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in our religious principles, the love of God not being present in our hearts.
But to return to that with which we set out. Religion may spring from various principles, begin in various motives. It is not for us to narrow the promises of God which belong to sincere religion, from whatever cause it originates. But of these principles, the purest, the surest, is the love of God, forasmuch as the religion which proceeds from it is sincere, constant, and universal. It will not, like fits of terror and alarm, (which yet we do not despise) produce a temporary religion. The love of God is an abiding principle. It will not, like some other, and these also good and laudable principles of action, as far as they go,) produce a partial religion. It is co-extensive with all our obligations. Practical christianity may be comprised in three words, devotion, self-government, and benevolence. The love of God in the heart is a fountain, from which these three streams of virtue will not fail to issue. The love of God also is a guard against error
in conduct, because it is a guard against those evil influences which mislead the understanding in moral questions. In some measure it supplies the place of every rule. He, who has it truly within him, has little to learn. Look stedfastly to the will of God, which he who loves God necessarily does, practise what you believe to be well pleasing to him, leave off what you believe to be displeasing to him; cherish, confirm, strengthen the principle itself, which sustains this course of external conduct, and
you will not want many lessons, you need not listen to any other monitor.
MEDITATING UPON RELIGION.
PSALM LXIII. 7.
Have I not remembered thee in my bed : and
thought upon thee when I was waking?
The life of God in the soul of man, as it is sometimes emphatically called, the Christian life, that is, or the progress of christianity in the heart of any particular person, is marked, amongst other things, by religion gradually gaining possession of the thoughts. It has been said, that, if we thought about religion as it deserved, we should never think about any thing else; nor with strictness perhaps can we deny the truth of this proposition. Religious concerns do so surpass and outweigh in value
and importance all concerns beside, that, did they occupy a place in our minds proportioned to that importance, they would in truth exclude every other, but themselves. I am not therefore one of those who wonder when I see a man engrossed with religion: the wonder with me is, that men care and think so little concerning it. With all the allowances which must be made for our employments, our activities, our anxieties about the interests and occurrences of the present life, it is still true, that our forgetfulness and negligence and indifference about religion are much greater than can be excused, or can easily be accounted for, hy these causes. Few men are so busy, but that they contrive to find time for any gratification their heart is set upon, and thought for any subject in which they are interested : they want not leisure for these, though they want leisure for religion. Notwithstanding therefore singular cases, if indeed there be any cases, of being over religious, over-intent upon spiritual affairs, the real and true complaint is all on the other side; that men think not about them enough, as they ought, as is
reasonable, as it is their duty to do. That is the malady and the mischief. The cast and turn of our infirm and fleshly nature lean all on that side. For first this nature is affected chiefly by what we see; though the things which concern us most deeply be not seen ; for this very reason, that they are not seen, they do not affect us as they ought. Though these things ought to be meditated upon, and must be acted upon, one way or other, long before we come actu. ally to experience them, yet in fact we do not meditate upon them, we do not act with a view to them, till something gives us alarm, gives reason to believe that they are approaching fast upon us, that they are at hand, or shortly will be, that we shall indeed experience what they are. The world of spirits, the world for which we are destined, is invisible to us. Hear St. Paul's account of this matter; look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." We walk by faith not by sight: faith is the evidence of