« PrécédentContinuer »
hold him in the Majefty of Omnipotence. When, like the prophet who retired to the wilderness, you hear that voice which rends afunder the mountains, which breaks in pieces the rocks, and which fhakes the pillars of the world, you hear behind it a still small voice, faying, " It is I, be not afraid."
Thus, good men fee the Creator in his works; they have the Lord always before them. They know, where they can find him, and can come nigh to his feat. They go forward, and he is there, backward, and they perceive his footsteps; on the right hand his wonders are feen; on the left his goodness is felt. They cannot go but where he is. The Great Univerfe is the temple of the Deity, built by his hand, confecrated by his prefence, bright with his glory.
The fecond thing propofed, was, To fet before you the advantages which accompany this folemn approach to God, which are the following: there is honor in approaching to God, there is joy in approaching to God, there is confolation in approaching to God, there is preparation for heaven in approaching to God.
First, then, There is honor in approaching to God. The fuperiority of man to the animal world has been inferred from the ftructure and formation of his body. While the inferior animals, prone and grovelling, bend downwards to that earth which is their only element, man is formed with an erect figure, and with a countenance that looks to the heav
His erect figure is given as the indication of an elevated mind, and the countenance that looks to the heavens is beftowed, in order to prepare us for the contemplation of what is great and glorious. With
this formation of body, and with this tendency of mind, man feels that the earth is not his native region; he looks abroad over the whole extent of nature; he has an eye that glances from earth to heaven, and a mind, which, unconfined by space or time, feizes on eternity. The eye that glances from earth to heaven, the mind which feizes on eternity, draw the line between the intellectual and animal world. The beast of the field, indeed, beholds the face of the heavens; the bird of the air is cheered with the fplendour of the fun; but man alone has the intellectual eye, which beholds in the heavens the handiwork of Omnipotence, and which traces in the fun the glory of its Creator. To him, high-favoured of his Maker, a scene opens, unseen by the eye of fense; a new heaven and a new earth present themselves; the intellectual world discloses its rifing wonders, and seen by his own light, in the majesty of moral perfection, God appears. It was referved to be the glory of man, that he alone, of all the inhabitants of this lower world, fhould be admitted into the prefence of his Creator, and hold intercourse with the Author of his being.
Accordingly, in the happy days of the human race, when the age of innocence lafted, and the Garden of Eden bloomed, there was an intercourse between heaven and earth, and God did dwell with man. Our first parents in Paradise were fenfible of his prefence; they heard his voice among the trees of the garden; they held converse with him face to face, and found that the chief honor of their nature con
fifted in drawing nigh to God. piness of higher natures, it is the
Nay, it is the hap
glory of fuperior
beings, of the principalities and powers in heaven, to dwell in the prefence of their King, to worship at the throne of infinite perfection, and draw nearer and nearer to the fountain of all felicity. But this honor have all the faints. To thee, O Chriftian! it is given to hold communion with the Creator, and to become the friend of the Almighty. Truly your fellowfhip is with the Father, and his Son Jefus Chrift. If it be great and honorable to be near the perfon and round the throne of an earthly king, how truly glorious are they whom the King of heaven delighteth to honor! No wonder then, that though exalted to the highest dignity which the world can bestow, the king of Ifrael was ambitious of higher ftill: "One
thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I feek "after, that I may dwell in the houfe of the Lord all "the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the "Lord, and to inquire in his temple."
Secondly, There is joy in approaching to God. "I " 'will
go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy." The idea of a perfect being is the most joyful fubject of contemplation that can be prefented to man. Moral qualities, even when they fhine in a leffer degree, have a charm for the foul. The profpect of natural beauty is not more pleasant to the eye, than the contemplation of moral beauty to the mind. A great and good action, a striking inftance of benevolence, of public fpirit, of magnanimity, interests us ftrongly in behalf of the performer, and makes the heart glow with gratitude to him, although he be unknown. We take delight in placing before our eyes the illuftrious characters that ftand forth in hif tory, wife legiflators, unfhaken patriots, public bene
factors of mankind, or models of goodness in private life, whofe virtues fhone to the past, and shine to pref ent times, whofe lives were glorious to themfelves, and beneficial to the world. If an imperfect copy gives fo much fatisfaction, how will we be affected at the contemplation of the great Original? If a few faint traces and lineaments of goodnefs, fcattered up and down, yield us so much pleasure, the pleasure will be fupreme, when we contemplate His nature in whom every excellence, every moral perfection, all Divine attributes, refide as in their native feat, flow as from their eternal fource, and ever operate as vital and immortal principles. For all created beauty is but a fhadow of that beauty which is uncreated; all human excellence but an emanation of that excellence which is Divine; all finite perfection but a faint copy of perfections which are infinite; and all the traces of goodness to be found among men or angels, but a few faint rays from the Father of lights, the uncreated, unclouded and unfetting Sun of nature, who at firft gave life to the univerfe, who kindled the vital flame which is ftill glowing, who supplies all the orbs of heaven with undiminished luftre, and whofe fingle fmile fpreads joy over the moral world.
Thus, the very idea of a perfect Being is a fource of high pleasure to the mind; but to us there is more implied in the idea of the Deity. For these perfections are not dormant in the Divine nature, they are perpetually employed for the happiness of This glorious Being is our Father and our Friend. He called us into being at firft, to make us happy; he hath given us many proofs of his goodnefs, and he hath allowed us to hope for more. He
is foon to give us an opportunity of commemorating the most fignal display of his grace, his nobleft gift to the children of men. And, if he fpared not his own Son, but freely gave him up to the death) for us all, may it not be depended upon, that with him he will give us all things? Entering into thefe ideas, and animated with this fpirit, the pious man is never fo much in his element, as when he is drawing nigh 'to God. The mind never makes nobler exertions, is never fo confcious. of its native grandeur and ancient dignity, as when holding high converfe with its Creator: the heart never feels fuch unfpeakable peace, as when it is fixed upon him who made it, as when its affections go out on the fupreme beauty, as when it refts upon the Rock of ages, and is held within the circle of the everlafting arms.
Hence, the good men of old, in approaching to God, broke forth into the language of rapture, "the hart panteth after the water-brook, fo pantethr 66 my foul after thee, O Lord. O God, thou art my God, early will I feek thee. My foul thirfteth for thee. My flesh longeth for thee in a dry and parch"ed land, wherein no water is; that I may fee thy glory as I have feen it in the fanctuary. Becaufe
thy loving-kindness is better than life, my mouth "fhall praife thee with joyful lips. Surely we "fhall be fatisfied with the goodness of thy house, "and thou wilt give us to drink the river of thy pleafures.-Whom have we in the heavens but "thee, and what is there upon the earth that we can "defire befide thee? My flefh and heart fhall fail, "but thou art the ftrength of my heart, and my por"tion for ever."