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ON

HABITUAL DEVOTION.

The wicked, through the pride of his countenance,

will not seek after God. God is not in all his thoughts.

Ps. X. 4.

God, my christian brethren, is a being with whom we all of us have to do, and the relation we stand in to him is the most important of all our relations. Our connexions with other beings, and other things, are slight, and transient, in compacison with this. God is our maker, our constant preserver and benefactor, our moral governor, and our final judge. He is present with us wherever we are; the secrets of all hearts are constantly known to him, and he is of purer eyes than to be - hold iniquity. Here, then, is a situation, in which ; we find ourselves, that demands our closest attenti.

The consideration is, in the highest degree, interesting and alarming : knowing how absolutely dependent we are upon God, that in him we live

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on.

and move and have our being; and knowing also, that by vice and folly we have rendered ourselves justly obnoxious to his displeasure.

Now, to think, and to act, in a manner. corresponding to this our necessary intercourse with God, certainly requires that we keep up an habitual regard to it: and a total, or very great degree, of inattention to it; must be highly criminal and dangerous. Accordingly, we find in the scriptures, that it is characteristic of a good man, that he sets the Lord always before him, and that he acknowledges. God in all his ways. Whereas it is said of the wicked, in my text, that. God is not in all their thoughts; and, elsewhere, that the fear of God is not before their eyes ;, that they put the

thoughts of God far from them, and will not the knowledge of the Most High.. t. This, circumstance seeins to furnish a pretty good test of the state of a man's mind with respect to virtue and vice. The most abandoned and proAligate of mankind are those who live without God : in the world, entirely thoughtless of his Being,

perfections, and providence ; having their hearts wholly engrossed with this world and the things of it : by which means those passions which terminate - in the enjoyment of them are inflamed to such a

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degree, that no other principle can restrain their indulgence. These persons may be called practical atheists ; and the temper of mind they have acquired often leads them to deny both natural and revealed religion. They secretly wish, indeed they cannot but wish, there may be ne truth in those principles, the apprehension of which is ape to give them disturbance; and hence they give little attention to the evidence that is produced for them, and magnify all the objections they hemos made to them. And it is well known, that, în à mind' so strongly biassed, the most cogent reasons often amount to nothing, while the most triðing cavils pass

for demonstration. It is the same with: respect to any other speculation, when the mind has got a bias in favour of any particularly conclusion.

On the other hand, a truly and perfectly good man loves, and therefore cherishes, the thought of God, his father and his friend ; until every production of divine power and skill, every instance of divine bounty, and every event of divine proridence, never fails to suggest to his mind the idea of the great Author of all things, the giver of eve- ; py good and every perfect gift, and the sovereign disposer of all affairs and all events. Thus he

lives, as it were, constantly seeing him, who is invisible. He sees God in every thing, and he sees every thing in God. He dwells in love, and there, by dwells in God, and God in him. And so long as he considers himself as living in the world which God has made, and partaking of the bounty with which his providence supplies him; so long as he is intent upon discharging his duty, in the situation in which, he believes, the Divine Being has placed him, and meets with no greater trials and difficulties than, he is persuaded, his God anders father has appointed for his good, it is almost im possible that the thought of God should ever be long absent from his mind. Every thing he sees or feels will make it recur again and again perpe tually. His whole life will be, as it were, one act of devotion; and this state of mind, being highly pleasurable, and his satisfaction having' infinite sources, will be daily encreasing, so as to grow more equable, and more intense to all eternity; when it will be joy unspeakable, and full of glory.

These are the two extremes of the sentiments and conduct of men with respect to God, and all the varieties of the human characters will be faund somewhere between them ; so that we may be deemed virtuous or vicious, in proportion as we approach to the one or the other.

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. The more imperfect of the middle classes of mankind will have their minds too much engross. ed by this world and the things of it, so as to exclude, in a very great degree, the apprehension of God, and of their relation to him. Provided, how= ever, that they have had a religious cducation, these thoughts cannot be prevented from recurring from time to time, and producing stronger or weaker resolutions of repentance and amendment; but not

having their full influence, and therefore, serving rather to disquiet the mind, conscious of a want of

perfect integrity, they will be apt to be overborne by the superior posver of things seen and temporal; and the minds of such persons being in this fluctuating condition, whatever success they may have in the world, their lives will contain a great mixture of anxiety and remorse.

But those whom we may stile the more perfect of the middle classes of men, though, like the for

their minds may be, now and then, carried away by the magic influences of this world; and though they may give too far, and tou eagerly, into the pursuit of its pleasures, riches, and honours, they will never wholly, or for a long time, lose sight of God, and of their duty; and pious sentiments, recurring with superior force at intervals,

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