« VorigeDoorgaan »
SERM. If a true and perfect Christian hath no care to distract XLIII. him, having discharged all bis concerns on God's provi
dence; if he hath no fear to dismay him, being guarded by the Almighty protection from all danger and mischiet: if he hath no despair to sink him, having a sure refuge in the divine mercy and help; if he hath no superstitious terrors or scruples to perplex him, being conscious of his own upright intentions to please God, and confident of God's merciful willingness to accept his fincere endea. vours; if he hath no incurable remorse to torment him, the stings of guilt being pulled out by the merits of his Saviour, applied by his faith and repentance; if he bath no longing desires to disquiet him, being fully satisfied with that he doth possess, or may expect from God's bounty, all other things being far beneath his ambition or coveting; if he hath no contentions to inflame him, knowing nought here worth passionately striving for, and being resolved to hold a friendly good-will toward all men ; if he hath no repining envy, seeing that none can be more happy than he may be, and that every man's good by charity is made his own; if he hath no fretful discontent, since he gladly doth acquiesce in the condition and success allotted to him, resigning his will to God's pleasure, taking all for best which thence doth occur, being assured that all things shall work together for his good and advantage; if he hath no spiteful rancours to corrode his heart, no boisterous passions to ruffle his mind, no inordinate appetites, perverse humours, or corrupt designs to distemper his soul and disturb his life, whence then may forrow come, or how can sadness creep into him a?
What is there belonging to a Christian, whence grief Psal. xliii.4. naturally can spring? From God, our exceeding joy, the
fountain of happiness; from heaven, the region of light
and bliss; from divine truth, which illustrateth and cheerPl. xix. 10. eth the soul; from God's Law, which rejoiceth the heart, ciis. 103. and is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb ; from wil
dom, whose ways are ways of pleasantness, and all whose SERM. paths are peace; from virtue, which cureth our ami&tive SLM. distempers, and composeth our vexatious passions; from Prov. iii. 17. these things, I say, about which a Christian as such is only conversant, no forrow can be derived ; from those sweet sources no bitter streams can flow: but hell, the flesh, the world, darkness, error, folly, fin, and irreligion, (things with which a Christian should have nothing to do, from which he should keep aloof, which he doth pretend utterly to renounce and abandon,) these, these alone, are the parents of discomfort and anguish.
Wherefore there is the same reason, the fame obligation, the same poflibility, that we should rejoice evermore, as that we should always be Christians, exactly performing duty, and totally forbearing fin; for innocence and indolency do ever go together, both together making paradife; perfect virtue and constant alacrity are inseparable companions, both constituting beatitude: and as although from our infirmity we cannot attain the highest pitch of virtue, yet we must aspire thereto, endeavouring to perfect 2 Cor. vii. 1.
Matt. v. 48. holiness in the fear of God; fo, though it may not be pofli- 1 John iii. ble to get, yet it is reasonable to seek perpetual joy; 3. which doing in the right way, we shall not fail of procuring a good measure of it.
Indeed to exercise piety and to rejoice are the same things, or things so interwoven, that nothing can disjoin them; religious practice is like that river, the streams Pfal. xlvi. 4. whereof. make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Mof High, that is, every pious soul. No good deed can be performed without satisfaction; each virtue hath a peculiar delight annexed to it: whence the acts of joy, which upon various objects, grounds, and occafions, we may exert, being numberless, I shall only touch a few principal instances.
1. We should evermore rejoice in the exercise of our faith; according to that prayer of our Apostle for the Romans, Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and Rom. xv. peace in believing.
Every kind of faith (that which embraceth divine truths,
SERM. Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomXLIII. plished, that her iniquity is pardoned ?
And if we find ourselves in habit of soul grievously distempered, Jabouring under great impotency and blindness, overborne and oppressed with the prevalency of corruption, pestered with unreasonable desires and passions, unable to curb our inclinations and appetites, to refift temptations, to discharge our duty in any tolerable meafure, or with any ease; is it not then comfortable to believe, that we have a most faithful and skilful physician at hand to cure our distempers; that we have a powerful succour within ken, to relieve our infirmities; that God is ready to impart an abundant fupply of grace, of light, of
spiritual strength to direct and allift us ? that if any man Jam. i. 5, 6. doth lack wisdom, he is encouraged with faith to ask it of
God, who giveth liberally, and upbraideth not? If any man Luke xi. 13. want strength, God's Almighty Spirit is promised to
those who with humble earnestness do implore it; so that Phil. iv. 13. we may be able to do all things (incumbent on us) by Rom. vii. 35. *** *** Christ who strengtheneth us. 2 Cor. iii Phil. ii. 13.
