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some remains of them still in ourselves. When the part in the voluptuousness at hand, risking any loss
sell-denying tempers of the faithful in Christ, their they may sustain beyond the grave, as it is distant
deliverance from the dominion of worldly hopes and invisible.
and fears, their unfeigned love to God and man, and The system therefore of doctrinal and practical
their real imitation of Jesus in the abhorrence of Christianity contained in this volume, cannot more
all evil, is the subject before us, in vain shall we properly be concluded than with a representation
read of these spiritual attainments, unless we exa- of several sources of happiness peculiar to the
mine in what degree the infinitely desirable trans- faithful in Christ Jesus; and with some unanswer-
formation has taken place in our own hearts. able proofs of the reasonableness, certainty, and ne-

4. Lastly, We must read those portions of Scrip-cessity of those evangelical consolations. From
ture most frequently, which relate to subjects of the whence the conclusion will be evident, that there
greatest moment. For as, in the frame of our body, are no pleasures upon earth worthy to be named
God has ordained some parts to be absolutely neces- with those enjoyed by the obedient children of God,
sary to its life, others to its comfort and ease, and though they are often pitied as miserable and me-
others again to its ornament; in the same manner lancholy persons on account of the strictness of their
is the Scripture composed. As our greatest regard religion.
therefore is to such parts of the body as are most 1. The first source then of happiness peculiar to
vital, so our most frequent contemplation must be the faithful in Christ Jesus, is the excellent know-
fixed on those parts of Scripture which most nearly ledge they have attained. God the Father in all his
concern the glory of God, our own eternal salvation, adorable perfections, in the works he has made, and
and the good of others. The Scriptures therefore in the word he has caused to be written, in the re,
which delineate the perfections of God, his jealous demption he has provided, and in the b? ssings he
regard for his own honor, the necessity of living in has promised: God the Son in his origu al glory
willing subjection to his authority, the certain in- and marvellous humiliation, in all the pai's and
supportable miseries of the unconverted and unbe- most benevolent purposes of his mediation : Guulie
lieving, the earthly and the sensual, call for our fre- Holy Ghost in all his influences, gifts, and graces,
quent perusal; for in such a world as this, and with with the realities of the invisible, eternal world,
hearts disposed as ours are, in vain we attempt to constitute the pleasing subjects of meditation to the
observe the commands of God, if we are not im- true believer. 'Nominal Christians, it is true, hear
moveably persuaded of these truths, and constantly of all these subjects, perhaps profess constantly to
reminded of them. The Scriptures also which de- believe in them; but they can neither find time to take
scribe the miseries of our fallen state, the evil bias any exact survey of them, nor to ponder them in
that is upon our will, our atter impotence on this their hearts: therefore" seeing they see, and do not
very account to recover ourselves, are in a very perceive, and hearing they hear, and do not under-
eminent degree deserving of our frequent medita- stand.” The knowledge of the things of God, on
tion. Of the same important nature are all those the contrary, which real believers possess, is lively,
passages in holy writ which declare what the Sa- penetrating, and of course delightful.
viour is in his own personal excellency; what he No one can question the pleasures of the under-
has done and suffered on earth ; what he is now do- standing, while thousands toil for no other reward.
ing in heaven for his church: which acquaints us in the eyes of all the votaries of science, the disco-
with his gracious calls and his tender expostula- very of truth has the most bewitching charms, even
tions; which instruct us in the knowledge of our though the truth only relates to something in this
own indispensable need of him in his offices of pro- perishing world, and is without any power to pro-
phet, priest, and king. No one can look into the duce the dispositions essential to peace of mind. Is
Bible, without perceiving with what peculiar em- such knowledge pleasant? How much more, then,
phasis these subjects are treated; how they project the discovery of truths, which, besides their novel-
to our view, and are insisted upon and extolled as ty, have a grandeur capable of engaging the whole
the glorious display of God's wisdom and love. A mind, and filling it with admiration! This grand-
deep intimale acquaintance therefore with these eur is no sooner apprehended than the truths of
things is a principal end for which Scripture was God necessarily become a source of delight. Be-
given, and, therefore, should be our object in pe- fore, they were either despised or suspected, or
rusing it.

