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in the same sense as the blood and water and spirit, in the verse immediately succeeding."*
ON PIETY TO GOD.
Ir is of the first importance in a religious character, to have a regard to the Supreme Being in all actions and undertakings. Yet, even among those who appear to possess a good moral cbaracter, it is to be feared that that some are destitute of a pious disposition. It is very possible for morality to have no purer spring than self-interest, and no higher aim than the praise of men. Such morality we may speak well of as members of society, for it may contribute largely to our security and well-being in the social state. But we cannot encourage men to place much dependance upon it as christians, because it does not partake at all of the christian spirit. Piety to God is the distinction and the glory of the christian's character. Divest him of this affection of the soul, and you may still call him a moral man, you may still call him a good man, but you cannot call him a christian. In whatever degree he is deficient in this virtue, he so far falls short of true and proper christianity. He has not yet attained to the perfection of that character which he pos
It is no less strange than it is lamentable that so many should be wanting in piety to God. There is no virtue which possesses so many allurements as this. There is no virtue in favour of which we can present so many powerful, engaging and popular considerations. Every thing within us and without us invites to the cultivation and exercise of this heavenly temper. Every object that meets our eyes points upwards to the One Supreme as its Creator and supporter; and shall not our thoughts be raised in contemplation to the Deity? All our noble and generous feelings spontaneously impel us to go out among the works of God; to talk of him and to praise him; and shall we disobey this divine intimation of our duty? Forbid it conscience, reason, heaven.
* Quod dicit, tres esse unum, ad essentiam non refertur, sed ad consensum potius. Acsi diceret, Patrem, et æternum Sermonem ejus ac Spiritum, symphonia quadam Christum pariter approbare. Itaque nonnulli codices habent εις έν. Verum etiamsi legas, ut est in aliis exemplaribus, non tamen dubium est quin Pater, Sermo et Spiritus eodem sensu dicantur unum esse, quo postea sanguis et aqua et Spiritus.
Piety has its foundation in human nature. It approves itself to all our best feelings, it recommends itself to us by its own intrinsic loveliness. Nothing can be more natural, nothing more beautiful, than a rational piety to God. We are so formed by our Creator as to adore what is great, admire what is excellent, and love what is good. And wherein does piety to God consist but in adoring, and admiring, and loving a Being who possesses all these qualities in perfection? A Being, who far surpasses all other beings in majesty and benignity?" For who in the heavens can be compared unto the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto our God?" Ought we not then to cherish and exhibit towards the Deity those feelings and affections, which his true character is adapted to call forth. This is piety and surely there is nothing in it that is repulsive to nature; nothing that is visionary or extravagant. Indeed not to possess it would be in the highest degree unnatural; offensive to the very first principles on which we act. We love our friends: ought we not then to love our greatest Friend? We repay with gratitude our benefactors: ought we not to do this to our greatest Benefactor? "We have had fathers in the flesh, and we have done them reverence;" ought we not to pay this same reverence to our heavenly Father, and the Father of all? In short, piety to God is so natural and reasonable, that it cannot but live in the mind of every one whose heart is right. And wherever we do not find it existing, we may conclude that the affections of that man are perverted, or his moral sensibility lost.
Many of the purest pleasures and satisfactions of which the human mind is capable, flow too from piety to God; pleasures and satisfactions which we can derive from no other source. Indeed the cherishing of every good feeling is delightful; but the cherishing of a pious feeling is peculiarly so. Reader! hast thou never felt, in all the experience of thy past life, how pleasant a thing it is to return the kindness of a benefactor with gratitude? to pay back the protection and tenderness of a parent with filial love and reverence and duty? Know then that if you will endeavour to make the same return to God for all the benefits, which you are continually receiving from him; if you will cultivate and exercise towards your heavenly Father those filial sentiments that belong to, and become the affectionate child, the delights you will experience in fulfilling these duties, will be as much superiour to that, we have just alluded to, as the obligation to do them is greater, and the object of them more worthy. If to discharge our duty to man will give us complacency, how much more will the discharge of our
duty to God give us the same complacency; but in a much more exalted degree?
This is the rejoicing which a man of piety has in himself. He also rejoices in the relation which he is conscious of sustaining to the Deity. Being in the habit of holding daily intercourse and communion with God, he comes at length to consider him as his companion and friend. Regarding him in this light he has a confidence in him, to which a man destitute of piety must forever be a stranger. He feels that he has an interest in God, and he knows also that God has an interest in him. In all the vicissitudes of life, then, there is one Being on whom he can depend; one staff on which he can lean; one rock on which he can safely build,-the Rock of Ages. His piety never forsakes him, and it every where gives him peace. It pours over life a new lustre and lends it new attractions. In prosperity it is present to enhance and multiply our enjoyments, and in adversity it comes in to break the blow of misfortune, or bind up the wounds of the broken-hearted; our guide in life; our support in death; our hope and triumph forever.
