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It would appear like gold seven times tried, which comes brighter and purer from every assay.
The religion of the world could even go but a short way in teaching men how to live; but it could not contribute a single jot in teaching them how to die. Before the Christian revelation, death was only a leap into the dark, a wrench from the precincts of day, at which the astonished soul shuddered and recoiled.
But now, how is the case altered? The Gospel lifts our eye to immortal scenes. It opens eternity before us. It shews us a reconciled God, and Jesus the mediator seated at his right hand. It teaches us that, through his merits, the just shall live for ever, passing from one degree of glory to another, and entering deeper and deeper into the beatific vision, as their powers are continually enlarged and expanded.
Supported with the hopes of this, the death of the very feeblest of true Christians, will excel even the courage and philosophy of the boasted Socrates. When all around is mourning and sorrow and wringing of hands, the dying Christians, on whom heaven and glory begin to open, will be superlatively raised above the general weakness. He will comfort even his comforters. Dr. Young has as grand an image On this subject, as ever entered into the thoughts of man, with which I shall conclude this number.
As some tall tow'r, or lofty mountain's brow,
Undampt by doubt, undarken'd by despair,
THE HERMIT, No. VL
JULY, 175S. A SOLEMN MEDITATION'ONTHE LATE FAST.
.ejarly on the morning of the late provincial Fast*, being much agitated with divers doubts and conjectures, and awfully impressed with the vast solemnity of the occasion, I started from my couch to meet the dawn. The sun was just peeping over the mountain-heights; and the damps and shades, that had hovered the night among fens and lowly vales, began to roll up their fleecy mandes, dripping with dew, and to fly distant away before him. Fragrance and freshness dwelt in every breeze; Nature wore her blandest aspect, and the young Summer wantoned in all her prime.
Wrapt in the depth of thought, I sought my accustomed walk along the green margin of my neighbouring river.
• In June, ITSi
"Most merciful Creator, said I, whose Wondrous fiat called me from kindred dust, to glory in life and reason, whose goodness supports me, whose grace vivifies me, and whose peculiar indulgence gives me to count this day, as one more added to those of my pilgrimage here—O love unbounded, grant.me to devote it, even more than all my former days, to the manifestation of thy praise and honour!
"What an important scene is now approaching! A whole province preparing to prostrate themselves in the dust, before thy sovereign mercy! Convinced of their transgression and folly, smarting under thy awful chastisements, and finding how vain is the help of man, they are about to return to thee, like the repenting prodigal, confessing that they are no more worthy to be called thy children; imploring forgiveness of past offences, praying grace for amendment, and beseeching the protection of thy right arm, against the numerous foes that stand ready to devour them.
"This is indeed a day of interesting consequence —but what are days and seasons to me? Will the God of righteousness accept of a temporary devotion, or an occasional offering of the heart; when the whole life should be one continued sacrifice, and scene of abstinence from sin? And yet the Almighty himself has, in his holy word, commanded such particular seasons of prayer, humiliation and fasting—Here then I am forced to halt between two opinions. Either the bulk of mankind err, by immersing themselves in the cares of this world; or I, who am sequestered from it, am in pursuit of a visionary virtue, not suited to the state of our mortality here. I am full of doubts —but this reflection shall end them—
44 The eternal God has placed mankind in a state of suffering and trial here. He has enjoined them a course of virtue, and called them to earn tbeir bread by tbe sweat of tbeir brow. Care and toil, therefore, must be the mortal lot; and if, in any case, their iniquities are become so general as to expose them to public chastisement from the hand of their gracious father, their return to him must be as public as their transgression has been. Now, since ever}' individual has added to the sum of guilt, so every individual is bound to join in the stated and solemn acts of humiliation, confession, repentance and amendment. And, when this is done in simplicity of heart, and in the fervour of holiness, we need not doubt of its being heard before the throne of grace and goodness. For if we search nature through, we shall not, perhaps, find a spectacle more acceptable to the divine benevolence, than a whole society of human creatures, prostrated in the deepest sense of guilt, humbled under their maker's rod, crying aloud for mercy and pardon through the Redeemer, and firmly purposed to depart from all future iniquity. One dissenting or peevish voice, on such an occasion, like a jarring string in some well-tuned instrument, would be a disgrace to the whole, an abomination in the sight of God, and all his holy angels.
"But though the bulk of mankind be thus necessarily engaged in the cares of the world, and can only spare particular times and seasons for their more solemn acts of devotion; yet the wisdom of Providence may perhaps indulge a few in the privilege of withdrawing themselves from its busy scenes, in order to pursue a purer sort of intercourse with the Father of Spirits, in the retirements of the grove, by brooks and consecrated founts; provided they find their frame of soul thereby improved, and are ever ready to promote the good of their species in their appointed spheres.—
"Here, then I rest—I will adhere to the plan of life, so long ago begun. Every day shall be to me a day of humiliation and prayer; and when my fellow citizens are called, in a more particular manner, to humble themselves before the living God, I will be amongst the humblest of those who are humble. My pride shall never whisper to me lessons of superior righteousness, nor bid me be silent when human follies and human transgressions are the theme. 1 will first bewail my own follies and then those of my country with the most fervent sorrow—This is a day set apart for such sorrow—Wherefore, O heavenly father! Hear the cries of thy returning servants every where, and hear mine who am less than the least of all. The power of thy glory has often shone illustrious in behalf of the Protestant cause, and it will yet shine to the remotest parts of the earth.
"When our mother land of Great-Britain had but just shaken off the yoke of spiritual bondage, and established the religion of Jesus in its native purity, reformed from Popish error and superstition, a bloody design was hatched by our inveterate foes to extinguish our name and religion together. Their vast Armada sailed exultant before the gale. It covered