blindly assented to, from the force of education ;

now, they act like themselves; they inspire new SUNDAY XXXVIII.-CHAP. XXXVIII.

resolutions, they kindle ardent desires, they excite

abundant hope : in a word, by their spiritual knowTHE SOURCES OF CHRISTIAN HAPPINESS.

ledge believers are brought into a new and glori

ous world, where objects interesting beyond meaIt is too general an opinion, that men cannot be so sure, and tending to their honor and exaltation, surhappy in the present world by submitting in all round them. things to the rules of the Christian faith, as by al- This pleasure, which true believers enjoy from lowing themselves more liberly than it permits; their first acquaintance with divine truths, increase that if we are to be entirely subject to the law of as they advance. There is a very sensible progress God, we must give up every present gratification, in divine, no less than in human science first a and, like the superstitious recluses of the convent, faint or confused view of the truths of God, then a pass our time in melancholy, or at least under very clear perception of their matchless excellence, and irksome restraints. A falsehood this, which is at various usefulness: first a dependence upon them, once full of impiety and mischief. Full of impiety; mixed with hesitation and fear, afterwards a full for it represents a life of faith and obedience to God assurance of understanding and hope, a compreas irksome, and only to be endured in view of some hending the breadth and length, and height and reward, or through fear of some evil in another depth, of what before was very superficially known. world; when, in point of gratification, it has the Such a progress is inseparable from perseverance promise of this world, as well as of that which is to in the faith of Christ, and a diligent use of the come. The slander also is big with mischief; be word of God and of prayer, and it never fails to cause if men imagine Christian obedience an un- prove a spring of fresh and increasing delight. comfortable service, their violent propensity to im- 2. But this knowledge of the truth is always conmediate pleasure, joined with their faint belief of nected with the possession of the richest spiritual eternal things, will certainly lead them to choose a blessings; particularly the peace of God.

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No sooner are believers brought to the knowledge, speaking by his apostle to true believers, “ are of Christ so as to depend upon his work and me yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cepbas," that diation, than they are assured by the promise and is, all means, ordinances, or ministers; or the the oath of God, that there is no condemnation to world,” all the creatures and things in it, as far as them that are in him, who walk not after the flesh, they can be of any real service; " or lite," as long but after the Spirit. To this truth, the prophets, as its continuance can redound to your good; "op the apostles, and the Redeemer, continually bear death,” which will be your everlasting gain; in a witness. In the same proportion therefore as they word, "things present, and things to come;" that receive it, their conscience is justly quieted, and is, all temporal and eternal mercies, “are yours, from a sharp accuser is turned into an encouraging and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." friend. It now no longer upbraids them with their 4. Inseparably joined with the knowledge and folly, but commends their wisdom in flying to the privileges already mentioned, there is another stronghold which God hath provided; no longer source of peculiar deligbt to real believers, namely, haunis them with apprehensions of approaching the exercise of gracious tempers, wrought in then punishment, but registers and attests their cordial by the Holy Ghost. acceptance of the Lord, who is mighty to save; In their repentance (how discouraging an aspect they have now " the answer of a good conscience soever repentance may wear in the eyes of the towards God by the resurrection of Jesus from the world) pleasure sull mingles with their tears; bedead." In this supernatural fact they can perceive cause they are tears which flow from a just and that the indictment which was against them for sacred principle within. They love to abase i hem. their transgressions of the law, is taken out of the selves before God, to give his holiness, justice, and way, and they have boldness to enter into the ho-majesty their due honor; they are happy whilst liest through the blood oi Jesus."

