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phatically miserable; who have no ease or fatisfaction but in guilty pleasures, or at best idle impertinent amusements. Why are men thus fo unable to converse with others, but because they will not converse with themselves? Why are they fo deficient in the duties, but because they delight in the impertinencies of life? because they will not exert those talents which God has intrusted to them; will not commune with their own hearts, and in their chambers, and be still.
To their closets, therefore, let the idle and the ignorant retire; let them leave the malevolent task of prying into or censuring the hearts of others, and learn to commune with their own; leave for a while the noise and tumult of a licentious world, and enjoy the new and yet untasted blessings of tranquillity, There let them endeavour to improve their fan culties and better their understanding; to ac. quaint themselves with that nature which they partake of, those duties which are required of them, and that faith which they profess.
Further, If frequent separation from the world is of service to us with regard to all we do here, so is it also productive of those vir, tues which will insure our eternal happiness hereafter. If men can prevail on themselves to call off their hearts from the fleeting and transitory pleasures of this life, they will naturally fix them where only true joys are to be found. Devotion always separates itself from noise and tumult, the better to perform its offices with that folemnity which they require,
Moses and Aaron ascended the high places for this purpose; and our Saviour himself went up into the mountain to pray; from thence he delivered those glorious precepts, that divine morality which so far excelled whatever had before been delivered to mankind, and in comparison of which, all human eloquence is but as a tinkling cymbal.
If ever there was a time when it was more particularly necessary to retire from noise and bustle, and commune with our own hearts and in our chambers, it is at this, when all the duties of life are so apparently neglected, and the retirement recommended by the holy Plalmist most industriously avoided. No age was perhaps ever fo idle and triling as this we live in: the communication with our own hearts entirely cut off, and all the avenues to knowledge shut up by a crowd of empty and frivolous employments: the fashionable world are to be found in every chamber but their own, prefer any noise however diffonant, any hurry however fatiguiug, to the disagreeable neceflity of being still
. We are got, in short, into a foolish and trifling way of spending our few precious hours; let us, I beseech you get out of it as fast as we can. Let us stand in ave of that being who created us, and not appear before our great master as totally useless and unprofitable servants.
There are who aifert that such as are bleit with atiluence, have a right to spend their time and fortune as they think proper: a very ridiculous, and a very dangerous affertion! as if
those who are above the necessities, were also above the duties of life! as if the rich and powerful had a right to monopolize pleasure; and to be idle and useless were amongît the privileges of the great.
Let us, I intreat you, judge more rationally: let us redeem the time, and commune with our own hearts: let not the force of bad example warp us from our duty, nor fashionable prejudices betray us to our ruin. Surliness and contempt of the world, is not goodness or religion; and on the other hand, a servile compliance with its follies is unwise and unmanly. Good-breeding was meant to affift and set off the charms of virtue, but not to rival or supplant her: and such as make politeness alone the rule of their actions, are like those architects who to ornaments and delicacy, sacrifice the strength and usefulness of their buildings.
Let us then retire to our chambers, and commune with our own hearts; those companions we ought to be so intimately acquainted with, and which yet, too many of us are utter strangers to: we may find them indeed like other acquaintance, deceitful: but it will be some profit, some advantage to us to know that they are so; to know how far we may confide in them, to discover their wealneffes, to see their imperfections, and to mark their bent and inclinations, their various shifts and windings, that we may be upon our guard, and prepared against those passions which fo easily
Let us not (as too many do) com. mune so long with the world, that we are both
unable and unwilling to commune with ours selves; busy ourselves so perpetually in the chambers of riot and debauchery, that we are afraid and ashamed to enter into our own; so engage ourselves in the noise and folly of a tumultuous world, as to put it out of our power to be still, or ever to enjoy that peace and quiet which only the frequent communication with our own hearts can procure, and which retire. ment and innocence alone can bestow.
Permit me to hope that what I have advanced may have fome influence over our future conduct; that we shall immediately retire to our chambers, and commune with our own hearts. Certain it is, that when the mind is fraught with knowledge, she needs not external objects to furnish out the noblest entertainment; and if she is barren and unfruitful, retirement is the fittest foil for culture and improvement. If our hearts should there reproach us for past follies, their admonitions may be highly useful; if, on the other hand, they should approve and applaud our conduct, their converse will be most delightful to us. Let us, then, not be unwilling or afraid to be alone: there is a Being who will be ever with us: if in our retirement we address ourselves to him, he will hear and he will answer us: he will dispel the fears of the diffident, awaken the attention of the careless, employ the idle, and repress the licentious mind: he will call off our thoughts from the diffipation of public, to the duties of private life; prepare our hearts for the contemplation of nobler objects, and fit us for the
converse of more perfect beings than those whom we now affociate with: and when our minds are exalted and capable of tasting fpiritual joys, will convey us to them, even to his own heaven, the state of blessed spirits, the region of never-fading joy, peace, and immortality.
ON A N G E L S.
S E R M ON
HEBREWS I. 14.
Are they not all ministring spirits
, fent forth to minister for them who fhall be heirs of falvation?
AMONGST all those ridiculous and ab
surd prejudices which arise from a narrow and confined way of thinking, there is not perhaps any one more capable of obstructing the human mind in its search after truth, than the vast opinion we are so apt to entertain of our own nature, its dignity, consequence, and importance.
Children placed on the summit of a little hill, who see nothing but clouds above them, fancy the spot they stand upon must be the highest in the whole world, though it may at the same time, in spite of that casual eminence,