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ELIGION is fuch an humble sense of the . divine glories and perfe&ions, and such a feeling conviction of our numerous and unmerited obligations to the Deity, and our constant and intire dependence upon him, as engages us to think upon him at all times with reverence and love, to praise him for every blessing we enjoy, to sup-, plicate his allistance, and confide upon his goodnefs under all our wants and distresses, to submit with patience to every dispensation of his providence, and to condu&t all our words and a&ions, and even our very thoughts and inclinations, in such a manner as we have reason to believe will be most agreeable to his will,
A true fenfe of Religion will be the most effectual restraint upon our passions and appetites; our firmest support and best confolation in adversity; our safest guard and most delightful companion in prosperity'; and our greatest secu. rity against the numerous snares and temptations we must expect to meet with in our passage through life: It must therefore be acknowledged, that the most useful and important part of education, is to impress the minds of youth with the most early and affecting fentiments of piety ; and every parent or teacher who neglects to do this, must be guilty of a moft infamous and destructive inattention to the future happiness of those children whom Providence has committed to their care; for, as Solomon has obfêrved, " the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom!"
Devotion opens the mind to great conceptions, and fills it with more sublime ideas than are to be met with in the most exalted science; and, at the same time, it also warms and animates the soul more than the highest gratifications of sense, or the livelieft Alights of imagination.
The most illiterate man, who is touched with actrue fenfe of devotion, and uses himself to the frequent' exercise of it, insensibly contracts a greatness of mind, mingled with a noble fimplicity, which raises- him not only above-those
of the same condition, but above the proudest heroes and conquerors whose names are recorda ed in the annals of fame: It is scarcely possible it should be otherwise; for true devotion natusally impreffes such an earnest attention to a better and more important state of existence, as makes the brighest or the darkeft passages of life of too little consequence either to over-reighten or deprefs the mind; so that a perfon who is inspired with this, will neither appear mean and dejected under the lowest circumstances, nor vain and infolent in the highest.
To imagine that Religion is an enemy to mirth and chearfulners, is a very great mistake; for, on the contrary, there can be no true and substantial' joy without it. Our Saviour, thercfore, even in the most rigorous exercises of devotion, commands his disciples to anoint their faces, as was used to be done at public feasts and entertainments, and, by all means, avoid the proud and affected solemnity of the Pharisees.
Religion is so far from being an argument of a weak understanding, that it has been the delight and the glory of the greatest and wifest men in all ages
EXAMPLES of Piety and RELIGION.
(1.). The bravel Agefilaus, king of Sparta, distinguished himself, upon all occasions, by his
particular veneration for the gods. The rob'est circumstance of his victory over the Athenians and Bæotians, at Cliæronea, was his facrificing his resentment to the honour of religion: For, a considerable number of the flying enemy having thrown themselves into the temple of Minerva, and application being made to him to know in what manner they should be treated, he gave
strict orders that none of them should be touched; though he then laboured under the anguish of several wounds he had received in the action, and was visibly exasperated at the opposition he had met with. But his veneration was not confined to the temples of the Greeks. When he made war upon the Barbarians, he was equally careful not to profane the images of their deities, nor offer the least violation to their altars. In the same manner, Alexander the Great, when he demolished Thebes, paid a particular attention to the honour of the gods, suffering none of their temples, or any other religious buildings, to be plundered; and afterwards, in his Asiatic expedition, which was purposely undertaken to humble the pride, and retaliate the ravages of the Persians, he was remarkably cautious not to injure, or shew the finallest contempt of, their places, of worship; though the Persians had been notoriously guilty this way, when they invaded Greece--(NEPO's and PoIBIUS.
(2.) Nothing boastful or vain-glorious disgraced the lips of Timoleon. On the contrary, when he heard his praises resounded from street to street, and from city to city, he only replied, that he rendered his most humble thanks to the gods; that, when they had decreed to rescue his country from the ufurpation of tyrants, they condescended to make him the happy instrument'; for he was of' opinion; that all human occurrences are conducted by the influence of heaven. We are likewife informed, that he had in his house a private chapel;- in which he constantly paid his devotions to the goddess who represented Providence;. To reward hís piety, few men have been more wonderfully protected by the deity than he was, in several instances of his life, but particularly in the following.
—Three persons had entered into a conspiracy to assafsinate him, as he was offering up his devotions in a public temple, To execute their horrid plan, they took their several stands in the moft convenient places for the purpose; intending afterwards to conceal themselves (as, indeed, they might have done very easily) by mixing in the croud which ftood about him ; but while they were watching for an opportunity, a stranger suddenly fell upon one of them, and stabbed him to the heart. The other two confpirators, concluding from this that their plot had been discovered, and measures taken to prevent the