« PreviousContinue »
friends: nor, while I can thus flatter myself, shall I ever look back but with pleasure and satisfaction, to the hours we spent together in that retirement, which I purposely preferred to gayer scenes, in order to have it in my power to bestow on you an undivided attention.
It was there you first learned "to "look through nature up to nature's "God -," it was there you first began to read, in the wondrous fabric of the universe, the wisdom and the power of the great Creator: and, when you became sensible of the manifestations of his goodness, how did you rejoice in the consciousness that this great Creator, so full of wisdom and benevolence, is "the God in "whom we live and move and have "our being!" May this reflection be ever, as it then was, a subject of delight and gladness to your heart! D 5 and
and such you may be assured it ever will be, while you persevere in cultivating in yourself a disposition to keep it perpetually in remembrance.
Gratitude is one of the most delightful emotions of which we are susceptible. Not even a conviction of unworthiness in the person to whom we have in any instance been indebted for an act of kindness, can stifle the pleasure which accompanies every recollection of such circumstance in a truly generous mind. But when our gratitude ascends towards an object whom we perfectly love and cordially esteem, it is then a feeling of pure and unmixed delight; a feeling which elevates and harmonizes the soul, and inclines us to impart to others a share of the felicity which glows within our own bosoms.
These are the joys which religion bestows on her sincere votaries.
But then — the religion of which I speak, is not a thing made up of shreds and patches. It is not a thing to be resumed at intervals, and to which you are only to devote the fag ends of your time. It is not to be considered as a science, in its nature separate and distinct from the conduct and concerns of life; but as the life of every duty, the animating principle of every action; it must dwell, not upon your lips, but in your lieart.
I am aware that it is not thus that you will at all times hear it represented. People who are destitute either of capacity or mclination for examining the nature of that gracious covenant, which God of his infinite mercy has promulged, when they recommend religion to you, will D 6 speak speak of it as a matter of mere propriety and decorum, an accomplishment becoming your sex and age; while by others, still more foolish or more ignorant, an observation of its ceremonies may be enforced, from a belief that they will operate as a charm in keeping you from evil.
Into this sort of superstition I am persuaded you have too much good sense to be apt to fall. Never, indeed, can you fall into it, while you make a practice of reading the word of God with attention, and with a view to imbibe the spirit of the precepts it enforces and the doctrines which it unfolds. But though you may thus be preserved from erroneous notions concerning what religion is, and what it requires of you to be, still, I must repeat it, the most just opinions you can form will be of no further use
than as they come to be habitually present to your mind.
Of all the doctrines of our holy faith, there is none more simple, more easy to be understood, or which presents itself to us in a manner so irresistible, as that of the presence of God; and yet, where it has not been early impressed as a practical doctrine, how feeble is its influence in preserving us from the commission of sins!
In every prayer we offer up to the Almighty, we solemnly recognize the awful truth; for, without a firm belief in the immediate presence of the Being to whom our prayers are addressed, we are guilty of profaneness in repeating them, inasmuch as in doing so we "take the name of the Lord our "God in vain." Thus devotion, which should be found the most effectual means of improving our faith in the