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it is madness1, and of mirth what is it!" But the same persons give their judgment respecting the pleasure the faithful followers of God enjoy. "Blessed (saith David) are the people who know the joyful sound ; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance; in thy name shall they rejoice all the day, and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted." And hear Solomon speak to the same purpose. "Go thy way, eat thy . bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart, for God now accepteth thy works." -And in another place he tells us ; "Wisdom is better than rubies, und all the things which m;iy be desired are not to be compared to it." And speaking in the person of Wisdom, hesays : "Riches and honour are with me ; yea durable riches and righteousness, My iVuit is better than gold, yea than fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver. I cause them that Idve me to inherit sub-itance, and I will fill their treasures." Here then, we find that solid happiness; that holy delight, and sacred pleasure, which the mrti of this world are entire strangers to. We are told by the lip of truth, that "a good rh^in shall be satisfied from himself." Being asSitred of the favour .and friendship of God, and having the Evidence of it in his own soul, the peace of God in his conscience : "His soul (saith the Psalmist) dwells at ease." He rests satisfied in the enjoyment of God. These things considered, we are told, "that the righteous is more excettenj; than his neighbour." And he certainly is so,—1. As much as a wise iffan excels a fool: he is wise enough to know his own highest and best interests; while the other neither knows'nor regards them.—2. As mifch as a prince excels a Bond-slave: the one is exalted by ihe Lord himself, to be a member of his family, and is brought into a state of glorious liberty; while the other is a poor miserable slave of sin and the devil.—' 3 As much as a strdng man excels a poor cripple : the one is made strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, and therefore is well a We to run with patience the race which is set before him, and to travel to the hply mount of God; while the other cannot move a single step in the way to heaven.—• 4 As much' as a beautiful man excels a deformed monster; the one is renewed in the spirit of his mind, being created anew jn Christ Jesus ; while the other is altogether polluted and defiled by sin, and is therefore odious in the sight of God.—*- 5. As much as a rich ma,n excels a poor miserable beggar : the. one has a treasure of inestimable value lodged in his breast; but the other is wretched, andmiseia
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ble, and poor, and blind, and naked ; and not only so> but he is exposed to the wrath and curse of God.— 6. As much as a living man excels a dead putrefied carcase : the one is ajive to God, and bears his lovely image ; while the other is dead in trespasses and sins, and is an heir of eternal burnings. And we flight add; that a truly pious follower of the1 Lord nearly excels others as much as an Angel excels a Devil; for the one shall be exalted to heaven, and the other thrust down to hell. All these things considered, we may well say, with the prophet, Hov/ beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who- bring us tidings of these good things.
And these welcome messengers of peace are also ordered to say unto Zion> "Thy God reigfieth,"
The Lord reignetli in the armies of heaven, and all the inhabitants thereof rejoice in his government, and are represented as.delightfully singing; "Hallelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigncthf." The holy Psalmist also, in consideratiorxbf the Lord's government, greatly rejoiceth, when he says: "The Lord sitteth above the \vater-floods, andreignelh a King for ever." "The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with majesty, the Lord is clothed' vitli strength." "The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice, let the multitude of the isles be glad thereof." But it would almost be endless to quote all those passages from the holy Scriptures, where the Lord Jehovah is set forth, as the great and glorious Governor of the universe, and regulating all the events of Providence, whether prosperous or adverse. The Psalmist tells us, "That the Lord is known by the judgments which he executeth :". but we may add, it is only by those who see his powerfill, his wise and gracious hand) in his conduct towards mankind.
It appears from the lext, that it is one part of the work of the miniflers of Chrift, to fet him forth as the God of Providence, as well as the God ol Grace; and it is certain that it will afford us no inconsiderable degree of happinefs to 'be well inftrufted in this truth. That the Lord created all things by his Almighty power, and governs all things by his wife and adoiable providence; fo that nothing can befall us by chance; and that however my/lerious or affliclive his difpenlations towards us may be, he is ftiil infinitely wise and good, and only intends to promote his. own eternal glory, and our everlafting happinefs. To view the Lord of glory in this light will have a natural tendency to iafptre us with resignation to his will, and with earnest prayer, that all the
difpenfatiois of his providence may be fanctified to us; that we may not only beir our afflictions with patience, but that we may fo improve them, that they may, through the infinite mercy and love of God, work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight ot glory.
Were we wholly left to the will, or to the power of wicked men, we might well be afraid ; as we know that even, the tender mercies of the wicked are cmel; but when we cons:der that the hearts of the ungodly are in the hand of the Lord, and that, "he will make the wrath of man to redound to his praife, and the remainder thereof he will rcs;rain," we may then fay, with the Psalmift ; "O lei the nations be glad and sing tor joy, for the Lord fhall judge the people righteouily, and govern the nations upon earth." "Therefore will not we fear though the earth be removed, arid though the mountains be carried imo the midst ot the fea."
