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joicing in themselves, or in the world, deprives them of the happiness they have derived from rejoicing in God, They know, therefore, that they injure their own souls as well as injure God, by neglecting to obey the cmmand, which he has given them for their own good and his glory. They are more inconsistent and criminal in neglecting to rejoice in God, than sinners are in neglecting this duty. They often imagine, that God cannot be a source of joy and rejoicing; and therefore they forsake God the fountain of living waters and hew out to themselves cisterns broken cisterns, that can hold no water. It is extremely unwise and sinful for those who have tasted the happiness, which flows from re. joicing in God, to neglect deriving their happiness from God and seek to obtain happiness from the world. Their neglecting this duty, not only diminishes their own happiness, but greatly dishonors religion. By their not always rejoicing in God, they lead the men of the world to conclude, that their religion, instead of doing them any good, does them a great deal of hurt.
a It prevents them from rejoicing in any thing and makes them more disconsolate and gloomy, than those, who have no religion and pretend to none.
It is a great blemish and imperfection in the character and conduct of Christians, to suffer the trials and tribulations, which God brings upon them, to overwhelm them in sorrow and to banish all joy and rejoicing from their hearts. David's conduct at the death of Absalom, was highly displeasing to God and to Joab and to the people in general ; and it was happy for him that Joab had courage and resolution to reprove him and bring him to right feelings and conduct. Christians, who neglect to rejoice always, never fail to give occasion to the enemies of religion to think and speak reproachfully of it. Nor is this all the evil arising from neglecting to rejoice in God. It unfits them for all religious duties. When they neglect to see God and to rejoice in him, they are always either in darkness, or stupidity, which makes every religious duty irksome and leads to the neglect of those duties, in which they once took peculiar pleasure and delight. While Christians rejoice in the Lord
they are always active and constant in every religious duty; especially in times of trouble, sorrow, or mourning; and never enjoy more happiness, than they then derive from rejoicing in the Lord. These considerations ought to excite all Christians to rejoice in the Lord always, as the most important and indispensable duty.
Finally this subject calls upon sinners to renounce all their worldly and sinful joy and to rejoice in God, who is the only source of pure and permanent joy.— All other sources of joy and rejoicing will soon forsake you; and then you must be wretched indeed. You cannot begin to be truly happy, until you rejoice in God; and you cannot always be happy, unless you al
; ways rejoice in God. All the happiness of heaven will flow from rejoicing in God; and all the miseries of the damned will flow from the entire loss of this source of happiness. God is infinitely worthy of your supreme love and joy, on account of his essential and amiable perfections. And not only so, but also for wat he has done for you, bestowed upon you and of fered to you.
You will be the most ingrateful and guilty, as well as the most wretched creatures in the universe, if you continue to refuse to rejoice in God. You have no right to rejoice in any thing, so long as you neglect to rejoice in God. He calls you, therefore to mourning ; and you have reason to mourn for all your rejoicing, which God has forbidden. Be entreats ed then to rejoice in God immediately and forever.
ISAIAH. xLv. 7.-1, the Lord, do all these things.
In this chapter God foretells the character and conduct of Cyrus, whom he designed to employ as the prin cipal instrument of restoring his people from their long captivity in Babylon to their native country. And to give more weight and solemnity to his prediction, he asserts, in the strongest terms, his own divinity, unity, supremacy and universal agency. 6. Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before bim ; and I will loose the loins of kings ; to open before him the two leaved gates and the gates shall not be shut. I will go before thee and make the crooked places straight : I will break in pieces the gates of brass and cut in sunder the bars of iron : & I will give thee the treasures of darkness and hidden treasures of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, who call thee by name, am the God of Israel: For Jacob my servant's sake and Israel mine elect, I have called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. I am the Lord and there is none else, there is no God besides me : I girded thee, though thou hast not known me ; that they may know from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord and there is none else, I form the light and create darkness : I make peace, and create evil. I, the Lord, do all these things.” This is the connection of the text, which in this connection contains a truth, which it equally concerns all mankind to understand and believe. The truth is this; The agency of God is universal,
To set this important truth in as clear a light as I am able, I shall endeavor to show,
1. In what the agency of God consists; And, il That his agency is universal.
All, who acknowledge the existence of God, are agreed, that he brought this world out of notbing by his own proper agency.
But they are not so well agreed in what his agency consists. The variety of opinions on this subject has been a source of many great and dangerous errors respecting the doctrines of the gospel. A misapprehension of divine agency bas been the occasion of involving some important subjects in great darkness and obscurity. It is, therefore, much to be desired, that the agency of the first and supreme cause should be exhibited in a clear and intelligible manner. There can be no agency, where there is no choice, or design. An agent is one, who exerts his power to produce some effect. Accordingly God, to convince mankind of his great and powerful agency, mentions the great and important effects he has produced. He says, he held the hand of ('yrus, subdued nations before him, loosed the loins of kings, opened before him the two leaved gates, brake in pieces the gates of brass and cut in sunder the bars of iron. And after mentioning these great effects, be adds, “I form the light and create darkness : I make peace and cre
: ate evil : 1, the Lord, do all these things.” That is, I produce all these great and marvellous effects, of choice or design. Hence we may safely say, that the agency of God consists in his will, his choice or volition, and in nothing, which is either the cause, or consequence of his willing, or choosing to produce any effect, or bring about any event. , It is plain that bis bare knowledge cannot produce any effect. Our knowledge of any thing present, or to come, has no tendency to produce any effect. And though God's knowledge be infinite, or unlimited, yet his knowledge never did and never can produce any effect. His knowledge, that he should create the world, had no tendency to create
and his knowledge of any future event never had the least tendency to bring it to pass. So that his agen
cy does not in the least degree, consist in his knowledge. Nor does bis agency consist in bis wisdom, which enables him to form the most extensive and perfect designs. His forming the great plan of creation, of providence and redemption, had no tendency to produce those great and glorious effects. That plan existed completely in his own mind, before he took one step, or made one exertion, to accomplish it.
His wisdom in forming any design has no tendency to carry it into execution. So that his agency does not consist in his wisdom. Nor does his agency consist in his power, which is always prior to it. He had power to create the world, before he created it. Power may exist without any exercise or exertion. We have power, which we do not exercise. We have power to do a thousand things, which we never do. Action and the power of action are very different. The
agency of God, therefore, does not consist in his power to act, or in his omnipotence. Now, if his agen- : cy does not consist in his knowledge, nor in bis wisdom, nor in his omnipotence, nor in any of his natural perfections, the inference is plain, that it must consist in his will, or choice, or volition and in nothing else. None of his natural perfections can produce any effect without his willing it ; and after he has willed it, his agency is no further concerned in its production. His agency consists in nothing before his choice, nor after his choice, nor beside his choice. It does not consist in the cause of his choice, any more than in the effect of his choice. We can form as clear ideas of the agency of God, as we can of his existence, or of any one of his natural attributes.
of his natural attributes. And the clear idea we have of his natural attributes contrains us to believe, that his agency cannot consist in any one or all of them, but solely in his will, choice, or volition. We cannot conceive, that his acting is any thing, but his willing or choosing to produce an effect. His willing or choosing a thing to exist is all, that, he does in causing it to exist. This is the dictate of reason respecting the nature of divine agency; and reason in this case entirely harmonizes with scripture. Mo