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must be'so. Their's is a religion founded in love, the love of God. We cannot be reconciled to God, nor enjoy his favour, nor receive of his Spirit, without loving him; and that, being the fixed element of the mind will necessarily lead to the love of others. The principle of obedience to the duties of the first table being secured, will necessarily lead to the principle of obedience to the duties of the second. Benevolence in Christians, therefore, is not left to be dependant upon circumstances of excitement and feeling; but it is the result of principle. They cannot look every man upon his own things only, upon his own wants and necessities; but they look every man upon the things of others. They cannot consider themselves as proprietors of the good things of the world which they possess; but only as stewards on account of the great donor who has given them. Are they rich in this world? They are ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come. They make to themselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that, when they fail, these may receive them into everlasting habitations. Are they poor? They will not take all of their own little, that they may have something to spare for charity. They have a morsel to give to the hungry who are still poorer than themselves; and very often the weary is refreshed at their little brooks, when denied a single drop from the rivers of their more wealthy neighbours. Their charity has not to be bribed by human applause, or by the prospect of recompense; but it flows from principle. The quality of their mercy is not strained; it drops as the gentle dew from heaven. Their benevolence is not to be struck out of them as fire out of flint; but it descends as the moisture from a full charged cloud. Benevolence in them is an enduring principle; no ingratitude can blast it, no change of circumstances destroy it, no exertion exhaust it, no period of duration bring it to decay. The charity of the people of God is a charity that never fails: fed by the fountain of divine love, it is a stream that will continue to flow as long as time shall Last. There belongs to true goodness
Piety of Character. This, the root of the virtues of the regenerate man, has acts and offices associated with it, and associates acts with those virtues, that prove them to be genuine. All such individuals, for instance, not only do justice and love mercy, but they walk humbly with their God; they reverence the whole revelation of his will, and pay due obedience to all his counsels. They have access to God in prayer—they cannot live without availing themselves of the privilege. Their prayers are warm, the language of their hearts, and faithful to their feelings. They yield to God every seventh portion of their time—not snatching it from him to appropriate it to their own use, when he gives them all the rest; but readily yielding it up to him, to employ it in the way he has prescribed. They keep up the celebration of his ordinances and his word, | providing for their maintenance, atl tending upon them, taking care of those who do attend upon them, distributing to the necessities of the saints, doing good to all men, especially to them of the household of faith. They honour the Lord with their substance, and with the first fruits of their increase: sometimes if they have only two mites, they cast them into the treasury.
This piety associates itself with all their other virtues, and thus attests their genuineness, and the worth of the character in which they dwell. And this is essential. If godliness without these virtues be mere tinsel, all these virtues without godliness are a mere phantom: both must be in conjunction. How miserably deficient are those persons who talk of rendering to all their due, but out of that all exclude the great God, in all his claims upon their time, their affections, and their services! There must be a conjunction of piety and moral virtue in the character, to prove a man regenerate and truly good; one will not do without the other. You must do justice, you must love mercy; but you must walk humbly with your God. You must not only be brought to be sober and righteous in the present world, but godly also, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearance of the great God, even our Saviour Jesus Christ. These persons will be good in bad
times; because their goodness is not an appendix t'o their nature, to be put on and off as occasion may serve; but it is a part of them which cannot be laid aside; it will manifest itself in all situations, in all circumstances, and in all places. The goodness or piety of Daniel and his companions in Babylon was not destroyed there; and if Babylon instead of being another country had been another world, they must have been good there. The goodness of the truly regenerate abides in all circumstances and in all places: it is not to be destroyed by persecution or tribulation; but, like gold, it only shines the brighter for every trial; or, lihe the stars of night, it comes out more clearly and shines more brightly in contrast with the darkness with which it is encompassed.
I trust then you see clearly the way in which to become numbered among the good, and the properties of that good which belong to the regenerate. Let us therefore enquire in the Second
place, WHAT IS THE IMPORT OF THE DECLARATION OF THE TEXT, AND HOW THE TRUTH OF IT APPEARS TO BE JUSTIFIED BY ALL HISTORY AND ALL EXPERIENcE.
