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solitariness, silence, sorrow, anguish, and sin, the cause and consummation of all the deepest miseries of an afflicted life. If the surgeon's knife should cut the very heart, it would hardly inflict a sharper pang than anger, envy, smiting shame, and avenging remorse. Yet happiness is near that heart; happiness, the breath of infinite goodness, the blessed voice of mercy, is all around it; and it is all madly shunned. Eternal happiness is offered to it, and it rejects the offer. It goes on, and on, through life, inwardly burthened, groaning in secret, bleeding, weltering in its passions ; but it will not seek the true relief. Its wounds are without cause ; its sufferings without recompense ; its life without true comfort ; and its end without hope. Compassion, indeed, for souls ! who may not justly feel it for others and for his own?
So Jesus looked upon the world-save that he had no compassion to feel for himself; and so much the more touching was his compassion for us. From the sublime height of his own immaculate purity he looked down upon a sinful, and degraded, and afflicted race. “Weep not for me,” he said, “but weep for yourselves and your children.” So Jesus looked upon the world, and pitied it. He taught us, that we might be wise ; he was poor that we might be rich; he suffered that we might be happy; he wept that we might rejoice ; he died—he died the accursed death of the cross, that we might live-live for ever.
GOD'S LOVE, THE CHIEF RESTRAINT FROM SIN AND
RESOURCE IN SORROW.
I JOHN iv. 16. God is love.
It was a saying of Plato, that “ the soul is mere darkness till it is illuminated with the knowledge of God.” What Plato said of the soul is true of everything. Everything is dark till the light of God's perfection shines upon it. That “God is love,” is the great central truth that gives brightness to every other truth. Not only the moral system, but nature, and the science of nature, would be dark without that truth. I am persuaded it might be shown, that it is the great, essential principle, which lies at the foundation of all interesting knowledge. It may not be always distinctly observed by the philosopher ; but how could he proceed in those investigations that are leading him through all the labyrinths of nature, if it were not for the conviction secretly working within him, that all is right, that all is well! How could he have the heart to pursue his way, as he is penetrating into the mysteries, whether of rolling worlds or of vegetating atoms, if he felt that the system he was exploring was a system of boundless malevolence! He would stand aghast and powerless at that thought. It would spread a shadow, darker than . universal eclipse, over the splendour of heaven. It would endow every particle of earth with a principle of malignity, too awful for the hardiest philosophic scrutiny!
The scriptures assign the same pre-eminence to the doctrine of divine goodness which it holds in nature and philosophy. It is never said, in scripture, that God is greatness, or power, or knowledge ; but, with a comprehensive and affecting emphasis, it is written that GOD IS LOVE; not that he is lovely, not that he is good, not that he iş benevolent, merely--that would be too abstraet for the great, vital, life - giving truth
but it is written, I repeat, that, God is love!
And it is not of this truth as an abstract truth, my friends, that I propose now to speak. I wish to consider chiefly its applications; and especially its applications to two great conditions of human life, to the conditions of temptation and sorrow. Affliction, we know, is sometimes addressed with worldly consolations, and sin is often assailed with denunciation and alarm; yet for both alike, and for all that makes up the mingled conflict and sorrow and hope of life, it seems to me that a deep and affectionate trust in the love of God is the only powerful, sustaining, and controlling principle. . 5. Let me say again--an affectionate trust; the faith,
in other words, that works by love. It is not a cold, speculative, theological faith, that can prepare us to meet the discipline of life. It is the confidence of love only that can carry us through, Love only can under. stand love. This only can enable us to say “we have known and believed the love that God hath to us,”
We profess to believe in God, to believe in the divine perfection. But I say, my brethren, that we do not properly know what we believe in, without love to it. Love only can understand love. Love only can give to faith in divine love its proper character; and especially that character of assurance and strength which will enable us to meet, unshaken and unfaultering, the temptations and trials of life.
1.81" The principle that is to meet exigencies like these ; that is to hold the long conflict with sin and sorrow; that is to sustain triumphantly the burthen of this mortal experience; must be intelligent, active, penea trating, and powerful. For the problem of this life, my brethren, is not readily nor easily to be solved. I know that there is light upon it—welcome light. But it cannot be carried into the mazes of human experience; it cannot illuminate what is dark, and clear up what is difficult, without much reflection and reflection upon what, if not upon the character of the ordainer of this lot ?-without much reflection, I repeat, and care, every way, to the direetion and posture of our own minds. It was not intended that our faith should be a passive principle; that all should be plain and easy to it; that moral light should fall upon our path, as clear, obvious, and bright as sunshine. It pleases God to try the religion of his earthly children. He would have their trust in him to be a nobler act than mere vision could be. He would have their faith grow and strengthen by severe exercise. He would say to them at last, not only "well done, good!”—but, "well done, faithful !--enter ye into the joys of your Lord : enter into joys, made dear by-sorrow, made bright by the darkness you have experienced, made
noble and glorious by the trying of your faith which is more precious than gold.".. !!
I said, that the problem of this life is not readily nor easily to be solved. I can conceive that this may be an unmeaning declaration to those who have not thought much of life, to those whose lot has been easy and whose minds have partaken of the easiness of their lot. But there are those to whom the visitation of life, to whom the visitation of thought and feeling, has been a different thing. I can believe that there are some to whom I speak, whose minds have been haunted, from their very childhood, with that mournful and touching inquiry which we used to read in our early lessons, “child of mortality! whence comest thou ?" Man is, indeed, the child of a frail, changing, mortal lot ; and yet the creature of an immortal hope. We are ready to ask such a being, at whom we must wonder as it seems to me, whence camest thou, and for what end? Didst thou come, frail being! from the source of strength, and wisdom, and goodness ? Why then so feeble, so unwise, so unworthy? Why art thou here, and such as thou art--so strong in grief, and so weak in fortitude ! so boundless in aspiration, so poor in possession! Why art thou here ?-with this strangely mingled being ; so glad and so sorrowful; so earthly and so heavenly; so in love with life, and so weary of it; so eagerly clinging to life, and yet bome away by a sighing breath of the evening air! Whence, and wherefore, frail man! art thou such an one ? All else is well; but with thee all is not well. The world is fair around thee; the bright and blessed sun shineth on thee; the green and flowing fields spread far, and cheer thine eye, and invite thy footstep ;