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communion with God. It consists not in high joys and raptures; these may be unfelt, and yet the communion be real and most intimate: and we shall run into dangerous errors, if we do not carefully distinguish between the sense and perception of fellowship and fellowship itself. But it consists in a kindred mind to God, in a temper conformed to his; it is a communion of attributes, aims, wills, affections, and interests; a communion in his works, word, and ordinances: this fellowship you must have, I do not say perfectly and fully, but sincerely and really, before you have any right to the nam
any right to the name, or any title to the promises of the Christian. It is the character of believers that they are “ partakers of the divine nature;” or, as the original word may more literally be translated, “ holders of communion with the divine nature.”
My brethren, this communion which has been described to you, forms the highest excellence of the creature; is the source of the most abundant and unfailing joys; and is absolutely necessary if we hope for future happiness.
It forms the highest excellence of the creature : for what more noble or more dignified than to be formed on the pattern of Jehovah; to partake of his perfections, and maintain a tender and endearing intercourse with him! This is a life worthy of man; this is the life which angels lead, and by which archangels are blest. Let then the men of the world scoff at the character of the Christian; let them deride it as mean and low-spirited; they will at last find that it was no light sin to call that mean which bore the impress of divinity; to scoff at him as lowspirited who was animated by the Spirit of God. * Not many noble are called ;” and when they are call
ed, they are made infinitely more noble than they were by birth or descent, by places of preferment and command.
And as communion with God is the highest excellence, so it is the chief happiness of man. never be happy till we enjoy it. God is the centre of the soul, and it must continue restless and agitated till it is fixed on him. In vain will we rove from one earthly object to another: nothing below can give us rest and quiet, because nothing below is as extensive as the powers of our nature; nothing below is itself at rest : there will still be a raging thirst in the soul, until wearied with earthly vanities, struck with the excellences of Jehovah, and constrained by his power, we fall at his throne and exclaim, • Lo, I come to thee, the Eternal Being, the Spring of life, the Centre of rest, the Stay of the creation, the Fulness of all things! I join myself to thee; I will lead my life and spend my days with thee, with whom I hope to dwell for ever! Then the soul must be tranquil and at rest, for it then has found an object sufficiently great to fill all its capacities; an object which answers the intent of its creation, the end of its being.
And as communion with God thus brings down heaven into the soul, while we remain on earth, so it ensures to us a perfect felicity in beaven when we depart from earth. The sum of the future blessedness is a perfect communion with God; and if this communion has been begun on earth, it must be consummated in the kingdom of glory. The Christian already has the seeds of heaven; or, to speak more properly, as far as he has communion with God, so far he has heaven and God in his soul; and there. fore, when he leaves behind him the body of flesh, he must necessarily be in heaven, unless God should
either infuse sinful habits into him, (which it would be blasphemy to imagine,) or unless he should annihilate his soul, which would derogate from every one of his perfections.
Since our dearest interests are thus involved in this subject, let us try ourselves carefully on this point; for it would be dreadful to be deceived here; it would be dreadful to discover on the bed of death, or at the bar of judgment, that, notwithstanding all our outward performances, our professions, and our fancied joys, we were still strangers to a heart-fellowship with God; it would be dreadful to discover that our religion had consisted in notions laid up in our head, and in raptures produced only by natural passions or fancy; instead of a new principle implanted by God, laid in the very constitution of the soul, refining all its faculties, making us to be like God, as far as a creature can be like its Creator!
And let us, who hope that we have this communion in some degree, strive continually to carry it to as
high a point as is possible in this world of sin and i temptation. Let us eagerly desire and ardently pur
sue a more intimate conjunction, a more close communion with God. Thus shall we have more of the heavenly temper, and become more prepared to mingle with the throng of adoring seraphs.
And you, sinners, we importunately beseech you to form more noble and exalted notions of happiness than you now have. Do not limit your ambition to the vanities of earth, but aim at a happiness worthy of your souls; tread the toys of earth beneath your feet; pant to be filled with the fulness of God; to have God dwelling in you; to enjoy a happiness in common with God! This, and this only, is an aim worthy of an immortal being.
ROMANS i. 10.
prosperous journey, by the will of God.
Many of those who have been accustomed to worship with us in this place, have left us for a season; many of you will shortly follow them. It will not be useless, before your departure, to show you what should be your aim, what your sentiments, and conduct, in order that your journey may tend to your spiritual good and everlasting welfare.
For this purpose I have read to you the words which the apostle Paul addressed to the Romans, when he expressed his desire to visit them.
My sole design in addressing you from them is to inquire,
What is necessary to render a journey, or a voyage, prosperous in the estimation of a real Christian ?
Is he satisfied if by it his temporal interests are advanced, if he enjoys worldly amusement and pleasure, if he meets with kind friends and affectionate relatives, if he be preserved from calamity, and return home with invigorated health? These are blessings which require his grateful acknowledg.
ments to God. Feeling his unworthiness of them, he ought for their conferment to pour forth the tribute of thankfulness and praise to the Most Merciful. With these he ought to be contented, if this world were his home, or if he were preserved in life solely for the purpose of enjoying the blessings of earth. But when he remembers that heaven is his true country; that every hour as it passes
shortens his journey through life; that religion is his great business, and that he is continued upon earth to glorify God, to save his own soul, and to benefit others : when he considers these things, he must feel that much more is necessary to render a journey or a voyage prosperous; and that it deserves not this title, unless it tend,
I. To give us more affecting and admiring views of the attributes of the great Creator, as displayed in his works which we behold.
II. Unless it give us a more deep and grateful sense of the goodness and care of that Providence on which we depend, and a more comprehensive survey of the general dispensations of Providence.
III. Unless it deepen our conviction of the uniformity and value of real religion.
IV. Unless during it we embrace opportunities of acquiring or of doing good.
V. Unless during it we remember that our whole life is a journey, which is hastening to its close, and that we are only pilgrims and strangers upon the earth.
Where these circumstances unite, we make a “ prosperous journey," or voyage, “ by the will of God."
I. We should seek more affecting and admiring