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with various dangers, and is exposed to many & melancholy apprehension, from the evils which he may have to encounter before he arrives at the close of life. In this distressed condition, to reveal to him such discoveries of the supreme Being as the Christian religion affords, is to reveal to him a father and a friend; is to let in a ray of the most cheering light upon the darkness of the human estate. He who was before a destitute orphan, wandering in the inhospitable desert, has now gained a shelter from the bitter and inclement blast. He now knows to whom to pray, and in whom to trust; where to unbosom his sorrows, and from what hand to look for relief.
It is certain, that when the heart bleeds from some wound of recent misfortune, nothing is of equal efficacy with religious comfort. It is of power to enlighten the darkest hour, and to assuage the severest woe, by the belief of divine favour, and the prospect of a blessed immortality. In such hopes, the mind expatiates with joy; and when bereaved of its earthly friends, solaces itself with the thoughts of one friend, who will never forsake it. Refined reasonings, concerning the nature of the human condition and the improvement which philosophy teaches us to make of every event, may entertain the mind when it is at ease; may, perhaps, contribute to soothe it, when slightly touched with sorrow; but when it is torn with any sore distress, they are cold and feeble, compared with a direct promise from the word of God. This is an anchor to the soul, both sure and stedfast. This has given consolation and refuge to many a virtuous heart, at a time when
the most cogent reasonings would have proved utterly unavailing.
Upon the approach of death especially, when, if a man thinks at all, his anxiety about his future interests must naturally increase, the power of religious consolation is sensibly felt. Then appears, in the most striking light, the high value of the discoveries made by the gospel; not only. life and immortality revealed, but a mediator with God discovered; mercy proclaimed, through him, to the frailties of the penitent and the humble; and his presence promised to be with them when they are passing through the valley of the shadow of death, in order to bring them safe into unseen habitations of rest and joy. Here is ground for their leaving the world with comfort and peace. But in this severe and trying period, this labouring hour of nature, how shall the unhappy man support himself, who knows not, or believes not, the hope of religion? Secretly conscious to himself, that he has not acted his part as he ought to have done, the sins of his past life arise before him in sad remembrance. He wishes to exist after death, and yet dreads that existence. The Governor of the world is unknown. He cannot tell whether every endeavour to obtain his mercy may not be in vain. All is awful obscurity around him; and in the midst of endless doubts and perplexities, the trembling reluctant soul is forced away from the body. As the misfortunes of life must, to such a man, have been most op. pressive; so its end is bitter: his sun sets in a dark cloud; and the night of death closes over his head, full of misery. Blair.
THE SAME SUBJECT.
THERE are no principles but those of religion to be depended on in cases of real stress, and these are able to encounter the worst emergencies; and to bear us up under all the changes and chances to which our life is subject.
Consider then what virtue the very first principle of religion has, and how wonderfully it is conducive to this end: that there is a God, a powerful, a wise, and good being, who first made the world, and continues to govern it ;-by whose goodness all things are designed-and by whose providence all things are conducted to bring about the greatest and best ends. The sorrowful and pensive wretch, that was giving way to his misfortunes, and mournfully sinking under them, the moment this doctrine comes in to his aid, hushes all his complaints-and thus speaks comfort to his soul,-"It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.-Without his direction I know that no evil can befa! me,-without his permission that no power can hurt me:-it is impossible a being so wise should mistake my happinessor that a being so good should contradict it. If he has denied me riches or other advantagesperhaps he foresees the gratifying my wishes would undo me, and by my own abuse of them be perverted to my ruin.If he has denied me the request of children,—or in his providence has thought fit to take them from me-how can I say -whether he has not dealt kindly with me, and only taken that away which he foresaw would embitter and shorten my days? It does so to̟
thousands, where the disobedience of a thankless child has brought down the parents' grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. Has he visited me with sickness, poverty, or other disappointments?— can I say, but these are blessings in disguise?—so many different expressions of his care and concern to disentangle my thoughts from this world, and fix them upon another,- -another, a better world beyond this! This thought opens a new face of hope and consolation to the unfortunate;—and as the persuasion of a Providence reconciles him to the evils he has suffered,-this prospect of a future life gives him strength to despise them, and esteem the light afflictions of this life as they are, not worthy to be compared to what is reserved for him hereafter.
Things are great or small by comparison-and he who looks no further than this world, and balances the accounts of his joys and sufferings from that consideration, finds all his sorrows enlarged, and at the close of them will be apt to look back, and cast the same sad reflection upon the whole, which the patriarch did to Pharaoh,— 'That few and evil had been the days of his pilgrimage.' But let him lift up his eyes towards heaven, and stedfastly behold the life and immortality of a future state,―he then wipes away all tears from off his eyes for ever and ever;-like the exiled captive, big with the hopes that he is returning home, he feels not the weight of his chains, or counts the days of his captivity; but looks forward with rapture towards the country where his heart is fled before.
These are the aids which religion offers us toVOL. I.
wards the regulation of our spirit under the evils of life, but, like great cordials, they are seldom used but on greater occurrences. In the lesser evils of life we seem to stand unguarded—and our peace and contentment are overthrown, and our happiness broke in upon by a little impatience of spirit, under the cross and untoward accidents we meet with.-These stand unprovided for, and we neglect them as we do the slighter indispositions of the body- -which we think not worth treating seriously-and so leave them to nature. In good habits of the body, this may do, and I would gladly believe, there are such good habits of the temper,-such a complexional ease and health of heart, as may often save the patient much medicine.-We are still to consider-that however such good frames of mind ȧre got—they are worth preserving by all rules;—patience and contentment,-which, like the treasure hid in the field for which a man sold all he had to purchase -is of that price that it cannot be had at too great a purchase, since without it, the best condition in life cannot make us happy,—and with it, it is impossible we should be miserable even in the worst. Sterne.
RELIGION CONSIDERED AS EXCITING DEVOTION.
THE third view of religion considers it as engag ing and interesting the affections, and compre hends the devotional or sentimental part of it.The devotional spirit is in some measure constitutional, depending on liveliness of imagination and sensibility of heart, and, like these qualities,