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as Milton calls it, into a Christian virtue. When we find ourselves inspired with this pleasing instinct, this secret satisfaction and complacency, arising from the beauties of the creation, let us consider to whom we stand indebted for all these entertainments of sense, and who it is that thus opens his hand, and fills the world with good. The apostle instructs us to take advantage of our present temper of mind, to graft upon it such a religious exercise as is particularly conformable to it, by that precept which advises those who are sad to pray, and those who are merry to sing psalms. The cheerfulness of heart which springs up in us from the survey of nature's works, is an admirable preparation for gratitude. The mind has gone a great way towards praise and thanksgiving, that is filled with such a secret gladness. A grateful reflection on the supreme Cause who produces it, sanctifies it in the soul, and gives it its proper value. Such an habitual disposition of mind, consecrates every field and wood, turns an ordinary walk into a morning or evening sacrifice, and will improve those transient gleams of joy which naturally brighten up and refresh the soul, on such occasions, into an inviolable and perpetual state of bliss and happiness,
MORNING HIWN OF ADAM AND EVE. Milton.
From under shady arborous roof
More tunable than needed lute or harp
“ These are thy glorious works, Parent of good,
Melodious murmurs, warbling tune His praise !
USES OF SUFFERING.
William E. Channing.
[On the Occasion of the Burning of the Steamboat Lexington.] BENEVOLENCE has a higher aim than to bestow enjoyment. There is a higher good than enjoyment; and this requires suffering, in order to be gained. As long as we narrow our view of benevolence, and see in it only a disposition to bestow pleasure, so long life will be a mystery; for pleasure is plainly not its great end. Earth is not a paradise, where streams of joy gush out unbidden at our feet, and uncloying fruits tempt us on every side to stretch out our hands and eat. But this does not detract from God's love; because he has something better for us than gushing streams or profuse indulgence.
When we look into ourselves, we find something besides capacities and desires of pleasure. Amidst the selfish and animal principles of our nature, there is an awful power, a sense of Right, a voice which speaks of Duty, an idea grander than the largest personal interest, the idea of Excellence, of Perfection. Here is the seal of Divinity on us; here the sign of our descent from God. It is in this gift that we see the benevolence of God. It is in writing this inward law on the heart, it is in giving us the conception of Moral Goodness, and the power to strive after it, the power of self-conflict and self-denial, of surrendering pleasure to duty, and of suffering for the right, the true, and the good ; – it is in thus enduing us, and not in giving us capacities of pleasure, that God's goodness shines; and, of consequence, whatever gives a field, and excitement, and exercise, and strength, and dignity to these principles of our nature, is the highest manifestation of benevolence.
I trust I speak a language to which all who hear me in some measure respond. You know, you feel, the difference between excellence and indulgence, between conscience and appetite, between right doing and prosperity, between strivings to realize the idea of perfection, and strivings for gain No one can wholly overlook these different elements within us; and can any one question which is God's greatest gift, or for what ends such warring principles are united in our souls?
The end of our being is to educate, bring out, and perfect, the divine principles of our nature. We were made and are upheld in life for this as our great end, that we may be true to the principles of duty within us; that we may put down all desire and appetite beneath the inward law; that we may enthrone God, the infinitely perfect Father, in our souls; that we may count all things as dross, in comparison with sanctity of heart and life; that we may hunger and thirst for righteousness, more than for daily food; that we may resolutely, and honestly seek for and communicate truth; that disinterested love and impartial justice may triumph over every motion of selfishness, and every tendency to wrong doing : in a word, that our whole lives, labours, conversation, may express and strengthen reverence for ourselves, for our fel. low-creatures, and above all for God. Such is the good for which we are made; and, in order to this triumph of virtuous and religious principles, we are exposed to temptation, hardship, pain. Is suffering then inconsistent with God's love?
Had I time, I might show how suffering ministers to hu. man excellence; how it calls forth the magnanimous and sublime virtues, and, at the same time, nourishes the tenderest, sweetest sympathies of our nature; how it raises us to energy and to the consciousness of our powers, and, at the same time, infuses the meekest dependence on God; how it stimulates toil for the goods of this world, and, at the same time, weans us from it, and lifts us above it. I might tell you, how I have seen it admonishing the heedless, reproving the presumptuous, humbling the proud, rousing the sluggish, softening the insensible, awakening the slumbering con
science, speaking of God to the ungrateful, infusing courage, and force, and faith, and unwavering hope of heaven. I do not then doubt God's beneficence, on account of the sorrows and pains of life. I look without gloom on this suffering world.
True; suffering abounds. The wail of the mourner comes to me from every region under heaven; from every human habitation, for death enters into all; from the ocean, where the groan of the dying mingles with the solemn roar of the waves; from the fierce flame, encircling, as an atmosphere or shroud, the beloved, the revered. Still all these forms of suf fering do not subdue my faith; for all are fitted to awaken the human soul; and through all it may be glorified.
We shrink, indeed, with horror, when imagination carries us to the blazing, sinking vessel, where young and old, the mother and her child, husbands, fathers, friends, are overwhelmed by a common, sudden, fearful fate. But the soul is mightier than the unsparing elements. I have read of holy men, who, in days of persecution, have been led to the stake, to pay the penalty of their uprightness, not in fierce and sud. denly destroying flames, but in a slow fire; and, though one retracting word would have snatched them from death, they have chosen to be bound; and, amidst the protracted agonies of limb burning after limb, they have looked to God with unwavering faith, and sought forgiveness for their enemies. What then are outward fires to the celestial flame within us? And can I feel, as if God had ceased to love, as if man were forsaken by his Creator, because his body is scattered into ashes by the fire ?
It would seem as if God intended to disarm the most terrible events of their power to disturb our faith, by making them the occasions of the sublimest virtues. In shipwrecks we are furnished with some of the most remarkable examples, that history affords, of trust in God, of unconquerable energy, and of tender, self-sacrificing love, making the devouring ocean the most glorious spot on earth. – A friend rescued from a wreck, told me, that a company of pious Christians, who had been left in the sinking ship, were heard, from the boat in which he had found safety, lifting up their voices, not in shrieks or moans, but in a joint hymn to God; thus awaiting, in a serene act of piety, the last, swift-approaching hour. How much grander was that hymn than the ocean's roar ! And what becomes of suffering, when thus awakening, in to an energy otherwise unknown, the highest sentiments of