"The Lord shall be with the good." You may understand this as meaning that the Lord will be with them in the supply of his Spirit, and that he will be with them in providing for them in his providence, preserving them from trouble, supporting them in it, or delivering them out of it, and blessing others for their sake. The Lord shall be in a peculiar and especial manner with the good.
We infer the truth of this declaration from the pnrjioses of God, and the relation in which his people stand to hint. They are his children; their goodness is his own offspring; it is the stamp of his own image upon them by his own hand, in consequence of their being related to him by faith in his Son. If it be the prerogative of a good father to look particularly after the welfare of his children, and the prerogative of a good prince to be attentively concerned about the welfare of his willing and obedient subjects; can you suppose that God will not be particularly attentive to all his people, and be with them in an especial manner? Surely he has not chosen them from eternity to be numbered among
the good, and made them so by a peculiar and gracious process, to be inattentive to them afterwards, or to leave them to be confounded with the generality of mankind. No ; we might infer from the perfections of God, and the relation in which he stands to all these individuals, that he must and will be with them in a peculiar and especial manner.
The truth of this declaration is established by the promise of Scripture. Through both Testaments many promises run positively assuring us of this truth. "The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth; but the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his car is open to their cry." "He shall preserve them alive in famine." "Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shaltthou dwell'in the land, and verily, thou shalt be fed." "He shall be with thee in six troubles, yea, in seven he will not forsake thee." "Be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." "Faint not at your tribulation, seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us." Innumerable promises of Scripture, of the most express and positive nature, justify the declaration of the text— "The Lord shall be with the good."
The truth of this declaration is justified by all experience and by all history. Look at the condition of the Jews in Persia, after the return of many of their brethren from the captivity in Babylon: see how the Lord was with the good there, and how he blessed others for their sake. A decree for their extermination is counteracted by another decree, allowing them to defend themselves, and to retaliate. So that on the arrival of the day appointed for the execution of the former, they defended themselves in all the provinces of Persia, and on the following day in the capital itself; which two days became marked and separated in the Jewish annals as sacred days, in commemoration of the wonderful deliverance, and as the guarantee of its truth through all generations. It was the wrath and malice of one man that exposed them to that dreadful catastrophe. This was Hainan, a man high in advancement in the court of Persia, an Amalekite, one of the accursed race whom the Lord, on account of their hatred to the children of Israel, had forbidden the Jews ever to favour. Mordecai, a Jew born among the captives in Babylon, who was also about the court, had rendered a service to the king by overhearing and disclosing a plot among the guards to take away his life; which service was recorded in the book of the affairs of the court. Esther his niece was one of the favourites of the monarch, although it is probable that her race and lineage had never been declared to him. It is therefore out of religious scruples that Mordecai refused to honour Hainan. That refusal inflaming Hainan's rage, he aimed a blow at the whole race for Mordecai's sake ; and with a cunningly devised fable, he persuaded the king that they were a disaffected and rebellious people. He procured a decree for their extermination on a certain day, which day had been made known to him by the diviners as a lucky day. That decree he caused to be sent to all the magistrates of the provinces, directing them on the arrival of that day to massacre all the Jews; and to bribe them to it, the goods of the massacred Jews were delivered into their hands. The decree could not be sent forth so secretly but Mordecai heard of it; and he humbled himself before God on account of it, and wept, prayed, and made supplication; and he came and stood around the court, clothed in sackcloth and ashes. On this being told to Esther, and on her enquiring the cause of it, he informed her of the fact, and urged her to entreat of the king, in person, a revocation of the decree. That was impossible, because, first, no individual durst venture into the presence of the Persian monarch without being called, for fear of his life; and she had not been called for thirty days, another favourite occupied her place— and next, because the laws of the Persian monarch never were revoked; it was impossible for them to revoke their own decrees. Providence, however, inspired her to make the attempt. She succeeded so far as to have her life afforded her: she touched the golden sceptre, and was assured of her request to the extent of half the king
