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kingdoms; in the upholding and governing of the world; and in the conduct of his providence. The descendants of Abraham knew that the Creator and Governor of the universe* was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; that he had repeatedly revealed himself to their fathers; that he had published his law, and ratified his covenant; that he had spoken to the nation, by his servants the prophets from time to time, according to their exigencies; and by their predictions and doctrines, had prepared both Jews and Gentiles for a better, more glorious and permanent dispensation. But Christians know that the Lord of all, the God of Israel, is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ; they receive whatever the Son hath declared of the Father; they behold the glory of the Lord (to use the striking language of the apostle Paul) in " the face of "Jesus Christ they feel and cherish the sentiments and affections which a lively faith in the fuller, brighter, and more gracious manifestations of God, and his perfections, and character, and government, inspires.
. Religious and devout affections and sentiments,
ments, thus formed, will be discovered in performing the exercises of piety, in the frequency of these exercises, in high delight in them, and in careful attention to their influence and effects upon the temper, upon the heart and the life.
1. The pious, I say, are employed in the exercises of devotion. A truly pious person naturally affects the solitary hour, the sacred and solemn retirement of meditation and prayer and praise, on many considerations. In sacred retirement, the perfections, the works and ways of God, are contemplated with higher advantage. In sacred retirement, we know and consider aright our own characters; we discover the state of our souls; the progress and attainments of the divine life; our virtues, and graces, and joys. The pious withdraw from the world, that, according to the report of a thorough examination, and the answer of a well-informed conscience, they may kho w where their danger lies, and what to guard against, that they may be saved from inattention to the divine goodness, and be stirred up to gratitude and praise; that they may become more humble, more active and zealous, ous, and successful in all their duties and attainments. When we are separated from the world, when we are withdrawn from its influence, we perceive more clearly, we judge more justly, we resolve more wisely, in our wordly affairs, and in our unspeakably better concerns. The soul is lifted up to God, we are fitted for the work, we feel the pleasures and joys of the saints in glory, of the angels of God; our communion is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Can a person be truly pious who does not, with the heir of the promise, go forth at fit seasons, in the undisturbed hour of the dawn, or in the stillness and serenity of the evening, to meditate ? With the sweet singer of Israel, he will commune with his own heart, on his bed. I bring in view a brighter pattern of excellence, known and contemplated with higher interest, and with blessed and transforming effect; the Lord Jesus withdrew from the world, and poured out his heart to his Father in heaven. Solitude finds not the pious alone. Solitude is chosen, that they may have more free, and more full intercourse with God.
For the materials of devout meditation and devotion, so to express myself, we have not to go far. The least informed, with the Scriptures in their hands, or in their hearts, are furnished with these abundantly; nor can any time or place be destitute of occasions, or of themes for devotion: in all his works and ways God is present, and manifests his glory: by revelation he is more clearly seen; we cannot flee from his presence; we are ever with him; but, in a special manner, God is near to his worshippers, and manifests himself to them in their devotions, sheds abroad his love in their hearts, and imparts to them, enlargement, and peace, and joy.
The religious exercises, the musings, and prayers, and praise, of the solemn retired walk, of the sequestred shade, or river's side, or of the closet, may be assisted, and have been assisted, by the devotions and experiences,^ the directions and advices of others; of the saints in ancient or in latter times. Considered as memoirs of the pious, as natural and unaffected representations of the exercises of the heart, how much endeared and
highly, highly useful are the devotional Scriptures, and the Book of Psalms in particular? It is not to be supposed that, among us, there is any pious person not furnished with a copy of the Bible, or who cannot peruse it. The pious memoirs and diaries of Christians of our own times, their experiences, their attainments, their excellence and their joys, are not without their use. Much advantage arises, in particular, from the similarity of their circumstances, and duties, and trials, to our own. They become our patterns, our friends, and monitors; we catch the holy infection, we emulate their worth, we feel their pleasures; and, like them, "cause our light so "to shine before men, that they, seeing our "good works, glorify our Father who is in "heaven." Such useful, sacred biography, can be furnished at a very small expence.