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sciences are saying,—The fear of the Lord is neither in me nor mine; I must soon part from my children, and I dread that it will be with no other prospect than of meeting again in hell to torment each other in punishment as we have hardened each other in sin. But for you God still waits to be gracious, and says, -Though your head has become grey in sin, yet return unto me. Obey this call, and who can tell but that the earnest efforts, which the grace that plucks the brand from the burning prompts' you to make for your children's conversion, may be successful ? He who can make the wilderness to blossom, and the night to shine as the day, can make you new creatures in Christ Jesus. He can change the heart of stone into flesh, and form the lip of blasphemy to prayer: On the head of the angel of the covenant may the blessings of your perishing souls come, and may you be receivers of his best blessing, which he himself thus describes :-"Unto you first, God, having faised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities."*
* Acts iii. 26.
THE EFFECTS OF CHEERFULNESS AND OF DESPONDENCY.
PROVERBS xvii. 22. A merry heart doeth good like a
medicine, but a broken spirit drieth up the bones.
ONE of the most common artifices of the enemies of religion to bring it into discredit, has been to associate gloominess and terror with its spirit and exercise. In support of their statements they have adduced detached portions of its laws, and painted, in the most hideous colours, the rites of superstition. They have exhibited the monk as the prey of despondency and terror, sustaining a mere existence by the bread and the water of affliction, and imposing on himself stripes more severe than those which tyrants have inflicted on their victims. By his side they have represented the fanatic, who, amidst his strong abhorrence of the dogmas of Popery, is actuated by the bitterness and austerity of its spirit, frowning on every innocent enjoyment, cherishing the gloomiest impressions of the character of the Deity, and of the present state and future destiny of the most part of human beings, afraid to entertain any cheering hope as to himself, and howling in dust and ashes. Nothing can be more unjust than to hold
such misguided creatures as evidences of the requirements or of the tendency of religion.' Let me lead you from the cell of the monk and the austerities of the fanatic to the church of the living God, to the paths of wisdom, where you see the good walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comforts of the Holy Ghost; to his feet whose hands spread peace and hope over the devout mind; and to the chamber where the penitent obtains the oil of joy for mourning, and the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness; to the couch where the sick man is to be seen rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, and continuing instant in prayer; to the retreat where the old man quietly waits for the salvation of the Lord, and blesses God for the mercies of a long life, and for the comforts shed over its close ; and you will perceive the power of the Gospel to support the heart and to enliven the soul, Some good men have imagined that they were des barred from religious joy, and were doomed to spend their days in darkness and tears. This idea, resulting from a constitutional tendency to depression and terror, they have cherished when they ought to have struggled against it, and have thus unhappily exemplified the last part of the text, while the experience of others was realizing the first. But let us not form our ideas of religion from the impressions which result from bodily or from mental infirmity, but from the precepts which regulate its life, the blessings which constitute its privileges, and the proinises which excite its hopes, and we will see that the kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. It may be of some use to show that cheerfulness is a duty which we owe to our kind Benefactor in heaven, to our brethren, and to ourselves; and that despondency and terror make the present scene miserable, and are highly unfavourable to our preparation for another.
In this discourse I shall show what we are to understand by the terms-a merry heart and a broken spirit: I shall then illustrate the view here given of their result; and shall suggest the means which should be employed to secure a cheerful old age.
I. Let me show you what is the meaning of the terms here used —a merry heart and a broken spirit. is. 1. What is meant by the term-a merry heart. By this we are not to understand only or principally å gay and lively temper. This some have from nature; and when it is properly regulated, it makes life pass away under the sweetest sunshine; but too often does it lead to levities and follies in conduct, which are followed by shame and remorse. Often has the jovial man been carried by the lightness of his spirit into excesses which have been bitter as wormwood in the end. Some young persons, under the influence of excessive hilarity of spirit, have been led into indiscretions which have excited the most unfavourable impressions of their character, have lacerated the feelings of those whom Providence was calling to mourning and wo, and made themselves to be viewed as so inconsiderate as to disregard, or so cruel as to insult, the sorrows of others. But by this merry
heart is meant a heart which has been taught by the Spirit of God to seek its happiness in divine and heavenly objects, and to feel a delight in pious and beneficent exercises; which is disposed to look at the bright side of things under the influence of contentment and hope, and at the most favourable aspect of characters under the influence of candour and charity; which rests in the care and protection of Heaven, and finds a pleasure of the noblest kind in the advancement of the Saviour's glory and of the best interests of men.
Such a heart has the best reason for cheerfulness ; and in it there are various principles to preserve it from those lusts and passions which would destroy its peace. Faith keeps it from suspicion and distrust, hope from despair, and charity from that envy which is a rottenness of the bones. The love of God shed abroad in the heart makes it form the most favourable idea of every dispensation, and Christ dwelling there brightens all around by his presence.
The indications of such a spirit are not boisterous laughter, or extreme ardour in amusement, but it manifests itself in the animation of hope, the efforts of kindness, and the language of praise.
2. By the broken spirit is meant a heart crushed by affliction, and which refuses to be comforted. Such is his spirit who, seeing his affairs ruined by his own folly, or the knavery of others, or by misfortunes which he could neither foresee nor prevent, sinks into utter despondence, and becomes incapable of the least effort to better his circumstances.
Such is his spirit who, seeing the desire of his eyes taken
away with a stroke, and the children whom he idolized smitten in their opening beauty by the hand of death, imagines he has nought now to live for, and, in the desperate anguish of his spirit, cries,-“Oh! that thou wouldest take me from a world in which I