As the Lord futeth upon the circle ot the heavens, and governs the whole world in righteoufnefs, yet he is more especially to be confidered as King in Zion; protecting, fupporting, ordering, and directing, all and every individual oi that happy fociety. The angel who appeared to ihe holy Virgin delivered this joyful meffage, respecting that extraordinary child which me was to bear: "The Lord God fhal] give unto Him the throne ot his father David, and he fliall reign over the houfe ot Jacob for ever, and oi his kingdom there fhall be no end." And the fweet finger of Ifrael speaks to he fame purpose, when he fays ; "There is a river the ftreams whereof fhall make glad the city oi God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the moil high. God is in the midst of her, flie lhall not be moved, God fhall help her and that right .early." God then hath taken his church, and every member of it, into his peculiar care and protection, fo that he will defend it from its numerous, artful, and powerful ene.mies. He only hath the right to give laws to, and appoint governors or officers in his church ; and in every refpecl: to regulate all things ' therein. This he will do by his,holy word, by his-bleffcd Spirit, arid by his minifters as instrumants in his hand. Many are the promises which he hath made both to his ministers and his people, but it would take up loo much room to quote them all; let it suffice tj fay, that he hath declared, that "Upon this rock he will build his church, and the gates of hell (hall not prevail against it." Let the children of Zion then be joyful in their king : let them be exceeding g'ad in that they live under the mild and peaceable »b'le government ot their blessed Redeemer ;,and feeing that his minifters arc appointed by him, to explain and enforce this foukreviving truth, their feet may well appear beautiful to us.
We may add to the above, that the Lord reigneth in the hearts' or his people. This is his gracious promife: "I will dwell in ihem, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they fhall be my people." How eaineflly did the Aposi tie pray that this promife might be fulfilled to the Ephesians?
"That Ghriir. may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye may be rooted and grounded in love.'' He fets up his fpivitual kingdom in the hearts ot his people, that he may bring them into a ftate ot full conformity to his will ; bringing i;ito captivity every thought, every desire, and aftctlion of. the mind, fo that all that is within us may be holinrfs to his facred name :lor even in this fenfe, "He must reigrt till he hath put down all rule, and all authority and power," but his own ; and all his enemies fhall finally and eternally be put under his ieet.
Here then, il ever, we may rejoice and be exceeding glad, feeing, that considered as tiie inhabitants of the world, we live under the government of an infinitely powerful, wife, and gracious God: but considered as living members of the church of Christ, we are taken into his peculiar care ind protcclion; and all tV.e precious promifas ot his word are ours; and thefe afford us all the comlcit and encouragement we can possibly desire or wish for. Above all, when we consider, that He dwells in us by his Spirit, we may well rejoke with joy unfpcakahle and full or glory ; and may fay, upon good ground, "Surely goodness and mercy (hall follow us a I the flays ol our life, and we fhall dwell in the koufe of the Lotd lor ever." The feet of thole who biing thele glad tidings to us may well appear beautiful.
When it is confidcred what durable riches, what permanent happinefs, what facred pleafure, the followers of God, enjoy ;arid to what an high degree of honour he exalts them; What folly and madnefs are those perfons guilty ot who treat the miniflers of Chrift and his bleffed gofpel with negleft; and not only rob their own fouls of all the blessings above treated of, but alfo expose themselves to the everlasting dis-' pleasure of God, and run the terrible hazaid ot enduring his fiery indignation through the countless ages cl eterni-ty! Well may the Lover of immoital fouls, who hath bought
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them with his precious blood, command his faithful fcrvants, To liit up their voice like a trumpet, to cry aloud and fpare not, to (hew unto the houfe of Jacob their tranfgressions, and to the children of Judah their fins. ' To make ihefe unhappy men fenfible of the extreme danger to which they are expofing themfelves, and if poflible to prevail with them to feek the Lord while he may be found, and to call upon him while Ueis near. How many are the folemn varnmgs ivhich are given to thefe enemies ot their own fouls by the Lord himfell, in various parts of his holy Word, and how plainly are they told what will be the awful consequence if they will not forfake the evil of their doings ? But, alas ! fo iatally hath fin and Satan blinded their minds, and hardened their hearts, that, as if they were entirely bent upon their own eternal ruin, they fet at nought the wife and gracious counfels o.f God, defpife all his loving reproofs, and flight all the offers ot mercy and grace which he is daily making unto them. Well might the man of God cry out; O that they were .wife, that they would consider these things, and fo think upon their latter end, as wifely to prepare for that important hour, when, whether they will or not, they, muft take their everlafting flight into a world ot fpirits, and appear before the dreadful tribunal of God. And dreadful will it be beyond ail description, if they have neglecled the great falvation, and ventured into eternity without the faving knowledge of God.
But in how kind and gracious a manner does the God of Love speak to thofe who hearken to his warning voice, be^ ing made fenfible of their fin and danger, and theiefore willing to return to him, from whom they are confcious they have greatly revolted, and against whom they have grievoufly finned. How affectionately does he invite t-iem to come unto him? How ftrongly does he assure them of his love towards them ? And how freely does he offer them pardon, peace, and all the riches of his mercy and grace? O the infinite mercy! O the boundless love of God in Chrift Jesus, towards guilty rebels, who are willing to return at his reproof; who being deeply humbled under a fenfe ot their fin, are willing to accept of that falvation, which coil the Redeemer his precious blood!
Let all fuch lay hold upon the promifes ot God, by the hand of a lively faith; and they fhall find, by happy expert tnce, that he who hath redeemed them to God by his blood, will alfo fanctify them by his Holv Spirit, and enable them