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ment which the gospel opens, reconcile the mind to all that happens, and bow the will of man in dutiful subjection to the will of God.
The hope of immortality sometimes takes such strong possession of the soul as to absorb the sense of present suffering; but this is a state of mind not common, nor, in general, desirable or expedient; affliction in its various forms is necessary to purify the heart, to try, refine, and perfect the human character: and, in order to accomplish its purpose, it must be felt, and will sometimes inflict a deep and painful wound even upon those who are in the best state of preparation for it. But he that upon just ground rejoices in hope of the glory of God, whatever calamities or bereavements he may endure, can never, while he retains possession of his faculties, sink under the pressure of external trouble. The present momentary affliction will in his estimation be not worthy to be compared with the glory which is hereafter to be revealed, and for the fruition of which
it is preparing those who are at present exercised with the salutary discipline. And under these impressions the virtuous sufferer will bow his head in humble, dutiful resignation to the divine government: he will drink of the cup of sorrow in mild subjection to the paternal hand by which it is prepared and offered ; and will bless the name of the Lord when he takes away, as well as when he gives.
5th. These glorious expectations will restrain exorbitant desire of inferior, and especially of criminal gratifications.
For these, when placed in competition with that glorious and everlasting inheritance which the gospel promises, will appear of little account; and if the mind is occupied with proper objects, right affections, and comprehensive views, it will neither incline, nor would it be at leisure to cherish those affections, or to seek after those objects, which are inconsistent with its main pursuits.
6th. The habitual prevalence of these expectations will produce steadiness and dig
nity of character, and will give consistency and stability to virtue.
The little mind, whose views are limited to the present state, is continually fluctuating between hope and fear, joy and sorrow: elated beyond measure in prosperity, depressed beyond reason in adversity. But the man of a truly great and comprehensive mind, whose hopes and views extend to an immortal existence, acts, uniformly, upon one principle, and regulates his conduct by a regard to one greatand interesting object: this object he pursues with invariable and unremitting assiduity, undismayed by difficulties, unmoved by vicissitudes. Hiscourse is in a region above the storms and tempests of this sublunary scene; and advancing in his progress like the morning sun, he shineth more and more until the perfect day.
GOD IS LOVE.
1 JOHN, iv. 16.
God is Love.
RELIGION, which hath its foundation in the Love of God, is the great duty and interest of man; but there can be no true and acceptable religion without some just ideas of the attributes and of the will of God, what he is in himself, and what he requires of his creatures. Adequate ideas upon these subjects it is indeed impossible for beings whose faculties are so limited as those of men, to form. Nor can any finite being comprehend the Almighty to perfection. But our notions, as far as they go, may be correct; and in proportion to their correctness, they lay a proper foundation for piety, virtue, and peace. While,
on the contrary, if our views of the divine character and government are false and erroneous, they will lead to very pernicious consequences, both in doctrine and practice. While we set up a phantom of our own imagination in the place of the one true and living God, we are to a certain extent chargeable with idolatry, and we hereby lay a foundation for the vanities of superstition, and for great darkness and distress of mind. To rectify, or to prevent these errors is one important object of the Jewish and Christian revelation, and especially of the latter. Our Lord and his apostles had been instructed from above to form the most just, encouraging, and sublime conceptions of God and his government; and it is from them that we learn the delightful truth that God is Love. This glorious truth is the theme of our present meditations. It implies—
1. That Love is an attribute of God.
Love is complacency combined with benevolence. And if God is Love, he regards all his works with complacency. It is said,