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all the changes of this fluctuating scene, you have a friend that never fails. Then, let the tempest beat, and the floods descend, you are safe and happy under the shelter of the Rock of ages.
Devotion a Source of Happiness.
WHATEVER promotes and strengthens virtue, whatever calms and regulates the temper, is a source of happiness. Devotion produces these effects in a remarkable degree. It inspires composure of spirit, mildness, and benignity; weakens the painful, and cherishes the pleasing emotions, and, by these means, carries on the life of a pious man in a smooth and placid tenor.
Besides exerting this habitual influence on the mind, devotion opens a field of enjoyments, to which the vicious are entire strangers; enjoyments the more valuable, as they peculiarly belong to retirement when the world leaves us, and to adversity when it becomes our foe. These are the two seasons, for which every wise man would most wish to provide some hidden store of comfort. For let him be placed in the most favourable situation which the human state admits, the world can neither always amuse him, nor always shield him from distress. There will be many hours of vacuity, and many of dejection, in his life. If he be a stranger to God, and to devo tion, how dreary will the gloom of solitude often prove? With what oppressive weight will sickness, disappointment, or old age, fall upon his spirits! But, for those pensive periods, the pious man has a relief prepared.
From the tiresome repetition of the common vanities of life, or from the painful corrosion of its cares and sorrows, devotion transports him into a new re
gion; and surrounds him there with such objects as are the most fitted to cheer the dejection, to calm the tumults, and to heal the wounds of his heart. If the world has been empty and delusive, it gladdens him with the prospect of a higher and better order of things about to rise. If men have been ungrateful and base, it displays before him the faithfulness of that supreme Being, who, though every other friend fail, will never forsake him.-Consult your experience, and you will find that the two greatest sources of inward joy are, the exercise of love directed towards a deserving object, and the exercise of hope terminating on some high and assured happiness. Both these are supplied by devotion; and therefore we have no reason to be surprised, if, on some occasions, it fills the hearts of good men with a satisfaction not to be expressed.
These are pleasures which belong to the highest powers, and best affections of the soul,To thee, O Devotion! we owe the highest improvement of our nature, and much of the enjoyment of our life. Thou art the support of our virtue, and the rest of our souls in this turbulent world. Thou composest the thoughts: Thou calmest the passions: Thou exaltest the heart. Thy communications, and thine only, are imparted to the low, no less than to the high; to the poor, as well as to the rich. In thy presence, worldly distinctions cease; and under thy influence, worldly sorrows are forgotten. Thou art the balm of the wounded mind. Thy sanctuary is ever open to the miserable; inaccessable only to the unrighteous and impure. Thou beginnest on earth the temper of heaven. In thee the hosts of angels and blessed spirits eternally rejoice.
Reflections on God as our Creator.
The contemplation of God in the light of a creator, cannot fail to excite in us the most profound veneration. This idea of deity is adapted to plunge us into the depths of that astonishment, into which it is pleasing to the mind of man to be thrown by a subfime object. He who has pleasure in looking at what is grand in the highest degree, will hither repair to receive it. He that delights to have his mind distended to the utmost stretch of admiration, must come to this idea for his delight.
It is impossible to think of the maker of all things, without being fixed in all the stillness and stupor of astonishment; whether we consider the amazing multiplicity and magnificence of his productions, or the complete sense in which he is the author of them, compared with the imperfect sense, in which man is the maker of what are called the works of man. If some of the greater works of man excite our amazement, how much more is his idea adapted to awaken it, who made the materials out of which those works were framed; who formed the fingers by means of which they were fashioned; and who inspired the understandings by the light of which they were designed. "If we admire the inventors of inanimate machines that move, with what admiration must we think of him who made "the moving creature that hath life.”
“ All the works of all the human race combined, all the frabrics they have constructed, all the systems of matter or motion they have composed, how complicated soever their parts, or extensive their dimensions, or beautiful their appearance, or powerful their effect, or excellent their uses, are proofs of a faint. and feeble power, compared with the production of a fly.
All the engines which human ingenuity has framed, whatever the variety, or the vigour, or the value, of their movements, display a hand that shrinks into nothing before that energy, that rolls the blood through the veins of a reptile; that communicates to a worm its faculty of creeping upon the earth; that indues the meanest creature, which moves and feels, with its wondrous power of willing and perceiving,Where is the artist, beneath the sun, who can breath into insensate clay the breath of life? who can kindle a soul of the dullest degree? who can animate, for one moment, one particle of dust?
The consideration that God is our maker makes it evident that he must be our preserver. This inference cannot be made with respect to any human artist; because no human artist is the framer of any thing, in that radical and strict sense, in which the almighty is. the former of all things. That which man has made may continue to be what he made it, when its maker is distant, when its maker is dead. The work of man may subsist in the absence, may survive the dissolution of its author: it may exist for successive ages, and for successive ages remain "a work to wonder at," when the hand, that gave it its beauty and excellence, has lost its cunning for ever.
For want of deeply reflecting upon the difference between the forming hand of the creature, and that of the Creator of all, we are some of us apt, perhaps, carelessly and inconsiderately, to conceive of our continuance in life as depending upon certain powers and -properties in our animal composition, which were originally communicated to it by its author, but which are now entirely its own; inherent in itself, without hanging on the divine support. We do not, with sufficient closeness to the idea, consider, that he who put together, and put into motion, the great machinery of nature, is its author in a sense, which requires. the incessant action of his hand, in order to hold it together, and to support its operations.
It is not so proper to say, that the creator has communicated a principle of life to the animated world, as that he is himself the great principle of universal vitality. It is not so accurate to say, that he has laid down laws for nature to observe, as that he himself perpetually operates with that benignant regularity which is necessary to the welfare of his living works. He is the great spring and impulse that actuates all things. He is himself the attracting power that holds the particles of all bodies together, and combines all bodies into the beautiful systems we see them compose. He is himself the living soul that inhabits, and animates every living thing; that propels every drop through every vein; that produ ces every pulsation of every artery, every motion of every limb, every action of every organ, throughout the whole animal kingdom. Every operating principle, through the ample compass of things, is God, that moment willing, God, that moment acting. He is the life of the world: at once the maker, the inspector, and the mover, of all things. Water we call the element of one animal: air, we say, is the element of another: the vital presence of God himself is the universal element, in which all living creatures "live and move, and have their being."
This is the voice of reason and philosophy, as well as of scripture. He that made all things, must be every moment necessary, to the support of every thing As, according to that particular constitution of nature, under which we live, when you lift with your hand a body high in the air, if you wish to pro-long its elevation, you must not only lift it thither, but hold it there; as, if you take away your hand from under it, that instant it falls so, according to the eternal nature of things, the being, that called us into existence, must every moment hold our soul in the life, to which he has raised us. If he withdraw his hand, we drop. "In his hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind." Whatever we subsist upon, subsists itself, upon him. All that sustains us, it is God that sustains. Bb2.