Page images

divine principle that we shall most dispose persons of various sentiments to act in concert with us. It is this which neutralizes and disarms opposition. The eloquence of a consistent, benevolent temper and life is never without its effect. The light of a holy example shines around. In this peaceful victory of holiness and truth let us persevere. The spirit of love will dispose an adversary to listen to a calm defence of our faith. All arrogance, all airs of superiority, all harshness of manner, all over-statements, will be banished from our friendly and affectionate efforts, and the path of truth be smoothed and rendered inviting. Religion is not so much a matter of intellectual effort as of the obedience of the heart and affections.

We have no more reason to think a being endued with living powers ever loses them

tban to believe that a stone ever acquires them.-Butler.

Our organized bodies are no more ourselves, or part of ourselves, than any other matter around us ; therefore we have no reason to believe their destruction to be ours. Now, things of this kind unavoidably teach us to distinguish between these living agents, ourselves, and large quantities of matter in which we are very nearly interested ; since these may be alienated, and actually are in a daily course of succession and changing their owners ; whilst we are assured that each living agent remains one and the same permanent being. If we consider our body somewhat more distinctly, as made


of instruments of perception and of motion, it will bring us to the same conclusion. Thus, the common optical experiments show, and even the observation how sight is assisted by glasses shows, that we see with our eyes in the same sense as we see with glasses. Nor is there any reason to believe that we see with them in any other sense ; any other, I mean, which would lead us to think the eye itself a percipient. And if we see with our eyes only in the same manner as we do with glasses, the like may justly be concluded, from analogy, of all our other senses. And that we have no reason to think our organs of sense percipients, is confirmed by instances of persons losing some of them, the living beings themselves, their former occupiers, remaining unimpaired. It is confirmed also by the experience of dreams; by which we find we are at present possessed of a talent, and what would otherwise be an unimagined unknown power, of perceiving sensible objects in as strong and lively a manner without our external organs of sense as with them. There are instances of mortal diseases

organs and

which do not at all affect our present intellectual powers; and this affords a presumption that those diseases will not destroy these present powers; for in those diseases, persons, the moment before death, appear to be in the highest vigour of life. They discover apprehension, memory, reason, all entire ; with the utmost force of affection ; sense of a character, of shame and honour ; and the higbest mental enjoyments and sufferings, even to the last gasp; and these surely prove even greater vigour of life than bodily strength does. And there appears so little connection between our bodily powers of sen. sation and our present powers of reflection, that there is no reason to conclude that death, which destroys the former, does so much as suspend the exercise of the latter, or interrupt our continuing to exist in the like state of reflection which we do now; so that our posthumous life, whatever there may be in it additional to our present, yet may not be entirely beginning anew, but going on. And thus, when we go out of this world, we may pass into new scenes and a new state of life and action, just as naturally as we came into the present.

Though we may imagine a constitution of nature in which these natural punishments, which are in fact to follow, would follow immediately upon such actions being done, or very soon after; we find, on the contrary, in our world, that they are often delayed a great while, sometimes even till long after the actions occasioning them are forgot: so that the constitution of nature is such, that delay of punishment is no sort nor degree of presumption of final impunity.

WE ascribe to God a necessary existence uncaused by any agent. For we find within ourselves the idea of infinity, that is, immensity and eternity, impossible, even in imigination, to be removed out of being. We seem to discern, intuitively, that there must, and cannot but be, somewhat external to our. selves answering this idea, or the archetype of it.

When a fatalist asserts that everything is by necessity, he must mean, by an agent acting necessarily: he must, I say, mean this; for I am very sensible he would not choose to mean

Suppose, then, a fatalist to educate one from his youth up in bis own principles ; that the child should reason upon them, and conclude, that since he cannot possibly behave otherwise than he does, he is not a subject of blame or commendation, nor can deserve to be rewarded or punished; I cannot forbear stopping to ask, whether any one of common sense would think fit that a child should be put upon these speculations,


and be left to apply them to practice? And a man has little pretence to reason, who is not sensible that we are all children in speculations of this kind. Or suppose this scheme of fatality in any other way applied to practice, such practical application of it will be found equally absurd, equally fallacious in a practical sense. For instance, that if a man be destined to live such a time, he shall live to it, though he take no care of his own preservation; or if he be destined to die before that time, no care can prevent it; therefore all care about preserving one's life is to be neglected: which is the fallacy instanced in by the ancients. But now, on the contrary, none of these practical absurdities can be drawn from reasoning upon the supposition that we are free; but all such reasoning, with regard to the common affairs of life, is justified by experience.

