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ministers of grace mingle unobserved in the scenes of mortality. She promotes love and good-will among men, heals the wounded spirit, dissipates the gloom of sorrow, sweetens the cup of affliction, blunts the sting of death, and wherever seen, or felt, or heard, breathes around her an everlasting spring:
A Deity believ'd, is joy begun;
YOUNG. Religion sets before us the character of God, as righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works," all-wise to know, all-good and gracious to intend, and almighty to dispense--that which is in all cases the best and most durable happiness; the “ Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;" a security to us in every situation ; a Being who will afford us support and confidence in the most troubled and tempestuous scenes of life.
Religion is the foundation, the substance, the soul, and crown of every thing that is good and great, lovely, holy, and happy, in human nature, and in the universe of being. It is the voice of Religion to all the song and daughters of men, “ Come unto me, all ve that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest: take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
When gloomy thoughts and boding fears
The trembling heart invade,
A universal shade.
The tempest of the soul ;
And ev'ry fear shall lose its rage
At her divine control.
Her hand unerring leads;
A cheering lustre sheds.
Sinks helpless and afraid ;
How pow'rful is thine aid !
And find thy sweet relief,
And soften ev'ry grief. Mrs. STEELE. The principles and promises of Religion are the power of God unto salvation, both present and future. Religion, when sincerely embraced, gives health, or at least contentment and patience, to the sick, joy to the penitent, strength to the weak, sight to the blind, and life in death. It teaches and encourages us to be resigned in every condition, and happy in every station of life :
'Tis Religion that can give
And on all his ways attend. MRS. MASTERS.
All the precepts of the Christian Religion are rational, manly, and sublime; they all aim to preserve us from every action and passion that would degrade our nature, or mar our joy. It is the great object of the Christian institution, to give light to the paths, elevation to the hopes, and ardour to the pursuits, of man. It opens to him an extensive sphere of usefulness, multiplies all his present joys, and holds out the prospect of future scenes of pure and inexhaustible delight. :
RELIGION AND VIRTUE-continued.
Conduct me to thy hallow'd seat
The pleasures of devotion have been the theme of the wise and good in all ages of the world. But in order to enjoy them, it is necessary that we entertain proper ideas on the subject.
If God invites and enjoins us to pray, to magnify his name, to hear and to consider his word, to reflect upon Christian subjects, and to engage in the exercise of divine worship, it is just as though he issued this mandate: “O my people, suffer not the cares and occupations of life to weigh you down; cast all those cares on me, recreate yourselves from those occupations, relieve yourselves from the fatiguing amusements of sensual men, by more refined and exalted
pleasures; meditate with a more vigorous and continued attention than ordinary, on subjects that will elevate your mind, enlarge your heart, and procure you permanent joys; exult in your Creator and Father in heaven, exult in the soothing and sacred relations in which you stand towards him, in his bounties, and his parental government; draw from his all-sufficiency new force and new courage; assure yourselves of his condescension and favour, of his approbation and his good pleasure; then be fully sensible to your dig. nity, your grandeur, your appointment, and confirm yourselves in the hope of the future glory.
With these views, we are prepared to enjoy the pleasures of devotion. When we soar in spirit to the realms above; when we behold all in its dependence on God, in its connection with him; when we contemplate all as the work, as the arrangement, as the dispensation of his hand, as subservient to the greatest possible perfection; when we meditate on the intimate relation in which we stand to the Almighty, the Allwise, the All-bountiful ; when we think and feel that we are his creatures, his subjects, his children, that we are allied to angels, and of divine descent; when we pour out our hearts before him, as to our Father, who is essential love and benignity; when we commend our destinies, and those of all our brethren, to his supreme disposal, and resign ourselves to his providence and to his promises ; when we rejoice in the hope of approaching continually nearer to him, the Infinite, the Supremely Perfect, and of eternally growing in knowledge, in virtue, in happiness,—what piire, what sublime delight then overflows our hearts!
When we see high and low, rich and poor, young and old, hasting to the house of the Lord; when we see how, without distinction of rank, of station, of age: and sex, they humble themselves in the presence of Him who dwelleth in heaven, and pour out their hearts before him; when we see how all assemble there, whom want and misery oppress,—who are alarmed by some danger or misfortune,—or who groan beneath the burden of worldły crosses and disappointments, and how all seek that assistance, that relief, tlaat consolation from Him, of which, according to their several circumstances, they are in need, it then appears as if we beheld the Eternal seated on his majestic throne, where, as the Father and Governor of the world, he hears and receives the homage, the petitions, the aspirations, of all the subjects of his immense domains; whence he distributes his favours with liberal hands, deciding the destinies of individuals as well as of nations. Then we begin thoroughly to feel whom God is, and whom we are. Then we worship him with the most fervent emotions, as a Being who knows all our wants, who is the author and the source of all our happiness, and can do more than we are able to ask or think; as a Being, under whose superintendence and protection we may rest secure; from whose fulness all creatures may receive supplies for every need. .
Psalmody affords much pleasure to devout minds. In what an amiable form does Religion appear, when adorned with the charms of poetry and music, when she at once enlightens our understanding, fires our imaginations, and fills onr hearts with the noblest emotions, inspiring us now with a sacred awe, now with mild tranquillity, now with profound humility and sorrow, now with fervent praise!.What more forcibly elevates the sonl, what purifies it more from sordid passions which fix it to the earth, than solema strains of harmony suited to the dignity of devotion! and what is at the same time better calculated to kindle, to feed that devotion, and even in some degree to raise it to ecstasy, than such harmonious strains ? Let us frequently represent to ourselves how worthy the Lord is, that all the world should, in one united ardour, swell the great hymn of praise to him; and how transcendently he deserves that we should come before his presence with thanksgiving, and shew ourselves glad in him with psalms: let us represent to ourselves, how great our glory and our happiness will be, when hereafter, in the assembly of the heavenly host, we join our voice with theirs, when in concert