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Through the midst of this extensive vale, which was decked with the finest verdure, and replenished with the richest herbage, a river rolled its copious flood; rolled in a thousand serpentine meanders, as though it had lost its way in the flowery labyrinth, or made repeated efforts of flowing back to its source; till at last, having wandered more than twice the length of the meadows, having held a mirror to the aspiring poplars and bending willows, having paid a welcome salute to several ornamented villas, and passed through the arches of two or three curiously pendent bridges, it seemed to meet the sky and mingle with the horizon.
Opposite to the front window, a cascade fell from the adjacent stream: it flashed and foamed along the broad slope, indented with small pits and jagged with protuberant stones. The current, vexed and embarrassed, seemed to rave at the intervening obstacles; and forcing its rapid, indignant, sonorous way, struck the ear with a peal of liquid thunder. These fretful waters—let our angry passions observe the admonition and follow the example—soon were pacified, soon forgot to chide. Collected into a little rivulet, they ran off in calm and silent lapse, till they lost themselves amongst beds of osier and plantations of alder.
The river, widening as it flowed, was parted here and there by several little islands; some tufted with reeds, and the resort of swans; some adorned with stately porticoes and splendid alcoves, the graceful retreats of rural pleasure; some furnished with green embowering walks, fitted for studious retirement and sedate contemplation. On either side of the charming valley, towns and villages lay thick and looked gay, adding ornament and variety to the scene, and receiving innumerable advantages from the passing wave.
The whole recalled to an attentive observer's mind, that amiable and august spectacle which the Syrian” soothsayer could not behold without a rapture of delight: ‘from the top of the rocks I see the tribes of Jehovah, and from the hills I behold the habitations of his chosen people.” “How goodly are thy tents, Q Jacob! and thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the vallies
are they spread forth; as gardens by the river's side: as trees of exquisite fragrance,” which the Lord hath planted: as cedars of stateliest growth, flourishing beside the waters.” - * ... We had but just looked about us when a messenger came for Camillus. As he was called to settle some private affairs, I chose to stay in this inviting retreat, and determined to make myself amends for the loss of Camillus’s company by beginning a correspondence with my Theron. We have pen, ink, and paper, in all our rural retirements; that if any thing is started in discourse or occurs in meditation, worthy to be remembered, it may immediately be committed to writing. ... I could not but observe to my friend, that, fine as the prospect appeared, there was one decoration wanting, if some grand deformity may be called a decoration. The ridges of a bleak and barren mountain, or the skirts of a sun-burnt tawny heath, would give ad. ditional liveliness to the ornamented parts of the landscape, and make their beauties, strike with double vigour. This also, by shewing us what wretched abodes and inhospitable quarters might have fallen to our share, would awaken in our hearts a more fervent gratitude to the supreme Disposer of things, who has cast our “lot in a fairer ground, and given us a more goodly heritage.” So a proper knowledge of the divine law, of its sublime perfections and rigorous sanction, joined with a
conviction of our own extreme deficiency and manifold'
transgressions, all this would endear the blessed Jesus to our affections, and powerfully recommend his righteousness to our desires. The remainder of this epistle, therefore, shall turn upon some instances of duty enjoined in that sacred system; by which it may be highly useful to examine our conduct and sift our hearts; in which, I believe, we have all fallen short,
* Numb. xxiv. 5, 6. It is well known that the word tronx is used in the sacred, writings, to denote, either a ‘delightful
erfume,” Prov. vii. 17, or that “aromatic plant,’ which produces }. Cant. iv. 14; for which reason I think it very justifiable to rénder the expression, ‘treds o uisite fragrance;’ and am persuaded it will be far more intelligible to the generality of readers than “trees of lign-aloes.”
