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their hearts and dispositions. If it be the property of religion to allay the turbulence of our natural passions, and not only restrain those animal propensities which are so dangerous to human life, but reduce them, from the condition of rebels to that of faithful and obedient subjects, we may look for still further fruits, and expect personal enjoyment to be promoted, as far as our nature is capable of receiving it. And promoted indeed it is; for he that bears within his breast the effulgence of religious wisdom, whose principles are sound, and whose actions, allowing for the frailty of man, are irreproachable, may sit in the darkest corner of the earth, and enjoy the clear and calm sunshine of conscious integrity.

« Virtue could see to do what yirtue would
" By her own radiant light, though sun and moon
* Were in the fat sea sunk.",


Virtue, by which I mean that habit of active goodness which flows from the pure principle of religion, possesses all those advantages which the generality of mankind

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desire. If happiness be ever found it must be here. If life be ever enjoyed unmixed with corroding cares and tormenting solicitudes, it must be by him, the dispositions of whose mind glide calmly forward, under the influence of the spirit of divine love. * I am the light of the world,” says our Lord, “ he that followeth me shall not " walk in darkness, but shall have the * light of life.Can any one doubt but that the light of life is the fruit of the Spirit? And “ the fruit of the Spirit is love,

joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness,

goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. In contemplating these amiable qualities of the human mind we have arrived at that point, to which christianity directs her warmest influence. It is here she rests the evidence of her truth. It is here she displays that degree of excellence which confounds her enemies and captivates her votaries. It is here also that she affords a glimpse of those heavenly dispositions which distinguish the beatified state of all her faithful servants.

A reverse


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A reverse of this picture will greatly strengthen the argument. Vice not only appears, but is hideous.

A mid-day sun cannot brighten the dark soul and foul thoughts of the wicked man. If he behold the splendor of that eye of the world, it is only to tell him how he hates his beams. Every habit of his mind is gloomy. Him

self is his own dungeon. “ walk in the night he stumbleth, because " there is no light in him: he that walketh « in darkness kuoweth not whither he


But it is a true sense of religion which recovers a man from this melancholy and clejection, from this misery and despair. It never was intended by the Author of all goodness to make his worship a painful service. If severity be requisite, it is only to be used as a medicine for the soul, as a restorative to those joys which are the proper fruits of a religious life. When gloom and dissatisfaction shew themselves in the countenance of one who calls himself a Christian, believe that he has mistaken the object of his devotion, and instead of a T 3

kind saya

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kind and benevolent mistress, falls prostrate before an inflexible and unfeeling tyrant. For such, indeed, is superstition. But the religion of the gospel is far different in her injunctions. “ Her ways are ways of

pleasantness.” “ The kingdom of God " consisteth in righteousness, and peace, " and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

Natural disposition will, perhaps, sometimes prevail too much over a mind well disposed to religion. Timidity and fear will sometimes shake the nerve, and cloud the prospects, even of good men. But they owe not these feelings to religion. Where they do not originate in distemper, the energy of a good mind, influenced by the benignant spirit of grace, will rise superior to these impressions; and will say with the apostle “ I can do all things “ through Christ which strengtheneth me. A celebrated writer on the side of scep“ ticism and irreligion, in a book pub

lished, since his death, to recommend " atheism to the world, has been pleased " to say, that all the devout persons he “ had ever seen were melancholy. This,”

" might

says the good Bishop Horne *,

very possibly be; for in the first place, “ it is most likely that he saw very few, “ his friends and acquaintance being of “ another sort; and secondly, the sight of him would make a devout person melan

choly at any time.”

If we examine the lives of those good men whose histories adorn the annals of the christian church, we shall find that chearfulness invariably formed a distinguishing feature in their character.. I speak not of those dark and melancholy men, who cloathed their religion in a different dress. I leave Bruno to his La Trappe, and Symcon Stylites to his pillar. But I revere the joyful aspects of many venerable disciples of Christ, who have in every age, since the establishment of christianity, shewn themselves the chearful worshippers of a gracious God. -.- Let all those," says David, "who put their trust in thee, " rejoice; let them ever shout for joy, “ because thou defendest them; let them

* Horne's Disc. Vol. III. p. 96.

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