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drink it? was a question, a resolution we may call it, not more pious than rational, not more heroic than wise and prudent. Whatever is presented to us by supreme Goodness must eventually tend to our good. Knowing that our God is mighty to save and to deliver us, we may with confidence and cheerfulness trust ourselves, and all our concerns, to his gracious disposal. Our conduct, our prayers, under the severest trials, should be like that of the holy Jesus. not my will, O God, but thine be done. Though the cup presented us be bitter, yet, remembering that it is from heaven, tempered and held out to us by almighty Love, can we doubt of its wholesome contents and salutary effects.
As evil, natural evil, when considered as the allotment of Heaven, loses its malignity; so good, received as the gift of God, has a much higher relish. When we lie down or rise up, when we sleep or wake, considering ourselves as attended or surrounded by his presence who is mercy itself, and whose goodness is extended over all his works, we are as it were naturally led to something more than acquiescence and a mere tranquillity. We consider ourselves as the children of God, enlivened by his breath, conducted by his hand, and supported by his providence; we meet with God in all our walks, and im some degree con tract that spirit of love and benevolence which we see imparted to all his creatures: how can we hate those whom we consider as the objects of God's love, or despise those whom God thinks worthy of his support and protection? Or shall we not rather conspire with the scheme of the Creator, in loving those whom he loves, and in blessing those whom he blesses? Sensible of God's mercies, we desire to shew mercy, and to expand that love with which we find ourselves enlightened and warmed. Our love to others should bear some proportion to the love which God has shewn to us; we should forgive much, because we have much forgiven; and, having nothing that we can call our own, we should freely communicate to others of the bounty of Heaven. God, considered as the Creator, Preserver, and Father, and Christ Jesus as the Saviour of all men, represent all men to us in the relation of brethren, of fellow-soldiers in the warfare, and fellow-travellers in the journey, of life; and, as such, entitled to all the offices of friendship and brotherly affection. If we have a true sense of the relation we stand in to God as our father in Christ Jesus, we shall love all men as God has loved us; and we shall think none below our notice and benevolence for whom Christ died. As we have freely received, we shall freely give; and, elated with the prospect of blessing and honour, of glory and immortality, we shall abound in every good word and work, that
may promote our own, or the salvation of others. Happy in ourselves, we shall delight to see and make others happy; and thus in the best manner imitate our Saviour, and glorify our Father who is in heaven.
It is natural to imitate those whom we love; and if the God of love is our God, we shall, like him, to the utmost of our ability, do good to all, as he maketh his sun to shine on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the injust. An idea of the gracious God being thus become natural to us, and engraven on the soul by frequent contemplation of his perfections, will transform our sentiments, our passions, and conduct, into the same temper and complexion with itself. and man will become the image of his Maker.
But the God of love carries us still nearer to himself in our enjoyments and happiness, than in the practice of our duty, and the imitation of his perfections. We have a joy arising from our present prospects, as we find ourselves surrounded with the blessings of his goodness, and instances of his mercy. We cannot cast a glance above, or below, or around us, but we are presented with the God of love. We see all the seasons revolving, and all nature fruitful in its productions and labours, for the use, the support, and delight of man. We see a creation, not only useful, but beautiful ; not only subservient to our wants, but ministering to our appetites; not only relieving hunger, but regaling the taste,-feeding the smell, the eye,
the ear, with supernumerary beauties, and supplying us at the same time with the benefits and elegancies of life.
So bountiful has Heaven been, that the meanest are scarcely without their superfluities, nor the poorest without their luxuries. If human nature has its wants and distresses, let us trace their origin and observe their tendency, and how they are subservient to tbe interests of the higher and moral world, and we shall still acknowledge that God is love. We see bealth impaired, but virtue established or recovering; we see the body languish, but the soul renewed. We perhaps feel poverty or pain ; but thereby we make acquisition of fortitude, patience, and resignation, of far more value, and more precious in the sight of Heaven, than the best estate of health or fortune could have rendered us.
And if, after all the blessings that distinguish the natural and moral world, it should be still objected, that life itself is but a shadow or a dream, let it still be considered and accounted as no more than the dawn of our eternal day.
Awake, ye saints, and raise your eyes,
And raise your voices high;
Which shews salvation nigh.
Each moment brings it near:
Welcome each closing year!
their round shall run,
To our admiring eyes.
Ye mortal powers ! decay:
DODDRIDGE. And here the God of love appears with still new lustre and glory, in his manifestations to the moral world; with fond admiration we behold his blessings advancing and progressive, from nature and morals, to grace and glory. The light reflected from heaven by the gospel throws new beauty upon the creation of God. Sin pardoned, and peace restored to the conscience; the troubles of life swallowed up, the terrors of death vanquisbed, and heaven opening its everlasting doors, that the sons of glory may enter in. These are blessings of such immense value, that we can never sufficiently adore and love the gracious Author of them. How must the heart beat with transport and swell with devotion, that has a well-grounded hope of immortality and endless life! Viewing as we do the constitution of the present world, its numerous inhabitants, its infinite productions, its order, its beauty and blessings, we catch a natural enthusiasm by the survey, and are almost tempted, like the ancients, to consecrate every grove, and stream, and mountain, and to ascribe the sun, the moon, and stars, and every striking appearance in nature, to the agency of some divinity: but when we consider this world of wonders as the work of one almighty Creator, ordained as a transient stage for momentary existencies, 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; and our faith is almost staggered, not by the nature of the evidence which the gospel offers for its veracity, but by the nature and mightiness of those hopes and promises which that gospel offers to our faith and acceptance.
But the natural and rational result of the gospel principles and promises is, a supreme love of that God who has done such great things for our souls, and a resolution to do and suffer all things in support of his truth, and in defence of his cause. Influenced by these principles and promises, the apostles and martyrs, both of the earlier and latter times, shewed themselves superior to pleasure and pain, to all the temptations and terrors that mortality could offer or inflict. All their passions were contracted into one, —the love of God, founded on faith in his promises, and admiration of his perfections. Influenced by this love, they forsook their possessions, and the prospects of honour and profit, they withstood principalities and powers, they braved persecution and torments, and shewed themselves more than conquerors in life and in death. Christians of modern times, especially we of this age and nation, are not called to the same tiery trials in profession of our faith, and in testimony of our love to God.
We do, or may, enjoy the peaceable fruits of righteousness, and share, at the same time, the blessings and promises of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
Stand forth, O man! look around thee, and consider the goodness and mercies with which thou art surrounded. Review the evidences of thy Religion, examine the contents; they present thee with more than crowns and empires; and, if by faith they are sincerely embraced, realized, and applied to thy own state and condition, will render it happy and illustrious, almost beyond expression or conception. God is the Father of the universe, and your Father in Christ Jesus: his providence and presence attend you, his creation ministers to your wants, your comforts, and delight: his winds blow, his showers descend, his fountains flow, his forests wave, his hills ascend, his sun and moon and stars shine; and the whole presents you with a temple filled with his presence, resounding with his praise, and exhibiting the traces of his majesty and glory! He whose presence fills the universe, is intimately present with thee! not in his works alone, but in himself. He numbers the hairs of thy head, and is a soul within thy soul, the life of thy life, and the constant and perpetual spring of thy motion. He considers thy frame, be pities thy infirmities, and pardons thy sins ! Your sufferings, if you are corrected, are so many instances of mercy; your pains, if you feel pain, are the inflictions of a parent, solicitous for your happiness, and labouring by every means to advance your best interests, and accomplish your everlasting salvation