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path of duty, surveys every ob- enemy, or obtained from a source, ject, from which this knowledge to which he had formerly the may be derived, with a look of strongest aversion. Points of carnest desire, and animating difficulty he will bring before the hope. The Scriptures are exam- Lord; and though he does not ined, and both the precepts, neglect the ordinary means of which it inculcates, and the char. direction, he will look upward to acters, which it describes, are se- Him, whose wisdom can guide riously and attentively studied. in the most perplexing path, The conduct of Providence to him- whose power can remove or self and others; the privileges, overcome the most alarming dif. which he enjoys; the talents, ficulties. “ Lord, what wilt which he possesses, and which he thou have me to do! Speak, ought to cultivate ; and the situ- Lord, for thy servant heareth ation into which he has brought It is as my mear and drink to do himself, or has been unintention- thy will." These are the exally, or unexpectedly led, are re. pressions of a mind, where relig. viewed, and the duties, which all ious sincerity reigns; and mark of them require, deliberately and a spirit essentially opposite to that devoutly considered. He may self satisfaction and confidence, have acted improperly in the which formalists feel; and to past, and may see abundant cause that constant struggle between for the deepest contrition ; and their real and their assumed charthe course, which is now marked acter, which hypocrites expe. out for him, may be painful to rience. natural feeling and beset with 3. Sincerity in the profession of numerous difficuļties or dangers ; Christianity is uniformly connected but sincerity will impel him, nei- with a minute and universal regard ther to revolt from the one, nor to duty. to shrink at the other. He will There may be little external not be deterred from inquiry, by difference between the religious the fear of having his prejudices conduct of the sincere and that shocked, his sentiments altered, of the hypocritical Christian. or his habits reproved, for he is Both are punctual in attending willing to renounce every thing the house of God, in performing that he has maintained most ob, the private exercises of devotion, stinately, or cherished most fond- in reading the Scriptures, and ly, if convinced that it has not offering up the forms of prayer been the will of God.
and praise. They both profess Having obtained information, an attachment to the doctrines of he will not consult with flesh and godliness, and seem to be equalblood, but resolutely obey the ly circumspect in their moral call of duty, and “ follow on” conduct. Yet, on attentively exwith increasing ardor “ to know amining their characters, we dis. the Lord.” He wishes to be
cover many unequivocal marks guided by a conscience enlight. of an important and essential difened in the mind of God, and is ference. therefore open to conviction, The hypocrite or the formalist is though the truth, which produ- satisfied with observing the stated ees it, should be tearned from an solemnities of religious worship i with a general conformity of con- indeed be a reasonable, a living, duct to the divine law; and with and a holy offering. external decency of manners; deeply lament, and ingenuously even while his heart is filled with confess in his secret devotions, the most ungodly principles, and those plain omissions of duty, unsanctified desires. His chief those open acts of sin, those comanxiety is to secure himself from pliances with what he perceives to the charge of that very hypocrisy have been inconsistent with his of which he is inwardly con- character, those ebullitions of scious ; to enjoy the reputation passion, and those intemperances of a saint, while he is in truth a of language of which he is condetermined sinner ; to reconcile scious; nay, even those unholy God and Mammon, religion and thoughts and impure desirts, the world. If this can be par- which, though unknown to the tially attained, he does not hesi- world, are not concealed from fate in secret to commit the most the eye of Him, who searcheth flagrant sins. Like an actor on the hearts and trieth the reins of the stage, bis character is assum- the children of men. These, ed, and he labours to support it; the hypocrite never thinks of, and but behind the scenes, he is desci. to their criminality the formalist tute of all that excellence and is insensible ; but the truly sin. dignity, which in the eye of the cere Christian views them in the public, he so successfully imi- light of the gospel, as the retates.
