance, all his prosthing the assumption of an orthodox pects of enjoying it? phraseology is nothing-unless they have formed a gate of introduction to that arena, on which the Christian must fight his way to a heavenly character, and so be created anew in righteousness and true holiness. Every sin throws him aback on the ground that he is travelling; and often throws him aback so fearfully, that, if he feels as he ought, he will tremble lest he has been thrown off from the ground altogether-lest the sore retrogression that he has made from all holiness, has made him an outcast from all hope-lest by putting a good conscience away from him, he has made shipwreck of faith: And never will the irreconcilable variance between salvation and sin, come home to his experience in more sure and practical demonstration, than when sin has thrown him adrift from all the securities which held him; and, through a lengthened season of abandonment and distress, he can find no comfort in the word, and catch no smile from the upper sanctuary, and hear no whisper of mercy from God's returning Spirit, and feel no happiness and no hope in the Saviour.
The same doctrine receives a more pleasing illustration from the bright side of the picture. To ascertain the kind of happiness that is in heaven, the best way is to observe the happiness of a good man upon earth. You will find it to consist essentially in those pleasures of the heart, which the love and the service of God bring along with it-in a sense of the divine favour, beaming upon him from above; and in the fresh and perpetual feast of an approving conscience within
We shall conclude with offering you an actual specimen of heaven upon earth, as enjoyed for a season of devotional contemplation on the word of God; and it may afford you some conception of the kind of happiness that is current there. "And now," says the good bishop Horne, after he had finished his commentary on the Psalms, and had held many a precious hour of converse with God and with the things that are above when meditating thereon-"And now, could the author flatter himself, that any one would take half the pleasure in reading the following exposition, which he hath taken in writing it, he would not fear the loss of his labour The employment detached him from the bustle and hurry of life, the din of politics and the noise of folly; vanity and vexation, flew away for a season, care and disquietude came not near his dwelling. He arose fresh as the morning to his task; the silence of the night invited him to pursue it; and he can truly say that food and rest were not preferred before it. Every psalm improved infinitely upon his acquaintance with it, and no one gave him uneasiness but the last; for then he grieved that his work was done. Happier hours than those which have been spent in these meditations on the songs of Zion, he never expects to see in this world. Very pleasantly did they pass, and moved smoothly and swiftly along; for when thus engaged he counted no time. They are gone, but have left a relish and a fragrance upon the mind, and the remem. brance of them is sweet."
May every sabbath you shall spend
upon earth, bring down such a glimpse is only to those who keep the sayings of of heaven's glory and heaven's blessed- the Saviour, that He has promised thus to ness upon your habitations. No care; manifest Himself; and it is only after a no poverty; no desolation, by the hand pure and watchful and conscientious week, of death upon your household; no evil, that you can ever expect its closing sabsaving remorse, that the world can oppose, bath to be a season of rejoicing piety, a need to keep such precious visitations day of peace and of pleasantness. away from you. But O remember that it
ROMANS V, 3-5.
"And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, ex perience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us."
THE apostle had before said, that we tience-but it is still better when it not rejoice in hope of the glory of God; and only composes to resignation, but stimuhe now says, that we glory in tribulation lates to a right and religious course of also. This impresses the idea of the great activity. "It is good for me to have been opposition that obtains, between an appe- afflicted," says the psalmist, "that I might tite for spiritual and an appetite for tempo- learn thy law." "Before I was afflicted I ral blessings. To rejoice in hope of the one went astray; but now have I kept thy is a habit of the same bosom, that rejoices word." It is very well when affliction is and glories in the loss or destruction of submitted to without a murmur-but betthe other-not however that the ruin of ter still when it quickens the believer's any present good is desirable on its own pace in the divine life, and causes him to account, for all such affliction is not joy-emerge on a purer and loftier career of ous but rather grievous; but still upon the sanctification than before. whole should it be matter of gladness, if the short affliction that is but a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; and if afterwards it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness to those who are exercised thereby.
