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through its dark and gloomy vale, and will receive thee unto himself, that where he is, there thou mayest be also !
The good man is always attended by holy angels--for they are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them that are heirs of salvation. If, like the servant of Elisha, our eyes were supernaturally opened, to behold this glorious company, we should then be convinced, that, far from being alone, they are unspeakably more that are for us, than all that can be against us. Faith supplies the want of sight, is the evidence of things not seen, and, upon the authority of the word of God, is as well satisfied of their existence and employment, as if they were actually in view. The angel of the Lord, says the psalmist, encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. And again, Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation ; there shall no evil befal thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. And, having ministered to thee on earth, they shall convey thy departing spirit, as they did that of Lazarus, to the mansions of the blessed.
And now, Christian, wert thou actually in the situation in which the prophet Elijah supposed himself to be, when he said, The children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left: Wert thou actually in this situation, a solitary worshipper of the true God, yet surely the thought of having the God of heaven and of earth, the blessed Jesus, and an innumerable company of angels, to attend thee, would be sufficient to animate thee to go on in this good way. But, blessed be God, this is not the case; thou dost not walk solitary, unaccompanied by thy fellow mortals. All the excellent of the earth are thy fellow travellers. They are not all collected into one body, and therefore do not appear so numerous as they really are: they are scattered abroad, dispersed through different countries, separated by seas and mountains, and too often by misapprehensions and prejudices, by names and forms : but they are equally known to God, and under his eye. In this view, they are one body; animated by one and the same spirit; their desires, pursuits, and hopes, are the same; and yet a little while and they shall be assembled together, an innumerable company, out of every kindred, and tongue, and nation, under heaven.
4. The goodness of a religious course will still further appear,
if we consider that it will afford the purest pleasure, as we advance in it, and will infallibly conduct us to perfect and endless happiness and glory.
We know how much it adds to the pleasure of a journey, when the scenery, as we pass along, is rich and diversified. Look around the whole compass of nature, and observe with what wonderful traces of the sublime and the beautiful every part is signally impressed! What admirable wisdom is discovered in the contrivance! what art is discern
ible in the execution! The rude extent of enormous mountains, the huge precipice, the boundless track of the troubled ocean, and the immense regions of everlasting day, exhibit a prospect so great and majestic, as is wont to engage the mind with the highest admiration—an emotion of soul not unattended with delight. The vegetable world is richly adorned and diversified with every thing that can please the sense and gladden the heart of man : the expanse of heaven and the starry firmament expose to our view a most illustrious scene of magnificence and glory. But it is the religious mind alone which enjoys this pleasure fully ; because it rises from the grand effects to the first and great Cause, and sees in that Cause the gracious and benevolent Being, who is mindful of man.He who does not meditate on the power, wisdom, and goodness of God, so illustriously displayed in the works of creation and providence, scarcely derives any higher enjoyment from them than the beasts of the field. He regards them no farther, than as they contribute to the support of animal life, and the gratification of sense and appetite. This is not the case with the devout worshipper of God: he considers the heavens as declaring the glory of the Lord, and the earth as full of the riches of its Maker : he observes the benign influence of the Almighty warming in the sun, refreshing in the air, glowing in the stars, and diffusing life, intelligence, and well-being, in various degrees, through his universal empire. These views excite veneration and reverence ; they
nourish gratitude, hope, and confidence; and thus produce the most pleasing emotions of which the human heart is susceptible. And when we further consider this world as a transient state of momentary existence for beings destined for an immortal duration, and only preparatory to future and brighter scenes of life and light, of happiness and glory, we are lost in the contemplation of the immensity of divine mercy.-Lord, what is man, that thou shouldst be thus mindful of him; or the children of men, that thou shouldst so graciously regard them!
If the early dawn is pleasant to the traveller, wandering by night in a land unknown, far more pleasant is the day-spring from on high to the Christian, who is thereby delivered from the path of sin and error in which he formerly strayed, and is brought into the way of holiness and truth ! The gospel signifies good tidings, and its contents are indeed infinitely interesting and joyful. It discovers to us, at once, the cause and the remedy of all our evils, and points out to us the way in which we may obtain peace of mind on earth, and immortal happiness in heaven. Angels with pleasure contemplate this glorious plan of redeeming grace; man both contemplates and feels his interest in it; and, if to contemplate truth in general be pleasant, how peculiarly pleasant to contemplate truth so interesting to ourselves —o the height and depth, the length and breadth, of the love of God, in Christ Jesus! Greater love than this can no man have, than that a man lay down his life for his friend; but God hath commended his love towards us, in that, while we were enemies, Christ died for us!
If, farther, we attend to the various branches of the divine law, we shall plainly perceive that the practice of each must be attended with the purest satisfaction and delight. Does the law of God require of us, that we worship him in spirit and in truth ? And does not the soul, in drawing near to God in the duties of devotion, enjoy the most exalted pleasure ? It celebrates his glorious perfections ; it admires his wondrous works ; it esteems, loves, and confides in him. We cannot contemplate infinite beauty, without desire ineffable; nor infinite goodness, without receiving delight unmingled.—There be many who say, who will shew us any good ? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon me! Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee! Repentance itself is not without its satisfaction to a good man: there is a pleasure even in the tears, by which the heart is disburdened of an ingenuous sorrow. And when repentance is quickened into life, and peace restored to the mind, through the peace-speaking blood of Christ, the Sun of righteousness again breaks forth, with greater splendour and beauty, from the cloud which for a time obscured his face.
If from the sublime exercise of devotion we descend to the duties of social life, how good and how pleasant also are they? Those laws which require us to love our neighbour as ourselves, and to