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ETERNITY OF GOD. mendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.''k “ Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."! A pious writer observes,
“ When God gave us his Son, he gave us an infinitely greater gift than the world : the Creator is infinitely more glorious than the creature, and the Son of God is the Creator of all things. God can make innumerable worlds by the word of his mouth; he has but one only Son, and he spared not his only Son, but gave him to the death of the cross for us all. God's love to his people is from everlasting to everlasting : but from everlasting to everlasting there is no manifestation of it known, or conceivable by us, that can be compared to this. The light of the sun is always the same, but it shines brightest to us at noon: the cross of Christ was the noon-tide of everlasting love; the meridian splendour of eternal mercy. There were many bright manifestations of the same love before, but they were like the light of the morning, that shines more and more unto the perfect day; and that perfect day was when Christ was on the cross, when darkness covered all the land."
Pursuing his schemes of love and mercy, he appears as “ the God of all grace, who hath called us to his eternal glory by Jesus Christ." He loveth those who love his Son." “ It is their Father's good pleasure to give them the kingdom."o “ And God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city,"p
$5. All this love is like himself, eternal. “ His mercy en... dureth for ever ;''1 and“ is from everlasting to everlasting upon : them that fear him.”. “ The heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment; but his salvation shall be for ever."
He who manifests this love is “ the eternal God.” “ A thousand years in his sight are as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. One day is with the Lord as a .. thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.' " He inhabiteth eternity;"" and such is that eternity, that, compared with it, one day and a thousand years are alike; they are both so insignificant, that one appears as long as the other. (k) Rom. v. 7,8. (1) 1 John iv. 2, 10. (m) 1 Pet. v. 10. (n) John xvi. 27. (0) Luke xii. 39. (p) Heb. xi. 16. (0) Ps. cxxxvi, 1. (r) Ps. ciii. 17. (8) Isa. li. 6. (1) Deut. xxxiii. 27. (u) Ps. xc. 4. (v) 9 Pet, iii. 8.
(w) Isa. Ivii. 15.
REVERENCE DUE TO GOD.
13 $ 6. What awe, what reverence should these views of God - inspire ! His works, how glorious! but himself how infinitely V majestic! When compared with him, his vast creation is mean, 4, as a speck of floating dust; and sun and stars like momentary
sparks of fire, just seen and forgotten. Angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, shine with a glory which the loftiest language scarcely describes. Yet thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, cherubim and seraphim, in prostrate homage bow before him, and veil their faces, and cast their crowns at his feet, and cry, “ Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who is, and was, and is to come.”'y While such is their homage, how reverent should be yours ! You, a mote, a worm, an insect, compared with them; yet they, with all their radiant majesty, insects compared with
him. While they in his presence shrink into nothing, and | less than nothing, what are you! How great a God is our God! Cherish the deepest reverence for him. Should such a God be treated with irreverence ? Should he be mocked in professed devotion, “ with solemn sounds on a thoughtless tongue?" Abhor and watch against this common sin, and : humble yourself in deep abasement before him, for doubtless
it has often polluted your soul. 1 87. What deep concern for a full assurance of his favour
should these views of God excite in your heart! O, could we
feel but a thousandth part as much where eternity is concerned, j'as we do when health or comfort is at stake, how seriously
and fervently should we inquire, And is God indeed my God? A single doubt would wring the heart with anguish; and uncertainty almost drive us to distraction. Pursue this blessing. If others are satisfied with a little religion, O imitate not such folly, but seek, in and by Jesus, the full assurance of faith. The power and justice of God are armed with ten thousand terrors against every one that is not his child; the love and goodness of God display ten thousand charms to every one that is. O how dreadful must it be to have him for a foe, whose thunders, lightnings, earthquakes, tempests, and pestilences can sweep millions to the grave in a moment! whose command would extinguish the sun, and crush the universe to nothing! But how inexpressibly desirable is such a friend! A friend, whose knowledge no enemy can elude; whose
(s) Rev, x. 5, 6. (y) Rev, iv. 8.
IMPORTANCE OF THE DIVINE FAVOUR. power none can resist, whose wisdom none can baffle, and whose love none can comprehend. Who bids seed-time and harvest, summer and winter, revolve; who kindled up suni and stars; who rolls the moon and planets through the expanse of heaven, and pours floods of light and warmth from the sun upon this distant earth; who saith to the sea, “ Peace, be still,” and to the seraph in glory, “ Go,” and he goeth. While all the inanimate creation obey his voice, while angels bask in his smile, while the treasures of heaven are at his disposal, while nothing exists of which he is not the rightful owner, and while devils are shrinking from his frown, and trembling beneath the chains of his wrath, O what is any thing to thee, compared to God!
