Page images

nerous and noble as it is to do good, (the most laudable of pursuits and exquisite of pleasures !) we meet here with vexations to embitter our satisfactions. How often arc we traduced in our bestmeant actions, misinterpreted in our best motives, and opposed in our best designs? Be our sphere ever so large, we can benefit but a few: in that few how often do we find ingratitude; and in others, whom we cannot benefit, reproach, envy, and opposition?

Or if, lastly, we place our happiness in virtue and the service of God (delightful as the exercise is, comfortable as a sense of the Divine approbation must be to a dependent creature !) yet how often do clouds arise to interrupt the comforts and serenity of conscience? Doubts often obscure our clearest views, passions disorder our tempers, temptations aflail our virtue, and wanderings clog our devotions, and deaden our aspirations.


Such evils, then, such inconveniences do we encounter with, in the various conditions of life. In many of them they are so wearisome and insupportable, that, were it not for the instinct of preservation, so closely interwoven with our frame, and the strong bar, which the Almighty has fixed against self-destruction, such numbers would not groan and sweat under a weary life, amidst the many ready^methods of procuring themselves repose. But God has forbidden this, as the highest of offences; has commanded patience as our duty, and provided heaven for our reward.—This brings me to the second proposition, the greatness of our future reward.

II. As we know nothing of spiritual things but by comparisons drawn from sensible objects, as we fee but as it were through a glass darkly in our present imperfect state; it is impossible to have


any positive knowledge, in what the happiness of heaven consists: but we know and see enough to make us pursue it as our ultimate and highest happiness. It breaks in upon us in the discoveries of the gospel with superior light: earthly things disappear before it: they lose their importance and lustre. Glittering as they appeared to the darkened eye of sense, yet, before the glonls of eternity, like the stars before the sun, they fade and hide their diminished heads. And if we made these views familiar to us by frequent reflexion (for, without this, faith is but a dead principle;) the meanest christian might acquire a greatness of mind superior to all the allurements and terrors of the world.

The spirit of God, as I mentioned before, being not able, without altering our natures, to render our future ture reward intelligible to us but by comparisons taken from wbat we know and experience here, has given us to understand — and this is sufficient for every moral purpose — that we shall at least be freed from all present inconveniences. Such miseries, as our minds and bodies have felt here, shall molest no more: corruption and misery shall be carried no farther than the grave: we shall arise new creatures from thence, into perfect and unchangeable happiness. The righteous then jhall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither pall the sunlight on them, nor any heat: God Jloall wipe away all tears from their eyes; there pall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither pall there be any more pain: for the former things are pa/fed away. The lamb, which is in the midjl of the throne, Jhall feed them, and stall lead them unto living fountains of waters; he Jhall make them drink of the river of his

pleasures. pleasures. Rev. vii. 16, 17. xxi. 4. Psa. xxxvi. 8.

Does the shipwrecked mariner look back with triumph upon the devouring sea, from which he has just escaped, where he suffered so much, and dreaded more? And what must it be to the righteous to look back upon the follies, miseries and dangers, from which he has escaped into so much happiness! Let the waves of affliction rage and swell; they cannot pass their bounds; they belong only to this tempestuous world: his happiness is seated far beyond their reach. The weary rest from their labour st the prisoner no longer hears the voice of his oppressor.

Now let us endeavour to form some idea, inadequate as it must be, of the happiness of souls and bodies united in a slate of perfection.

There is a delight in knowledge: the desire of it is congenial to the mind: it is painful to be tossed with doubts, perplexities

« PreviousContinue »