Page images

Nay, sirs, was there more glori-
Was it a more wondrous

sufferer on his sick bed, as the boldness of the martyr at the stake. But even in this life he will often provide that they who serve him through solitary watching and meek endurance, should share his honors with those whose virtues have been more conspicuous, and whose actions more brilliant. Seems it to you to have been so glorious a thing to have witnessed, as Elijah witnessed, to the truth of a resurrection; and would you not have wondered, had Elisha, as he lingered on his bed, sighed for the privilege of giving a like testimony to so stupendous a fact? After all, then, which of the two was most honored as a witness to the resurrection, Elijah, who departed in the whirlwind, or Elisha, who went down into the grave? Know ye not what narrative follows immediately on that of the sickness and death of Elishaimmediately, as though God would prevent the suspicion that he had put an honor on one servant which he had denied to another? It is this: "And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha : and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet." ousness in the chariot of fire than in this? thing not to die, than, when dead, to give life? Was it a greater proof of God's approval, to escape the grave, than to defeat it whilst lying in it? Was there a stronger attestation to the truth of a resurrection when a living man sprang from the earth, showing that body as well as soul can ascend up on high, than when a dead man took off the grave clothes, and returned to his fellow men- an evidence that a prophet greater than Elijah or Elisha would yet lie among the buried, but only to despoil the sepulchres of their prey? It might almost be said, that God showed himself jealous for the honor of his servant Elisha, and put him, as it were, on a par with Elijah, by giving him, if not miraculous departure out of life, yet miraculous energy after death. If it were as a type of the ascending Christ, that Elijah went up to heaven, surely it was a type of Christ "through death destroying him that had the power of death," that the bones of Elisha communicated life. And God still often effects something similar in regard to his servants. The aged believer, whose closing scene has been regarded as furnishing only material of melancholy contrast, whether with his own more active days, or with the more rapid and joyful transition of his own brethren in the flesh, so debilitated has he been by long sickness," My heart is smitten and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread," often wins after death a testimony to his usefulness

[ocr errors]

which may well compensate for the darkness which seemed to hang over his decline. The good deeds wrought by him in his protracted illness, may not immediately appear; but afterwards we learn that he did not linger in vain, that he did not die in vain. The example is remembered, the patience, the meekness, remembered by children, by servants, by friends, by neighbors. It is remembered, to be imitated in their own day of sorrow, their own hour of dissolution. Then it administers courage, constancy, hope; and what is this, but the bones of Elisha communicating life? Oh! we may not look with Elijah to escape death; but we may look with Elisha to work wonders after death. We may suffer much, we may linger long,- no burning rapture may characterize our going hence; but if there be patient submission to the will of the Lord, our memory may survive, and be instrumental to the victories of religion. Oh! who would complain at not being borne away in the fire of heaven, if, whilst in dust, he should turn others from the fire of hell?




"Happy is that people, that is in such a case; yea, happy that people, whose God is the Lord."-- - PSALM CXliv. 15.

MAN is obviously formed for happiness. Indeed this is matter of consciousness to all; we all feel that it is as natural for us to desire to be happy as it is for us to breathe. This is nature's first and last wish; and the desire of happiness forms not noly one of the earliest, but one of the most powerful principles of our nature.

But although happiness is earnestly desired, and although, in one way or other, happiness is universally pursued, the melancholy fact is, after all, that it is but very partially enjoyed. Unhappy man has long since become a general designation for our species. And we are not surprised at this, when we recollect that very many of our race, after devoting many a long year of fruitless toil and labor to the search for happiness, have all but arrived at the conclusion, (if they have

not actually arrived there,) that its attainment is impossible that all that they have heard and read concerning it, is deceptive and unreal -and that, in point of fact, there is no such thing to be attained or enjoyed by man in this desert world.

What, then, my dear friends, is to be done? Are we to sit down in despondency? and are we, very soon after that, to abandon ourselves to despair? and, sitting side by side, are we to heave sigh for sigh, to shed tear for tear, and, looking on one another through the medium of those tears, are we to say, Alas! there is no happiness? Can we suppose that the wise and benevolent author of our existence has made us capable of that which he has determined we shall not enjoy? Can we suppose that he, that is the former of us all, has implanted in our bosoms the desire of happiness-created there the intense thirst after happiness whilst he has placed the satiating stream yonder far beyond our reach? It cannot be. Heaven never had created but to bless. What other motive could possibly have induced the Divine Being to give existence to the human being, but that of diffusing happinessmaking his creature, man, happy?

And man was happy when God made him; but then he was happy in his God, and he was to be happy in nothing contrary to God, and in nothing without God. And while man remained with God, his happiness remained with him; but when by transgression he fell from God, he lost his happiness. And now man is unhappy, because he is guilty; he is unhappy, because he is unholy; he is unhappy, because he is unlike God. He wants to be happy independently. He feels painfully that he has lost his happiness, but then he knows very well that he has not lost the capacity for enjoyment; and he feels strongly feels-he has not lost the desire after it, but then he seeks it any where every where except where alone he can find it. He "spends his money for that which is not bread, his labor for that which satisfieth not." He seeks happiness in very vanity, he seeks happiness in folly, he seeks happiness in sin. instead of rest and peace, he finds toil and labor; instead of happiness and repose, he finds vanity and vexation of spirit.