$. 3. And what more hearty satisfaction can we feel, than
in a firm persuasion concerning the real accomplishment of 2 Pet. i. 4. those exceedingly great and precious promises, whereby we
become capable of the most excellent privileges, the most ample benefits, the most happy rewards that can be? How can the belief, that, by God's infallible word, or as surely as truth itself is true, an eternal inheritance of a treasure that cannot fail, of a glory that cannot fade, of a kingdom that cannot be shaken, of a felicity surpassing all expression and all conceit, is reserved for us, in recompence of our faithful obedience; how, I say, can that be a dead, dull, dry belief, void of sprightly comfort and pleasure?
Likewise the faith of confidence in God's good providence and paternal care over us, (whatever our condition or circumstances be,) should infuse a cheerful refreshment of heart into us.
It is in holy Scripture most frequently asserted, that he who placeth his trust in God is a very blessed and happy
<ci. 4. lvii.
person; and can we, without great satisfaction, partake of SERM. that beatitude?
XLIII. Can we, by such a trust, disburden all our folicitous cares, all our anxious fears, all the troubles of our spirit,
and pressures of our condition upon God, with strong i assurance, that from his mighty power and watchful care,
in due time, in the most expedient manner, we shall ! receive a competent supply of our wants, a riddance from + our grievances, a protection from all danger and harm, a
blessing upon all our good endeavours and undertakings,
without feeling much ease and peace in our hearts? i What can be more cheering than a persuasion, that all
our concerns are lodged in the hands of such a Friend, so wise, so able, so faithful, so affectionate, so ever readily
disposed to help us, and further our good? They who · trust in God are said to abide under the shadow of the Al- Psal. xci. 1.
Pfal. Ixi. s. mighty, and to be covered with his wings; God is often ci styled their rock, their fortress, their shield and buckler, 1. xvii. 8.
xxxvi. 7. their defence and refuge; and are they not then impreg-xviii. 3. nably safe? why then should they fear any disaster? at lxii. 2. what occurrence should they be disturbed? Have they Pfal.cxii. 2. not huge reason to say with the Psalmist, In the shadow of Pfal. Ixiii. thy wings will I rejoice; The Lord is my strength and my Pala shield, my heart trusteth in him, and I am helped; therefore 7.
(Ps. xxxii, my heart danceth for joy, and in any song will I praise him. 21) May not each of those confiders in God well repress all infurre&tions of trouble and grief, with that holy charm, Why art thou so vexed, O my soul, and why art thou fo Pfal. xlii. difquieted within me? O trust in God for he is the 14. xliii. 5, health of my countenance, and my God.
II. We should evermore rejoice in the practice of Christian hope, making good that aphorism of Solomon, The Prov. X. 28, hope of the righteous shall be gladness; and obeying those apoftolical injunctions, that we should rejoice in hope; that Rom. xii, we should retain the confidence, and the rejoicing of hope Him form to the end. Those excellent and most beneficial truths, those sweet proposals of grace and mercy, those rich promises, which faith doth apprehend as true in a general reference to all Christians, hope doth appropriate and
i Ki viii. 26.
SERM. apply as particularly touching ourselves; improving the XLIII. knowledge of our common capacity into a sense of our
special interest in them. God, faith our faith, will assuredly receive all penitent finners to mercy, will crown all pious Christians with glory, will faithfully perform whatever he hath graciously promised to all people, hath a tender care
for all that love and fear him; but God, faith our hope, 2 Tiin. iv. will have mercy on me, will render to me the wages of
righteousness, will verify his good word to me his servant, will protect, will deliver, will bless me in all exigencies: if so, being conscious of our sincere endeavour to serve and please God; if discerning, from a careful reflection upon our heart and ways, that in some good measure with fidelity and diligence we have discharged the conditions required of us, we can entitle ourselves to God's special affection, we can accommodate his word to our case, we can assume a propriety in his regard, how can we forbear conceiving joy?
All hope, in proportion to the worth of its object, and Heb. vi.19. the folidity of its ground, is comfortable; it being the
anchor of the foul, which stayeth and supporteth it in undisturbed rest; it appeasing unquiet desires; it setting absent goods before us, and anticipating future enjoyments by :
sweet foretaste :: seeing then, if we have a good con i John iii. science, and our heart doth not condemn us, our hope is xxvi. 4. grounded on the Rock of ages, (on the immutable nature
and the infallible word of God;) seeing it is the hope of the most worthy, the most sublime, the most incomparable and inestimable goods, it must be most extremely de lightful.
If it much pleaseth men to conceit themselves next heirs of a fair estate, to have the reversion of a good office, to be probable expectants of a great preferment, (although death
may intercept, or other accidents may obstruct the accom. 1 Pet. i. 4, plishment of such hopes,) how much more shall that lively
hope, of which St. Peter speaketh, of an inheritance incor
• Και προ του παρατήναι υπόσχεσιν της παλιγγενεσίας αυτή η ψυχή της ιλα ya ugoupina suppaine Tao. Conft. Ap. vii. 33.