“Tribulation worketh patience." You will observe that the word translated patience, is of a more active quality in the original than it is according to our customary acceptation of it. We understand it to be a mere virtue of sufferance, the passive property of enduring without complaint and without restlessness. But it really extends to something more than this. The same word has been translated 'patient continuance,' in that verse where the apostle speaks of a patient continuance in well-doing. The word perseverance, in fact, is a much nearer and more faithful rendering of the original than the word patience. "Let us run with patience the race set before us," says the apostle, in our present translation. Let us run with perseverance the race set before us, were an improvement upon the sense of this passage. We wait with patience, or sit still with patience, or simply suffer with patience; but surely we run not with patience but with perseverance. It is well when tribulation is met with uncomplaining acquiescence, or met with pa
We conceive the main explanation of an afflicted process upon the heart to lie in this, that the heart must have an object on which to fasten its hopes or its regards; that if this object be reft from it, a painful void is created in the bosom, the painfulness of which is not done away till the void be replaced; that the soreness of such a visitation therefore, as say the loss of a child, inflicted upon a worldly man, will at length find its relief and its medicine in worldly objects; and that in the succession of company, or in the intense prosecution of business, or in the variety of travelling, or in the relapse of his feelings again to the tone of his ordinary pursuits and ordinary habits, time will at length fill up the vacancy and cause him to forget the anguish of his present tribulation. But if, instead of wordly he be spiritual, he will seek for comfort from another quarter of contemplation-he will try to fill up the desolate place in his heart with other objects-he will turn him to God, and labour after a fuller impression of that enduring light and love and beneficence, which, if they only shone upon him in clearer manifestation, would effectually chase away the darkness of his incumbent melancholy. In such circumstances, and with such feelings, prayer will be his refuge; communion
with God will be the frequent endeavour of his soul; he will try to people the vacancy created in his bosom by the loss of earthly things, with the imagery of heaven; he will heave up, as it were, his affections, now disengaged with that which wont to delight and to occupy them, but is now torn away; he will, in the stirrings of his agitated spirit, attempt to lift them to that serene and holy and beautiful sanctuary, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. And who does not see that he has now more of heart to give to these things, delivered as it is from the engrossment of a fond and favourite affection; and that, as the fruit of these repeated attempts to follow hard after God, he may at length obtain a nearer ap. proximation; and that, on the singleness of his intent and undivided desires, a light may be made to shine, which will disclose to him with far more clear and affecting impression, those great realities which are above and everlasting; and that with his faith so strengthened, and his separation from the world so widened and confirmed, and all the wishes of his heart so transferred from the earth that has deceived him to the inheritance that fadeth not away-Who does not see, that the afflicting process which the man has undergone, has transformed him into a more ethereal being than before; has loosened him from time, and rivetted him with greater tenacity and determination than ever to the pursuits of eternity; has forced him as it were to seek his resources from above, and thus brought him to abide by the fountain of living waters; has riven him, as it were, from the world, and left him free to attach his loosened regards to the invisibles which stand at a distance away from him-So that now he can fill up his heart with heaven as his future home, and fill up his time with the service and the occupations of that holiness which is the way that leads to it?
death. Time will show. The experience of the effect on the man's personal character and history, will demonstrate, whether the root of the matter be in him; and if he really be that believer on whom tribu. lation worketh patience, and patience such an experience of himself as will be a ground of hopefulness and joy to him. Prune away a branch from a tree that is already dead; and it will not be this operation that will revive it. Prune away some rank and excessive luxuriance from a tree that is living; and you will divert the hurtful flow of its vegetable moisture, from the part where it is running too abundantly, and restore the proper tone and healthfulness to its whole circulation. And the same of man. His affections run sideway among the idols of sense and time that are around him. And God, whose husbandry we are, often, by a severe but salutary operation, severs them away; and so diverts our inclinations from objects to which they cannot excessively tend, without guilt or worldliness; and leads them in one ascending direction to Himself; and if this be the love of God that we keep His commandments, a more faithful walk of holiness and a steadier perseverance in the way of new obedience are the fruits of His chastening visitation. And thus may you understand, how accordant with human nature the affirmation of our Saviour is, when He speaks of Himself being the true vine, and His father the husbandman-and then says, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit He purgeth it," or as it should have been, "He pruneth it that it may bring forth more fruit."