[ocr errors]



When abandoning all these earthly cisterns (which are all "broken cisterns, and which contain no water- not a drop of real happiness for the spiritual immortal mind of man,) man betakes himself to God in Christ as his only refuge, and seeks to be accepted of God in Christ, and the Lord becomes his God, then he finds the happiness which he sought in vain elsewhere. Then he comes to the fountain of living water; and then he drinks and is satisfied. Then he can subscribe to the doctrine which my text contains, "Happy is that people, that is in

such a case; yea, happy," beyond all compare, "is that people, whose God is the Lord."

Now that is our God, to which we are principally devoted; that is our God which has the first place in our thoughts, and which has the highest place in our affections: that is our God, to which we bow down, to which we continually pay our devotion-whatever it may be; it may be some idol. Now to have Jehovah for our God is to have our thoughts first of all accupied with him to have our affections supremely placed on him to be reconciled to him to be accepted of him through Jesus Christ to know him, and to love him, and to live devoted to him. And my text declares, that all such persons are really and pre-eminently happy.

Now one would suppose that a discourse on the subject of happiness must be interesting to all, because all are in search of it. One would suppose that such a discourse must be interesting to young people; I see a great number of young people (and with very great pleasure) in this assembly, and I know my young friends are all intensely desirous to obtain happiness. Let me, then, try, in dependence on Divine aid, to show you where it is to be found, and to show you the nature and the excellence of "the people whose God is the Lord;" and having done this, let me endeavor to state, and to lay prostrate some of those objections, which are sometimes urged against the doctrine which my text contains.


And what is happiness? It is enjoyment, it is satisfaction, it is delight. And, for any thing I know to the contrary, the different beings that inhabit this earth are obliged, by their own nature, to seek for enjoyment, to seek for a bliss suited to their nature; and for anything I know, they are happy, just in proportion as they are in their proper element, and as they possess and enjoy what may be called their chief good; they have an enjoyment according to their nature and capacity.

And, my dear friends, is it not in this way that we are to ascertain how man becomes happy? Surely, he cannot be happy till he lives in his proper element; he cannot be happy till he finds and enjoys his chief good. And need I tell my friends where that is, and what that is? Is it not he, who is the father of the human spirit the centre and the rest of the soul of man? Did He not form our spirits for Himself? And is it not there alone that we find our proper element the element of the soul, for which it was originally formed? And is it not there in the enjoyment of God- that we

[ocr errors]

find our chief good? There, and there alone we find a portion, suited to our nature and equal to our capacities, commensurate with all our wishes, and lasting as our being.

1. This happiness, however, is all aggregate. There are various ingredients in the happiness of this people, "the people whose God is the Lord." At present I will select three of these ingredients.

And I begin by remarking, that "the people whose God is the Lord," are happy inasmuch as they enjoy the peace of God. I name this in the first instance, because I believe it is the lowest grade of all true religious happiness. It begins here.

That "there is no peace to the wicked," is a fact a truth which reason suggests, a truth which revelation asserts, a truth which experience awfully demonstrates. An old Pagan could stumble upon this truth-"No wicked man is happy." And no wicked man, as such, can be happy, because every thing is out of course; all is in a state of moral derangement, disorder and chaos, and, therefore, there can be no real enjoyment. What are the wicked like? The prophet tells you what. I was thinking the other night when on the ocean, and when the raging billows dashed against the vessel-I thought of the language of the prophet, "The wicked is like the troubled sea - not the sea when it is calm, and serene, and placid, but the ocean when tempest-tossed, one angry wave succeeding another. That is the emblem of a wicked mind, the emblem of an unsanctified heart — all agitation, commotion, and disorder. "There is no peace" there can be none "to the



[ocr errors]

Now, this is clearly seen by the enlightened mind, and this is deeply felt by the enlightened conscience. There is not only the perception of what is really the bane of happiness — sin, guilt, depravity; but there is the painful feeling, too, so that, while we see our sin, we feel its curse what "an evil and a bitter thing" it is, to sin against God. The arrow of truth thus penetrates the heart and conscience of the awakened sinner, and he feels the poignant smart, writhes under an agonized conscience, and asks, Where shall my agonized conscience find rest; I am vile; I deserve to perish; I am undone, unless divine mercy interpose: myself I cannot save; an angel's arm cannot rescue me from impending ruin; I cannot extract this dart; I cannot heal the wound, I cannot atone for a single sin, I cannot wash out any moral stain; what shall I do? The gospel tells you what to do: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." That is the simple, direct, and safe answer given to the inquiry, "What must I do to be saved?" Whoever you may be, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved." That is the Scripture

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »