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them to the most lively exercise. To illustrate this, let us attend a little to the frame and workings of our minds in other respects, and towards other objects.
« In the material world, what is vastly great begets in us a pleasing admiration; what is beautiful, we look on with delight. The grand works of nature, or of art, or such as discover exquisite contrivance and delign, or are executed in the fineít and best manner, always give us sensible pleasure, and cause certain agreeable emotions of mind. That kind of beauty which is seen in the various orders of the world of life, especially in our own species, and those works of human art which are an imitation of it, such as sculpture and painting, please still more, and more engage the attention of the admiring mind. We accoint that taste which giveth the greatest sentibility in these things a perfection in nature, and a very. high one, and look upon insensibility to all such things as a reproachful defect.
But we find this sensibility, and the emotions, which in pursuance of it are raised in the mind, with respect to moral characters, still greater. Let any man of discernment in moral objects, have a character of high distin&tion in puriiy, fortitude and resolution, in conftancy and fidelity, set before him ; let him fee these virtues tried to the utmost, in the most painful trials, conquering and coming out like gold from the fire, and he cannot but almire, love, and delight in them. -Nay, and in attend ng to some one very heroic action, how will the foul be moved? How will the very animal frame be affected ? And will not all acknowledge, that thefe ftrong and moving sentations are moít natural and commendable? and the character is accounted despicable in which no such thing is found. But to th w how much and deeply the mind is affected by these beauties and graces of the moral kind, and with what a strong inclination it uniteth itself to the objects in which they are found, let the entertainment and delight which spring from the tendernelles of sacred intimate friendship testify, and those working in the heart, of love, esteem, and sympathy, which are fo fenfible and affecting. Surely all these are most natural and becoining the heart of man! Now, from this frame, and those affections planted in us, we may judge how the heart may be, how it ought to be touched in our contemplation and converse with the objects of religion, with the greatness and excellency, the goodness and love of the Supreme Being, appearing in all his works ; with the astonit. ing grace and condescenfion, the friendihip and love of him who died for us; with the vaftness of those prospects which
are opened to us by faith, and the amazing greatness of the world of spirits, and those numberless multitudes which conftitute the family of God. Surely, to feel admiration, the highest reverence, the most ardent love and gratitude, glowing in the heart, one would think should be the most natural of all things, when we seriously contemplate the Parent of all,
“ Or, shall we, without wonder, behold infinite contrivance and wisdom? the vastness and inexpressible magnificence of the works of God, without any emotion? Shall our thoughts be fixed upon spotless purity, upon unchangeable goodness, upon a Being whose very essence is love, whose beneficiaries we constantly and most eminently are, without love, without gratitude Shall we behold, in the cross of our Saviour, unspeakable excellency, conflicting with the greatest suffering and distress, bearing this with the greatest constancy and resignation, bearing it on our account, and for our fakes, without emotion? Shall not the wonders of grace make a deep impreffion upon our minds; that grace which so conspicuously appeared in the interposition of the Son of God, the most amazing event in the whole of the divine administration? Certainly, the most lively exercises of love and gratitude, and the greatest sensibility to these matchless objects of them, infinitely become us: and to be cold and unmoved by such things as these, speaketh a very undesirable state of the mind. Again, how glorious the prospects which are set before us ? how high the dignity of those illustrious conquerors, to whom it is promised by our bleffed Saviour, that they shall be set down with him upon his, throne, as he also overcame, and is set down with the Father upon his throne? And how doth the assurance of an endless duration in such an honourable and happy ftate affect the mind? Is it to be wondered at, that the joy of a Christian in believing should rise into rapture; and that the greatest activity, and zeal, and delight in the service of God, Thould attend it, that the most lively vigour should animate all the powers, and that the joy of the Lord should give an invincible strength? In a word, in the greatness, excellency, and loveliness of those divine objects, the believing and attentive find what above all things else raifeth admiration, love, gratitude, and all those affections, which are the most sensible and powerful, as well as the most delightful to the mind. But what I principally aim at, is, that those emotions of foul are most natural; and that if they are at all to be called enthusiastic, that enthusiasm is of a moft excellent kind, greatly to be desired, carefully to be cultivated and encouraged."
