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My conviction is, my friends, that God with all thy heart, with all thy there is too much coldness, too much soul, with all thy mind, and with all frost and ice in these hearts, and, thy strength.” This is the first and worse than that, too much earthli- great commandment: and there is a ness and depravity in the human second that is kindred to it, and that heart, for such hearts ever to rise to arises out of it ;-"Thou shalt love God, to a Being infinitely high, infi- thy neighbour as thyself. Upon these nitely holy, until that Being, infinitely two commandments hang all the Law good and merciful, condescends first and the Prophets." to touch that heart. Then his love | Piety always comprehends interkindles ours; and therefore, says the course with God. This naturally fol. Apostle, “He that believeth, knoweth lows what we have already attempted God and loveth God." By inevitable to describe. We know well that huconsequence, if I know God is my God, man beings who are attached to each and if I know and feel that God loves other, which attachment pre-supposes me through Jesus Christ, and if his acquaintance with each other, would love be revealed in my heart, shed seek for all opportunities of enjoying abroad there, to use St. Paul's lan- each other's society. A man seeks guage, “by the Holy Ghost given for every opportunity for enjoying the unto me”--then, knowing and realiz. society of his friend; he is never so ing my interest in him, I must love | happy as when he is in the society of him. This is the very simple, and, the friend he loves. So when we because simple, therefore, the very know God, and love him supremely, safe principle on which the pen of how shall we delight to have interinspiration accounts for the existence course with the God of love, and how and for the operation of this divine shall we seek every opportunity of affection towards God in the heart of maintaining that sacred intercourse, man. “We love him because he first Behold the man of piety in the devoloved us.” This comes home to the tion of the closet. Prayer opens heart—this warms the heart. Has heaven, and lets down a stream of the blessed God loved me? Does he glory on the adoring, devout, and love me in Jesus Christ, and has he happy soul. Behold him in the peruforgiven me my trespasses ? How, sal of the Sacred Volume. How does then, ought this heart to love him in he find God in his word, speaking to return with supreme affection-how him by his truth, in mercy, in power, ought I to be grateful to him-how and in love. Behold him at the faought I to delight in him, and show mily altar, calling upon the God of forth his praise, with all my faculties, the families of the earth. How does all the days of my life. Nor is this the sacred fire come down to consume love, which is a most essential and the sacrifice-how is the fire of divine comprehensive branch of piety, a sub love rekindled on the altar of his ordinate or secondary passion. It heart. Behold him in the sanctuary must be the first thing, or it is no. of his God, hearing his word, singing thing. The man who does not love the high praises of the Lord, offering God above all, does not love him at up praises, and thanksgivings, and inall. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy tercessions. See him in his approach
to the table of the Lord, receiving the man of piety, where are his thoughts? memorials of the body and blood of where his affections? where his heart? Christ. Think you all this is mere He thinks of God; his affections rise form ? Think you there is nothing to God; he sets the Lord always bevital in all this? You see the exter-fore him; he receives the impresnal form, but the man feels the inward sion of the excellence and the moral power. His communion is with the beauty he beholds, and “is changed Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. into the same image from glory to In these devout exercises the inter glory.” But although much is atcourse is open through Jesus, be tributable to intercourse and habit, tween man and his Maker, between be it remembered that wherever the earth and heaven; and the divine pre- moral image of God is restored to the sence is there realized. Nor is this heart of man, the presence and agency intercourse restricted to the more di. of the Spirit of God is always implied. rect acts and exercises of devotion. Therefore the Apostle adds, “even as Not only on the Lord's day, but on by the Spirit of the Lord,” the Spirit ordinary days—not only when asso of the Lord giveth effect to all the ciated with his fellow worshippers, means that were employed; the Spirit but when alone-yet not alone, God of the Lord creating all things, and is with him still, ever present with renewing the soul in righteousness him, ever helping him. Such is the and true holiness. Was it not the present state of things that the most primeval glory of man that he bore a cordially attached friends cannot al-moral likeness to his God? And is it ways enjoy each other's society. But not man's greatest degradation and it is otherwise here: the man who infelicity that that image by sin has knows and loves his God may enjoy been defaced ? Instead