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the hundred fold in this life. But even if one party alone should come under the government of this superior Principle, the prevalence of that Principle does not dissolve the common ties of natural affection; but increases them, sanctifies them and, while it draws the veil of charity over the faults and failings of the friend or companion, prompts the powerful desire for their redemption; and thus it holds out the invitation ; Come, “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psa. xxxiv. 8.
The life of our blessed Lord exhibited an uninterrupted course of the purest morality; and never can his Spirit sanction immorality in any. Thus, in the various relations of life, the Divine Influence, by regulating the affections, and giving ability to discharge our several duties with propriety, not only produces a course of truc and rational morality, but abundantly heightens our enjoyments in this life.
The votaries of pleasure, or, in more general terms, those who have not thoroughly submitted to the cross of Christ, are prone to the opinion, that this cross would be the death of their enjoyments. But if it were, it would afford others more pure, more exquisite, and more permanent in their stead. But the idea is wrong in itself. The objects of revealed religion are, the glory of God and the happiness of mankind. The requisitions of Infinite Goodness are neither cruel nor unnecessary. We are called upon to give up nothing essential to happiness -nothing essential to the true dignity of man. The restrictions of the Gospel point to those principles, passions, and feelings, which are inimical to happiness, both present and eternal_which disturb the order and harmony of our own bosoms and of the world and render
us incapable of enjoying the harmony of heaven, either in anticipation here, or in endless fruition hereafter.
These are the broad qutlines of religion. It separates us from the great causes of moral evil; and thus cuts off the sources of unhappiness. By properly balancing, correcting, and governing our passions, feelings, and expectations, it enables us to extract from the material world, whatever good it is capable of affording: securing us, at the same time, from the stings of disappointment, and the dissatisfaction of satiety. Nor is this all: casting our care on our Heavenly Father, and looking to a future state for the full fruition of happiness, we secure to ourselves a place of refuge from all the storms of adversity, and feel not the full bitterness of a separation from earthly enjoyments.
But mark the contrast! The carnal mind clings with eagerness to objects, transient in their duration, or inimical to happiness in their nature. Examine the whole
scope of human affairs, from the most innocent amusements, to the darkest shades of depravity and sin. Consider for a moment what would be the consequences, if the restraints of religion were removed, and all the passions of the human heart were let loose without control! From this state of depravity and wretchedness the restraints of religion withhold us; and not only from this miserable condition here on earth, but from that dreadful abyss of horror, of which it would form but an imperfect prelude. But let us draw a more moderate picture. Suppose ourselves engrossed by those objects and pursuits called innocent, deriving from them all the enjoyments they are capable of producing, without once looking beyond them. How poor, how precarious would
be our pleasures, for they could not deserve the name of happiness! How liable would they be to be blasted by every breeze! And how awful would our situation be, when summoned to leave them for ever, without one ray to light our prospects to a happy eternity!
“How shocking must thy summons be, O đeath!
To him that is at ease in his possessions !"
Religion therefore, through the influences of the Holy Spirit, saves us from the miseries of sin, and the consequences of ungoverned passions, both in time and in eternity. It leaves us in the full enjoyment of the real comforts of life, rendered a thousand times sweeter than they can be under the influence of corrupt inclinations. It serves as a sanctuary, to which we can resort when every earthly comfort fails; and opens to our prospects, and to our spirits, when separated from these tenements of clay, a glorious immortality.
OF DIVINE WORSHIP.
The subject of social or public Worship justly claims *the attention of all religious denominations. But the varying opinions and practices which prevail among the different societies that profess Christianity, as well as the importance of the subject itself, might serve as an admonition to us, to approach it with unbiassed minds.
Though worship, or devotion, is the most solemn, the most awful, and the most sublime exercise in which the mind of man can be engaged, yet, in itself, it is simple. How awful it must be, for frail and erring creatures to present themselves to the notice of that Omniscient Being, before whom the secrets of all hearts are unveiled! Well might the prophet, under a sense of the Divine Majesty, exclaim; “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old ? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil?” Micah vi. 6, 7.
And yet how animating! What an unspeakable favour it is, for the soul to be permitted to approach the Throne of Grace, and pour forth its wants, its sorrows, and desires, before a Heavenly Father; feeling that his
own Divine Influence gives access to Him, and forms the language of the prayer, the humble acknowledgment, or triumphant praise! And yet this solemn and sublime exercise is simple. It requires neither wealth, nor learning, nor extraordinary natural abilities, to perform it. It is within the reach of the simple, the illiterate, and the poor. It can be performed in solitude, as well as in the crowd. The splendour of temples, and the pomp of attendance, can add nothing to recommend it to the notice of Almighty God.
There is not a duty we owe, or a privilege we enjoy, more necessary or more simple than Divine worship. But as the act itself can neither be performed nor comprehended, without the quickening, illuminating Influence of the Spirit of Christ; so there is no religious duty, in which the wisdom of man has been more busy, or made greater innovations.
Let us for a moment look round over the various nations denominated Heathen, of ancient and modern times, and reflect on the wild and even shocking modes, by which they have attempted to conciliate the Divine favour! Turning our attention from those whose opportunities have been comparatively limited, we shall still find that human invention has been busy, where Revelation alone should have dictated; and, to please the creature, has been made an object, in the very acts which should have been addressed-only to the Creator.
Under the Legal Dispensation there was much external ceremony in their devotional exercises; which not only typified that spiritual worship which was afterwards to be more fully introduced, but was also calculated to make a deep impression on the minds of those who en