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less accidents that may destroy it; and that though for some years they should escape these, yet that time must impair the greatest vigour of health and spirits, and deprive them of all those objects for which, at present, they think life only worth enjoying. It should seem, therefore, very necessary to secure some permanent object, some real support to the mind, to cheer the soul, when all others shall have lost their influence.-The greatest inconvenience, indeed, that attends devotion, is its taking such a vast hold of the affections, as sometimes threatens the extinguishing of every other active principle of the mind. For when the devotional spirit falls in with a melancholy temper, it is too apt to depress the mind entirely, to sink it to the weakest superstition, and to produce a total retirement and abstraction from the world, and all the duties of life. Gregory.
INFLUENCE OF DEVOTION ON THE HAPPINESS OF LIFE.
WHATEVER promotes and strengthens virtue, whatever calms and regulates the temper, is a source of happiness. Devotion produces these effects in a remarkable degree. It inspires composure of spirit, mildness, and benignity; weakens the painful, and cherishes the pleasing emotions; and by these means carries on the life of a pious man in a smooth and placid tenour.
Besides exerting this habitual influence on the mind, devotion opens a field of enjoyments, to
which the vicious are entire strangers; enjoy ments the more valuable as they peculiarly belong to retirement, when the world leaves us, and to adversity, when it becomes our foe. These are the two seasons, for which every wise man would most wish to provide some hidden store of comfort. For let him be placed in the most favourable situation which the human state admits, the world can neither always amuse him, nor always shield him from distress. There will be many hours of vacuity, and many of dejection, in his life. If he be a stranger to God, and to devotion, how dreary will the gloom of solitude often prove! With what oppressive weight will sickness, disappointment, or old age, fall upon his spirits! But for those pensive periods, the pious man has a relief prepared. From the tiresome repetition of the common vanities of life, or from the painful corrosion of its cares and sorrows, devotion transports him into a new region; and surrounds him there with such objects, as are the most fitted to cheer the dejection, to calm the tumults, and to heal the wounds of his heart. If the world has been empty and delusive, it gladdens him with the prospect of a higher and better order of things, about to arise. If men have been ungrateful and base, it displays before him the faithfulness of that supreme Being, who, though every other friend fail, will never forsake him. Let us consult our experience, and we shall find, that the two greatest sources of inward joy, are the exercise of love, directed towards a deserving object, and the exercise of hope, terminating on
some high and assured happiness. Both these are supplied by devotion; and therefore we have no reason to be surprised, if, on some occasions, it fills the hearts of good men with a satisfaction not to be expressed.
The refined pleasures of a pious mind are, in many respects, superior to the coarse gratifications of sense. They are pleasures which belong to the highest powers, and best affections of the soul; whereas the gratifications of sense reside in the lowest region of nature. To the latter, the soul stoops below its native dignity. The former, raise it above itself. The latter, leave always a comfortless, often a mortifying, remembrance behind them. The former, are reviewed with applause and delight. The pleasures of sense resemble a foaming torrent, which, after a disorderly course, speedily runs out, and leaves an empty and offensive channel. But the pleasures of devotion resemble the equable current of a pure river, which enlivens the fields through which it passes, and diffuses verdure and fertility along its banks. To thee, O Devotion! we owe the highest improvement of our nature, and much of the enjoyment of our life. Thou art the support of our virtue, and the rest of our souls, in this turbulent world. Thou composest the thoughts. Thou calmest the passions. Thou exaltest the heart. Thy communications, and thine only, are imparted to the low, no less than to the high; to the poor, as well as to the rich. In thy presence, worldly distinctions cease; and under thy influence, worldly sorrows are forgotten. Thou art the balm of the wounded mind. Thy sanctuary is ever open to
the miserable; inaccessible only to the unrighteous and impure. Thou beginnest on earth the temper of heaven. In thee, the hosts of angels and blessed spirits eternally rejoice.
ON THE DUTY OF PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING.
THE duty of praise and thanksgiving is the debt and law of our nature. We had such faculties bestowed on us by our Creator, as made us capable of satisfying this debt, and obeying this law; and they never therefore work more naturally and freely, than when they are thus employed.
It is one of the earliest instructions given us by philosophy, and which hath ever since been approved and inculcated by the wisest men of all ages, that the original design of making man was, that he might praise and honour him who made him. When God finished this goodly frame of things, we call the world, and put together the several parts of it, according to his infinite wisdom, there was still wanting a creature in these lower regions, that could apprehend the beauty, order, and exquisite contrivance of it; that from contemplating the gift, might be able to raise itself up to the great Giver, and do honour to all his attributes. Every thing indeed that God made did, in some sense, glorify its author, inasmuch as it carried upon it the plain mark and impress of the Deity, and was an effect worthy of that first cause from whence it flowed; and thus might the heavens be said, at the first moment in which they stood forth, to declare his glory, and the firma
ment to show his handy-work: but this was an imperfect and defective glory: the sign was of no signification here below, whilst there was no one here as yet to take notice of it. Man therefore was formed to supply this want; endowed with powers fit to find it out, and to acknowledge these unlimited perfections; and then put into this temple of God, this lower world, as the priest of nature, to offer up incense and thanks of praise for the mute and insensible part of the creation.
This duty takes the further and surer hold of us by means of that strong bent towards gratitude, which the author of our nature hath implanted in it. There is not a more active principle than this in the mind of man: and surely that which deserves its utmost force, and should set all its springs a-work, is God, the great and universal benefactor, from whom alone we received whatever we either have, or are, and to whom we can possibly repay nothing but our praises or our thanksgivings. Of him, and through him, and to him, are all things:' of him, as the author; through him, as the preserver; to him, as the end and perfection to whom, therefore, be glory for ever. Atterbury.
MOTIVES TO PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING, FROM THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD OVER US DURING THE STILLNESS OF NIGHT.
THE glorious sun is set in the west; the nightdews fall; and the air, which was sultry and oppressive, becomes cool. The flowers of the garden, closing their coloured leaves, fold themselves