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wish to be miserable, and would render so if I had him in my power ? Have I no sympathetic feelings for men as men ? If I cannot recollect acts of disinterested benevolence, I may rest assured that it is the same hardness of heart which renders me insensible to God, that has also made me a stranger to the social affections. I have need, therefore, to pray that God would thaw my heart by the sunshine of his grace. He who can turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh, will cause me to feel, by his Spirit's influence, for those who share with me the evils incident to humanity.
By such questions as the above-and many such every man may propose to himself—the state of the heart may be ascertained much better than by signing articles or repeating a symbol.
God certainly made the heart of man tender. Jesus himself wept, and thus for ever hallowed the briny fountain. Tears are appropriated to man, as one of the most honourable distinctions which separate him from the brute creation. When man has dried up the sacred source by acquired insensibility, he has degraded his nature, and must have recourse to God to make him a new creature, to regenerate and render him alive to the sentiments of divine love, and the soft touches of humane sympathy. God's Spirit can break the rock of flint asunder, and cause the waters to gush from it in abundance.
And can I venture to hope that he will do so, that he will melt my obduracy? Yes, certainly, for Jesus Christ has promised the influence of his Spirit to renew the heart, and accomplish the great work of regeneration. Without this I cannot be happy. I may be rich, great, learned, but I cannot be happy. I am lost and undone without it; in a state more degraded and wretched than that of the lowest and obscurest human being, whose piety and humility may have drawn down upon his heart the holy emanation of divine love.
The Sum and Substance of Christian Philosophy the
renewal of the heart by Divine Grace; or the softening it and rendering it susceptible of virtuous and benevolent impressions, by cultivating the two grand Principles-Piety to God and Charity to Man.
What is Christian wisdom or philosophy ? Let the apostle answer; it is to put off the old man, which is corrupt, and to put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.' We must be born again, or it had been better for us that we had not been born at all. The wisdom from above is the true Christian philosophy; that wisdom which, we are told, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.''
Hardness of heart is incompatible with this wisdom which is full of mercy. The bosom must be softened by divine influence. Redeem the time,
James, iii. 17.
therefore, that ye have hitherto lost in a cold, lifeless, formal, decorous religion. Love God, love your neighbour, with the ardour of a sincere mind, and the amiable simplicity of infantine innocence. Seek Jesus Christ with the earnestness of one who is a Christian by choice, and not merely because he was born in a Christian country, or of Christian parents ; not because the laws of the land have established that religion, and it is creditable to appear among its professors in places consecrated to public devotion. Be Christians on your pillows, in your daily employments, in the occupation of your merchandize or agriculture, as well as in your church, and on the day set apart for divine service. Let Christ, by the Holy Ghost, be formed in your hearts, restoring in you the image of God, in which you were created, but which was sadly sullied, or quite defaced, by the fall of the first Adam, and can be restored only by the mercy of the second.
If there were but a probability that these comfortable doctrines are true, a wise man would cherish them ; but as they are abundantly confirmed by the written word, by the church, by the learned, by the experience and testimony of millions of pious men; who would not resolve to believe, and if any doubts should at any time arise, to say, Lord, help thou my unbelief ?
Religion has been, and is, the delight of a great part of our fellow-creatures throughout Christendom. It may be ours, if we will duly apply our minds to it. Consider with what ardour of attachment many seek pictures, books, the works of art, the objects of taste and fancy. They learn to love them, by applying their minds to them. Half the application bestowed on things, which, at best, are but toys, if bestowed on religion, would make it your chief delight, the guardian of youth, the comfort of the aged and afflicted. You would no longer consider its duties and employments as heavy and dull. You would feel, not only the offices of charity, but devotion, sweet to your soul. The gracious words of gospel truth, of prayer, and thanksgiving, would “ come o'er thine ear,” as the poet says,
66 _ like the sweet south,
That breathes upon a bank of violets.” It is justly said, that in devotional offices, passion becomes reason, and transport, temper. Heaven must disdain the cold prayer, the lukewarm praise of insensibility and indifference. The incense must blaze on the altar, before the sweet odours can ascend to the skies. Cold devotion is indevout. Heartless thanksgiving is an insult. What! shall we warm and be anxious, and sanguine, in worldly pursuits, in politics and party, and dull and languid as followers of Christ, in showing our zeal in the cause of the great captain of our salvation, which is the cause of all mankind, a cause in which heaven and earth are interested ? Be it the great endeavour of all who would obtain wisdom from above, to conciliate, by fervent prayer, the grace of God, which will remove all hardness of heart, the cause of that coldness and insensibility, which is too often most unjustly honoured with the name of moderation.'
" " Because thou art luke-warm, I will vomit thee out of my mouth" —Elegal-one of the strongest expressions of contempt and indignation in the holy scriptures. Rev. iii. 16.
On Spiritual Slumber, as described in the Scriptures,
and the necessity of being awakened.
The religious world is divided into many sects; but perhaps the most numerous party consists of nominal Christians, who appear to adopt no religious opinions at all; who, indeed, neither deny the truth of any religion, nor controvert its doctrines; but who give themselves up to the pleasures and business of the world, or to mere thoughtlessness and inactivity, and leave religion to its professed ministers, to their neighbours, to the weak, the sick, and the superannuated. In the words of Isaiah, · They hear, but understand not; and see, indeed, but perceive not; the heart of this people is fat, their ears heavy, and their eyes shut.' With respect to their spiritual state, they may be said to have fallen into a deep sleep; and in the midst of their bodily activity, their souls are sunk in slumber. To these the animating words of the apostle are addressed : 'Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.'
Is it possible that men can sleep so soundly, in this uncertain state, while the house they inhabit may be said to be in flames, or while they lie on the very brink of a steep cliff, from which, if they fall, they fall to rise no more? Alas! it is not only possible, but common; though it is a sleep,