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will guard us from those enemies, and deliver tis from those temptations, whose assaults might prove fatal to our immortal welfare.
If any one regard others with favour, this, moreover, implies that, in those parts of his conduct, by which their concerfis may be affected, he will be careful, not only so to act, as not to do them injurý, but so as to further and secure their interests: that all objects and events, also, which are under his controul, shall be 'restrained from hurting them, and be directed for their advantage. To injure them were enmity, and not favour; to neglect their interests, or to see them injured, indifference, and not love. And in this point of view, how invaluable a blessing is the favour of God! All the circumstances of our lot, all the events, in which cur interests can be implicated, are the acts of his providence: every occurrence, and every agent, in heaven, earth, or hell, is subject to his absolute controul. Happy, then, are the favoured of the Lord : all things work together to them for good; all the dispensations of providence, all the blessings of life, all the means of grace, are wisely ordered, and gra . ciously bestowed for their eternal benefit. In the truest sense,
“ all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are 6 theirs."*
And how rich a cause of rejoicing, then, is that faith, which enables us to taste the sweets of every other source of joy ; which opens to us the gladdening prospect of eternal deliverance from guilt and punishment; and which makes us acquainted with the ravishing delights, the invaluable privi.
I Cor. iii. 21, 22.
leges, which accompany the restoration of the favour of God! The message which contains good tidings is received with joy. But such a message is the gospel, the subject of our faith. It acquaints us that God is reconciled, that man is restored, that immortality is regained, and the gates of paradise set open!
Is the light sweet? and is it a pleasant thing to behold the sun? How delightful then the intellectual light, which shines upon us in the gospel ! “I,” said its author, “ am the light of the world.
He that followeth me, shall not walk in darkness; “ but shall have the light of life."* Thy sun
shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine ever
lasting light;, and the days of thy mourning shall "ibe ended.”+
Is festivity seasonable, when an heir enters upon his inheritance? Ye are " heirs of God, and joint“ heirs with Christ.” | Your inheritance was purchased by the blood of Jesus :, and the conveyance is registered in the everlasting gospel, in the eternal record of mercy, the Lamb's book of life.
Is the recovery of freedom good cause of joy? The gospel, we have seen, proclaims that the Redeemer is come: that He is. come, who gives liberty to the captive, and lets the oppressed go free. The year of the Lord's redeemed, the great jubilee, is come.
Is victory over enemies accompanied with exultation ? and is the return of the conqueror celebrated with triumph? Then “let the redeemed of the " Lord” rejoice; “whom he hath redeemed out of
+ Isaiah l.. 20.
Rom. viii. 17
* John viii. 12
“ the hand of the enemy."* Follow him through his warfare : and let your joy be proportioned to the severity of his conflict, the greatness of his conquest, and the riches of the spoil, which he has won for you. Who is this, that riseth from the throne of God, glorious in his apparel, with his sword girt on his thigh; that riseth, in the greatness of his strength ? Christian, it is the captain of thy salvation, going forth, conquering, and to conquer. See him again, rejected and despised of men, alone in the midst of his foes; his garments stained with blood, and his visage marred more than any man's. He is led into captivity: and his followers, who forsook him in his conflict, despair of its issue. “ We trusted,” said they, “ that it had been he, “ who should have redeemed Israel.”+ But he yielded himself a captive, that he might crush the power of the adversary in his own dominions; and
through death, destroy him that had power of
death, that is the devil.”I Behold him now, returning in triumph from the land of the enemy, making a shew of the broken bands of death, bearing the spoils of principalities and powers, leading captivity captive, and loaded with gifts for men. Follow him in his re-ascent to the celestial throne, having obtained all power in heaven and in earth; reigning over all, and reigning over all for you! and rejoice that he is “ exalted to be a Prince and
a Saviour."S“ Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again, I say rejoice."||
* Psalm cvii. 2. 4 Luke xxiv. 21.
| Heb. ii, 14
| Phil. iv. 4:
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
1 Thess. v. 16.—Rejoice evermore. CHRISTIANS have a fourth reason of continual rejoicing, viz, the hope of immortality.
Man is but of few days; and these, if we look no farther, than the bounds which limits them, are full of trouble. In examining his mind, we find an inextinguishable desire, and discover traces of a capacity to enjoy : but when we compare that capacity and desire, with the circumstances in which he is placed, they appear rather as proofs, that he was born to suffer than to rejoice; and as the fittest instruments to produce misery, than as the proper means of happiness. The first period of human life is marked by a want of consideration, which makes us frequently choose ill for good ; the second, by unavoidable labour and anxiety; and the last, by helplessness and debility, added to a load of disease, and the melancholy recollection of the
ection of the past. Without some ingredient, therefore, to cheer the soul, under the variety of wo, through which it must pass, life would become altogether insupportable. Hope is this sweet ingredient mingled with the bitter feelings of the mind. The heathen feigned that, when the baneful store of human ills was opened, and scattered over the earth, hope, which had stole into it, remained behind for the consola
tion of the unforiunate. An excellent moral writer has remarked, that enjoyment is the happiness of a future world, and hope, of this: and saith our apostle, we are saved by hope.”*
These testimonies to the power and the value of hope, uniform experience confirms. What enables the prisoner to bear the weight of his chains, to submit to his bed of straw, and his stinted allowance of bread and water? It is the hope of deliverance. What prompts the patient, under a load of trouble, already too severe, to swallow the bitter potion, to endure the amputating knife? It is the hope of ultimate relief. Hope supports the soldier under the fatigues and dangers of the campaign ; the labourer in his toils; and the poor man, amidst the hardships of poverty and neglect. And, christian, what hath comforted thee under the pressure of temptation, the scoffs of the world, and the prospect of death? Was it not the hope of the eternal recompense of reward? The obedience of God's law was itself delightful; and it furnished thee with an evidence that thy belief was not in vain. The knowledge of his providence made thee perceive that thou hadst reason to rejoice, as an object of his care; and the faith of his salvation, published in the gospel, delivered thee from the fears of his displeasure, and introduced thee to the enjoyment of his favour: but, without hope, thy happiness was incomplete. This opened to thy view the gates of heaven; and made thee forget the hardships of thy present state, by fixing thine attention on the bright prospects which are before thee.
Faith and hope are the two great lights of the
Rom. viii. 24.