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ousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongeth his life in his wickedness;" but are we, therefore, to set ourselves up as umpires between the Creator and his creatures? Have we any claims upon God's mercies, and has he not received sufficient provocation to exclude us altogether from his pardon?
Let us not then magnify the evils which we are called upon to endure, and think our yoke too heavy. We may remember, that those evils which the righteous Job suffered, terminated in riches and honours and length of days : we know not to what ours may lead. We are not, however, to calculate, under any circumstances, upon unmingled happiness in this life; it is altogether inconsistent with our condition. Adam cut off the entail from his posterity, when he let Sin loose into the world, to scatter her havoc among them. . She has encumbered man's natural inheritance with many grievous and heavy burthens : she has fixed his doom upon earth, that “ Man is born to suffer.”
Dark and stormy as may be the evils of this life, and scattering, as they sometimes do, death and desolation in our path, yet have we the consolatory reflection, that there must be an end to the worst troubles that can befall us here ; that eternity shall succeed to time, and bear us to the presence of Him“ whose countenance shineth like the sun in his strength; where the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed all such” as have called “ upon him faithfully” whilst on earth, , and shall “ lead them unto living fountains of waters, where God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,” and receive them into his bosom for SERMON XXIV.
ON THE INFLUENCE OF CHRIST'S
Philippians, n. 10.
“ That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection."
It is the object of religion to render us finally happy. “To this end were we born, and for this cause came we into the world.” God has, therefore, established religion among us as a means of securing happiness. Wherever it prevails in the heart, “there is righteousness and peace.” Where it does not exist, there is neither. The ungodly shall seek rest and find none. “There is no judg
. ment in their goings; they make them crooked paths ; whoever goeth therein shall not know peace.” It is religion only that makes us acquainted with God; because it is the medium which he has appointed to prepare us for his mercies, and to fit us for his service. Without religion, the most distinguished country would be “a land of
darkness, and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light would be as darkness." It is our acquaintance with God, through that revelation, which he has condescended to make to us, that confirms our confidence in the glorious promises of his gospel. It is a reliance upon those promises which constitutes the only legitimate happiness of a Christian here, since it is the only security he can have of happiness hereafter; and without a clear prospect, or, at the least, a hope of that, his condition in this world must be miserable. A man who discards religion, confines himself exclusively to the enjoyments of time. He cuts himself off from all hope in eternity. He is like “a city that is broken down and without walls," open to every assault, and must finally succumb to the destroyer.
This world furnishes at best but very questionable enjoyments. If it does afford us some pleasures, they, nevertheless, “pass away as a shadow that departeth ;" our interest, therefore, manifestly requires us to seek those which are more enduring. It is clear, that we must direct our views beyond this evanescent state for anything like a durable enjoyment, since we evidently cannot find it here. But where shall we discover inducements to prepare for a more transcendant scene of things, in which alone “true joys are to be found,” after we have in vain sought for them in this life of trial and vicissitude ? In the gospel of him who “hath redeemed us from all iniquity." It is there we trace the only true motives exhibited, that can instigate us to advance towards the perfection which we are commanded by God to imitate, and in which we shall ascend among “ the just made perfect.”
There is no system of morality, however inflexible, that can carry our views, with anything like a confiding expectation, beyond this mutable condition. The most rigid philosophy and the purest systems of ethics, apart from religion, must be circumscribed in their influence to time alone; that influence cannot extend into eternity. The noblest conceptions of mere human reason, which has not been irradiated by the light of revelation, are but as the brilliant hues of the morning that fade before the rising sun, and “the place thereof knoweth them no more.” They are but as the rough-hewn material in the quarry, that religion shapes and polishes, for the glorious temple, which she is assiduously employed in raising in the moral world, which shall survive the wreck of time, and extend through all futurity.
The wisest and best among the heathens, have ever been involved in the perplexities of conjecture and doubt with respect to their future state. The highest mental acquisitions have never been able to penetrate beyond the grave.
« The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.” All wisdom that is not grounded on religion,