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HIS GOODNESS IN PROVIDENCE AND GRACE. 27 op of mercy brought me here ? me, once so vain, so gay, so E thoughtless of all real good ;-me, once so dissipated, so
worldly ;-me, once stained with ten thousand sins ;-me, for whom the pit of destruction yawned, and whom devils expected as their prey! God, that awful venerable name! God brought me here; and never, never should I have seen this abode of peace, but for his saving love. O my friend, are these rich mercies in possession, these richer in prospect, all the gift of that much injured, yet still benevolent, Being, God, and can he expect, or can you be willing to offer, less in return than all you have and are! Is it much to devote that little to him, who gives so much ? Has he given you life and health, a thousand comforts, and more than doubled all in giving Christ, and will you not devote to him yourself and your all? Will he give you heaven, and is it much to devote to him a span of time on earth! O rather, pray, Merciful God ! little, far too little, is the most I ever can devote to thee; and let me not make that little less, by offering a heart but half set on thee, and life but half devoted to thee! O rather, whatever other professors of thy gospel do, enable me to offer to thee all I have, and all I am, an unworthy and insignificant, yet a living, and, through Jesus Christ, an acceptable sacrifice!
$ 15. As one motive more for devotedness to God, remember that they who live most to God, live most to their own true welfare; and they who live to themselves, live to ruin. On this subject a pious writer observes,
“ The fact is, no man will have been found too cunning for God. Men, all men, will be for ever and ever what they were through life. Not a grain of the seed sown in time, but what will bear in time and through eternity its own fruit. The tree which thou plantest, О immortal, of its fruit shalt thou partake for ever. By the merits of Christ believers will attain to life eternal, but the history of that life eternal will bear the motto, Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap.' • One star differeth from another star in glory, so also is the resurrection of the dead.' And thus a life of selfishness invariably onds in disappointment in some shape or other. There is an inseparable, an eternal, connexion between actions and their fruit, and no wit or cunning of men can dissolve it. • He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.' . He that soweth to
SELFISHNESS LEADS TO RUIN. the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.'
« But he who has lived to himself, shall • arise to shame and everlasting contempt.' I set before thee a heavenly life, a glorious career of Christian benevolence; and my grace should have been perfected in thy weakness. But thou preferredst a partial view of thy own interests, and thou livedst to thyself. Absorbed in secular engagements, thou raisedst a noble mansion; thou elevatedst thy family to the highest dignities, and the name of thy house has survived the ravages of centuries. But see, the world is on fire! Behold, a new earth and a new heaven! What share hast thou in this new creation ? Is there one soul on these thrones which thou hast instrumentally raised thither? Is there one scene to the beauties of which thou hast contributed ? None. All thy labours, all thy projects, have perished in the great conflagration, and thou art left alone, since all earthly connexions are dissolved, for ever to reflect on the inexpressible folly and turpitude of a life which has been consumed on a base and fruitless effort to make self the object of adoration and service, while the Deity and all the creatures have been made to serve with thy sins: Go, infatuated wretch, eternity is before thee, a god for a 1 moment, a miserable reptile for ever. Hadst thou lived to me, | I had made thee a son and an heir of God. Thou hast lived to thyself; thyself in ruins shall be to thee the only object of contemplation amidst the solitudes and unavailing anguish of
$ 16. While the goodness, and love, and compassion of God thus claim for him your supreme regard, the contemplation of his excellences should fill your soul with pure delight. If you are indeed a follower of the Lamb, then this God is thy God for ever and ever; he will be thy guide even unto death.h Look at the creation, and you may exclaim, “ My Father made it all.” Look at the sun; it is darkness to his glory. Look at the world; it is the creature of a moment in his sight. He, before whom angels veil their faces; he, at whose frown the pillars of heaven tremble, he is thy God. He who inhabiteth eternity is thy God, and is for thee preparing a mansion in his own abode. O think more of God, and less of the world; more of his favour, and less of earthly
* Ward. (h) Ps. xlviii. 14.
GOD IS LOVE TO THE BELIEVER. cares or troubles. What is the world to one who has to do with God? What are its pleasures or its pains to one who hopes ere long to be with God? What all the cares that agitate its followers, to one that knows he has but a moment here and eternity there? What is the world, what is thy country, what all thy friends to thee, compared with God? This world is not thy world. This country is not thy country. These friends, unless they too are the children of God, are not thy lasting friends; but heaven is thy country, and God is thy Friend and thy Father for ever.