of the image his presence from day to day. There- of God, he became the image of the fore, the Psalmist describes the felicity devil, and the bond slave of hell. Yet of those who know the joyful sound : it is the unrivalled glory of our com-“They shall walk, O Lord, in the mon Christianity to restore to man light of thy countenance. In thy the forfeited image of his God, to name shall they rejoice"-not a part change fallen human nature into a of the day merely, but—"all the day ; | bright resemblance of Deity. and in thy righteousness shall they Piety comprehends obedience to God, be exalted.” It is no real argument submission to his will, conformity to against this, that some professors know his holy law. For, let it be observed very little about it. It does not follow that all scriptural, and therefore, gethat religion is not calculated to open nuine piety is practical. Is there not this intercourse because some of us, a special necessity for the ministers perhaps, do not know what it is. Had of religion to insist upon this? Is we but more religion-did we but there not some danger in some quarenter more fully into the spirit of the ters in these times lest we spend our religion of Jesus, we should know what time in speaking on doctrinal subis meant by having fellowship with jects, in speaking indeed on the divine our God; we should enjoy the re- and rich doctrines of salvation, while freshing and hallowing communica- we too much lose sight, not only ourtions of the divine presence and love selves, but our hearers, of the pracin our hearts, and go on our way retical, holy tendency of these doctrines ? joicing.
| Are not all the doctrines of revealed Piety comprehends likeness to God religion doctrines according to god. -Godliness-God-likeness. Does not liness and is not every truth conthis follow on the realization of the tained in this book a holy truth, and former branches of Piety? Is not the practical in its tendency and design? human mind so constituted that it How comes it that a man can know receives impressions from those ob- , and love God, and have intercourse jects with which it is most conver- with God, and be brought to a moral sant? The thoughts of the worldling, resemblance to God, and not be emhis. affections and regards, are devoted bodying the holy precepts of his to the world : he becomes more and law? Is not the law of God the remore worldly, and sensual. And the flected image of its author? The law
is holy, just, and good; and the com- , and extravagance. Is there no benefit mandment is holy, just, and good. in that? It preserves a man from sloth If, then, we love the just, and good, and indolence. Is there no benefit in and holy God, for that reason we must that? You never saw an idle Christian : love, and loving we must embody and he does not exist. The slothful man exemplify, his just, and good, and for that very reason is not a Christian holy law. So that, there is not a man. “Not slothful in business." single precept or prohibition in the He is to have a business, and in that moral code which a man of piety business he is to be occupied: he is to be would have expunged. He prays to diligent and active,“ serving the Lord.” God to give him grace to embody the Moreover, Christianity, by the lofty, whole in his life; “ that the right- and majestic, and vast, and glorious eousness of the law may be fulfilled in objects that it presents to the mind, us, who walk not after the flesh, but expands the mind; and thus the man after the Spirit :" How it would tend soon possesses powers of intellect, and to the confusion and overthrow of in- a capacity far beyond what he posfidelity, and to the spread and triumph sessed, or what was in exercise, pre.. of Christianity, were all its professors viously to his conversion to God. I exemplifying, in their temper and con- have known some instances of this, duct, all its moral excellency and and have one in my mind's eye at this beauty, from day to day-if it were to moment-a man who, before his conbe seen alive and embodied in their version, was deemed very little above conduct, in “ whatsoever things are idiotism itself; but after he became true, whatsoever things are honest, awakened and penitent, and sought pure, lovely, and of good report.” and found the Lord, to the astonishmert
In one word, Piety implies a su- of all who knew him, he was found to preme and habitual regard to the honor possess powers which, if they existed of God, in all we think, and feel, and at all, were totally dormant till brought say, and do; “ doing all in the name into operation by this exciting cause, of the Lord Jesus; giving thanks to Religion : and those lofty and glorious God, even the Father, by him.” “For objects to which his mind was then of him, and to him, and through him, directed, expanded and called powers are all things : to whom be glory for into exercise which astonished all who ever. Amen."
subsequently knew him. And how Now, my friend, this is, briefly, can it be otherwise? If the mind what we mean by Piety-what we receive its impressions from its obmean by godliness—by vital, saving ljects, and if its objects are so glorious religion. Mark, then, soME OF ITS -God, and Christ, and heaven, and ADVANTAGES.
