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loveth not, knoweth not God. He that SE RM.
dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God
in him*. Were man a single, solitary being, the full enjoyment of light might suffice for his happiness; as the perfection of knowledge would rectify and improve to the highest all his faculties. But, both here and hereafter, he is connected with other beings. Heaven implies a society; and the felicity of that society is constituted by the perfection of love and goodness, flowing from the presence of the God of love.
Hence follows the entire purification of human nature from all those malevolent passions, which have so long rendered our abode on earth the abode of misery. We greatly deceive ourselves, when we charge our chief distresses merely to the account of our external condition in the world. From the disadvantages attending it, I admit, that we may often have been exposed
*j Johniv. 8, J$.
S E R M. to suffer. We may have met with disappointments in our pursuits. By the arrows of misfortune we may have been wounded. Under infirmities of body we may have languished. But on this we may depend, that the worst evils .. of our present condition arise from the want of goodness and love; from the disorders of selfish passions; from the irritation which these occasion when working within ourselves, and the distress which they produce when breaking out upon us fron» others; in a word, from that corrupted state of temper, and that reciprocation of jealousies, suspicions, and injuries, which is ever taking place among the societies of men. Could you banish distrust, craft, and uncharitableness, from the earth, and form all mankind into an assembly of the just and the benevolent; could you inspire every heart with kind affections, and render every one friendly and generous to his neighbour; you would banish at once the most afflictive tribe of human evils. Seldom would the voice of
complaint be heard. All nature would S assume a different aspect. Cheerfulness would be seen on every countenance. Paradise would return. The wilderness would smile; the desert rejoice and blossom as the rose.—Now such are the effects • which the presence of the God of love must produce on the inhabitants above. Beholding his glory, they are changed into the fame image. In that temple of eternal love, which his presence has hallowed and consecrated, no sound but the voice of harmony is ever heard; no appearances ever present themselves but those of peace and joy.
Thus, considering God under these two illustrious characters which are given of him in scripture, as Light, and as Love, it follows that in ^his presence there must be fulness ofjoy. But I am far from saying that the few imperfect hints I have now given, exhaust, or even approach to, the sum of those pleasures for evermore which are at God's right hand. Ten thousand pleasures
are M. are there, which now we have neither '^j faculties to comprehend, nor powers to enjoy. Behind that mysterious cloud, which covers the habitation of eternity, the view of mortals cannot penetrate. Content with our humble and distant situation, we must as yet remain. Faith can only look to those glories from afar. In patient silence, it must wait, trust, and adore.
Supposing the ideas which I have set before you, in this discourse, to be no more than the speculations of a contemplative mind, such as were wont of old to be indulged by the philosophers of the Platonic school, still they would deserve attention, on account of their tendency to purify and elevate the mind. But when they are considered in connection with a revelation, which, upon grounds the most unquestionable, we believe to be divine, they are entitled to command, not attention only, but reverence and faith.T—They present to us such high expectations as are sufficient to determine every reasonable man to the
choice of virtue j to support him un-SERM,
der all its present discouragements, and ^^j to comfort him in the hour of death. Justly may they excite in our hearts that ardent aspiration of the Psalmist: My soul thirjieth for God, for the living God; 0 when Jhall I come and appear before html—But, with this wish in our hearts, never, I beseech you, let us forget what was set forth in the first part of this discourse; that, in order to arrive at the presence of God, the path of life must previously be shewn to us by him, and that in this path we must persevere to the end. These two things cannot be disjoined, a virtuous life and a happy eternity. Who Jhall ascend unto the hill of the Lord? and who Jhall stand in his holy place f He only who hath clean hands and a pure heart. Between a corrupted heart and the God of light and love, there never can be any connection. But of this we may rest assured, that the path of piety and virtue, pursued with a firm and