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itself; and whenever any part of it seems to move, it is in reality moved by something else. Sce that log, which, vulgarly speaking, moves on the sea! it is in reality moved by the water. The water is moved by the wind ; that is, a current of air. And the air itself owes all its motion to the ethereal fire, a particle of which is attached to every particle of it. Deprive it of that fire and it moves no longer : it is fixed : it is as inert as sand. Remove fluidity (owing to the ethereal fire intermixed with it) from water, and it has no more motion than the log. Impact fire into iron, by hammering it when red hot and it has no more motion than fixed air, or frozen water. But when it is unfixed, when it is in its most active state, what gives motion to fire? The very heathen will tell you. It is,
Totam Mens agitans molem, et magno se corpore miscens. 6. To pursue this a little farther : we say, the moon moves round the earth; the earth and the other planets move round the sun; the sun moves round its own axis. But these are only vulgar expressions: for if we speak the truth, neither the sun, moon, nor stars, move. None of these move themselves: they are all moved every moment by the Almighty hand that made them.
“Yes,” says sir Isaac, “the sun, moon, and all the heavenly bodies, do move, do gravitate, towards each other.” Gravitate! What is that? Why, they all attract each other, in proportion to the quantity of matter they contain.
“Nonsense all over,” says Mr. Hutchinson ; "jargon, self contradiction! Can any thing act where it is not ? no; they are continually impelled towards each other.” Impelled ! by what? "By the subtile matter, the ether, or electric fire.” But remember! be it ever so subtile, it is matter still : consequently, it is as inert in itself as either sand or marble. It cannot therefore move itself, but probably it is the first material inover; the main spring, whereby the Creator and preserver of all things is pleased to move the universe.
7. The true God is also the Redeemer of all the children of men. It pleased the Father to lay upon him the iniquities of us all, that by the one oblation of himself once offered, when he tasted death for every man, he might make a full and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world.
8. Again: The true God is the governor of all things : “ His kingdom ruleth over all.” The government rests upon his shoulder, throughout all ages. He is the Lord and disposer of the whole creation, and every part of it. And in how astonishing a manner does he govern the world! How far are his ways above human thought! How little do we know of his methods of government ! Only this we know, Ita præsides singulis sicut universis, et universis sicut singulis !” Thou presidest over each creature, as if it were the universe, and over the universe, as over each individual creature. Dwell a little upon this sentiment: what a glorious mystery does it contain! It is paraphrased in the words recited above :
“ Father, how wide thy glories shine !
Lord of the universe, --and mine :
9. And yet there is a difference, as we said before, in his providen tial government over the children of men. A pious writer observes, there is a three fold circle of Divine Providence. The outermost cir. cle includes all the sons of men; Heathens, Mohammedans, Jews, and Christians. He causeth his sun to rise upon all. He giveth them rain and fruitful seasons. He pours ten thousand benefits upon them, and fills their hearts with food and gladness. With an interior circle, he encompasses the whole visible Christian church; all that name the name of Christ. He has an additional regard to these, and a nearer attention to their welfare. But the innermost circle of bis providence encloses only the invisible church of Christ; all real Christians, wherever dispersed in all corners of the earth; all that worship God (whatever denomination they are of) in spirit and in truth. He keeps these as the apple of an eye: he hides them under the shadow of his wings. And it is to these in particular, that our Lord says, “ Even the hairs of your head are all numbered.”
10. Lastly, being the true God, he is the End of all things; according to that solemn declaration of the apostle : Rom xi, 36, “Of him, and through him, and to him, are all things :" Of him, as the Creator ; through him, as the Sustainer and Preserver; and to him as the ultinate end of all.
II. In all these senses, Jesus Christ is the true God. But how is he Eternal Life?
1. The thing directly intended in this expression, is not that he will be eternal life: although this is a great and important truth, and never to bc forgotten. “ He is the Author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.” He is the Purchaser of that “ crown of life," which will be given to all that are “faithful unto death.” And he will be the soul of all their joys to all the saints in glory.
" The flame of angelical love
Is kindled at Jesus's face;
Consists in the rapturous gaze !" 2. The thing directly intended is not, that he is the resurrection. although this also is true, according to his own declaration; "I am the resurrection and the life :” agreeable to which are St. Paul's words; “ As in Adam all died, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” So that we may well say, “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who-hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, to au inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away."