This happy and delightful state of the Soul is to be diffiiaguished from that wild enthufiam, which our author treated of in the first part of his Discourse. The one is quite natural and rational, the fruit of a proper improvement of our understanding, and exercise of our best affections; the other has nothing to do with reason, and is, indeed, a kind of phrenzy. The one is tumultuous, attended with great agitations of 'mind, and even of body; the other is all composure and serenity, all uniform, and worthy of the very best and most perfect state of the mind; not weakening the rational powers, but giving them additional life and vigour. In the exercise of thofe devout affections, arising from the difcerned excellency of the object, the mind perceives itself right, and the very feeling of the Soul justifies itself; but in the other, wild and unaccountable imaginations take place; and the most extravagant reveries pass upon men for divine infusions.
The fourth, fifth, and fixth Sermons, well deserve the reader's serious and attentive perufal. They contain a diftinct yiew of the genius and spirit of Christianity; and are indeed excellent Discourses. The Doctor shews, that the Christian religion has a tendency to inspire the mind with strength and vigour, in all seasons of difficulty and distress; to render it fit for all the services of life; to root out all those dispositions which contract the spirit, and cramp the good affections; to engage to all offices of benevolence; to deliver men from what distracts the mind and perverts the judgment; and to yield that composure and serenity which give them the free use of their rational powers.
In the seventh, eighth, and ninth Discourses, he considers the powers and faculties of the human soul, the operations of the understanding and will, the affections, their arrangement in the heart, and their operations as (prings of action and enjoyment. And here he does not amule his Readers with nice and subtle disquisitions of an abstract and metaphysical nature, but confines himself to plain and easy reflections, chiefly of a practical tenor.
In treating of the affections, he observes, as a very pleasing instance of the wisdom of our Maker, that the ardour of the affection is proportioned to the capacity and opportunity of pursuing the tendencies and purposes of it. For instance, we can be greatly serviceable to those who are joined to us in the relations of domestic life, or in tender and intimate friendThips, or in near and familiar neighbourhood, while we can
do little but with well to persons who are at a great distance from us, and thereby in a manner quite out of the reach of our influence. Did the affections work with the same energy towards persons at a great distance from us, that they do towards intimate friends and dear relations, this would not only answer no end, but it would really make men very unhappy. Suppose, for instance they were :o be affected by the misfortunes, or sickness, or death, of absolute strangers, in the same manner that they are by those of their near relations, who are perhaps the desire of their eyes and the joy of their hearts, their state must be very painful and miserable indeed. . Or, supposing the affections were as strong incentives to action where there was no opportunity or capacity of doing good, as where there are both, this would be very inconvenient, and could be of no use.
In the tenth Sermon, which is a very judicious one, the Doctor considers the power of reason and conscience over the affections, and particularly the authority of conscience in directing the conduct. In the eleventh and twelfth, he treats of the loss of the soul, and the infignificance of all temporal acquisitions, when opposite to future happiness.
The happiness which human nature, by its various powers and capacities, is made capable of enjoying in a state of perfection, is the subject of the thirteenth Discourse. The greatness of God and his works, his universal providence, and the happiness he must enjoy from the execution of the glorious design, are considered in the fourteenth; and in the firteenth the Doctor discourses upon the dissolution of the material system, and the final consummation of all things.
In the sixteenth, he explains communion with God in a sense not liable to the charge of enthusiasm; and in the seventeenth, treats of the reverence a man owes to himself, and the great importance of a just sense of the dignity of human nature, as a preservative from vice, and incentive to virtue. This Ser. mon we have read with peculiar pleasure, and think it well deserving the attentive perusal of every serious reader. The Author Thews, in a very clear and judicious manner, that men never appear in a more honourable light, than when a sense of what they owe to themselves, makes them incapable of submitting to the impositions of others, and when they prefer internal honour, the approbation of their own hearts, to the applauses of all the world. This is doing justice to the dignity of nature ; and to this we owe some of the most illus
strious characters, and useful services, with which the history of the world presents us. Without the prevalence of such a spirit, indeed, Christianity could never have obtained in the world; without it the protestant religion could never have obtained in the Christian world ; nor indeed any reformation, against which prevailing and fashionable sentiments and customs were opposed. The Volume concludes with an excellent discourse upon friendship.
For JUNE, 1762.
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