But though the patience of our text, by being turned into perseverance, is made rather to signify the impulse and direction which calamities are fitted to give to the active principles of our nature-yet we are not to exclude a meek and unresisting endurance of suffering, as one of its most precious fruits on the character of him who is exercised thereby. There is a certain mellowness which affliction sheds upon the character-a softening that it effects of all the rougher and more repulsive asperities of our nature-a delicacy of temperament, into which it often melts and refines the most ungainly spirit
You know that in the parable of the sower, the deceitfulness of riches is a thorn which occupies the room, and overbears the influence upon the heart, of the word of God. But you also know that the cares of life are also thorns. It is therefore a very possible thing, that, by the tribulation of sudden poverty, one set of thorns may just be exchanged for another; and that by the ruminations and the anx--just as when you visit a man, from ieties and the absorbing thoughtfulness which the ruin of fortune brings in its rear, the things of heaven may as effectually be elbowed out of the place which belongs to them, as by all the splendours of affluence and all its fascinations. The only sorrow which such a reverse inflicts upon the bosom of the sufferer, may be the sorrow of this world that worketh
whose masculine and overbearing manner you wont to recoil, when, in the full flow and loudness and impetuosity of health, he carried all before him; but whom you find to be vastly more amiable, when, after the hand of disease has for a time been upon him, he still retains the meek hue of convalescence. It is not the pride of aspiring talent that we carry to heaven
with us. It is not the lustre of a superior- | Peace was made to emanate from faith, ty which dazzles and commands and and joy also, and hope also. They who overawes, that we bear with us there. It believed no sooner did so, than they reis not the eminence of any public dis- joiced in hope of the glory of God. But tinction, or the fame of lofty and success- in their progress through the world, they ul enterprise. And should these give meet with tribulations; and it is said of undue confidence to the man, or throw an them that they glory in these also-beaspect of conscious and complacent energy cause of the final result of a process that over him, he wears not yet the complex- may have been lengthened out for many in of Paradise; and, should God select days, after faith entered their hearts, and him as His own, He will send some special peace and hope sprung up as the direct affliction that may chasten him out of all and immediate effects of it. The hope of which is uncongenial with the place of the fourth verse, is therefore distinct from, blessedness, and at length reduce him to and posterior to the hope of the second; its unmingled love and its adoring humil- and it also appears to be derived from ity. Affliction has a kind of physical as another source. The first hope is hope well as moral power, in sweetening the in believing a hope which hangs direct character, and in impressing a grace and on the testimony of God-such a hope as a gentleness upon it. It is purified by the may be conceived to arise in the mind of simple process of passing through the Abraham, on the very first communication fire. "The fining pot for silver and the that God had with him, when He said, I furnace for gold," says Solomon; "but will make of thee a great nation-having the Lord trieth the hearts." "For thou, no other ground, in fact, than a belief in O God, hast proved us; thou hast tried us the veracity of the promiser, and fed and as silver." "And when He hath tried fostered by this sole consideration, that me," says Job, "I shall come forth as God hath said it and shall He not do it? gold."
But the use of affliction is not merely to better the quality of the soul; it is to prove this quality as it exists-'And patience experience.'-It furnishes him with a proof of God's love, in that he has been enabled to stand this trial with principles exalted by it, or at least unimpaired. And it also furnishes him with a proof of his own sincerity. It causes him to know that there is now that in his heart, which can bear him up under the ills of the present life; and stimulate him in the pursuit of life everlasting. It makes him acquainted with the force and the stedfastness of his own character; and if his conscience can attest, that, amid all the pressure and distress of his earthly sufferings, still the matters of faith had the practical ascendancy of his soul, and made him feel the present affliction to De light, and amply compensated for all its severity-this is to him a satisfying demonstration that his heart was now occupied and governed by principles which nature never originates, and which never do take possession of a human bosom till they are imparted by grace. This to him is a joyful evidence, not of the truth of the gospel, for that stands upon arguments of its own-but that the gospel had taken effect upon himself, and that he had now come personally under the regimen of that doctrine which is unto salvation.
"And experience hope." We beg to call your particular attention to the circumstance, that, at an antecedent point in this train of consequences, hope had already been introduced as one of them.
Now there is not one here present, to whom the gospel does not hold forth a warrant for so hoping. It declares the remission of sins to all who put faith in the declaration. By its sweeping term 'who. soever,' it makes as pointed an offer of eternal life to each, as if each had gotter. a special intimation by an angel sent to him from heaven. If he do not believe, he of course cannot have any feelings that are at all appropriate to the joyful contents of the message which has been rendered to him. But if he do believe, there will be peace and joy and expectation-and these, not suspended on the issue. of any experience that is yet to come; but suspended, and that immediately, on a simple faith in the tidings of the gospel. They are called tidings of great joy; and sure we are that they would stand distinguished from all other tidings of this character, if they did not awaken the joy at the precise moment of their being credited. We know of no other tidings which can be called joyful, that do not make one rejoice at the moment of their being told and recognized to be true. You do not wait so many days or weeks till you feel glad, at some good news that have come to your door. You are glad on the moment of their arrival, simply by giving them credit; and the gospel, the strict and etymological meaning of which is simply good news, will in like manner gladden every heart at the moment of its being relied upon as true: And, it being good news of pardon and eternal life to all and every, he, one of the all, will, if he believe, take the whole comfort of the declaration to himself, and have peace