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there is not a familiar object around us which does not wear a different aspect because the light of Christian love is upon it, not a law which does not owe its truth and gentleness to Christianity. not a custom which cannot be traced, in all its holy, beautiful parts, to the Gospel. - Sir A. Park.
3. Tais LIFE'S EXPERIENCES POINT TO ANOTHER. — 0, my friends, if this winged and swift life be all our life, what a mournful taste have we had of a possible happiness! We have, as it were, from some cold and dark edge of a bright world, just looked in and been plucked away again! Have we come to experience pleasure by fits and glimpses, but intertwined with pain burdensome labor, weariness, and indifference? Have we come to try the solace and joy of a warm, fearless, and confiding affection, to be then chilled or blighted by bitterness, by separation, by change of heart, or by the dread sunderer of loves — Death? Have we found the gladness and the strength of knowledge, when some rays of truth flashed in upon our souls, in the midst of error and uncertainty, or amidst continuous, necessitated, uninstructive avocations of the understanding; and is that all ? Have we felt in fortunate hour the charm of the beautiful, that invests as with a mantle the visible creation, or have we found ourselves lifted above the earth by sudden apprehensions of sublimity,have we had the consciousness of such feelings, which seemed to us as if they might themselves make up a life, almost an angel's life, — and were they “ instant come and instant gone”? Have we known the consolation of doing right, in the midst of much that we have done wrong, and was that also a coruscation of a transient sunshine ? Have we lifted up our thoughts to see Him who is Love, Light, and Truth, and Bliss, to be in the next instant plunged into the darkness of annihilation? Have all these things been but flowers that we have pulled by the side of a hard and tedious way, and that, after gladdening us for a brief season with hue and color wither in our hands, and are like ourselves — nothing? --Professor Wilsoni.
4. Joys OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE. — The testimony of a good conscience will make the comforts of heaven descend upon man's weary head, like a refreshing dew or shower upon a parched land. It will give him lively earnests and secret anticipations of approaching joy; it will bid his soul go out of the body undauntedly, and lift up his head with confidence before saints and angels. The comfort which it conveys is greater than the capacities of mortality can appreciate, mighty and unspeakable, and not to be understood till it is felt. - South.
5. OUTWARD AND INWARD RICHES. — In the presence of the great thought of immortality, how vain appears all andre rest
lessness for a little or a great change in our outward earthly condition! How worse than idle all assumptions of the superior dignity of one mode of honorable toil to another! how worthless all differences of station, except so far as station may enable men to vindicate some everlasting principle, to exemplify some arduous duty, to grapple with some giant oppression, or to achieve the blessings of those who are ready to perish! How trivial, even as the pebbles and shells upon “this bank and shoal of time,” seem all those immunities which can only be spared by fortune to be swept away by death, compared with those images and thoughts which, being reflected from the eternal, not only through the clear medium of Holy Writ, but, though more dimly, through all that is affecting in history, exquisite in art, suggestive in eloquence, profound in science, and divine in poetry, shall not only outlast all the chances and changes of this mortal life, but shall defy the chillness of the grave! Believe me, there is no path more open to the influences of heaven than the common path of daily duty. – Talfourd.
6. DEBASING EFFECTS OF INFIDELITY. — It requires but little reflection to perceive, that whatever veils a future world, and contracts the limits of existence within the present life, must tend in a proportionable degree to diminish the grandeur and narrow the sphere of human agency. As well might you expect exalted sentiments of justice from a professed gamester, as look for noble principles in the man whose hopes and fears are all suspended on the present moment, and who stakes the whole happiness of his being on the events of this vain and fleeting life. If he be ever impelled to the performance of great achievements in a good cause, it must be solely by the hope of fame, a motive which, besides that it makes virtue the servant of opinion, usually grows weaker at the approach of death, and which, however it may surmount the love of existence in the field of battle, or in the moment of public observation, can seldom be expected to operate with much force on the retired duties of a private station. Combine the frequent and familiar perpetration of atrocious deeds with the dearth of great and generous actions, and you have the exact picture of that condition of society which completes the degradation of the species, — the frightful contrast of dwarfish virtues and gigantic vices, where everything good is mean and little, and everything evil is rank and luxuriant: a dead and sickening uniformity prevails, broken only at intervals by volcanic irruptions of anarchy and crime. — Robt. Hall. .
7. KNOWLEDGE AN ASSURANCE OF IMMORTALITY. - Were the Eternal Being to slacken the course of a planet, or increase even tho distance of the fixed stars, the decree wou'd be soon known on earth. Our ignorance is great, because so is our knowledge ; for it is from the mightiness and vastness of what we do know that we imagine the illimitable unknown creation. And to whom has God made these revelations ? To a worm, that the next moment is to be in darkness? To a piece of earth, momentarily raised into breathing? To a soul perishable as the telescope through which it looks into the gates of Heaven?
“ 0, star-eyed Science ! hast thou wandered there
To waft us home the message of despair ?” No; there is no despair in the gracious light of heaven. As the travel through those orbs, we feel indeed that we have but little or no power, but we feel that we have mighty knowledge. We can create nothing, but we can dimly understand all. It belongs to God only to create, but it is given to man to know, and that knowledge is itself an assurance of immortality. - Professor Wilson.
