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from their very nature incapable of constituting the true happiness of fallen and immortal man. They are in themselves fleeting and shortlived; the capacity of deriving any share of delight from them decays with the decay of life, and even when this capacity is unimpaired, one such view of the holiness and perfections of the eternal God as would allow the light of truth to strike upon the conscience, would in a moment dissolve the charm, and convert into wormwood and gall the streams of earthly enjoyment.
How often does the light of the Gospel, shining suddenly on the heart and conscience, produce this effect, awakening as if from a dream the man of gaiety and unconcern, who had lived without God, and kind. ling into the most painful remorse the feelings of fear and shame with which he is overwhelmed! His eyes are opened to behold the real character of the God in whom he lives and moves,—to see him confronting him in the just authority of that government whose acts he has hitherto unheeded, and in the spirituality of a law, which, though holy, just, and good, he has totally disobeyed. The light which thus breaks in upon the mind, partakes of the omnipotency of the blessed object which it brings to view. It dissolves the charm which had knit the soul to the idols that had usurped dominion over it; and as if all that gave them interest were in a moment annihilated, it sees the entire nothingness of all the grandeur and honour of the world, and all the pleasures and the treasures of a momentary duration. To which of the springs of inferior enjoyment, at which alone he has hitherto drank, can he go to obtain peace--can he go to pro
cure the oblivious draught that will remove from his memory what it is misery not to forget, and to save him from the fearful looking-for of judgment which it is still greater misery to anticipate? Has he not yet around him all the sources of happiness, with which, till now, he had been satisfied, to the exclusion of every other; all the wisdom, perhaps, of the profoundest philosophy; all the abundance that had ministered to his enjoyment; all the objects of affection that had called into exercise his benevolent and social feelings ; all the fair reputation which the suffrages of his fellow-creatures had willingly given him; all the pleasures arising from the active pursuit of objects, from amusement, and from friendly intercourse; and all the enjoyment which the varying combinations of taste and of fancy can communicate? He has them all; and yet he is miserable, most miserable. He is miserable while he sees nothing in himself corresponding to the moral likeness of God: nothing that can be pleasing to him who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; nothing that can meet the entire approbation of His law, when that law receives its right interpretation ; nothing to render him meet for dwelling, either on earth or in heaven, in the fellowship of God from whose presence he cannot flee. He feels the bitterness of a wounded spirit, which the attempts of human skill cannot avail to remove. And with an anxiety to which he had been till now a stranger, and which, perhaps, there is nothing in his outward cir. cumstances more likely than before to produce, he asks what he must do to be saved.
If, indeed, the light of the Gospel had not shone on the mind of the man whose case is here supposed, to unveil objects to his sight in all their truth and sublimity, he would have continued to enjoy his wonted repose. He would have contented himself, amid the gratifications of sense and intellect, without God. He would have gone on to seek distinction and happiness to himself, in running the high career of ambition, or in earning a reputation of benevolence and usefulness, or he would have employed himself in conversing with the ideal forms which people the regions of imaginative feeling and fancy, or humbler and less refined in his views, perhaps, he would have sought and found his enjoy. ments amid the endearments of objects of affection in domestic life. In the possession of health and of spirits all this may do well enough, and no great want may be felt, and no serious evil may be apprehended. But there is a certain hour, which one would wish all undisturbed and bright, and that is when we die, “when hence we go, ne'er to be seen again!" and where, then, are the sources of gratification with which this individual contented himself while living? where are they the moment after his immortal soul is sepa. rated from this fleeting scene for ever? If they have contributed nothing to his fitness to appear before God, and to the well-being of eternity, then must they be pronounced to be altogether different from the true, substantial, and imperishable happiness of man.
IN WHAT THE TRUE HAPPINESS OF MAN CONSISTS.
" Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter : fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole honour, interest, privilege, duty, and happiness of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” All that truly concerns man, as a being formed for immortality, is reducible to this : every thing else is accessory, fleeting, perishing. I observe,
I. That the happiness of man consists in the knowledge, love, fear, and favour of God. Before we can love and fear God, we must know him as he has revealed himself in his word. The object of our adora. tion and homage must be the true God, and not an imaginary Deity, the mere creation of superstitious dread. The design of the plan of redeeming mercy made known in the Gospel, is to exhibit the character of God in a light calculated to produce penitence and love in the heart of man; and to restore him to true happiness, by restoring him to the favour and friendship of him who is its fountain. To know and to love God in this character of redeeming mercy in which he reveals himself, is to possess happiness; since we are thus put in the possession of that which will relieve our fears, raise our hopes, and give us peace in believing that God is reconciled
and that this God will be our God for ever and ever. If life eternal consist in knowing the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, then such a view of his character and glory as transforms us into his moral irnage, as produces hatred to sin as the greatest evil, and a supreme delight and satisfaction in God as the chief portion, must forun a part of our chief good.
The happiness to which the believer is introduced on earth, though only an earnest of unmingled sool in heaven, is a joy unspeakable and full of glory; en perienced in communion with God; in a deliverance from the wrath which abideth on the children of diso obedience ; in the pardon of all sin; in his adoption into the family of the redeemed ; and in his being kept by a power that will never fail him. This power, working by the word and the providence of the Sa. viour, does not, indeed, make him indifferent to all outward things, but renders him superior to them, and forsakes him not till it has fitted up for him, amid the splendours of immortality, a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. If it be happiness to know that all the attributes of God are exercised for him—that all events are working together for his good—that angels are sent forth to minister unto him--that sin will finally and for ever be subdued in him,--and that when the earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved, he has a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens then does this happiness belong to the disciple of the Lord Jesus.
II. The happiness of man consists not only in