« السابقةمتابعة »
Think not that religion will destroy your cheerfulness. No; it will promote it. Nothing gives so fine spirits as a clear conscience; a bosom that feels the satisfaction of having discharged its duties to God and man. Then recreation and harmless pleasure are truly delightful. The sweet, in such circumstances, is without bitter; the rose without a thorn; the honey without a sting. I have ever recommended a cheerful religion ; because all religion was certainly intended to make men happy; and because gloominess, moroseness, and severity, which some persons require in religious duties, originate in weakness and error, and lead to folly, misery and madness; to all that is despicable or deplorable. As religion is the comfort, superstition and fanaticism are the bane and curse of human nature. Let us ever beware of excess, even in good and laudable pursuits; for wisdom, and virtue, and happiness, all dwell with the golden mediocrity. Our exhortations to religion must indeed be warm and animated; because the greater part of men err, rather in not reaching the desirable point, than by going beyond it. Yet cautions are also necessary, lest the willing, the zealous, the tender-hearted, should be urged, by their own ardour and by persuasion, to dangerous and unhappy extremes.
We have, I think, seen that the lively, animating summons contained in the words, “Awake, thou that “sleepest," is necessary to a great part of mankind, whose feelings are become callous; and who (to repeat the emphatic words of scripture) have a heart of stone, instead of a heart of flesh; necessary to many, who are, upon the whole, commendable for the general decency and propriety of their conduct in the world, as the world is now circumstanced. Even good kind of people, as they are called, and appear to men, are not sufficiently awakened to the calls of religious duty. They acquiesce in decencies, decorums, plausibilities, and the cold formal morality which may be practised on the most selfish motives, for worldly interest, for health and for pleasure. They are not sufficiently sensible of the gospel truths, its great promises, and its dreadful denunciations of vengeance. They are virtuous heathens; followers of the religion of nature, not that of Christ. The world approves them, and therefore they approve themselves; but can the world save them? Can they save themselves? No; assuredly, if Christianity be not a fable, they must come to Christ for salvation.
Persons who live in pleasure, that is, who make vain and sensual pleasure the sole business of their lives, are expressly said, in scripture, to be DEAD while they live. They appear with smiles of perpetual gaiety; are often furnished with riches and honours; but yet, in the scripture sense, they are dead, if they are not alive to Christ. What avail their worldly ornaments? The SOUL takes no real delight in them, because it naturally aspires to higher things. So have I seen a nosegay of tulips, and pinks, and roses, put into the cold hand of a dead corpse, in a coffin, while the poor image of what once was man, could neither see the gaudy tints, nor smell the fragrance.
Shall we then not cry aloud, as we are commanded, in the hope of awakening such unthinking persons to a sense of their own miserable condition, and the hopes afforded by the gospel? Happy for ourselves and our fellow-creatures, if we could address a slumbering world with the trump of an archangel, uttering these enlivening words, " Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from “ the dead; and Christ shall give thee light.”
All persons whatever, however decent and moral, that are in an unregenerated state, are represented, in the strong metaphorical language of scripture, as DEAD; but happily it is a death from which we may, raise our
selves by PRAYER; and returning life will be cherished by heavenly influence.
For what says the friendly call? “Christ shall give “ thee light.” The sun of righteousness shall shine into the dark chambers of thy bosom, dispel the shades of ignorance, and disperse the phantoms of folly and vanity that sported in the sunless region. Think, poor darkling mortal, what is promised thee! “Christ shall “ give thee light.” As the sun in the morning breaks into thy chamber windows, and thou arisest from thy bed to feel his genial beams, and see all nature reassuming her beautiful colours; so the light of Christ, the light of grace, shall beam upon the soul, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, and thou shalt arise, and see the truth as it is in Jesus see the beauty of holiness-the day-spring from on high--feel new vital warmth glowing in thy bosom; and “ though you have “ lien among the pots*," (in the mire and rubbish of worldly vanity,) “yet shall you be as a dove, which hath " silver wings, and her feathers like gold.”
After living the few days of our pilgrimage thus awake to God, awake to Christ, awake to the blessed influences of the Holy Ghost, your body, indeed, shall lie down, and pay
that debt to nature, which we must all pay: yet your sould shall separate from it, (though not without a pang, yet) FULL OF HOPE. Old age, or disease, or accidents, will indeed bring your poor, frail, perishing flesh (for such is that of the strongest, the youngest, the most beautiful of us all) to the grave; your bones must lie down in the dust, from which they were taken, and the mourners shall go about the streets; but let them not mour without hope. Thy flesh shall rest in hope; peacefut shalt thou sleep till the morning of the resurrection; when the trumpet shall sound, and a voice shall be heard
* Psalm lxyüi. 13
sweeter than the sweetest music to the reviving ear: “ Awake! awake! thou that sleepest, and arise from the « dead, and I will give thee light, life, glory, and immor6 tality. Sleep no more!-Arise, put on thy beautiful
garments !-My glory is rising upon thee. Go « blessed Spiritsmand, in the vesture of a new and glo“ rified body, shine among the spirits of just men made « perfect-thyself a Spirit, an immortal Spirit. Sleep
no more in the arms of death; for death is subdued; 6 and, as, like a faithful soldier, you watched with me 66 in the militant state, you shall now join me in the tri" umphal. Sleep no more the sleep of death; but rise, 56 and exult in light ineffable!".
On the PEACE OF GOD, that calm and composed State,
which is produced by the CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY, and is unknown to the Epicurean, Stoic, and all other Phi. losophy, antient and modern,
A GENERAL prospect of human life presents a scene of turbulence, of which the troubled ocean is an emblem. But there is a sweet, a peaceable, a tranquil state of self-possession, whether external circumstances are pros. perous or adverse, which constitutes the most solid happiness of which human nature is capable. This enjoyment, arising from moderate desires, a regulated imagination, lively hopes, and full confidence in the Deity, is that chief good, which philosophers have vainly sought in the schools, by the strongest efforts of unassisted reason. What then can point it out, if reason, improved by science to the highest degree, has not been able to find it? The answer is obvious. The religion
of Jesus Christ offers to its sincere votaries the PEACE of God which passeth all understanding; a kind and degree of happiness, which no language can clearly express; which the understanding cannot adequately .conceive, though the heart can feel it, with the most delightful experience.
“ The peace of God,” (says the world,) “what is it?" They know it not. Many have no conception of happiness, independent of external circumstances; the toys of childhood, protracted to age. They do not search for it in themselves, but in the eyes of the world. All their enjoyments must be violent, sensual, or, at least, OSTENTATIOUS. Admire them, talk of them, flatter them; let the diurnal papers ' exhibit their names in capitals, and fashion crowd to their door; let their equipages be splendid, and their mansions magnificent, their egress and regress recorded in the daily histories, or they sicken in the midst of health; they pine in the midst of abundance; the rose on their bosom loses its fragrance; the honey on their palates, its flavour. To be celebrated, even for folly, even for vice, is to them an enviable noTORIETY; to be unnoticed in public circles, in the midst of every real blessing and solid comfort at home, infuses a bitter into all those sweets, which God in his bounty has lavished.
But the felicity arising from the PEACE OF God is neither the tumultuous extasy of the fanatic, nor the noisy merriment of the prodigal. It seeks no plaudits; it makes no parade. It blazes not out like the sudden eruptions of a volcano; but burns like the vestal fire, clear and constant, with a warmth that invigorates, without scorching; with a light that illuminates, withiout dazzling the visual faculty.
Thus desirable, how is the PEACE OF GOD to be obtained ? it is an important question. Let us enter on the research. If we enter on it with dispositions truly