And who is he that is thus engaged as thy friend ? The God who is love. Love is his brightest glory. For scores of ages has he been showering down innumerable blessings on this ungrateful world; for he is love. The meanest insect is not beneath his care. A sparrow does not die without him, and the fowls of the heaven are fed, because GOD IS LOVE. But in eternity the sun of his love sheds its brightest beams without one darkening cloud. Joy is diffused through all the immense regions of heaven, because GOD IS LOVE. Eternal day smiles on its peaceful mansions, for God is there, and GOD IS LOVE. Myriads of happy spirits exult there in unsullied holiness, unmingled happiness, and never-fading glory, for God is their friend, and GOD IS LOVE. He pours the tide of joy through their abodes, he lights up their eternal day, all they are, and all they have, all that heaven can furnish and eternal life bestow, all is the gift of God, for GOD IS LOVE. And is this God, thy God! then rejoice. The friend of angels is thy Friend and Father; and GOD IS LOVE TO THEE. What are all thy friends, and all their love compared with his ? His love that reaches through earth and heaven! His love that supplies a sparrow's wants, and crowns with glory every angel's head! His love that extends through time, and stretches to eternity! His love to thee, more boundless than that to the angels that bow at his feet! For, for thee, a rebel and a worm, he gave his Son. O wonder and adore ! This God, thy God! O bow at his feet! Abhor thyself for having ever offended him, and triumph in his love. Father of heaven, art thou my Father, and shall I not delight in thee? Giver of eternal life, art thou my life, and shall I not live to thee? God of angels, art thou my God, and a kinder God to me than even to them, and shall I not love thee, and yield
GOD AN EVER PRESENT FRIEND. all my powers to thee ? and wish to love thee with an angel's fire? Light of eternity, art thou my light, and shall I not listen to thee, and count all wisdom folly, but the wisdom of thy word ? all learning ignorance, except the truth thy blessed book unfolds ? Thou art love. O patient love! I have injured thee, yet thou art kind to me. How are my sins, even of a hellish dye! How have I acted, even a devil's part, in sinning against infinite goodness! and grieving infinite love! Yes, my young friend, these mingled feelings of exulting joy in God, and deep self-detestation, well become us when viewing the love of God. Look but at his everlasting love, and there thou wilt find a sufficient portion to gladden all thy soul; and without a sigh, thou wilt leave riches, and honours, and pleasures, and fame, to their possessors, whilst thou canst say, GOD IS LOVE, and God is mine.
§ 17. Reflect further : He, thy God, is ever with thee. Friends may be absent, he is always near. He sees thy tears, he hears thy prayers, he beholds the pantings of thy heart, and the desires of thy soul after more of his presence, his likeness, and his love. He is by when thou art praying in secret; and he goes with thee in thy lonely walks. He gives thee strength for the labours of the day; and watches over thee through the darkness of the night. Perhaps thy house is poor; the great ones of the earth might scorn to enter thy humble dwelling, or come under thy lowly roof, but thy God is there. Thy cottage is not too mean for him, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, in that cottage to dwell with thee. He is by, when thou art meditating on his word, to pour the light of instruction on thy soul; to wing thy hopes, and fire thy heart, and raise thy desires to the mansions of eternal love. He is by when thou art conversing on his goodness; and hearkens and hears, and a book of remembrance is written for those that fear the Lord and think upon his name. Nor is he absent when thou art wishing that thy eyes were fountains of tears, to pour a ceaseless flood, because thou lovest and servest him no better. Through all thy days of health, God is with thee, and when thou layest on thy sick-bed he will be near thee, and near thee in thy dying hour.
Perhaps thou art unknown and despised on earth, thy wisdom counted folly, thy name cast out with scorn; but while God is thy portion, what trifles are poverty, contempt, and GOD AN EVERLASTING FRIEND. 31 scorn! However lowly, however despised on earth, as his child, thy name is written in the book of life, and stands enrolled in the records of heaven. While God is thine, though thou mayst have little here, thou hast much there. On earth but just a humble shelter, in which to lay thy head; but in heaven an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, and that cannot fade away. No riches here, but endless riches there; and it matters not if thou art poor on earth, whilst thou art rich in heaven.
Perhaps thou hast few friends, yet canst thou want a friend, while God is thy friend? He is more to thee than the whole universe ; and his friendship of infinitely more value than that of all the inhabitants of earth or heaven besides. Thou art feeble as a moth, but the eternal God is thy refuge, the ever. lasting arms support thee. Thou art beset by foes and dan. gers, but the infinite God is thy shield; thou art a dying creature, but the immortal God is thy life and thy portion.
Perhaps God has given thee more of the comforts and mercies of this dying world; yet it is a dying world, and all is dying round thee. Rejoice then not in fading transitory things, but in thy God. God is thy God for ever, but nothing here is thine for ever. The tender parents, or beloved and loving friends, whose kindness and affection give life its chief charm, and gladden the very heart, are not in this shadowy world to be thy friends for ever. The bloom of youth, the strength of manhood, the vigour and the joy of health, will not be thine for ever. The possessions and comforts of this life cannot long be thine. This is not the eternal world. All is shadow here, all is change and deception. Thy friends must quickly die, but thy God will never die. He inhabiteth eternity. Thy health must be changed to sickness, thy ease to pain, thy life to death. Thy taper will expire; thy sun will set; all thou hast rapacious death will tear away. Rejoice not then in dying things, but if God is thine, glory in thy God, who dwells above the reach of change; thy God, the everlasting solace of the immortal soul. And he thy friend, thy portion, through the span of life, will be thine through eternal years. The sun that cheers thee with its light and warmth, must shortly shine upon thy grave; but God, thy glory, will then shine with all the beams of heavenly love upon thy soul. That sun itself must ere long expire, but God shall be thy