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from whom they have proceeded. The emotions of gratitude are excited as well as expressed by the offering of praise; and praise is the natural and appropriate expression of joyous feeling. “ Is any afflicted, let him pray. Is any merry, let him sing psalms," James v. 13; and, while he is thus employed, he will find it “a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, to show forth his loving kindness in the morning, and his faithfulness every night. · Praise ye, then, the Lord; for it is good to sing praises unto our God; it is pleasant, and praise is comely.” Pșa. xcii. 1, 2; cxlvii. 1.
In praise, our thoughts are frequently withdrawn from ourselves, and concentrated on the blessed God.
Not only do we call upon our souls to bless the Lord for the innumerable benefits he has conferred, but also for the glorious perfections he displays. “We praise the name of the Lord;" that name of indescribable excellence, which, whenever proclaimed or pronounced, should fill us with adoring delight! From the consideration of what he has done, in his works, which are so marvellous and so great, we ascend to the contemplation of what he is in himself. We fix our thoughts on his uncreated and unbounded excellencies. We lose sight of all that is selfish, and of all that is earthly, and of all that has the character of imperfection; and we direct our regard, with admiring and rapturous delight, to the perfections of the blessed God. Our thoughts and
our emotions now take their character from the contemplation of infinite loveliness, the perfection of beauty, the glory of Deity. We rejoice that such a Being there is; that he reigns on the throne of the universe; that he admits us to communion with himself; that he reveals himself as the God of our salvation; that his attributes harmonize in the wondrous scheme of our redemption, and that he encourages our hope of perpetual and consummate happiness in his presence!
In praise, there is the neurest approach to the pleasures of the heavenly world.
In heaven there may be scarcely occasion for prayer, for every desire will be gratified as soon as it shall rise in the mind; but heaven is the world of perpetual and extatic praise. All the capacities and affections of the soul are there attuned to praise. The blissful manifestations of the Divine glory call forth, from all the rejoicing hosts, a tribute of most grateful and adoring praise. They refrain not day or night from exclaiming, “ Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” Rev. iv. 8. But of all the inspiring themes of celestial worship, there is not one which calls forth delight so rapturous, or praise so exalted, as the full development and glorious consummation of the work of redeeming love. It is this which is celebrated in that “new song” recorded in the book of the Revelation, in which unite ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying, with a loud voice, “ Worthy is
the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." And every creature which is in heaven, was heard to say, “ Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." Rev. V. 12, 13.
Let us now proceed to consider,
SECONDLY. The conclusions which these pleasures authorize.
1. We conclude, that they who find no pleasure in prayer or in praise must be destitute of real religion. The man who lives without
lives in the neglect of a known and obvious duty, and in the violation of a direct and often repeated command. The man who lives without the habit of offering praise, betrays a heart awfully insensible and basely ungrateful. The man to whom such engagements are irksome, and who bends his knee in the semblance of worship, only from the force of early education, or the goading of an unquiet conscience, is completely destitute of a spiritual taste. He has no feelings in common with the whole family of God on earth, or with redeemed spirits in heaven. His heart is not right with God; it displays the entire absence of spiritual life; he is dead in trespasses and sins, and, unless a complete change be effected in his temper of mind, it is impossible that he should gain admission to the joys of immortality.
Were I addressing siny one chargeable with
the neglect of prayer, I would ask, Can you quit, in the morning, the chamber of repose, and feel no obligation to him who watched over your unguarded hours, and extended over you the shield of his protection? Can you enter on the business of the day, aware of the dangers and temptations to which you are exposed, and feel no inducement to seek an interest in his guardian care? - Can you conclude the day, without any recollection of mercies received, or of sins which require forgiveness; and without any desire to seek the blessings of the great salvation? If you can, your state is inexpressibly awful, and is becoming more and more alarming every day you live. Conscience is asleep. The tempter gains a constant accession of power. What can be done to rouse you to a sense of your guilt and danger? Must some violent and threatening disease be commissioned to excite the fear of death and judgment, in order to bring you, in the attitude of a suppliant, to the throne of mercy? Must some heavy calamity cut off your worldly enjoyments, in order to compel you to seek the favour of him whose mercies you have disregarded, and whose wrath you have provoked? Oh, may you be found, with penitential confessions and contrition, at the throne of grace, ere it be too late, lest soon you should be found, without a plea, before the dread tribunal!
2. We infer, that they who would enjoy these exalted pleasures, must implore the aid of the Spirit of God.
solicitudes, and at the same time put forth, with unabated energy, the aspirations of the heart after the things of the world to come? Can you mingle intimately and habitually with the “ men who have their portion in this life," and at the same time retain, in full ardour, the spirit of one whose “citizenship" and whose treasure is in heaven? Do you find no difficulty in so using the things of this world as not to abuse them, never allowing it for one moment to escape your recollection, that “the fashion of this world passeth away?” Have you attained perfect facility in the Divine art of living in the world without being “of the world,” and of frequenting its busiest scenes, without imbibing its spirit or being conformed to its practices? Are your religious feelings as lively, throughout the course of an entire week, as on its first and hallowed day; or have you not been often and painfully reminded, by more than incipient declension, of the importance of that day which urges and which aids you to “strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die?"? Rev. iii. 2. Have you not again and again presented your grateful acknowledgments to the Lord of the Sabbath, for an institution so admirably adapted to the exigencies of your condition? Have you not oftentimes rejoiced in spirit, when your eyes have opened to the rays of the Sabbath's sun, and your heart has echoed to such strains as these: