« PreviousContinue »
concurring circumstances inay give them additional weight:and thus they may prove more effectual than the same things spoken in conversation. But, however this may prove, I cannot resist the desire of trying, in some degree, to be useful to you, on your setting out in a life of trial and difficulty; your success in which must determine your fate for ever.
Hitherto you have “ thought as a child, and un" derstood as a child: but it is time to put away "childish things."-You are now in your fifteenth year, and must soon act for yourself; therefore it is high time to store your mind with those principles, which must direct your conduct, and fix your character. If you desire to live in peace and honour, in favour with God and man, and to die in the glo. rious hope of rising from the grave to a life of endless happiness;-if these things appear worthy your ambition, you must set out in earnest in the pursuit of them. Virtue and happiness are not attained by chance, nor by a cold and languid approbation; they must be sought with ardour, attended to with diligence, and every assistance must be eagerly em. braced that may enable you to obtain them, Consider, that good and evil are now before you; that if you do not heartily choose and love the one, you must undoubtedly be the wretched victim of the other. Your trial is now begun ; you must either become one of the glorious, children of God, who are to rejoice in his love for ever; or a child of destruction;-miserable in this life, and punished with eternal death hereafter. Surely, you will be impressed by so awful'a situation you will earnestly pray to be directed into that road of life, which leads to excellence and happiness; and, you will be thankful to every kind hand that is held out, to set you forward in your journey,
The first step must be to awaken your mind to a sense of the importance of the task before you, which is no less than to bring your frail nature to that degree of Christiau perfection, which is to qualify it for immortality; and without which, it is necessarily incapable of happiness: for it is a truth.
correct prore all and subd and gover
to the law
and agree is no ligh ata since
manner, 5C struction a its of im
in our ware Verso an tone w The only
concurring circumstances inay give them additional weight:-and thus they may prove more effectnu than the same things spoken in conversation. But, however this may prove, I cannot resist the desire of trying, in some degree, to be useful to you, on your setting out in a life of trial and difficulty; your success in which must determine your fate for ere.
Hitherto you have a thought as a child, and us " derstood as a child: but it is time to put arap "childish things." - You are now in your biteenth year, and must soon act for yourself; therefore its high time to store your mind with those principles, which must direct your conduct, and fix your cha racter. If you desire to live in peace and honou, in favour with God and man, and to die in the glo! riaus hope of rising from the grave to a life of endo less happiness;~if these things appear worthy your ambition, you must set out in carnest in the pursuit of them. Virtue and happiness are not attained by chance, nor by a cold and Janguid approbation; they must be sought with ardour, attended to with diligence, and every assistance must be eagerly enbraced that may enable you to obtain them. Cool
never to be forgotten, that God has annexed happi. ness to virtue, and misery to vice, by the unchangeable nature of things; and that, a wicked being (while lie continues such) is in a natural incapacity of enjoying happiness, even with the coucurrence of all those outward circumstances which in a virtuous mind would produce it.
As there are degrees of virtuo and vice, so are there of reward and punishment, both here and hereafter: But, let not my dearest Niece aim only at escaping the dreadful doom of the wicked, let your desires take a nobler Aight, and aspire after those transcendent honours, and that brighter crown of glory which await those who have excelled in vir. tue; and, let the animating thought, that every se. erét effort to gain his favour, is noted by your allseeing Judge, who will, with infinite goodness, proportion your reward to your labours, excite every faculty of your soul to please and serve him. To this end, you must inform your understanding what you ought to believe and to do. You must correct and purify your heart; cherish and inpsove all its good affections, and continually mortify and subdue those that are evil. You must form aud govern your temper' aud manners, according to the laws of benevolence and justice; and qualify yourself, by all meaus in your power, for an useful and agreeable member of society. All this, you see, is no light business, nor can it be per formed with. out a sincere and earnest application of the mind, as lo its great and constant object. When once you consider life, and the duties of life, in this manner, you will listen eagerly io the voice of instruction and admonition, and seize every opportuBity of improvement; every useful hint will be laid up in your heart, and your chief delight will be in those persons, and those hooks, from which you can learn trne wisdom.
The only sure foundatiun of human virtue is Religion, and the foundation and first principle of religicn is in the belief of the one only God, and a just sense of his attributes. This, you will think,
sider, that good and evil are now before you; that if you do not heartily choose and love the ope, sou must undoubtedly be the wretched victim of the other. Your trial is now begun; you inust either become one of the glorious children of God, who are to rejoice in his love for ever; or a child of des struction;-miserable in this life, and punished with eternal death hereafter. Surely, you will be impressed by so awful à situatiou! you will eat Desti; pray to be directed into that road of life, which leads to excellence and happiness; and, you will be thankful to every kind land that is held out to set you forward in your journey.
