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giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life*."
The Stoics in vain endeavoured to raise men to this temper, by teaching them that pain or ease, want or affluence, reproach or honour, were things in themselves perfectly indifferent; but as in this they contradicted the natural apprehensions and necessary feelings of mankind, they could not thoroughly believe themselves, nor be credited by others. Brutus, à zealous Stoic, found these principles fail, under the pressure of a heavy calamity, fled to self-murder for relief, and dying, exclaimed, as some report, on virtue as an empty name.
Whereas revelation raises us above the injurious influence of external goods or evils, not by telling us they are things wholly indifferent ; but by assuring us that God, who knows their nature, will direct them for our good ; and by teaching us so to bear or improve either, as to make them instrumental in heightening our virtue here, and our happiness hereaftert.
* I Tim. vii. 6, 7, and 17, 18, 19.
Grove's Mor. Phil. vol. ii. p. 596.
THE DIVINÈ PROCEDURE TOWARDS MÀN SHEWS IN WHAT HIS
WHEŃ man had ceased to regard it as a privilege to seek his enjoyment in the favour and friendship of God, he might justly have been left to that misery which he had chosen, and to that " everlasting destruction” from the divine presence which his iniquity deserved. But, in infinite mercy, God devised á method according to which his character should be revealed in a light calculated deeply to affect the heart of man, and to win it back to the obedience of his law.
By this plan it was designed to vindicate the holiness and justice of the divine government, and to give the most touching display of the loving-kindness of God. These ends it has fully secured ; so that glory is given to God in the highest, peace is proclaimed on earth, and good will to the children of men. By this means the friendship and fellowship with God which our first parents enjoyed in a state of innocency are gained by the penitent; so that, in Christ Jesus, he is delivered from condemnation, and has a participation in the benefits and privileges of his purchase. By this means he is restored to happiness by being restored to peace with him who is its fountain. He beholds the divine character and perfections through a medium that powerfully affects him,-in a way that produces hatred to sin as the greatest evil,
and a conviction of the entire emptiness and vanity of every portion in which God does not form the chief part, and an earnest desire to be conformed in heart and in life to the will of his heavenly Father.
We cannot tell all the happiness to which he is introduced on earth, by having the favour and love of God turned towards him. Having been thoroughly awakened to a sense of his wretchedness while at a distance from his Father, and knowing from the bitterness of his experience, that every prospect of good in which God is not contemplated, however fair, is most surely false, he values every gift only as it is an expression of the good will of the divine Giver, and as it is related to the Fountain of happiness. He is introduced into a new world, -into regions of unconfined beauty and loveliness, where the sunshine is scarcely ever darkened, and the fruits of which confer immortal blessedness. He thus forms a just estimate of the real importance of time, and of the far greater importance of eternity, and values all good, not according to its appearance, but to its real qualities and duration. The influence of the Cross, in changing his heart and views, gives him a taste for nobler food than that with which he was wont to content himself, and ever prompts him to seek his happiness in the conscious enjoyment of the favour and friendship of God.
This favour he possesses-he has its expressions in that communion with himself which God affords him,-in a deliverance from the wrath which abideth on the children of disobedience,- in the pardon of sin-and in the spirit of adoption and of filial confidence in God with which he is endued. The divine
grace sustains him in distress and in danger, and forsakes him not till it has prepared for him a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. There he shall see God, and be admitted into those blissful mansions where there is fulness of joy, and to God's right hand, where there are pleasures for
There, the sun of his growing enjoyment shall never decline, neither shall the moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be to him an everlasting light, and the days of his mourning shall be ended.