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to rest the primary obligation and limitation of every duty on the revealed will of God: “ to the law and to the testimony."* For,
1. This is a rule, and an authority intelligible and conclusive, ripon every subject, and to every hearer. The fitness or rectitude of an action or habit, however certain, is not in every case so striking as in the first example which I have adduced: the beneficial consequence or tendency of it is not always so manifest as in the second : and the conclusion to be drawn from these two qualities, the conformity of the action or habit to the will of God, must be weaker in proportion to the diminished force or evidence of the premises.Besides, the judgment of every 'hearer upon the rectitude or beneficial tendency of any conduct, (however demonstrable they be to an inquirer every way competent) depends much upon his natural perspicacity, education, habits, and prejudices; these, in every congregation, are various; rarely adapted to abstract reasoning; nor always favourable to naked truth; which scarcely can preserve her independence and influence, if she come forth, in opposition to the misapprehensions and passions of men, not protected by the divine authority, not guarded by “ the shield of faith, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.”+ The virtue which the hearer least affects will lose much of its native comeliness in his partial and imperfect view : and the necessity of it to the general happiness will with him, become problematical, if his passions have so far blinded him, as to make it appear incompatible with his own. The practical dictate resulting from these precarious judgments is not likely to be very correct or uniform : and there is danger that his spiritual freedom and welfare, thus left to depend entirely upon his apprehensions of the beauty or utility of a virtue, may rest upon “ the staff of a broken reed, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand and pierce it." +
2. The sanctions of virtue propounded by the word of God are incomparably more weighty and authentic, than any which unassisted reason can offer. The rectitude of an action, indeed, ensures the approbation of conscience: the beneficial tendency of it implies a probable reward in its natural effects : the conformity of it, thence inferable to the will of God, affords the expectation of his blessing here, and, upon the difficult supposition of a uniform obedience, (or, of such imperfect obedience as he shall graciously accept) a high probability of his larger bounty in some future state : and the opposite qualities of an action involve consequences respectively contrary. But what proportion do these sanctions bear, either in kind, or in extent, or in certainty, to the covenanted, or mediatorials promises, and the express threatenings of the Gospel?
3. Lastly, as divine revelation holds forth to those who are so happy as to enjoy it, the clearest discovery, and the most persuasive recommendation, of moral virtue, it seems to be at once an act of reason, and an offering of duty to the gracious author of it, to look up to it as our constant and sovereign guide : “thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."|| A contrary habit of
* Isaiah vijj, 20. 4. Eph. vi. 17.
2. Kings xviii. 21. Heb. viii. 6. || Ps. cix. 105.
dwelling 'entirely or principally on the beauty and loveliness of this or that virtue, its present utility, or even the rational probabili. ty of its future recompense; this moral preaching, though it be so far correct as it delivers some unquestionable truths, yet is greatly erroneous in that it keeps back others, without which, alas! the former ones would avail us little towards clearing our prospects in another world; still less (such is the corruption of our nature, and so hath been the fact in all ages) for the effectual guidance of our manners in the present. It diverts the attention of the hearer from the great truths of the gospel, its doctrines, its precepts, and its sanctions; all which together form the adequate object of his faith, the law of his conduct, and the measure of his expectations. To limit your instructions and exhortations to any inferior speculations, rules, or motives, is to guide your followers with a candle after the sun has risen : it has a natural tendency to contract their views to the few small objects within the narrow circle of this imperfect vise ion ; to make them shrink from the enlarged and more splendid prospects, which the celestial light would present to them; at length, to lead them to forget that he shines around them, or even forcibly to shut him out from their sight. To speak plainly, I cannot but look upon such mere moral discourses as the effect of considerable and dangerous inadvertency; inasmuch as, by narrowing the foundations, and weakening the sanctions, of Christian morality, they hazard the virtue of the hearer; and, by continually withdrawing from his view the Christian doctrine, they imperceptibly prepare him to renounce his faith.