dom. The affair, however, was too serious to be hurried : -she only requested the presence of the king and of Haman at a banquet on the morrow. You see in every thing that follows, the footsteps of Providence on behalf of his people, confirming the doctrine of the text, "The Lord shall be with the good." The banquet came, and the king requested a renewal of Esther's petition; but she puts it off till the banquet on the following day: and that delay was most important because of what intervened. Haman returning to his own house elated with the royal banquet, Mordecai again refused to do him honour; and when he reaches his house he is filled with indignation, and, counselled by his wicked wife, he causes a gallows fifty cubits high to be erected, intending to impeach Mordecai before the king on the morrow, and to cause him to be hanged thereon. But before the morning arrived, the king was troubled in his sleep: and he called for the book of the affairs of the court. It was opened on the very page where Mordecai's service was recorded, and he found it had never been requited. A messenger is despatched early in the morning for Mordecai, who going from his house observes the gallows, and learns for whom it was intended. Upon the arrival of Haman, the king enquires, What shall be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour? The courtier, thinking it must be himself who was meant, suggests honours second only to those of the royal person. He is told to put them all on Mordecai. On his return he is summoned to the banquet. The king then renews his demand for Esther's request: she rises from the table— "I and my people are sold, not to captivity—that we could have borne— but we are sold to death and to destruction in one single day." The colour of the monarch arose—" Who, where is the monster that has done this deed i" "That wicked Haman." Too late the king perceives his folly, and how hastily he had been drawn into the snare. He walks into the garden to cool himself. Haman, seeing what was coming, entreats Esther to intercede for him: she refusing, and seeking to retire, Haman lays hold of her to detain her. The king returning,
is inflamed with rage at the sight; and learning at the moment that the gallows which Hainan had erected was intended for Mordecai, he commands him to be hanged thereon. But what becomes of the decree? It cannot be revoked; but the king issues another decree, that the Jews on the arrival of the day should be allowed to defend themselves, and to retaliate upon their adversaries. The people percetve the altered mind of the king, and on the arrival of the appointed day only some few enemies of the Jews attempt to destroy them; but they are successfully opposed. On the next day they are repulsed in the city, and especially the ten sons of Hainan, who seeking to revenge their father's death were all slain, and afterwards hung on the gallows with their infamous parent. It is a very usual superstition with the Jews, to let the book of Esther fall to the ground, because the name of God is not there. But the doctrine of Divine Providence shines very eminently through all the book. In some respects the history is more interesting than any other book; there is no miraculous interposition in it; the object of Divine Providence is brought about by his secret influence upon men's minds in the management of human affairs; and thus it is more like the histories of men in general, and confirms in a most striking way the declaration of the text—"The Lord shall be with the good."
How remarkable was the preservation of the Christians from the destruction of Jerusalem. Our Lord told them when they should see Jerusalem encompassed with armies, to make their escape; but how was that possible when the enemy had dug a trench around the wall? how could they make their escape? Providence provided a way for them, and proved that the warning was the dictate of a prophetic spirit. Josephus informs us, that the Roman general, for no assignable canse whatever, was moved to raise the siege for a while, and retire. All but the Christians calculated that he would not return; but they, remembering the warning of their Lord, embraced the opportunity, and fled for safety to a little town or city beyond Jerusalem; so that when
the Roman general Titus returned at the head of the enemy and took the city, and put the inhabitants to the sword, not a Christian was found there. "The Lord was with the good."
And if you look at Peter in the prison, when the church prayed for him, and when their prayers drew down an angel from heaven to knock off his chains and open his prison doors;— If you look at Paul, the chosen vessel, when forty men at Jerusalem bound themselves by an oath, that they would never taste bread till they had taken away his life, and observe how he was delivered by a young man, his kinsman, who overheard their plot, and told it to the governor of the castle;— If you look at the banished Saint of Patmos, and see how he was cheered in that desolate island with visions from heaven—how that very desert, by the presence of his God and Saviour, was transformed into a paradise; —If yon will look afterward at the history of the Church, and see how the Christians were preserved from their Jewish brethren, and delivered by the interposition of Heathen magistrates— how they were afterwards preserved from the persecuting fury of Rome Pagan and of Rome Christian under the form of the papacy ;—If you will come down to later times and read the history of your own country, and see how a proud navy, formed for the purpose of destroying all who opposed the papacy in this land, and proudly styled " The Invincible," was dispersed and destroyed by the winds and the waves ; and how the plot to crush those who opposed that abomination in this land, was detected by means of a letter, and the conjecture of the monarch;—these are contemplations as profitable as they are pleasant to every Christian, and only serve to confirm and corroborate the text, "The Lord shall be with the good."
