have not fully “ apprehended that, for which

they have been apprehended of Christ Jesus.' Their understandings still want further measuresof illumination, and their hearts, of conversion. “ The flesh” yet “lusteth against the Spirit;" they are still in a world of temptation ; still liable to fall. They are conscious of danger and defect.

To “ follow the blessed saints" is to tread in their steps; to feel as they felt, and to act as they acted, while they were in the world. It is to imitate their faith, hope, patience, and charity : like them, to let “our light shine before men;" and, like them, to persevere unto the end, till we “ receive the crown of glory which fadeth not

“ away.”

Our collect pronounces the saints to be “bles“ sed,” They are blessed even in the present lise, notwithstanding their numerous personal wants, miseries, and complaints. For they are

, justified freely by Divine grace; they are partially sanctified; they are “ blessed with all spiri" tual blessings in heavenly places in Christ “ Jesus;" they have “an inheritance laid up for “ them which is incorruptible, undefiled, and “ fadeth not away." But those who have departed this life, to whom “an entrance has been is ministered abundantly into the everlasting king“ dom of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, are still more blessed. For they enjoy the harvest of that blessedness, of which we only taste the first fruits. To them therefore the epithet is applicable with a full emphasis of propriety. " Blessed are the dead," said the voice which was heard from heaven, “which die in the Lord, " from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit ; for

they rest from their labours, and their works “ do follow them.” They have “come out of


great tribulation, and have washed their robes, " and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. “ Therefore are they before the throne of God, " and serve Him day and night in His temple : 66 and He that sitteth on the throne dwells

among " them. They hunger no more, neither thirst

any more; neither doth the sun light on them, “ nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the " midst of the throne feeds them, and leads them “ unto living fountains of waters: and God hath “ wiped away all tears from their eyes.” (Rev. xiv. 13. vii. 14-17.) Oh, happy state! O Lord, grant us so to “ follow thy blessed saints in all - virtuous and godly living,” that we may be blessed with them.

· That we need more grace in order that we may be enabled to follow them more fully, and persevere in an imitation of their example unto the end, will be acknowledged by all saints here on earth. If any man be a stranger to a consciousness of this necessity, and unsolicitous to have it relieved, he can have no evidence that he is numbered among the saints. The character of the patriarchs, of the prophets, of the apostles, and of the martyrs, is the scope of our desires and endeavours. But we fall

But we fall very short of a full re- . semblance. « Less than the least of all saints" is the estimate which every truly humble disciple forms of himself. But as they were men of like passions with ourselves, and had the same difficulties and temptations to surmount which oppose our progress-since by the grace of God they were what they were, and that grace is as rich and free as ever it was,—we need not despair. We tread in their steps though our progress is slower, and the goal yet at a great distance; and feeling our own inability to follow them by our VOL. III.

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own strength, we look to that almighty arm, which made them more than conquerors, for like aid and support.

The “ blessed saints," are exhibited in our collect as examples of all “virtuous and godly

living.” Virtue is moral goodness, and Godliness is an universal regard to God. These differ from each other, so that the language of our collect is not tautologous. Saints possess the former in common with some heathens.* Thé latter is peculiar to themselves. Both are essential to the Christian character; but the latter is its distinguishing feature.

Are we endeavouring thus to follow the blessed saints? Are we painfully conscious of our own imperfections ? Are we solicitous for a larger measure of grace, that our imitation of them may be more exact? If no such dispositions are felt within our bosoms, how hypocritical is our prayer!

The end which we propose to ourselves by an imitation of the saints, is a participation with them of "those unspeakable joys which are pre

pared for them that unfeignedly love God, " through Jesus Christ our Lord.” O glorious object, worthy of our ambition, worthy of our utmost efforts! May the prospect fire our souls, add fervency to our prayers and energy to our endeavours !

Holiness is not the meritorious cause of heavenly felicity, which is attainable only “through “ Jesus Christ our Lord,” His obedience unto death being exclusively its procuring cause. But sanctification is the only path that leads to


* See the Collect for the Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity.

glorification, and an indispensible pre-requisite and qualification for it. Thereby departed saints were prepared for those unspeakable joys which they now inherit, and thereby only can we partake with them. And it'may moreover be observed, that the degree of holiness which is attained by the saints on earth will determine the measure of happiness which they will be capable of receiving in heaven.

That the joys of heaven are unspeakably great, yea, that they transcend the utmost reach of human imagination, the Scriptures testify. For they assure us that “eye hath not seen, “ nor ear heard, neither have entered into the “ heart of man, the things which God hath pre

pared for them that love Him.” The images of Scripture afford us some faint coruscations of light on the subject; and occasional moments of sweet experience disclose the nature of those pleasures which are at God's right hand. But these gleams of radiance are like the effects of a vivid flash from the summer's cloud in a dark night, whereby an imperfect and transient glimpse of surrounding objects is obtained, while no distinct apprehensions can be formed concerning them. The fulness of heavenly joy is only known to them who possess it.

These “unspeakable joys are prepared for

all those who unfeignedly love God,” and for none besides them. And the reason of this is evident; for none but those who unfeignedly love God, are capable of participating in them; since the essence of heavenly felicity will consist in a continual influx of Divine love to the soul, and in suitable emotions of gratitude and affection towards its source. Do we suppose that we love Him? Let us examine whether our

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love be “unfeigned.” A mistake will be fatal to our happiness. How did the blessed saints evidence the sincerity of their love to God? Do we demonstrate the reality of ours by proofs of the same kind, though unequal to theirs in the degree of strength? A feigned love will avail nothing. It must be genuine, and produce the proper evidences of its reality. O let us contemplate the “

great multitude “ which no man can number, of all nations, “ and kindreds, and people, and tongues, “ standing before the throne and before the

Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms « in their hands !” let us listen to their song, while they cry “with a loud voice, saying, “ Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the " throne, and unto the Lamb.” The glorious sight and the melodious sounds will animate our souls to “press forward towards the mark “ for the prize of the high calling of God in “ Christ Jesus."


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