The result of the whole is this. As the will of God is the adequate rule of conscience; as his will is made known to us, partly by supernatural revelation and partly by natural reason; as the precepts of revelation are to be interpreted and applied by reason, and also to be recommended by it for their intrinsic excellence; it seems meet that you should inform and guide your hearers by a careful reference to each of these heavenly monitors in due order and combination : being assured that, whenever they are properly attended to, they will agree in laying down and enforcing one measure of moral and religious duty,
ODE TO MEDITATION.
Ye busy scenes! where Pelf and YE active scenes of busy life,
Care Where all is tumult, noise, and strife, Divide each soul, each bosom share; Where empty Pleasure's haggard I'll leave ye to the hurricd throng, train
And in sequester'd shades pour forth And loud Contention rudely reign!
my artless song. Where fierce Ambition, mad Desire, And moody Discontent, conspire
II. Tobaffle Nature's even plan, [man; | The wooded vale, the lonely dell, And strew with thorns the path of | Theivy'd archi, the moss-grown cell,
The smoothiy-flowing glassy stream,
V. That silently reflects the beam And when slow-pacing silent night Of broad-ey'd day; or rapid brook, Veils the rich landscape from her That gurgling flows from yonder sight, nook,
Unfolding, with a steady hand, And, sudden wid’ning o'er the plain, The dark-spụn texture 'thwart the Adds beauty to the rich domain;
strand; These, these are nature's charms, and Nor midnight damps, nor dewy chills these
Nor rising mists from babbling rills, The heart for contemplation form’d Can quench the ardour of her tire, must please!
Or bid her from the scene retire; III.
In Nature's walks she still can find Gire me to tread the echoing wood,
Meet contemplation for her well
stor'd mind. Or trace the margin of the flood,
VI. Glittring thro' many a thorny brake 'Tis then that Nature's solemn stole 'Till it o'erflows the swelling lake. Give me to climb yon lotty steep,
With rapture fills her high-wrought
soul ! And from the point which mocks the 'Tis then that truths divinely sung deep,
Urge repetition from her tongue; View the contrasted tints that glow
'Tis then, to pure devotion given, In rich variety below; While soaring larks, still hov'ring Yes! at that still and lonely hour,
She elevates her thoughts to Heav'n! near With watchful care, delight the ear,
When the sweet night-bird loves to
pour Mocking the worlding's false pre- In soothing strains his wond’rous tence
note, To each refin'd delight of sense:.
Tuning to praise his warbling throat, Alas! his grosser feelings ne'er In such pure joys as these could share; She feels new ardours warın her
Wrapt in Religion's hallow'd vest, His feeble mind, unus’d to thought,
breast; Would deem such pleasures dearly and, by Hope's pinions borne on bought;
high, Would think the labour ill repaid Treads under foot the starry sky; By contemplating light and shade; Till, mingling with th’angelictrain, But know, proud sceptic, dare to She joins the never-ending choral know,
strain. That Nature's gifts yet higher joys
Hail Meditation! happy maid !
With thee I'll seek the tranquil glade ; Within her variegated bow'r, With thee the lonely cell explore, Profusely hung with ev'ry flow'r
Or haunt the gaily smiling shore; That charms the eye or courts the With thee inhale the breath of morn, smell,
And sip the dew-drop from the thorn; Coy Meditation loves to dwell:
Or when the sickly moon-beams "Us there she sits from early dawn
creep Till dewy eve bespreads the lawn, In silence o'er the craggy steep, Marking the thrilling black bird's Witb thee, instructive fair, I'll climb note,
Those heights stupendous, yet subOr parting sun-beams, as they float
lime, In length’ning lines acrossthe stream, Where tow'ring reason 'gins to nod, Till their extinction wakes her from And Nature's wonders end in Naher dream.
HYMN ON GRACE.
HIYNIN ON FAITH. “HOW blest, thy creature is, O God “GOD moves in a mysterious way, When with a single eye,
His wonders to perform; He views the lustre of thy word,
He plants his footsteps in the sea, The day-spring from on high!
