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GHOST, in conviction, in comfort, and divine establishment ;-the joy and consolation of the christian; the glory of the divine ordinances of God's house, together with the many obligations the christian is under to love and heavenly obedience; the doctrines of grace supported in their clearness and cogency;-the metaphors opened in their marrrow and fulness; the parables illustrated according to their nature and tendency, and the love of Christians promoted from the heart with warmth and life.
These are some of the happy branches of life and love, we shall endeavour to lay before the Christian Reader, in such a plain and compendious manner, that the meanest Christian may drink full draughts of life at the flowing streams of salvation; and yet, not so mean, but that the more polite, elegant, and sublime Christian, may entertain his capacious mind, and delight his extensive soul, as the judgment of the learned, the deep understanding of the most knowing, the profound consideration of the most renowned for wisdom in divine things, will be consulted, and every pious observation dropped, to render the CHRISTIAN'S GRAND TREASURE delightful flowery path of blessings to the reader, to fit and prepare his soul (by a divine blessing upon the whole) for the beatific vision of his SAVIOUR face to face, and the consummation of those joys that flow at his right hand for evermore; joys that are without an example, above experience, and beyond imagination; for which the whole creation wants a comparison, we an apprehension, and even the word of God a revelation. We shall add no more, but our warmest and united desires at the throne of grace, that showers of divine blessings may attend and richly crown the whole performance, to the readers joy, and the crown of our rejoicing in the day of the LORD.
Almighty, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent JEHOVAH JeSUS, in whom is all grace and glory, naturally and essentially; thou art the life-giving, and the life-maintaining head of the church, from Thee all the blessings of life and peace flow, as the fruit of thy Father's pleasure; command therefore the happy blessings of thy power, thy blood, and love, by the operations of thy spirit, upon the united endeavours of thy servants, to promote life, love, and zeal, in the hearts of thy children to thy dear name; holy obedience to thy ways, Love to one another, and a constant attendance upon the solemnities of thy house.
ELL met, my dear Friendly, a happy day to you; but why so pensive? sure your countenance indicates a deep concern of mind?
Friendly. My dear Truth, glad am I to see you, my only friend from whom my mind grows big with expectation. You enquire why so pensive? you know, my dear Truth, that my labours have been great, my studies large, my enquiries and re-enquiries after happiness numberless; my pursuits indefatigable in the fields of nature, my searches in the volumes thereof have been constant; with eager pursuits here have I sought for true felicity, solid contentment of mind, for an adequate happiness suited to the boundless desires of my immortal soul; but, alas! these springs fail me! all the fountains of nature cannot satisfy! methinks I feel infinitely more reason to cry out than the Prophet Isaiah did, Woe is me, for I am undone.
Truth. I am glad, my dear Friendly, it rejoices my heart to find you, in the first place, so sensible of your real wants, and secondly, so deeply sensible of the uncertainty and unsatisfyingness of all the treasures of nature, to satisfy the desires of your immortal soul. And thirdly, you might well under this view cry out, Woe is me, for I am undone! as you have been seeking the living among the dead.
Friendly. Dear Truth, I acknowledge that I have been seeking the living among the dead, as all the volumes of nature have never opened one page of life to my mind, but such that is of a decaying, fluctuating, perishing nature; with all my knowledge I find myself lost for want of knowing; surely one thing is needful, but upon the first view I had of my dear
Truth, my mind immediately grew big with expectation of that growing instruction and divine direction, I should happily meet with, from that real friendship you have so often expressed for me.
Truth. The fountains shall not more freely flow, nor the sun with more joy rejoice to run its race, than my heart shall impart every thing that is interesting to make my Friendly happy.
Friendly. To enjoy your presence is happiness, but to enjoy your heart is the life of that joy; therefore, my dear Truth, give me leave to build infinite hopes upon these testifications of love, by giving just answers to the following enquiries: In what does true happiness consist, as all the knowledge of nature, sweetness of pleasures, laurels of honour, fail of affording it?
Truth. Friendly, since your enquiries are so sincere, and earnest after true happiness, and joys of an eternal nature, with the greater liberty of mind I answer: the true and real happiness of an immortal soul consists in the rich enjoyment of the love of the Three that bear record in Heaven, FATHER, SON, and HOLY GHOST; the God of love.
Friendly. How do you prove that true happiness consisteth therein? You must, my dear Truth, make it appear as evident as the sun in its meridian altitude, ere my soul can venture her eternal rest, her everlasting all upon it! every argument must carry with it a satisfaction of the truth it is brought to prove; for, sensible I am, that I am yet in a miserable state, therefore I long to know in what true happiness consists, that I may come to the enjoyment of it!
