Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

VIII.

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,

SERMON IX.

On RELIGIOUS RETIREMENT.

PSALM iv. 4.

Commune with your own heart, upon your

bed, and be still.

IX.

none.

MUCH communing with themselves serMON

there has always been among mankind; though frequently, God knows, to no purpose, or to a purpose worse than

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

IX.

SERMON in the midst of the world, even when they

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

IX.

[ocr errors][merged small]

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

false

IX.

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 na-
tive 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 dis-
charge any part of his duty aright, who
never suffers his passions to cool? And
how should his passions cool, who is en-
gaged, 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 danger-
ous 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

« ForrigeFortsæt »