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tiousn^ss may assume the mask of freedom; hypocrisy may put on the garb of religion; and the vilest designs that faction, discord, or ambition ever planned, may veil themselves in the cloak of patriotism and public spirit!
How, then, gentlemen, must an honest writer, uninfluenced by party rage or any other motive but a genuine love of truth and liberty, develope the cheat and shew it in its proper colours to the world? I who employ my thoughts on far other subjects than the mysteries of state, or the subtleties of the human heart, am very unfit for such a task. Buried in this humble, silent, and sequestered hut, I have industriously explored, and resolutely extinguished every spark of ambition in my own soul. Like one that has happily gained some port of safety, after being long tossed on the stormy ocean, I here ruminate on the past and look forward to the future, without busying myself in the affairs of men; being little more than a spectator in. this world—
I hear the tumult of the distant throng,
As that of seas remote or dying storms.
Eager Ambition's fiery chace I see;
I see the circling hunt of noisy men
Burst Law's enclosure, leap the bounds of Right,
Pursuing and pursu'd, each others prey,
As wolves for rapine, as the fox for wiles. ,
But, gentlemen, though this be the present frame of my mind, and though my whole care be to hush each boisterous passion into repose, and maintain an intercourse with Him whose eyes are too pure to behold iniquity; yet there was a time when my boTHE HERMIT, No. IV.
OK THE MEFECTIOH AXD EFFICACT OF THE CHRISTIAN ■ ELIGIOK.
Arg. 1. Dravmfrom the comfort* it bring* to Out latt hour*.
Whatever farce the boastful hero plays,
Toukg's Might Thoughts.
IN my former letters, I have given some account of my Hfe and temper of heart, and of those motives that induced my retreat from the vain and busy world. I have likewise delivered my thoughts concerning the duty of those who undertake to write for others, and hinted some considerations that should animate and actuate their conduct, in so benevolent a work.
These topics have not proved unacceptable to the public; but still they were only preliminary to the more solemn and interesting subjects, which I had always in view. It was, from the beginning, my purpose to communicate, by way of monthly sermon, for the benefit of my fellow- sojourners on earth, the sum of those reflections and conclusions, which, after long and close meditation upon the state of our mortality and suffering here, I have found most efficacious to quiet my own soul now, and fix its hopes forever.
It would be needless to add, that the chief of these have been drawn from the blessed Gospel, that inexhaustible source of joy and consolation! For when we have tried every other expedient, it will be found at last that our only comfort is to be derived from the promises of the Gospel, an intimate conviction of its saving efficacy, and a sublime trust in the adorable goodness of its lovely Author. It shall, therefore, be my first endeavour to press home those points, in the most striking light in my power; in doing which, it is not my design to give a eegular system of divinity, nor yet to bewilder the reader in those abstract discussions that tend more to puzzle the understanding, than to better the heart. The great truths of Christianity stand in no need of any arguments I can bring, to defend or establish them. This is sufficiently done in many unanswerable volumes^ by abler pens. Points of theory and dispute neither answer my purpose, nor do they suit my temper of mind. I would humbly offer something for practice, that may influence the life and manners. Nor, in this, shall I confine myself to any certain or express method. What I shall say will be chiefly occasional, containing such arguments for the superior excellence of our holy Christianity, or any of its detached parts, as may arise from particular incidents and occurrences.
And the first that I would offer is drawn from the
power and efficacy of the Christian faith, to support
its humble votaries in the hour of death. Nor is this,
without reason, made the first. For what wise man
sould possibly live in quiet, till he had %st satisfied vet. i. Q^ 4
himsdfhow hemightdie in quiet. This is in reality the chief aad best lesson of life—and a lesson which all the institutions in the world had endeavoured to teach in vain, bdbre the Christian revelation; which, at lengrh, has brocght life and immortality to light, plucked the sting from Death, and disarmed the grave of victory!
But before I deliver any thing further of my own, on this subject, I shall insert the following letter, sent from a reverend divine in the remoter parts of this province,* aad delivered to me by the proprietors of the magazine, in order to be incorporated in some proper place, among my monthly lucubrations. I intimated, at my first setting out, my earnest desire of obtaining the assistance of true Gospel-ministers, in carrying on this work for the service of our common Christianity; and shall never fail of making due use of every thing, they may be pleased to communicate for that good end. It is with pleasure, therefore, I insert the substance of this letter, as having such an affinity to the subject I proposed to treat of in this number.
4 THERE is no one circumstance, which does more honour to your extensive and laudable undertaking, than your having set aside one part of it, as sacred to Christianity. If the following reflections might have a place therein, it might be an honourable testimony in favour of the blessed Gospel.
, * Thi* Utter was in mbstance From the Rev. Dr. Finley, aftenranls of ff'umtou «4Urje; tiibi few additions and alterations by the author.
'Tt has always been my opinion that nothing so much displays the power of religion, endears it to our choice, and encourages us in the glorious course, as the holy language and joyful hopes of Christians, in their last moments. It is truly an affecting and instructive sight, to behold feeble and sinful mortals, in the most abasing and gloomy circumstances of human nature, surrounded .with the dread solemnities of Death, yet relying on the merits of a Redeemer, delighting in their covenant-interest in God through him, and triumphing over all the terrors of this last scene; in the joyous prospect of a blessed immortality. This is, indeed, a glorious lecture on the grace of the Gospel, the efficacy of the Redeemer's blood, the influences of the spirit, and the reality of religion! Beholders wonder and melt under the powerful conviction, and wish to be such saints themselves!
'Hence, in the hermit's moving history,* that passage is felt peculiarly striking and delightful, which represents the hopeful, easy and effectionate way the aged father resigned his life.'
"While he was bestowing his counsels upon me (says the venerable writer) as his last and most valuable legacy, repeating and enforcing them by every motive of duty and interest, he felt his spirits begin to fail, and nature gently warning him of his approach* ing dissolution. He feebly raised his head, gave his left hand to me, and his right he stretched out to his
peeping wife, He fixed his eyes upon us, commended
• Sfe the Hprmit, Ko. I j). 9*.