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served for the pious beyond the grave. He feels that the pleasures of religion are the only ones that can fill the capacities of his soul, and that are coeval with its existence; the only ones that accord with the sublimity of his hopes and the grandeur of his destination. Whilst he contemplates those enjoyments of which the glorified partake, the joys of earth shrivel into insignificance, and he is astonished at the stupidity of those, who for the meagre and unsatisfactory pleasures of earth, barter away a felicity infinite in degree, and eternal in duration.
When the world assails him by its persecution and fury, he is supported by a consciousness of the approbation of God, and by the silent applause of his heart. He knows that God beholds him, and for wise and benevolent reasons permits that he should undergo these sufferings; he knows that this tender Father stands by him, sees him contending with sorrows for his sake, and will not suffer him to be tempted above what he is able to bear," but will “ make all things work together for his good.” He remembers that he treads in the path in which Jesus went before him, and he hears the consolatory voice of this gracious master saying unto him, “ In the world ye shall have tribulation : but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." He remembers that the crown of glory is just before him, and anticipates the time when, like Moses from the top of Nebo, he shall look back upon all the dangers and sorrows of the wilderness; and from this retrospect enjoy with greater delight the unclouded and undisturbed felicity of heaven. Supported by these hopes and animated by these considerations, he repulses this last assault of the world, and overcomes this foe.
In concluding this discourse, let us,
1. Seriously examine whether we have obtained this victory. Without it, we in vain hope for heaven; for “ if any man" supremely “ love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." If there is any earthly object that we are not ready to lay down as a sacrifice, and to reject as a snare, when it comes in competition with our duty to God, he does not possess the first place in our hearts. Solemnly then inquire whether you have obtained the mastery over this foe, or whether you are bound by its chains. And in order to decide this question, see whether you have a living, practical, efficacious faith ; for you are assured by the apostle, in the words immediately succeeding the text, that “ this is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith.” If then you are actuated only by natural principles, if the Holy Spirit has not implanted in your souls that faith which purifies the heart, which shows us the infinite importance of everlasting things, and endues us with supernatural power; however painful may be your exertions, however severe your struggles against the world, you are yet its slaves, and shall perish with it.
2. How small is the number of the children of God! Look around you: how many do you observe who, instead of regarding this world as an enemy, view it only as a friend, and consider themselves happy merely in proportion as they acquire its enjoyments; how many, the sole object of whose life is to procure the blessings of earth, and who, unrestrained by the fear or love of God, are ready to commit any crime to attain the object of their wishes ! how many, who, though impressed in some degree with the truths of religion, yet Auctuate perpetually he
tween God and the world, and refuse to give him the undivided throne in their hearts. All these, we are assured by the unerring oracles of truth, shall never enter into the kingdom of heaven: and do not these compose the greater part of our race? Unhappy men! who for fugitive and unsubstantial pleasures, which cannot perfectly satisfy them even here, which cannot diminish their pains and apprehensions on the bed of death, which make no provision for that eternity which is before them, which cannot interpose between them and everlasting perdition when they close their eyes upon the earth. Unhappy men! who for such trifles renounce those pure and holy delights, which remorse never embitters, which death cannot impair, which will grow and expand throughout eternity. Stop for a moment in your career to ruin; seriously contrast all the blessings which the world can give its votaries with those treasures of grace, those merits of Jesus, those influences of the Spirit, those splendours of glory, with which God crowns those who choose him as their portion. Between these make a deliberate election; and in deciding, remember that you will have a whole eternity of joy, or a whole eternity of misery, in which you will have to felicitate yourselves for the wisdom, or curse yourselves for the folly, of
3. Let this subject induce you, believers, to live near to God. You have been told that you stand not by your own power, but by that “ faith which is the gift of God.” Pray then continually, that this grace may be strengthened in you: look to your interceding Saviour, and implore him to plead for you, as he did for Peter, “ that your faith fail not."
You have been told of the numbers whose conduct once excited the hopes of the pious, but whom the world overcame. Their histories are beacons to warn and direct you : beware, lest the succeeding generation should have reason to unite your name with theirs, and point to you also as a sad monument of the power of the world.
MINISTRY OF ANGELS.
НЕВ. і. 14.
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister
for them that shall be heirs of salvation ?
Man stands at the head of the visible creation, and serves to connect two widely different orders of being. Compounded of body and soul, by his body he bears an affinity to the beasts, that are not endued with an immortal spirit, and by his soul to those superior intelligences, who are not united to matter, nor encumbered with body.
That such intelligences exist, reason, or the remains of a primitive revelation, taught every people that has ever lived. Differing in almost every other subject of belief, nations of every climate and age. and religion, have, nevertheless, concurred in acknowledging that, between us and God, there are innumerable orders of spirits, far excelling us in every natural and moral quality. The universality of this belief is a strong presumption of its truth, and of its consistence with reason.
Indeed, it would appear almost impossible for any person who had, with any attention, examined the works of God, and observed the various gradations of being, to doubt of the existence of angels. We ascend, step by step, from dull, inert, unorganized matter, to the living plant, the perceptive brute, and the reasonable man. And, having risen to an immaterial substance, endued with such powers and faculties as the human soul, shall we suppose that the great scale and gradation of being ends there? Will we not feel ourselves compelled to believe that, between us and Deity, numberless creatures intervene, possessed of perfection, power, and excellency, beyond our present conception?
But we are not left on this subject to the dim lights of unassisted reason. The holy scriptures are full of proofs, not merely of the existence of angels, but also of their care and watchfulness over the pious, of their fellowship and communion with the saints. Nothing can be more explicit on this point than the words of our text, in which St. Paul, speaking of the blessed angels, says, “ Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them that shall be heirs of salvation ?" Though the apostle here uses the interrogatory form, he does not by it intimate any doubt of the truth of the question which he asks, but only designs, by this mode of speaking, more strongly to affirm it, more pointedly