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ed, everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power, we do not know. May the Almighty forbid, that any of us should ever know! But of this, the Scriptures assure us, that from these mansions there is no return; that the gates of the eternal world shut to open no more, and that when the soul is once lost, it is lost for ever and for ever!
Psalm xliii. 4.
I will go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceed
ing joy. .
CHRISTIANS, as we are next Lord's day to go to the altar, and approach unto God, it may be proper (for me now to explain the nature, and set before you the advantages, of such an approach.)
The pleasures of devotion have been the theme of good men in all ages; and they are pleasures of such a kind as good men only can feel. In what I am now to say therefore, I must appeal to the heart, to the hearts of those who, in times past, have felt the joy of spiritual communion, and who will again feel that it is good still for them to draw nigh unto God.
This is the time when Jesus prepares a banquet for his friends; when the Spirir faith, Come; when the Church faith, Come; when he that is athirst is invited to come; and happy will it be when the friends of Jesus prepare to meet with their Lord, if those who have hitherto been strangers to the holy hill, shall be attracted with the beauty which is in true holiness, also to come and to take the waters of life freely. For thus runs the gracious promise of Heaven : “ The strangers who join themselves to the $ Lord, to love him and to serve him, even them be will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them
“ joyful in my house of prayer.” In further treating on this subject, what I intend at present, is, in the first place, To explain the nature of that approach which the devout make to God; and, in the second place, Set before you the advantages which accompany such an approach.
I am, in the first place, then, To explain the nature of that approach which the devout make to God.
This earth is not the native region of that spirit which is in man. It finds not objects here congenial with its nature, nor a sphere adequate to its faculties. It wants room to expand to its full dimensions; to spread so wide, and stretch so far, and soar so high, · as its immortal nature and unbounded capacity will admit. Descended from heaven, it aspires to heaven again. Created immortal, nothing that is mortal can satisfy its desires. Made after the image of God, it tends to that God whose lineaments it still bears. When we approach to God, therefore, we find objects suited to our nature, and engage in the employment for which the foul was made. Here we are at home in our Father's house. Here our fpirits aspire to hold communion with the everlasting Spirit ; and we tend to heaven with exceeding joy, as to our native country.
The sense of Deity is akin to the perception of beauty and the sensibility of taste. We are formed by the Author of our nature to feel certain move, ments of mind at the sight of certain objects. Even inanimate things are not without their attractions. The flowers of the field have their beauty. Animal life rises in our regard. Rational excellence and moral perfection rank still higher in our esteem, and when expressed in action, and appearing in life,
awake emotions of the noblest kind, and beget a pleasure which is supreme. Let any person of a right constituted mind place before his view a character of high eminence for generosity, fidelity, fortitude ; let him see these virtues tried to the utmost, exerted in painful struggles, overcoming difficulties, and conquering in a glorious cause, and he will feel their ef. feats in his admiring mind; he will be actuated with respect and love to such illustrious virtues. We account that faculty of the mind which gives us a relish for these pleasures, a perfection in our nature, and a high one; we look upon an insensibility to such enjoyments as a radical defect. Let us apply this principle to religion. Who can behold the vastness and magnificence of the works of God without emotion; and infinite perfection without wonder and awe? Can our thoughts be fixed upon infinite goodness and everlasting love, without affection and without gratitude ? Can we behold Divinity in a form of flesh; the Son of God extended on the cross for the salvation of the world, and our hearts not burn within us with love to him who loved us unto the death? Can we behold the veil drawn aside from the invisible world, the heavens opened over our head, and the treasures of eternity displayed to view, and after all continue cold and dead; cold to the beauty of the heavens, dead to the love of immortality ? Where there is any sensibility at all, where there are any affections that become humanity, they will be excited to their most lively exercise by the presence of spiritual and divine things.
Under the influence of these objects, and the im. pression of Deity, the devout enter into their cham
ber and shut the door; they turn aside their eyes from beholding vanity; they charge their passions to be filent, their minds to be still; and pour out their hearts to Him who made them, in all the fervency of prayer. Thus prepared to seek the Lord God of their fathers, they come to his temple to meet with him there. They are seized with a religious awe in the presence of the sanctuary, and approach to the altar wondering and adoring, as Moses to the burning bush, and as the High Priest of old to the holy of holies. They look beyond the externals of a facra ment, and, under the symbols in the communion, they discern the mysteries of redeeming love. Notwithstanding the veil with which a greater than Mofes covers himself on this holy mountain, they behold his beauty, and cannot bear the brightness of his countenance. When they sit down with him at his table, they are sensible of his presence : (while their hands receive the sacred symbols, their eyes behold the Lord of Glory. In the spirit of devotion, and on the wings of faith, they rise from earth to heaven; they pierce beyond the clouds, and enter within the veil. The everlasting doors are thrown open; the King of Glory appears upon his throne; Angels and Archangels cover themselves with their wings, and all the pillars of the firmament tremble.
But not to heaven is the Divinity confined. He fills the earth; he dwells with men. Look around you, and behold the marks of his presence, and the impression of his hand. In the gay and lovely scenes of nature, behold him in his beauty smiling on his works. In the grand and awful objects of creation, in the tempeft, in the thunder, in the earthquake, be