and are all become guilty : from which, we may learn the imperfection of our best services, and see the inexpressible need of a better righteousness than our own. The knowledge of God is the foundation of all vital religion, and indeed is the consummation of human happiness. It is not only matter of present duty, but the very essence of our future bliss: ‘This is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” Yet, important and obligatory as it is, are we not very defective in this divine science? have we duly acquainted ourselves with the marvellous excellencies of the Lord Jehovah, his uncontrollable power and all-comprehending wisdom, his unbounded goodness and unwearied patience, his immaculate holiness and inflexible justice, his never-failing faithfulness and inviolable veracity? Have we, according to the direction of our inspired tutor, pursued this sacred study on our knees,t and sought this most noble of all intellectual endowments not merely from books, but principally at the throne of grace? Have we sought it, like that ancient Jewish student, with an early application, and with incessant assiduity, even ‘ from the flower, till the grape was ripe?'t Is that scanty ray of knowledge, which perhaps has forced itself through our original darkness, operative on our affections Have we loved, the Lord our God with all our heart? this is the first and great commandment. Have we constantly entertained the most magnificent and honourable thoughts of his sublime perfections? Is our esteem for this immensely great and most blessed Being, high, superlative, matchless? Somewhat like that expressed by the Psalmist; ‘Whom have I in heaven but thee And there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of thee.'ll Have we been affectionately concerned for his glory, and zealous to advance his holy religion? Troubled, very sensibly troubled, when our Maker's honour has been trampled in the dust by licentious tongues, or flagitious deeds :
Have we made it our ruling care to approve the whole of our life, and the most secret transactions of our breast, to his all-seeing eye 2 Resolved, deliberately resolved to sacrifice, not only our darling lusts, but even our most valuable interests, whenever they stand in competition with the good pleasure of his will? In a word, as the hart panteth after the water-brooks, with such vehement and inextinguishable ardour, have we
thirsted after a brighter manifestation of his divine
attributes, some sweeter assurances of his special love, and an ever increasing conformity to his holy image 2 Such was the temper of those excellent men, who are characterized in the Scriptures of truth, as children of the Highest, and patterns for our imitation. This is their language; “The desire of our soul is unto thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early.” Neither is such warmth of love, and fervour of desire, any needless or extravagant pitch of devotion, but a reasonable service, indispensably due from all intelligent creatures to the great Author of their being, in whom all possible perfections, with the utmost exaltation and dignity reside, from whom all manner of blessings, in the most copious and never-failing communications flow. When we receive, from an absent friend, rich and repeated presents, casks of generous wine, or jars of delicious fruit, we feel ourselves enkindled into a grateful affection; we honour, we love the person who allows us such a distinguished place in his heart, and expresses his cordial regard by such a series of active and tender benevolence. The blessed God is a friend to us all, infinitely powerful, and equally munificent; * Isa. xxvi. 8, 9. We can hardly tell which to admire most, §: beauty of the description, or the piety of the persons: “ have esired,” and not with inactive wishes, but such as prompt to vigorous, endeavours, ‘ I will seek thée,” and early, with the most vigilant application, and unwearied assiduity. The emphasis is very much increased by the addition of those, lively words * with my soul, yea, with my spirit;" with the whole bent and sway 9f my affections, and with the steady invariable determination of my judgment." Thus have I desired thee, even “in the night,” when both the pursuits, and the thoughts of other people
are sunk and lost in profound repose. Thus will I seek thee, with a zeal, early as the rising, constant as the returning, sun.
we are the constant objects of his more than friendly, of his parental care; every passing moment is a messenger of his patience, and charged with some token of this bounty: for our sake he has diffused blessings over all the face of the earth, and commanded every element to concur in ministering to our accommodation. He has not only adapted his benefits to our several wants, but has given them a diversification, large as the scope of our wishes, and an enrichment far beyond all that our fancy could conceive. Profuse liberality! yet small and scanty compared with his most adorable benignity in Christ Jesus. . . o
... What if God, willing to manifest the superabundant riches of his kindness, had made bare the arm of his Omnipotence, and struck a most miraculous road through the surges of the ocean to afford us a safe passage if to accommodate us in our travels he had brought waters out of the flinty rock, and bid the ravens bring meat to our hands, bid the winds convey manna to our doors if to furnish us with a commodious settlement, he had dethroned mighty kings, dispossessed populous nations, and made the walls of impregnable cities fall to the ground if to further the dispatch of our business, or facilitate the conquest of our enemies, he had arrested the sun in his meridian career, and iaid an embargo upon the moon setting out on her nightly tour? In short, if to promöte our welfare, he had suspended the powers, and controlled the laws of universal nature, had wrought all the miracles exhibited in the land of Egypt, or recorded in the volumes of inspiration—should we not think.ourselves under the most inviolable engagements to love the Lord our God, who had done so great things for us; to love him unfeignedly, and ardently; to love him with a supreme affection, far above every other amiable object Yet we have greater, incomparably greater obligations to our Almighty benefactor. For (hear, O heavens ! wonder, O earth ! and let eternity dwell upon the stupendous truth!) “God spared not his son, his own Son,' his transcendently glorious and divinely excellent Son, ‘ but delivered him up' to the deepest humiliation, and