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gent world: He is possessed of eve*/ possible pCrfec'tion, and amiable excellence; of every thing that can engage the -esteem, and attract the love of his reafonable and intelligent creatures: a Being who is •insinitely great, independent of all others; and who has sulness of persection and blessedness in himself. This is that glorious Being whom we worship, and towhomwedraw nigh. And must there not be fomething extremely animating to the foul, and affording 'the highest delight, in the contemplation of his excellence, and in communion with him?
It is delightsul to the pious foul, tQ. contemplate the excellency of the Supreme Being. Truth gives exquisite fatisfaction to the mind, jult as it is agreeable to the eye to behold the light. But God is the unexhausted fountain, and fource of truth; his nature comprehends insinite treasures of it. He is allglorious and lovely in himself; and his persections, as well as his works, yield matter for heavenly contemplation: In a word, he contains in himself all the amazing scenes of nature, and the more transporting wonders of the world of grace. The mind, then, which contemplates him,must be employed in the very best manner. How delightsul must it be to meditate on his persections, who is light, and in whom there is no darkness at all? How pleafant, to contemplate that unerring wisdom, that almighty power, that insinite goodness, that unblemished truth, and spotless holiness; those glorious persections which shine forth in all his works, and particularly in the work of our redemption? This is that beauty of the Lord, for the view of which, David desired to dwell in the fanctuary, that he might see his power and his glory, and talk of his goodness in the midst of his temple.
It is likewise most delightfiil, to enjoy communion and sellowship with God. There is nothing more agreeable in lise, and nothing which tends more to cultivate and improve our natures, to alleviate our sorrows, and heighten the pleasure of every enjoyment, than the friendship and converfation of wise
sand good men. What, then, can be imagined more divinely sweet and ravishing to the pious soul, than
[ the friendship of God, and the happy privilege of intercourse and communion with him? As Tie possesses all beauty and goodness in himself, as his loving-kindness is better than lise, and as he is able to do more for us than we can ask or think; to love him, and have the pleasing sense of his love shed abroad in our hearts, must; complete our happiness. Hence, says the Psalmist, " Surely it is good for me that I "draw near to God:" And again, "How excellent "is thy loving-kindness, O Lord! therefore the chil"dren of men Jo put their trust under the shadow "of thy wings: they shall be abundantly satissied "with the satness of thy house; and thou shalt "make them drink of the river of thy pleasures (£)." And to the same purpose are all those expressions of love and mutual complacency between Christ and the Church, which we meet with so frequently in the scriptures; especially in that divine song, the Song of Solomon. Indeed, the communications of divine love and savour, are surprisingly delightsul and ravishing to the pious foul. These afford serene and satisfying pleasures, which greatly transcend all earthly and carnal joys; as being insinitely more pure, spiritual, and exalted; and of such a -lasting and persect nature, that they run through the various periods of the Christian's lise: they support him at death, and, at last, enter with. him into the joy os his Lord.
2. The blessedness of such an approach will surther appear, if we consider his gracious promise, That he will draw nigh to them who draw nigh to him*.' This is the constant language of sacred Scripture. "The Lord is nigh," says the Psalmist, "unto all "them that call upon him; to all that call upon "him in truths)." And in the epistle of James, this is expressly promised; M Draw nigh to God, and "he will draw nigh to you." Now, we cannot ima
G 2 Sine W H. xxicvi. 7, 8. (0 Ps. cxlv i!
fine that this is a matter of trifling importance. Is ir of little or no consequence to us to be in the gracious presence of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Author of our mercies? Surely there is something in the very idea of his being near to us, that composes the spirit, and sills the mind with joy and considence. For, let us consider what it is to have God thus present with us. It- is to have him for our efsectual support, and never-sailing friend; to have his insinite persections engaged in our behalf •in time, and through eternity: it is to have his Providence to protect, and bless, and prosper us, in all our concerns; and his Holy Spirit to lead, and sanctify, and comfort us. This presence of God is accompanied -w ith a comfortable experience of his goodness; leading us in the ways of peace and sasety; preserving us unshaken amidst the various dangers of lise; and cherishing the principles of goodu;fs in our hearts. And, to complete our happiness, there results hence, the joysul and certain prospect of a suture and endless reward, suitable to our desires, and lasting as the days of an immortal spirit. "Happy, surely, is the man, that is in such a case "as this; happy is he whose God is the Lord: for "the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will "&rve grace and glory; and no good thing will he ** withhold from them that walk uprightly." Who would not then with to draw near to God, when he has promised to draw near to us, and thus sill us with joy and peace in believing?
