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of a large burial-ground, remote from all the noise and hurry of tumultuous life; the body spacious, the structure lofty, the whole magnificently plain. A row of regular pillars extended themselves through the midst, supporting the roof with simplicity and with dignity. The light that passed through the windows seemed to shed a kind of luminous obscurity, which gave every object a grave and venerable air. The deep silence, added to the gloomy aspect, and both heightened by the loneliness of the place, greatly increased the solemnity of the scene. A sort of religious dread stole insensibly on my mind while I advanced, all pensive and thoughtful, along the inmost aisle; such a dread as hushed every ruder passion, and dissipated all the gay images of an alluring world.
Having adored that eternal Majesty, who, far from being confined to temples made with hands, has heaven for his throne and the earth for his footstool, I took particular notice of a handsome altarpiece, presented, as I was afterwards informed, by the master-builders of Stowe ;* out of gratitude, I presume, to that gracious God who carried them through their work, and enabled them to "bring forth their top-stone with joy."
O! how amiable is gratitude! especially when it has the supreme Benefactor for its object. I have always looked upon gratitude as the most exalted principle that can actuate the heart of man. It has something noble, disinterested, and (if I may be `allowed the term) generously devout. Repentance indicates our nature fallen, and prayer turns chiefly upon a regard to one's self. But the exercises of gratitude subsisted in paradise, when there was no fault to deplore; and will be perpetuated in heaven, when "God shall be all in all.'
The language of this sweet temper is, "I am unspeakably obliged; what return shall I make ?" And
The name of a noble seat belonging to the late Earl of Bath, now demolished, laid even with the ground, and scarce one stone left upon another. So that corn may grow, or nettles spring, where Stowe lately stood.
surely it is no improper expression of an unfeigned thankfulness, to decorate our Creator's courts, and beautify "the place where his honour dwelleth." Of old, the habitation of his feet was glorious; let it not now be sordid or contemptible. It must grieve an ingenuous mind, and be a reproach to any people, to have their own houses wainscotted with cedar, and painted with vermilion, while the temple of the Lord of hosts is destitute of every decent ornament.
Here I recollected and was charmed with Solomon's fine address to the Almighty, at the dedication of his famous temple. With immense charge, and exquisite skill, he had erected the most rich and finished structure that the sun ever saw. Yet upon a review of his work, and a reflection on the transcendent perfections of the Godhead, how he exalts the one, and abases the other! The building was too glorious for the mightiest monarch to inhabit; too sacred for unhallowed feet even to enter; yet infinitely too mean for the Deity to reside in. It was, and the royal worshipper acknowledged it to be, a most marvellous vouchsafement in uncreated Excellency to "put his name there." The whole passage breathes such a delicacy, and is animated with such a sublimity of sentiment, that I cannot persuade myself to pass on without repeating it. But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold! the heaven, the heaven of heavens, cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded!" Incomparable saying! worthy the wisest of men. Who would not choose to pos
1 Kings viii. 27. But will-a fine abrupt beginning, most significantly describing the amazement and rapture of the royal prophet's mind. God-he uses no epithet, where writers of inferior discernment would have been fond to multiply them; but speaks of the Deity as an incomprehensible Being, whose perfections and glories are exalted above all praise. Dwell-to bestow on sinful creatures a propitious look, to favour them with a transient visit of kindness, even this were an unutterable obligation: Will he then vouchsafe to fix his abode among them, and take up his stated residence with them? Indeed-a word, in this connexion, peculiarly emphatical; expressive of a condescension wonderful and extraordinary, almost beyond all credibility. Behold!intimating the continued, or rather the increasing surprise of the speaker,
sess such an elevated devotion, rather than to own all the glittering materials of that sumptuous edifice!
We are apt to be struck with admiration at the stateliness and grandeur of a masterly performance in architecture, and perhaps, on a sight of the ancient sanctuary, should have made the superficial observation of the disciples, "What manner of stones, and what buildings are here!" But what a nobler turn of thought, and juster taste of things does it discover, to join with Israel's king in celebrating the condescension of the divine inhabitant! That the high and lofty One, who fills immensity with his glory, should in a peculiar manner fix his abode there; should there manifest an extraordinary degree of his benedictive presence; permit sinful mortals to approach his majesty, and promise to make them joyful in his house of prayer!" This should more sensibly affect our hearts, than the most curious arrangement of stones can delight our eyes.
