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believe in the character and perfections of God, in his providence and grace. We must be like him, holy as he is holy; lovers of righteousness, and haters of iniquity, as our Redeemer was.* A mutual love must subsist between God and the soul; for “ can two walk together except they be agreed ?”+ Can there be any “ communion between light and “ darkness ? and what concord hath Christ with “ Belial ?"† “ If we say that we have fellowship ““ with him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do “ not the truth :”in short, our tempers must be moulded to his will; and the sentiments which we entertain, must be those, or agreeable to those which he hath dictated in his word. To this fellowship also, frequent intercourse, and high satisfaction in it, are essential. It were vain to say, that, by calling upon God only now and then, as in seasons like the present, or even by praying to him, at certain stated hours, in our families, or by ourselves, we hold true fellowship with him. His society is valuable and blissful; those who know it value it, and valuing it, assiduously court it; they seek it not now and then only, or at stated times, but as often as circumstances will permit; in the intervals of business, nay in business itself; in the church, in the family, in the closet, in the fields; when his works are seen or mentioned; when his name is heard, either in praise or blasphemy; when trouble oppresses, or when prosperity gladdens them. Still in every variety of situation and of state, God is in their thoughts, his perfections are admired, his presence is solicited, and his
is Psalm xlv. 7. I Peter i. 15, 16. lis, ' p 2 Cor. vi. 14, 15. † Amos iii. 3.
şi John i. 6.
held precious. It is not, therefore, in the formal posture or address only, that fellowship with Jehovah is maintained: it is seen in the glistening eye; it is heard in the devout sigh; it is felt and enjoyed in the wishes, the hopes, and the conscious elevation of the heart.
There is not, however, and on earth there cannot be, an uninterrupted converse with the Creator and Redeemer: but those who have known its sweets, will endeavour to preserve a constant nearness to him, and to keep their minds in a state of habitual preparation for such fellowship, whenever any opportunity of sharing it is presented; and the surprises of levity, of passion, or of worldly care, which interpose a cloud between him and their souls, are lamented and guarded against, as the wormwood, and the gall of happiness: then the humbled christian ceases not to call, till the Lord answer; to cry, till he say, Here I am.*
Before proceeding farther, it may be proper to obserye, that there is another sense, besides that of converse, in which the term fellowship is employed. It denotes the common participation, which two or more individuals may have in the same object or enjoyment. Thus, companions may be said to have fellowhip or communion, by partaking of the same meal, or sharing in the same amusement; hearers, by receiving the same instruction, and joining in the same ordinances: and christians may be accounted to have fellowship with God, when they contemplate and love the same objects, and enjoy, in doing so, a similar blessedness. The most glorious objects of contemplation in the universe, are the
* Isaiah lviii. 9.
divine perfections, the divine purposes, and the divine irorks: these God contemplates; and in contemplating, enjoys an infinite and everlasting bliss; these the believer, also according to his measure of knowledge and of faith, contemplates and enjoys; and thus, in the objects of contemplation and enjoyment, holds fellowship with his God.
Fellowship, however, does not seem to be so intended here ; it rather relates, I apprehend, to the converse or intercourse, which the souls of believers maintain with God and Christ, as already stated.
When man was innocent, his delightful employment was to converse with God; but when he fell, God became his fear and his dread. The solitude of dreary dens, and the weight of mountains heaped on his devoted head, were less terrible in his apprehension, than the presence of his Maker : “ Depart " from me, for I desire not the knowledge of thy
“Let me enter into the rock, and hide “ me in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the
glory of his Majesty.”+ Such were the heavings of his ruined soul; but when God might have visited him with punishment, he drew nigh in love. “ Come unto me," was his call;" hear, and your 66 souls shall live.”I 66 Believe in the Lord Jesus
Christ"g' was the way; and the spirit of promise sent down, was the guide and supporter provided for the subjects of redemption. Now, therefore, by the help of one spirit, and through one mediator, have we access unto the holiest of all. Now we may come even to Jehovah's seat; speak as it were face to face; fill our mouths with arguments; and order our cause before him.
Jøb xii. 14.
+ Isaiah ii. 10, 19.
Isaiah lv. 3.
S' Acts xvi. 31.
Such in general, is the nature of the fellowship which we have with the Father, and with the Son; such the requisities which are essential to it: but in a matter of so great importance in the religious life, it is proper to be somewhat more particular. Let me, therefore, briefly direct your attention
1. To the sentiments and dispositions which christians are led to cherish, in holding fellowship with God; and,
2. To some of those subjects, which form the usual topics of their converse or communion.
The dispositions felt, and the subjects treated of in converse, must both depend on the relative situation and character of the parties. With a friend, and with a good man, we feel emotions different from those which are excited by the presence of a vicious person, or a foe. In the company of those who are high in rank and in authority, or who are eminent for their abilities and acquirements, we experience an awe, which that of meaner individuals does not create. With him, of whose instructions we stand in need, we will naturally turn to the subjects on which we feel the want of his direction. To the man of wealth and power, who deigns to give them a hearing, the necessitous will explain their difficulties, and request his aid ; and to him, whose benefactions or protection we have repeatedly experienced, our hearts, if grateful, will find a peculiar satisfaction in pouring forth their acknowledgments." Similar considerations will determine the affections, the sentiments entertained, and the topics treated of in fellowship with God.
First, then, with respect to the sentiments and dispositions called forth in this sublime communion :
Is the Deity independent, underived, and eternal in his being, perfections, happiness, and glory? Are we the children of yesterday, feeble, ignorant, and in every particular absolutely dependent? Is he the Almighty Creator, who gave being, and affords support to all things; who is indebted to none, and to whom all are indebted; the supreme and only potentate of universal nature, whose will is law, and who taketh counsel of none; who beholdeth “the moon, and it shineth not;"* and at whose
rebuke the foundations of the world are dis. “ covered ?”+ Are men the creatures of his power, whose being, state, and bliss, the slightest motion of his will may altogether change, or utterly destroy? The christian, with awful reverence, contemplates these exclusive and incommunicable characters of the godhead, and draws near humbly adoring, while his soul in the dread view, shrinks, in its own estimation into nought, and cries out, I am before thee " as nothing, less than nothing and
Again, in the divine nature, the moral attributes of holiness and justice stand pre-eminent: the ignorant, the giddy-minded, and the self-conceited, when they would hold fellowship with God, (if indeed such persons ever aim so high,) approach but a being the work of their own fancy, whom they array in the garb of condescension without dignity, and of mercy without justice. The believer, when he draws near to his Maker, regards him as a God of justice and holiness; of justice unerring and inflexible, which can approve and favour nothing but
Psalm xviii. 15.
Isaiah xl. 19.
Job XIV. 5.