they feel deep relentings for their past ill conduct 3. Another essing accompanying the knowledge towards Him, who does not stand over them with a O Curist as the privilege of adoption into the fami- rod of iron, to execute vengeance on them as they ly of Gud. To give some just idea of the delight deserve, but holds forth the sceptre of his grace, arising from this peculiar privilege of believers, it that they may approach him and live. There is an is necessary to explain the nature of adoption, as inconceivable delight felt when the believer, returnthe practice of it anciently obtained. It was cus- ing to God, can say, “Lo! I come to thee: thou art tomary, especially in the Grecian and Roman states; the Lord whom I will serve : what I so long, by the for a man of wealth, in default of issue from his basest sacrilege, alienated from thy blessed service, own body, to make choice of some person upon presence, and communion, I now desire to bring whom he put his name, requiring him to relinquish back to thee. Take ali the powers of my soul and his own family, and dwell from that time in his, body; possess and employ them only in thy work and proclaiming him publicly his heir. In this act and to ihy glory. When believers in ihis manner there was an imitation of nature, and the afflictive disclaim their own base interests un reservedly, withfailure of offspring from himself, was supplied by out intending to keep any thing from God; absosomething as really compensating for his loss as lutely, without making any conditions of their own, possible. The person thus adopted, was by law accepting his with all thankfulness; peremptorily, entitled to the inheritance, upon the decease of his without halting between two opinions, as if they adopter, and, however before void of all claim to were inclined to retract the surrender of themselves such a benefit, or cf expectation of it, was invested which they have made; there is much delight inwith the same privileges as if he had been born terwoven in these exercises of repentance towards heir to his benefactor. Suppose then this act of God. adoption taking place in favor of some desolate or- But still much more in acts of faith towards the phan, how conspicuous would be his exaltation ! Lord Jesus Christ; for in these, there is a lively how delightful the change of his condition! how acknowledgment and habitual consideration of the happy, in the judgment of the world, the object of highest benefits, of the strongest motives to love such a prosperous providence !

and obedience, as well as the strongest ground of But worse than that of the most destitute orphan joy and triumph. What can you imagine more is our natural state. Our great Redeemer teaches delightful than for men, who see themselves all sin us that we are "wretched, and miserable, poor, and and misery, to look unto Jesus, who says, “ he will blind, and naked,” till our relation to him by a liv- deliver the poor and needy when they cry unto him, ing faith enriches us with all spiritual blessings, and them that have no helper ?" Their own empti

. Though the truth of this representation should be ness they feel, and know his fulness for their relief; disallowed by the world, yet all believers in Christ they bow at his footstool ready to perish, and he reJesus acknowledge it to be a faithful picture of their ceives them as the father the returning prodigal, to own case. In this condition it was, they heard, put upon them the best robe; they confess their and understood, and believed, that the most merci-desert of nothing but wrath, and he freely grants ful God “sent his own Son, made of a woman, made them pardon; they know that without his interpa under the law, to redeem them that were under the sition they must have sunk into hell, but behold hc law, that they might receive the adoption of sons;" has exalted them into children of God, and heirs that thus, through faith in his name, they might be- of glory. What pleasing emotions must such views come fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the of themselves and of him excite in their minds ! household of God; "for to as many as received With these permanent sources of peculiar dehim, to them gave he power to become the sons of light, all real believers are in some measure acGod."

quainted. Hence they stand independent of the Have not these persons then, who attain to this world for their best joys, and can be happy in spite heavenly gift, a source of delight above all others of all disappointments from it. in the world? Have they not the utmost cause to Judge no longer then after the flesh concerning cry out in joyful admiration, Behold what manner the source of true happiness; for it is no more perof love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we ceptible by sense than the excellences of the mind, should be called the sons of God! what an height than learning or genius. And as you would justly of honor! what an acquisition of true riches! for meet with contempt from the world for your igposioners to be alopted by the Lord God Almighty rance and stupidity, should you dare to say that into a relation with himself, which at once entitles there is no delight in studying the fine arts, or in them to all things. For "all things,” says God, making discoveries in nature by philosopbical pe

