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trying seasons to have it in your power at a future period to look back upon a well-spent life -and, which is the crown of all, to be happy in the future state. If such really be your
wishes, the world with its wisdom, riches, and pleasures, will never
enable you to accomplish any one of them : but religion will enable you to accomplish them all.
1. You wish to be good : and religion will make you so ; not by fine notions of moral fitness, expedience, pride, and honour; not with a few decorations of social virtue; but by giving you the true knowledge of God in Christ Jesus, by making you acquainted with yourselves, and by renewing your souls. It will make you good by making you like God; impressing upon you the image in which man was created. Likeness to the glorious God--surely you hear and
upon the expression with delight and awe. Can you conceive a brighter beauty or a higher grandeur ? It is impossible. But here you see that goodness which religion imparts,
2. You wish to be happy : and religion will make you so, and that in the deep and habitual feelings of your souls. “Not as the world giveth, give I unto you"-thus spake our Saviour. The world gives happiness. The sensualist, the avaricious, the ambitious, the philosopher, the gay trifler--all have what they account happiness. But religion gives happiness to man--a true, abid
ing, everlasting peace--peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ-peace with our own consciences-peace with our fellow-creatures. Religion is holy love—and that love is happiness.
Are you happy? " yes," may be the prompt reply, “very happy.” Are you happy in your souls, as the children of God ? Here you are silent; you blush; you are confused. Well then; the happiness that you have in the world is but a fading plant: that which religion gives is the true amaranth. Your pleasures delight a corrupt or low taste ; but those of religion invigorate and refine the soul. Religion leads you to the right
-the Fountain of living waters. It leads you in the right path-in the way of righteousness. It employs you in the right service-doing the will of God. It inspires you with the right taste-a taste for divine and heavenly things. It enlarges, elevates, animates, purifies, satisfies the soul. The person who is living in sin, however happy he may think biuself, is only happy while the sun of prosperity shines upon him : but the truly good man has happiness at all seasons-in changes and trials, in sickness and old age, and at the approach of death.
3. You wish to be useful : and religion will teach
you how to employ your time, faculties, and talents in your respective places, so that you will not live in vain. You may now rejoice in company, amusement, gaiety, and trifling : but this
cannot be the case for any long time : for human life is a course of laborious duties. You will soon lay aside the chaplets of fancy for the yoke of ser vice. But for what object, and by what laws, and after what examples will you live? You ought to be trees of righteousness, bearing much and good fruit, to the glory of God: but such you can become only by imbibing the vital principles of the gospel, and by acting according to its laws. Thus taught, influenced, and guided, you will acquit yourselves as God's faithful servants. You will be useful in society; promoting, through the divine blessing, the happiness of others : and while you are so, you will be increasingly happy in yourselves. " He that watereth shall be watered also himself,"
4. You wish to have support and comfort in the trials, changes, and sorrows of human life : and religion will grant you these blessings. It is emphatically the comforter of the afflicted. You may have plenty, friends, and physicians in seasons of sickness. You may have advisers in difficulties. Yet in those lowering days, when you walk in the shady path of suffering, you will need consolation which no human being can impart. It is, in fact, in the extremes of human condition, that the power of religion is most truly felt and conspicuously seen. Happy is the individual who can say in a trying season—“I am tried and afflicted : but I know my support and my resources: I
look simply to the sole Fountain of blessedness.”. The world may amuse and please and flatter you in the days of youth, of health, and of vivacity : but it will fail you in all the trying circumstances of life. Not so Religion. She will faithfully accompany you through every stage of your existence : she will direct you in perplexity, defend you in danger, and furnish you with the purest consolation in your deepest distresses.
5. You wish to look back, at a future period, on a well-spent life : and religion, as is evident from what has been just advanced, will give you this satisfaction. What can a votary of the world say, however correct he may have been as to his moral conduct, when he comes to his last days? “I have enjoyed the delights which the world gave me; I have gained wealth, and made my family comfortable; I have tasted the pleasures of learning ; I have injured no man, and forgive all who may have injured me; I have walked through the world virtuously and honourably ; I have had the respect and love of many; my character has not been stained with any thing mean or vicious ; I have regularly attended my Church ; and if my life has not been so good as it might have been, yet I hope that upon the whole it has not been a bad one.” Here I would ask-Does such a review of life satisfy you? I trust that you say without hesitation-No.
Hear, then, the true Christian. What does he
say in the evening of his days? “I am soon to go into the presence of the holy God; to exchange time for eternity. am a sinful creature, depending entirely on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. But I have the testimony of my conscience, that I have loved Christ and believed in Him. The Holy Spirit has wrought in me a good work of religion. I have followed Christ, though, alas, far too imperfectly. I have warred against my spiritual enemies. I have cultivated holiness. I have made the Scriptures my rule of action. By divine grace I have endeavoured to improve my talents. I trust I may say, that, through the almighty goodness, I have not lived in vain. By grace I am what I am: and by that grace I have in some measure lived to God." I again askDoes a review of this kind satisfy you ? that it does. If, then, in the sober and solemn days of age, or when sickness is your lot, or death unexpectedly arrives, you would look upon the past with humble and joyful gratitude, let the divine wisdom be your teacher and guide.
6. You wish to be happy in a future state : and the great object of religion is to conduct you to eternal blessedness. However numerous your amusements may be, your cares, companions, purposes, and dreams, there are moments, I trust, in which you think of eternity. Neighbours, friends, and relatives die : at such seasons the 'thoughts of a future state rush powerfully on your