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the time in which St. Matthew wrote, yet all antiquity is unanimously agreed, that this evangelist compiled his gospel for the service of the Jews in Palestine, to confirm those who believed, and to convert, if possble, those who believed not.
SELECT THOUGHTS, &C.
His pity gave, ere charity began.-GOLDSMITH.
IN the portrait of an almost perfect character drawn by the hand of the inimitable Goldsmith, this may be considered as one of the most striking features. It addresses itself to the heart; and we immediately perceive the propriety of it, though few are constrained to “ go and do likewise.'
Mankind in general, when they see their fellow creatures reduced to want, must stop to enquire into the causes which brought the evil upon them; and should they find, that they have been involved by their own indiscretion, they are sure to feel all that coldness and disdain, which the most barbaric apathy could dictate. Their hearts feel as little impression from the cries of the needy, as do the ragged rocks from the balmy dew, which gently trickles down their adamantine cheeks.
This Zemblan frigidity of heart is the more shocking when its traces are discerned in the conduct of those who are renowned for their acquisition in human literature ; and who also profess the benevolent religion of Jesus. It may perhaps be objected, that this is not observable in the character last stated. Would to God the objection were always true. But, are there not men found, swimming in affluence, apparently zealous supporters of the religion of their country, in short possessing every ostensible advantage of becoming “ mild and tractable to man," who live thoughtless of their suffering brethren, and who, in the language of the wise man, have not kindness even to lend to the Lord!
How unlike is the disposition of such, to that of the venerable Redeemer of man, who bid flow his vital current to wash even his murderers from pollution !
In fine, it may be stated as an axiom, that he who will not relieve the suffering, of whatever description, when he has it in his power, only wishes for a pretext to brood over his ill-gotten, misimproved wealth ; and, in the worship of Mammon, to cheat his God of that service, which is his due ! These base born souls may possibly receive a sordid gratification, like the dog in the manger; but can nev. er taste those refined pleasures, which are only possessed by the benevolent and sympathetic.
ON THE BEING OF A GOD. HOW irrational the history of Atheists ! for, that God ex. ists, the universe bears the most ample testimony. Not a section, not a page in the vast and instructive volume of nature which lies open before us, but inculcates the doctrine. At home, abroad, in the most public or solitary employments and conditions, we are
presented with the evidence of divine existence. Every object from the least grain of sand, to the globe itself; from the crawling worms to the immortal Newton, who explored the celestial world, is God's witness before the bar of reason. To be atheists in practice is easy, but to be atheists in theory is a hard work indeed. How blind, stupid, and brutish is the real atheist! Who shall attempt to reason with the senseless monster, while he discards the divine existence, and wantonly tramples upon all the reason in the niverse ? He who cannot see Cod every where, and in every object of nature, must expect to grope in the obscurity of darkness; for criminal ignorance and fatal blindness has clouded and sealed his eyes. Blessed be God, atheists are not beyond the influence of his almighty arm. He can with a word enlighten their minds, change their hearts, and teach them to adore his majesty at the altar of devotion. Since there is evidence of God's existence, it is manifest that we are absolutely in his hands, and can expect no protection but from his agency. To oppose God, then, is fruitless if not dangerous. If he resolve to kill us, we must die; and if he determines to spare us, we shall live. For who can prevent the execution of his irresistible and irreversible decree?
REMARKS ON PRIDE. WHEN we look at a field of corn we find those stalks which raise their heads highest, are the emptiest. The same is the case with men : those who assume the greatest consequence, have generally the least share of judgment and ability.
There is no vice more insupportable and more universally hated than pride ; it is a kind of poison which corrupts all the good qualities of a man, and whatever merit he otherwise possesses, this alone is sufficient to render him odious and contemptible ; so that pleasing himself too much he displeases every one else. Pride is the first vice that takes possession of the heart, because it derives its source from self-love ; and it is the last that remains, whatever efforts may be made to expel it.
