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When in the sultry glebe I faint,
Tho' in the paths of death I tread,
The WORSHIP of God.
Religentem efe oportet, Religiosum nefas.
Incerti Autoris apud Aul. Gell.
TT is of the last importance to season
the passions of a child with Devo- tion, which feldom dies in a mind that has received an early tincture of it. Though it may seem extinguished for a while by the cares of the world, the heats of youth, or the allurements of vice, it generally breaks out and difcovers itself again as soon as discretion, consideration, age, or misfortunes have brought the man to himself. The fire may be covered and overlaid, but cannot be entirely quenched and smothered.
A state of temperance, sobriety, and justice, without devotion, is a cold, life
less, less, insipid condition of virtue ; and is rather to be styled Philosophy than Religion. Devotion opens the mind to great conceptions, and fills it with more sublime ideas than any that are to be met with in the most exalted science ; and at the same time warms and agitates the Soul more than sensual pleasure.
It has been observed by some writers, that 'man is more distinguished from the animal world by Devotion than by Reafon, as several brute creatures discover in their actions something like a faint glimmering of reason, though they betray in no single circumstance of their behaviour any thing that bears the least affinity to devotion. It is certain, the propensity of the mind to religious worship, the natural tendency of the soul to fly to some superior Being for succour in dangers and distresses, the gratitude to an invisible Superintendent which arises in us upon receiving any extraordinary and unexpected good fortune, the acts of love and admiration with which the thoughts of men are so wonderfully transported in meditating upon the Divine Perfections, and the universal concurrence of all the nations under heaven in
the the great article of adoration, plainly shew that devotion or religious worship must be the effect of a tradition from some first founder of mankind, or that it is conformable to the natural light of reason, or that it proceeds from an instinct implanted in the soul itself. For my part, I look upon all these to be the concurrent causes, but which ever of them shall be assigned as the principle of Divine Worship, it manifestly points to a Supreme Being as the first author of it,
I may take some other opportunity of considering those particular forms and methods of devotion which are taught us by Christianity ; but shall here observe into what errors even this Divine Principle may sometimes lead us, when it is not moderated by that right reason which was given us as the guide of all our actions.
The two great errors into which a miftaken devotion may betray us, are Enthusialin and Superstition.
There is not a more melancholy object than a man who has his head turned with religious enthusiasm. A person that is crazed, tho' with pride or malice, is
a fight very mortifying to human nature; but when the distemper arises from any indiscreet fervors of devotion, or too intense an application of the mind to its mistaken duties, it deserves our compassion in a more particular manner. We may however learn this lesson from it, that since devotion itself (which one would be apt to think could not be too warm) may disorder the mind, unless its heats are tempered with caution and prudence, we should be particularly careful to keep our reason as cool as possible, and to guard ourselves in all parts of life against the influence of passion, imagination, and constitution.
Devotion, when it does not lie under the check of reason, is very apt to degenerate into Enthusiasm. When the mind finds herself very much inflamed with her devotions, she is too much inclined to think they are not of her own kindling, but blown up with something Divine within her. If she indulges this thought too far, and humours the growing passion, she at last Alings herself into imaginary raptures and ecstasies; and when once the fancies herself under the influence of a Divine Impulse, it is no