Page images
PDF
EPUB

EIGHTH EPISTLE.

AIMING AT HEAVEN, there are those who are unwilling to give a serious and fixed attention, to the religion of the Gospel ; under the idea, that its doctrines and precepts, if strictly enforced, would produce terror, melancholy, and despair. Is it not proper that they should be undeceived, and be convinced that the contrary effects would follow ? Only let the kingdom of God be set up within them, and as the happy consequence, they will experience joy in the Holy Ghost. “ The way of transgressors is hard;” but the righteous man, who is conscious of the favour of his God, enjoys a peace of mind,possesses a feeling of security, which must be a stranger to the breast of the sinner. “Religion,” says an elegant writer, “is the sweetest soother of our keenest sorrow, the source and refiner of all our real joys.” It has however been too much the practice of divines, and professors of religion generally, to paint the way of sin as a pleasant flowery

ath; they have indulged their fancies, by extending the allegory to purling streams of pleasure, “ beds of roses, and clouds of perfumes:" while the path of holiness has been represented as rough and difficult; abounding in briars, thorns, and every thing painful and impeding. The very reverse of this is in reality the case. The way of sin is a way of misery, and that of holiness, a way of inexpressible happiness. Bishop Butler justly observes that the system of rewards and punishments, is begun in the present life; and all taste in time, more or less of what will be their fate in eternity. Even one of the ancients, who was a Pagan, could inform us that a bad man is never happy, nor is a good man ever miserable. The mirth and revelry of those who follow in the stream of pleasure, must not be mistaken for happiness ; experience will go far to convince us, even if Solomon had never declared it, that even in laughter the heart is sorrowful, and that the end of all unreasonable and excessive mirth is heaviness.

Take a survey of a follower of what the world calls happiness : that phantom, that ignis fatuus which leads the hearts of men to wander from every thing that is good and great. Behold him in the midst of the bacchanalian revel! ever and anon, as he swallows the intoxicating draught, a flash of reflection darts across his mind, like a meteor in a night of gloom, leaving the dreary waste more dark than ever. To drown reflection, he steeps his intellects in wine, and echoes, louder and more loud, the pealing laugh. But all will not do-sorrow and keen reflection come in the morning, with a revulsion proportioned to the excitement of the debauch. With spirits sunk below their natural ebb; with aching head, and nerves unstrung, he feels himself most abject and miserable; and if he could keep the resolutions which he

[ocr errors]

makes under this state of feeling, he would become an exemplary character.

But, alas! he has appointments on hand which must be fulfilled, friends and companions from whom he cannot separate ; and thus he continues, laying up for himself misery here and hereafter. The still, small voice of conscience, fails not to inform him that he is doing wrong. Even amid the splendid scenes of the ballroom, where bright eyes flash extacy, and young bosoms pant with pleasure, the sickening sensation comes over him ; "he listeneth not to the music, he beholdeth not the dance,” but feels only that he is pursuing a career of wickedness and folly; he is miserable every where, and will continue so, until he pursue a different course.

On the other hand, the truly good and righteous, man is always happy; the steadiness and regularity of his course keep his reason alive, and prevent him from being teased by those endless contrarieties of temper, which make the worldling so unhappy. He walks amid the dangers and difficulties of the world with confidence, because he knows that a Divine power directs his steps, and approves the motives of his conduct. When he takes a survey of the eternal omnipotence,-the infinite grandeur and majesty of the God whom he serves; how do the evanescent and foolish pleasures of the world provoke his contempt. And can it be otherwise, when he considers that “ these fluttering insects of an hour,” are ready to drop into the fathomless abyss of eternity ? How

very strange it appears that thinking beings, who must be sensible of the value of the stake they are playing for, should throw away the ganze with such futile frivolity! Let us request, O ye triflers! that, when conscience sets before you the enormity of your transgressions, you will not turn away your eyes fronų the subject, but will stay and listen to her admonitions ;—she will tell you, that, in the practice of holiness, and rectitude of conduct, there is a pleasure, pure and undefiled, and that fadeth not away ;—that the “ways of wisdom, are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Which of the delights of the world, think you, can be compared to the extacy of the Christian, holding communion with his God? How sublime, how lofty, is this enjoyment! How much raised above every thing sublunary!

A soul unsanctified can never gain admittance into heaven, the residence of every thing that is holy. Ye then who feel that your treasure is not laid up for eternity, make instant preparation.

ye

hesitate ? Begin and live to God, so shall ye enjoy happiness here, and hereafter.

Why do

N

NINTH EPISTLE.

AIMING AT HEAVEN, many neglect to consider the obligations they are under, to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. It is necessary that we remember, that we are redeenied to God by his blood, inson uch, that his death is to be considered as a real and efficacious atonement for our offences.

It is generally allowed, even by the most ignorant and prophane, that it is necessary to possess some religion, both for our good here, and hereafter: but what that religion truly is, has been a matter of much bickering and dissention. Each forms a system for himself, and flatters himself that it must be right. But as the professions of some are in diametrical opposition to those of others, we are very sure they cannot all be right. How then are we to judge of the rectitude or fallacy, of these contending principles ?. As the Gospel is the foundation of religion, by it we must judge. Jesus himself says,“ God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believed on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” These are important truths, so simply and decidedly expressed that no man of common sense can put more than one construction on them. Whatever we want in religion, we have in Christ. To be accepted of

« PreviousContinue »