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passions themselves, by exciting our hopes and alarming our fears, she restrains our hand from the work of wickedness; but this is a kind of wholesome discipline, a discipline which “ delivers us from the
bondage of corruption to the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
The means offered by religion for ruling the human breast, are as exalted in their kind as they are important in their consequences. Love, desire and hope are put in motion; not to distract the heart of man, but to place it on one great object of affection: to direct hiin how to enjoy such good as God is pleased to bestow, but at the same time to inform him, that he must love nothing but what he loves, desire nothing but what he desires, hope for nothing beyond his favour. These passions are regulated by the gentle influence of that Spirit, whose operations suggest the thoughts, and direct the actions of the good christian. Controuled too, by the same Spirit, are all his tumultuous inclinations. Do the seeds of anger and resentment reside within his breast? They are turned upon his own offences. Is hatred found there? It becomes only an hatred of sin. Are grief and fear there? They are mellowed by a belief of the mercies of God, and the promises of a Redeemer to wipe away the falling tear from the eye of penitential sorrow.
Happy the man whose passions flow in obedience to reason, and whose habits are all derived from the influence of religion. Unknown to him are the labour and severity of conquest: unknown to him the restless perturbations of a troubled conscience. Engrafted in his heart are those principles which spread serenity around him, and which even here afford him a taste of those exquisite sensations which can alone be perfected in heaven. But to attain this disposition of mind, constant watchfulness and never ceasing prayer are indispensably necessary. It is the grace of God only, that peculiar blessing of the gospel, which brings forth these beneficial effects. Without it nature may struggle, but it will not conquer; our passions may rise, but alas ! when will they subside?
There is no man living who sees not the necessity of subduing his irregular inclinations. Let there be no man living who does not endeavour to obtain the victory. Heavenly help is always at hand; but unless we pray for it with an earnestness adequate to its importance, we have no right or reason to expect it. - Ask for it then, “ and ye shall have, seek and ye
shall find, “ knock and it shall be opened unto you. This inspired knowledge shall be worth all your search; it will improve every faculty of
your body, and bring comfort to your soul; it will refine the corruption of your nature and spiritualize your affections; it will teach you the true value of life, and open a prospect of everlasting glory. This knowledge it is which finishes the character of the christian; and when it has incorporated itself into the recesses of his heart, and become, as it were, a part of his existence, then it is that he feels all the benefits of a revealed Saviour, and acquires an exquisite relish for the true pleasures of religion.
“ Set your affections on things above, " not on things on the earth. Mortify
your members which are upon the earth; “ fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affec“ tion, evil concupiscence, and covetous
ness, which is idolatry: for which things
sake the wrath of God cometh on the " children of disobedience. In the which
ye also walked sometime, when ye lived ri in them. But now you also put off all " these; anger; wrath, malice, blasphemy, “ filthy communication out of your moutlı. “ Lie not one to another, seeing that ye “ have put off the old man with his deeds; " and have put on the new man, which is “ renewed in knowledge after the image of 66 Him that created him."
Effects of Religion on the Disposition of the
He that has light within his own clear breast
It is not consistent with reason to suppose, that that principle which was sent from heaven to make men happy, should be unsuccessful in the attempt; but it is perfectly so to imagine that, in all respects, the effect should be correspondent to the importance of the cause. Whosoever studies the revealed will of God, and considers how effectually it provides for all the wants of men, spiritual as well as temporal, will be at no loss to estimate the value of that influence which religion possesses over