And rides upon the storm. Thro’all the storms that veilthe skies, Deep in unfathomable mines
And frown on earthly things, The Sun of Righteousness he eyes,
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs, With healing in his wings.
And works bis sovereign will. Struck by that light, the human heart, Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
A barren soil no more,
The clouds yeso much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head. Where serpents lurk'd before.
Judge not the lord by feeble sense, The soul, a dreary province once
But trust him for his grace; Of Satan's dark domain,
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
Unfolding ev'ry hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste, He started from the goal,
But sweet will be the flow'r. Has cheer'd the nations with the joys Blind unbelief is sure to err, His orient beams impart:
And scan his work in vain; But, Jesus ! 'tis thy light alone
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.”
LONDON, APRIL 30, 1784. GENTLEMEN,
YOUR letter dated at Middletown, Feb. 5, with the papers that accompanied it, came duly to me by the packet. I also received a letter from Mr. Leaming, but no copy of the act of the legislature to which in your letter you refer. I hope it is on the way.
I have communicated your letter to the Archbishop of York, and the Bishop of London and Oxford; the last did not seem to think it quite satisfactory, but said the letter was a good one, and gave him an advantageous opinion of the gentlemen who wrote it, and of the Clergy of Connecticut in general ; and that it was worthy of serious consideration. The Bishop of London thought it removed all the difficulties on your side of the water, and that nothing now was wanting but an act of Parliament to dispense with the state oaths, and he imagined that would be easily obtained. The Archbishop of York gave no opinion, but wished that I would lose no time in shewing it to the Archbishop of Canterbury. This happened yesterday. This morning I went to Lambeth, but his Grace was gone out about
ten minutes before I got there. I shall go again to-morrow; but if I stay till I have seen him, I shall lose this opportunity of writing, which I am not willing to do.
Upon the whole, your letter will do good. It attacks the objections in the right place, and answers them fairly ; and will enable me to take up the business upon firmer ground. I have determined with myself, that if the Bishops hang back, to bring the matter before Parliament by petition, and if that shall fail, the scheme will be at an end here, I fear forever. Capt. Coupar will sail from hence in three weeks, and by him I hope to be able to give you some satisfactory accounts of my procedure.
You will, Gentlemen, inform my friends at New-London how matters are situated. I hope to be with them in the course of this summer, and shall not hesitate to trust my future prospects to God's good providence, and the kind endeavours of my brethren to render my life comfortable, nay, happy.
This is a very hasty letter. I have had only twenty minutes to write it in. My best wishes attend the Clergy of Connecticut. Nova Scotia affairs, civil and ecclesiastical, go on heavily. The Parliament is to meet May 18th. Mr. Leaming will forgive my not answering his letter now, because it is impossible. All the American Clergy here are well.
Accept, my good, my dear friends,
LONDON, MAY 3, 1784. MY DEAR SIR,
I EMBRACE an opportunity, by the way of Rhode-Island, to address you as Secretary of the Convention, and to inform you that I have received a letter of the 5th of February, signed by yourself and my very good brethren Leaming and Hubbard, for which you all have my most hearty thanks. I am also to inform you that I wrote to you and them, as a committee, on the 30th of April, under cover to Mr. Ellison, by a vessel bound to New-York (the ship Buccleugh) acknowledging the receipt of the letter above mentioned. Mine was a very hasty, letter-but in it I acquainted you that I had shewn your letter to the Archbishop of York: We were broken in upon by company and he gave me no opinion on the letter; but desired that I would communicate it to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to the Bishop of London, as soon as I conveniently could. I called, in my way, on the Bishop of Oxford, who has been very attentive to me, speaks his mind without reserve, and is communicative, and hears me with patience and candour, is much of a gentleman, and a man of learning and business. He read the letter with attention-said he hardly thought it sufficient ground to proceed upon. I endeavoured to explain the arguments you had used, and