« ZurückWeiter »
on earth, and the reign of glory in heaven. Important, then, beyond expression, in the very outset of our present inquiries, is the question, Are our disqualifications for the attainment of true happiness removed? Are our consciences tranquillized by faith in the divine propitiation, and our hearts renewed by the power of the Spirit of holiness?
The SECOND source of happiness, to which I would direct your attention, is, The pursuit of the greatest good which we can attain or desire. This good includes,
1. The favour of God on earth.
Of those who are engaged in the pursuit of happiness, many, under the influence of a strange infatuation, bring themselves under the “ woe” denounced against those “ who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.” Isa. v. 20. How many are perpetually captivated by the semblance of good, where the reality is altogether wanting! How many are daily chargeable with these two evils—with forsaking the fountain of living waters, and hewing out to themselves broken cisterns which can hold, no water? Jer. ii. 13. How many are constantly spending their money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfieth not! Isa. lv. 2. But while many are saying, “Who will show us any good?” happy are they who are divinely instructed to say, “Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us; for thy favour is
life, and thy loving-kindness is better than life ;—Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul!" Psa. iv. 6; xxx. 5; lxiii. 3; lxxiii. 25; Lam. iii. 24. Who can adequately describe the happiness to be derived, from the believing, the admiring, the adoring contemplation of the blessed God, when we can say, on a view of his amiable and his awful attributės, “ This God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide, even unto death.” Psa. xlviii. 14. Must it not be conducive to my happiness to believe, that there reigns on the throne of the universe a Being who is the uncreated source of all that is great and good, and lovely and excellent? Can it be otherwise than delightful to me to know, that he takes delight in the production of happiness; and to be assured, that his omnipotence is under the direction of wisdom which cannot err, equity which cannot be impeached, and goodness never weary of dispensing favours? Must not my heart glow with joyous emotions, on the discovery, that he confers benefits worthy of his boundless resources, not only on beings who never sinned, but also on creatures who have rebelled against him, and evinced the enmity of their hearts by the daring wicked ness of their lives? Can my mind be habitually engaged in the contemplation of this love which passeth knowledge, without deriving from the survey ineffable delight? Truly it is good for me to draw near to him who con
descends to invite me to his throne; who encourages my approach by granting me the Spirit of adoption, and by “the light of his countenance” becomes himself my exceeding joy!
The supreme good, which the well-directed pursuit of happiness requires us to seek, includes,
2. The enjoyment of God in heaven.
“ In his presence is fulness of joy; at his right hand there are pleasures for evermore." Psa. xvi. 11. To see him in his unveiled glory, and to behold that glory in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, must be the full consummation of blessedness. “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Rev. xxi. 3, 4. Can there, then, be any source of present joy so conducive to happiness, as this glorious prospect of futurity? He who cherishes and is authorized to cherish this animating expectation, has constantly before him the prospect of realizing all the blessedness which his heart can desire, or his most soaring imagination conceive! He has habitually before his eyes an object of supreme importance, stimulating to perpetual activity, and exciting to all that is honourable, amiable, and useful; while it
sustains, by most powerful consolations, under all the troubles of this transitory state.
66 Rejoicing in hope of the glory of God,” Rom. v. 2, he can say, even amidst the severest afflictions of life, “ The Lord is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation," Isa. xii. 2.
“ Thou art the source and centre of all minds,
In due subordination to these primary and essential sources of happiness, I would direct your thoughts,
THIRDLY, To the temperate enjoyment of the inferior pleasures provided for man in his present state of existence.
There are three aspects under which we may regard man, whilst an inhabitant of the present world; and under each of these aspects we shall discover appropriate provision for his enjoyment. We may contemplate man as a sensitive being—as an intellectual being —and as a social being.
1. Let us take a view of his sensitive nature.
With regard to the pleasures of the senses, two of the most celebrated sects of Grecian philosophers, the Epicureans and the Stoics,
maintained opinions directly at variance with each other, while both were at variance with the truth. The Epicureans taught, that happiness consists primarily in the pleasures of the senses; the Stoics contended, that to the pleasures of the serises we ought to cherish the most perfect indifference, that sensitive pleasure is not in the least a good, and that the feeling of pain is not in itself an evil. Both these systems are radically false; and it has been well observed, that “if the philosophy of Epicurus err more grossly, the philosophy of the Stoical school, though it err more sublimely, is still but a sublime error.” quire us to be alike indifferent to pleasure and to pain, is to proceed on entire ignorance of the very constitution of human nature, and of the benevolent design of its author. Do we not derive a most powerful argument in proof of the benevolence of the Deity, from the admirable adaptation of the world around us, to the structure of our corporeal frame, and especially to the delicate and susceptible organs of sensation?
Had not God designed by this arrangement, to promote even our sensitive gratification, as Dr. Paley justly observes,
he might have made “ every thing we tasted bitter, every thing we saw loathsome, every thing we touched a sting, every smell offensive, and every sound a discord." Since, on the contrary, in the exuberance of his goodness, he has rendered every organ of sensation an inlet to delight, it would betray culpable ingratitude, as well as pitiable delusion to