eternity, and salvation is not this The text says “ Godliness is profi- likely, think you, to expand the powers table to all things.” Of other things of the mind? Is there no benefit here? this cannot with truth be spoken. Will it be no advantage to a man, as Some things are profitable in a few to this world, to have wisdom and instances; this in all. Some things discretion ? are profitable at some seasons; this at Then again, consistent piety very all season-profitable while we live, soon gives character. And what does profitable when we die profitable for character, a character formed by conthis life, and for a better life to come. sistent piety? It commands confi
First, the apostle specifies the pre dence. Here is a homage that infidesent. Religion is profitable in every lity sometimes pays to piety. I have correct view we take of it in relation known and heard of instances, where to the present. For example. It is even an avowed infidel has preferred profitable considered in its influence on transacting business with a decidedly a man's external circumstances. To Christian man, a man of consistent this general rule you may possibly character and piety, rather than with find some solitary exceptions ; but one of his own class. Why? Because these are so few that they rather con- | the man of piety had a conscience and firm than invalidate the general maxim. principle; and the infidel gave him Religion must be profitable. Why? credit for these. And if a man have It preserves a man from intemperance character, and that character command confidence, will there be no benefit , his conduct; and preserves him from resulting from this as to his external that excessive solicitude and anxiety in circumstances ?
which unconverted men, though not Again. Whatever he doth shall | addicted to the grosser vices, are too prosper, saith the Lord. Providence apt to indulge. Hence we are apt to, smiles on the man; he hath the pro- say, Such a one looks care-worn. It mise of the life that now is. There is anxiety, worldly cares and fears were many promises under former dis-preying on the man's soul, depressing pensations, even relating to temporal and exhausting the man's spirit, exertthings; and although Christianity is ing a baneful influence on his whole in its nature a spiritual dispensation, system, giving a character to the man's yet there are promises relating to tem- very countenance. Whereas piety poral things. “Seek first the kingdom comforts the heart—does good like a of God, and all these things shall be medicine. Many there are now alive, added unto you.” The fact illustrates and enjoying innumerable blessings, and confirms the testimony of Scrip- who would have been in their graves ture. There are multitudes on whom many years ago, had it not been for Providence has smiled, now in affluent the salutary and healthful restraints circumstances, (and I have had it from which religion laid upon them. Hence the testimony of some of them, deli the wise man has declared, in refevered with tears of gratitude,) who, rence to heaven-descended, angelic before their conversion to God, by wisdom, “ Length of days is in her their intemperance and extravagance, right hand ; and in her left hand riches scarcely had food to eat, or raiment to and honor.” Those who embrace this wear, themselves and their families in heaven-descended wisdom, and those wretchedness and poverty: but after who become her consistent disciples, their conversion, they became sober realize these blessings. and industrious: Providence smiled on Godliness is profitable in all the relathem, and prospered their undertak tions of life. We know what infidelity ings; and now they have a competence sneeringly says here-Your Christianity themselves, and are ready to distribute is priest-craft; or, it is a state engine to others. Thus is godliness profita- to keep the people in awe, and to proble, as it has an influence on a man's duce decorum among them, and order external circumstances.
