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their tears. This sorrow was permitted to overwhelm them, that their meeting with our Saviour after his resurrection might be more exquisitely tender and pleasing You have not their uses of sorrow; but you
have reason to mourn that you are so unprepared to meet him, that you are seeking him so coldly, and that your past conduct has been such as to suggest the most painful fears that Jesus will not draw near you. Godly sorrow is as pleasing to Christ as the rapture of angels; and at his table he will relieve the heart that is oppressed with this grief. If ye have come to his table with this sorrow ye shall return with peace. To feel his hand wiping away our tears, to hear his voice as. suring us of forgiveness, and to find his comforts glad. dening our souls, must yield a pleasure which can only be exceeded in the acquittal of judgment, and in the blessedness of heaven.
After the Service.
Christians, your affectionate inquiries after your Lord are marked in heaven. Jesus knows the true character and motives of his worshippers. The men of the world may suppose that your services are but an empty form, and that your hearts are as much strangers to the feelings of devotion as theirs ; but you can appeal from censure so uncharitable and so presumptuous, to him who searches the heart, and say, “ with my soul have ) desired thee in the night season, and with my spirit within me I have sought thee early." He knows your secret struggles with corrupt principles, your devout wishes and holy purposes, and he will aid you in mortifying the deeds of the body, and cherish every virtuous emotion.
But consider that your languid feelings, and your backsliding in heart must be known to him also, and the intiination of this will cover you with confusion Happy is he to whom the Redeemer is not called to say, o when thou wast on the bed of sloth, and in the scene of folly, I saw thee;" and more happy still is he whom he can address thus, " when thou wast at my cross washing thy robes in my blood, and when thou wast in the scene of active duty, I beheld thee.” En thusiasts may mistake the phantom which is formed by their own fancy for a messenger from heaven; but the pious are under no delusion when they say,
6 God Almighty met with me, and blessed me.”
Ye who have been seeking Jesus who was crucified, have no cause for fear. What is it that terrifies you in the exercises of the sanctuary? Is it the glory to which Jesus is now raised ? His heart is the same on the throne as on the cross. The mercy which shed so sweet a lustre round the cross, is now one of the bright ornaments of his throne. Is it the opposition of your enemies that alarms you? They were vanquished when your Lord was crucified; and by the blood of the Lamb you shall be more than conquerors. Is it the consciousness of guilt that troubles you? He will not punish you for that for which he bled and died. Are you afraid that the folly, and the inconstancy of your hearts will induce him to abandon you? Such fears show that you are jealous of yourselves; but there is virtue in the cross to enlighten you in all wisdom, and to confirm you in all goodness. Do you fear that the gloom on your spirits, in consequence of afflicting dispensations, will unfit you for his service? “The way of the Lord is strength to the upright." And do the terrors of death and judgment agitate you? Behold in Jesus, who was crucified, a hope for the one, which shall not make you ashamed, and a plea for the other, which shall not fail you.
Meditate on the assurances with which the Scripture abounds of God's care and mercy to them that seek him. “ The meek shall eat, and be satisfied ; they shall praise the Lord that seek him; your hearts shall live for ever. They that seek the Lord shall want nothing that is good.” I do not
shall want nothing which you deem good; for fancy is often misled, and the humours of the heart are foolish and wayward; but you shall be denied nothing which God sees to be necessary to your welfare.
If, as I trust is the case, you have met with the Sa. viour whom you sought at his table, consider that this is a privilege of which you are altogether unworthy, and provoke him not to leave you by a presumptuous and wandering heart. If other objects solicit you to pursue them, let it be seen that you are too happy with your Lord to seek for felicity any where else. Christ's approbation is your crown, his law is your delight, and his smile is your felicity. Long for heaven, where your Lord and you
shall never be separated, and where
shall see him as he is. In vain shall death forbid your approach to Jesus, for in that flesh which worms shall destroy you shall see God. In vain shall the accuser of the brethren de. mand your condemnation, for in spite of all his charges he shall see the mercy of the Lord Jesus adjudging you to eternal life.
And in vain shall the workers of iniquity try to prevent your separation from them, for it shall be effected by love directed by infinite wisdom, and armed by almighty power. If there be any before '
me whose hearts are now complaining, “ I sought Jesus, but I found him not," I would say to them, let your inquiries be more huma
ble, affectionate, and earnest, than they have been, and the promise of God will be verified, “ Ye shall seek me, and find
when search for me with all your hearts.” The termination of the solemnity may be more happy to you than its commencement. And however long he may delay his meeting with you, " it is good for a man both to wait and quietly to hope for the salvation of the Lord."
1 THESS. I. 10. " And to wait for his Son from heaven whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivered us from the wrath to conie.”
These Christians at Thessalonica were striking evidences of the moral power of the gospel. They had been turned by it from the gross notions, the carnal superstitions, and the gloomy forebodings of idolatry, to the service of the living God, to that atonement by which guilt is expiated, and to a patient waiting for the second coming of our Lord. And I trust that by the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus ye have been brougủt from the corruption, misery, and peril, of a state of nature, to the feelings, the sanctity, and the hopes of Christians.
Let your meditations be turned to the wrath to which you were exposed, that your gratitude may be heightened to your great deliverer. There are some who, led away by the flatteries of a deceitful heart, or by extravagant views of the divine mercy, reprobate the
idea of God's avenging justice, and stigmatise the representations which are given of it for the most salutary purposes, as the forebodings of a gloomy enthusiasm which loves to excite horror and alarm. But their views of the indulgence and indiscriminate mercy of the Deity are in direct opposition to his justice and purity, and are most pernicious in their influence. If, in the present scene, which was never intended for the full display of divine justice, we see the prosperous vile lain often covered with infamy, and wretched by remorse, and guilty nations made the tormentors of each other, what must be the case in a future state when the mystery of God shall be finished, and “ he shall plentifully reward the proud doer ?" Revelation leads us to the side of the pit of destruction, clears away the smoke which issues from it, and gives us a glimpse of those who are dwelling with devouring fire, that we may gladly embrace the salvation which it offers.
How dreadful is the thought that this misery will never come to an end! The chains of darknes are never unloosed, the devouring worm never dies, and the smoke of torment ascends up for ever and ever. In this world we are visited by few calamities for the removal of which we may not hope. The world may do justice to the reputation which calumny has blasted, health may restore its bloom to the faded cheek, and reconciliation renew the intercourse of interrupted friendship; but while the ages of eternity are rolling, there will still Le wrath to come.
None of you, I trust, is saying in his heart, “why are such dreadful contemplations presented to us? if they must be uttered in a Christian assembly, let them be addressed to those only who are enemies to God." The more vivid your impressions of the damnation of hell are, the more fervent will be your love to the Sa