Imatges de pÓgina
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the intention to sow his field with seed? What if he prepare the soil with the nicest care, rooting out every weed, and breaking down every clod, and heightening the fertility of it with a plentiful draining-must he not be a foolish man to look in the autumn for the yellow waving corn, when he had done nothing more than intend to scatter the seed upon the bosom of the earth? The soft showers of April would fall in vain upon the soil; the glowing suns of summer in vain spread their beams over it; in vain the gentle gales of autumn would whisper along its surface; no green blade would shoot, no ear would form, no blossom open, no stem gracefully yield with its ripening load. The land would be as barren of all, save weeds, as the husbandman's intention was barren and ineffective; and the finger of the thoughtful would point to it in reproof, and his voice call it the land of good intentions. Just so is it in respect of morals. The mere intention of any person, however important and praiseworthy the object to which it refers, can produce no fruit, if he allow it to remain inactive in his mind. It is the intention of the husband. man who never troubles himself to sow the seed. It is the intention of the builder who delays for ever to lay the foundation of his house. It is the intention of the traveller who never sets forward on his journey. And, as we can only smile or mourn at such instances of folly, so must we smile or mourn at him, who, intending to change the habits of his life, to repair the evils he has done, and to avoid doing evil in future, still continues in the course to which he has habituated himself, without making one effort to change it for the better.

We can now decide, without hesitation, how far it is useful or good to form certain designs without taking the trouble to bring them to pass. It is, in short, neither useful nor good. Design as much as we may to serve others, they are only the better for our design when we make it evident by our actions. And intend as we way to alter our own conduct in any way, that conduct still remains the same, and we are just as immoral, until we steadfastly forsake the evil way we intend to shun, and prove that we can keep a virtuous resolution. It is not enough-an upright Judge can never consider it to be enough-that it is in our hearts.

We earnestly address ourselves to those who are conscious of good intentions:-“ You are blessed with parents of whose wisdom and kindness you have a high opinion, whose counsels

you

know to be of vast moment to your happiness, but you feel some internal reproach when you ask yourselves, if you have always returned their kindness, or obediently listened to their counsels: and you intend to be more grateful and more obedient. Or you recollect some instance, or perhaps instances, of ill-humour or unkindness to a brother, or a sister, or a friend, and it is your intention to repair the past, and not allow your evil passions to master you again. In the station of a servant, you remember that some reasonable commands of a master or mistress were received with rudeness, and neglected or disobeyed ; you remember that it is your engagement to obey the commands of your employers, you cannot deny that they should be obeyed with willingness, and your reflections on the subject lead to the intention of performing your part

in the family, or in the business, with civility, alacrity, and a desire to give satisfaction. Are you conscious of some heedless or wilful violation of the laws of God? Do you feel a secret pang when you reflect on past misconduct? And are there blended with your thoughts of penitence designs of reform and amendment ?-Let not these intentions of affection and duty towards your parents; of kindness and forbearance towards your relatives, of respect and obedience towards your employers, of reverence and service towards God, be suffered to sleep in your minds. If there be one fault unrepaired, one vice uncorrected, or one duty left undone, give to the intentions of your mind the life of action; be consistent with yourselves, faithful and obedient to your friends and to God. The good purposes of your hearts will then appear in your conduct; your goodness and piety will commend you to the love of those who know you, and especially to Him whose love is rich in present and future blessings.

On Reading the Scriptures.

CHAP. II.

We have briefly described the Jewish Scriptures, but it would be a serious omission did . we not say how far they surpass' all the productions of ancient times in their descriptions of the Supreme Being. They describe Him such as we delight to believe He is-Infinite and Eternal; possessed of all power and all knowledge, of majesty unrivalled, of glory unspeakable, unbounded in benevolence, and filled with tender mercy. The mind sickens at the fables of the Heathen Deities, their lust, their cruelty, and the train of abominations which mingled together at their worship. But in the Jehovah of the Jews there is universal and unlimited excellence, the contemplation of this goodness fills the mind with devout love; and when it attains a lofty height, and feels in all its force the sublimity of the sacred writers, the soul trembles with awe.

Of the New Testament the historical parts are chiefly concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. The four Evangelists relate the public life of the most excellent person that ever dwelt upon the earth. The character which they describe is perfect. There is no blemish—no, not one; and the excellencies are such as consist and harmonize with each other. In the character of our Lord there is a just proportion of all the parts, and the whole is so complete and beautiful as to require no additional grace. He truly showed,

-how awful goodness is, And virtue in her own shape, how lovely!

As an example of suffering virtue he shone pre-eminent. As a martyr to duty he displayed unconquerable greatness of soul. He was of friends the kindest, of benefactors the most disinterested, of patriots the most enlightened, of men the best and purest, of the messengers of God the most grateful and obedient to Himn by whom he was sent.

Such was Jesus of Nazareth: and to his history is added, a short account of the labours of those who received him as a prophet and a well beloved son of God, and a number of epistles written by these eminent men, full of counsel and

exhortation, and fitted to establish their converts in holy and pious habits. To these succeed the important but mysterious book of the Revelation.

We have thus far described the Old and New Testaments as literary productions, i.e. as writings of eminent and gifted men, and even in this view of them have they an equal? In what volume do we find histories so genuine and instructive, events so surprising and credible, lessons of wisdom so valuable, poetry so exhalted and devout, moral and religious truth so pure as these display? No single treasure equals them-not the united treasures of antiquity are so valuable.

But let us hear the opinion of Sir William Jones, whose wonderful learning fully qualified him for giving it. He wrote the following sentence in the last leaf of his Bible :-“I have regularly and attentively read these Holy Scriptures, and am of opinion that this volume, independently of its divine origin, contains more simplicity' and beauty, more pure morality, more important history, and finer strains of poetry and eloquence, than can be collected from all other books, in what ever age or language they may have been composed."

But let it be remembered that these Scriptures possess a divine authority. “They are given by inspiration of God, and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” They declare the means by which God effected his beneficent purposes, and established that glorious dispensation under which we live. They reveal his will to mankind-that will so favourable to human virtue and happiness; and they unfold the scenes of a future and eternal life, in which there will be a just and righteous distribution of rewards

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