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essence of it, does not lie in this or that set of notions, vulgarly called faith; nor in a round of duties, however carefully reformed from error and superstition. It does not consist in any number of outward actions. No: it properly and directly consists in the knowledge and love of God, as manifested in the Son of his Love, through the eternal Spirit. And this naturally leads to every heavenly temper, and to every good word and work.

5. We learn hence, Thirdly, That none but a Christian is happy; none but a real, inward Christian. A glutton, a drunkard, a gamester may be merry; but he cannot be happy. The beau, the belle, may eat and drink, and rise up to play: but still they feel they are not happy. Men or women may adorn their own dear persons with all the colours of the rainbow. They may dance, and sing, and hurry to and fro, and flutter hither and thither. They may roll up and down in their splendid carriages, and talk insipidly to each other. They may hasten from one diversion to another: but happiness is not there. They are still "walking in a vain shadow, and disquieting themselves in vain." One of their own Poets has truly pronounced, concerning the whole life of these sons of pleasure,

"Tis a dull farce, an empty show:

Powder, and pocket-glass, and beau."

I cannot but observe of that fine Writer, that he came near the mark; and yet fell short of it. In his Solomon, (one of the noblest poems in the English tongue,) he clearly shews where happiness is not; that it is not to be found in natural knowledge, in power, or in the pleasures of sense or imagination. But he does not shew where it is to be found. He could not; for he did not know it himself. Yet he came near it, when he said,

"Restore, Great Father, thy instructed son:

And in my act may thy great will be done!"

6. We learn hence, Fourthly, That every Christian is happy, and that he who is not happy is not a Christian. If, as was observed above, Religion is happiness, every one that has it must be happy. This appears from the very na

ture of the thing: for if religion and happiness are in fact the same, it is impossible that any man can possess the former, without possessing the latter also. He cannot have religion without having happiness, seeing they are utterly inseparable.

And it is equally certain, on the other hand, That he who is not happy, is not a Christian: seeing if he was a real Christian, he could not but be happy. But I allow an exception here, in favour of those, who are under violent temptations; yea, and of those, who are under deep nervous disorders, which are, indeed, a species of insanity. The clouds and darkness which then overwhelm the soul, suspend its happiness; especially if Satan is permitted to second those disorders, by pouring in his fiery darts. But excepting these cases the observation will hold, and it should be well attended to, whoever is not happy, yea happy in God, is not a Christian.

7. Are not you a living proof of this? Do not you still wander to and fro, seeking rest but finding none?-Pursuing happiness, but never overtaking it? And who can blame you for pursuing it? It is the very end of your being. The great Creator made nothing to be miserable, but every creature to be happy in its kind. And upon a general review of the works of his hands he pronounced them all very good which they would not have been, had not every intelligent creature, yea, every one capable of pleasure and pain, been happy in answering the end of its creation. If you are now unhappy, it is because you are in an unnatural state and shall you not sigh for deliverance from it? "The whole creation" being now" subject to vanity, groaneth and travaileth in pain together." I blame you only, or pity you rather, for taking a wrong way to a right end: for seeking happiness where it never was, and never can be found. You seek happiness in your fellow-creatures, instead of your Creator. But these can no more make you happy, than they can make you immortal. If you have ears to hear, every creature cries aloud, "Happiness is not in me." All these are, in truth, "broken cisterns, that can hold no water." O turn unto your rest! Turn

to him, in whom are hid all the treasures of happiness! Turn unto him, "who giveth liberally unto all men," and he will give you "to drink of the Water of Life freely."

8. You cannot find your long sought happiness in all the pleasures of the world. Are they not "deceitful upon the weights?" Are they not "lighter than vanity" itself? How long will ye "feed upon that which is not bread?" Which may amuse, but cannot satisfy. You cannot find it in the religion of the world: either in opinions, or a mere round of outward duties. Vain labour! Is not God a Spirit? And, therefore, to be "worshipped in spirit and in truth?" In this alone can you find the happiness you seek: in the union of your spirit with the Father of spirits. In the knowledge and love of him who is the fountain of happiness, sufficient for all the souls he has made.

