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flERM. whole vast extent, over which its beams , are diffused, into a region of light; and thus changes entirely the state of objects, by arraying all nature in beauty, and transforming it into the image of its own brightness:— Some such change as this, though in a degree infinitely superior, we may conceive the revelation of the Divine Presence to produce Upon the human soul. / will behold thy face in righteousness; I'shall be satisfied, when 1 awake, with thy likeness.— But without endeavouring farther to tinfold mysteries which we cannot explore, there are two sublime and expressive views of the Divine Essence given us in scripture, on which it may be edifying that our thoughts should rest for a little, in order to aid our conceptions of the blessedness of good men hereafter, in the presence of God. It is said, God is light*; God is love.f. Let us consider what fulness of joy
* i John i. 5. ft John iv. 8.
must arise from such manifestations SE R M. of the Divine Essence to the blessed.
God is light. The revelation of his presence, infers of course, a complete diffusion of light and knowledge among all who partake of that presence. This unquestionably forms a primary ingredient of happiness. Ignorance, or the want of light, is the source of all our present misconduct, and all our misfortunes . The heart of man is dark; and in the darkness of his heart is the feat of his corruption. He is unable to discern what is truly good. Perpetually employed in search of happiness, he is perpetually milled by false appearances of it. The errors of his understanding impose upon his passions 3 and, in consequence of the wrong direction which his passions take, he is betrayed into a thousand disorders. Hence sensuality, covetousness, and all the violent contests with others about trifles, which occasion so much misery, and so many crimes in the world. He feedeth of K 2 N ajhes:
S E R M. ashes: a deceived heart hath turned htm C^^j aside, that he cannot deliver his Joul, nor fay, Is there not a lie in my right hand*?— Once open to him the perfect sources of knowledge and truth suppose him placed in the presence of that God who is Light; suppose him illuminated by light derived immediately from the Supreme Being; presently all his former errors would fly away as mists are dispelled by the rising sun. His whole nature would be changed and reformed. The prejudices which obscured his understanding would be removed. The seductions of bis passions would disappear. Rectitude and virtue, having nothing now to obstruct their entrance, would take entire possession of his heart. Angels are happier than men, because they enjoy more enlarged knowledge and views; because they labour under none of our unhappy deceptions; but fee the truth as it is in itself; see it, as it is in
God. Sharing the same light which il- S E R M. luminates them, good men in a future *_-v^/ state will share in their felicity.
Moreover, the light that flows from the presence of Him who is the original source of light, not only banishes miseries which were the effects of former darkness, but also confers the most exquisite enjoyment. The knowledge afforded us at present serves to supply our most pressing wantsbut it does no more. It is always imperfect and unsatisfactory; nay, much pain and anxiety it often leaves. Narrow is the sphere within which the mind can see at all; and even there it can see only darkly as through a glass. But when it shall be enlarged beyond this dusky territory, let loose from this earthly prison, and in God's light permitted to fee light, the most magnificent and glorious spectacles must open to the view of the purified spirit. What must it be to behold the whole stupendous scene of nature unveiled, and its hidden mysteries disclosed! To trace the wise and just go^
8ERM. vernment of the Almighty, through all 1 v^^lj those intricacies which had so long per-, plexed us! To behold his hand conducts ing ten thousand worlds, which are now unknown to us; and throughout all the regions of boundless space, to view wisdom and goodness perpetually acting, and diversifying its operations in forms of endless variety! Well may such discoveries inspire that song of the blessed, which the apostle John heard as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, faying, Alleluiah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; jufi and true are thy ways, thou King of faints*! As God is \Light, so also it is said in scripture,
God is love. His presence must of course diffuse love, among all who are permitted to dwell in it. He that