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ful passions, and sweeten the last dregs of our advanced age? How would this make our lives yield the calmest satisfaction; as some flowers shed the most fragrant odours, just at the close of the day! And perhaps there is no better way to prevent a deadness and flatness of spirit from succeeding, when the briskness of our passions goes off, than to acquire an early taste for those spiritual delights, whose leat withers not, and whose verdure remains in the winter of our days.
And when this transitory scene is slutting upon us, when the soul stands upon the threshold of another world, just ready to take its everlasting flight; then may we think with unallayed pleasure on God, when there can be little or no pleasure to think of any thing else ; and our souls may undauntedly follow to that place, whither our prayers and affections, those forerunners of the spirit are gone before.
One of the great philosophers of this age being asked by a friend, who had often admired his patience under great provocations, by what means he had suppressed his anger, answered, ' that he was naturally quick of resentment; but that he had by daily prayer and meditation at. tained to this mastery over himself. As soon as he arose in the morning, it was, throughout life his daily praetice to retire for an hour to private prayer and meditation: this, he often told his friends, gave him spirit and vigour for the business of the day : this he therefore recommended as the best rule of life. For nothing, he knew, could support the soul in all distresses but a confidence in the supreme Being : nor can a rational and steady magninimity flow from any other source, than a consciousness of the divine favour.'
Of Socrates, who is said to have gained an ascendant over his passions, it is reported, that his life was full of prayers and addresses to God. And of Confucius, the Chipese philosopher, another great example of virtue, it is expressly recorded, that contrary to a fashion now prevailing) he never did eat of any thing, but he first prostrated himself, and offered thanks to the supreme Lord of heaven. Leave not off praying,' said a pious man, 'for either praying will make thee leave off sinning, or sinning will make thee leave off praying. If we say our prayers in a cold, supine, lifeless manner, now and then, I know no other effect they will have, but to enhance our condemnation : in effect, we do not pray, we only say our prayers; we pay not the tribute of the heart, but an unmeaning form of homage; we
draw pear to God with our lips, while our heart is far from him. And without the perseverance in prayer, the notions of the amendment of our lives, and a sacred regard to the deity, will only float for a while in the head, without sinking deep, or dwelling long upon the heart. We must be inured to a constant intercourse with God, to have our minds engaged and interested, and to be
rooted and grounded in the love of him.'. But if we invigorate our petitions, which are otherwise a lifeless carcase, with a serious and attentive spirit; composed, but not dull; affectionate, but not passionate in our addresses to God; praying, in this sense, will at last make us leave off sinning; and victory, decisive victory, declare itself in our favour.
ON SOCIAL WORSHIP.
The jarring world's agreeing sacrifice: · And this is surely of a social nature. One class of
religious duties, separately considered, tends to depress the mind, filling it with ingenuous shame and wholesome sorrow; and to these humiliating feelings, solitude might perhaps be found congenial: but the sentiments of admiration, love, and joy, swell the bosom with emotions, which seek for fellowship and communication. The flame indeed may be kindled by silent musing; but when kindled, it must infallibly spread. The devout heart, penetrated with large and affecting views of the immensity of God's works, the harmony of his laws, and the extent of his beneficence, bursts into loud and vocal expressions of praise and adoration; and, from a full and overflowing sensibi. lity, seeks to expand itself to the utmost limits of creation. The mind is forcibly carried out of itself, and, embracing the whole circle of animated existence, calls on all above, around, below, to help to bear the burthen of its gratitude. Joy is too brilliant a thing to be confined within our own bosoms: it burnishes all nature, and with its vivid colouring gives a kind of fictitious life to objects without sense or motion. There cannot be a more striking proof of the social tendency of these feelings, than the strong propensity we have to suppose auditors where there are none. When men are wanting we address the animal creation; and, rather than have none to partake our sentiments, we
find sentiment in the music of the birds, the hum of insects, and the low of kine: nay, we call on rocks, and streams and forests, to witness and share our emotions. Hence the royal shepherd, sojourning in caves and solitary wastes, calls on the hills to rejoice, and the floods to clap their hands; and the lonely poet wandering in the deep recesses of uncultivated nature, finds a temple in every solemn grove, and swells his chorus of praise with the winds that bow the lofty cedars. And can he, who, not satisfied with the wide range of existence, calls for the sympathy of the inanimate creation, refuse to worship with his fellow men? Can he who bids Nature attend, forget to join every living soul in the universal hymn? Shall we suppose companions in the stillness of deserts, and shall. we overlook them among friends and townsmen. It cannot be! Social worship, for the devout heart, is not more a duty, than it is a real want.
REASONABLENESS OF PUBLIC WORSHIP. Gop is to be regarded as the universal benefactor of mankind, from whom we all have received public blessings, and to wbom therefore we owe public acknowledgements. For private praisings and thanksgivings are by no means proper returns for public mercies. · Every creature ought to do homage to his Creator; he ought to pay the tribute of honour, where honour is due. Now the honour of God is more promoted by his being worshipped publicly than privately, because private prayer is piety confined
within our own breasts; but public prayer is piety exemplified and displayed in our outward actions : it is the beauty of holiness made visible; our light shines out before men, and in the eye of the world; it enlarges the interests of godliness, and keeps up a face and sense of religion among mankind.
Were men only to repair to their devotions, as the disciple of quality did to his lord and master, secretly and by night for fear of the Jews; religion, thus lovely and unfriended, would soon decay for want of public countenance and encouragement. For wliat would be the consequence if religion sought the shades, and lived a rechuse, entirely immured in closets; while irreligion audaciously appears abroad, like the pestilence that destroyeth at noon day? It requires no great depth of penetration to perceive, nor expense of argument to prove, that the want of a public national religion, or a general absenting from that national religion, must end in a general national irreverence to the Deity, in an universal dissolution of morals, and all the overflowings of ungodliness. The service of the church, and the word of God read and expounded, must awaken those reflections which it is the business of bad men to lay fast asleep, and let in upon the soul some unwelcome beams of light; but, when these constant calls to virtue are neglected, men will become gradually more and more estranged from all seriousness and goodness, till at last they end in a professed disregard to all fixed principles..
The fear of that Being, whose judgments no power can fence off, no skill elude, being absoIntely necessary, it is the duty of every man, not