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God! and far greater will be the rapture of the glorified spirits round the throne of God and of the Lamb forever.
“ That mount, how bright, these forms how fair!
'Tis good to dwell forever there ;
O, let us never forget that Christ Jesus is the proper, the appointed, the only object of religious joy. Whatever the Christian rejoices in must have some connexion with him. Are the promises the matter of his rejoicing ? These were all made by him, are all ratified, are all yea and amen in Christ Jesus, to the glory of God by us." Is it any spiritual, blessing? It comes to us only through his mediation. O, then, Christians, “joy in God, by whom you have now received the atonement;" " rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven;" “ rejoice in hope of the glory of God;" let your heavenly inheritance be the matter of your triumph, “though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold templations." While the rich man glories in his riches, and the mighty man in his might, do you rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven. “ Declare bis works with rejoicing ; go to God your exceeding joy; with joy draw water out of the wells of salvation; shout for joy, all
ye that are upright in heart; joy in God, the God of salvation : finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord; rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, rejoice. So shall the Lord your God rejoice over you with singing, yea, rest in his love."
Let me remark, by way of conclusion, that these sensations, from various causes, are not always felt; for our love is cold, our faith dying, and our
spark of joy quenched, so that we go daily mourning. But these things out not so to be; they indicate that religion is at a low ebb in our souls ; and if this be the case with us, we may cry, “O, my leanness ! my leanness !" But must we not lay the blame of our little enjoyment of religion upon ourselves ? Surely we must. () that the Spirit of true faith and joy would “ fill us with all joy and peace in believing !”
Let me ask, how many of us, in the Divine presence, can appropriate the language of the text to ourselves, and say of Jesus, "Though now I see him not, I love him, I believe in him, I rejoice in him with joy unspeakable and full of glory?"
Let me tell the sinner who has no interest in the bliss of which we have been speaking, the fearfulness of his character, and the certainty of his pun . ishment.
O Christian, go on to glorify Him, “whom have ing not seen ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." Amen.
THE COMMAND ILLUSTRATED, “LAY HOLD ON
PREACHED MARCH 5, 1809.
“ Lay hold on eternal life.” 1 Timothy vi. 12.
What a peculiar solemnity is there in the advice of an aged Christian to a young convert! To hear one whose hopes of a happy immortality are strong and lively, whose prospects of eternal glory are sufficient to make him long for the cold embrace of death, and look with triumph on the ghastly horrors of the tomb; to hear such a one instructing those who are just commencing their journey to heaven, is truly affecting, because we know that, at such a time, the most important truths will drop from his lips ; and hard indeed, must be the heart of that man, who can think of them without an awe upon his mind, without a determination to fulfil the best wishes of a dying friend. So Moses addressed the children of Israel, just before he died in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. So Jesus, when “his hour was not yet come,” discoursed with his disciples, and cheered their minds, who experienced the sorrow of disappointed expectations and terminating friendship. And so such a one as Paul the aged, gives the kindest and best advice to Timo
thy, his own son in the gospel," while he shortly after presents him with his own situation and the feelings of his own mind, saying, “ For I am ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand.”
One of his last exhortations to Timothy, before his rapt spirit was borne to God, was, “ Lay hold on eternal life ;" and permit me to say, that obedi. ence to this injunction is as all-important to us, as it was to the young evangelist to whom it was addressed. I intend, then, to offer a few thoughts upon the object presented to our view; and the exhortation concerning it.
I. The object presented to our view—eternal life.
By this expression, the happiness of the heavenly world is evidently intended ; and when it is called eternal life, we are not merely to understand that it will have no termination, that there will be no more death; but we are taught that every thing that can render life desirable or delightful, will be there enjoyed without interruption, and in rich abundance, so that God's people will be eternally satisfied with his goodness. It is impossible for me to describe to you eternal life, or to tell half the glory which is felt in that happy land from whence no traveller returns. Had I, like Paul, been “caught up to the third heaven, and heard unspeakable words," and seen its inconceivable excellence, I could not, even then, tell it you ; there are “ glories which it is not lawful to utter;" eye has not seen it, ear has not heard it, the heart of man can cannot conceive it; the tongue of Gabriel, the favorite angel, could not describe it; yea, nothing short of the full possession of it, can give us an adequate idea of its excellence. Hear
what you may of eternal life, and conceive of it to the utmost stretch of your powers,
arrive at the threshold of heaven, you will exclaim with the astonished queen of Sheba, " The half has not been told me !"
All we can do is, to form some ideas of it, from the views under which it is represented in the Divine word; and lest we should darken counsel by words without knowledge, we shall deduce our observations upon eternal life from that unerring source ; and we remark, for the sake of distinction, it especially includes in it, a perpetual enjoyment of Divine favor, Divine knowledge, and the Divine presence.
Eternal life comprehends 1. A constant enjoyment of the Divine favor. This idea is founded upon the following passage in the Psalms, “ His anger endureth but for a moment; in his favor is life.” As the favor of God runs through the believer's natural life, and is the source and support of his spiritual life, there is no doubt that it will be the felicity of his eternal life. Forever, brethren, will believers rejoice that it was through the free favor, and unmerited grace of God, that they arrived at the kingdom of glory: the song of the redeemed is,
“ Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name be all the praise." They will acknowledge, in devout exclamations, that they owe all their purity to Him that loved them, all their conquests to Him that died for them, and all their happiness to Him that rose again, and thus “ begot them again unto a lively hope.” The favorable smiles of God, too, will delight them forever and ever; they shall be approved by him, and acceptable in his sight through the mediation of the Son of his lore.