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    MISCELLANEOUS PIECES
  --  IN PROSE.   Table of Contents     EDUCATION.

Plato, Ann
Essays

- RELIGION.

RELIGION.


Religion is the daughter of Heaven--parent of our virtues, and source of all true felicity. She alone giveth peace and contentment; divests the heart of anxious cares, bursts on the mind a flood of joy, and sheds unmingled and pertenatural sunshine in the pious breast. By her the spirits of darkness are banished from the earth, and angelic ministers of grace thicken, unseen, the regions of mortality. She promotes love and good will among men--lifts up the head that hangs down--heals the wounded spirit--dissipates the gloom of sorrow--sweetens the cup of affliction--blunts the sting of death, and whatever seen, felt and enjoyed, breathes around her an everlasting spring.

Religion raises men above themselves: irreligion sinks them beneath the brutes. The one makes them angels; the other makes them evil spirits. This binds them down to a poor pitiable

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speck of perishable earth; that opens up a vista to the skies, and lets loose all the principles of an immortal mind, among the glorious objects of an eternal world.

The religion of Christ not only arms us with fortitude against the approach of evil, but supposing evils to fall upon us with the heaviest pressure, it lightens the load by many consolations to which others are strangers. While bad men trace in the calamities with which they are visited, the hand of an offended Sovereign, Christians are taught to view them as well-intended chastisements of a merciful father. They hear, amidst them, that still voice which a good conscience brings to their ear: "Fear not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God."

Where can the soul find refuge but in the bosom of religion? There she is admitted to those prospects of providence and futurity which alone can warm and fill the heart. Lift up thy head, O Christian, and look forward to yon calm, unclouded regions of mercy, unfilled by vapors, unruffled by storms--where celestial friendship, the loveliest form in Heaven, never dies, never changes, never cools! Soon thou shalt burst this brittle earthly poison of the body, break the fetter of mortality, spring to endless life, and mingle with the skies.

How many of us are able to say that we are persuaded that neither life nor death, nor things present, nor things to to come, nor heighth, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Religion confers on the mind principles of noble independence. "The upright

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man is satisfied from himself;" he despises not the advantages of fortune, but he centers not his happiness in them. With a moderate share of them he can be contented; and contentment is felicity. Happy in his own integrity, conscious of the esteem of good men, reposing firm trust in providence, and the promises of God, he is exempted from servile dependence on other things. He can wrap himself up in a good conscience, and look forward, without terror, to the change of the world. Let all things fluctuate around him as they please, that by the Divine ordination, they shall be made to work together in the issue, for his good; and, therefore, having much to hope from God, and little to fear from the world, he can be easy in every state. One who possesses within himself such an establishment of mind, is truly free.

The character of God, as Supreme Ruler of the world, demands our supreme reverence, and our cordial and entire obedience to his will. Hence proceeds our duty to worship him; for worship, external acts of homage, are the means of preserving, in our minds that fear and reverence, a spirit of obedience. Neglect of worshiping God is inevitably followed by forgetfulness of God, and by consequence, a loss of the reverence for his authority, which prompts to obedience. We know that God is love; and love among men is the fulfilment of the law. Love is the principal source of other virtues, and of all genuine happiness. From a supreme love to God, and from a full persuasion of his perfect benevolence and almighty power, springs confidence --a trusting in him for

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protection, for safety, for support, and for final salvation. This confidence in God, springing from love, implying cordial aprobation of his character, and obedience to his gospel, is Christian faith. This is the anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast; the foundation of the Christian's hope; it is this alone which sustains the good man amidst all the storms of life, and enables him to meet adversity, in all its forms, with firmness and tranquility.

It is impossible to love God without desiring to please him, and as far as we are able, to resemble him; therefore, the love of God must lead to every virtue, in the highest degree. We may be sure we do not truly love him, if we content ourselves with avoiding flagrant sins, and not strive, in good earnest, to reach the greatest degree of perfection of which we are capable. Thus do these few words direct us to the highest Christian virtue. Indeed, the whole tenor of the gospel is to offer us every help, direction and motive that can enable us to attain that degree of faith, on which depends our eternal good.

There are many circumstances in our situation that peculiarly require the support of religion to enable us to act in them with spirit and propriety. Our whole life is often a life of suffering. We can not engage in business, or dissipate ourselves in pleasure and riot as irreligious men too often do: We must bear our sorrows in silence, unknown and unpitied. We must often put on a face of serenity and cheerfulness when our hearts are torn with anguish, or sinking in despair.

There is not, in my opinion, a more pleasing and triumphant consideration in religion, than this:

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of the perpetual progress which the soul makes towards the perfection of its nature, without ever arriving at a period in it. To look upon the soul as going on from strength to strength to consider that she is to shine forever with new accessions of glory, and brighten to all eternity; that she will be adding virtue to virtue, and knowledge to knowledge; carries in it something wonderfully agreeable to that ambition which is natural to the mind of man. Nay, it must be pleasing to God himself, to see his creation forever beautifying in his eyes, and drawing nearer to him by greater degrees of resemblance. With what astonishment and veneration may we look into God's own word, where there are such hidden stores of virtue and knowledge, such inexhaustable sources of perfection! We know not yet what we shall be; nor has it ever entered into the heart of man to conceive the glory that will be always in reserve for him.

Thus make our lives glide on serenely; and when the angel of death receives his commission to put a period to our existence, may we receive the summons with tranquility, and pass without fear the gloomy valley which separates time from eternity. May we remember that this life is nothing more than a short duration, a prelude to another, which will never have an end.

Happy thou to whom the present life has no charms for which thou canst wish it to be protracted. Thy troubles will soon vanish like a dream, which mocks the power of memory; and what signify all the shocks which thy feeling spirit can meet with in this transitory world? A few moments longer, and thy complaints will be forever at

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an end; thy disease of body and mind shall be felt no more; the ungenerous hints of churlish relations shall distress, fortune frown, and futurity intimidate no more. Then shall thy voice, no longer breathing the plaintive strains of melancholy, but happily attend, attuned to songs of gladness, mingle with the hosts, mortals or immortals sung: " O, Death! where is thy sting? O' Grave! where is thy victory? Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ;--blessing and honor, glory and power, be unto him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever."
    MISCELLANEOUS PIECES
  --  IN PROSE.   Table of Contents     EDUCATION.