maining members of the old Not so the man, who sincerely man, which is corrupt with his and from the heart, engages in deceitful lusts, which must be the service of God. His public resisted and crucified, to enable character is indeed externally the him to serve God in spirit and in same ; but this character is not truth. He therefore Jabours to assumed for a season only, or to maintain a conscience void of of attain some worldly end. It is fence towards God as well as to, seal, and therefore continues wards men ; guards against sins when he retires to his private of the heart; watches and re walk. He knows that the dispo- sists those risings of unbelief by sitions ought to be pure, as well which the Holy Spirit is griev, as the actions blameless; that to ed ; and which are the beginfeel co solicitude to have the nings of desires and resolutions, heart sanctified, is to cleanse only which, if carried into action, "the outside of the cup and would destroy his comfort and platter," to substitute appearance disgrace his profession. He de. for reality, and shew for worth; sires to love God more and to have a greater regard to the serve him better; and mourns opinion of the world than to the on account of the coldness of his judgment of God. It will, love and the imperfections of his therefore, be his anxious desire service. and habitual study to have the It is evident that this lenderprinciples of godliness strength- ness of conscience must influence çned within him, that when he his conduct in his private retirepresents to the Lord the sacri- ment and domestic intercourse, fice of Christian conduct, it may when secluded from the compas
ny and occupations of the world. this misconduct, and uniformly As Christian sincerity is inimical leads the mind to humiliation to every art of injustice and and repentance when concious of fraud in the transactions of busi. being thus guilty. Like the aposness, even when there is little tle Paul, he “counts not that he probability or even possibility of has already attained, either is aldetection; it is equally hostile to ready perfect, but this one thing every thing that encourages self he does, forgetting those things deceit or hypocrisy, in his secret which are behind, and reaching intercourse with God. It re- forth unto those which are before, proves, and represses languor in be presses towards the mark, for devotion : excites to fervor of the prize of the high calling of spirit and cheerfulness of service: God in Christ Jesus.” removes and prevents carelessness Reader! examine thy own in duty; and aims at the total heart. Withdraw thy attention destruction of that deceitfulness from the scenes of life: from the of sin, which endeavours to com- character of other men; from pensate for the commission of one the thousand objects which would trespass by abstinence from anoth- interrupt the intercourse with er, or by diligence and fidelity in thyself; and survey the princithose parts of obedience, where ples by which thy heart is actuaneglect or unfaithfulness would ted; compare thy conduct with be more easily noticed, and more thy professions, and both with the certainly condemned.
standard of truth and duty, which Finally, sincerity will not ad. the gospel contains. mit either of reserve in the obedi. Reader! Art thou trusting ience that Christianity requires, that thou art righteous and despior of palliation for neglecting it, sing others; or satisfied with out. but embraces the whole extent ward decorum of manners; or and every particular instance of ignorant of the devices of a deceit. duty arising from the circum. ful heart, or led away by error stances, the station and the rela- from the path of Christian doctions, in which a Christian is plac. trine? Thy condition is danger. ed. All that is known to be du- ous, thy hopes of heaven are ty, he must study to perform, fallacious ! Hast thou never pray. whatever hazard may be incurred; or dost thou neglect daily red, or difficulties encountered, prayer for grace to guide thy feet or trials endured. In all places into the way of peace? Thou and at all times sincerity should must be treading in the way of animate the heart, and direct the death! Destruction awaits thee eonduct. Imperfection, indeed, in the land of spirits, except thou is inseparable from the present repent! service, even of the most advanc- Reader! Hast thou never sus. ed Christian. There is always pected the danger of thy state as something which he ought to a transgressor of the law of God? have done, which he has neglec- or dost thou not with an earnestted; or something from which he ness of mind proportioned in ought to have abstained, which some measure to the importance he has performed; but sincerity, of the subject, ask the direction instead of vindicating, condemns and blessing of God, that thou mayest know thyself, and live stance. The way of the wicked is by the faith of the gospel? as darkness. The sick bed tries Dost thou never say from the the correctness of principles, and heart with the Psalmist,“ Search the king of terrors, as he apme, O Lord, and know my heart, proaches, sweeps away all the uy me and know my thoughts, false hopes of the unbeliever, and and see the wicked way that is in scatters them to the winds. lnme, and lead me in the way ever- fidelity may give her votaries the lasting?” Consider, I entreat thee, satisfaction of being free from the danger of insensibility, the enthusiasm and superstition; she danger of insincerity.
