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which casts a thick cloud over the sunshine of life, and represents the God of Mercies as a tyrant delighting in human misery. Let us consider him as the parent who wills our happiness and rejoices in our felicity; and who, to secure us from the fatal mistakes to which our own ignorance would expose us, has kindly warned us against indulging in any pleasure that is not the acknowledged gift of his unbounded love. This is the test of lawful enjoyment: whatever can be enjoyed with innocence, ought to be enjoyed with thankfulness. By keeping this steadily in view, the blessings of life will be converted into means of grace; and every circumstance in our lot, prosperous and adverse, be rendered equally instrumental in forwarding the work of our salvation. Prayer, and the sacraments of bap
tism and the Lord's supper, which are denominated special means of grace, will upon examination be found so admirably adapted to render us the assistance of which we stand so much in need, as to bear evident testimony to the divine wisdom of Him by whom they were appointed. Prayer, as a natural acknowledgment of human weakness, was practised by people of all religions; but it was by Jesus Christ that its nature and object were defined; and it is only as his directions are attended to that it will be found a means of grace.
Prayer, as taught by human wisdom, is either the result of superstitious dread, or the effusion of some present passion, and can in neither instance tend to purify the heart. By human wisdom, addresses to the Deity have always been framed to suit some particular occasion or circumstances; but
the prayer taught by Jesus is suited to the wants and circumstances of all mankind. This is, indeed, a distinguishing feature in all the institutions of the Gospel.
From the beginning of the world, it has so happened, that the everfluctuating tide of time has, in all societies, gradually effected such changes, as to render the laws and rules that were necessary and proper at one period, unnecessary and improper at another. Ceremonies that have, at the time of their institution, appeared the perfection of wisdom, seem in after-times ridiculous and absurd. But though human wisdom must have discovered this, human pride has ever interposed to prevent any use from being made of the discovery; and consequently all laws and ordinances promulged by human
authority have been issued as if they were to be in force for ever.
The law of Moses, instituted by God for a particular purpose, was declared to be only for a season, and as introductory to that law of holiness which was to be everlastingly binding. By our Saviour that law of holiness was published; and as it was intended, so it was adapted for every age and every nation. Calculated to endure while the sun shall hold his place in the firmament, while the planets of our system shall continue to run their course around his radiant orb, "Heaven and earth "shall pass away, but his words "shall never pass away." By no revolutions of time can they be made obsolete, by no changes in the state of society can they be rendered useless. While man continues what he is, a being compounded of soul and
body, having appetites and passions, intellect and affections capable of being called forth by their proper objects, the institutions of the Gospel shall continue to be effectual.
Such of the precepts of human wisdom as do not in process of time become useless, are, whenever they descend to particulars, circumscribed in their use; for they are adapted to the condition either of the rich or of the poor, of the young or of the old. It is the precepts of Jesus Christ alone that speak to every heart. In prosperity and in adversity, in grief and in joy, in youth and in age, they are still found applicable to the present situation and circumstances; a certain proof that they are founded upon such a knowledge of the nature of man, as could only be obtained by Him who made him.
I shall endeavour to illustrate this