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SERMON the land of shadows. But we hope to pass
into the world of realities ; where the proper objects of human desire shall be displayed; where the substance of that bliss shall be found, whose image only we now pursue ; where no fallacious hopes shall any longer allure, no smiling appearances shall betray, no insidious joys shall sting; but where truth shall be inseparably united with pleasure, and the mists which hang over this preliminary state being dissipated, the perfect knowledge of good shall lead to the full en. joyment of it for ever,
Commune with your own heart, upon your
bed, and be still.
M UCH communing with themselves SERMON
there has always been among man- _._ kind; though frequently, God knows, to no purpose, or to a purpose worse than none. Could we discover the employments of men in retirement, how often should we find their thoughts occupied with subjects which they would be ashamed to own? What a large share have ambition and avarice, at some times. the grossest passions, and at other times the meanest trifles, in their solitary musings ? They carry the world, with all its vices, into their retreat ; and may be said to dwell
SERMON in the midst of the world, even when they so seem to be alone.
This, surely, is not that sort of communing which the Psalmist recommends, For this is not properly communing with our heart, but rather holding secret intercourse with the world. What the Psalmist means to recommend, is religious recollection ; that exercise of thought which is connected with the precept given in the preceding words, to stand in awe, and sin not. It is to commune with ourselves, under the character of spiritual and immortal beings; and to ponder those paths of our feet, which are leading us to eternity. I shall, in the first place, show the advantages of such serious retirement and meditation; and shall, in the second place, point out some of the principal subjects which ought to employ us in our retreat,
The advantages of retiring from the · world, to commune with our heart, will be
found to be great, whether we regard our happiness in this world, or our preparation for the world to come,
Let us consider them, first, with respect SERMON to our happiness in this world. It will readily occur to you, that an entire retreat from worldly affairs, is not what religion requires ; nor does it even enjoin a great retreat from them. Some stations of life would not permit this; and there are few stations which render it necessary. The chief field, both of the duty and of the improvement of man, lies in active life. By the graces and virtues which he exercises amidst his fellow-creatures, he is trained up for heaven. A total retreat from the world is so far from being, as the Roman Catholic Church holds, the perfection of religion, that, some particular cases excepted, it is no other than the abuse of it.
But, though entire retreat would lay us aside from the part for which Providence' chiefly intended us, it is certain, that, without occasional retreat, we must act that part very ill. There will be neither consistency in the conduct, nor dignity in the character, of one who sets apart no share of his time for meditation and reflection. In the heat and bustle of life, while passion is every moment throwing
SERMON false colours on the objects aound us, no
thing can be viewed in a just light. If you wish that reason should exert her native power, you must step aside from the crowd, into the cool and silent shade. It is there that with sober and steady eye, she examines what is good or ill, what is wise or foolish, in human conduct; she looks back on the past, she looks forward to the future; and forms plans, not for the present moment only, but for the whole of life. How should that man discharge any part of his duty, aright, who never suffers his passions to cool? And how should his passions cool, who is engaged, without interruption, in the tumult of the world? This incessant stir may be called the perpetual drunkenness of life. It raises that eager fermentation of spirit, which will be ever sending forth the dangerous fumes of rashness and folly. Whereas he who iningles religious retreat with worldly affairs, remains calm, and master of himself. He is not whirled round, and rendered giddy, by the agitations of the world; but, from that sacred retirement, in which he has been conversant among