ANECDOTE OF BISHOP BULL.
BISHOP BULL in his younger years was settled in a Parish where were many Quakers; One of these, who was a noted preacher among them, once accosted Mr. Bull in these words: « George, as for human learning I set no value upon it; but if thou wilt talk scripture, have at thee." Upon which Mr. Bull, willing to come at his confidence, readily answered, “Come on then, friend!” So opening the bible, which lay before them, he fell upon the book of Proverbs, “ See'st thou, friend,” saith he, Solomon saith in one place, “ answer a fool according to his folly ;” and in another place, “ answer not a fool according to his folly;" how dost thou reconcile these two texts of scripture? Why, said the quaker, Solomon don't say so? To which Mr. Bull replied, “ Aye, but he doth ;" and turning to the places, he soon convinced him. On which the quaker, being much out of countenance, said, “why then Solomon's a fool;" which ended the controversy.
WHEN now the solstitial sun has gained his meridian heighth, and darts down his burning rays, the feathered tribes fly to some thicket and cease their songs. The flocks and herds forgetful of their food, seek the sequestered shade, and sip the running stream ; while beneath the branching oak, reclines the o’erheated labourer, enjoys the refreshing breeze that fans the abundant foliage above, and recovers his strength for new toils. Exposed to the burning 'sun, or oppressed and panting with heat amid the 'crouded throng of men, imagination involuntarily wanders along some verdant bank, or retires beneath some shady grove, and anticipates unspeakable delights:. And when transported thither in reality, what calm serenity, and peaceful tranquility pervade both soul and body! The bosom in which piety dwells cannot refrain from ejaculations of praise and thanksgiving to the great Creator, that he has thus varied the face of things, uniting utility with delight, spreading out the forest for shade in summer, and for fuel in winter. How. beneficent and how wise is that Being from whom all these arrangements in nature are derived! How merciful and kind that he continues to man such a constant change of delights, notwithstanding his original defection, and departure from holiness, and his multiplied transgressions, with which he daily provokes God to withdraw his goodness; and for which it would be just that the earth should be converted into a barren sand, scorched by the sun in summer, and frozen to a lifeless mass in winter. But mercy prevails against justice, and the established course of nature comes round: The fields are again covered with rich harvests, and the husbandman waits in exultation for the day soon approaching, when he is to put in the sickle and the scythe, and store his barns with abundance : Again the forests are clothed in their fullest robes and solemn wave to the winds : Again the vallies and hills laugh and sing ; they lift up their voices in praise to the great king of Heaven: Lowing heards and bleating flocks go forth in the morning, spread over the lawns, and across the cheerful green do seek their meat from God, on whom all creatures live ; he openeth his hand and supplieth them from his bounty. Who art thou then, O man, that thou shouldest repine when such abundance is flowing around thee? Canst thou doubt his goodness, or call in
question his providence? Then go and disbelieve the evidence of thy senses. Go and be more than a brute animal who relies upon God for his daily food, and gratefully receives what is liberally given. Go and learn wisdom and piety from creatures whom thou deemest thy inferiors; but who in one sense are thy superiors, in that they have not sinned against their Maker.
If the foregoing considerations are not enough to convince thee of God's omnipresence and abundant goodness, that his influence is. every where exerted, without which not a spire of grass would grow, nor a leaf put forth in the grove; go enter, at high noon or falling eve, yon tail forest, through which rustles the cooling breeze, or sings beside the sturdy trunk ; there walking erect or reclined on the ground, catch the spirit of musing meditation and solemn awe, so naturally inspired by thy situation. Raise thine eyes and contemplate the lofty bower with which thou art surrounded; cast thy mind back and consider how many years, or perhaps centuries, it has been nourished by his hand who supporteth all things, to crown thy life with mercy and loving kindness, to embrace thee in its shade, who art but of yesterday, and who wilt soon depart to make room for another. If thou art not steeled against all impressions of serious ness; if thou art not deaf to the voice of nature, and nature's God, speaking aloud in the rustling leaves, the breathing winds, and the solemn gloom that sits around, devotion will glow spontaneous in thy heart; the divinity will seem present to thy mind, and thou wilt be absorbed in divine contemplations.
