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ed, everlasting deftruction from the prefence 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 affure us, that from thefe manfions there is no return; that the gates of the eternal world fhut to open no more, and that when the foul is once loft, it is loft for ever and for ever!
PSALM xliii. 4.
I will go unto the altar of God, unto God
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 fet before you the advantages, of fuch an approach.
The pleasures of devotion have been the theme of good men in all ages; and they are pleasures of fuch 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 paft, 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 Jefus prepares a banquet for his friends; when the Spirit 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 Jefus prepare to meet with their Lord, if those who have hitherto been strangers to the holy hill, fhall be attracted with the beauty which is in true holiness, alfo to come and to take the waters of life freely. For thus runs the gracious promife of Heaven: "The ftrangers who join themselves to the "Lord, to love him and to ferve him, even them. " will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them
'joyful in my houfe of prayer." In further treating on this fubject, what I intend at prefent, 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 fuch 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 fpirit 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 dimenfions; to fpread fo wide, and stretch so far, and foar fo high, as its immortal nature and unbounded capacity will admit. Defcended from heaven, it afpires to heaven. again. Created immortal, nothing that is mortal can fatisfy its defires. Made after the image of God, it tends to that God whofe lineaments it still bears. When we approach to God, therefore, we find objects fuited to our nature, and engage in the employment for which the foul was made. Here we are at home in our Father's houfe. Here our fpirits afpire to hold communion with the everlasting Spirit; and we tend to heaven with exceeding joy, as to our native country.
The fenfe of Deity is akin to the perception of beauty and the fenfibility of taste. We are formed by the Author of our nature to feel certain movements of mind at the fight of certain objects. Even inanimate things are not without their attractions. The flowers of the field have their beauty. Animal life rifes in our regard. Rational excellence and moral perfection rank ftill higher in our esteem, and when expreffed in action, and appearing in life,
awake emotions of the nobleft kind, and beget a pleasure which is fupreme. 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 caufe, and he will feel their effects 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 infenfibility to fuch enjoyments as a radical defect. Let us apply this principle to religion. Who can behold the vaftnefs 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 falvation 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 afide from the invifible world, the heavens opened over our head, and the treasures of eternity difplayed 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 exercife by the presence of spiritual and divine things.
Under the influence of these objects, and the impreffion of Deity, the devout enter into their cham
ber and fhut the door; they turn afide their eyes from beholding vanity; they charge their passions to be filent, their minds to be ftill; and pour out their hearts to Him who made them, in all the fervency of prayer. Thus prepared to feek the Lord God of their fathers, they come to his temple to meet with him there. They are feized with a religious awe in the prefence of the fanctuary, and approach to the altar wondering and adoring, as Mofes to the burning bush, and as the High Prieft of old to the holy of holics. They look beyond the externals of a facrament, and, under the fymbols in the communion, they difcern the myfteries 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 brightnefs of his countenance. When they fit down with him at his table, they are fenfible of his prefence: (while their hands receive the facred fymbols, their eyes behold the Lord of Glory. In the fpirit 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 prefence, and the impreffion of his hand. In the gay and lovely fcenes of nature, behold him in his beauty fmiling on his works. In the grand and awful objects of creation, in the tempeft, in the thunder, in the earthquake, be