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netration; because these things are not adapted to the In vindication therefore of this privilege, I shall
taste, or within the comprehension of the vulgar; prove, that it is reasonable to conclude that real
because they are neither 'showy nor palpable, like Christians may experience from the sources of joy
the pleasures of the sensualist: so you may equally already mentioned, peculiar happiness, and that is
betray your own miserable ignorance in the sight is certain they in fact do.
of all the excellent of the earth, when you dare to 1. First then, It is most reasonable to conclude,
deny the present delight enjoyed by those who be that real Christians may experience peculiar hap-
lieve to the saving of their souls.

piness, because the infinitely glorious God always Pray therefore for a divine knowledge to correct proposes himself, in his own blessed word, to our your depraved apprehensions, and to remove your conceptions under the character of a Father to the grossness and unbelief of heart. Then you will faithful in Christ, in a sense to which none besides perceive that Christians are not more distinguished themselves can lay claim. It would be endless to by purity of practice, than by their superior plea- cite all the passages which assert this important sures: then you will understand (contrary to the low distinction. The Redeemer, in the plainest manner thoughts entertained of the Christian's choice, con possible, distinguishes all believers, to the end of trary to the impiors prejudices abounding every time, from the rest of mankind : "For whosoever," where against it,) that among all the objects of says he, “shall do the will of my Father which is sense never did the eye see any thing so grand and in heaven,” that is, in a believing reverential rebeautiful, or the ear hear any thing so delightful gard to me, "the same is my brother, and sister, and advantageous; amongst all the branches of and mother.” And when he was going into heaven, science, never did the thoughts of man comprehend he said unto the representatives of the whole body any thing so completely adapted to bless the whole of believers, " I ascend unto my Father, and your soul, as the things which God hath prepared for Father, and to my God and your God." The aposthem that love him, even before the sons of men ;" tle makes the very same distinction, and exhorts which things are given to them on this side the grave, those who were wavering, whether they should seas a pledge of what they shall possess in the perfec- parate and come out from the world or not, to shun tion of glory to all eternity.

all conformity to the ungodly, from this very motive, that then God would receive them, and be a

Father unto them, and they should be his sons and SUNDAY XXXIX.-CHAP. XXXIX. daughters. 2. Cor. vi. 17, 18.

As the great God then stands in this relation of a THE REASONABLENESS OF EXPECTING CHRISTIAN JOY. Father, peculiarly to the faithful, we may assuredly

conclude from thence, notwithstanding the distance There is nothing perhaps, at first view more unac- between him and us, that his affection towards countable than the strong prejudices which are en- these his children far surpasses the love of earthly tertained against the peculiar delights which spring parents towards their own offspring. But where is from the knowledge of Christ. That the doctrines ihe parent worthy of that tender name, who does of the gospel should offend, is no wonder; for the not manifest his delight in all his dutiful children haughty spirit of man cannot brook the self-abase -who does not make their state of subjection a ment they requre. That its precepts should be com- pleasure to them by numerous tokens of parental plained of, it is easy to suppose, from the self-denial love? Is it not reasonable then to conclude that they enjoin. But That men, who call themselves the eternal Father may make as sensible a differChristians, should quarrel even with the joys of ence between believers and hypocrites, as we do betheir own religion; that they should contemn them tween our duteous children, who deserve and want as at variance with solid reason and sound judg- encouragement from us, and stubborn ones who ment, is indeed a most surprising fact : since, upon must be kept under a' frown ?-that he shoula the bare report of such sources of joy, our natural manifest himself to the one as he doth not to the desire of happiness, one would conclude, must other ?--that, to use his own words, “his secret strongly prompt us to wish them real; and fre should be with them that fear him, and that he quent disappointments from the world must incline should show them his covenant," whilst others reus to think it also reasonable, that there should be main in a state of distance from him ?-whilst utte. some friendly sanctuary appointed for man, in strangers to spiritual light, they are left to grovel in which true joy and peace might be found.

