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mastered, will be of more use to you than all the lectures of schools and colleges. In order that worldly care may not injure your devotion, the spirit of devotion must kill the roots of worldly care. Apply to God in every thing. The command to apply to him, is no less wide, and wider it could not be, than the prohibition against carefulness. Be careful for nothing. In every thing let your requests be made known unto God."

"*

“ If friendless in a vale of tears I stray,

Where briars wound, and thorns perplex my way,
Still let my steady soul thy goodness see,
And with strong confidence lay hold on thee;
With equal eye, my various lot receive,
Resign'd to die, or resolute to live;
Prepard to kiss the sceptre or the rod,
While God is seen in all, and all in God.”

MRS. BARBAULD.

* Gisborne.'

SECTION IV.

ON DESPONDING FEARS IN PRAYER,

UNBELIEF is a secret and subtle leaven, which works in the inmost recesses of the heart. The highest advantages of piety cannot entirely counteract this inward poison. As vain thoughts distract, and earthly cares encumber, so desponding fears depress and harass the Christian, in approaching God. These fears are of various kinds, and operate in various ways; and even the best of men are not wholly free from them. We may indeed find many nominal Christians, who were never troubled with one fear, in reference to spiritual matters : but this may easily be accounted for. Religion with them is an external ceremony, not an internal principle; and so long as the customary form is kept up, they have no idea that any thing can be wanting. Hope and fear never fail to influence us, according to the value at which we estimate the objects pursued or avoided. Whatever is accounted of small consequence, will neither excite lively expectations, nor alarming apprehensions. If a worldly

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man has to go to some rich courtier, to solicit his patronage and favour, he is fearful lest any part of his behaviour should give offence, and therefore is cautious and vigilant: he expects much, and cannot wholly banish the unwelcome thought, that it is possible he may be disappointed. In religion it is quite otherwise with him. There he pays a sort of homage for the sake of decency, yet never surrenders the heart : from prayer he expects nothing, and therefore, as might be supposed in such a case, neither rejoices nor mourns.

It is surprising how dexterously men contrive to save labour, and supply a sedative to the conscience, by substituting the forms of religion for its vital spirit.

- In the Romish church, prayers are the conditions of indulgences to the living, and the means of salvation to the dead; they shorten the road through purgatory, and open the gates of Paradise. With scarcely more brutal ignorance do the idolatrous tribes of Tartars, visited by modern travellers, revolve, in their prayer-mills, their scraps of devotion, with the view of lightening their conscience at less expense of time and labour than is required by oral recitation : so abject is the depth of degradation to which a religion must stoop, which should seek to accommodate itself to the grossest conceptions of the human mind! Of all kinds of labour, that species of intellectual exertion, which has to do with the obligations of religious duty, is to a carnal mind the most irksome: there is none which men shew so constant a propensity to devolve upon others; content to barter their moral freedom, for the privilege of thinking and praying, repenting and believing, by proxy. Whether it be by the priest, or the prayer-mill

, the degree only of "stupidity is different;—the motive and intention are the same.”*

Genuine personal pièty, though the parent of hope, is not altogether unattended with fears. Some of these, as far as our present subject is concerned, it will now be proper to potice.

1. Sometimes the Christian may fear, lest by prayer he should incur the charge of hypocrisy.

We know that persons may put on the garb, and perform the part of a Christian, in some of the solemn duties of religion, yet be infidels at heart: and, in the judgment of all, there are no characters more odious and detestable than these. I am aware it has been said, the line of distinction between the sincere believer and the dissembler, is so broad and strongly marked, that it is impossible to be mistaken. This, though plausible, is not true. There is no uncertainty in the eyes of that Being, whose judgment is always according to truth; but it is otherwise

• Concler on Protestant Nonconformity.

with frail fallible creatures. We can only form our idea of the character of men, from their conduct. As respects even an acquaintance with ourselves, it is allowed that motives are the springs of action ; yet these springs are often so complicated, that we do not always know the exact force of each, or what may be justly termed the predominating principle. A modern sect in Scotland, called Bereans, maintain that faith in Christ, and assurance of salvation, are inseparable, and in a manner the same; because, say they, « God hath said expressly, He that believeth shall be saved ; and therefore it is not only absurd, but impious, and in a manner calling God a liar, for a man to say, I believe the Gospel, but have doubts nevertheless of my own salvation." The great objection to this scheme is, that it would strike off from the list of Christians, many truly pious men; and place multitudes there who have no right to that honour. He who is jealous over his own heart, may be sometimes led to draw hard conclusions against himself, even though his name is in the Book of Life.

The gay and artful men of the world, are generally very ready to charge religious people with base motives and selfish ends. Behold, they cry, those sanctimonious hypocrites, how zealously they pray for a pretence! yet, grave and demure as they seem, at bottom they are

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