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principally upon this subject? For things in themselves of unequal importance with others, become weighty by their connexions, their influence, their indications. A feather, or a straw may serve to discover the direction of the wind, as well as a tree. What a fatal secret does that preacher betray, who shows that he minds earthly thingsi
Thirdly. We see what diversities there are in the followers of our Lord. Even the good ground brought forth in various proportions—thirtysixty-a hundred fold. What a difference was there between the faith of the Centurion, and of Thomas! Abraham and Lot were both righteous, but how imperfect does the nephew appear, compared with the uncle!
Many things diversify the degree, and the exercises of religion. Thus, the stations in which Providence places good men, differ: one shall be favourable to devotion, another shall afford less leisure, and create more distraction. Constitutional complexion also has its influence. . Thus, some Christians are more inclined to contemplation, and the shades; others are formed for the active virtues. The difficulties which chill the tiinid, serve only to rouse and animate the bold, and courageous. Religion, like water, partakes a little of the nature of the soil over which it runs. The very same truth was revealed both to Nebuchadnezzar, and Daniel: viz. the succession of the four monarchies. Nebuchadnezzar was a king and a conqueror; and admired things in proportion to their worldly grandeur: accordingly, he viewed these empires as an image whose brightness was excellent, the head of which was fine gold, and the subordinate parts of inferior
metal. Daniel was a man of peace and of wisdom: and to him they appeared as four great beasts, coming up out of the sca, diverse from each other; the first a lion with wings, the second a bear with three ribs in its mouth, the third, a leopard with four wings of a fowl, and four heads, and the fourth, dreadful and terrible, with iron teeth. Take an illustration from it. Imagine four persons-one phlegmatic, another choleric, a third sanguine, and the fourth melancholicdrop religious truth into each of these—and do you suppose that it will not receive a tinge from each peculiar temperament? In all these cases, something of the original character will remain. And I always view it as considerable evidence of sincerity, when religion, if I may use the ex-' pression, acts naturally-it shows that people are off their guard—that they have not a particular part given them to act. For were this the case, they would resemble one another much more nearly: and a dull, constrained uniformity would prevail. Thus it is with pretenders. If a man of humour profess religion without possessing it, he will keep a check upon himself, and by means of this, appear grave and formal: but if he be really a partaker of religion, we should expect that his natural character would commonly show itself, even in his duties: it would indeed be regulated, but not destroyed: the water would flow in new and proper channels; but not be frozen into ice.
Fourthly. We may meet with hinderances in religion, from those who should be our assistants. Such are friends and relations. A wife should cherish good impressions, fan the flame of devotion, and be a helper to her husband, in spiritual, as well as in temporal concerns--but she may
prove a seducer: she may lead hiin into vanity, and the dissipations of the world. Michal ridicules the holy joy of David. A brother may discourage a brother.
A sister may reproach and repel a sister. Our focs may be those of our own household.
Yea, even by religious friends and relations we may sometimes be injured. Instead of making straight paths for our feet, they may throw stumbling blocks in our way. They may press hard sayings, before the mind is prepared to receive them. They may discourage us by their expressions of assurance and ecstasy. They may be wanting in sympathy. They may censure and condemn our actions, from ignorance of our circumstances and motives.
Fifthly. How anxious soever we may be about many things, one thing alone really deserves our attention. One thing is needful.-It is hearing the Saviour's words, it is an attention to the soul, it is religion. What! is nothing else necessary?-Yes; many things;—but compared with this, they are less than nothing, and vanity. Other things are accidentally needful--this is essentially so. Other things are occasionally needfulthis is invariably so. Other things are needful in particular respects—this is universally so-needful for prosperity and adversity: needful for the body and the soul: needful for time and eternity. Some things are needful for some individuals, but not for others: but this is needful for all, needful for kings and subjects; needful for rich and poor; needful for old and young.
If, indeed, we judge of it by the people of the world, we shall not think so when we look around us. The many seem to be prizing and pursuing
every thing in preference to this: instead of viewing it as essential to man, they seem only to regard it as a circumstance of his being and his welfare, which may safely be dispensed with. But let us take the testimony of God. What saith the Scripture “ Wisdom is the principal thing: therefore, get wisdom: and with all thy getting, get understanding. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. ”-Yes, says the Saviour, one thing is needful. Hence, we find David and Paul reducing every concern into one. “ONE thing bave I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. — This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are be
Finally. It is worthy of our remark, that real godliness is not only a necessary, but a durable acquisition. “Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.” Permanency adds bliss to bliss. Some things are not worth preservation; but an invaluable treasure, a thing absolutely needful, will awaken all our concern, and we shall be anxious, not only to possess it, but also to retain it.
And what a difference is there, in this view, between religion, and other advantages! Nothing that we here possess can be called our own. What we acquire with so much difficulty, it is impossible to secure. If we choose honours, riches, pleasures, friendships, they will be sure to fail us, and to fail us often when we most nced
their aid. But the blessings we derive from godliness, are our own for ever. They are not liable to those numberless accidents which so easily deprive us of earthly possessions. No violence, no fraud, can rob us of them: our joy no man taketh from us: our treasure, moth and rust cannot corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal. Even the desolations of death, which strip us of every thing else, cannot touch the believer's portion: he can carry all his goods along with him into another world, where they will be for ever increasing. It is “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, that fadeth not away.-What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye now ashamed? for the end of those things is death-But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”
Surely religion is wisdom-and wisdom is justified of all her children.
This review should, therefore, more than satisfy those, who, like Mary, have chosen this good part. Your choice will bear re-consideration. The more you examine it, the more worthy of all your regard will it appear. Be not ashamed to own it. Let religion be your boast, as well as your comfort.
What is there to excite a blush? What in importance and continuance are the pursuits and acquisitions of the most admired of your fellow creatures, compared with yours?
It should also influence those who have not made it. And O! that I could induce you to decide, and to decide this moment. I say this moment, because you are not sure of another season. I say this moment, because every delay