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GOOD remains like the mountain, which cannot be moved. It is the rock of ages, on which he builds the fair fabric of his felicity. .
What is there, in all the pomp of the world, and the enjoyments of luxury, the gratification of passion, comparable to the tranquil delight of a good conscience? It is the health of the mind. It is a sweet perfume, that diffuses its fragrance over every thing near it without exhausting its store. Unaccompanied with this, the gay pleasures of the world are like brilliants to a diseased eye, music to a deaf ear, wine in an ardent fever, or dainties in the languor of an ague. To lie down on the pillow, after a day spent in temperance, in beneficence, and piety, how sweet is it! How different from the state of him, who reclines, at an unnatural hour, with his blood inflamed, his head throbbing with wine and gluttony, his heart aching with rancorous malice, his thoughts totally estranged from him who has protected him in the day, and will watch over him, ungrateful as he is, in the night season! A good conscience is, indeed, the peace of God. Passions lulled to sleep, clear thoughts, cheerful temper, a disposition to be pleased with every obvious and innocent object around; these are the effects of a good conscience; these are the things which constitute happiness; and these condescend to dwell with the poor man, in his humble cottage in the vale of obscurity. In the magnificent mansion of the proud and vain, glitter the exteriors of happiness, the gilding, the trapping, the pride, and the pomp; but in the decent habitation of piety is oftener found the downy nest of heavenly peace; that solid GOOD, of which the parade of the vain, the frivolous, and voluptuous, is but a shadowy semblance.
I see a crowd, travelling, by choice, on the Sunday, (the day of rest appointed for man and beast, by the benevolent being who made them,) with a speed that almost outstrips the wind. Whither are they hasten. ing? To the regions of delight; some place of modish resort; where the sound of the viol invites; where the song, and the dance, and the festive board, promise pleasure without alloy. Join the train awhile, and mark the event. The variety of objects dissipates care for a : short time; but weariness soon ensues, and satiety converts the promised pleasure to indifference, at least, if not to pain. And now they return to their home, the seat of plenty, with countenances that by no means express satisfaction at what is just past; that satisfaction which might have been expected, considering the preparation, the expence, the haste, and the eagerness, which appeared in the commencement and progress of the fashionable excursion. Piety, charity, domestic comfort, have all been sacrificed at the shrine of Fashion; and the fickle, unfeeling deity has bestowed nothing in return, but weariness, languor, and a total disrelish of the pleasures of simplicity, the sweets of innocence, the feast of benevolence, and the enlivening ardour of devotion. . .
To contrast the scene, I picture a regular, respectable, religious family, spending their time, after the performance of their social, public, or professional duties, around the domestic fire-side, in peace and love. Every countenance is illuminated with cheerfulness. No tedium, no exhausted spirits, no pale, ghastly visages, from the vigils of the card-table; no envious feelings, no jealousy nor rage at the sight of superior splendor. Pleased with a well-spent day, they fall on their knees before they retire to repose, and thank the Giver of all comfort for the mercies already received; and pray, with humble confidence, for protection in the night, and continuance of mercy during the remainder of life. Cheerful and refreshed, they rise in the morning, and go forth to the labours of life, chanting the carols of pious grati
tude. Here is enjoyment of existence; this is life in. deed*, with a perpetual relish; not attended with the tumultuary ardours of a fever, but the gentle, pleasant warmth of sound health.
You, therefore, who, blessed by Providence with profusion of wealth, are enabled to make pleasure your constant pursuit, try the experiment, whether pleasure of the purest kind is not to be drawn from the fountains of piety and divine love. Amusements and pleasures, commonly so called, are not to be rigidly renounced. They are not only allowable, but desirable and useful; solacing poor human nature in its sorrows, and promoting, by temporary relaxation, the energies of virtue. But surely it is possible to retain religious principles inviolate, and to be uniformly actuated by religious sentiménts, in a life occasionally diversified by cheerful, and moderate, and innocent amusements. Only keefi your heart with all diligence. Let your imagination be pleased; your thoughts occasionally diverted; but let your heart be unseduced from the love of him who first loved you. Let your affections still point, like the needle to the north, wherever the vessel is blown by the winds, towards God. Your hands may be employed, in the avocations of social life and civil society: but let your heart be at leisure for the things which belong unto your peace; which will render your life constantly cheerful, and your death as little painful as the struggles of nature will admit.
It is never improper to caution the Christian, who seeks the peace of God, against such a degree of impassioned religion as tends by its violence, to destroy all true devotion, or to abbreviate its continuance. There certainly are religious persons, who, through the disorder of their imaginations, and weakness of judgment, seem
* Hoc est vivere.
not to enjoy that tranquility, or peace of God, whichi religion is caculated to produce.
Gentleness and moderation contribute to the increase as well as duration of our most refined enjoyments. We see nothing of extreme rigour, nothing of unnatural austerity, nothing of intemperate ardour, in the devotion of our Saviour or his disciples; so that they seem to be no less repugnant to the gospel, than to reason and philosophy. Nothing violently passionate is durable; no, not even the ecstacies of religion. Violent passion is like a flood after great rains. However it may rush in torrents for a day, it will exhaust itself, and dwindle to the shallow stream, scarcely creeping within the banks of its natural channel. • The passions are the chief destroyers of our peace; the storms and tempests of the moval world. To ex, tirpate them is impossible, if it were desirable. But to regulate them by habitual care, is not so difficult, and is certainly worth all our attention. Many men do evidently acquire a wonderful command of their passions, in the presence of their superiors, or when their temporal interest is concerned. And shall we not attempt it in the presence of God dwelling in us, and for an everlasting interest?
The task is facilitated by the grace of God, which certainly co-operates with man in every virtuous endeavour. TO JESUS CHRIST, then, let us have recourse, as to the best philosopher. He who said to the sea, “ Be still,” will calm our passions, as he smoothed the waves. Peace was the legacy which he left to his fol. lowers. Hear his bland and soothing words: “ Peace “ I leave with you; my peace I give unto you; not as “ the world giveth give I unto you.” “ The work of “ righteousness,” says Isaiah, “ is peace; and the effect 66 of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.” « Grace and peace be multiplied unto you," says St.
Peter, « through the knowledge of God, and of our Lord “ Jesus Christ.”
“ Not as the world giveth,” says our Saviour, “ give “ I peace.” The world speaks peace, when there is no peace. Dissipation, variety of worldly business, worldly cares, worldly company, riot, noise, intemperance, produce a TUMULT, which banishes reflection, but cannot cause serenity, self-possession, and composure. The sick man, who has recourse to opium and strong drink to lull his malady in a deceitful oblivion, increases his pain and his danger.
. The Christian seeks peace, by seeking pardon of God by repentance. “ Acquaint thyself with God, and be k at peace.” He seeks peace, by keeping a watch on those great destroyers of it, his passions. On these tumultuous waves he pours the oil of Christian love, and they are calm. Thus he lives;- at peace with himself, at peace with his neighbour, and at peace with his God.
Thus he lives; and when he quits this earthly scene,(like a river, whose banks are flowery, and whose waters limpid and smooth,)he glides, unruffled, into the ocean of eternity. Go, then, gentle Spirit, to the realms of peace, and enjoy the peace of God!—in the bosom of thy father, and our father*. Very pleasant hast thou been unto us t, during the time of thy sojourning here. Dove-like were thy manners; for the Spirit, which descended like a dove, inspired thee with every amiable disposition, and above all, with the LOVE OF PEACE, national and publie, as well as internal: and BLESSED ARE THE PEACE-MAKERS; theirs shall te the peace of God which passeth all understanding, in the KINGDOM of HEAVEN.