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Benjamin's mess, five times larger than that of others; because it is accompanied with the favour, and full of the blessing of the Lord,
But if the gifts of providence are tokens of the divine favour, then what may be said of the life of felicity and glory in heaven? Eternal life is the gift of God, and a gift of special favour and love. " I give unto them,” saith the Lord of glory, “eter. nal life, and they shall never perish.” The Father freely gave his beloved Son; the Son as freely gave himself for us. “ This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." The divine gift is free to us, though it was not so to our Redeemer. The manner in which it is conferred on us, and conveyed to us, is wonderful; but, so far from leffening, it greatly enhances the favour, that so much must be done, and so much endured by the Son of God, in order to bring our fouls' to heaven. Well may we write the word FAVOUR in capital letters on all the steps whereby we are advanced to glory, and upon every link of that golden chain which raises us from earth to heaven, from the miserable abyss of our natural fate, to the paradise of God's immediate presence.
The Psalmist faith, in the language of lively hope “ Thou wilt guide me with thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory." And Jesus assures
- 446 his followers, that they shall possess the promised inheritance as the fruit of God's good pleasure, notwithstanding the discouragements under which they often labour. “ Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Reader, if ever you come to the possession of that kingdom, you must be carried thither in the bosom of God's favour. No man that enters the pearly gates of the celestial city, can say, “ I have ob. tained this felicity by my own deservings." The heavenly inheritance is bequeathed by favour, not obtained by merit. A boasting, felf-sufficient Romish priest once said, “ I will not accept of heaven gratis.” The glorified inhabitants of that celestial place speak another language; they all unite in cafting down their crowns before the throne, debasing themselves to the lowest degree, and crying, “ Salvation to him that fitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever."
We shall close this chapter by considering, in a few words, Why christians esteem God's favour to be their life.
They are induced to do this, because they have that illumination of mind which leads them to see the difference between the enjoyment of God, and all other enjoyments whatever. There is such in finite excellency in the Fountain of all felicity, and
>> such vanity and emptiness in the creature, that they, whose minds are in any degree enlightened, must know what choice to make. God is the chief good; other objects, in comparison with him, are empty, deceitful and vain. Or, to speak more properly, vanity of vanities, and vexation of spirit. A child of God is, through grace, enabled to judge of things aright, and as they are in their own nature.
The apostle Paul prayed for the Philippians, that their love might abound more and more in all knowa ledge, and in all judgment, that they might discern the things which differ, so as to approve those which are excellent. Enlightened souls turn away with disgust from a deluding world, and look for all their felicity in that all-gracious Being whose favour they esteem as life; saying with the Psalmist, 6. Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth I defire beside thee." There is an energy in these words, which though the good man feels, the commentator cannot express. The gracious foul seems to speak in the person, and with the afsection of a spouse, declaring, that not only earth, but heaven itself would be comfortless and unfatis. factory, without the presence of her beloved Redeemer, the God of her falvation.
A true christian has not only his understanding enlightened, but his will and affections sanctified.
A man in a fate of nature favoureth not the things which are above; but he that in scripture is denominated a new creature, is possessed of a new heart.He is born of God, and actuated by a noble and evangelical principle, by which he is disposed to make a wise and happy choice. The holy angels in heaven, and the spirits of juft men made perfect, look with indifference on all that which is most co. veted and desired by the men of this world. They take little notice of earthly treasures, mitres, fcep. tres, crowns or kingdoms. One smile of God's face is of more value, in their estimation, than all the poffeffions and honours which the world can afford. The disposition of a true saint bears fome faint resemblance to the elevation of celestial beings, so far as to enable him to esteem the divine favour his life, and to look for all his felicity from it.. "They who are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh, but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” That is to say, those who are under the guidance, influence, and dominion of the Holy Ghoft, and of the gracious principles which he produced in them, in their regeneration, mind spiritual things; they chuse, they pursue, and they delight in those objects which are of a di.. vine and heavenly nature, as being agreeable to their renewed and fanctified inclinations, and ac
cording to the dictates of the Spirit of God. Reader, you are happy if you are conscious that this is your case, and your daily experience.
The true christian hath known fomething of the bitterness of sin, and of God's displeasure against it, and hath found the impossibility of obtaining rest to his foul any where but in a reconciled God, through Jesus Chrift. * A malefactor at the bar may
efforts to put off his grief; but nothing will give full relief to his.mind but his prince's. favour, manifefted in a sealed pardon. Thus it is with a converted finner, who has felt the terrors of a broken law, and been alarmed with apprehensions of the divine displeasure. Nothing can compose his mind, and quiet his anxious bofom, but the fayour and friendship of that almighty Being whom he has grievously offended. To talk to him of the honours, riches and pleasures of this world, is like finging songs to one who is of a heavy heart. They relieve him not, but rather add weight to his burden, and increase his fadness. The language of the gracious man is, My soul thirfteth for God, the
* In vain the trembling confcience feeks
Some solid ground to rest upon;