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nearer and nearer ; or if the fig-tree do not blossom, and the labour of the olive should fail; if death deprive you of those who were your delight and dependance, or poverty rush upon you like an armed man; in such circumstances you will not sink in despair. When others are cast down, you will possess your souls in patience; knowing that you have in heaven a more enduring substance; for the Lord is my portion, says your soul, therefore will I hope in him. I shall have no need to caution you against sin and sinners; for, possessed of such a treasure, you will be jealous of every thing that would expose it to danger. You will abstain from all appearance of evil; and when sinners entice, you will not consent. Should they endeavour to persuade you to cast in your lot among them, as if they were the only happy men in the world, you would be deaf to all their solicitations, and say, “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth; but remember that the pleasures of sin are but for a season. But the Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.” O what a change would there be in our looks, language and pursuits, if these words were the real ex. pression of our hearts! What before we esteemed gain, we should henceforth count as loss : and what before we despised, would immediately become the object of our most serious concern. Instead of labour. ing for the meat which perisheth, as if we had nothing else to attend to, we should labour for that meat which endureth to everlasting life: as if nothing else were deserving our notice: and, instead of discontent and despondency, nothing would be heard, but the voice of much people, praising God, and saying, “ The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.” [ must not be so sanguine as to think, that this is the happy condition of all who now hear me; many of you have probably fixed your affections on things infinitely inferior and unworthy. I pity your delusion and danger; and therefore pray that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, would enable me to choose out acceptable words, and to give such an account of his amiableness and excellency, as may captivate your souls; and convince you, that there are treasures unspeakably more valuable than those which
have been hitherto pursuing. The Lord is my portion; that is, Jehovah; whose glories no creature can describe or conceive. " Who by searching can find out God, who can find out the Almighty to perfection ?” But from the little of his eternal power and godhead, which is discoverable in his works and word, we may assure ourselves, that he is in every respect worthy of our choice. What a mean, inadequate, despicable phrase ! Words soon fail us, when we would talk of the honour of his glorious majesty.
Worthy of our choice !” He is great and good, infinitely beyond whatever we can imagine. He was from all eternity, as glorious as he is now; and what he now is, he always will be; the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, without variableness, or shadow of turning. He is the father of all; the source from which all creatures derive life, breath, and being. He is the possessor of all things. “ The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof, the world, and they that dwell therein :" And if you add the unnumbered worlds that lie beyond thestretch of human sight, he is the sovereign Lord of them all. & His tender mercies are over all his works." He is forward to make promises, and punctual in fulfilling them ; often exceeding, but never failing in what he has promised. In reality, he has in himself, virtually, all the good that is in all the creatures, and infinitely more; so that the soul that has the Lord for his portion, may say, “ I have all, and abound.”. But I will not detain you with dry and imperfect de. scriptions, but proceed to inquire,
1. What is meant by a portion, and what sort of a portion God is.
The word is taken from the distribution of the land of Canaan, divided by lot, by which each of the Israelites had a quantity of ground assigned to him and his heirs. This they called their portion; as we read of the portion of Naboth of Jezreel. According to this explanation, it is not what a man has originally of his own, but something assigned to him, by special gift or course of law. So God is the por. tion of the saints; not from any original right or property which they have in him, but by his own particular and gracious appointment.: God also is the portion of his people, as they have a peculiar interest in him, of which they can never be deprived. The Father of mercies says to them, “ All that I have is yours:" and they can say, “ My Lord, and my God," with as much propriety as the miser says, “ My gold, my lands, or my houses.” As a portion also is that which we chiefly depend upon for our maintenance, $0 is God, in a spiritual respect to his people. His favour is their life. All their expectation is from
and were he to fail, they would be undone. But as he cannot disappoint them in their greatest extremity, they rejoice in God, and say,
" Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart faileth! but God is the strength of and my portion for ever."
In answer to the inquiry, what kind of a portion God is, I reply, in the first place, that he is a spiritual portion: and for that reason little valued or sought after by the world. They mind earthly things: and they esteem that most, which affords them the readiest means of gratifying their criminal or worldly inclinations. We do not intimate, that God takes no notice of the temporal concerns of his people. No earthly parent can be so attentive to the cries of a favourite child, as our heavenly Father is to the wants of the least of his children. The great privilege, however, of having the Lord for our portion, is to have the more important desires of our souls fully satisfied. But this is a blessing which the world can never bestow. Suppose, for example, that a soul were oppressed with a sense of guilt, and in the greatest distress should apply to it for something to give ease to a wounded spirit: “ No,” says the world: , “ pardon is not in me.” Suppose that another, ready to faint under heavy affliction, seeks for something to strengthen a staggering faith ; "No," says the world : “ comfort is not in me.” Suppose that another, terrified with the fears of death and damnation, flees to it for deliverance from approaching destruction: "No," says the world :“ salyation is not in me.” But go to God in either of these cases, or in any spiritual
distress, and you will find certain relief. “I have satisfied,” says he, “the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.” When we read the promise which is contained in the following words, « That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance: and I will fill their treasures: we are not to suppose that he intended to make them all great and rich in the world ; but, what was infinitely better, that he would bless them with spiritual blessings. This circumstance alone recommends the Lord as a portion, that he has that which our souls can live upon : something that will support us when every outward comfort is gone. Let the rich man glory in his riches,“
soul shall make her boast in the Lord:” let the sensualist talk of his pleasures, “ the Lord is my portion, saith my soul.”
He is a sufficient as well as a spiritual portion: every way complete ; and adequate to all the wants and desires of his creatures. They who have most of the world, cry, “ Give, give,” with as insatiable an eagerness as the veriest beggar. “He that loveth silver, shall not be satisfied with silver: nor he that loveth abundance, with increase.” They have much, but they want something more; and their being des. titute of that, makes all their possessions seem joy. less. But not such is the portion of Jacob: He so fills the souls of his people, that they desire not any thing else. God has scattered many excellent qualities among his creatures, so that one of them is useful in this way, and another in that; but no one in every respect. But the goodness of God is universal. All creatures wait upon him. “ He opens his hand, and satisfies the desire of every living thing." Ask a poor