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are actuated by the mild and gentle affections, lovers of nature, willing to retire from the bustle of the world, and to steal through the vale of life with as little noise, and as much peace as possible, religion sanctifies our choice, and doubles all the joys of life with the peace of heaven. Are we lovers of society, delighting to enlarge the sphere of our acquaintance in the world, and to cultivate universal friendship with all ranks and degrees of men ? Here too, religion befriends us, as it unites all men under one common interest, that of being probationers for eternity. Are we ambitious of fame and honour among men? This is indeed the universal passion. Nothing more distinguishes the nature of man, than this restless desire of rising above his fellows, of becoming famous, and acquiring a name. But it does not lie in the way of every one to rise in the world, by being advanced to honour and distinction, and commanding the applause of attending multitudes : Fame unbars the gates of her temple but to a chosen few ; the candidate will infallibly meet with many a disappointment, and many a downfal, in climbing the steep ascent; but the paths of religion, that lead to glory, honour, and immortality, are ever open and safe ; by piety we already enjoy a reputation among the just, and the approbation of our own hearts, and have the certain expectation of that immortal honour which cometh from God only, who writes our name in the book of life. Hither let the man of the world turn, that he may find durable riches, more to be desired than gold and all earthly possessions. Here the man of pleasure may find a perpetual fund of enjoyment, in drinking of that stream which proceeds from the river of life ; a stream whose fountain never fails, which has no sediment at bottom, and which runs for ever unmingled with the waters of bitterness.
Piety is the foundation of virtue and morality. True devotion strengthens our obligations to a holy life, and superadds a new motive to every social and civil duty. Upon an impartial observation of mankind, it
will be found, that those men who are the most conscientious in the public and private exercises of divine worship, will be most diligent in performing the duties they owe to their neighbour, and in observing the rules of morality. Our holy religion lays us under strong obligations to duty; the spirit of Christianity dwelling in the heart, must of necessity inspire it with an ardent desire to perform whatever things are virtuous and praise-worthy; and the example of Jesus Christ, which the true Christian sets continually before his eyes, will engage him by all the laws of love, to walk as he also walked, who, according even to the testimony of his enemies, “ did all things well.” On the other hand, impiety and imınorality naturally go together, as cause and effect. Who is it that is altogether corrupt, and a worker of iniquity ? It is the fool, who hath said in his heart, There is no God. When we read of the unjust judge in the Gospel, who fcared not God, we naturally infer that he regarded
Under this particular, we may likewise take notice, that serving the Lord with sincere piety, is the most successful method of becoming publicly useful in the world. Man, fallen as he certainly is, is still a benevolent being. Formed for society, he delights in the exercise of his social qualities, he aspires to be eminently useful in the station in which he is placed, and is in his proper element, when he is dispensing happiness around him. The sympathetic emotions that rise in the bosom at the sight of an object in distress, the smile that wakens on the cheek, the tear that starts spontaneous from the eye, at the representation of scenes of human joy or sorrow, are indisputable indications of the benevolence of our na
But the low station of many, checks the benevolence of their hearts, and circumscribes it to a narrow sphere. Few have it in their power to become useful to their country, by contriving or effectuating public-spirited designs ; few have it in their power to save their country from the miseries of war, by being its shield in the day of battle; few can act as the
instruments of Providence, in bringing about national happiness. But all of us can be pious, and by servving the Lord with feryency of spirit, can become universally useful to our country and to the world. By piety, like the Prophets of old, we can shield our country from the wrath of Heaven ; we can interest Omnipotence on its side, and even derive blessings to ages
unborn. A good man is the guardian angel of his country.
