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deny altogether its influence on the human mind. But surely that Almighty Being, who holds the hearts of all men in his hands, can act as powerfully upon our minds, to raise in us holy thoughts and pious resolutions, as he does upon our bodies, to produce those 'various perceptions and sensations, which we daily experi
He who can stop the perturbed waves of the sea, and say to the storm,“ peace, be still,” can also fix a wandering mind, and govern an unruly imagination: he can prevent the effects of prejudice and passion, he can disarm our malice, awaken our slumbering conscience, bend our stubborn will, melt our steeled hearts, fill us with compunction and remorse, and draw us to himself by the tender cords of love and duty.
And indeed this has not only been the con: stant doctrine both of the Jewish and Christian church, founded on the clear testimony of Scripture, but also, every man who rightly weighs the frailty and corruption of his own nature, who recollects the frequent and pathetic lamentations of Socrates and others of the best heathens, who felt the feebleness and insufficiency of the guidance of unassisted reason, will want no other argument to convince him of the necessity of some farther aid, to carry him through the compass of his duty; and therefore will thankfully accept that which is offered, - though he knows neither the modes nor measures of its operations. He will bless the hand that supports his weakness, though he sees it not; he will adore the God that preserves him, though, like Job, he cannot find him but in his effects : “ Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; “ and backward, but I cannot perceive him; on “ the left hand, where he doth work, but I can“ not behold him; he hideth himself on the
right hand, that I cannot see him:” and yet
the pillars of heaven tremble, and are asto“ nished at his reproof.”
And indeed this divine assistance is not only necessary, in the beginning of life, to lead us to God, but also to guide and conduct us to the end of our spiritual warfare. For look round you in the world, and recollect the many fatal examples of men, who once did run well, who have appeared with honour and reputation for a time, but, for want of divine grace to strengthen them, have fallen into the most destructive sins.
There, for example, lies a hapless youth, whose morning of life promised a long continuance of blessings, to reward the watchful care of an affectionate parent: but, too soon deserted by the grace of God, he gave way to destructive passions, and fell a sacrifice to those false notions of honour, which too often bring down the grey head with sorrow to the grave. .
See another, once happy in every circumstance of life! An affectionate wife shared with him the joys of innocence and virtue, and a group of innocents looked up to him for guidance and support : but in an unhappy hour, giving way to the fatal phrenzy of gaming, he involved himself and his family in distress and shame, and to shun the censure of the world, and the stings of his own conscience, he terminated his life by suicide. Whilst he lived, he nourished in his breast the worm that never dieth, and too soon, it is to be feared, he plunged headlong into the fire that cannot be quenched.
See a third, whose earlier days integrity and industry had crowned with success and respect ! The way was open for him to that higher degree of opulence and esteem, which seldom fails to reward perseverance and probity. But alas ! a disposition to convivial merriment soon produced in him a fatal attachment to drunkenness : in proportion as this increased, the springs of industry were slackened, his credit and success declined in the world, and he now exists, I will not say lives, like an oak blasted by the lightning from heaven, a monument of divine vengeance, and a warning to others of the danger of quenching the spirit of God.
Who can withhold the tribute of sorrow, when he calls to mind another well known example of the fatal dereliction of divine
in a person once of distinguished eminence in the sacred order. A man, on whom heaven had bestowed all her united accomplishments : a person to command affection and respect: the voice of eloquence to enforce and adorn the precepts of divine wisdom: yet, captivated by the false glitter of idle shew and unprofitable parade, regardless of those divine precepts he once so well taught, after having passed the meridian of life, when prudence generally stands as a cautious guard over the passions, he was tempted to commit a crime never to be forgiven in a commercial country, and therefore fell a sacrifice to the vindiction of the law, as a sad warning to posterity, that no talents, however captivating and resplendent, can ward off ruin and infamy, without the assistance of divine grace. " Wherefore let him that thinketh he “ standeth, take heed lest he fall.”
You see then, how necessary a continuance of divine grace is, and therefore, how wisely St.
Paul prayed, that the God of
pre serve the Thessalonians blameless to the end, or, as he expresses himself in another place, " that he, which had begun a good work in “ them, would perform it until the day of « Jesus Christ.”
Since God then is the giver of every good gift, let us all, like St. Paul, daily offer up our humble and earnest prayers to him, that he would put into our minds good desires, that he would protect us from all error, and would lead us into all truth ; and that he will give us such a measure of holiness, as may entitle us, through the merits of his Son, to his favour and protection.
There are, indeed, other means of improving in holiness, which we may use with advantage : but, without this of prayer, all others will be vain and fruitless. We may profit, by reading the word of God, or by the perusal of books of piety, with which our language abounds in a more eminent degree, perhaps, than any other. We may profit too, by hearing the 'instructions of the ministers of the Gospel. But we should ever remember, that the sublimest books of devotion, nay even the book of God himself, can be no further useful, than as they lead us to the