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consists. We quite mistake if we imagine that religion consists in notions or in forms: it is a taste; a taste not formed by nature or education; but wrought in us by the Spirit of God: and the acquisition of this constitutes our meetness for heaven. What happiness could a soul that feels the exercises of devotion irksome, find in heaven; where the singing praises to God and to the Lamb forms the one employment of all around the throne, and will to all eternity? If this be not the pleasure which you chiefly affect in this world, be assured that you are not prepared to unite with saints and angels in the world to come.
If this be not your state, whatever knowledge you may possess, you are yet carnal: for God himself has said, that “they who are after the flesh do mind (savour) the things of the flesh; and they who are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit?." I pray you then to seek your happiness in God; and never to rest, till you can say,
“ Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides Thee a."]
z Rom. viii. 5. Ppovovou.
a If this be a subject at the Opening of a Church or Chapel, the great need that there was of a place of worship may be stated, and a hope expressed, that it may be the means of preparing many for the Church above.
THE DUTY OF PRAYER.
Ps xxvii. 8. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart
said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. PERHAPS there are few things which more strongly characterize a child of God, than a spirit of prayer. The Lord's faithful servants are particularly designated as “ a people near unto him?" whilst of the hypocrite it is pointedly asked, “ Will he always call upon God? Will he delight himself in the Almighty?" The invitations of God are common to all: but the way in which they are received constitutes the difference between the child of this world and the child of God.
The words before us, whilst they describe the experience of David, will lead me to shew, I. In what light the invitations of God are, for the
most part, regardedGod is incessantly calling men to seek his facea Ps. cxlviii. 14.
b Job xxvii. 10.
[He does this by his word; in which he bids us to look to him, and call upon him, and turn to him, and lay hold upon him; and sends his ministers to invite and beseech us in his name.
He does it, also, by his providence : all that he does for us in a way of mercy, is to stimulate us to love him; and his chastisements are to awaken us to our duty, saying, “ Hear the rod, and him that hath appointed it.” He does it, also, by his Spirit; for conscience is his voice within us, “his still small voice," whereby he whispers to us, and moves us, and “ strives with us,” and “ draws us to himself.” The whole creation, the heavenly bodies moving in their orbits, “ the elements that fulfil his will," the “birds which know their season," and the beasts which acknowledge their Benefactor; the occurrences of every day, even the most
common and casual, as the going to a well for water', or climbing up into a tree for the gratifying of curiosityd; all subserve the same blessed end, to introduce us to the knowledge of his love, and to the enjoyment of his favour.] But his invitations are almost universally
“ made light of”
[Some treat them with contempt,“ mocking his messengers, and despising his words es - Others justify their refusal of them by a variety of excuses, like those in the parable, who “had bought a field, and must go and see it; and a yoke of oxen, which they must go to try; or had married a wife, and therefore could not come.” Every one has his plea: one is too old to change his ways; another too young to engage in such serious concerns; and another too much occupied to be at liberty for such pursuits. Others profess a willingness to obey the call, but never realize their intentions. They say, “I go, Sir; but they never execute their Father's willi:" they will, like Ezekiel's auditors, approve what they hear, but will never give themselves truly and unreservedly to God.]
Let us now proceed to shew, on the contrary, II. The light in which they ought to be regarded
David's example is precisely that which we should follow. There was in his bosom a chord in perfect unison with that which the finger of God had touched, and that vibrated to the touch. Thus, when God says to all the sinners of mankind, “Seek ye my face,” there should be in every one of us a responding chord, in perfect harmony with the divine command: and we should, every one of us, reply, “ Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” This duty we should execute,
c John iv. 7, 10. i Matt. xxi. 30.
d Luke xix. 4, 5. e 2 Chron. xxxvi, 16. & Ezek. xxxiii. 31, 32.
1. With a grateful sense of his condescension and grace
[How amazing is it that such a proposal should originate with God; and that Jehovah should “stand at the door of our hearts, and knock" there for admittance! If a permission only had been granted to us to seek his favour, methinks it should have been embraced with all imaginable earnestness : for sure enough, if such an invitation were sent to those who are now in hell, it would not be treated with indifference there. But it is not a mere permission that we receive; it is a call, an invitation, an entreaty: and should we “make light of that?” No: we should turn unto our God with our whole hearts, and avail ourselves, without delay, of the opportunity that is thus afforded us.]
