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SERMON III.

MEDITATING UPON RELIGION.

PSALM lxiii. 7.

Have I not remembered thee in my bed: and thought upon thee when I was waking?

THE life of God in the soul of man, as it is some times emphatically called, the Christian life, that is, or the progress of christianity in the heart of any particular person, is marked, amongst other things, by religion gradually gaining possession of the thoughts. It has been said, that, if we thought about religion as it deserved, we should never think about any thing else; nor with strictness perhaps can we deny the truth of this proposition. Religious concerns do so surpass and outweigh in value and importance all concerns beside, that, did they occupy a place in our minds proportioned to that importance, they would in truth exclude every other but themselves. I am not therefore one of those who wonder when I see a man engrossed with religion; the wonder with me is, that men care and think so little concerning it. With all the allowances which must be made for our employments, our activiG

who is tolerably faithful and exact in his reflections, will find in events upon which he has to look back; and it is this. How often have we been spared, when we might have been overtaken and cut off in the midst of sin? Of all the attributes of God, forbearance, perhaps, is that which we have most to acknowledge. We cannot want occasions to bring the remembrance of it to our thoughts. Have there not been occasions, in which, when insnared in vice, we might have been detected and exposed, have been crushed by punishment or shame, have been irrecoverably ruined? occasions in which we might have been suddenly stricken with death in a state of soul the most unfit for it that was possible? That we were none of these, that we have been preserved from these dangers, that our sin was not our destruction, that instant judgment did not overtake us, is to be attributed to the long suffering of God. Supposing, what is undoubtedly true, that the secrets of our conduct were known to him at the time, it can be attributed to no other cause. Now this is a topic which can never fail to supply subjects of thankfulness, and of a species of thankfulness which must bear with direct force upon the regulation of our conduct. We were not destroyed when we might have been destroyed, and when we merited destruction. We have been preserved for further trial. This is, or ought to be, a touching reflection. How deeply therefore does it behove us not to trifle with the patience of God, not to abuse this enlarged space, this respited, protracted season of repentance, by plunging afresh

into the same crimes, or others, or greater crimes? It shows that we are not to be wrought upon by mercy; that our gratitude is not moved; that things are wrong within us; that there is a deplorable void and chasm in our religious principles, the love of God not being present in our hearts.

But to return to that with which we set out. Religion may spring from various principles, begin in various motives. It is not for us to narrow the promises of God which belong to sincere religion, from whatever cause it originates. But of these principles, the purest, the surest, is the love of God, forasmuch as the religion which proceeds from it is sincere, constant, and universal. It will not, like fits of terror and alarm, (which yet we do not despise) produce a temporary religion. The love of God is an abiding principle. It will not, like some other, (and these also good and laudable principles of action, as far as they go,) produce a partial religion. It is coextensive with all our obligations. Practical christianity may be comprised in three words, devotion, self-government, and benevolence. The love of God in the heart is a fountain, from which these three streams of virtue will not fail to issue. The love of God also is a guard against error in conduct, because it is a guard against those evil influences which mislead the understanding in moral questions. In some measure it supplies the place of every rule. He, who has it truly within him, has little to learn. Look' stedfastly to the will of God, which he who loves God ne

cessarily does, practise what you believe to be well pleasing to him, leave off what you believe to be displeasing to him; cherish, confirm, strengthen the principle itself, which sustains this course of external conduct, and you will not want many lessons, you need not listen to any other monitor.

SERMON III.

MEDITATING UPON RELIGION.

PSALM lxiii. 7.

Have I not remembered thee in my bed: and thought upon thee when I was waking?

THE life of God in the soul of man, as it is some times emphatically called, the Christian life, that is, or the progress of christianity in the heart of any particular person, is marked, amongst other things, by religion gradually gaining possession of the thoughts. It has been said, that, if we thought about religion as it deserved, we should never think about any thing else; nor with strictness perhaps can we deny the truth of this proposition. Religious concerns do so surpass and outweigh in value and importance all concerns beside, that, did they occupy a place in our minds proportioned to that importance, they would in truth exclude every other but themselves. I am not therefore one of those who wonder when I see a man engrossed with religion; the wonder with me is, that men care and think so little concerning it. With all the allowances which must be made for our employments, our activi G

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