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God's holy mountain, and makes him joyful in his house of prayer. This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it."
And are not the Scriptures some of their pleasant things? Job could say, “I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.” David could say, " More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold ;-sweeter also than honey and the honey-comb." Jeremiah could say, “ Thy words were found, and I did eat them, and they were unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” It is the character of a good man, and the pledge of his blessedness ; 6. His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night; and he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
This, too, will apply to the preaching of the word. The Christian does not wish to be always hearing sermons, for he knows that everything is beautiful in its season, and the claims of duty are numerous and various—but he values opportunities of hearing the glad tidings of salvation ; he welcomes the message and the messenger, and exclaims, “ How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things !” And though their trials be many, and the Lord gives them the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction," yet they find an ample compensation and relief in thisthat “ their eyes behold their teachers, and their ears hear a voice behind them, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when they turn aside to the right hand, and when they turn to the left.”
They find it a pleasant thing to approach God in prayer, and to " come before his presence with singing." A pleasant thing to surround his table, and to refresh their minds with the memorials of a Saviour's dying love. A pleasant thing to be in the circle of pious friends and to hear from their lips what God has done for their souls. These are some of their pleasant things.
Secondly, let us inquire how they became so powerfully attractive ? for it is certain that they are not so universally: by numbers they are not only neglected, but despised. Whence then do real Christians find them so pleasing?
First, there is in them a suitableness to their dispositions. Thus you know, music charms those who have an ear for it. Money is a pleasant thing to the covetous ; honour to the ambitious; scandal to the slanderous. In all these instances there is something that meets the taste ; and that which gratifies, always delights. So it is here. " That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh ; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. The pleasure of the Christian does not depend upon persuasionbut inclination: he is not merely told that the provisions of the gospel are good, but he has a spiritual relish. Since he is a new creature, he has new appetites, and “ hungers and thirsts after righteousness.”
Experience, however, is another source of this pleasure. We are attached to books which have afforded us peculiar satisfaction. The kindness of friends endears them. A spring, which in a scorching day, and when we were ready to ex
pire, yields us a refreshing supply, will be thought of with pleasure. The new born babe is at first urged by a natural instinct, but afterwards it cries for the breast-not only from a sense of want, but an experience of relief and pleasure. So it is with the Christian. He has found these things to be good for him. Having “ tasted that the Lord is gracious," his language is, Lord, evermore give us this bread! Many do not know what it is to enjoy God in the means of grace ; they are not attached to ordinances, because they have derived no profit from them. But Christians have striking proofs of their beneficial influence in their own experience: they know that in keeping them there is a great reward: they remember how they have been owned of God,-at one time by delivering their souls from the power of temptation--at another by filling them with “all joy and peace in believing;”-and so of the rest. Some seasons and exercises they can review with singular feeling. In these they were " abundantly satisfied with the fatness of his house :" they were made to 6 drink of the river of his pleasures. In his light they saw light.” And the memory of these peculiar communications and discoveries makes them long with David “ to see his power and his glory as they have seen him in the sanctuary !"
Continual need also renders them pleasant things. Though the Christian hopes the good work is begun in him, he feels how far it is from being complete. His deficiencies are great and many. Something is lacking to his faith, his hope, his knowledge. Sometimes also he feels decays. His zeal cools into indifference. Earthly things sensualize his mind. He desires to have his convictions renewed; his impressions regenerated. And how are these deficiencies to be filled up; these decays to be repaired ? Read the promise : “ In all places where I record my name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. They that wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength ; they shall mount up with wings as eagles ; ihey shall run and not be weary, and walk and not faint. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you."
Let us now review what we have said—and
First, to justify religion from the reproaches of the world. They will have it, that the services which religion demands of us are all slavery and gloom : and they spread this evil report of the good land to check inquirers, especially the young. But if you are willing to enter in, let no man's heart fail him. The Scripture assures us that “her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." And “wisdom is justified of all her children.” Those who have tried, and these are the only competent witnesses, instead of complaining of bondage, find the Saviour's service to be perfect freedom, and own especially compared with the yoke of their old master--that “his commandments are not grievous."
Secondly. Let us try ourselves by this rule. A man may want assurance, and still be in a state of safety ; but if he be habitually a stranger to pleasure in divine things, and can pass through all the services of religion as a mere formalist, it is an awful proof that “ he has no part or lot in the matter : his heart is not right in the sight of God." A number of speculative opinions, cold
ceremonies, cheap moralities in which the affections have no share, can never constitute real devotion. "The Lord looketh to the heart." He does not value those exercises which are performed from necessity ; unwillingly; grudgingly. He abhors the sacrifices of those who are glad of excuses to keep them from his worship ; who would be thankful were he entirely to dispense with their services ; who feel him as a task-master while they are performing the drudgery of his work. The question is, are spiritual things your pleasant things? If not, you are destitute of the mark of a real Christian, and you have a poor prospect before you in eternity. God will not drag you into heaven to make you miserable ; for miserable you would be, even in heaven, in your present state. The nature and duration of its employment-an eternal sabbatha temple in which you shall serve him day and night-an intercourse only with those who are perfectly pure and holy—and this would be intolerable to an unrenewed man, who is saying to God, “ Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways."?
Thirdly. What an affliction do Christians sustain when they are deprived of their pleasant things! This may be done two ways. First, by removing these privileges from them. Thus persecution has sometimes forbidden them to assemble together, and has silenced their preachers, destroyed their sanctuaries, and banished all religious ordinances from a neighbourhood. God sometimes inflicts his judgments upon a place for neglect and abuse of gospel privileges. He can send a more dreadful dearth than a famine of bread, even a famine of hearing the words of the