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a never-dying soul, which ere the arrival of to-morrow may be supremely and unalterably happy or miserable, flee, this very hour, to lay, hold on the hope set before you. Remember, “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation! 2 Cor. vi. 2. If you allow this day to pass away without repairing, as an humble suppliant, to the throne of grace, for mercy through Him who died for sinners, I need not the gift of prophecy to foretell, that to-morrow the feeling of concern for. eternity will be still feebler than to-day, and that the very subsiding of present impressions will leave your hearts still less susceptible than before!
But in urging the inducements to seek the pleasures of hope, I will now address myself to another class of my readers; and it shall be on the supposition that they are not strangers to these pleasures. To such I would say,
1. Seek them for the sake of the refined and exquisite delight which they afford.
In all the diversified pursuits of happiness on which you may lave entered, at any period of your past history, have you tasted of delight more pure or more blissful, than when rejoicing in nope of the glory of God? Have not the very conceptions of that felicity, guided by the light, and governed by the principles of Divine revelation, infused into your inmost soul a spirit of gladness? Why then is, it, that joys such as these have not been more ardantly desired, and more grate
fully cherished? Why is it that, with such boundless sources of delight, your joy has not been more abundant, more constant, and more full of glory? Why is it that the discovery and the attainment of pleasures of such a character, have not urged you, with greater effect, to seek an augmentation of delight? Have you already in possession, a joy in any degree commensurate with the grandeur of the hope set before you, with the promises which authorize you to appropriate it as your own, or with your actual nearness of approach to the scene of full enjoyment? If not, cultivate more diligently the pleasures of the Christian hope. Direct your contemplations more frequently and more steadily to the glory of the
Pemit not to be circumscribed within the narrow limits of things seen and temporal, those energies of a heaven-born spirit, which should be perpetually expatiating among the realities of a world, for a short time to us invisible. If in the enjoyrnent of that glory you have the prospect of spending an eternity of blessedness, surely you should pass the time of your sojourning on earth “rejoicing in hope.”
2. Seek these pleasures under a conviction of duty as well as of privilege.
Art thou not required, my Christian friend, to “delight thyself in the Lord?” Psa. xxxvii. 4. Hast thou not learned to say, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee:-thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion
for ever? Psa. Ixxiii. 25, 26. To these sentiments thou wilt give utterance, with the most lively and the most grateful feelings of the heart, when with joy thou drawest water out of the wells of salvation. Dost thou not glorify him best, when most thou dost enjoy the blessedness he imparts? Does he not require thee to glorify him as thy chief good? If then it be the deep and full conviction of thy soul, that he is himself the fountain of felicity, wilt thou not daiiy repair to that pure and most abundant source of true enjoyment? Is it not one of the precepts intended for the regulation of thy mind and heart,“ Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice?" Phil. iv. 4.
3. Seek these pleasures under a persuasion of the salutary influence they will exert.
The pleasures of the Christian hope exert a purifying influence over the character. From one who is heir to a title and a fortune, and especially from one who is heir apparent to a crown, we expect the display of a certain dignity of mind, and of a demeanour worthy of his birth and expectations; we expect a certain elevation and generosity of spirit, which would be indignant at every thing mean, or sordid, or contracted. And is it not natural and reasonable to cherish correspond dent expectations, in reference to those who are constituted heirs of heaven, and who are anticipating ‘glory, honour, and immortality ? He who has this hope will purify himself even as Christ is pure, and as heaven is pure.
The hope of an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, induces a disgust and contempt for that which is defiled and polluted. A hope of an inheritance that fadeth not away, dis. poses the mind to reject, as vain and trivial, the things which perish with the using, or which are destined to perish in the flames which will consume this transient world. Thus it is that earth loses its power of fascination, while heaven acquires an influence of attractive force; thus it is, that earth is more and more divested of its power to dazzle and its power to tempt, while heaven is contemplated under an aspect of perpetually increasing glory.
These pleasures exert also a sustaining and animating influence under all the vicissitudes of life. If the sun of prosperity shiné, hope gilds every scene of delight with a purer and a brighter radiance; and if the clouds of adversity
gather around, hope, with its beams of glory, can pierce the thickest gloom. Where is the man who, if he need not to-day, may not require to-morrow the soothing influence of consolation, and the cheering power of hope? Now what consolation, under present distress, can be compared with the hope of approaching blessedness? If I suffer pain, what can so effectually cherish the spirit of patient endurance, as the expectation of being soon the inhabitant of a world, from which all pain is eternally excluded ? If I suffer from the many privations of poverty, what can so completely reconcile my mind
to the scanty allotment of earthly possessions, as the hope of a treasure in heaven of which I can never be deprived ? If exposed to contempt or persecution, what can be so cheering as the prospect of glory and honour, in the presence of Him that sitteth on the throne of heaven? If liable to the asaults of menacing and of formidable foes, what can be more conducive to my security or my courage, than to have “ for a helmet the hope of salvation !” 1 Thess. v. 8. Surely then the most enlightened and comprehensive views dictated the conclusion of the apostle, “ that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us," Rom. viii. 18; that even in afflictions the most severe, we should rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Rom. v. 2.
It remains for me to solicit your attention,
III. To the principles by which we should be guided in the pursuit of these pleasures.
1. Let us seek them as the promised communications of the Holy Spirit.
The pleasures of hope are “ the fruits of the Spirit;” and are, therefore to be most successfully cultivated, by perseverance in prayer for the Spirit of God. Thus did the apostle seek them for himself and for his converts : “ The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Rom. xv. 13. Do you desire to form lofty conceptions of the object of the Christian hope, and to feel a divine ardour growing