may harden their minds ; but she By the gospel thou must be furnishes them with no support judged in the great day of the under the various evils, which Lord; self-deceit will then be we are called to suffer. unavailing, when every thought The death of Mr. Gibbon was will be brought into judgment, such as we might expect from the and every secret work, whether it principles, which he professed. be good or evil. Examine, then, Speaking of the decease of lady thy heart; thy conscience must Sheffield, in a letter to her husbe purified from dead works, in band, he observes; “She is now order to enable thee to serve a. al rest; and, if there be a future right the living and the true God. state, her mild virtues have surely The blood of the Son of God entitled her to the reward of alone has this efficacy; and if pure and perfect felicity.—The thou despise it, there remaineth only consolation in these melanno more for thee a sacrifice for choly trials, the only one at least in sin, but a fearful looking for of which I have any confidence, is the judgment and fiery indignation, presence of a real friend.” In which shall devour the adversae these passages the writer expressries.
es a doubt respecting his future The Lord give thee under- existence, stumbles upon the error standing in all things to do his of the self righteous, that the ordiwill. So shalt thou in simplicity nary virtues of social life merit the and godly sincerity fulfil his plea- reward of everlasting blessedness, sure. Remember the words of and gives up at once all the rich Solomon, “He that Jwalketh consolation, which a belief in the uprightly, walketh surely ; but righteous government of the Fa. be that perverteth his way shall ther of mercies is calculated to afbe known.”
D. D. ford us under afflictions and trouMarch, 1806.
In his memoirs he says, “ I must reluctantly observe, that two
causes, the abbreviation of time MR. GIBBON.
and the failure of hope will al. Os reading the life of Gibbon, ways tinge with a browner shade and observing the cheerless the evening of life.” This is the gloom, which shrouded his mind gloomy sentiment of an atheist, at the hour of death, I was whose views terminate with this struck with the confirmation of world, who considers himself as truth afforded by this circum- the offspring of chance, and who is cheered with no glad expecta- disturbed by the footsteps of liv. rion, that “the evening of life" ing beings, he would not have exwill be succeeded by a glorious pressed his conviction, that hope morning
must necessarily fail, as life apIt is true that the aged are fre- proaches its termination. If he quently peevish and unhappy. had not been destitute of the joy The acuteness of their senses is ful hope of immortality, which only blunted by long action. Their is the glory of man, such a sentieye is no longer delighted with ment his pen never would have beauty, nor their ear enraptured recorded. by melody The agitation of And what was the death of Mr. business no longer exhilarates Gibbon? It was cheerless and awtheir minds. Besides this, they ful. We hear no expressions of find few or none of their early resignation or hope. We behold companions, with whom they no delightful anticipations of may recal the days that are past. blessedness. We see not even an
These are the causes, and not intimation of his belief, that those assigned by Mr. Gibbon, another state of existence would which will always operate in a succeed that, which was approachgreater or less degree to diminish ing its end. All was silent as the the enjoyments of those, who have grave, to which he was going. travelled far into years.
He said to his servant, just be. But to the aged saint, whose fore his death, “ Pourquoi est ce gray hairs are found in the way que vous me quittez ?” Why do you of righteousness, " the abbreviation leave me? And the last words of time” is a subject of joy, not a which he uttered, expressed his source of grief; and with “the desire that his servant would not failure of hope" he is unacquainted.leave him. . He exclaims in the language, and Thus perished this insidious with the exulting anticipation of enemy of Christianity. I said to St. Paul, “ The time of my de- myself, if infidelity can throw no parture is at hand! I have fought ray of light upon the darkness of a good fight, I have finished my the grave; if she can give no supcourse, I have kept the faith. port to the sinking spirit; if shie Henceforth there is laid up for can administer no consolation, me a crown of righteousness, when this world has lost its pow. which the Lord, the righteous er to please; if she can stamp upJudge, shall give me at that day, on the pale countenance of the dyand not to me only, but unto all ing no impressions of hope, of them also, that love his appear. joy, of triumph; then, “O my ing." Had not Mr. Gibbon been sond, come not thou into her sefearful of this appearing of Jesus cret,” and let not her delusions Christ, when he shall decend beguile thee!
W. from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God,” to pun
SKETCH OF THE CHARACTER AND ish the despisers of his words; or
EXERCISES OF MISS A. D. had he not looked upon all beyond the grave as one hideous “ Religion,” says one of its night, whose silence will never be most distinguished champions