The first step must be to awaken your mind to sense of the importance of the task before you, wbich is no less than to bring your frail nature to that degree of Christian perfection, which is to qualify it for immortality; and without which, it is necessarily incapable of happiness: fos it is a true
pesti pan's to excellence and hand that is het
which is no les Christian perfeithout which, die
you liave learned long since, and possess in common with almost every human creature in this enlightened age and nation; hut, believe ine, it is less common than you imagine, to believe in the true God; that is, to form such a notion of the Deity as is agreeable to truth, and consistent with those infinite perfections, which all profess to ascribe to liim. To form worthy notions of the Supreme Being, as far as we are capable, is essential to true religion and morality; for as it is our duty to imi. tate those qualities of the Divinity, which are imitable by us, so is it necessary we should know what they are, and fatal to Diistake them. Can those who think of God with servile dread and terror, as of a gloomy tyrant, armed with almighty power to torment and destroy them, bé said to believe in the true God-in that God who, the Scriptures say, is love?-the kindest and best of Beings, who made all creatures in bountiful goodness, that he might communicate to them some portion of his own unalterable happiness!—who condescends to style himself our Father! and who pitieth us, as a fatlier pitieth his own children! Can those who expect to please God by cruelty to themselves, or to their fel. low-creatures--by horrid punishments of their own bodies for the sin of their souls, or, by more Horrid persecution of others for difference of opi. nion, be called true believers? Have they not set up another god in their own minds, who rather resembles the worst of beings than the best?.-Nor do those act on surer principles, who think to gain the favour of God by senseless enthusiasm and frantic raptures, more like the wild excesses of the most depraved human love, than that reasonable adoration, that lioly reverential love, which is due to the pure and holy Father of the universe. Those likes wise, who murmur against his Providence, and repine under the restraint of his commands, cannot firmly believe himn infinitely wise and good. If we are not disposed to trust him for future events, to banish fruitless anxiety, and to believe that all things work together for good to those that love lim, suely we do not really beliere in the God of
you leave learned long since, and possess in common
Jove?he kind bountiful goodness of his own un
unicate to this! who condicih us, as a facino
mercy and truth. If we wish to avoid all remembrance of him, all comin union with him, as much as we dare, surely we do not believe him to be the source of joy and comfort, the dispenser of all good,
How lamentable it is, that so few hearts should feel the pleasures of real piety! 'that prayer and thanksgiving should be performed, as they too ofteu are, not with joy, and love, and gratitude; but, with cold indifference, melancholy dejection, or secret horror! It is true, we are all such frail and sinful creatures, that we justly fear to have offended our gracious Father; but let us remember the coudition of his forgiveness ; If you have sinned," sio no more." He iy ready to receive you whebever you sincerely turn to him and He is ready to assist you, when you do but desire to obey him. Let your devotion, then, be the language of filial love and gratitude; confide to this kindest of Fathers every want and every wish of your heart:~but submit them all to his will, and freely offer him the disposal of yourself, and of all your affairs. Thank him for his benefits, and even for his punishments, convinced that these also are benefits, and mercifully designed for your good. Iinplore his direction in all difficulties; his assistance in all trials; his comfort and support in sickness or afilic. tion; his restraining grace in time of prosperity and joy. Do not persist in desiring what his Providence denies you; but be assured it is not good for you. Refuse not any thing he allots you, but enibrace it as the best and properest for you. Can you do less to your heavenly Father than wWat your duty to an earthly one requires If you were to ask permis sion of your father to do, orio have any thing you desire, and he should refuse it to you, would you obstimately persist in setting your heart upon it, notwithstanding his prohibition ? would you not rå. ther say, My father is wiser than I am; he loves me, and would not deny my request, if it were fit to be granted; I will, therefore, banish the thought, and cheerfully acquiesce in his will!-How muck rather should this be said of our heavenly Father
commun happiness anal who pinhose who experienta
please God be cre horrid punishtenor, by more
be called in their own on the best!
do those act God by senses il excesscoable adora-
please God by cruelty to themselves, or to their tej. low-creatures,aby horrid punishments of theis own bodies for the sin of their souls,mor, by more horrid persecution of others for difference of opinion, be called true believers! llave tliey not set up another god in their own minds, who rather resembles the worst of beings than the best:-Nor do those act on surer principles, who think to gain the favour of God by senseless enthusiasm and fra tic raptures, more like the wild excessrs of the most deprared human lore, than that reasonable adora tion, that holy reverential love, which is due to the pure and holy Father of the universe. Those like wise, who murmur against his Providence, and I Ipine under the restraint of his commands, cannot firm'y believe him infinitely wise and gooil. It we pre not disposed to trust him for future evenis, to -nish fruitless anxiety, and to beliere that all "Together for good to those that love,
mally believe in die God of
u ise, under there infinitely na for future that all
Those wisdom cannot be mistaken, and whose boun. tiful kindness is infinite!-Love Him, therefore, in the same manner you love your earthly parents, but in a much higher degree, in the highest your na. ture is capable of. Forget not to dedicate yourself to his service every day; to implore his forgiveness of your faults, and his protection from evil, every night: and this not merely in formal words, unac, companied by any act of the miod, but “ in spirit and in truth;" in grateful love, and humble adoration. Nor let these stated periods of worship be your only conimunication with him; accustom your self to think often of him, in all your waking hours;-to contempiate his wisdom and power, in the works of his liands;-to acknowledge bis good pess in every objéct of use or of pleasure;-10 delight in givipg him praise in your inmost heart, in the midst of every innocent gratification,-in the liveliest hour of social enjoyment. You cannot conceive, if you have not experienced, how much such silent acts of gratitude and love will enhance every pleasure; nor what sweet serenity and cheer. fulness such reflections will diffuse over your mind. On the other hanil, when you are suffering pain or sorrow, when you are confined to an unpleasant situation, or engaged in a painful duty, how will it support and animate you, to refer yourself to your Almighty Father!-to be assured that He knows your state and your intentions; that no effort of virtue is lost in his sight, nor the least of yonr ac tions or sufferings dissegarded or forgotten that luis hand is ever over you, to ward off every real evil, which is not the effect of your own ill-conduct, and to relieve every suffering that is not ufeful to your future well-being.
You see, my dear, that true devotion is not a melancholy senliment that depresses the spirits, and excludes the ideas of pleasure, which youth is fond of: on the contrary, there is nothing so friendly to joy, so productive of true pleasure, so peculiarly suited to the warmth and innocence of a youthful heart. Do not, therefore, think it too soon to turn your mind to God; but offer him the first fruits of