Truth. My dear Friendly, the closer your enquiries are, the greater is my pleasure to satisfy you; I hope to shew that ability and capaciousness of mind, as to make it refulgent, that true happiness consisteth in the possession and enjoyment of JEHOVAH's love, by the following arguments. First, because JEHOVAH's love is the fountain of all happiness, to all beings that are happy; as all the springs of happiness in his nature, arise from his perfections; he is the ocean of all bliss, the origin and source of felicity, the fountain of life, the sea of grace and glory, the life of joy, the sum of happiness, independant of all nature, things, or beings, and happy in himself above all blessings and praise; therefore, says an inspired writer, If thou be righteous, what gavest thou unto him, or what receivest he at thy hands? Such is his all-sufficiency that it has no dependency; all the happiness that ever was, that now
is, or ever will be, springs from the perfections of JEHOVAH, ariseth from the inexhaustible fountain of Deity, and flows as one permanent stream through time and eternity; all happiness centres in him originally, flows from him continually, therefore it must be complete happiness to enjoy his favour: As saith the pious Psalmist, Ps. xxx. 5. In his favour there is life, the life of happiness. My second argument, to prove that real happiness consists in the love of GoD, is this, Angels and Arch-angels enjoy all their felicity and happiness therefrom; that Angels are happy beings, might be easily proved from their dignity and greatness, as princes in glory; therefore they are styled, Principalities and powers in heavenly places, Eph. iii. 10. Their happiness may be argued from their employment, which is two-fold: First, their employment is to praise and adore the author of their happiness, ascribing sal-vation to him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, Rev. vii. 10. They are also employed to watch over the church of GOD, to encamp round about them that fear him, therefore, says the Apostle, Heb. i. 14. Are they not all ministering Spirits, sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of saltation? Thus their employment bespeaks their happiness. But, thirdly, their happiness may be argued from their situation and dwelling, as it is in the immediate presence of God, therefore says our dear LORD, speaking of his disciples, their Angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven, Matt. xviii. 10. But you will say, no wonder that Angels are happy, because these you have been describing never sinned. I answer their happiness does not arise so much from the innocency of their nature, and the rectitude of their obedience, as from distinguishing favour, and divine security, therefore they are called by the Apostle, elect Angels, 1 Tim. v. 21. The angels that are now in glory, were no more pure or perfect by nature than those that fell from their first habitation: Their fall from heaven and happiness, from GoD and glory, was the consequence of their sinning, but their sinning sprung from their mutability, being subject to change; and the angels in glory, were as subject by nature to fall as they, but distinguishing favour and divine security preserved them; therefore their happiness centres in JEHOVAH's love. This leads me, Friendly, in the third place to prove the love of God to be the fountain of happiness, as all the saints in glory have their happiness and enjoyment therefrom; you will allow the saints in glory must be in a happy state, as they are free from all that is miserable, and in full possession of all that is happy; as every
desire is satisfied, every enjoyment accomplished, every wish granted, prayer turned into praise, faith into open vision, and hope into full fruition.
Friendly. My dear Truth, I acknowledge that the saints in glory are perfectly happy; but does their happiness arise from the love of GoD as a free gift, or does it arise from their own obedience, thereby securing God's favour?
Truth. I answer, that their happiness ariseth purely (without any dependence upon their own obedience) from divine favour; an enquiry is made in Heaven, Whence came they? and the answer is returned, These are they that came out of much tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, they themselves witness this truth; in Rev. i. 5, 6. To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us Kings and Priests to our GOD, to him be glory and dominion, for ever and ever: Their enjoyment proves their happiness, and their adoration of the Lamb, from whence it springs. But this leads me, my dear Friendly, to observe one argument more, in the fourth place, that real happiness is only to be enjoyed in the love of GOD, as all the saints in life have their comfort, support, and joy therefrom, and are therefore styled by the HOLY GHOST, a happy people, Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee, a people saved by the LORD. They surely must be happy, who have GOD for their portion, who have CHRIST for their all in all, who can rejoice in hope of the glory of GoD, joy in tribulation, rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, who can through grace, clasp the promises, sweep the blessings of the everlasting covenant into their own bosoms, as a divine treasure for their immortal minds to feed upon; thereby they can rejoice in life, sing at death, and triumph beyond the grave. I close my arguments with divine authority, Ps. cxliv. 15. Happy is the people that is in such a case, happy is that people whose GoD is the LORD. I might here have added one argument more, that true happiness consisteth in the enjoy ment of the love of GoD, as it is no where else to be found; but as this argument is already engraven on your heart, I need not urge it; as I have already proved that the divine nature and perfections of GOD is the fountain of happiness, that the Angels joy is supplied therefrom, the glory of the saints in heaven enjoyed therein, the comforts of the saints on earth possessed thereby; indeed it is impossible for any fallen creature to be happy, till he is restored to that nature, or enjoyment he is fallen from, or to that enjoyment that is more glorious.