Imatges de pàgina

man is its constant favourite, its peculiar care. And of this important truth every man may be convinced, who will at any time, in his more serious moments, reflect on the motions of his own soul; for how often do we feel degrees. both of joy and grief within us, by no means proportionable to the external, apparent causes of either? Advantages the most trifling and inconsiderable, shall exalt us into rapture; evils the most insignificant, shall depress us into a state of the utmost misery and anguish. Groundless hopes shall delight, and fears as groundless shall torment us: and what is this but the invisible power of the Almighty, work.. ing within our hearts, and rewarding or pu. nishing us as we deserve, even in this life, according to his own divine will and appointment? When we consider how totally the spi.rit of man is in the power of God, with what unspeakable joy he can inspire, with what inconceivable horrors he can affright it; should it not make us rejoice in the hopes of pleasing, and tremble at the thought of offending him? To him then let the wounded spirit apply for relief; let us trust in his justice, and rely upon his mercy. Can we be safer than under the eye of divine wisdom? Can we be more secure than in the hands of almighty power? If we address him as dutiful children, he will smile

upon us with all the indulgence of an affectionate

parent; if we seek him as our physician, he will cure us; if we implore him as our guardian, he will protect us If he permits the wound to be inficted, he hath a balm ready to pour

into it; he will not suffer us to be afflicted beyond what we are able to bear, but will with the affliction make us a way also to escape from it. To him then let us deliver up our souls; of him, in the day of prosperity, let us beg that we may not be inflamed and elated with it; to him, in adversity, let us pray that he will either remove, or enable us to bear it. And lastly, as our spirit is an immortal fpirit, let us send up our prayers to him, that it may even whilft on earth be mindful of its dignity, that it may rise superior to mortality, and, unwounded by the little concerns of this life, in hopes of being admitted to a better and more durable one: to a place where the body cannot be hurt, and where the spirit can never be wounded: where that fpirit which is immortal will be blest with health and rest; with health, which the moth and rust of fin cannot corrupt; with rest and tranquility, which no earthly cares can break through and steal: to a place, where, whilst the spirits here below are wounded by pain and misery, it shall smile in uninterrupted joy, and taste the never-fading pleasures of peace and immortality.

[merged small][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her

paths are peace.

endeavours of the adversaries of our holy religion to defame and disgrace it, there is not perhaps any scheme or artifice which has been To universally, or indeed so successfully practised, as their unwearied pains and industry in misrepresenting and disguising it to the ignorant and unwary; as they have painted it in the blackest colours which malice could invent, or hatred inspire; and presented mankind with the most horrid picture their own gloomy imaginations could fuggeft; religion, if you will believe them, is a cruel and tyrannical mistressz. who is perpetually chastising and punishing her servants; whose cruel and savage disposition would extort from them the unreasonable sacrifice to her, of every pleasure, every comfort and satisfaction in life, to attend on her commands, and pay a blind obedience to the feverity of her laws; that she would persuade us to give up all the bliss and enjoyment of this world, whilft she deludes us with idle dreams


of promised happiness in another. But in a point fo folemn and so important, methinks we should seriously consider the truth of these affertions: Is this the faith we adhere to, the religion we profess? or is it but the gloss of false reasoning and specious argument; the wicked suggestions of bąd men, designed merely to alleviate thus their guilt, and palliate, if poflible, the baseness of their own ingratitude: or the artifice of perfidious rebels, to represent the sovereign whom they desert, as a tyrant and an usurper, whose commands are grievous, and whose laws are unjust?--Let us seriously con: sider the attributes of that divine Being whom we worship: Can this be the offspring of the God of long-suffering, charity, love, goodness, and benevolence? Would he set up such an idol in his stead? Surely this is so poor, so unlike, fo bad a copy, that it cannot possibly deceive any who have ever had the least tranfient view or glimpse of the divine original.

It will therefore be at least a pleasing and perhaps a necessary task to strip religion of this unbecoming garb; to take off the bloody garment, and to put on her the robe of

peace; to wrest the sword of oppression from her hand, and place her own olive in its stead; and to convince mankind, that, as the wise man fays, her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace :—that so far from debarring us from the enjoyments of life, that without regard to her, and the observance of her laws, pleasure can only be attended by guilt, fear and


remorse, and that it is to this very wisdom, this holy sanction, she owes all her charms.

And here it may be observed, that inost disputes and controversies which arise amongst men, spring from the want of a right sense and understanding of the terms made use of in their propositions; and it is in vain to dispute with our adversaries concerning pleasure, if at the same time our notions of that pleasure, are entirely opposite. If they will assert that pleasure consists merely in the gratification of our appetites, and the enjoyment of sensual delights, in a perpetual round of folly, riot, and debauchery, we must indeed own, that these ways of pleasantness are not her ways, nor can they ever be the paths of peace. But if, on the contrary, the notion whicħ the wifest and best men of all ages have entertained of pleasure be the only true and satisfactory one; if it is to the mind we are indebted for the most refined and most exquisite sensations, it will not be difficult to prove, that this pleasure is the constant handmaid of Religion, the daughter of Truth and Wisdom, and the inseparable companion of all those who tread in the paths of honour and virtue. My yoke is easy, says our Saviour, and my burthen is light; and surely, to a serious and thinking man, the morality of the gospel has nothing harsh or unreasonable in its precepts, nothing severe or difficult in the practice of it.

Lote thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and thy neighbour as thyself; whatfoever ye would that men should do unto you,


« AnteriorContinua »