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thee to us as the God of love, and invoke thee farther in his name : Our father, &c.

I JOHN iv, 16.

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us.

God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him,

IT
T is one great excellence of the christian doctrine,

and a token of its celestial origin, that it con. tains but few maxims, and prescribes but few commandments to its professors ; but maxims calculated to furnish mankind with all needful and falutary information, commandments that are adapted to con. duct them safely in all the circumstances of life, God is thy father; he is essential love ; his son Je. sus is a helper out of all distress ; death a passage into life; to death succeed judgment and retribution: this is the whole purport of christianity. Love God, love thy neighbour, trust in Jesus and follow his example, look not solely at the present, but also at the future : this is the sum of all its commandments, But how much do these few maxims and command, ments contain! How rich in momentous, soothing eonsequences to the christian, who believes them with inward conviction, and makes them the ruling principle of that he conceives and does. Take for example the proposition laid down in our text. What consequences flow from the grand, sublime idea : God is love! What matter for reflection, what luminous results, what blissful sensations it imparts to the christian! We will make this the subject of our confideration at present, my pious hearers, and thus exercise ourselves in reflecting on the doctrines of christianity. Let us then proceed to inquire : what follows, if God be love.

No truth is more fertile than this. It embraces every thing, explains every thing, sheds light and comfort and felicity on every thing. Whoever is pervaded and animated by its force, must of necessity be good and happy and be always becoming better and happier. Indeed we can only indicate a few consequences resulting from this inexhaustibly confequential truth, but even these may inform, pacify, console and gladden us in many of the trying fitua. tions of life.

I. God is love: therefore his commands are not the commands of an auftere, capricious despot, ifsued to fhew his power and supremacy, or to make us feel his authority, but directions to the attainment of that happiness for which he has designed us, and which we absolutely cannot attain unless we seek it in the way which he has pointed out, and do that which he has enjoined us to do. Therefore neither are his prohibitions the prohibitions of an envious, jealous, malignant being, determined to be joyful alone, alone free, alone happy, but admoni. tions of love, ever watchful to guard us from whatever would be hurtful to us, to keep us from every devious and intricate path, from every action which we should hereafter repent, from every pleasure which would end in pain, and protect us from every danger, from the forfeiture of good, and from lapsing into misery. Yes, this and nought else is the purport of all the precepts, which God has given us : their basis is benevolence and love, their observance is the means and the way to felicity – frequently the actual enjoyment of it, in the very keeping of them there is great reward. Certainly he who does not rejoice in being under the sceptre of God and fain would withdraw from his inspection, knows him not, takes him not for what he is, and blasphemes the God of love as a misanthropical tyrant. He who fighs under the easy yoke of his laws, and looks upon them as a restraint and a burden and would fain be absolved from the obfervance of them, is blind to his own interest, and prefers the severelt bondage to perfect freedom. Oh let this never be forgotten by us, my dear friends, and when our confcience, when the teacher of religion says to us.on the part

devious

of God: let go that unjust advantage, deny that deceitful lust, sacrifice that innocent pleasure to the benefit of thy brother, restrain thy anger, fuppress thy revenge, requite evil with good, the suggestion will be always reinforced by the confideration: this is required of me by God, who is pure love, this must assuredly be useful and profitable to me, it is impossible that I can lose any thing by it, ta obey him is to be happy.

II. God

II. God is love: therefore not only the goods that he bestows, but likewise the evils that he inficts upon us, not only the fatisfactions which he allows us to enjoy, but also the afflictions that he lays upon us, are benefits, effects and proofs of his love -- or may and are designed to be fo. Never, imprint this deeply in thy mind, o man, thou who wouldīt conceive worthily of God, form right apprehensions of his dispensations and make the proper use of them, never does he suffer any evil to overtake thee, because it is an evil and is disagreeable or distressing to thee, - never any pain to seize thee, because it racks thy nerves, any sorrow to oppress thee, because it oppresses and afflicts thee! That would not be benevolence, not love, it would be malice and cruelty. But he causes calamity, pain, trouble to come upon thee, in order to warn thee, to admonish, to correct, to exercise thee; that thou mayst not be deprived of other, far more considerable benefits ; in order to ward off still greater evils more pungent fufferings ; in order to make thee capable of superior, more durable fatisfactions and benefits. Fain would he spare thee these calamities, these pains, these sufferings; fain would he give thee to inherit pure unmingled joy, if it were consistent with thy nature, with thy capacities, with thy conduct, with thy present situation, if thou couldst thereby become as intelligent, as wise, as virtuous, as happy, as thou canst thus become. Be then the way which God leads thee,

never

.

ever so rugged and dreary, beset with ever so many rubs and difficulties, ftill however it is the road that leads direct to perfection and happiness. If thou follow it, thou canst not possibly be wrong, not possibly fail of the prize. Never forget this, o man, whether it fare with thee well or ill. Revere all, all the dispensations of thy God as the dispensations of sovereign love. Accept the ill no less than the good with gratitude from his hand; the former is a benefit as well as the latter, if thou use it according to his will and to the furtherance of his views.

III. God is love: therefore he never punishes, for the sake of punishing, never chastises for the fake of chastising; therefore his chastisements and punishments have not revenge, not fatisfaction for his injured honour, not compensation for any loss suftained, but simply correction and caution in view; correction of the finner if he be yet corrigible, caution to the innocent, who may likewise err, and to the wavering and infirm, who are already stumbling and ready to fall. It is not thy tears, not thy fighs, o man, not the anguish of thy heart, not the bitter remorse which torments thee, when thou hast sinned, not the confusion and forrow, not the distress and misery, in which thou hast involved thyself by thy follies, that are pleasing to the deity, whose laws thou hast transgressed. He is essential love; faid would he have exempted thee from these disagreeable, these woeful sensations, fain bave averted the baneful effects of thy follies from thee! But his

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