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dear], and hear your equals in age calling to you from the tomb, and warning you to prepare for that fate which is theirs to-day, and may be yours to morrow. Embrace, therefore, the opportunities of grace which you now enjoy. Whilst the Prince of Peace extends the golden sceptre, kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from his presence, lie wise, and consider your end that is s» near.
Matthew xi. 30.
JESUS hath lately been addressing to you the gracious
The ease and pleasure of the Christian life is to be the subject of the present discourse. But, before I enter upon it, I have one observation to make, which is, That, in order to taste the joys of religion, we must have been accustomed to its government, and made advances in the divine life. We never can have a taste for any pursuit*
till we be acquainted with it: we never can enter into the spirit of any science, till that science be familiar to us. To those, who have long engaged in a course of wickedness, the duties of religion will at first be grievous and irksome, because they oppose strong prejudices and confirmed habits of vice. But, when these habits are removed, and good ones are contracted, when n nian acquires the temper and enters into the spirit of religion, he then feels the joy which a stranger intermiddles not with. Give a musical instrument to an unskilful person, we hear nothing but harshness and discord from every string: the artist alone makes music and harmony accompany all the motions of his hand. Religion is an art, and like an art is to be learned before it be understood.
I. The Christian life is a life of ease and pleasure, on account of the principle from which the Christian acts.
The Christian is not a slave who obeys from compulsion, nor a servant who works for hire; he is a son who acts from ingenuous affection and filial love. When the Christian contemplates the goodness, and tender mercies, and loving-kindness of God, particularly his inexpressible love in the redemption of the world by Christ Jesus, he is constrained to new obedience, by the most powerful of all ties, by the cords of love, and the bands of a man; thus reasoning, and thus feeling, that if one died for all, then they which are alive ought not to live to themselves, but to him who died for them. Gratitude to a benefactor, affection to a father, love to a friend, all concur to form the principle of evangelical obedience, and to strengthen the cord that is not easily broken. Love, then, is the principle of the Christian life,—love, the most generous passion that glows in the breast of man, the most active principle that works in the human frame, the key that unlocks every finer feeling of the heart, the spring that puts in motion every power of the soul. Pleasant are the labours of love. Short is the path, and cheerful the journey, when the heart goes along. A determined mind, enamoured of the object it pursues, removes mountains, and makes the crooked paths straight: the fire cannot extinguish, nor the waters quench us force; it reigns supreme in the heart, and diffuses a gaiety over every path of life. By its influence labour is rendered, easy, and duty becomes a delight.
II. The ease and pleasure of the Christian life will
appear, if we consider the assistance we receive from above.
"Work out your salvation, for it is God that worketh within you every good word and work." There are difficulties in the Christian life. I have no intention to deceive you, my friends. You will often find it difficult to act the proper part; to maintain a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man; to keep your passions within the bounds of reason; to subdue your irregular inclinations to the obedience of faith, and to hold fast your integrity uncorrupted amid the temptations of the world. These and many other difficulties will beset you in running the Christian race. But let me remind you, that one half of the pleasures of human life arise from overcoming difficulties; and, to overcome these difficulties which surround us, God bestows the influences of his Holy Spirit. The Lord is ever nigh to them who call upon him in the sincerity of their heart. To those, who wait at the salutary stream, an angel descends to stir the waters. God never said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye my face in vain. He never neglected the prayer that came from the heart: he never forsook the man that put his trust in him.
It you were left to climb the arduous ascent by your own strength alone, then the Christian life would neither be easy nor pleasant; then you might sit down in despair of ever attaining the top. But, whatever duties God calls you to, he gives you abilities to perform them. According as your days are, he bath promised that your strength shall be. His grace is sufficient for us; his strength is made perfect in our weakness. No, my friends, God hath never withdrawn himself from the world. The Father of Spirits is ever present with his rational offspring. Ho knows their frame, he helps their infirmities, assists their graces, strengthens their powers, and makes perfect what concerns them. He assists the feeble, he revives the languishing, he supports the strong. He aids the efforts of the captive, who endeavours to break loose from the fetters that hold him; he favours the ascent of the devout mind, that, with the confidence of faith, rises to himself, and he forwards the pilgrim, journeying to his native country. The good husbandman superintends the vine which his own right hand planted, lie waters his vineyard with dews from heaven, and breathes ethereal influ
ence on those trees of righteousness that shall adorn the paradise of God.