2. With a ready acquiescence in his appointed way.
[God tells us, that it is in Christ alone that he can accept us; and that we must come to him through Christ, pleading the merit of his blood, and relying altogether on his atoning sacrifice. And shall this appear to us a hard saying ? Shall this be deemed too humiliating for our proud hearts to submit to? Shall we not bless God, that he has given us a Saviour, who shall mediate between him and us, and, like " a daysmanh,” lay his hand on both, in order to our reconciliation ? Surely we should not hesitate a moment to humble ourselves before him, to acknowledge our desert of his wrathful indignation, and to implore his mercy in the name of his dear Son.]
3. With a determination of heart, that nothing shall ever keep us from him
[Things there are, without number, which would keep us in bondage, and detain us from our God. But we should be on our guard against them all; and determine to break through every obstacle that the world, the flesh, and the devil, can place in our way. For, what can the world do, either by its allurements or its terrors, to counterbalance the loss of the divine favour? As for the flesh, neither its weakness nor its corruptions should discourage us in our way to God. Nor should the devil, with all his wiles and all his devices, be suffered to divert us from our purpose, or to retard us in our way. We should have our hearts bent upon executing the commands of God. Every object under heaven should be Tell me,
h Job ix. 33.
subordinated to that. Other duties, doubtless, should be performed in their place: but to obtain God's favour should be our first concern; and life itself, in comparison of that, should be of no value in our eyes.] ADDRESS
(God calls you now, my Brethren, by my voice; and says to every one of you, “ Seek ye my face.” O that
knew the day of your visitation! O that ye now viewed this mercy as ye will most unquestionably view it ere long! For, whether ye be in heaven or in hell, be assured that the divine favour will
appear to you no light concern. I would that now the Psalmist's determination were adopted by every one of you.
I pray you, whether the resolution be not wise: tell me whether it be not necessary: tell me whether, if tinue to decline God's invitation till the door of heaven is finally closed against you, you will not curse your folly with an anguish that will exceed your utmost conceptions, and bewail to all eternity the conduct you now pursue. I say, then, to every one of you, “Seek ye after God: seek him instantly, without delay: seek him whilst he may be found, and call upon him whilst he is near:" for the time is quickly coming when your day of grace shall be closed, and “God will swear in his wrath that ye shall never enter into his rest.” On the other hand, assure yourselves, that, “ if you seek him, he will be found of you,” and “ your hearts shall live for ever. Let every one of you, therefore, now go home, and put the matter to a trial. See whether God will not be gracious unto you: see whether he will not answer your prayers, and fulfil your desires, and “do exceeding abundantly for you above all that ye can ask or think. I speak with confidence; for, from the beginning of the world to this hour. “ He never said to any, Seek ye my face in vain!"]
A DORING GOD FOR HIS MERCIES.
Ps. xxviii. 7. The Lord is my strength and my shield : my
heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.
THE man of this world delights to speak of the things of this world : the man of God delights to speak of God: each speaketh out of the abundance of his own heart. It is the very character of a true believer, that “he regards the works of the Lord and the operation of his hands,” and that he desires to magnify the Lord for all the benefits conferred upon him. No one can read the Psalms of David, without being penetrated with this thought. What the particular affliction was from which he had recently been delivered when he penned this psalm, we do not certainly know: but after blessing God for his condescension and grace in hearing and answering his supplications, he records, for the benefit of all future saints, his feelings in the review of the mercies vouchsafed unto him.
In this record we see,
To all that trust in him, he is both a protector from all evil, and a helper to all goodThis is a blessed truth, if considered only in theory
[What cannot he do, that “has the God of Jacob for his help?" To what duty may he not address himself with a full assurance that he shall be able to fulfil it? Would he overcome the most inveterate lusts? “Through the influence of God's Spirit he shall mortify the deeds of the body," and "bring the very thoughts of his heart into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Would he attain and exercise all the
of the Spirit ? he shall do so, yea," he shall do all things through Christ strengthening him
And whom needs he to fear? Surely neither men nor devils : for, what can man do, when he himself is crushed before the worm? As for Satan, though he have at his command all the principalities and powers of hell, he is a vanquished enemy, and shall ere long “be bruised for ever under the believer's feet"---]
But this truth is yet more blessed, when it is practically experienced by the believer in his own soul
(What a zest does the believer's own experience give to every declaration of the Inspired Volume! When, from the communications he has actually received, he can say, God is my strength and my shield, then it is that he is prepared to enjoy these blessed truths as he ought, and to give unto God the glory due unto his name. And here we cannot but exhort every believer to trust in God with his whole heart. In this case he shall never be disappointed of his hope: yea rather, the more he expects, the more he shall receive ; and according to his faith it shall be done unto him. Let him only be able to say with David, “My heart trusteth in him;" and he shall sooner or later have reason to add, “ I am helped :" I am protected from evils, which I could not by my own wisdom or