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store unto me the joy of thy salvation : and uphold me with thy free spirit, Psa. li. 4. 14. 12.
But above all resolutions sincere, determined, efficacious, followed up by execution from the moment you retire from this place, must supply the want of preparation, and the communicating of this day must make up the defects of all that preceded it. Ah! if God has not, in mercy, granted you such dispositions as these, may he inspire you, at least, with a resolution not to approach his table, for fear of arming his right hand with hotter thunderbolts to crush and destroy you! or rather, may God grant you those happy dispositions, and graciously accept them when bestowed! May it please God to be disarmed by your repentance, to gather up your tears, to regard with an eye of favor your efforts, your feeble efforts ! May God grant your absolution, your salvation, to the earnest prayers of these his faithful servants, or rather, to the allpowerful intercession of the Redeemer, unprotected by which the most eminent of saints durst not lift up their eyes to heaven, and approach the throne of the divine Majesty.
2. I now turn to you, my dearly beloved brethren, who, while you reflect on communion seasons past, can enjoy the testimony of conscience, that you draw nigh to God in some state of preparation, and that you have reason to hope for a repetition of the same felicity. This ceremony is so august ; the mysteries which it unfolds, are so awful; the punishment denounced against those who profane it, is so tremendous, that it is impossible to escape every emotion of fear, when engaged in the celebration of it. Study to be sensible of your own weakness. Say, in the language of repentance the most lively and sincere, and of humility the most profound : If thou, Lord, should mark
iniquities: O Lord, who shall stand ? Psa. cxxx. 3. O Lord God, I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth which thou has! shewn unto thy servant, Gen. xxxii. Stand in awe of the presence of the Majesty of God Almighty ; cry out with Jacob: How dreadful is this place ! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of hearen, Gen. xxviii. 17.
But while you render unto God the homage of holy fear, honor him likewise with that of holy confidence. Think not that he loves to be always viewed as the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, Neh. ix. 32. the God who is a consuming fire, Heb. xii. 29. He draws nigh to you in this ordinance, not with awful manifestations of vengeance, but with all the attractions of his grace, with all the gifts of his spirit, with all the demonstrations of his love. Bow down over the mystical ark, together with the celestial intelligences, and admire the wonders which it contains, and, beholding with them the glory of your Redeemer, with them cry out: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts : the whole earth is full of his glory, Isa. vi. 3.
Study to know and to feel the whole extent of your felicity, and let a sense of the benefits with which God hath loaded thee, kindle the ballowed flame of gratitude in your hearts. “ Hast thou ever, O my soul, been made sensible of the unbounded nature of thy happiness ? Hast thou exerted thyself to the uttermost, to take all the immeasurable dimensions of the love of God ? Hast thou reflected profoundly, on a God who was made flesh, who rescues thee from everlasting misery, who covers thy person with his own, that the arrows of divine wrath may pierce him only, without reaching thee? Hast thou seriously considered, that
if God had hurried thee out of the world in a state of unrepented guilt ; if he had not plucked thee, by a miracle of grace, out of the vortex of human things, instead of being surrounded, as now, with these thy fellow believers in Christ Jesus, thou mightest have been doomed to the society of demons; instead of those songs of praise to which thy voice is now attuned, thou mightest this day have been mingling thy howlings with those of the victims whom the wrath of God is immolating in the regions of despair.” Let the blessedness which God is accumulating upon us, support us under all the ills which we are called to endure. Our life is not yet concluded ; our warfare is not yet accomplished.
We are about to return into the world ; we have still difficulties and dangers to encounter ; bitter potions to swallow ; afflictions to suffer ; especially in this age of fire and of blood, so fatal to the Christian name. But supported by this peace of God, we shall be able to resist and to overcome the most violent assaults.
We are going to return into the world, amidst the snares of the wicked one; he will still aim many a blow at our souls; this flesh is not yet entirely mortified; the old man has not yet received his death's wound; evil concupiscence is not yei completely extinguished; we shall fall into sin again. Hümiliating reflection to a soul which, this day, places all its delight in being united unto God! But, supported by this peace of God, we shall find the means of remedying the weaknesses with which we may be still overtaken, as it has furnished the means of deliverance from those into which we had already fallen.
We are going to return into the world : it is high time to think of our departure out of it. We
are conversant with the living; we must think of being speedily mingled with the dead. We yet live; we must die. We must be looking forward to those mortal agonies which are preparing; to that bed of languishing which is already spread; to that funeral procession which is marshalling for
But, supported by this peace of God, we shall be more than conquerers in all these conflicts: with the Spirit of him who hath raised up Christ from the dead, we shall bid defiance to all the powers of the king of terrors. Jesus, who hath destroyd him who had the power of death, will deliver us from his dominion. Through that gloomy night which is fast approaching, and which is already covering our eyes with its awful shade, we shall behold the rays of the Son of righteousness, and their divine light shall dissipate to us all the horrors of the valley of the shadow of death. Amen. To God be honor and glory for ever. Amen.
THE RAPTURE OF ST. PAUL.
2 Cor. xii. 2, 3, 4.
I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the
body I cannot tell ; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell : God knoweth ;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell : God knoweth ;) how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
F there be a passage in the whole Bible capable
human curiosity, it is that which I have just now read. I do not mean a vain and presumptuous curiosity, but a curiosity apparently founded on reason and justice. One of the principal causes of our want of ardor in the pursuit of heavenly blessings, is our having no experienced witness, who, after having himself tasted the sweetness of them, conveyed to us clear and distinct ideas on the subject. It is a difficult matter to love that of which we have no knowledge.
St. Paul seems to have been reserved of God to supply this defect, and to fill up, if I may use the