I shall only add on this head, that by serving the Lord here, we have an earnest and anticipation of the happiness of the heavenly state. Itisa pleasant reflection, and well worthy of our most serious thought, that we are now entering upon a course of life that will be our einploy: ment through eternity. As man is a progressive being, gradually tending to perfection, it is a law of his nature, that he should endeavour to act beforehand, the part to which he is destined in a higher state of being. The child, from his earliest years, anticipates in sport the employment of maturer age, loves to imitate the actions of men, and is pleased with the name: We are all of us children, with respect to our future existence; and should it not be as natural for him who is born from above, to act over the exercises and enjoyments of that state of being to which he is advancing ? Piety is the beginning of heaven in the mind: Here the sun faintly beams, as in the dubious twilight; there he shines forth in full meridian glory. What an inestimable privilege then isthis, which God hath put into our power? A life sacred to piety, and to the observance of true and undefiled religion, introduces us beforehand into the world to come, and gives us an acquaintance with the state and society of the angels and blessed spirits who dwell in light.
I come now to the second thing proposed, which was, to explain that fervour of spirit so requisite in the exercises of devotion, and enforce it with a few arguments.
By fervour of spirit, in general, is meant an uncom. mon application of mind in the performance of any thing, a warmth bordering upon transport, that moves every spring of the heart, and carries all before it, to ĝain its end. So that
So that by a fervency of spirit in serv- . ing the Lord, must be understood, an ardent and active desire of loving the Lord, of worshipping him in sincerity, and obeying his commands with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. It consists not in a few transient fits and starts of natural devotion, when we are in jeopardy, without help of man; neither is it a wild blaze of religious passion, that flashes and vanishes much less shall it be profaned by confounding it with those furies, Enthusiasm and Superstition, who would drench a country with innocent blood, under pretence of serving the Lord.
• Cursed be their anger, ** for it is fierce, and their wrath, for it is cruel. O
my soul, enter not thou into their secret.”
True fervour of spirit proceedeth from above. is a beam from the Father of lights, pure and benign, which at once enlightens and warms the mind. It is á ray from the Sun of Righteousness, bright even at the beginning, and which shineth more and more, unto the perfect day. It is a temper wrought into the heart by the Holy Spirit, compounded of love to God, and of zeal for his honour, attended with charity to man.
This fervour of mind, in its full extent, is one of the brightest ornaments of the Christian.
It enters into the heart, and engages the whole man on the side of devotion ; it gives a double measure of force and alacrity to that religion which before was sincere. In a word, it is to the spiritual life, what health is to the natural ; it makes that spirited and cheerful which otherwise would only breathe and move. Conscious that religion is his grand concern, the fervent Christian will set about the duties of it with suitable ardour and intenseness of mind. The passions and affections which God hath given man, as the springs
of action, will in him be exerted to their noblest purpose, to inspire him with alacrity and cheerfulness in the ways of the Lord. He will be in pain till he has perforined his duties of devotion, and labours of love, holding nothing too dear, which will procure to him that robe of holiness, which is beautiful in the eyes of Heaven. He feels in his heart all the devout affections and desires so passionately described by the holy Psalmist, which we know not whether to admire most as beautiful strains of poetry, or raptures of devotion. “ As the hart panteth after the water-brooks,
so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul " thirsteth for God, yea, the living God: when shall " I come and appear before God? How amiable are thy " tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea,
fainteth, for the courts of the Lord. For a day in
thy courts is better than a thousand. The desire “ of my soul is to thee, O God, and to the remem“ brance of thy name. With my soul have I desired " thee in the night, yea, with my spirit within me " will I seek thee early. My soul waiteth for thee, “ O Lord, more than they that watch for the morn "ing ; yea, more than they that watch for the morn
To engage us more effectually to the performance of this part of our duty, let us consider the general obligations we lie under, as rational creatures, to serve the Lord with fervency of spirit, and then the particular obligations that arise from Christianity.
And, in the first place, as the Almighty is the Creator of the world, and the Father of the human race, he is likewise their Preserver, and the Author of or. der and harmony in the universe.
In his Providence, he takes us, the children of men, into his particular tuition, in giving us, from his immediate hand, all things requisite for our subsistence, well-being, and delight, in this world, our well or, dered habitation; in making nature spontaneously unlock to us her hidden stores; in causing the wide creation, one way or other, administer to our plea