3. But waving what he will be hereafter, we are here called to consider, what he is now. He is now the life of every thing that lives, in any kind or degree. He is the source of the lowest species of life; that of vegetables ; as being the source of all the motion on which vegetation depends. He is the fountain of the life of animals ; the power by which the heart beats, and the circulating juices flow. He is ihe fountain of all the life which man possesses in common with other animals. And if we distinguish the rational from the animal life, he is the source of this also.
4. But how infinitely short does all this fall of the life which is here directly intended, and of which the apostle speaks so explicitly in the
preceding verses! ver. 11, 12, “ This is the testimony, that God hath given us eternal life; and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son bath life; [the eternal life here spoken of;] and he that hath not the Son, [of God,] hath not [this] life.” As if he had said, This is the sum of the testimony which God hath testified of his Son, that God hath given us, not only a title to, but the real beginning of eternal life: and this life is purchased by, and treasured up in his Son; who has all the springs and the fulness' of it in himself, to communicate to his body, the church.
5. This eternal life then commences, when it pleases the Father to reveal his Son in our hearts; when we first know Christ, being enabled to “call him Lord by the Holy Ghost;" when we can testify, our conscience bearing us witness in the Holy Ghost, “ The life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” And then it is that happiness begins; happiness real, solid, substantial. Then it is that heaven is opened in the soul, that the proper heavenly state commences, while the love of God, as loving us, is shed abroad in the heart, instantly producing love to all mankind; general, pure benevolence, together with its genuine fruits, lowliness, meekness, patience, contentedness in every state; an entire, clear, full acquiescence in the whole will of God; enabling us to “rejoice evermore, and in every thing to give thanks.”
6. As our knowledge and our love of him increase, by the same de grees, and in the same proportion, the kingdom of an inward heaven must necessarily increase also ; while we grow up in all things into Ilim, who is our head.” And when we are Ev autW PERA MPWusvos, complete in hin, as our translators render it; but more properly, when we are filled with him; when "Christ in us, the hope of glory,” is our God and our all; when he has taken the full possession of our heart; when he reigns therein without a rival, the Lord of every motion there; when we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us, we are one with Christ, and Christ with us; then we are completely happy; then we live “all the life that is hid with Christ in God." Then, and not till then, we properly experience what that word meaneth: “God is love; and whosoever dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.”
III. I have now only to add a few inferences from the preceding observations.
1. And we may learn from hence, first, that as there is but one God in heaven above and in the earth beneath; so there is only one happiness for created spirits, either in heaven or earth. This one God made our heart for himself; and it cannot rest, till it resteth in him. It is true, that while we are in the vigour of youth and health; while our blood dances in our veins; while the world smiles upon us, and we have all the conveniences, yea, and superfluities of life, we frequently have pleasing dreams, and enjoy a kind of happiness. But it cannot continue; it flies away like a shadow; and even while it does, it is not solid or substantial : it does not satisfy the soul. We still pant after something else, something which we have not. Give a man every thing that this world can gire, still, as Horace observed near two thousand years ago
Curta nescio quid semper abest rei.
“ Amidst our plenty something still,
That something is neither more nor less, than the knowledge and love of God; without which no spirit can be happy either in heaven or earth.
2. Permit me to recite my own experience, in confirmation of this: [ distinctly remember, that, even in my childhood, even when I was at school, I have often said, “They say, the life of a school boy is the happiest in the world : but I am sure, I am not happy: for I am not content; and so cannot be happy.” When I had lived a few years longer, being in the vigour, of youth, a stranger to pain and sickness, and particularly to lowness of spirits ; (which I do not remember to have felt one quarter of an hour ever since I was born ;) having plenty of all things, in the midst of sensible and amiable friends, who loved me, and I loved them, and being in the way of life, which, of all others, suited my inclinations; still I was not happy. I wondered why I was not, and could not imagine what the reason was. The reason certainly was, I did not know God, the source of present as well as eternal happiness. What is a clear proof that I was not then happy, is, that upon the coolest reflection, I knew not one week which I would have thought it worth while to have lived over again; taking it with every inward and outward sensation, without any variation at all.
