Зображення сторінки

tuous and rapturous joy, attended with great zeal in the discharge of their duty. But all this is of short continuance, and generally ends in a most unaccountable languor, and even a total indifference about religion, which astonishes them, and which they are apt to consider as the consequences of the presence of God deserting them; that peculiar presence which they supposed to be the cause of the preceding fervour. Also, in this deadness to de. votional fervöur, and indifference about religion, they are apt to imagine their former experience to have been an illusion. All religion, in that state of their minds, appears like a dream ; and they afterwards often fancy themselves to have been tempted by the devil, to disbelieve and renounce it all, natural and revealed.

But the peculiar warmth of those emotions is owing to the novelty of them, together with a kind of familiarity in our conceptions of God, which leads to such a passionate joy, as we naturally indulge with respect to beings like ourselves. But more awful, and, on account of the preceding excessive familiarity, too awful ideas of God will follow and check that fond transport. The emotion itself, having been above the usual tenor of the sensations, will of course subside, and the idea of


[ocr errors]

God, being as yet single, as we may say, and not associated with a sufficient variety of other objects, cannot long be retained in the mind, any more than any other single-idea, unconnected with Qthers. Consequently, other objects, and trains of thought, which we have been before accustomed to, will force themselves upon the mind; and these, not having had any previous connexions with the ideas of God and religion, will exclude them, so that the former religious state of mind will as absolutely disappear, for a time, as if it had never existed.

All this, however, is perfectly natural, and will give no alarm to those who have a sufficient knowledge of human nature. In this case, a person who would favour his progress in religion should calmly acquiesce in the imperfection of his devotion. He should give himself, in the intervals of it, to the steady prosecution of his lawful business, considering that as his proper duty, as serving mankind, and serving God, and therefore by no means foreign to religion; depending upon it, that, if he only be careful to keep his conscience void of offence, his devotional feelings will return in due time. Let him then endeavour to purify and exalt his conceptions of God as much as possible ;

[ocr errors]

for this will tend both to give him humiliating views of himself, and to make his pious emotions more composed, and inore permanent. And, by degrees, by frequently endeavouring to raise his views above the world, while he is employed in it, religion will come to be no longer the business of an hour, or of a limited time with him, but he will walk with God all the day long, and procècd in the path of his duty with a calm, and equal, a steady, and a persevering progress.

I shall conclude this discourse with observing, that if a person should never experience any thing of this fervour of devotion, which I have been endeavouring to describe and explain, I should by no means pronounce him the less safe on that ac

This fervour of devotion is in a manner incompatible with the constitution of some persons minds; and an uniform care to 'glorify God in all 'our actions, and to preserve a conscience void of of. fence towards God and towards all men, without any thing of that warmth of zeal and devotion, which often delights, but also often misleads others; this, I say, will certainly be sufficient, according to the gracious constitution of the gospel, to entitle a person to that glorious récompence of reward, to that eternal life, which awaits all those who, by nothing but patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, honour, and immortality. Our Saviour himself has assured us, that if a man do the will of God (he makes no other condition, he de. scribes no particular feeling) he shall be to him as a brother, a sister, or a mother.



We well know, my christian brethren, what it is that the Lord our God requires of us, in order to live and to die in his favour, namely, to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God, To this plain path of duty, then, let us adhere, without being anxious about any thing farther. Whether we have those fervours of devotion, which some feel, and are apt to be proud of, or not, we shall experience that great peace of mind, which all those have who keep God's law; and having lived the life of the righteous, our latter end will also be like his ; the foundation of our joy being the testimony of our consciences, that in simplicity, and godly sincerity, we have had our conversation in the world. It is true, we are imperfect, sinful creatures ; but notwithstanding this, we have all possible encouragement given us, to trust in the abundant mercy of our gracious God and father, in that mercy which is essential to his nature, as a Being

who is infinitely good, and who is love itself; and which, if we could entertain the least doubt concerning it, he fully declared to all the world, by Moses and the prophets, by Jesus Christ and his apostles ; whom he sent into the world to preach the grateful doctrine of repentence and remission of sins, thereby to redeem si. e. to deliver) us from all iniquity, and to reconcile us to God." Animated, therefore, by the glorious promises of the gospel, let us, my christian brethren, be stedfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labour shall not finally be in vain in the Lord.

[ocr errors][merged small]
« НазадПродовжити »