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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?-50 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. 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 are 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.
RELIGION CONSIDERED AS EXCITING DEVOTION. The third view of religion considers it as engag. ing and interesting the affections, and comprehends 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, prevails more in warmer climates than it does in ours. What shows its great dependence on the imagination, is the remarkable attachment it has to poetry and music, which Shakspeare calls the food of love, and which may, with equal truth, be called the food of devotion. Music enters into the future paradise of the devout of every sect and of every country. The Deity, viewed by the eye of cool reason, may be said, with great prapriety, to dwell in light inaccessible. The mind, struck with the immensity of his being, and with a sense of its own littleness and unworthiness, admires with that distant awe and veneration that almost excludes love. But viewed by a devout imagination, he may become an object of the warmest affection, and even passion. The philosopher contemplates the Deity in all those marks of wisdom and benignity diffused through the va.rious works of nature. The devout man confines his views rather to his own particular connection with the Deity, the many instances of his goodness he himself has experienced, and the many greater he stiil hopes for. This establishes a kind of intercourse, which often interests the heart and passions in the deepest manner.
The devotional taste, like all other tastes, has had the hard fate to be condemned as a weakness, by all who are strangers to its joys and its influence. Too much and too frequent occasion has been given, to turn this subject into ridicule. -A heated and devout imagination, when not under the direction of
very sound understand, ing, is apt to run very wild, and is at the same time impatient to publish all its follies to the world.— The feelings of a devout heart should be mentioned with great reserve and delicacy, as they depend upon private experience, and certain circumstances of mind and situation, which the world can neither know nor judge of. But devotional writings, executed with judgment and taste, are not only highly useful, but to all who have a true sense of religion, peculiarly engaging.
THE NATURE OF DEVOTION. Devotion is the lively exercise of those affections, which we owe to the supreme Being. It comprehends several emotions of the heart, which all terminate on the same great object. The chief of them are veneration, gratitude, desire, and resignation.
It implies, first, profound veneration of God. By veneration, I understand an affection com-pounded of awe and love; the affection, which, of all others, it best becomes creatures to bear towards their infinitely perfect Creator. Awe is the first sentiment that rises in the soul, at the view of his greatness. But, in the heart of a devout man, it is a solemn and elevating, not a dejecting, emotion; for he glows, rather than trembles, in the Divine presence. It is not the superstitious dread of unknown power, but the homage yielded by the heart to him who is, at once, the greatest and the best of beings. Omni. potence, viewed alone, would be a formidable object. But, considered in conjunction with the moral perfections of the divine nature, it serves to heighten to devotion. Goodness affects the heart with double energy, when residing in One so exalted. The goodness which we adore in him, is not like that which is common among men, a weak, mutable, undiscerning fondness, ill qualified to be the ground of assured trust. It is the goodness of a perfect governor, acting upon a regular extensive plan; a steady principle of benevolence, conducted by wisdom; which, subject to no variableness or shadow of turning, free from all partiality and caprice, incapable of being either soothed by flattery, or ruffled by resentment, resembles, in its calm and equal lustre, the eternal serenity of the highest heavens.
Such are the conceptions of the great God, which fill with veneration the heart of a devout man. His veneration is not confined to acts of immediate worship. It is the habitual temper of his soul. Not only when engaged in prayer or praise, but in the silence of retirement, and even amidst the occupations of the world, the divine Being dwells upon his thoughts. No place or object appears to him void of God. On the works of nature, he views the impression of his hand; and in the actions of men he traces the operation of his providence. Whatever he beholds on earth, that is beautiful or fair, that is great or good, he refers to God, as to the supreme origin of all the excellence which is scattered throughout his works. From those effects, he rises to the first cause. From those streams, he ascends to the fountain whence they flow. By those rays he is led to that eternal source of light in which they centre.