the pleasures of sin, and ihe things of time, which But upon closer inquiry, we shall discover the they are base enough to prefer to God, and to the ground of these violent prejudices against the joys riches of his grace ? Certainly this is a most raof the Christian faith. If these joys were allowed iional conclusion, especially when it is considered to be real, then those who have no experience of that believers are declared through the whole Bible them must by their own confession discover, that to be the delight and the treasure of God. they themselves are destitute of true Christianity; 2. Further; The reasonableness of supposing bethey must be compelled to own how low the state of lievers may experience peculiar delight, will aptheir own religion is, which consists in assenting pear more evident from considering in what manto Scripture truths without feeling their power; in ner a tender father behaves to his children, who a round of duties without spiritual life; in being from their relation to him are exposed to the persehonest, sober, and harmless, without any more de- cution of his foes. Here all the fire of parental light in God 'than professed infidels experience.- Jove blazes out; here it is the parent's highest gratiThe character, peace, and security therefore of all fication to caress his suffering children with all posnominal Christians are at stake, and they are con- sible demonstrations of his delight in them. If we, cerned for their own sakes, to cry down that joy as then, to use our Lord's inference, being evil, know enthusiastic, to which they are themselves stran- how in such cases to reward, by an overflowing of gers. Add to this, that "the spirit that iusteth in affection, our children, how much more shall our us to envy," cannot allow others to receive tokens, heavenly Father in some better manner give tokens of the favorable loving-kindness of God, of which of his delight in them, who are sufferers through we do not partake ourselves.

zeal to his truth and love to his name? But who From these causes, enforced perhaps by a few can be a Christian, according to the Scripture defiinstances of real delusion, we may fairly account nition of that character, and not suffer for it, whilst for the general prejudice against one of the noblest the world lieth in wickedness? Who can abstain privileges of a Christian, delight and joy in God. from all epidemical profaneness and carelessness,

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without meeting immediately with much to exer- whether, in point of fact, they do enjoy it. This incise his patience, to try his courage, and to prove quiry I shall now answer. his Christian fidelity? What young person, espe- And here let me first refer you to the example of cially (and a very great part of ihe servants of God primitive Christians. Immediately after that great devote themselves to him in the days of their youth,) conversion on the day of Pentecost, their behavior what young person, I say, shall dare to be more re- is described in several particulars, and their state ligious than those about him, without feeling a per- of mind, which indeed showed itself in their actions, secution, which, though domestic and little observ- is sufficiently signified by two words, gladness or ed, is very grievous to flesh and blood to bear? In exallation and singleness of heart. In the same such cases does not sound reason justify the Scrip: book of the Acts, atter Philip's preaching in the city ture assertion, and teach us to conclude, that God of Samaria is mentioned, it is remarked, " there was will afford some immediate counterbalance to what great joy in that city.” When the jailor who had is inflicted upon these confessors for his name and St. Paul in custody had heard him once speak the truth ?—that he will enlighten the eyes of their un- word of the Lord, besides his actions, which plainly derstanding to know what is the hope of their call- implied great alacrity of heart, it is expressly added ing, and what the riches of the glory of his inherit- in ihe cluse, “that he rejoiced.” The same account ance in the saints, and what is the exceeding great- is given of the Ethiopian eunuch. As soon as Philip ness of his power towards them that believe, to save had preached Jesus unto him, he was baptized; and and defend them?

though his heavenly-appointed guide was snatched 3. Again ; It is highly reasonable to conclude that from him, yet the doctrine taking place in his heart, real Christians may enjoy peculiar happiness in

