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with them who sing the praise of Him who is, and was, and is to come, and with them in holy ecstasy exclaim, Amen! blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever." · How delightful is the voice of messengers that bring glad tidings, that announce peace, that preach kindness, that proclaim salvation, that say unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! When the conscious sense of sin has sat heavy on our minds, has risen up to our memories in colours of the blackest dye, and when, under its gloomy suggestions, we dare not presume to reckon ourselves among the pardoned of the Lord; then the treasures of divine condescension and love in Christ have been displayed before us, his readiness to forgive repentant sinners has been presented to our minds, and the precious promises of the gospel unfolded and appropriated to our case; then they have become efficacious in us, and we have returned home satisfied and rejoiced. We have been sometimes tormented by doubts and secret misgivings. The cloud has sat deep upon the face of things; the prospect before us has been dark; we could not satisfy ourselves, and were in danger of yielding to the temptations of infidelity. In this disconsolate situation of mind, we have come to the house of God, and as we attentively listened to the divine word, a radiant light darted into our souls; truth appeared to us in all her native force and beauty; we felt her persuasive energy; our doubts vanished; our faith was fortified; we arrived at a soothing assurance in it.
The affairs of this world, and the seeds of corruption which are still nurtured within us, have often weakened the sense of Religion and the fear of God in our bosoms. We have slackened our endeavours to excel; our virtue began to totter; our hands hung down, and our knees were feeble; we made dubious steps in the path of life, and frequently cast a longing, lingering look behind upon the ways of sin and vice. But in the house of the Lord, the dying embers of our devotion were rekindled by the delivery of his word. We were shewn the dangers of our situation, were reminded of our vows, and the call was addressed to us, “Hold that fast which thou bast, that no man take thy crown! He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." These ideas inspired us with new vigour for the conflict with sin, and for the strenuous fulfilment of our duties. We then resolutely pursued our course, we forgot what was behind, and ran with redoubled speed the race of perfection. --Afflictions and distresses have sometimes disposed us almost to give way to despair. We thought that the Lord had forgotten to be gracious, that he had shut up his loving-kindness in displeasure. Instead of coming with praise and thanksgiving into his courts, we have entered his gates with heavy hearts and tearful eyes. But the soothing declarations that were there made to us, the just conceptions we were there taught to form of the attributes of God, of his dealings with mankind, of his providence, and of the true ends of our creation, with the prospects that were unveiled to us in yon better world, have mitigated our pains, dried up our tears, animated us with courage and hope, and enabled us to say with the Psalmist, “ In the multitude of the sorrows that we had in our hearts, thy comforts have refreshed our souls."
Great pleasure attends the receiving of the holy Sacrament. At the table of the Lord, we meet to celebrate the memory of our magnified Redeemer, and to contemplate the wonders of his love. There we come to him as weary and heavy laden sinners, and are by him refreshed. There we hear him say to us, “Be of good cheer, my son, my daughter, thy sins be forgiven thee!" Let my grace suffice thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. There we taste that peace of God which passes all understanding, and shed tears of joy and gratitude, that God has so highly favoured us, unworthy as we are, in his Son. There we unite with those pure intelligences, who stand before the throne of God and the Lamb, and chant with them the sacred hymn, “Unto
him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever!" There, with conscious emotion, we say to each other, “Let us love him, because he first loved us! Let us not henceforth live unto ourselves, but unto him which died for us, and rose again.” There we connect ourselves by the firmest ties of faith, of hope, and charity. All distinction of high and low, of rich and poor, of bond and free, is done away, as it will be in that better world; and we enjoy the pure delight of considering ourselves as children of one Father, as disciples and subjects of one Lord, as members of one spiritual body, as heirs of one felicity; -and, as such, embrace each other with a more than ordinary, with a truly brotherly affection.
RELIGION AND VIRTUE-continued.
And smiling day once more appears,
The folly of my doubts and fears.
And blush that I should ever be
Or harbour one hard thought of thee.
What I am still so slow to learn
Nor knows the shadow of a turn.
But when my faith is sharply tried,
Unskilful, weak, and apt to slide.
Subdues the disobedient will,
And thy rebellious worm is stilí.
The most sublime doctrine in Religion is, that “God IS Love.” This noble principle, fixed as a rock immoveable, the foundation of our faith, will smooth to us the horrors of nature, still the tempest, and pour light and order amidst the darkness and seeming misrule of the elements. Nature staggering from her poise, will not shake our tranquillity; and the laws of order reversed, will not disturb our repose. The mind divinely principled will shew itself superior to matter and motion; and inspired with the philosophy of heaven, will sleep in peace, though rocked by tempests at sea, or by convulsions of the earth. Reposed in the bosom of our Father and our God, we should be as free from fear, as we must be secure from danger; and knowing that love worketh over all, we may with serenity look on, though the foundations of the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.
Nor should we be anxious or impatient at the particular part assigned us in the general course of nature, confident as we are, that the whole is established and administered by sovereign love.
The duties to which we are called will be cheerfully submitted to, as a regimen prescribed by our great physician, for the health and preservation of body and soul; the sorrows we are subject to, are the strokes of love, the wounds of a friend. Who then can murmur or complain that such a hand afflicts him? It is true the sense may ache, and nature groan in distress, but while we are assured that Love is the inflicter, piercing only to heal, casting down only in order to relieve and recover the patient, and by momentary pain to enlarge his pleasure and advance his happiness, reason itself must approve, and adopt that patience and resignation which religion recommends. What though a note or two in the composition should seem harsh and grating to the sense, yet satisfied that a divine hand strikes the lyre, we must approve, and applaud the whole as just, regular, and harmonious. Be it then our comfort that we cooperate with, and consent to, the great Author of the
great phuo!ited touch we
universe, and act the part assigned us, whether high or low, pleasing or unpleasing, in the general chorus of nature. We may not preside in states and direct councils, extend empires, or move in the higher circles, but we act a no less acceptable part to the God of the universe, by performing in a lower sphere. Love respects not the pomponsness of the parts, but the sincerity of the service; and humility, meekness, patience, and resignation, though they may be called arduous, and have the appearance of mean and sordid virtues, are perhaps the kindest and happiest instances of duty, to which the goodness of God could call us, as tending most to temper, to soften, and subdue our fiercer passions, to raise and refine our moral nature, to wean us from vanity, vice, and folly, from grosser habits and sordid attachments, and thereby to approve and recommend us the more to the favour and acceptance of our heavenly Father.
Thro' all the various shifting scene
Of life's mistaken ill or good,
The beautiful vicissitude.
Howe'er unjustly we complain,
Of joy and sorrow, health and pain.
On his eternal will depend;
Would man pursue th' appointed end.
Indiff'rent let my wishes be;
And fix'd my soul, great God! on thee. A sense of God's paternal character, and that his name and nature is Love, should carry us still further than patience and resignation. It is not enough that we barely submit to, we must willingly and cordially accept, the good pleasure of God; it is not enough not to flee from, we must go forth to meet the allotments of Providence. Can we will better for ourselves, than God wills? It is my Father's cup, and shall I not