Whoever seriously considers the wonderful change both of body and mind that takes place, on retiring from the oppresions of heat into some shady recess, will not be surprised that such places in early times should have been consecrated to religious worship. In the dawn of civilization, when men have been just emerging from bar. barism, and without the light of God's word to guide their erring reason, this was a natural superstition, if superstition it must be cal. led. When they found their bodies suddenly relieved from uneasiness, and their minds tranquilized and filled with sublime and awful impressions resulting from the gloom with which they were surrounded, they at once ascribed these effects to some present deity, and concluded that there he would be more propitious to their vows, and listen to their devout prayers; there of course they built their altars and offered their incense: Having there, as they supposed, received the impressions of inspiration, (nor was the supposition far distant from the truth) they there continued to look for the immediate communication of the divine mind. And if they had not perverted this original simplicity of worship, and ascribed real divinity to the inanimate stock of a tree, they could scarce be blamed. So congenial to our feelings are sublime meditation and devotion, when we are straying in the leafy grove, and listening to the whispering winds, that it would have been far more wonderful if rude man had missed of feeling the urgentimpulse, and being guided by its powerful direction.
When this pure adoration of the heart, arising from native im: pressions, was corrupted into gross idolatry, and the people of God were forbidden to practice it, still we find them giving way to the force of example in their heathen neighbours, and building altars upon high places, and under every green tree. Nor is there a nation on earth or ever was, of whom history gives us any account, whom we do not find, in their early ages, practising the same kind of worship. May we not hence conclude that it has a deeper origin than has been mentioned ? May it not have taken rise from the appointment of God in the garden of Eden, and been handed down by tradition? A grove was certainly the primitive temple in which man worshipped his Maker ; a tree and its fruit were the emblems of life, and under it no doubt our first parent paid his adorations, and worshipped the God of his life. After man's exclusion from Paradise among
the Patriarchs we read of no temples, but altars only. And where were they erected ? Most certainly not in the open air, but under a tree to shelter them from the burning sun. And it is the opinion of Bishop Horne, that by the immediate appointment of God, groves were planted round about the tabernacle and temple at Jerusalem. In this opinion he is supported by many hints in scripture. I am like a green olive tree in the house of God, says the Psalmist. If no such trees grew there, where is the beauty or propriety of the comparison ? And if they grew there, since all things within and about it were by the appointment of God, we have reason to think these were also ordained by the same authority. And indeed the thing is reasonable in itself, that there might be preserved some similarity between the primitive temple in Paradise, built by God himself, and that afterwards erected by the hands of men, yet under the direction of God. But a further reason may be assigned for such plantations of trees in the courts of the house of God; for they were significant emblems of that growth in grace, which the sincere worshipper experienced, while he regularly came to pay his devotions according to God's appointment.
If these sentiments are just, they apply with equal force to our Christian temples : I cannot therefore conclude these reflections without a word to the piously disposed, on this subject. Your private dwellings you enclose, and ornanient with shades. What good reason then can you give for leaving the house of God in the open street; its entrance frequented and incommoded by every unclean beast that roams at large? With few exceptions, this is the case with all our country Churches ; and not to say any thing of a regard to taste and elegance, it is surely no proof of piety and reverence for sacred things. And besides, have you considered how much shades would contribute to convenience and health, while at your devotions, by repelling the sun's burning rays, and excluding the heat of summer? Have you considered how much they tend to inspire that solemn awe with which we ought ever to come into God's presence, and worship at his foot-stool? Have you well weighed what a help they are to the exercises of piety and true devotion ? By the gloom which they spread around, they exclude brighter and more trifling thoughts, and settle the soul into a solemn frame, fit to be offered unto God. At this season of the year then, when shades are so much