8. DEMORALIZATION CONSEQUENT ON IRRELIGION. – Once let men thoroughly believe that secret crimes have no witness but the perpetrator ; that human existence has no purpose, and human virtue no unfailing friend ; that this brief life is everything to us, and that death is total, everlasting extinction ; once let men thoroughly abandon religion, and who can conceive or describe the extent of the desolation which would follow! We hope, perhaps, that human laws and natural sympathy would hold society together. As reasonably might we believe that, were the sun quenched in the heavens, our torches would illuminate, and our fires quicken and fertilize, the creation! What is there in human nature to awaken respect and tenderness, if man be the unprotected insect of a day? And what is he more, if atheism be true? Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man. Appetite, knowing no restraint, and poverty and suffering, having no solace of hope, would trample in scorn on the restraints of human laws. Virtue, duty, principle, would be mocked and spurned as unmeaning sounds. A sordid self-interest would supplant every other feeling; and man would become, in fact, what the theory of atheism declares him to be — a companion for brutes. — Channing.
9. ON THE STUDY OF GOD'S WORKS. — The just relations of all created things to one another prove them to be the work of one Almighty Designer. The great globe may be considered as A musē'um, furnished forth with the works of the Supreme Being; man being placed in the midst of it, as alone capable of comprehending and valuing it. And, if this be true, as cer
tainly it is, what then becomes man's duty ? Moralists and divines, with nature herself, testify that the purpose of so much beauty and perfection being made manifest to man is that hu may study and celebrate the works of God. If we have no faith in the things which are seen, how should we believe those which are not seen? The man who takes no interest in the contempla: tion of the marvels of God's external universe resembles those animals which, wandering in the woods, are fattened with acorns, but never look upwards to the tree which affords them food, much less have they an idea of the beneficent Author of the tree and its fruit. Whoever shall regard with contempt the economy of the Creator here, is as truly impious as the man who takes no thought of the future. — Linnæus.
10. THE MINISTRY OF THE BEAUTIFUL. — It is truly a most Christian exercise to extract a sentiment of piety from the works and the appearances of nature. It has the authority of the sacred writers upon its side, and even our Saviour himself gives it the weight and the solemnity of his example. “Behold the lilies of the field: they toil not, neither do they spin ; yet your heavenly Father careth for them.” He expatiates on the beauty of a single flower, and draws from it the delightful argument of confidence in God. He gives us to see that taste may be combined with piety, and that the same heart may be occupied with all that is serious in the contemplation of religion, and be at the same time alive to the charms and the loveliness of nature. – Chalmers.
11. The Most Precious POSSESSION. – I envy no quality of mind or intellect in others, be it genius, power, wit, or fancy; but if I could choose what would be most delightful, and I believe most useful to me, I should prefer a firm religious belief to every other blessing; for it makes life a discipline of goodness; creates new hopes when all earthly hopes vanish; and throws over the decay, the destruction of existence, the most gorgeous of al lights; awakens life even in death, and from corruption and decay calls up beauty and divinity; makes an instrument of for: tune, and shame the ladder of ascent to Paradise ; and, far above all combinations of earthly hopes, calls up the most delightful visions of palms and amaranths,et the gardens of the blest, the security of everlasting joys, where the sensualist and the sceptic4 view only gloom, decay, annihilation, and despair. — Sir Hum phrey Davy.
12. REFLECTIONS IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY. - When I look upon the tombs of the great, every emotion of envy dies in me; when I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out; when I meet with the grief of parents upon a tomb
stone, my heart melts with compassion; when I see the tomb of the parents themselves, I consider the vanity of grieving for those whom we must quickly follow. When I see kings lying by those who deposed them, when I consider rivale wits placed side by side, or the holy men that divided the world with their contests and disputes, - I reflect with sorrow and astonishment on the little competitions, factions, and debates, of mankind. When I read the several dates of the tombs, of some that died yesterday, and some six hundred years ago, I consider that great day when we shall all of us be contemporaries, and make our appearance together. – Addison.
13. THE EFFICACY OF PRAYER. — There are some who say, “What goed to pray ? God is too far above us to hear creatures so insignificant.” And who has made these creatures so insig. nificant ? Who but God has given them thought, sentiment, and the faculty of speech? And if He has been thus good towards them, was it to abandon them afterwards, and repel them far from Him? Verily, I say to you, whoever says in his heart that God despises his works, the same blasphemes God. There are others who say, “ What good to pray to God? Does not God know better than we what we have need of?” Yes ; God knows better than you what you have need of; and that is why He would have you ask it of Him; for God is himself your first need, and to pray to God is to begin to possess God. The father knoweth the wants of his son ; must the son therefore never make a request of his father, nor thank him for his benefits? There sometimes passes over the land a wind which dries the plants, and then we see their withered stems droop towards the earth; but, moistened by the dew, they recover their freshness, and lift up their languishing heads. The world has its scorching winds which pass over the soul of man, and make it arid. Prayer is the dew which refreshes the soul. - De Lammenais.
14. DEATH. — 0, death ! dark hour to hopeless unbelief! hour to which, in that creed of despair, no hour shall succeed! being's last hour! to whose appalling darkness even the shadows of an avenging retribution were brightness and relief-death!
what art thou to the Christian's assurance ? Great hour! answer to life's prayer; great hour that shall break asunder the bond of life's mystery ; hour of relcase from life's burden ; hour of reünion with the loved and lost, — what mighty hopes hasten to their fulfilment in thee! What longings, what aspirations, breathed in the still night, beneath the silent stars; what dread emotions of curiosity; what deep meditations of joy; what hallowed impossibilities shadowing forth realities to the soul, all verge to their consummation in thee! O, death! the Chris