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If troubles and persecutions arise on'account of ouradhering to our duty; if we be opposed in the prosecution of laudable undertakings, or suffer in consequence of undertaking them; the true piety of a person who habitually lives to God; and not to himself, is capable of converting them all into pure unmixed joy and transport. Then the human mind, roused to the most intense exertion of all its faculties, burdened with no consciousness of guilt; referring itself absolutely to the disposal of its God and father, distrusting its own powers, and confiding in the infinite power, wisdom, and goodness of God, acquires a fervour of spirit, a courage, fortitude, and magnanimity, tempered with the most perfect serenity, and the greatest presence of mind, that is sufficient, and more than sufficient, to bear a mian through every difficulty, and even tä convert all pain' into pleasure. His highly agitated state of mind, in those trying circumstances, is almost pure rapture and extasy.
In those circumstances, which appear so distressinginůmbers, I doubt not, have been able, according to our blessed Saviour's direction, to rejoice and be exceeding glad, knowing that their reward was great in heaven; and have experienced more real comfort, pëace of mind, and inward joy, in the
greatest adversity, than they had ever felt in the days of their prosperity. Yea, what is related by historians of some christian and protestant martyrs appears to me not incredible ; namely, that in the midst of flames they have felt no pain. Their minds were so intensely agitated, and so wholly occupied with opposite sensations, of the most exalted nature, as to exclude all external sensation whatever, vastly more than we can form any idea of from the trances and reveries which any person was ever subject to.
What the extraordinary exercises of devotion are able to do upon extraordinary occasions, the habitual moderate exercise of piety will be able to do in the ordinary course, and the common troubles of our lives,; so that it may not only be com. pared to a strong cordial, to be applied when the mind is ready to faint under adversity, but to that food which is the daily support of our lives. La
To have God always in our thoughts, is not possible in this world. Present objects, to the infuence of which we are continually exposed, must necessarily engage a great part of our attention ; and worldly objects, by continually engrossing our thoughts, are apt to become of too great importance to us. We grow anxious about them, and
our minds are harrassed and fatigued with a conistant and close attention to them. Now, it is when the mind is in this state, or rather tending toward it, that the benign influences of devotion are, in the ordinary course of our lives, the most sensibly felt; when the mind, looking off, and above all worldly objects, and deeply impressed with a sense of the infinite power, wisdom and goodness of God, unburdens itself of every anxiety, and casts all its cares upon its heavenly father; and when the preceding tumult and disorder in the passions only serves to augment that unspeakable joy, satisfaction and confidence, with which a deep sense of the presence and providence of God inspires the soul.
The relief which a benevolent mind feels from communicating its troubles and cares to an intimate friend, in whose wisdom and integrity he can confide, though of the same nature, is but a faint image of what the truly pious soul feels in the de. lightful seasons of the devout intercourse which he maintains with his God.
This is a perpetual source of joy and satisfaction to a truly devout mind, which the wicked, those persons who live to themselves and not to mankind, or to God, intermeddle not with. Not T2 .
even an idea of that sweet tranquility, exaked jor, and calm fortitude which true devotion inspires can be communicated to another who hath had no experience of it himself. This is true of those things of which St. Paul says that the animal man cannot comprehend them, and that they are foolishness to hiin, because they are spiritually discerned.
I would be to advocate for enthusiasm. The fèrvour of devotion cannot be always kept up. That is inconsistent with the condition of our nature, and far from being necessary in our present state': but that chearful serenity and composure in Hvhich moderate acts of devotion-leave the mind is an excellent temper-for entering upon, and persevering with spirit and alacrity in, any useful and honourable undertaking.
The sum of this practical doctrine, suggested by revelation, and confirmed by reason and observation is, tlíat þO MAN CAN BE HAPPY WHO LIVES TO HIMSELT; BUT THAT TRUE HAPPI. NESS CONSISTS IN HAVING OUR FACULTIES - WHOLLY ENGROSSED BY SOME WORTHY OBJECT, IN THE PURSUIT OF WHICH THE STRONGEST AND BEST OF OUR AFFECTIONS HAVE THEIR FULL PLAY, AND IN WHICH WE ENJOY ALL THE CONSISTINT PLEASURES 'OF OUR WHOLE
NATURE ; that though a regard to our greatest happiness be of excellent use, particularly about the beginning of our progress towards perfectio and happiness, in bringing our inferior appetites and passions into due subjection to the superior powers of our nature, yet that self-love, and a regard to ourselves is very apt to grow too intense, and is in fact the cause of a great deal of the use. less anxiety, perplexity, and misery which is in the world; and that therefore it ought to be our care, that our minds be engrossed as much as possible by other objects; and that even motives to virtue which turn our attention frequently'upon ourselves should be used with caution; for fear of feeding that vanity and self-conceit which we ought to study every method of repressing, as the greatest bane of true religion, being most opposite to the genuine temper of christianity, and most destrúctive of human happiness,
I cannot make a better application of this general maxim of conduct, namely, to propose to our. selves, and, in the language of Solomon, to pursųe with all our might some worthy object, some ho. nourable and useful employment, especially in the present circumstances of things among us, thạn in encouraging you, my brethren in the ministry, to :: T3