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On Sinai's mount, on God's appointed place,
When Israel's leader ceas'd to talk with God,
Israel with awe beheld him, for there glow'd
His lineaments in blissful vision show'd,
Their hearts, through joy of that divine abode,
Sweetens man's nature; and cherubic lyres
With heavenly thoughts, to heavenly things aspires : And, in the mirror of God's Gospel view'd,
Seeks to transcribe the image she admires.
THE CONTEMPLATION OF HEAVENLY HAPPINESS, A MOTIVE
TO A CHRISTIAN LIFE.
Again, the CONTEMPLATION of the happiness of heaven is also to be recommended, as supplying a most animating motive to a Christian life.
“ Whatever is written” in God's holy word, " is written for our learning: that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures should have hope." ! And surely no part of God's revelation is more worthy of being “ learned” by us; no part
1 Rom. xv. 4.
is better calculated to confirm us in “ patience,” to solace us with “ comfort,” to cheer and enliven us with “hope;" than the promise of the blessedness prepared for them that love him.”
Upon this blessedness our Lord himself continually calls on us to meditate: to this blessedness he continually has recourse for enforcing on us the profession of his faith, and the observance of his commandments, and the general duties of a sober, righteous, and godly life. Would he encourage us to a due employment of the talents entrusted to us by our heavenly Father? It is by a promise of our being received by him with the final sentence, “ Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” 1 Would he encourage us to persevere in the course of piety and virtue ? He promises, that “they which have done good shall go into life everlasting:” 2 that "the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” 3— Would he encourage us to acts of mercy and lovingkindness to our brethren? It is by promising us "an inheritance in the kingdom prepared for the blessed children of his Father?" 4_Would he encourage us to the cultivation and the practice of inward piety and benevolence? He promises us “ a reward from our Father which is in heaven, when he which seeth in secret himself shall reward us openly.” Would he encourage us to an unreserved acknowledgment of him and of his truth? He promises, that " whosoever shall confess him before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God.” 2–Would he encourage us to be patient and cheerful under persecutions for his sake? He promises, that “great shall be our reward in heaven.” 3_Would he encourage us to be humble and “poor in spirit ? ” He assures us, that " of such is the kindom of heaven." 4_Would he encourage us to be "pure in heart?” He tells us, that they who are such “ shall see God.” 5
1 Matt. xxv. 21. 8 Matt. xiii. 43.
* Matt. xxv. 46; John v. 29. 4 Matt. xxy. 34.
Thus does our blessed Lord continually direct the thoughts of his disciples to the state of future happiness of the blessed, as a motive to the performance of their various Christian obligations. To the same state of happiness his Apostles in their admonitions continually have recourse for the same purpose: witness, as a single example, that impressive conclusion, wherewith St. Paul applies to the practice of the Corinthians his sublime argument for the resurrection of the dead : “ Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, foras
1 Matt. vi. 6.
Matt. v. 13.
? Matt. x. 32; Luke xii. 8.
6 Matt. v. 8.
much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." 1
And as accordingly the promised state of blessedness is a subject, which the ministers of the Gospel of Christ should frequently offer to the contemplation of the other members of his Church ; so is it one which the members of his Church in general should never fail to cherish in their contemplation: “ having these things," as St. Peter
, says, “always in their remembrance;” 2 “ looking,” in the language of St. Paul, “not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen;"3 and, as St. Peter again expresses it, “ looking for, and hasting unto, the coming of the day of God.” 4
For from an earnest contemplation of this state of happiness they will be naturally led to an earnest desire and longing for its attainment, and to earnest endeavors for attaining it.
So far as we are admitted to a foresight of the particulars which are to constitute it, we know that they are worthy of the most fervent aspirations, and the most strenuous exertions, of a being endowed with faculties like those of man. And of what remains to be disclosed, we may be sure, that it is of the same desirable quality as that which has been disclosed to us already. So that
the more thoroughly we can implant the ideas of these things in our minds, the more effectually will they be calculated to operate upon our hearts, and to stimulate our exertions.
This is what St. Paul knew, and felt, and set forth as the proper effect of such contemplations. “ If ye then be risen with Christ,” he saith to the Colossians, “ seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above." I What does he hold out to the Corinthians, as an object worthy of animating their ambition, and the most animating object of his own? “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all; but one receiveth the prize ? So run that
obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown: but we an incorruptible. I, therefore, so run, not as uncertainly." 2 What does he inform the Philippians is the great aim and end of his desires and his exertions ? “ This one thing I do: forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." 3 And then, directing their wishes and exertions to the same end and aim, “ Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. For our
i Col. ii. 1, 2.
2 1 Cor. ix. 25.
8 Phil. iii. 13.