9. But where is he to be found? Shall we 66 go up into heaven," or "down into hell" to seek him? Shall we "take the wings of the morning," and search for him "in the uttermost parts of the sea?" Nay, Quod petis, hic est! What a strange word, to fall from the pen of a heathen! "What you seek, is here!" He is "about your bed!" He is "about your path." He "besets you behind and before." He "lays his hand upon you." Lo! God is here! Not afar off! Now, believe and feel him near! May he now reveal himself in your heart! Know him! Love him! and you are happy.


10. Are you already happy in him? Then see that you "hold fast whereunto ye have attained!" "Watch and pray," that you may never be "moved from your steadfast"Look unto yourselves, that ye lose not what ye have gained, but that ye receive a full reward." In so doing, expect a continual growth in grace, in the loving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Expect that the power of the Highest shall suddenly overshadow you, that all sin may be destroyed, and nothing may remain in your heart, but holiness unto the Lord. And this moment, and every moment, "present yourselves a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God," and "glorify him with your body and with your spirit, which are God's."



1 JOHN V. 21.

"Little Children, keep yourselves from Idols."

1. THERE are two words that occur several times in this Epistle, aidia and тexva, both of which our translators render by the same expression, little Children. But their meaning is very different. The former is very properly rendered little Children: for it means, Babes in Christ, those that have lately tasted of his love, and are, as yet, weak and unestablished therein. The latter might with more propriety be rendered, Beloved Children; as it does not denote any more than the affection of the speaker to those whom he had begotten in the Lord.

2. An ancient Historian relates, that when the Apostle was so enfeebled by age as not to be able to preach, he was frequently brought into the congregation in his chair, and just uttered," Beloved children, love one another." He could not have given a more important advice. And equally important is this which lies before us; equally "Benecessary for every part of the Church of Christ. loved children, keep yourselves from idols."

3. Indeed there is a close connexion between them: one cannot subsist without the other. As there is no firm foundation for the love of our brethren, except the love of God, so there is no possibility of loving God, except we keep ourselves from idols.

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But what are the Idols of which the Apostle speaks? This is the. First Thing to be considered. We may then, in the Second Place enquire, How shall we keep ourselves from them?

I. 1. We are first to consider, What are the Idols of which the Apostle speaks? I do not conceive him to mean, at least not principally, the idols that were worshipped by the Heathens. They to whom he was writing, whether they had been Jews or Heathens, were not in much danger from these. There is no probability, that the Jews now converted, had ever been guilty of worshipping them: as deeply given to this gross idolatry as the Israelites had been for many ages, they were hardly ever entangled therein after their return from the Babylonish Captivity. From that period the whole body of Jews had shewn a constant, deep abhorrence of it: and the Heathens, after they had once turned to the living God, had their former idols in the utmost detestation. They abhorred to touch the unclean thing; yea, they chose to lay down their lives, rather than turn to the worship of those gods, whom they now knew to be devils.

2. Neither can we reasonably suppose, that he speaks of those idols that are now worshipped in the Church of Rome: whether angels, or the souls of departed saints, or images of gold, silver, wood, or stone. None of these idols were known in the Christian Church, till some centuries after the time of the Apostles. Once, indeed, St. John himself," fell down to worship before the face of an angel" that spake unto him: probably mistaking him, from his glorious appearance, for the Great Angel of the Covenant. But the strong reproof of the Angel, which immediately followed, secured the Christians from imitating that bad example; "See thou do it not:" as glorious as I appear, I am not thy Master. "I am thy Fellow-servant, and of thy Brethren the Prophets: worship God," Rev. xxii. 9.

3. Setting then Pagan and Romish idols aside, what are those of which we are here warned by the Apostle? The preceding words shew us the meaning of these. This is

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