To those, who have thought much on our moral weakness and exposure in the present world, it is hardly necessary to insist on the importance of piety considered as the support, and the guardian of all our other virtues. We cannot hope to make any very high attainments in the christian life, unless we make this the powerful and animating principle of our conduct. The thoughts of God will overawe and regulate the soul. If we will habituate ourselves to realize God's omnipresence, the impression that he is always about us will sanctify all our labours and hallow all our enjoyments. The idea that he is ever with us; our Father and Friend,-" of purer eyes than to behold iniquity," will banish from our minds every low, and degrading, and unworthy sentiment, and fire us with the noble ambition to become holy, even as he is holy, and perfect, even as he is perfect.
Piety then, is one of the most rational, and important, and be‣ coming dispositions we are capable of acquiring. We must add in conclusion, that it is absolutely indispensable, in order to secure to ourselves the favour of heaven. Again we feel ourselves called upon to assure our readers that their moral conduct may appear to men unexceptionable; and yet they may be destitute of that vital spirit, without which they can have no claim to the felicity christianity promises to the obedient. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and
great commandment." And he who begins by breaking this, though he may pay a seeming respect to the rest, proves himself destitute of the very first principles of true holiness. He should remember that God judges not by the outward appearance of our conduct, but by the motives that influence us in it. And there is a morality which has no better motives than most of our sins; a belief of its present expediency: a morality which does not look for its laws and encouragements, above, or beyond the present world; "which is of the earth, earthy." We find no promises in the gospel to those who are contented with this sort of morality; and we are persuaded that it will not stand the test of the christian's trial.
FOR THE CHRISTIAN DISCIPLE.
PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE RENDERED MORE INTELLIGIBLE BY A NEW PUNCTUATION.
THAT several instances occur in our printed copies of the Bible, where the text is obscure, in consequence of incorrect punctuation, might be easily shewn. I quote, as examples, a few verses, which, as they are commonly read, lose much of their pertinency; but receive a new meaning by being marked and read as interrogatories.
Genesis iv. 23, 24. Have I slain a man to my wounding? a young man to my hurt?
Matth. xxvi. 45, and Matth. xiv. 41. Do you sleep on now, and take your rest?
Matth. xxvii. 42. He saved others; cannot he save himself?
Mark vii. 9. Do ye well to reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition?
Luke vi. 9. Then Jesus said unto them, I would ask you, What is it lawful to do on the Sabbath-days? Good, or ill? To save, or to destroy?
Luke xvii. 18. Are there none found who returned to give. glory to God, except this stranger?
Luke xix. 22. Thou knewest that I was an austere man? John v. 37, 38. Did ye never hear his voice, or see his form? or have ye forgotten his declaration, that ye believe not him whom he hath sent?
John vii. 28. Do ye know me, and know whence I am?
John xi. 49, 50. Are ye so entirely ignorant? Do ye not consider, that it is expedient that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not?
John xi. 56. What think ye? Will he not come to the feast? John xii. 27. What shall I say? Father save me from this hour? But for this cause I came to this hour.
John xii. 15. And they said unto her, art thou mad?
Heb. xii 5. Have ye forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as children?
James iv. 5. Do ye think that the scripture speaketh in vain? Doth the spirit that dwelleth in us excite to envy?
IS RELIGIOUS FAITH A REASONABLE PRINCIPLE OF ACTION?
"WE walk by faith, and not by sight." So said the great apostle of our religion. The principle has indeed been abused by the misrepresentations of the ignorant, and by the overheated zeal of enthusiasts. It has been ridiculed by the doubting; and by unbelievers of revelation, has been represented as a principle of action unworthy of thinking and of reasoning men. But cast your eye over your own ordinary transactions, and examine but for a moment the conduct of men in the most common concerns of life, and you will see that this principle, however abused and despised in the affairs of religion, as certainly guides the unbeliever as the christian; and that, without faith in a thousand circumstances and events, of which we cannot have the certainty of knowledge, it would be as impossible to live in the world, as it is impossible for us to please God, without faith in the promises and prospects of the gospel.
It may be proper to remark, that faith respects not only every thing past, of which we have not had the evidence of our senses, but in every action to which we are excited by a regard to the future, that we may strictly and properly be said to act by faith. Observe then how constant, and how extensive is its influence. You retire at night that you may sleep, and with confidence that you will see the coming day. Yet what is this but the confidence of faith? You cannot know that you will sleep to night, because you slept the last night. You cannot know that you will see the light of to-morrow, because you saw the light of this morning. But on the evidence of your past experience, you believe, and trust. You provide for your future wants; and you take your food, that you may be nourished and strengthened by it. But you cannot know that this food, instead of nourishing and strengthening you, will not be the cause of disease and of death. That it has hitherto nourished you, is but an argument from experience, on which you