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that are equally parts of our animal constitution, though they may be less gross than others.
This mistake is not confined to fanatics.
sons than are aware of it comfort and pride themselves on an animal religion. We need not look for examples only to the admirers of camp-meetings and revival-extravagances. We need not hear the avowal of the principle that noise is the measure of devotion and convulsions the perfection of piety. There are soberer assemblies where feeling is still all in all, and quiet principle, be it indomitable and efficient as omnipotence itself, is nothing. The worshippers attend for a purpose very much akin to that for which the lovers of intoxicating draughts attend their wonted haunts;-to receive stimulants; to be warmed within; to get something that makes them feel good, as they express it. Is it not true that in our own tranquil churches, mere excitement is too much the object with some of us? Is not the attention of a congregation too apt to be proportioned only to the animal feeling exhibited, or elicited by the speaker? I am not pleading for the torpor of the pulpit, but for the possibility and the duty of edification in the pews, even when the pulpit does unfortunately happen to be deficient in warmth. People go to church now too much to be entertained. And entertained in what way? To be merely exhilerated, rather than instructed or reminded of duty. Happy is it when they go from even as elevated a motive as carries them to the lectures of scientific in.
stitutions. It is the theatre which furnishes the apposite parallel for these devotees of excitement rather than of piety.
Our fathers cherished the institutions of public worship as useful remembrancers of the truths of religion amidst the temptations and distractions of the world. They valued going to church as a good habit, though pleasureless utility might be all it had to recommend it. But we, their decendants, must be amused, or we feel as if we were imposed upon and abused. Good sense, reminding us in sober plainness of speech what we ought to do, and why, too easily puts us to sleep.
We feel justified in inattention the moment the preacher ceases to keep us awake in spite of ourselves. Shall we go to the house of God and think of our obligations for a while? This is not the form in which the question is put on Sunday morning now. It is, shall we go and hear some one preach? And then, who preaches? We must hear some one who will address most moving appeals to imagination and passion. Just as the lover of the drama says, who acts to night?— We must hear some one who will give us most entertainment for our money.
This habit is so common that even excellent and sensible persons are not conscious of its evils. It seems like a little thing. Why should they not have their amusement? Let them have it; but in its place. and season. Let not two places be confounded, entirely and most desirably distinct. God's temple is not
the play-house. If they will have pleasure, it is much better to seek it where it will not interfere with solemn duties, than to desecrate the house of prayer and make its influences profitless to the soul. I repeat, this is not a trifling matter. Once lose sight of the grand object of human existence, sober duty; once substitute empty amusement for it in its most solemn schools; and farewell to conscience, moral dignity, and serious thought. Frivolity, levity, and inconsideration will fritter them away; and minds made for immortality, an immortality of reflection and of conscientiousness, become lighter than the butterfly's flutterings.
But there is another way in which sensual propensity, in a still more evident manifestation, is valued as religion. It is the desire of heaven founded on gross conceptions of its enjoyments. The imaginations of some religionists represent it as a Mahometan Paradise of pleasure. The same oriental warmth of fancy and peculiarities of association which inflamed the descriptions of the Arabian Prophet, affected the language of the inspired writers; with this difference, however, that the former meant to be understood literally, the latter figuratively. But the natural man, Christian though he may be in name and creed, is for clinging still, perhaps without his entire conciousness, to the literal sense of these glowing representations, and longs for heaven as an elysium of physical delight. In our colder climate, to be sure, we may not estimate very highly some of the enjoyments which the genius of the fervid East ascribes to its heaven. We may not care
much for wandering along the banks of cool streams, shaded by ever fruitful trees, fanning the air, and loading it with the perfume of their blossoms. Angels in flowing robes, with golden harps in their hands, and crowns on their heads, soaring among the clouds, or plucking all manner of fruit that grows along the river of life, do not seem, to our taste for more substantial comforts, to enjoy a very enviable condition of being. But still our notions of the happiness of heaven are apt, in spite of our better knowledge, to be too directly derived from that of the senses. Almost every one comes from the nursery with the impression on his imagination, let reason expose its folly as sagely as it may, that we are in heaven to be passively exhilerated by the sight of a material glory,-a dazzling flood of light surrounding us, and that we may be made permanently happy by this, as little infants are for a moment by the first presentation of a candle before their eyes. Now, this is not merely childish and absurd; it does harm. It gives false estimates of the qualities necessary for the enjoyment of heaven. It teaches that the character, the soul, is of little essential importance to it. It is all outside of the heart. Such views mislead even as to the purest and truest pleasures we have on earth.
The same may be said of the views of those, who, from certain passages in the mystical parts of scripture, dream that heaven is like a jewellers shop, glittering with gold and gems of every hue and brilliancy. Its walls are of jasper, and its cities of pure gold like unto clear glass.'
This is taken to be half, if not wholly literal. Again its foundations are garnished with all manner of precious stones; and its twelve gates are twelve pearls.' Now incredible as it may seem, there occasionally comes along even a Doctor of Divinity, who, in the wrong-headed fervor of false ideas of religion, tells us all these descriptions are to be taken strictly according to the letter.
Beware, reader, of a religion so much akin to the propensities of the 'natural man.' Religion is a pure inward sentiment, to which all this earth-born sensualism is gross almost as vice compared to virtue. It is not religion. It has not one particle of its essential spirit; though from ignorance it may sometimes be united with it. In its primary and genuine simplicity, religion, so far from this worldliness, has even no reference to self at all. It is the sentiment which the character of God excites in the soul, whether we think of our personal benefits from it or not. It is spontaneous and uncalculating as instinct in the unvitiated mind. It is reverence for moral sublimity, adoration of beneficent sovereignty, love for transcendant goodness. As a grand or beautiful object in nature kindles admiration, and engages our interest as soon as we behold it, by its natural aptitude to affect the feelings; so the majesty, the benignity of Deity. Look at them, and the healthy mind must revere and love them. And this regard is due to him, and a pleasure at once to ourselves, if there were no heaven waiting for us to reward it.
Still we are permitted, we are earnestly exhorted to consider the exceeding great reward which follows,