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Secondly. The certainty of their attaining this blissful state only remains to be considered. “They shall be filled.” The origin of the desire ensures it. “ Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the work of thine own hands.” The promises of the gospel ensure it. “Because I live, ye shall live also.” “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be.” “So shall we be for ever with the Lord.” “My sheep shall never perish, neither shall any be able to pluck them out of my hands.” The examples of Scripture prove it. Observe the Publican; see him smite his breast, and hear him crave the
mercy of God. “I tell you,” are the words of infinite wisdom and truth, “ this man went down to his house justified.” Turn to the affecting parable of the prodigal son; hungering and thirsting for the provision of a Father's table, he resolved to abandon the husks on which he had fed the swine committed to his custody, and to make immediate application for readmission under the paternal roof. “ And he arose and came to his father ; but when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” The son began his confession ; but the venerable and delighted parent, glad to press his child to his bosom, whom he had long since supposed to be dead, and feeling all the tenderness of parental affection revive in an instant, abruptly checked the recital of his unworthiness, and said to his servants, “ Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” Now this is an emblem of the mercy of God in the gospel, and of the “good things with which he fills the hungry." The subject may be likewise illustrated by a reference to examples taken from the Old Testament. But let these suffice. The promise cannot be doubted. The oath of Jehovah renders it sure. “ Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath : that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."*
The application of this subject to ourselves, is the only duty that remains to be discharged. Discussion, without a pressing home to the heart the truth discussed, is comparatively of little value. It is our personal interest in all that is delivered from the place which I now occupy, that invests the preaching of the gospel with such solemn consequences, both to you and myself, and that requires from every one the utmost attention and seriousness.
First. Let us remark, the decided and triumphant superiority of religion to every sublunary object. Despised as its blessings are by such vast multitudes, we have seen that whatever it promises, it will perform, and that all it gives is satisfying, pure, and eternal. On the other hand, eagerly and incessantly pursued as the world is, its smile is as delusive as it is polluting and unsatisfactory. “ To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”+ Ah, what uncertainty is attached to every earthly enterprise and possession! How frequently some uncontemplated calamity breaks down the
best erected scheme which the wisdom of man could devise! How often the fruit drops from the tree ere it is ripe, blighted by the very worm it has nourished ! stantly the arresting hand of death puts “ lover and friend far from us, and our acquaintance into darkness.” But while disappointment rebukes the avaricious, and neglect mortifies the proud; while the sons of sensuality return from the chace of sinful delights, enfeebled in their physical constitution, and tortured in their conscience; while time whirls life away, and with it the day dreams of untasted pleasure, the Christian has abundant satisfaction and peace. If “his outward man perish, the inward man is renewed day by day.” While he looks not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Secondly. Permit me to inquire as to the object of you daily and supreme pursuit. My brethren, for what do you “hunger and thirst?” Affectionately, do I ask you, if you
have been made sensible of your guilty and necessitous condition, and if you are seeking pardon through Christ; justification by his righteousness, and sanctification by his spirit? If you are, indeed, concerned to obtain these unspeakable and unequalled blessings, let not a sense of your depravity and wickedness lead you to despair of salvation, “ for he is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God through him.” His truth and faithfulness are engaged to fulfil the desire of them that diligently seek Him. It shall never be said, that the good spirit of the Lord enabled you to make application for the blessings of His grace, and then refused to bestow them. “Be not afraid, only believe.”
But may I not fear there are some in this congregation, who are full of activity and diligence in the pursuit of the world, while they never seek the kingdom of God, or
cherish any desire for his righteousness? If conscience may but speak, it would bear a fearful testimony that this is the case.
But are ye satisfied with what ye obtain? “ Is your eye satisfied with seeing, or your ear with hearing?” Is not your pleasure “as when an hungry man dreameth, and behold he eateth ; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and behold he drinketh ; but he awaketh, and behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite.”* Yes; thus you imagine you have secured happiness, and are beginning to enjoy it, when, lo! ye awake, and the vision is fled. And will you continue the expensive and fruitless chase ?-Oh no, it must not be. Come, then, to the fulness of the Redeemer's mercy, and draw your supplies from his fountain of love.
" Whosoever drinketh of this water, shall thirst again ; but whosoever drinketh of the water which I shall give him, shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.”+
MATTHEW v. 7.
“ BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL, FOR THEY SHALL OBTAIN
The sentiment expressed in these words gives us another instance of the wide difference between the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the expectations of the Jews concerning it. It also furnishes an additional instance of the opposition between the general maxims of the world, and the spirit of the gospel. “That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God,"* said our Lord to the Pharisees. The proposition may be also reversed; for, according to the divine word, there are many things held in contempt by the majority of mankind, which are highly estimable in the judgment of the Almighty; and the truth in the text is one of these.
The pure and celestial virtues enumerated and enjoined by our Saviour, in his address to the multitude in Galilee, have never gained the general applause of men; certainly they have never been received as the guide and rule of action by the world. To the Jews, as a body, they must have been very obnoxious. In their political capacity, they were proud, censorious, and vindictive. In their
Luke xv. 16.