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Lovely, lasting peace, appear!
'Twas thus, as under shade I stood,
(9) Page 85. What earthly power can make such a man unhappy.] Throughout the remainder of this paragraph, the author is much indebted to SAINT CHRYSOSTOM. See his fifth homily on the Statues, and his sixteenth on the Epistle to the Romans. Vol. vi. p. 495. Vol. iv. p. 519. Savile Edition.
(10) Page 86. Such a Christian has his sorrows ; but his sorrow is sweeter than this world's joy.] For minds of delicacy and susceptibility, this world has in store a profusion of scorns and contumelies, of which the multitude take no cognizance. Under such feelings, true religion is not merely a relief; it converts suffering into exquisite enjoyment. This fact is so beautifully, and, at the same time, so justly
illustrated, in a letter which the present writer received several years ago, from an invaluable friend, that he cannot resist the inclination to insert the following extract. This unauthorized insertion, he trusts, that friend will have the goodness. to forgive.
“ March 13. 1804. “ Yesterday, as I was walking in the streets, I asked myself, What is Christianity ? It is, answered my mind, a divine system of spiritual attractions, by which, whosoever gives himself to them, is effectually drawn out of the otherwise invincible entanglements, and inextricable intricacies, of this dark, miserable, polluting, heart-lacerating world (the awwu Tou xoo nou TOUTOU' — the ecourice TW xoo poxpatopwv, Tou OXOTOUS, TOU QWVOS TOUTOU); and led forth into what David has described as green pastures, beside the still waters ; or what Saint Paul has emphatically called z2H KAI ÈIPHNH, LIFE and PEACE.
66 The truth is, that, to a person of any sensibility, this world is a wretched place. There is not a step in life, where we can be sure of not meeting some latent, lurking thorn. And, when we fall in with those various adventurers described by Lucretius (lib. ii. init.), if they are in pursuit, they rudely shove us by; if they are in possession of their prize, they despise us in their hearts, and tell us, by their looks and manner, that they do so. A hard, selfish, thoroughpaced mind, goes on, and cares not; but the sensible, delicate, feeling spirit, is ever pushed to the wall. To such a spirit, then, what a gentle; blesséd relief is afforded, by a heart-knowledge of Christianity? There is no abatement of feeling: the vivid perception is as keen as ever. But the heart and mind are so occupied, so filled, so richly compensated, and so deeply tranquillized, by the pursuit, the contemplation, the con
fident, affectionate, filial apprehension of God; the scripturally revealed God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier; the incarnate God, touched with the feeling of our infirmities; and all this, infinitely harmonizing, or rather identifying, with the philosophic view of the first good, first perfect, and first fair, whilst it is practically and experimentally evinced, by undeniable, invaluable, never-failing influences and effects within ; – all this together, forms such a set-off against, and such a refuge from, the common pains and penalties of mortality, as often makes the naturally vulnerable mind rejoice in its quickness of feeling, because this serves to enhance the preciousness of the blessing.
“ Perhaps this view may appear to you too highly coloured. It would be so, were it to be taken as the hourly state of a Christian's mind. But all this, to its extent, is the cloudless meridian state. Many partial obscurations, indeed, occur to diminish this clearness; but they only diminish it. The substance still remains. A kind of mental rain and storm, too, may often be experienced ; and the weather-beaten pilgrim may tremble to find himself driven, as he thinks, to the edge of some dangerous precipice. But he does not fall over. He recovers his footing and his confidence. And, in a little time, the sky is cleared, and the air becomes calm and genial. Amidst all this, however, there is sensible progress. And this variety has its great use. In order that the mind may maintain its victory over sin, it must be kept on the alert by temptation. In order that it may continually look to heaven for strength, it must be made to feel its own entire imbecility. And it is, on the whole, necessary that nothing here should be perfect, in order to the eternal sabbatism being rightly pursued, and habitually anticipated."
HEBREWS, xi. 8, 9, 10.
BY FAITH, ABRAHAM, WHEN HE WAS CALLED TO GO
OUT INTO A PLACE WHICH HE SHOULD AFTERWARD
“ WHATSOEVER things were writs t en aforetime,” says the Apostle,
“ were written for our learning; that we, " through patience and comfort of the “ Scriptures, might have hope.”
This character particularly applies to · those portions of Scripture, which acquaint us with the habits, dispositions, and principles, of wise and pious men ; which teach us, by example, what we ought to shun, and what to pursue; which enlist the imagination upon the side of virtue ; and which engage us, through divine assistance, to embellish our own nature, with the graces, and the charities, of other times. Among such narratives, the history of Abraham holds a very distinguished rank. It is the first piece of sacred biography on record. It exhibits, for the first time, at full length, the nature and effects of true religion. The piety of Abel, of Enoch, and of Noah, is but rapidly sketched. And, in the earlier chapters of Genesis, our acquaintance with the rest of mankind, is almost confined to the knowledge of their guilt, their misery, and their destruction. But a new dispensation of Providence opens with the call of Abraham. We see man, restored to the confidence of his Maker; admitted, if we may so speak, to familiar intercourse with the Almighty. And we · behold the perfections of that high and