Hast thou not felt him, O Christian! restraining thy evil inclinations, suggesting holy thoughts, kindling heavenly affections, and drawing thee to il.y duty with a hand unseen? Hast thou not felt him as a Spirit within iliy Spirit, imparting secret strength, animating thy frame M with a new life, actuating thy faculties, purifying thy passions, begetting in thee an abhorrence of sin, and a love of righteousness, and making all thy graces shine out with fresh beauty? How easy and delightful then will the Christian life be when you have divine aids to strengthen, support, and assist! It is God himself who is 0:1 your side; it is God himself who works with you; his wisdom is your guide; his arm is your support; his Spirit is your strength; you lose your own insufficiency in the fulness «f infinite perfection.
III. It will appear, that the Christian life is easy and pleasant, if we consider the encouragement the good man receives.
The good man waits not for all his happiness till he come to heaven. He hath treasures hi band, as well a* possessions in hope. He hath a portion in the life that now is, as well as in that which is to come. There is a sense of moral good and evil implanted in the mind,—a principle of conscience which condemns us when we do ill, and applauds us when we do well. This principle is the chief toundation of our happiness, and gives rise to the greatest pleasures and the greatest pains in human life, jjy means of this moral sense, there is no peace to the wicked. Inward struggles, strong reluctance and aversion of mind, precede the commission of sin. Sin, when committed, is followed by guilty blushes, alarmtng fears, terrible reviews, startling prospects, and remorse, with all its hideous train. Agamst the sinner, his own heart rises up in judgment to condemn him; the terrors of the Lord set themselves in array against him ; a fire not blown conbumes him. "There is no peace to the wicked." The foundations of peace are subverted in his mind; he is at. enmity with his fellow-creatures; he is at enmity with God. It is not so with those that take upon them the yoke of Christ. When pure religion forms the temper, anil governs the life, all is peaceful and serene; the man is then
iu his proper element; the soul is in a state of health and vigour; there is a beautiful correspondence between the heart and the life; all is serene without, all is tranquil within. Delivered from the anxieties that perplex, and from the terrors that overwhelm, the guilty man, the Christian resigns himself to peace and joy, conscious that he possesses a temper of mind which is acceptable to God, and leads a life which is useful to men. In the heart of such a man there is a blessed calmness and tranquillity, like that of the highest heavens.
But there is more than a calmness and tranquillity.— The air may be calm and tranquil, when the day is dark; the sea may be smooth, when there is a mist upon the waves; the sky may be tranquil when it is overcast with clouds: but the pious and virtuous mind resembles a sky that is not only calm, but bright; resembles a 9ea that is not only smooth but serene; resembles an unclouded *ky» beautiful with the rising sun. There are joys in the Christian lite, unknown to transgressors; there is a spring shut up and a fountain sealed that refreshes the city ofGod* there are secret consolations reserved for the just; there are silent pleasures that flow into the pious mind ; there is a still small voice that comes to the pure in heart, and bids them be of good cheer; there is an inward peae-j of God that passeth all understanding; there is a joy in the Holy Ghost, resulting from the well-grounded hope of a happy immortality, that is unspeakable and glorious.
When the heart is thus pure, it becomes the temple of the Deity; and, as a temple, is consecrated with the presence of God, "If a man love me, and keep my words, my Father will love him, and we will come and make our abode with him." Who can describe the joy of those happy moments, when a present Deity is felt, when God manifests himself to his people, so as he does not to the world, when our fellowship is with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ? Then a foretaste of immortality is given, the joys of the blessed arc let down, and heaven descends to men.
IV. The ease and pleasure of the Christian life will appear, if we consider the joyful prospect that is set before us. The Christian has joys in this life; but he is not confined to these. His hopes do not terminate with life; they extend beyond the grave. Death puts a final period to the happiness, of the wicked man; but it is then that