3. But a pious man affirms, “When I was young I was happy; though I was utterly without God in the world.” I do not believe you : though I doubt not but you believe yourself. But you are deceived, as I have been over and over. Such is the condition of human life :
“ Flowrets and myrtles fragrant seem to rise :
All is at distance fair; but near at hand,
With thorns, and desert heath, and barren sands.” Look forward on any distant prospect : how beautiful does it appear! Come up to it; and the beauty vanishes away; and it is rough and disagreeable. Just so is life. But when the scene is past, it resumes its former appearance; and we seriously believe, that we were then very happy, though, in reality, we were far otherwise. For as none is now, so none ever was happy, without the loving knowledge of the true God.
4. We may learn hence, secondly, that this happy knowledge of the true God is only another name for religion; I mean Christian religion; which indeed is the oniy one that deserves the name. Religion, as to the nature or essence of it, does not lie in this or that set of notions, vulgarly called faith; nor in a round of duties, however carefully reformed from error and superstition. It does not consist in any number of outward actions. No: it properly and directly consists in the knowledge and love of God, as manifested in the Son of his love, through the eternal Spirit. And this naturally leads to every heavenly temper, and to every good word and work.
5. We learn hence, thirdly, that none but a Christian is happy; none but a real inward Christian. A glutton, a drunkard, a gamester, may be merry; but he cannot be happy. The beau, the belle, may eat and drink, and rise up to play; but still they feel they are not happy. Men or women may lorn their own dear persons with all the colours of the rainbow. They may dance, and sing, and hurry to and fro, and flutter hither and thither. They may roll up and down in their splendid carriages, and talk insipidly to each other. They may hasten from one diversion to another : but happiness is not there. They are still “walk
ing in a vain shadow, and disquieting themselves in vain.” One of their own poets has truly pronounced, concerning the whole life of these sons of pleasure :
“ 'Tis a dull farce, an empty show :
Powder, and pocket glass, and beau.” I cannot but observe of that fine writer, that he came near the mark ; and yet fell short of it. In his Solomon, (one of the noblest poems in the English tongue,) he clearly shows where happiness is not; that it is not to be found in natural knowledge, in power, or in the pleasures of sense or imagination. But he does not show where it is to be found. He could not; for he did not know it himself. Yet he came near it, when he said,
“Restore, great Father, thy instructed son ;
And in my act may thy great will be done !" 6. We learn hence, fourthly, that every Christian is happy; and that he who is not happy is not a Christian. If, as was observed above, religion is happiness, every one that has it must be happy. This appears from the very nature of the thing: for if religion and happiness are in fact the same, it is impossible that any man can possess the former, without possessing the latter also. He cannot have religion without having happiness; seeing they are utterly inseparable.
And it is equally certain on the other hand, that he who is nct happy, is not a Christian : seeing if he was a real Christian, he could not but be happy. But I allow an exception here in favour of those who are under violent temptation; yea, and of those who are under deep nervous disorders, which are indeed a species of insanity. The clouds and darkness which then overwhelm the soul, suspend its happiness; especially if Satan is permitted to second those disorders, by poaring in his fiery darts. But, excepting these cases, the observation will hold, and i. should be well attended to,—Whoever is not happy, yea, happy in God, is not a Christian.
7. Are not you a living proof of this ? Do not you still wander to and fro, seeking rest, but finding none ?-Pursuing happiness, but never overtaking it? And who can blame you for pursuing it? It is the very end of your being. The great Creator made nothing to be miserable, but every creature to be happy in its kind. And upon a general reriew of the works of his hands, he pronounced them all very good ; which they would not have been, had not every intelligent creature, yea, every one capable of pleasure and pain, been happy in answering the end of its creation. If you are now unhappy, it is because you are in an unnatural state: and shall you not sigh for deliverance from it? “ The whole creation” being now“ subject to vanity," "groaneth and travaileth in pain together." I blame you only, or pity you rather, for taking a wrong way to a right end: for seeking happiness where it never was, and never can be found. You seck happiness in your fellow creatures, instead of your Creator. But these can no more make you happy, than they can make you immortal. If you have cars to hear, every creature cries aloud, “ Happiness is not in me." All these are, in truth, “ broken cisterns, that can hold no water." Oh turn unto your rest! Turn to him, in whom are hid all the treasures of happiness! Turn unto him, “who giveth liberally unto all men;" and he will give you "to rok of the water of life freely.”