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Ye shall go
people, there is nothing in the universe, which God cannot make a mean of happiness. The heavens unfurl their beauties; the sun expands his light; the earth adorns herself with flowers, and loads herself with fruits, to entertain the favorite of the King of nations; while the animals become teachable, and offer to bow to his service. All things work together for good to them that love God, Rom. viii. 28. All things are yours, whether Paul, or Cephas, or the world, 1 Cor. iii. 22. Behold, I will do a new thing. The beasts of the field shall honor me, the dragons and the owls ; because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert to give drink to my people, my chosen, Isa. xliji. 19. 23. out with joy, and be led forth with peace : the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Drop down, ye heavens from above, let the earth open and bring forth salvation! chap. lv. 12. and xlv. 8.
Thus, my brethren, hath God proportioned himself to our meanness and dullness, in order to inspire us with fear. It is necessary, to make us fear God, that we should see bodies, various parts, and prodigious masses of matter, march at his word to fulfil his will? Well, Behold bodies, in various parts and in vast masses ! Behold universal nature moving at his word, and fulfilling his will! Let us fear God in this view of him, if our minds enveloped in matter cannot conceive an idea of a Being, whose will is self-efficient, and who alone can act on immate rial souls. But, my brethren, a mind accustomed to meditation hath no occasion for this last notion: the first absorbs all. A God, every act of whose will is effectual, is alone worthy of the homage of fear. A just notion of his
A just notion of his power renders all ideas of means useless. The power of God hath
no need of means. Were I existing alone with God, God could make me supremely happy, or supremely miserable : one act of his will is suffici- . ent to do either. We do not mean to enlarge the idea, when, speaking of an all-sufficient Creator, who is superior to the wants of means, we treat of a concurrence of creatures: we only mean to level the subject to the capacities of some of our hearers.
Let us sum up what has been said. To consider a creature as the cause of human felicity is to pay him the homage of adoration, and to commit ida latry. The avaricious man is an idolater; the ambitious man is an idolater; the voluptuous man is an idolater: And to render to a creature, the homage of fear is also idolatry; for supreme fear is as much due to God alone as supreme hope. He, who fears war, and doth not fear the God, who sends war, is an idolater. He, who fears the plague, and who doth not fear the God, who sends the plague, is an idolater.
It is idolatry, in public, or in private adversities, to have recourse to second causes, to little subordinate deities, so as to neglect to appease the wrath of the Supreme God. To consult the wise, to assemble a council, to man fleets, to raise armies, to build forts, to elevate ramparts, and not to consider the succor of heaven, which alone is capable of giving success to all such means, is to be guilty of idolatry. Isaiah reproveth the Jews in the most severe manner for this kind of idolatry. In that day, saith the prophet, speaking of the precautions which they had taken to prevent the designs of their enemies; In that day thou didst look to the armor of the house of the forest. Ye have seen also the breaches of the city of David ; and ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool. And ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall.
Ye have made also a ditch between the two walls, for the water of the old pool: but ye have not looked unto the Maker of this Jerusalem, neither had respect unto him that fashioned it long ago. And in that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth : and behold joy and gladness, slaying oren, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine ; let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die. And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord of hosts, chap. xxii. 8–14. Do we deserve less cutting reproaches? In that day, in the day of our public and private calamities, we have consulted wise men, we have assembled councils, we have fitted out fleets, and raised armies, we have pretended by them to secure these provinces from impending dangers, and we have not had respect unto him that fashioned them long ago. But what are wisé men? What are councils ? What are navies? What are armies, and fortifications, but subordinate beings, which God directs as he pleaseth? Ah! ye penitential tears, ye days of sackcloth and ashes, ye solemn humiliations, ye sighs that ascend to God, ye fervent prayers, ye saints, who impart your souls in fervor; and above all, ye sincere conversions to the King of nations, love to his laws, obedience to his commands, submission to his will, tenderness to his people, zeal for his altar, devotedness to his worship; if ye do not prevail with the King of nations to favor our designs, what must our destiny be? And ye tragical designs, black attempts, shameful plots, impure associations, criminal intrigues, execrable oaths, atrocious calumnies, cruel falshoods, with what oceans of misery will :
ye overflow us, if ye arm the King of nations against us.
To conclude. There is much imbecility, if no idolatry, in us, if, while we fear God, we stand in too much awe of second causes, which sometimes appear terrible to us. No, no, revolution of
ages, subversion of states, domestic seditions, foreign invasions, contagious sicknesses, sudden and untimely deaths, ye are only the servants of that God, whose favorite creature I am. If, by his command, ye execute some terrible order on me, I will receive it as a comfortable order, because it is executed only for my good. Trouble my peace: perhaps it may be fatal to me.
Turn the tide of my prosperity, which seems to constitute my glory : perhaps it may be dangerous to me. Snap the silken bonds, which bind me to objects, that have so much influence on the happiness of my life : perhaps they may become my idols. Pluck out my eyes, cut off my hands: perhaps they may cause me to offend, and may plunge me into the bottomless abyss, Matt. xviii. 8. Bind me to a cross : provided it be my Saviour's cross. Cut the thread of my life: provided the gates of immortal happiness be opened to nie.
Christians, let us satiate our souls with these meditations. Let us give up our hearts to these emotions. Let us fear God, and let us fear nothing else. Fear not, thou worm Jacob. Fear thou not, for I am with thee: Be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the holy one of Israel. Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain, Isa. xli. 10, 14. May God inspire us with these sentiments! To him be honor and glory for ever! Amen.
The manner of praising Gad.
Preached after the administration of the Lord's Supper,
Psalm xxxiii. 1.
Praise is comely for the upright.
HERE is something very noble, my brethren, in the presence of God. His Providence hath infinitely diversified the conditions of those who compose this assembly. Some are placed in the most eminent, others in the most obscure posts of society. Some live in splendor and opulence, others in meanness and indigence. One is employed in the tribulance of the army, another in the silence of the study. Notwithstanding this infinite variety of employments, ranks, and ages, we all assemble today in one place; one object occupies us ; one sentiment animates us; one voice makes the church resound, Praise ye the Lord, for his mercy endureth for ever, Psal. cxxxvi. 1. If there be an object, that can give a mortal any ideas of the first impressions, which are made on a soul, at its first entering the glorious palace of the blessed God in heaven, it is this. The first objects, that strike such a soul, are multitudes of all nations, tongues, and people, concentered in a meditation on the beneficence of God, prostrating themselves before his throne, casting their crowns at his feet, and crying out of the abundance of their hearts, which con