There is only one objection I am aware of to this statement; and that is taken from the instances in which good persons have been confounded with the wicked in a general time of calamity and suffering; and especially from those instances in which they have been selected for suffering and persecution, delivered over to the will of their adversaries, and destroyed by trouble and persecution. But these instances which at first sight appear to militate against the text, will upon a closer examination be found more to confirm it. If, in that trouble of the righteous, out of which the Lord promised to deliver them, but which overwhelmed them, he sustained and consoled and cheered their minds, so as to make them to feel it to be no trouble, but rather a joy, and made them to cry out in the very midst of it victory and triumph—why then he fulfilled the declaration of the text in an essential manner, and was most eminently with the good. And that this has been the case, let the history of Christian martyra be scrutinized—it fears no scrutiny. The calm, dignified, forgiving, and transporting spirit of those holy men and women in the midst of tortures most appalling to nature, in lively contrast with the wild ebullitions, excited by artifical means, in similar cases, sufficiently prove and demonstrate the truth of this declaration, that even in the worst of cases, "The Lord shall be with the good."
He shall be with them nationally if they act consistently and faithfully. If they humble themselves for the sins of the nation, and zealously lay themselves out to promote the cause of God and of universal reformation, the Lord shall be with them, and shall bless others for their sakes. I confess to you, my brethren, that this is the great ground of my own happiness and comfort at the present crisis of affairs—the number of the people of God that belong to our land, more than to any other land under heaven. I do not confine the people of God to my own denomination—God forbid. I do not confine them to any denomination. I believe there are many of the people of God in this country of all denominations; and they form the grand security of our land—they are the salt of our country—they are our best defenders from the judgments which fall upon other nations, and which may be hovering over us. When I see young men, and men of business, while prudently attentive to its claims, not engrossed by them, but laying out themselves for works of usefulness;—when I see them seeking to procure the abolition of slavery in our Colonies, and thus to wipe off
that foul and accursed blot from our land;—when I see them seeking to promote the due observance of the Sabbath day ;—when I see them distributing little works of usefulness and scriptural knowledge to persons of all classes and descriptions ;—when I see both sexes devoting themselves to the instruction of the poor in the Sacred Oracles, training them up for the Lord God—I see that which gives me satisfaction in the present day of calamity and trial; and I pray that the Lord may prosper their efforts and increase their numbers; for " The Lord shall be with the good."
He shall be with them individually. Fear not that he will ever leave his work of grace unfinished in you. Fear not that he will ever forsake you in the trouble and calamities through which you will have to pass. Be ye followers of the Lord in humble circumstances and situations of life. You may be exposed to trials and difficulties. "Trust in the Lord and do good; so shall thou dwell in the land; and verily thou shalt be fed. He that has been with you in six troubles will be with you also in the seventh; and even the trouble that may overcome you shall not overcome your spirit, but you shall triumph there; even in the last dread hour of affliction and death, you shall be more than conqueror through him who hath loved you. Oh, brethren, death is a great enemy—death is a great conqueror—but the feeblest Christian and the humblest Christian, animated by the grace of Christ, is more than conqueror there. Behold that humble cottage, the dwelling place of a poor dying saint—behold that man, that inconsiderable man, little by his nature and his circumstances, but great by the privileges with which piety endows him. See him laying on his last bed, surrounded, it may be, with a weeping partner and weeping family; but look at him animated by the principles of piety—look at him. I depict the scenes which these eyes have often witnessed. See him collected and firm. Hear him saying, "I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord. O Lord, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. Dost thou say, no man can see thy face and live? Well then, let me die—let me die to see my