Page images

or dispraise of such men is almost equally indifferent. But a liberal minded and benevolent soul, who embraces everyhuman being in the arms of his charity, who rises superior to the superstitious tribe of infallible doctors--the genus irritabile vatum; who can pierce through the guise of human distinctions, and trace religious excellence among all orders and descriptions of men, he would clasp to his bosom, make bim room in his heart, and give him a place in the attic story of his affections. He loves a generous soul, a voble spirit, with whom he can hold sweet converse* on things human and divine; trace the awful foc tsteps of a mysterious Providence,

“ And justify the ways of God to man;" while angels ministrant, attend the enraptured strains.--"O noctes canaque Deúm!"

From a melancholy dearth of such society, however, he is generally constrained to converse with the ancient and modern dead, those first of human beings, who have left us the image of their souls reflected in their immortal volumes. Here, he sometimes seems to catch a ray of their genius; to intermingle soul with soul; to taste the raptures of their sacred rage, and to me

* The third chapter of MALACHI seems to me to contain the most emphatical recommendation of religious conversation that ever was penned. CICERO too speaks with an air of indignation of men of talents meeting together, and spending all their time in milking the ram, or holding the pail: “Quasi vero clarorum virorum aut tacitos congressus, esse opporteat, aut ludicros sermones, aut rerum colloquia leviorum."

Academ. Quæst. lib. 4. This brings to my mind an anecdote, which I have somewhere read concerning the innjortal LOCKE, who being invited by a certain Nobleman to give the ineeting to some of the most celebrated wits and scholars of the age, went in great expectation of enjoying a high intellectual repast. The card table being introduced after dinner, contrary to his expectation, he retired pensive and chagrined to the window. Enquiry being made if he was well, he replied, “ He had come to give the company meeting in full confidence of receiving an uncommon degree of satisfaction in the conversation of such celebrated characters, and he must acknowledge he felt himself hurt at the disappointnient.” The card table was immediately withdrawn, and a rich flow of souls begun, to his no smalt gratification.

ditate unutterable things. Oh! for a Spirit of burning, to refine these drossy natures ; a muse of fire,” to elevate his mind to their celestial strains; and a seraph's wings to mount up to the blissful throng of the spirits of just men made perfect, around the throne of the great FATHER of the universe, and his Son, the Ever-blest!-Yet a little while, and these shadows shall flee away-these earthly tabernacles be taken down-these mortal bodies be clothed with immortality--the church militant be changed into the church triumphant-and the infinite MAJESTY of HEAVEN be seen without a veil, loved without a rival, and enjoyed without satiety through the long round of vast eternity!

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]




THERE are few ages of the world, but have produced various instances of persons, who have treated the Divine dispensations, either with neglect or scorn. Of these, some have persisted in their folly to the latest period of their earthly existence; while others have discovered their mistake in time, and both sought and found forgiveness with God.-In most ages too, there have been some, who have piously observed the manifestations of HEAVEN; who have cordially received the Holy Scriptures as a revelatiou from on high ; and who have built their everlasting expectations upon the salvation which is therein revealed. The hopes of such persons have never been disappointed. If they have lived up, in any good degree, to their religious profession, they have always been favoured with peace of mind, and strong consolation in life; firm confidence in CHRIST, usually, at the hour of death ; and have frequently gone off the stage of time into eternity rejoicing in hope of the glory of God, with unspeak-. able and triumphant joy. Examples of this kind, eyen among illiterate men, women and children, might be produced in numbers very considerable.—But how extremely different, most commonly, is the last end of those persons, who have denied and scorned the revelations of HEAVEN; who have rejected the Sacred Writings; and treated serious godliness with sheer and contempt?-Nay, it has frequently been known, that the first rate geniuses, and greatest men of their times, have left the world under much darkness of mind, full of doubts, and fearful apprehensions concerning the Divine favour, owing to their being deeply immersed in too secular, or literary pursuits ; to their living beneath their Christian

[ocr errors]


privileges: and spending too small a portion of their time in devout retirement, and religious exercises. Nothing, indeed, can keep the life of God rigorously alive in the soul, but these exercises. Where they are either wholly neglected, or frequently interrupted, there the power of religion languishes. Faith' and hope, price and love, joy in, and confidence towards God, grow weak; doubts and fears, disquietude of mind, and scruples of conscience prevail. The sun goes down, and sets, to this world at least, under a dark and cheerless cloud.- But where the humble Believer in Christ Jesus (the eyes of his understanding being enlightened, and his fears alarmed with a sense of danger,), lays aside every spiritual encumbrance, and the sin by which he hath been often too easily overcome; where he resolutely breaks through every snare, and lives to the great purposes for which we were all born; where, with the illustrious philosopher and physician, BOERHAAVF., and the eminent statesmen, Sir John BARNARÁ), the Duke of ORMOND, and Lord Carel*, he spends a due proportion of every day in private

* It was the custom of three of these great men, to spend an hour every morning, in private prayer and reading the Holy Scriptures; and of the fourth, to meditate half an hour every day upon eternity. This gave them comfort and vigour of mind to support the toil and fatigue of the day. Nay, we are told in the Life of the Duke of ORMOND, that" he never prepared for bed, or went abroad in a morning, till he had withdrawn an hour to his closet."

We might' mention a considerable number of similar instances. John Lord Harrington, who died A. D. 1613, at the age of 22 years, was a young nobleman of eminent piety, and rare literary attainments. He was an early riser, and usually spent a considerable part of the morning in private prayer, and reading the Sacred Writings. The same religious exercise was also pursued both in the evening and at mid-day.

Sir HARBOTTLE GRIMSTONE, Master of the Rolls, an eminent lawyer, a just judge, and a person of large fortune, who lived in the last century, “was a very pious and devout man, and spent every day at least an lour in the morning, and as much at night, in prayer and meditation. And even in winter, when he was obliged to be very early on the bench, he took care to rise so soon that he had always the command of that time, which he gave to those exercises.'

This brings to my mind the case of the late Colonel JAMES GARDINER, who was slain at the battle of Preston Pans, A. D. 1745. This brave man used constantly to rise at four in the morning, and, to spend“ his time till six in the secret exercises of devotion, reading, meditation, and prayer. And if at any time he was obliged to go

« PreviousContinue »