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yes, and accompanies religion. But we are false to the elevation and refinement of soul which devotion is capable of yielding, and was especially designed to yield, if we think of this reward as something eternal and material. We foster thereby the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. And it is a misapplication, monstrous indeed, it is a corruption of the best into the worst, it is a fall from the height of heaven to the bottomless depths, if we make that which should sanctify for the skies, the pamperer of earthly taste, the pander of appetite, the prompter to pride, ostentation, and worldlinesss.
Its great rewards are spiritual. Piety and virtue are their own abundant blessings. Their blessings abound even here where they are necessarily imperfect and interrupted. They may not ensure our happiness now, because they may not control all the influences that act upon our terrestrial condition. But as far as their sceptre reaches over it, there surely is an empire of peace and joy. In the land of spirits our nature shall have dropt every constituent principle, every faculty, every relation, which piety and virtue cannot sway unto happiness; and then tongue cannot tell, nor the heart of man conceive the perfect blessedness they will give.
Do their simple joys appear too little to be worth struggling for through life's temptations? Must we have an object more stimulating, more attractive, more earthly, more sensual to interest us? Alas! then we are not prepared to enjoy a heaven of purity, if admit
ted to it. The apostle's 'natural man' too closely describes ourselves. 'The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.' He does not admire, he cannot relish any thing so pure. Cleanse we our spirits, raise and ennoble our moral conceptions, and we shall value heaven for nothing so much as for being the dwelling of piety and virtue, the empire of spiritual purity, the throne of God, who is the purest spirit. M.
UNITARIANISM, A RELIGION TO DIE BY.'
One of the most affecting charges against Unitarianism is, that it is not a religion to die by.' I would solemnly enter a protest against this unjust sentence, from personal experience.
In health I had a thrilling dread of death, and its mortal agony. Often in bright and airy moments, a sudden thought of the cold grave has darted through my mind, and touched the flowers of life with a withering chill.
I was seized with a severe illness. I saw the countenances of my friends grow sadder and sadder. My little ones were sent away, or taught to tread noiselessly around my bed. The only stranger permitted to break on the stillness of my chamber was one, who sometimes brings relief, but always alarm, an additional physician.
To what opening did I then look for strength and comfort? What ray shone, and shone through the gloom of sickness and pain, and grew brighter as I gazed, and lent a radiance to the dark curtain which seemed rising between me and eternity? It was Unitarian Christianity. I leaned my whole soul on the mercy of God as declared in Christ Jesus. I felt how beautiful was the paternal character of the Deity, I felt that I should go to him as to a Father. I felt that he would forgive my sins, and heal my diseases.' For so I had learned of Christ.'
What became then, in my imagination, of the pang of death? It would be, I said, a mere transition to joy and glory. But how could I sustain the wrench of earthly affection, the severing of those tight fond clasps that had for years been winding about the heart of a wife and mother? And that pang, I said, is momentary. I scarcely give a thought to those dear connexions now, except for eternity. I can do so little for them, and GOD so much, I give them up to him. May they live and may I die so religiously that our meeting shall be as God's children.
Many were the bright pictures of future joy indefinite, but lovely, which I drew from God's goodness. An angry God! I could not think of such a being! He had never shown anger to me, but I had heard the voice of his love calling to me from infancy in the fair works of nature, in the beatings of a heart full of hope, and in the revelations of Jesus.
In childhood I had felt a pure joy in gazing on the
blue sky, in hearing the rustling leaves, in tracing the motion of a rivulet, in baring my face to the fresh wind, and breathing strongly new existence. Could I fancy God was angry? But the tempest rose, the stream was ruffled, the snow drift came. Was he angry then? An angry God would not have given me so sweet a shelter as home afforded, with its bright hearth, and quiet smiles.
In childhood I had enjoyed a mother's fondness. I was allowed to fall asleep nightly on her knee, when shame almost made me wakeful. God gave her to me in love. She died. Did I think he was angry, when I saw her rigid, and cold, not noticing even me? Was he angry when he allowed them to lay her in her narrow bed, and shut out her youngest born? No-I flew to other friends, and though the petted child had no longer such soft indulgence, her errors were corrected, and she learned to know her own heart. Often have I felt since, that God then showed his love to me. I grew older, and I sinned. Was he angry then? I know not; but I think a pitying God was present to my mind, when in the agony, which early sin first feels, I fell on my knees and repented. When the sensibility of youth was departing, I again, and often strayed from Him. Did I find him angry, when I opened his holy word as a sinner? I found entreaty, love, promises of pardon; but little did I see of that feeling, which man calls anger.
And when the gloomy apparatus of death seemed arranging itself about me, and fever scorched, and pain
subdued me, was God angry? Least of all, then. I felt that Jesus was preparing a place for me in one of his father's many mansions, and I tried to put on the garments of a happy traveller, to fit me for the journey.
One thing pressed on my mind. I waited some days for a decisive sympton of dissolution to disclose it. I intended to have requested one or two persons, who had spoken, written, and preached with severity against the doctrine of the simple unity of God, and particularly against its supporters, to be sent for to visit me. I wished to state to them my religious impressions, and my joyful hope of heaven. I wished to tell them, that this hope was the result of years of thought and practice, founded on Unitarian principles, and that no merely sudden enthusiasm placed me on that height, where the fear of death was lost in the hope of glory.' I wished to convince them, that they had deceived themselves, and I purposed to request them publicly to retract the declaration, that Unitarianism was not a religion to die by.
These days of awful expectation slowly passed away. My burning forehead grew cooler under the band of love, and I felt the soft strings of reviving existence pulling at my heart.
Since that period, a serene thought of death, and a readiness to depart and be with Christ, convinces me that the Spirit of God, not in anger, but in happy trust, has settled on my soul. And if such is the result, as I sincerely believe it to be, of religious feeling founded on Unitarianism, I ask those, who slight Christianity, if