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3d place, That a child of God goes directly to God himself, and begs the blessing from him. He loses no time in wandering among the creatures, or in making experiments of sensual pleasure; but takes the shortest road to the object be pursues. He flies to the arms of his father, and implores that he would smile on him, and grant him his salvation. Sensible at the same time of his unworthiness, he claims nothing as a debt; but what he asks, he prays for as a free unmerited gift, fetching all his arguments from his mercy, and pleading with him for his own name's sake, “0 Lord, lift thou upon mą the light of thy countenance.”-Once more, in the
4th place, It deserves our notice, that the Psalmist, in the name of all the godly, useth this prayer in direct opposition to the carnal language of wordly men, who are continually crying, “ Who will shew us any good ?" Hereby intimating to us, that a child of God can relish no sweetness in any inferior good, till he be assured of the divine favour; and that when this great blessing is obtained, nothing amiss can come to him. Even amidst the abundance of outward things, he mourns and languisheth, as long as he apprehends God to be at a distance from him. And no sooner doth he behold his re. conciled countenance, than he forgets every outward calamity, and can rejoice in the lowest state of poverty and distress.
In a word, to the spiritual man the favour of God is one thing needful. As to the other things, which may be either good or bad, as they are used, he dares not be peremptory in his choice; “ For who knoweth what is good for man in this life?” But the favour of his God he cannot want. Here all his desires centre, and here he hath treasured up all the wishes of his heart.
Having thus considered the Psalmist's description of these two opposite characters in the text, let us now proceed,
Secondly, To illustrate the propositions which arise from this comparison The
First which I mentioned was, That worldly men have little cause to rejoice in the temporal advantages which they possess.
Stretch your imaginations to the utmost; fancy to yourselves a man raised above all his fellows, enjoying every thing that bis heart can wish, obeyed and honoured by all around him; let luxury furnish out bis house and table; let prosperity attend his steps, and crown his undertakings with glory. Add to these advantages, if you will, the splendid titles of king and hero; and when you have finished the gaudy picture, say, what doth the value of it amount to?
1st. May not all these outward things consist with present misery of the person who possesseth them? May not the man who hath reached the summit of earthly grandeur be the wretched slave of his own passions, and suffer all the torments of a diseased mind? Who have, in fact, held the most complaining language on the subject of human life? Have not those wbo have drunk deepest of the cup of prosperity, and whose minds, satiated with pleasure, have become the prey of spleen and disappointment. Unless, therefore, we can finish the description of the prosperous man, by saying, that his soul is as flourishing as his body, and that bis eter. nal interest is as well secured as his temporal advan. tages seem to be, all that we have supposed him to possess must go for nothing. He is indeed more sumptuously miserable than any of his fellow-creatures, but cannot be allowed to have the least reasonable cause of joy,
God seeth not as man seetb. Man looketh on the out. ward appearance, but God searcheth the heart. Accordingly, he speaks a language very different from the men of the world, and calls those 6 wretched, and miserable, and poor, and naked," who think themselves, and perhaps are thought by others, to be « rich, and increased in goods, and to stand in need of nothing." And will any wise man, then, rejoice in these outward circumstances, which may so easily consist with the real misery of the person who possesseth them ? Especially if we consider,
2dly, That these very things are frequently the means of making men miserable, and of fixing them in that deplorable state. How many have been fruitful in the low valley of adversity, who have proved barren, after they removed their habitations to the high mountains of pros. perity? And should any man rejoice, because he must pass to heaven as a camel must pass through the eye of a needle ? Is it not difficult enough to keep our hearts and affections above, even when we have little or nothing to confine them below ? And should we, who already stumble at a straw, rejoice that we have rocks of of. fence, and mountains of provocation cast in our way? How few are advanced to higher measures of faith and holiness, by their advancement in the world? How strangely doth prosperity transform men, and make them forget their former apprehensions of things, their convictions, their purposes, and their vows; nay, their God, their happiness, and themselves? Wbile men are low in the world and live by faith, they do good with the little which they possess, and have the blessing of a willing mind: Whereas, when they are lifted up, they often lose the inclination, in proportion as they increase in the inability of doing good, and use their superior ta
lents only to bring upon themselves a heavier condemna. tion. The carnal mind commonly grows with the carna) interest, and the greatest opposers of God have in all ages been the very persons who were most indebted to his goodness. Rejoice not then in the possession of these common mercies for their own sake; and learn to value them only as they are made subservient to your real use. fulness, and to your spiritual joy. For, in the
3d place, All these things may end in misery, and leave the owner in everlasting wo. He who to-day " is clothed in purple and fine linen, and fares sumptuously," may to-morrow “lift up his eyes in torments.” “ Weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth” may succeed to bis carnal mirth. If this shall happen, he shall then cry out, О that I had lain in mendicinal rags, instead of having got this mortal surfeit of prosperity! Alas! are all my pleasant morsels to be for ever exchanged for this gall and wormwood ! O deplorable state! O wretched issue of a carnal life!
Think not that I am an enemy to your joy in urging these remonstrances. My sole aim is to lead you to that fountain, which will at all times supply you with the most exalted delight; the sense of the love of God, and the sure prospect of immortal felicity. Were you in this happy condition, then should I bid you rejoice even in those temporal mercies, as the gifts of your Heavenly Father, the tokens of his love, and the pledges of your future inheritance. I would then address you in the words of the preacher, “Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.” But until you have made sure of this one thing needful, I must be an enemy
to your secure and carnal joy. The frantic mirth of a madman is an object that will cast a damp on a mind most
addicted to gaiety; and I appeal to yourselves, whether it be reasonable for a man to rejoice, who, in the midst of all his pleasures, cannot have the smallest assurance that he shall be the next moment out of hell. A wicked man, suffering the horrors of an awakened conscience, is indeed an object of commiseration : but a far greater object of commiseration is that man, who, in the depths of misery, and on the very brink of perdition, still retains his thoughtless and insensible gaiety of heart. This is that laughter of wbich Solomon might well say, “ It is mad;" and that mirth of which he saith, “ what doth it?” How many are now in sorrow, by reason of unseasonable and sinful joy? They were too gay to listen to the grave admonitions of God's word; too ea. gerly bent upon their delusive pleasures to attend to the motions of his Holy Spirit; and, therefore, because when God called they would not hear; so now he laughs at their calamity, and mocks when their fears are come upon them. It is the awful apprehension of this which constrains me to be earnest with you in my present argument. The pleasure which you take in the enjoyment of sense, is that which makes you careless of the pleasures of religion. Could I for once prevail with you to enter into your own breasts, to abstract yourselves from the business and pleasures of this vain world, and to think seriously for one day upon your everlasting state, I should not despair of convincing you, that this earth can afford nothing which can be an equivalent for your immortal souls. But, alas! your sensual dissipated mirth banished all reflection, and makes you deaf to the sober voice of reason. When you are confined to a bed of sick. ness, indeed, or languishing under some painful disease, it is possible for a religious monitor to obtain something like a patient hearing from you : but when your flesh is