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those who are desirous to cultivate the genuine spirit of devotion. Among other advantages, and that not the least, in meditation the mind is not so apt to acquiesce in the mere work done (what the schoolmen call the opus operatum) as it is in formal prayer, especially when it is made of considerable length. So
alas! is the mind of man to su.. perstition, that hardly any thing can be prescribed to us, as a means of virtue, but we immediately acquiesce in it as an end ; and not only so, but the consequence of a punctilious'observance of prayer, and other means of religion, is too often made the foundation of a spiritual pride, and self-sufficiency, which is of almost alarining nature ; being directly opposite to that deep humility and self-abasement, which is ever the predominant disposition of a mind truly devout. The sentiment corresponding to the language stand by thyself, I am holier than thou, is not, I am afraid, peculiar to the pharisaical jew, or the 'romish devotee. It infects many protestant religionists, being generated by similar causes. Rather than be liable to this, it is certainly better, far better, even to be less regular in our exercises of devotion. God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace toʻthe humble. Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.
3. In the course of your usual employment omit no proper opportunity of turning your : thoughts towards God. Habitually regard him as the ultimate cause, and proper author of every thing you see, and the disposer of all events that re. spect yourselves or others. This will not fail to make the idea of God occur familiarly to your mind, and influence your whole conduct.
It is to be regretted, that the taste and custom of this country is such, that a person of a devotional turn of mind cannot indulge himself in the natural expression of it. even upon the most proper and : just occasions, without exposing himself to the particular notice, if not the ridicule, of the generality of those who
be present; whereas could i we decently, and seriously express our gratitude to God, upon every agreeable occurrence, and our resignation and submission to his will upon every calamitous event of life, it would tend greatly to strengthen the habit of acknowledging God in all our ways, and promote the spirit of devotion.
In no other country, I believe, whatever, neither among the román-catholics, nor mahometans, have people, even the most fashionable and polite, any idea of being ashamed of their religion. On the contrary, they are rather ostentatious of it, and
therefore they seem to have more than they are really possessed of; and this is the case with some, both of the established church, and among the dis. senters in England. But, unfortunately, this out. wand shew of religion was carried to such a length, about a century ago, in this country, and was some times inade to subservé súch'infamous pur. poses, that, I believe, the greater part-ôf the most sincerely pious, and humble christians, now make a point of exposing to the world, as little of the re. ligion they have as possible'; so that they are really possessed of much more than they seem to have. This I trust is the case with great numbers, who are-little suspected of being particularly religious, because they are seldom; or never heard to talk about it. And, upon the whole, while things are so unfortunatoly circumstanced, I think this extreme preferable to the other; as, of all things, **** the reproach of hypocrisy ought to be avoided with the utmost care...!
4. In a more especial manner, never fail to have recourse to God-upon every occasion of strong emotion of mind, whether it be of a pleasurable, or of a painful nature. When your mind is labouring under distressing doubts, and great anxi. aty, or when you are any way embarrassed in the
of your affairs, fly to God, as your friend and father, your counsellor and your guide. : In a sincere and earnest endeavour to discharge your cuty, and to act the upright and honourable part, commit your way unto him, repose yourselves, upon his providence, confiding in his care to over-rule every thing for the best, and you will find a great, and almost instantaneous relief. Your perturba. tion of mind will subside, as by a charm, and the storm will become a settled calm. Tumultu qus and excessive joy will also be moderated by this means; and thus all your emotions will be rendered more equable, more pleasurable, and more last, ing. And this is produced not by any supernatural agency of God on the mind, but is the natural effect of placing entire confidence in a being of perfect wisdom and goodness.
But the capital advantage you will derive from this practice will be, that the idea of God, being, by this means, associated with all the strongest emotions of your mind, your whole stock of devotional sentiments and feelings will be increased. All those strong emotions, now separately indistin. guishable, will coalesce with the idea of God, and make part of the complex train of images suggested by the term, so that you will afterwards think of
God oftner, and with more fervor than before ; · and the thought of him will have greater influence with you than ever.
5. In order to cultivate the spirit of habitual devotion, labour to free your minds from all consciousness of guilt, and self-reproach, by means of a constant attention to the upright and steady discharge of the whole of your duty. In consequence of neglecting our duty, we become backward, as we may say, to make our appearance before God. We cannot look up to him with full confidence of his favour and blessing; and are, therefore, too apt to omit devotion entirely. Besides, we always feel an aversion to the exercise of self-abasement and contrition, which are all the sentiments that we can with propriety indulge in those circumstances ; especially as we have a secret suspicion, that we shall, for some time at least, go on to live as we have done ; so that rather than confess our sins, and continue to live in them, we chuse not to make confession at all.
But this, my brethren, is egregious trifling, and highly dangerous. Thus, at best, all improvement is at a stand with us, if we be not going fatally backwards in our moral state. If this be our cha- . racter (as I believe it is, more or less, that of a ve