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our gratitude to God and Christ awakened, our perception of duty enlivened, and our attachment to “ the things that are excellent” invigorated. By intermingling serious observations with our common discourse, and taking a devout notice of the numerous incidents and objects, which daily offer us moral instruction, an habitual sense of religion will be engraven on our hearts; and we shall be encouraged to act under the prevailing influence of its laws. Thus edified ourselves, we shall contribute, at the same time, to the edification of surrounding brethren : For, to adopt the words of another,* “ in whatever we set ourselves to learn” or practise, “ partner: ship, joint advice, mutual incitement, imitation, and emulation, if there be room for it, have un speakable force.” . . · II. Hence appears, secondly, the great importance of making our conversation uniformly conducive to the purposes of religion and mo: rality. . • As a science only, christianity claims profound attention, and may well employ our thoughts and tongues. It discloses a comprehensive, connected system of truth, compared to which, the brightest discoveries of reason and philosophy lose their lustre ; and the ordinary themes of
* Archbishop Secker.
discourse appear totally insignificant. But when we consider its august design ; the obligations it inculcates,-the hopes it inspires, and the glory it brings to light, neither the duty, nor the utility of holding frequent converse on its doctrines and laws can be denied. To 6 talk of them, when we sit in the house, and when we walk by the way; when we lie down, and when we rise up,”. is not only becoming, but necessary to establish our faith, and excite our obedience. . i We have already seen, that subjects, which we seldom or never mention to others, soon fall into oblivion. To this origin may be traced a great part of the ignorance and vice, which prevail in the world. Terrified by the apprehension of ridicule from the unreflecting, many are “a." shamed of the gospel of Christ,” and stifle in si. lence every serious impression. There are few, perhaps, even among the most profligate, who, at some period of their lives, have not had convictions, the explicit ayowal of which might have : banished seducers from their presence, and procured them such counsellors, as would have ensured their conversion.
By a criminal deficiency in this respect, even the virtuous too often fail of many improvements and comforts, to which they might otherwise at. tain. Neglecting the daily interchange of advice,
admonition, and reproof, they become indifferent in their feelings; their zeal insensibly abates ; and though they may not “ draw back to perdi-: ? tion,” their progress in knowledge and holiness is hardly perceived. .
In temporal affairs, we consult our friends, and express our opinions and wishes, without reserve. Nor is our labour lost. We, in most cases, obtain the information, assistance, and en- . couragement, which we seek. Often are our doubts removed, our fears diminished, our hopes I revived, and our industry quickened, in the pur-:) suits of this life, by the cheering voice of friends! ship. Do we need less support in quest of “the ! true riches,” than in prosecution of the transient. I interests of time? Or is the welfare of the body, more important than the salvation of the soul ? Or have we greater cause to be ashamed of “ that ;) good part, which can never be taken away from us,” than of our regard to the perishable posses-- :| sions and enjoyments, which earth affords? . If yt not;. for your consciences have already given a :) negative answer, why should we neglect the user of means, so visibly calculated to animate and 1 embolden us to "run with patience the race set ,' before us ?» Were we to speak of spiritual things .. with the same unaffected freedom and alacrity, with which we confer together on sublunary.con . di ceras, not our improvement only, but our plea
r sure would be perpetually increased by the fel Ex lowship of society. Each company would be.
come a school of instruction, and whilst knowl
edge and virtue were mutually cherished, mutua) to comfort, hope, and joy would be the happy result.
Under the impression of this truth, it is equally astonishing and painful to observe, with what indifference, and even aversion, religion is commonly treated. In many circles, otherwise full of life and spirit, a serious remark, however nat
urally interposed, produces an instantaneous a gloom upon every countenance, and seals evcry in mouth in the profoundest silence !. With downin cast looks of uneasiness, which an immodest in
sínuation, or a profane expression would hardly is occasion, all studiously avoid reply, and wait,
with manifest impatience, for a pretext to resume het in the former topick, or introduce some other, de? tached from the irksome thought of God and
duty! No sooner is this object gained, than vi-' is vacity brightens every face, and unlooses every S tongue ! Restored to their accustomed and fa.
vourite element, they again unite in the loquacious reciprocation of trifles, and seem to felicitate themselves in their deliverance from the intrusion of reflexions, which bring into view the circumstances and end of their being !
. Are such feelings and conduct consistent with the dignity of our reasonable nature? What more noble employment can be conceived, than to explore the character and will of our heavenly Fa-, ther ; :“ make mention of his loving-kindness, and talk of his wondrous works ?» .
; Formed for immortality, and destined to a future state of retribution, religion is our highest glory, and ought to be our chief delight. Shall we then cherish aversion to its language, and imagine it unfriendly to our social enjoyment? Its tendency to purify and exalt the soul, if duly realized, would overcome this criminal aversion, and render us both solicitous and communicative respecting " the things, which belong to our everlasting peace.” Had we just apprehensions : of the prize, for which we are called to contend, we should invariably direct our words, as well as actions to its attainment. . Not that we are required to confine our conversation exclusively to religious subjects. “ To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven.” The business, cares, and interests of this life demand a portion of our attention ; and of these we may innocently canyerse. Nor are "we denied the relaxation, which the harmless excursions of wit, humour, and fancy afford. These, on proper occasions, and within proper limits, may, at once, enliven a social hour, and prepare