« VorigeDoorgaan »
rise till I see him clothed with honour. I will retire from the gay world; and seek for happiness where it may be found.”
“Perhaps I ought to apologize for having enticed you into the gay scenes of life; but as I thought you had a taste for them, I concluded that they would afford you, at least, a temporary enjoyment. I am not myself much attached to them. I do not know that I have any objections on the score of principle, though I have occasionally met with some very strong arguments against them; but I think them too frivolous and contemptible to deserve our notice."
" There is a subject on which I began to bestow a little attention before this illusive scene came over me, which I know you will admit to be important, and I should like to have your opinion of it. The subject to which I now refer is religion. Having met with a review of Cowper's Poems, I felt anxious to peruse them; and this will not surprise you when I tell you that for originality of thought, strength of argument, and pungency of satire, they are represented as equal to any of modern times. But his translations of the poems of Madame Guion, made the deepest impression on my imagination; and I longed to possess that fine glow of fervid devotion which pervades her writings. Have you ever read him po
“I have read his Task, and some of his smaller pieces; but I have no distinct recollection of the translations to which you refer. You have, my dear Charlotte, asked me for my opinion on the subject of religion ; but I candidly confess that, though at times I have thought of it with great seriousness, yet I am not at present qualified to give you the information which you may desire. I have a young friend who is very pious; and with whom I am in the habits of the closest intimacy; but as yet it has never been discussed by us, and very rarely alluded to. Perhaps on my return we may break through that profound reserve which we have mutually maintained on this important subject; and if so, I shall feel a pleasure in communicating to you the result.”
DEW AN EMBLEM OF CONVERSION.
• It seems to the honour of religion, that so many things can, without the art of forcing resemblances, be accommodated to its illustration. It is an evident and remarkable fact, that there is a certain principle of correspondence to religion throughout the economy of the world. He that made all things for himself, appears to have willed that they should be a great system of EMBLEMS, reflecting or shadowing forth that system of principles in which we are to apprehend Him and our relations and obligations to Him; so that religion, standing up in grand parallel to an infinity of things, receives their testimony and homage, and speaks with a voice which is echoed by creation.”-FOSTER.
The justness of these profound and splendid remarks is almost self-evident in the emblem of dew, The history of dew is a figurative history of CONVERSION ; and, in its leading features, so strikingly similar, that if dew had been created for no other purpose but to image forth the new creation," it could hardly be more characteristic.
The design of God in establishing and pointing out the resemblances between natural and spiritual things is obvious. He thus places us so, that, whether we are in the house or the fields, we may have before us “lively oracles" of his great salvation: at home, in the Bible; abroad, in nature. For, as prophet unto prophet, and apostle unto apostle, so “ day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night teacheth knowledge,”—there being no voice of nature which does not echo some voice of Revelation. Ex. gr.
The origin of dew is an emblem of human society in its natural state. The original elements of dew are as various in their character as the diversified states in which water and moisture exist on earth. Now they exist in swamps and seas, in marshes and meadows, in stagnant pools and running streams, in fetid plants and fragrant flowers; but wherever water lies or lurks, whether in the chalice of a rose or in the recess of a tank, it must undergo the same change, and pass from fluid to vapour before it becomes dew. As water, it cannot, however pure or polluted, ascend into the atmosphere, nor refine itself into dew: it may undergo changes of taste, colour, and smell, according to the channels it lies in and flows on; but into dew it will not turn, until it is exhaled in vapour by the sun.
Now the moral, like the natural world, has its putrid marshes and its pure streams-its calm lakes and stormy oceans; for although no class of men are naturally holy, some classes are comparatively pure, and others grossly vile. There are, in society, decent and the indelicate, the humane and the cruel, the cool and the passionate, the upright and thí dishonest. These distinctions between man and man are as visible as those of land and water on the globe, and as real as the difference between spring and ditch-water. But no natural amiableness of disposition, nor any acquired refinement of character, amounts to “trúe holiness.”
The best, in common with the worst, "must be born again's before they can enter into the kingdom of God: for as water, in its purest state, must be exhaled into vapour before it can be transmuted into dew, so both the moral and the immoral must be regenerated, before they can enter heaven.
Education may purify the manners, but only faith can purify the heart: love of character may secure external decorum, but only the love of Christ can secure internal holiness. Thus far the resemblance holds good.
Again: the agency by which dew is produced from all the varieties of water, is an emblem of that spiritual agency by which the varieties of human character are transformed into the divine image. Now, the sun is the grand agent in the natural world, by which portions of all waters are changed into vapour. His heat, operating on their surface, produces exhalations wherever it touches; drawing vapoor from the wide expanse of the ocean and from the weedy pool, from the brackish river and from the sweet brook. And the sun is the only luminary of heaven that exhales the waters. The moon regulates their tides, and the stars irradiate their surface; but the united rays of both are insufficient to evaporate ingredients for a single dewdrop. It is the sun which draws from the earth, into the atmosphere, the elements of this beautiful fluid: in like manner, it is the Sun of Righteous. ness" alone that draws sinners from the fearful pit of the curse, and from the miry clay of corruption. · The attractive influence of his cross is to us, what the heat of the sun is to the moisture of the earth-the only drawing power. Other doctrines may, like the moon, produce regular tides of formal worship, and like ihe stars, brighten the surface of the character ; but they shine too cold to regenerate the heart or purify the conscience. Thus, ARIANISM, although it shone in the brightness of learning and ethics during the last century, had no spiritual attraction : it drew small numbers from the Church to the meeting; but none from the world to God as the God of salvation. SOCINIANISM also has, of late, shone in the heat of proselyting zeal; but the only effect is, that some of the young, who formerly cared nothing about religion, are become flippant speculators, and many of the speculators masked Deists. It is notorious that the system has made the young “ heady and high-minded," and the old reckless. Many of both are, indeed, intelligent and upright: but these were so before they embraced the system; and would be what they are under any moral system, while their local and relative circumstances continue the same. And what have the classically elegant lectures on morals, which sound from so many pulpits, done for the young or the old ? Except maintaining a routine of formal worship, and raising an ignorant clamour against evangelical truth, they have left parishes and districts as they found them-locked up in the icebergs of apathy and self-delusion. And such must ever be the effects of legal preaching, because it is not God's appointment for winning souls. He no more intends to save sinners by the law, than to evaporate the waters by the moon or the stars. The law, like these luminaries, is a light to our feet in " the new and living way;" but only the Sun of Righteousness, shining in the Gospel, can draw us