3. The blessedness of approaching to God, might be surther illustrated, by a particular consideration of the various duties of religion in which we draw nigh to him; such as prayer, singing the praises of Gcd, reading, and hearing his holy word, and devout meditation. This would lead us into a large, though delightsul sield. We shall therefore only take notice of that duty in which the Christian, with preat pleasure and advantage, draws nigh to God, and h we have the near prospect of solemnizing.
. The The limits .of this discourse will not permit me to represent to you the many and great advantages which. accompany the devout performance of this duty. I lliall therefore only observe, that it is of admirable service, to strengthen our saith in the esticacy of Christ's death, and his willingness to accomplish our redemption; to inflame our love, and awaken in our minds a more lively sense of our obligations to him; to invigorate our hope, to consirm our good resolutions, and enable us to sulsil them in all. holy obedience; and sinally, to shed abroad in our henrts those joys of the Holy Ghost, which are so absolutely necessary to support us under affliction, to lead us comfortably through lise; and which give us, at last, a joysul entrance into the everl.tiiing kingdom of God our Saviour. Those, it must be consessed, are great and inestimable blessings, which, one should think, would engage us all to a frequent and devout participation of this holy ordinance. From our observation;, on this subject, we may learn,
i. That a religious lise is of all others the most delightsul. The men of this world are apt to be prejudiced against religion, as if it were a joyless and melancholy thing, of little use but to damp the pleasures, and embitter the comforts of lise. But howunjust is this prejudice? There are no pleasures like those of religion; none which sill the mind with more pure and rational joy, or lead to more certain and delightsul- consequences. Without religion, there is nothing which deserves the name of pleasure. Ir> the opinion of the wisest men of all ages, the pleasures of sin are as unsatisfying in their nature, as they ire of short continuance.. Solomon compares them to the crackling of thorns under a pot ; he calls them madness, and expressly says of them, that they are all vanity and vexation of spirit. The pleasures of religion, on the other hand, are real and substantial ;. they satisfy the most enlarged desires of the rational foul; and when every other joy shall vanish, and all the prospects of this.lise come to a ferminatioiv they shall be the strength and portion of the soul for ever. Taste, and see, then, that God is good. Make the experiment; try the pleasures of religion : and then you will sind, "that a day in God's courts, is better than "a thousand elsewhere; nay, this will put more ** gladness in your hearts, than the wicked have when ** their corn and their wine are increased." .
2. Let us with gratitude adore the insinite goodness and condescension of God, in allowing us to drawnear to him. How wondersul is it that the Most High God, the Holy One of Israel, should entertain thoughts of mercy for the impure and the unholy! But what manner of love is it? How insinitely more wondersul, that he should place his tabernacle among men, and cause them to approach to him! JulHy may we adopt the words of Solomon to express our admiration: " But will God indeed dwell upon ** earth? Behold the heaven, even the heaven of
•'" heavens, cannot contain thee! O Lord, what is ** man, that thou art 'mindsul of him; or the son of 4t man, that thou shouldst visit him?"
3. Let us frequently delight in drawing near to God. Let us not live in a state of alienation from him, who is the Author of our being, and the Fountain of our happiness; but draw near in the duties of
his appointment, and endeavour to maintain constant intercourse and communion with him. There is no other method of enjoying ease, and comfort, and happiness, even in this world. Do we not, by this means, walk with God, and in the light.of his countenance? Shall we not have more peace in our own minds, and' more considence in the mercy of God? This is the beginning of. the heavenly life, a part of the substance of things not seen, and a confirmation to the heart that the sull happiness awaits us. Let us, then, make religion our principal concern let a spirit of devotion run through our whole lives, and influence every part of oiir conduct. Particularly, beware of living in the neglect of secret prayer, and of family religion. Let us be careful not to abv