Sivut kuvina

nature, and of kindred are unheard, and God's world must become a wilderness, if all men were thus to worship him.

More usually a multitude of religious rites, and a shewy worship leads the common people to Superstition. They are taught to place their religion in practices, which at best, are but steps towards it. They mistake the means for the end, and are much engaged in the service of God, without Godliness. The Divine Being is dishonoured by their opinions of him; while they think he can be pleased with performances of nò value, and offended without a fault: as if the heart and life were not of more consideration with him than words and gestures, or any offering could be preferred before innocence and charity. It is from such notions as these, that men contract the Judaical disposition, and exercise the righteousness of a Pharisee; adorning the temple, if they leave their parents in necessity : they


B 2

cringe at God's altar with hardened hearts; and are willing to atone by the mockery of penance, and numbered prayers, for the want of the Love of God, and of Justice to man.

So true is it, that Religion, as well as other objects naturally beautiful, is seen to best advantage when adorned with moderation ; and suffers alike by too much Art, and by the hand of Ignorance.

It is often casy to see the mischief in the two extremes, and yet difficult to assign the exact mean at the best distance from them both. As Catholics are liable to censure for the abuse of re. ligious rites; fome Protestants are justly blameable for vehemently rejecting the whole use of them: mighty earnest in their aversion to little matters, and formal in the very abhorrence of forms. Our church in her public service, we think, is neither destitute of grace and

dignity, dignity, nor yet laboriously or fancifully ceremonious; neither supinely negligent, nor vainly oftentatious. She recommends to her sons, and desires to instil into them such a reverence for religion as may be united with the love of it, a sound piety untainted by hypocrify or enthusiasm.

Let us then improve both under her care, and by her example; fearing God with all solicitude, yet without that frivolous anxiety which is the parent of many scruples and but small improvement; and obeying men too, them that Hebr.xiii. have the rule over us, with a willing mind, but without servility; as free, but not using : Pet. ii. our liberty for a cloke of maliciousness.



Let us have a tender conscience, with a teachable temper; giving no offence, and taking as little as is possible; and yet ready with an honest answer to every 1 Pet. iii. man, that asketh a reason of the hope that is in us. B 3



Let us be obliging without selfish views, without partiality, without fear; and

pious indeed, but neither frantick nor Rom. xiv.censorious ; fully persuaded in our own fit. iii. 2. mind, and shewing all meekness to all men ;

active, and patient; warmed with zeal, and illuminated by knowledge.

Let us add humanity to our godliness, 2 Pet. i. 5. and to faith virtue ; and uniting, what

indeed cannot dwell afunder, Religion

and Charity, recommend what we pracTit. ii. 10. tise, adorn the do&trine of God our Saviour, Eph.v.30. and be living members of his body, which is Col. i. 24. the church.

However agreeable the doctrines of our faith, or the mode of our worship may be to our own judgment, or even to the word of God, they will avail us but little, if our life be not answerable to them. The purity of our principles must be transferred into our practice;


the holiness of our prayers pass into our disposition and deportment.

It has been observed of the Heathens, that their errours must needs have an ill influence upon their lives; and that it was difficult indeed for them to be virtuous, while their religion itself was impure, and their very Gods impious.

Our God is of purer eyes than to behold Hab.i. 13. evil; and, the commandment is holy and just Rom. vii. and good. We are not exposed to the fame "2. temptation, but then we are without their excuse. That which is good may be made Rom. vii. death unto us; and every additional motive +3. to goodness makesus itill more the children of perdition. Christians, who lead the life of Infidels and Heathens, must expect, not their punishment, but a worse.

We Protestants especially are on all accounts obliged to this fanctity in our lives, and self condemned if we neglect it.

« EdellinenJatka »