" he went on his way," it is not said reasoning, or this life, because shortly their eternal state will be so deeply meditating only, but "rejoicing.” Indeed immensely different from that of the careless and un

we have reason to think that all who heard the gosgodly. The latter, alas ! hardened even unto death, pel to any good purpose, heard it with the same senthen meet with a full reward for their deeds in the timents of joy. They behaved at first like persons frown of an angry God, and in the feelings of a quite amazed and surprised with the grace of God. conscience that can know no rest. The former are Before habit or improvement could have had time no sooner absent from the body, than we are assur- the pure joy of the gospel above this world, and ready

as yet to manifest ihemselves, they were raised by ed they shall be present with the Lord.

in its defence to embrace the martyr's stake. I would ask then, is it not most reasonable to sup- But besides the united testimony of prophets, apospose that some kind of anticipation of this bliss is tles, and the Saviour himself, in proof that real beenjoyed, before the fulness of it is revealed to their lievers in his name do actually enjoy peculiar delight transported souls; that those blessed heirs of salva, in his service, there is the evidence of daily faci.tion, who are soon to inherit the promises should For how can we otherwise account for the total alhave a delightful acquaintance with their meaning teration both of choice and conduct in some persons and appropriation beforehand, and some degree of of all ranks, and of all ages, and of all tempers, as joy in their God, the same in kind with what is re- soon as they really behold the glory of the gospel ? served for them in heaven?—that those, whom the All these are unanimous in avowing they never King of kings will confess before men and angels, knew what true happiness meant before they be. and reward with everlasting honors, should in lieved. Whatever they found formerly from the their own consciences rejoice in the hope of glory, pleasures of sin, they confess to be now rendered and, as the Scripture affirms, should be sealed of despicable by their spiritual joy. Hence, long after God, and have the earnest of the Spirit in their the terrors of the Lord have ceased to work upon hearts? Is not this much more reasonable than the their fears, they keep at a distance from sin and supposition, that those who are very soon to be as vanity, from persons, things, and amusements on widely distant from each other as heaven from hell, which they once doated, in order to enjoy more of should be at present alike destitute of any sensible what now makes them happy. Nor can this be enjoyments of the divine favor?—that both should owing to notions put into their heads, or to the force be left to go on till the day of death and final sepa- of imagination working up fantastic joy; because ration ; the one no more ihan the other experienc- great numbers have had no idea that there was any ing the comfort of God's Spirit, the light of his such thing as delight in God, till it sprung in their countenance, and the joy of his salvation ? Cer- own hearts, at once the object of their surprise, and tainly there can be no greater absurdity than to im- the cause of their preference of the service of the agine this.

Lord to all other things. Add to this, that many, What has been offered may, we hope, suffice to who notwithstanding their meek and prudent carprove that it is not in the least degree enthusiastic riage, are obnoxious to their relations for their godio conclude that the faithful in Christ Jesus may liness, and treated with hardship on that account, have peculiar gratifications of their own; and it are still far from desiring to make their peace at the may convince us that the experience of these de expense of becoming gay, foolish, and careless, as lights too often exploded as delusive, will appear they once were. They can find a sweetness in seupon closer examination to be perfectly rational. cret prayer, reading and meditation, which even un

der ihe e disadvantageous circumstances is better to them than all their former idle mirth and vain

laughter, with the friendship and good countenance SUNDAY XL.-CHAP. XL.

of the family to reward it.

These evidences in proof of the reasonableness and certainty of the joy of believers are sufficient to

satisfy all, I trust, who will submit to the authority It is of so much importance to give a just impres- of Scripture, and to deductions clearly drawn from sion of the happiness of the service of our Redeemer, it. I shall add therefore nothing more, but only cauthat we have been very full in explaining the sources tion against the wrong use of this doctrine, and exfrom which it arises, and the reasonableness of ex- hort all persons, as they love their own happiness, pecting it; but however reasonable it may be that to seek in the first place, the enjoyment of the blessChristians should expect it, still it will be inquired, lings of the gospel.

THE CERTAINTY OF CHRISTIAN JOY.

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