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it is madness, and of nirth 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 ; iu 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 thiy bread withi joy, and drink ihy wine with a merry heart, for God now accepteth thy works.” And in another place he tells us ; “Wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things which may be desired are not to be compared to it.”
And speaking in the person of Wisdom, he says : “Riches and honour are with me ; yea durable riches and righteousness, My fruit is better than gold, yea than fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver. I cause them that love me to inherit substance, and I will fill their treasưres." Here then, we find that solid happiness; that holy delight, and sacred pleasure, which the men of this world are entire strangers to. We are told by the lip of truth, that “a good man shall be satisfied from himself.” Being assiired 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 excellent than his neighbour.” And he certainly is so,--1. As much as a wise man 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 much as a princa excels a bond-slave : the one is exalted by the Lord himself, to be a member of his family, and is brought into a state of glorious liberty; while the other is a poor mis
a poor miserable slave of sin and the devil. -- 3 As much as a strong man excels a poor cripple : the one is made strong in the Lorit
, and in the power of his might, and therefore is well able to run with patience the race which is set before him, and to travel to the holy 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 in 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 man excels
poor miserable beggar : the one has a treasure of inestimable value lodged in his breast ; but the other is wretched, and miseiaTt
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 alive to God, and bears his lovely image ; while the other is dead in trespasses and sins, and is an þeir of eternal burnings. And we úight add: that a truly pious follower of the Lord nearly excels others as much as an Angel excels a Devil; for the one shall be exalted to heaven, and the other úirust down to hell. All these things considered, we may well say, with the prophet, How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those wlio bring us tidings of these good things.
And these welcome messengers of peace are also ordered to say unto Zion; “Thy God reigneth.”
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 reignellz.” The koly Psalmist also, in consideration of the Lord's government, greatly rejoiceth, when he says : “The Lord sitteth above the water-floods, and reigneth a King for ever.” “The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with majesty, the Lord is clothed' witki 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 powerful, his wise and gracious hand, in his conduct towards mankind.
It appears from the text, that it is one part of the work of the ministers of Christ, to set him forth as the. God of Providence, as well as the God of Grace; and it is certain that it will afford us no inconsiderable degrec of happiness to be well instructed in this truth. That the Lord created all things by his Almighty power, and governs all things by his wife and adorable providence; so that nothing can befall us by chance; and that however mysterious or affiliative his difpenlations towards us may be, he is still infinitely wise and good, and only intends to promote his own eternal glory, and our everlasting happiness. To view the Lord of glory in This light will have a natural tendency to inspire us with resignation to his will, and with earnest prayer, that all the
dispensations of his providence may be fanctified to us ; that
and love of God, work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of 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 cruel; 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 praise, and the remainder thereof he will restrain," we may then say, with the Psalmist; "O let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for the Lord shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth.” “Therefore will not we fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.”'
As the Lord fitteih upon the circle of the heavens, and governs the whole world in righteousness, yet he is more especially to be considered as King in Zion; protecting, supporting, ordering, and directing all and every individual of that happy society. The angel who appeared to the holy Virgin delivered this joyful message, respecting that extraordinary child which she was to bear : "The Lord God shall give unto Hiin the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end." And the sweet singer of Israel speaks to he fame purpose, when he says; "There is a river the streams whereof Thall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the moit high. God is in the midst of her, she thall not be raoved, God shall help her and that right early.” God then hath taken his church, and every member of it, into his peculiar care and protection, so that he will defend it from its numerous, artful, and powerful enemies. He only hath the right to give laws to, and appoint governors or officers in his church ; and in every respect 10 regulate all things therein. This he will do by his.holy word, by his blessed Spirit, and by his ministers as instru
ments in his hand. Many are the promises which he hath 1. made both to his ministers and his people, buc it would take
up 100 much room to quote them all; let it suffice to say, that he hath declared, that Upon this rock he will build his church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Let the children of Zion then be joyful in their king : let them be exceeding glad in that they live under the mild and peacealle government of their blessed Redeemer ;, and seeing that bis ministers are appointed by him, to explain and enforce this foul-reviving iruth, their feet may well appear beautiful 10'us.
able them cheer.
We may add to the above, that the Lord reignesh in the hearts' of his people. This is his gracious promise : "I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” How eai nestly did the Apostle pray that this promise might be fulfilled to the Ephesians ? “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye may be rooted and grounded in love."
He rets up his spiritual kingdom in ihe hearts of his people, that he may bring them into a fate of full conformity to his will ; bring. ing into cap:ivity every thought, every desire, and affection of the mind, so that all that is within us may be holiness to his sacred name : for even in this sense, “He inust reign till he hath put down all rule, and all authority and power, but his own; and all his enemies shall finally and eternally be put under his feet.
Here then, it ever, we may rejoice and be exceeding glad, feeing, that considered as the inhabitants of the world, we live under the government of an infinitely powerful, wise, and gracious God: but considered as living members of the church of Christ, we are taken into his peculiar care and prorection ; and all the precious promises of his word are ours; and ihese afford us all the comfort 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 rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory ; and may say, upon good ground, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us al the days of our life, and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." The feet of those who bring these glad tidings to us may well appear beautiful.
When it is considered what durable riches, what permanent happiness, what facred pleasure, the followers of God enjoy ; and to what an high degree of honour he exalis them ; What folly and madness are those persons guilty of who treat the ministers of Christ and his blessed gospel 'with neglect ; and not only rob their own souls of all the blessings above treated of, but also expose themselves to the everlasting displeasure of God, and run the terrible hazard of enduring his fiery indignation through the countless ages cl eternity! Well may the Lover of imnioral souls, who hath bought them with his precious blood, command his faithful servants, To lift up their voice like a trumpet, to cry aloud and spare not, to thew unto the house of Jacob their transgressions, and to the children of Judah their sins. To make these unhappy men sensible of the extreme danger to which they are exposing themselves, and if possible to prevail with them to seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call upon him while he is near. How many are the solemn arnings which are given to these enemies of their own souls by the Lord himseli, in various parts of his holy Word, and how plainly are they told what will be the awful consequence if ihey will not forsake the evil of their doings ? But, alas ! So fatally hath fin and Satan blinded their minds, and hardened their hearts, that, as if they were entirely bent upon their own eternal ruin, they set at nought the wife and gracious coun. fels of God, despise all his loving reproofs, and flight all the offers of mercy and grace which he is daily making unto them. Well might the man of God cry out; O that they were wise, that they would consider these things, and so think upon their latter end, as wisely to prepare for that important hour, when, whether they will or not, they, must take their everlasting flight into a world of spirits, and appear before the dreadful tribunal of God. 'And dreadful will it be beyond all description, if they have neglected 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 those who hearken to his warning voice, be: ing made sensible of their sin and danger, and therefore willing to return to him, from whom they are conscious they have greatly revolted, and against whom they have grie. vously finned. How affectionately does he invite triem to come unto him? How strongly 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 guiliy rebels, who are willing to return at his reproof; who being deeply humbled under a sense of their fin, are willing to accept of that salvation, which coft the Redeemer his precious blood !
Let all such lay hold upon the promises of God, by the hand of a lively faith ; and ihey shall find, by happy experi
ence, that he who hath redeemed them to God by his blood, will also sanctify them by his Holy Spirit, and enable them