Nay, the everlasting God does not disdain to dwell in our souls by his Holy Spirit; and to make even our bodies his temple. Tell me, ye that frame critical judgments, and balance nicely the distinction of things, "Is this most astonishing or most rejoicing?" He humbleth himself, the Scripture assures us, even to behold the things that are in heaven, Psalm cxiii, 6. It is a most condescending favour, if he pleases to take the least approving notice of angels and archangels, when they bow down in homage from their celestial thrones; will he then graciously regard, will he be united, most
and awakening the attention of the hearer. Behold! the heaven-the spacious concave of the firmament, that wide extended azure circumference, in which worlds unnumbered perform their revolutions, is too scanty an apartment for the Godhead. Nay, the heaven of heavens— those vastly higher tracks which lie far beyond the limits of human survey, to which our very thoughts can hardly soar; even these (unbounded as they are) cannot afford an adequate habitation for Jehovah; even these dwindle into a point, when compared with the infinitude of his essence! even these "are as nothing before him." How much less proportionate is this poor diminutive speck which I have been erecting and embellishing, to so august a presence, so immense a majesty!
intimately united, to poor, polluted, breathing dust? Unparalleled honour! Invaluable privilege! Be this my portion, and I shall not covet crowns, nor envy conquerors.
But let me remember what a sanctity of disposition, and uprightness of conversation, so exalted a relation demands: Remember this, "and rejoice with trembling." Durst I commit any iniquity, while I tread these hallowed courts? Could the Jewish high-priest allow himself in any known transgression, while he made that solemn yearly entrance into the holy of holies, Heb. ix. 7. and stood before the immediate presence of Jehovah? No, truly. In such circumstances, a thinking person must shudder at the most remote solicitation to any wilful offence. I should now be shocked at the least indecency of behaviour, and am apprehensive of every appearance of evil. And why do we not carry this holy jealousy into all our ordinary life? Why do we not in every place reverence ourselves, as persons dedicated to the Divinity, as living temples of the Godhead? For, if we are real, and not merely nominal Christians, the God of glory, according to his own promise, dwells in us, and walks in us, 2 Cor. vi. 16. Oh! that this one doctrine of our religion might operate with an abiding efficacy upon our consciences: it would be instead of a thousand laws to regulate our conduct; instead of a thousand motives to quicken us in holiness. Under the influence of such a conviction, we should study to maintain a purity of intention, a dignity of action, and to walk worthy of that transcendently majestic Being, who admits us to a fellowship with himself, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
"But above all things reverence thyself," was the favourite maxim of Pythagoras, and supposed to be one of the best moral precepts ever given to the Heathen world. With what superior force, and very singular advantage, does the argument take place in the Christian scheme; where we are taught to regard ourselves, not merely as intellectual beings, who have reason for our monitor, but as consecrated creatures, who have a God of the most consummate perfection ever with us, ever in us.
The next thing which engaged my attention, was the lettered floor. The pavement, somewhat like Ezekiel's roll, was written over from one end to the other. I soon perceived the comparison to hold good in another respect, and the inscriptions to be matter of "mourning, lamentation, and woe," Ezek. ii. 10. They seemed to court my observation; silently inviting me to read them. And what would these dumb monitors inform me of?" That beneath their little circumferences were deposited such and such pieces of clay, which once lived, and moved, and talked; that they had received a charge to preserve their names, and were the remaining trustees of their memory."
Ah! said I, is such my situation? The adorable Creator around me, and the bones of my fellowcreatures under me! Surely, then, I have great reason to cry out with the revering patriarch, How dreadful is this place! Gen. xxviii. 17. Seriousness and devotion become this house for ever. May I never enter it lightly or irreverently; but with a profound awe, and godly fear!
Oh, that they were wise! said the inspired penman, Deut. xxxii. 29. It was his last wish for his dear people; he breathed it out, and gave up the ghost. But what is wisdom? It consists not in refined speculations, accurate researches into nature, or an universal acquaintance with history. The divine lawgiver settles this important point in his next aspiration: Oh, that they understood this! That they had right apprehensions of their spiritual interests, and eternal concerns; that they had eyes to discern, and inclinations to pursue, the things which belong to their peace! But how shall they attain this valuable knowledge? I send them not, adds the illustrious teacher, to turn over all the volumes of literature: they may acquire, and much more expeditiously, this science of life, by considering their latter end. This spark of heaven is often lost under the glitter of pompous erudition, but shines clearly in the