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form to man ?They call upon us, in the view of human nature, to hope all things,” -to feel that it is a nature which, amidst all its imperfections, and ignorance, and sinfulness, the God who made it has loved even to Death, and has never abandoned, however it has been abandoned by itself,—that there is a grasp of the Paternal Arm which still holds it,and that there is a Spirit which encircles it, far more powerful and penetrating than the deepest malignity and pollution of sin. It calls us to love man in whatever form he appears; and wherever the traces of goodness appear in him, there, more especially, to love the image of the God who gave him being. It calls us, each in his separate department, to be the ministers of good, and of happiness to one another,-in all the connections in which a gracious God has united us together, to feel the bond of his love enchaining our hearts,—to trace the steps of his Divine Providence throughout all the world of man, and humbly and steadily to be fellowworkers with Him in extending the reign of Eternal Righteousness wherever it may open before us.
In the last place, my brethren, what are the duties which these conceptions call upon us to perform to ourselves ?_They call upon us to open our souls to their blessed impression, to discard every infidel doubt, and to cast off every retarding weight, and to keep pace, in as far as the weakness of earthly existence will permit, with that preventing " grace” which goes before, and that divine “ love” and “ communion” which accompany us.
Let us, under the influence of those holy impressions, above all things, flee from sin. Let us feel that it is that fatal darkness of the soul, far more than the assumed veil of mystery, which hides the Deity from our spiritual view; and that whatever may be the pleasures or the glories of the world, which, for a time may encircle our transient course, it is only " the pure in heart” who shall at last see God.”
ON THE LOVE OF GOD.*
1 John, iv. 16.
God is love.
What affections of mind, my brethren, are more pleasing and delightful than love and gratitude, and what objects of thought are so agreeable in themselves, as those by which such affections are naturally excited ? Of those, therefore, who are averse to the contemplations of Religion, it may truly be affirmed that they are ignorant of the highest sources of human enjoyment, and there can be no greater benevolence than to call them to meditations which
* Preached on the first Sunday after Trinity.
perhaps they may have but slightly attended to in the hurry of the world, but which yet include not only the highest duties, but the most genuine happiness of their nature.
It is, in truth, very much owing to inattention, that the sentiments of Religion are apt to acquire so inadequate a share of our hearts. It is not sufficient to say that the Object of them is unseen, and can scarcely therefore obtain the regards of a Being like man, who is so much under the dominion of his senses. If the Great Object of religious adoration be himself invisible, the effects of His Goodness are sufficiently apparent ; and surely we are capable of feeling the sentiments of gratitude to an unseen Benefactor, if we are fully sensible that, from his kindness, all our choicest blessings are derived. Still less can we reasonably pretend that the bounty to which our gratitude is due, is so unvarying in its operation, that we cannot derive from it any very lively impression; this is, in fact, the inattention of which we ought to be cured, and which undoubtedly is capable of cure if we will exercise suitable reflection.
I, There is no need to go far for this purpose. Let any individual take but a cursory view of the period of existence which he has passed through, and then say, whether or no he does not find in it the traces of a Divine Bounty which demands every feeling of gratitude of which his heart is capable. Who bestowed upon him existence itself, and all the wonderful capacities of his nature ? Who led him, as it were by the hand, through the feeble period of childhood, and gave him the happiness of innocence, and brought him on to maturer years, and then delivered him over to the guidance of conscience and of reason? Who conferred upon him the delights of society, and all the connections of friendship and affection ? To whom is he indebted for the sun which rises upon him every day, and for the repose which awaits him every night ? Has he any peculiar advantage, any circumstances of mind or of fortune which distinguish him from his fellows? These surely are all ultimately to be ascribed to the same overflowing bounty; nor is there a direction to which he can turn, where the goodness of his heavenly Father is not with him. It is true, indeed, that the very