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abfolutely immutable in his Existence and in his Perfections, and can never poffibly become less perfect, lefs powerful, wife, good, and righteous than he is: With him is no Variableness, nor Shadow of Turning. Jam. i. 17. The Counsel of the Lord ftandeth for ever, the Thoughts of his Heart unto all Generations. Pf. xxxiii. II. His moft gracious Purpofes of Love towards us are ftable and fure: His Gifts and Calling are without Repentance. Rom. xi. 29. What a folid Foundation doth this lay for a noble Confidence in God, and in Confequence of this for a divine Joy! In him alone may the Mind, wearied with the Uncertainty and Inftability of all earthly Things, fafely and delightfully. acquiefce, and enjoy a fure and everlasting Repose.
I add, that the Confideration of the Divine Omniprefence, which is fo apt to ftrike the Wicked with Terror, is full of Confolation and Joy to good and upright Souls. How comforting is it to think that this unchangeably glorious and allperfect Jehovah, this moft wife, powerful, holy, and beneficent Being, filleth Heaven and Earth, and every Part of this vast Universe, with his Prefence! He is not far from every one of us, feeing it is in
him that we live, and move, and have our Being. Acts xvii. 27, 28. A good Man may be banished from his House, from his Friends, and from his Country; but he cannot be banished from his God. The Power and Malice of his greatest Enemies cannot deprive him, or intercept his gracious Communications. His Joy may be faid to be ever near to him, fince God is always near to him, who is the chief Object as well as Author of his Joy. What a pleafing Thought is it, that, wherever he is, be it in a Wilderness or in a Dungeon, his heavenly Father, and almighty Friend, is with him there, who feeth all his Difficulties and Diftreffes, and is able to grant him all needful Affiftances and Supports, and will in the End caufe all Things to work for his real Benefit! The Man who firmly believes this, and fincerely endeavours to approve himself to God in a Courfe of dutiful Obedience, may upon juft Grounds rejoice even in Tribulation, faying, when Things have the most uncomfortable Afpect, I have fet the Lord always before me; because he is at my right Hand, I shall not be moved; therefore my Heart is glad, and my Glory rejoiceth, &c. Pf. xvi. 8.
From the feveral Confiderations which have been mentioned, it appears that a fteady Faith in God, which lies at the Foundation of all Religion, and the Contemplation of his incomparable Perfections, is a Fund of inward Satisfaction and Joy to a religious Mind. And God's requiring us to delight ourselves in him, and propofing himself to us to be our chief Joy, is a manifeft Proof of his great Goodness towards us, and of his earneft Defire of our Happiness, The immediate Vifion and Fruition of the Deity fhall be an everlafting Source of pure and refined Pleasures to Angels and Saints in the heavenly World, and, in Proportion to our acquainting ourselves with him in this prefent State, we shall feel a divine Joy fpringing up in our hearts, and shall have Heaven brought down to us in fome happy Beginnings here on Earth. How delightful is it to fix the Eye of the Mind upon the fupreme original Beauty and Excellence, and to lay ourselves open to it's infinite and facred Charms, compared with which the moft lovely Objects in the whole Creation are Vanity and Emptinefs!
What Enemies are they therefore to their own Joy and Happiness, who feldom
or never raise their Views to that most glorious and amiable Being! Strange that reasonable Creatures fhould have fuch a Difinclination to think of him, to whom they owe it that they are able to think at all, and in whom alone they can be happy! What a perverted Frame of Mind doth this argue! Many there are to whom that Character may be justly applied, which the Pfalmift gives of the ungodly Man, that God is not in all his Thoughts. Pf. x. 4. They live as without God in the World; as little do they for the most Part think of him, as if there were no fuch Being: Or, if a Thought of God darteth into their Minds, it meets with no welcome Entertainment there: They fay unto God, as Job represents them, Depart from us, we defire not the Knowledge of thy Ways. Job xxi. 14. Few there are indeed who would openly avow this in Words, but it is their real Language. And what is this but, as far as in them lies, to banish themselves from the Fountain of Joys! Juftly doth the Pfalmift brand that Man with the Character of a Fool, who faith in bis Heart, There is no God, or whofe fecret Wish it is that there were none; a Wish infinitely more monftrous, than to wifh the Sun out of the Firmament!
It is in Effect to wifh all Joy and Hape pinefs out of the World, and that univerfal Darknefs and Confufion fhould cover the Face of Things.
How different from this is the Temper and Character of the Man who delighteth bimfelf in God! What are all the low and evanid Pleafures of the voluptuous Senfualift, or of thofe who go on in a perpetual Round of Diverfions and Amufements, compared with the folid and noble Satisfaction which this Man feels in his own Breast! That we may be fitted for relifling this divine Joy, let us labour to get our Hearts cleanfed from bafe Lufts, and from corrupt and fenfual Affections. Let us endeavour frequently to realife an invifible Deity to our Minds in the Meditations of Faith, at the fame Time humbly and earnestly applying to him, the Father of Lights, that he would be graciously pleased to fine in upon our Souls, and caufe us to behold more of his Glory. The more we habituate ourselves this Way, the greater Satisfaction we shall find in it, and the more freely and delightfully will our Thoughts go forth towards that glorious Being, fo as to be able to join in that rapturous Strain of the devout Pfalmift: I will fing unto the Lord