You have to meet this infinite God. How will you meet him if not become his friend, his child ? How will your soul sustain that awful day? How bear the appalling survey of his infinite majesty ? How will you shudder at the guilty past! How tremble at the amazing future! Prepare to meet thy God. Whatever engages you, let God engage your most fervent thoughts. Whatever claims your heart, let God have the first place there.
Much as earthly friendships and earthly cares may now agitate and engage you, remember they are but the things of a moment, compared with what shall be revealed hereafter. The time is coming when those which appear of most importance to your present comfort, and which may now be contemplated with ardent interest, or inexpressible delight, will seem of no moment, any further than as they advance your preparation for eternal scenes. Keep this in mind, and strive to resign all your dearest interests into the hands of the Allwise; and seek your lasting good and best treasure in his love. He deserves your best affections, and your highest regard. How much should the earnestness generally felt after happi. ness in the present state, impress upon you the value of im. mortal blessedness! and how much should the anxiety you perhaps feel to secure the affections of kind and amiable friends here, urge upon you the necessity and importance of possessing the love of the ever-gracious God, and adorable Redeemer, both here and hereafter! Compared with our God and Redeemer, what are our tenderest, best, and dearest friends ? what even the kindest and most valued parents to
ON DEVOTEDNESS TO GOD.
15 us? Their warmest affection is cold as rocks of ice, compared with that which actuated the breast of the Eternal, when he so loved the world as to give Jesus for its ransom, or with that of the divine Immanuel, when he became for us a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. The love of the fondest mortal friends is in a great degree but the return of affection ; and such too is the love of man, of saints, of angels, to God. “ We love him because he first loved us.". The love of God was unsought, unsolicited, shown not to friends but enemies; and shown when in our character there was every thing to prevent, and nothing to produce, it. On our interest in this, an eternity is concerned ; on our interest in the breasts of those we hold most dear on earth, nothing but an inch of time.
$ 8. Consider, that not merely is the favour of God eternally important to you, but that he has an entire and unalienable claim on all you have and all you are. The first and the greatest commandment is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength. This commandment is binding upon all on earth, and all in heaven. The love it enjoins is the golden link that would bind the whole universe together in harmony and bliss. It would inspire all with one desire, and lead all to pursue one object, calculated supremely to glorify God, and to benefit man. The gospel of Jesus, while it delivers his followers from condemnation incurred by transgressing this law, takes not one jot or one tittle from our obligation to obey it; but strengthens that obligation by additional motives, and thus in fact establishes the law.
Such is the extreme deceitfulness of the human heart, that it may be useful more in detail to show what is required from those who are indeed devoted to God.
There can be no true devotedness to God, till the corrupt selfishness of the human heart is subdued. Selfishness is the root of man's depravity. He is his own idol. He would give to himself that place which God alone has a right to possess. Some of our old writers called sin deicide; probably from the idea that man, pursuing his career of sin and selfexaltation, would, if he possessed sufficient power, not stop
(2) 1 John iv, 19.
THE EVIL OF SELFISHNESS. till he had thrust the Creator from his throne, and by destroying him had assumed that honour to himself. This notion is correct. Were the sinner possessed of sufficent might, when he had raised himself above all, except his God, he would esteem his God an enemy, and not be happy till he had advanced one step higher, and placed his throne above the throne of God. This is the tendency of the selfish depravity of the human heart, and were this corruption armed with equal power, this would be its end. When Alexander having conquered one world wept because he had not an. other to conquer, if he could have carried his victorious arms into the world unseen, and have waged war against his Maker, doubtless no place lower than his Creator's throne would have satisfied the infernal ambition that governed in his bosom. Every child of man is born with this corrupt principle, though in some it afterwards appears much more prominent than in others. It is the root of human wickedness. Every human being, by having indulged it, has become an idolater, for he has preferred self to God; and given this that place in his affections, which only God deserves and justly claims.
Ah! my friend, if pharisaic notions of the goodness of human nature charm your mind, you will think the writer a poor enthusiastic creature, almost beside himself, for penning assertions so strange. But if your heart has ever been broken up, if you have ever gained a glance at the great deep of iniquity within, though your life should have been fair and blameless, yet you will be ready to lie down in the dust of self-abasement, and to acknowledge, not as the extravagance of error, but as the correctness of truth, that
“ God only knows the utmost hell
“Of the deceitful heart.” $ 9. All by nature are without love to God. Alienated from him, and disposed to give to self the place he ought to have in their esteem. Where grace does not subdue this corrupt principle, and transform the man, this acts and governs in every station. The Indian Brahmin, who courts divine honours; the New Zealand chief, while esteemed a god by his fellow-savages, display its power. The soldier, the sailor, the tradesman, the man of science, the dissolute youth, and the giddy girl, are all under its influence. Ambition in every form is a desire of self-exaltation. Selfishness mounts the