in society, which could not be carried It is profitable in its tendency to pre-on without your Christianity. Indeed; serve and extend life itself. It has the and do you really say so? Is this the promise of the life that now is. This admission of the infidel with regard to was a promise made to filial piety un- this Christianity, which he would proder the legal dispensation; "that thy scribe and banish from the world ? days may be long in the land which Is he aware he is paying a high the Lord thy God giveth thee." See compliment to Christianity? Is he you not how godliness tends to this ? aware, on his own showing, that The reverse of piety has a contrary Christianity is beneficial in its intendency. “ The wicked shall not live fluence—that it really produces order out half their days.” How many are and decorum in society? This it could there who, by their intemperance and not do if it were a system of fraud, excessive dissipation, emaciate their and falsehood, and imposition: for bodies, impair their health; and though error cannot produce truth; fraud and they have not arrived at noon of life in imposition cannot produce righteouspoint of years, are old in constitution. ness, and goodness, and integrity, See the sons of sensuality blazing out while the world stands. But Christhe lamp of life in a few years of ex- tianity does produce these things : then, cessive dissipation; for a few months Christianity is not a system of fraud they drag on a miserable existence, and imposition; but a system of truth bear about a body full of aches and and righteousness. The fact is, there pains, and then drop into a premature is scarcely an evil that exists in society, grave. And is there not a cause? scarcely an evil under which suffering Whereas, on the other hand, “ the | humanity groans in this miserable fear of the Lord prolongeth days ;" world, that may not be traced to the Godliness lays restraints on a man's absence of Christianity as its cause. passions; it regulates his temper and Whence come family discords, and
disorders, and distractions? Not from, ness, it is equally matter of consciousreligion, which, when it enters that ness to all that we are yet capable of sacred little enclosure, sanctifies all, happiness, and that we have not lost harmonizes all, sweetens all, and blesses the desire of the thing; we pant for all; for there is the voice of joy and happiness. The enemy of God and rejoicing, not of strife and discord, in man knowing this, it has been one of the tabernacle of the righteous. It his artifices from the beginning, to comes not from religion, then, but persuade mankind that piety is unfrom the want of it. Whence come friendly to happiness; especially the fraud, and cruelty, and oppression, young he strives thus to persuade, and tyranny, and wrong? Not from knowing that for that very reaChristianity, which says, and insists son they will be unfriendly to piety. on it, “ As ye would that men should Is it not true there are very many perdo unto you, do ye also unto them sons who though they regard religion likewise;"-but from the want of it. as something that must be submitted Whence come wars, and fighting, and to at last, without which a man cancarnage, and desolation, and all their not safely go into another world; yet horrid train of evils? Not from regard it as something to be endured Christianity, which, wherever it travels | rather than enjoyed, and to be shunned in its power and influence, breathes rather than sought, while they can and proclaims, “ Glory to God in the safely do without it. Is not this highest,” and secures and promotes true? I appeal to your own thoughts “ peace on earth, good-will towards and feelings. Hence the voice again, men;"—but from the want of it. When | and again, and again—" Go thy Christianity shall be universal in our way for this time : I shall enjoy world, when all civil governments shall the world, and the pleasures of sin; act on the principles of the pacific reli- but this godliness is a gloomy thing; gion of Jesus the Prince of Peace, this piety makes a man sad; and there. then, nation shall rise up against na-fore, though I must have it, and subtion no more, kingdom against king- mit to it at the last, and cannot be dom no more: they shall not hurt nor saved without it, I will defer it as long destroy in all God's holy mountain : as possible.” Thus it is that multiman shall be foe to man no longer ; tudes are ruined and remain unhappy every man shall behold in his fellow aby shunning the very thing that can brother and a friend. Then, in that make them happy. Religion is the state of the world, when this profitable only thing that gives happiness; and Christianity shall overspread the face it can give happiness, and does give of the earth, oh, how shall the ills happiness. “ Light is sown for the under which mankind suffer and groan righteous, and gladness for the upright be lessened, if not entirely removed. in heart." Oh, the bliss of an apThen shall Paradise be regained. Then proving conscience the bliss of the shall earth, in some sense, resemble peace which passeth understanding heaven. Haste, happy day!
the bliss of the love of God glowing on Godliness is profitable considered in the altar of the heart. Tell me not, its influence, immediately and individu- | This good man has affliction and sufally, on the happiness of men. God fering—where then is his happiness? made man to be happy. God could Where it was before, my friend: it is never make man at all but to bless him. in his heart. Though suffering abounds, What other motive could he have to consolation will much more abound. call him into existence? The desire of Tell me not that this man may, on achappiness is one of the most early, as count of his religion, be exposed to acts it is one of the most powerful princi of violence, and persecution, and death ples of our nature : it is coeval with itself-where is his happiness then? our very existence. Happiness is the Where it was before, my friend : his proper destination of man; and with happiness is still within ; God is with out this the very end of his being is him still ; the light of heaven beams defeated. Man was happy when God on his spirit, the love of God glows made him, but he is not now what he there, and the man triumphs in all his was when God made him. For al- ' sufferings. Take an example of this. though it is matter of consciousness to | Paul and Silas had been preaching the every man that he has lost his happi-' gospel, and casting out a demon. For