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deep sense of one most important truth, which is the result of this whole Discourse, That as we sow we must reap ; that under the government of God, no one shall be permitted, with impunity, to gratify his criminal passions, and to make light of the great duties of life,
ON THE MIXTURE OF JOY AND FEAR IN RELIGION.
Psalm ii, 11.
Rejoice with trembling.
Joy and Fear are two great springs of human action. The mixed condition of this world gives scope for both; and, according as the one or the other predominates, it influences the general tenor of our conduct. Each of them possesses a proper place in religion. To serve the Lord with gladness, is the exhortation of the Psalmist David. * To serve him with reverence and godly fear, is the admonition of the apostle Paul. † But, under the present
* Psalm c, 2.
+ Heb. xii, 28.
position of mind within, to relish that favourable situation.
When they.examine their situation without, they behold themselves placed in a world which is full of the influence of a gracious Providence; where beauty and good are everywhere predominant; where various comforts are bestowed ; and where, if any be withheld, they have reason to believe that they are withheld by parental wisdom. Among the crowd that encompass them, they may be at a loss to discern who are their friends, and who are their enemies. But it is sufficient to know that they are under the protection of an invisible Guardian, whose power can keep them from every evil. All the steps of his conduct, they may be unable to trace. Events may
befall them, of which they can give no account. But as long as they are satisfied that the system of Divine government is founded on mercy, no present occurrences are able to destroy their peace. For he who spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for them, how shall he not with him freely give them all things? If their nature is frail, Divine assistance is promised to strengthen it. If their virtue is imperfect, a dispensation is opened, which gives them the hope of pardon. If their external circumstances be in any respect unfavourable, it is because a higher interest is consulted. All things, they are assured, shall work together for their good. On their prosperity rests the blessing; on their adversity, the sanctifying Spirit of the Almighty. Old age may advance, and life decay; but beyond those boundaries of nature, faith opens the prospect of their lasting felicity. Without anxiety, they pass through the different periods of their present existence, because they know it to be no more than an introduction to immortality.
As such a situation of things without, lays a solid foundation for joy; so the disposition which religion forms within, promotes the relish of it. It is indeed from within, that the chief sources of enjoyment or trouble rise. The minds of bad men are always disorderly; and hence their lives are so generally uneasy. In vain they take the timbrel and the harp, and endeavour to rejoice at the sound of the organ. Spleen and disgust pursue them through all the haunts of amusement. Pride and ill-humour torment them. Oppressed with discontent, their spirits flag; and their worn-out pleasures afford them entertainment no more. But religion subdues those malignant passions, which are the troubles of human repose; which either overcast the mind with the gloom of