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often felt by them, as it were gnawing at the latent root of their exaltation and grandeur.
It is the universal and impartial regard of Omnipotence, which rebukes them for letting loose the reins of their lusts or eager inclinations, designing thereby their timely reformation for their everlasting good.
It often opposes the ambitious and proud, in their career with the unwelcome discoveries, that they are roving in other pursuits than those that heaven designed for them and not applying their precious time and talents to the great and good purpose for which they were given. Sometimes it displays the beauties and benefits of rectitude, deserted by them; and sometimes the horror and sad consequence of persisting in the neglect or violation of duty, thus discovered on the one hand, and counteracted by them on the other.
Hence too generally, disliking the check to present ease and pleasure, such as are intrusted with the means of doing good, and helping others on their way, turn their attention from this omnipresent monitor, this faithful bosom friend. They fly to tempting varieties, to soothing deceptions, to amusing recreations; they bear their heads aloft among the envying multitudes, and seek to drown his salutary admonitions in splendor, noise, flutter, intemperance and dissipation.
Many such I have known, who are now gone to their long homes, whom in my younger years I envied.
I have been so foolish as to transfer my envy from them, after they disappeared, to their vain and short-lived successors; many of whom are also gone, and so will the rest ere long. And then what follows those that have left their heaven behind them, who assuming to themselves the direction that was due to God, have refused the reverence and obedience of his laws? Ah then the enviers and envied, like the blind led by the blind, fall into one abyss. Unfit for the regions of pure love to God and each other, of perfect peace, of joy unspeakable and full of glory,* they are debarred from admission into them. Separated in the course of justice, plunged with the vast and innumerable hosts of rebellious and execrable spirits, all their bitterness, envy, resentment, eager desires ungratified, unceasing vexation and anguish descend with them, with infinite increase in an unbodied state.
A sensual earthly mind is too much vitiated to relish the pure joys, or to suit the society of the spirits of the just made perfect. Goodness painful to the wicked, being so contrary to the depravity of their nature. Heaven would be no heaven to them.
* Pet. i. 8,
A change of heart is necessary to be experienced by every man, from a state of nature to a state of grace; from earthly and sensual dispositions and affections, to holy and heavenly, in order to be fitted for the fruition of, as well as the admission into the kingdom of heaven. It is then the greatest wisdom, while time and opportunity are afforded, to use all diligence to attain that state of mind, whereby we may be prepared, when all the transitory delights, amusements and desirable objects of this world fail, to be received into everlasting habitations: and how ought our hearts to be filled with thankfulness to God, who in his universal love to mankind, hath provided for them a physician, able and willing to heal all nations, to create clean hearts, and renew right spirits in all who submit to him, and follow his directions.
But in order to attain this desirable state, we must make a total surrender of ourselves to the divine will revealed to us, in daily self-denial and fidelity; persevering therein to the end of our days, ardent in desire to do good, and to be conformed to the mind of our Creator.
The less we look out unnecessarily into the world, or covet its honours, favours, friendship and greatness, and the more we look to God with a single eye, and covet his honour, favour, friendship and riches, the more shall we experience a growth in the very root, and in all the
branches of the divine life, that we may be as a chaste spouse to Christ in every desire and aim, in every motion of the mind, and its companion the body too, and surely he ever merits it from us, even he who has graciously visited, and from day to day invited, and called us out of the spirit and ways of the world, to join himself, in order to partake with him and his, of pure peace and joy in the present, and more infinitely in a future state. His call is "Come "out from among them, and be ye separate, "touch no unclean thing, and I will receive "you, and I will be a father to you," &c.*
By this call were our honourable predecessors in the beginning, separated from the spirit and ways of the world, and incited to refuse touching the unclean thing or whatever sprang from an impure source, what persecution soever that refusal might cost them, knowing that he whom they obeyed and in whom they trusted, would. carry them thro' all opposition, which they experienced (to their unspeakable joy) to be fulfilled, and livelily testified to the world, many of them, both living and dying.
Those happy men and women left the Lord's vineyard (thro' their faithful labours with the divine blessing upon them) well fenced and cleaned (having gathered out the stones thereof) and
* 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18.