Men may indulge a ludicrous turn so far as to lose all sense of conduct and prudence in worldly affairs, and even, as it seems, to impair their faculty of reason. And in general, levity, carelessness, passion, and prejudice, do hinder us from being rightly informed with respect to common things; and they may in like manner, and perhaps in some further providential manner, with respect to moral and religious subjects, hinder evidence from being laid before us, and from being seen when it is. The Scripture (Dan. xii. 10. See also Isaiah xxix. 13, 14; Matt. vi. 23, and xi. 25, and xiii. 11, 12; John iii. 19, and v. 44; 1 Cor. ii. 14 .

and that affectionate, as well as authoritative admonition, so very many times inculcated, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear") does declare, “ that every one shall not understand.”

Self-confidence and pride of heart,

Thou evermore must flee;
When nothing in thyself thou art,

Then thou art near to Me.Hart.

CHRISTIAN has no armour for his back.-68.

Now a little below these mountains on the left hand lieth the country of Conceit; from which country there comes into the way in which the pilgrims walked, a little crooked lane. Here, therefore, they met with a very brisk lad, that came out of that country, and his name was Ignorance.-147.

IGNORANCE. I take my pleasure in walking alone.-173.

'T 18 religion that can give
Sweetest pleasures while we live:
'T is religion must supply
Solid comfort when we die.

Pleasing spring again is here !
Trees and fields in bloom appear!
Hark! the birds with artless lays
Warble their Creator's praise.

BROWNE-ANTICHRIST. I am quite sure that when we enter on such questions as these, we ought to enter on them with deep bumility and diffidence and fear; for we are searching into the mysteries of unfulfilled prophecy, and in that search many have gone into grievous and perilous error. In what I am now about to say to you, my intention is to follow close upon Scripture, and to suggest to you thoughts for practical warning, rather than topics for curious speculation.The Pearl of Days.

Many sources of enjoyment and comfort have been removed; b 'ut the spring to which our beloved and revered parents led us in our early years, that fountain whence issued our sweetest and purest enjoyments, is still open to us, even the well of living waters which never can be dried up. And though those loved ones are departed, and we cannot but feel the loss of their society, we are happy in the hope of soon meeting them where there are pleasures for evermore. Religion—the knowledge of God-has been to us our strength and our happiness ; the source of all we have enjoyed worth calling enjoyment; it has been the sunshine which, in the hour of prosperity, has made earth fair unto us as the bowers of Eden ; and when the darkness of adversity encompassed us, it has been the star whose beaming indicated the approach of the morning's brightness.

How often are the blessed influences of the Sabbath almost entirely buried underneath the rubbish of mere ceremonial sancity! No wonder, if childhood, sternly commanded to

assume the serious gravity of age, through the long, weary, empty, hours of an inactive Sabbath, should imbibe a deeprooted dislike to religion and its Sabbath. He who blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, never meant that that day, whose first morning beam fell upon the joyful activity of a new and perfect creation, . . . should be spent in listless, motionless silence, or in soundless, meaningless ceremony. No; holy its hours indeed are, sanctified, set apart; not, however, to solemn, gloomy, lifeless inactivity; but hallowed to rest and refreshment, sacred to joy, set apart to active, cheerful, and strenuous exertion for the improvement of ourselves and others in holiness, virtue, and intelligence.


MRS. WAVELL. (Heb. iv. 9.) The idea of “rest” is associated with all God's dispensations, and seems to form an important feature in every one of them.

WITHOUT any ostentatious display of religious pretentions, she lived like “a servant waiting for the coming of his lord,” and was suddenly called “to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better,” at the time when she, with her household, were assembled at evening family worship. While this chapter was being read, and, as nearly as can be recollected, when the verse was being repeated which declares that “there remaineth a rest to the people of God,” she was translated instantaneously from“

prayer in the church militant on earth, to praise in the church triumphant in heaven.” Happy termination of a happy life! or rather blessed commencement of a blessed existence which shall never terminate.


EARL OF DARNLEY. It is indeed a startling thought, that the very next passing bell may be tolled for some one in this assembly; and that the victim of death may be not the individual whose pallid cheek and sickly hue would seem to mark him out as the grave's destined inhabitant; but the man whose muscular frame, and healthy complexion, and sound constitution, and temperate habits, give promise of a duration of life for many years to

« PreviousContinue »