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friend on special business, but met with disappointment, and returns sad and dissatisfied. God appoints ordinances to be meeting-places with himself in this world : “ Thou shalt put the mercy-seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubims.” Exodus 25:21, 22. It was not the sight of the golden cherubims, or of the ark overlaid with pure gold, which could have satisfied Moses, had not the special presence of God been there, and had he not held communion with him. “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is ; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.” Psalm 63:1, 2. Magnificent structures, or artificial ornaments of places of Worship, are of little account with a gracious soul; it is the presence of God and communion with him which is the beauty and glory the saints desire to behold.
EXCELLENCY 8. It is the evidence of our union with Christ and interest in him. All union with Christ must evidence itself by a life of communion with him, or our pretensions to it are vain and groundless. There are many-I wish there were more-inquiring after evidences and signs of their union with Christ; here is an evidence that can never fail you : Do you live in communion with him ? May your life be called a walking with God, as Enoch’s was? Then you may be sure you have union with him ; and this is so sure a sign, as that death itself, which usually discovers the vanity of false signs, will never be able to destroy it. Hezekiah could say, "I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight.” 2 Kings, 20:3. O, professors, it will be a dreadful thing, whatever ungrounded hopes and false comforts you now
have, to find them shrinking away from you, as certainly they will at death ; and all on this account: “I have been a man of knowledge, have been frequent in the external duties of religion, but my heart was not in them ; I had no communion with the Lord in them, and now God is a ter- . ror to my soul. I am going to his awful bar, and have not one sound evidence to carry with me.” That is a remarkable text in Gal. 5:25, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit;" that is, let us evidence the life of grace in us by exercising that grace in a life of communion with God. When all is said, this is the surest evidence of our union with Christ; and no gifts or performances whatever can amount to evidence of union with Christ without it.
EXCELLENCY 9. It is ease in all pains, sweet and sensible ease to a troubled soul. As the bleeding of a vein cools, eases, and refreshes a feverish body; so the opening of the soul by acts of communion with God, gives ease to a burdened soul : griefs are eased by groans heavenward. Many souls are deeply laden with their own fears, cares, and distresses; no refreshment for such a soul, no anodyne in the whole world like communion with God. Psa. 32:1, 2. How did troubles afflict David's soul; night and day God's hand was heavy on him ; his soul, as Elihu speaks, was like bottles full of new wine : he must speak to God; and so he did, and was refreshed by it: “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” Ver. 5. It would grieve one to see how many distressed souls carry their troubles up and down the world, making their complaints to one and another ; but obtain no ease. Away to thy God, poor Christian; get thee into thy closet, pour out thy soul before him; and that ease which thou seekest in vain elsewhere, will there be found, or nowhere.
EXCELLENCY 10. It is food to the soul, and the most. delicious, pleasant, proper, and satisfying food that ever it
tasted; it is hidden manna. Rev. 2:17. “O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit.” Isa. 38:16. Regenerate souls cannot live without spiritual food : their bodies can live as weil without bread, as their souls without communion with God; it is more than their necessary food. Here they find what they truly call marrow and fatness. Psa. 63:5. O the satisfaction and support they draw from spiritual things by meditations upon them. “To be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Rom. 8:6. The delicacies upon princes' tables are husks and chaff to this. Ungodly men may live on the vanities of the world, but a renewed soul cannot subsist long without God. Let such a soul be diverted for a time from its usual refreshments, and he will find his heart aching and pining within him. It is angels' food, that which your souls must live upon throughout eternity.
EXCELLENCY 11. It is the guard of the soul against the assaults of temptation. It is like a shield advanced against the fiery darts of the wicked one. Your safety lies in drawing nigh to God. “They that are far from thee shall perish. But it is good for me to draw near to God.” Psalm 73:27, 28. It is good indeed ; not only the good of comfort, but the good of safety is in it : “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him.” Deut. 33:12. The gracious presence of God is your shield and safety; and if you would have the Lord thus present with you in all your fears, straits, and dangers, see that you keep near to him in the duties of communion. “The Lord is with you while ye be with him.” 2 Chron. 15:2.
EXCELLENCY 12. It is the honor of the soul, and the greatest honor God ever conferred on any creature. It is the glory of the holy angels in heaven, to be always beholding the face of God. Matt. 18:10. O that God should admit poor dust and ashes unto such a nearness to himself: to walk with a king, and to have frequent converse with
him, puts great honor upon a subject; but the saints walk with God; so did Enoch, so do all the saints. “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John, 1:3. They have liberty and access with confidence; the Lord, as it were, delivers to them the golden key of prayer, by which they may come into his presence on all occasions with the freedom of children to a father.
EXCELLENCY 13. It is the instrument of mortification, and the most excellent and successful instrument for that purpose. “This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the works of the ficsh.” Gal. 5:16. Walking in the Spirit is the same thing as walking in communion with God. Now, says the apostle, if you walk thus in the Spirit, in the actings of faith, love, and obedience, through the course of holy duties, the effect will be, that ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. He does not say, You shall not feel temptations to sin assaulting you ; but, You shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh, sin shall not have dominion over you; this will free you from the power of sin. A temptation overcome this way is more effectually subdued, than by all the vows, resolutions, and external means in the world. A candle that is blown out with a puff of breath may be rekindled by another puff; but if it is quenched in water, it is not easily lighted again : so you never find such power or success of temptation over you when your hearts are up with God in the exercise of faith and love, as you do when your hearts hang loose from him, and dead towards him. The schoolmen assign this as one reason why no sin can fasten upon the saints in heaven, because they there enjoy the beatific vision of God. This is sure, that the more communion any man has with God on earth, the more free he is from the power of his corruptions.
EXCELLENCY 14. It is the kernel of all duties and ordinances. Words and gestures are but the husks and shells of duties. Communion with God is the sweet kernel, the pleasant and nourishing food which lies within them : you see the fruits of the earth are covered and defended by husks, shells, and such-like integuments, within which lie the pleasant kernels and grains; and these are the food. The hypocrite who goes no further than the externals of religion, is said to feed on ashes, Isa. 44 : 20, to spend his money for that which is not bread, and his labor for that which satisfieth not. Isa. 55 : 2. He feeds upon husks, in which there is but little pleasure or nourishment. What a poor house doth a hypocrite keep! Words, gestures, ceremonies of religion, will never fill the soul ; but communion with God is substantial nourishment. As David said, “ My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness ; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips; when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.” Psa. 63:5, 6. It grieves one's heart to think what airy things many souls satisfy themselves with ; feeding like Ephraim upon the wind, well contented if they can but perform a few heartless duties; while the saints feeding on hidden manna, are feasted as it were with angels' food. .
EXCELLENCY 15. It is the light of the soul in darkness, and the pleasantest light that ever shone upon the soul of. man. There are many who walk in darkness; some in the darkness of ignorance and unbelief, the most dismal of all darkness, except that in hell. There are others who are children of light in a state of reconciliation, yet walk in the darkness of outward afflictions, and inward desertions and temptations ; but as soon as the light of God's countenance shines upon the soul in the duties of communion with him, that darkness is scattered; it is all light within and round about the soul. “They looked unto him and were lightened.” Psa. 34: 5. They looked, there is faith acted in duty; and were enlightened, there is the sweet effect of faith. The horrors and troubles of gracious souls retire on the rising of this cheerful light. As wild beasts come out