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ON TRUST IN GOD.
There is a sonnet, in a collection of Italian poetry, by Muratori, which struck me, when I formerly read it, as eloquent and affecting. I do not recollect the words, and can give even the idea only imperfectly; but it is something of this sort: “ Where shall I find a friend whose merits will never disappoint, and whose love will never forsake me? I have surveyed the world, and sought where my affections might repose: but some have forgotten me, some have proved faithless to my hopes, and some have been torn from me by death. Oh my Saviour, thou remainest always true, and for ever present with me!”
The complaint of the poet expresses, perhaps, a little of the character which often belongs to persons of a very quick sensibility: it betrays a delicacy rather too refined, and a tone of feeling naturally somewhat disposed to sadness. Yet his “sorrows were probably real; and the sentiment he utters, though slightly shaded with melancholy, is just, noble, and affecting. Such is the imperfection of human characters, and such the uncertainty of earthly blessings, that few probably pass even through a third part of life without witnessing the dissolution of some attachments which were once dear to them; and none certainly can adyance to a mature age without being sensible of a pang
still more severe in a long and awful separation from those they love. Yet, in all our disappointments and sorrows, one Friend is still near to us, whose kindness is ever most wakeful when we most need it; who can neither forsake us from levity, nor be snatched away from us by death.
It is indeed an unspeakable consolation, to every reflective and feeling mind, that amidst all the changes and chances, the disappointments and vanities around us, there is One who is permanent and perfect. The idea of that awful Being, who is the Father of the universe and the Centre of all excellence, is so congenial to the human mind, that even if it were impossible to prove his existence by reasonable inferences, I think we should be constrained to believe it from a necessity of finding something to sustain us under the sense of our weakness. For such a support, it is in vain that we look round upon each other. Every face is pale with the same fear; and the tongue of the wise, which should speak consolation, is faultering with the confession of its own helplessness. Take but God away, and the mighty vision around us is only a feverish dream;-a short, irregular, incomprehensible drama, of which man is at once the feeble actor and unmeaning spectator, “strutting his hour upon the stage,” and then vanishing for ever.
But God, of his great goodness, has not suffered us to wander about in darkness. He has taught us, by the works of his providence, and by the word of his Spirit, “ that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Nor is this all. To know indeed this alone, would have been an unspeakable privilege and blessing; it is more than the wisest discerned clearly in ancient days. But to us, the chosen seed, adopted and beloved in the Redeemer, God has revealed himself, not merely as the Maker and
Judge of the universe; nay, not simply as its general Guardian and Benefactor: He has taught us to regard him as a reconciled Father; a watchful, tender, and unfailing Friend, This is the character he has vouchsafed in mercy to as: sume; to this blessed relation he invites us; a relation of dignity unrivalled, of incomparable security, and ineffable happiness. He calls upon us to come to him with humble and thankful hearts; to place our whole confidence in him; to believe that he really loves us, and act as if we believed it; to accept, as freely as he offers it, the gift of everlasting life; and, casting away together our sins and our solici, tude, to walk henceforth as children of a Parent who can never fail them,"heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ."
Surely I need not stop to qualify what has been said, The God of purity can be approached only by the pure; and though all are freely addressed, they only may presume to trust in God as their Father, who have first learned to trust in Christ as their Saviour; who have laid down the burden of their sins before the cross; and received from their Redeemer, “into an honest and good heart,” the Spirit of sanctification. But “ leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ” (which, though, like other rudiments, the foundation of all knowledge, we ought not to be for ever employed in laying afresh), let us employ a few moments in contemplating more nearly the duty which I have inscribed as a title to this paper—the duty of trusting in God.
Consider who it is that calls upon us to put our trust in him: “God, that made the earth, and all things that are therein.” In what language shall I presume to speak of him! The most extraordinary genius of modern times never pronounced the awful name of God, without a pause. It is an idea which fills the mind at once, and which the highest natures will always contemplate with the profoundest reverence. As the most perfect optical instruments, enabling us to extend on every side the range of our vision, only discover new worlds and celestial wonders bursting upon our view in every direction through the illimitable regions of space; so when we contemplate the Deity, the most daring flight of imagination, the utmost comprehension of thought, instead of fathoming that mysterious and ineffable idea, are themselves lost in the survey of the unexhausted and inexhaustible riches that spread and multiply around them. To the dignity of such a subject, no created being can possibly do justice. He is first, and last, and midst; “that is, and that was, and that is to come.” He formed all things by his word; he sustains and permeates the whole creation, Nothing is too vast for the control of his dominion; nothing too little for the vigilance of his inspection. Let us endeavour to conceive whatever is supreme in power, comprehensive in wisdom, perfect in purity, and enchanting in goodness, and we shall present to ourselves, not indeed a living picture of the Deity (for how could we support its lustre!), but a faint and shaded image of him, such as our mortal vision may bear to contemplate. "Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him; or the son of man, that thou visitest him!"
It is worthy of remark, and perhaps no mean argument of the truth of revelation, that of all the varied systems of
religion which have prevailed in the world, the Jewish and Christian is that which has alone presented the one supreme God, as the proper and direct object of worship, with any distinctness to the minds of its votaries. Paganism peopled every vale and mountain, every stream and forest; the air, the earth, and the ocean, with tutelary intelligences; but the great First Cause was unknown to the creeds of popular superstition, and was sought only in the schools of the philosophers. In the Indian mythology (which indeed was the same in its origin), a like peculiarity is observable. The Supreme Being is never presented to the vulgar eye. Some more thoughtful disciple of Vyasa, in the shades of Benares, may inquire into his nature, and adore him in secret; but the poor Hindoo is content to pay his homage to Surya, or Ganga, or Mariataly, or some other of the numberless spiritual agents who preside over the objects of nature and classes of society, with limited powers and local jurisdictions. The like tendency of human nature to retire from the contemplation of a Being too great to be understood by the careless, and too excellent to be loved by the sinful, has been manifest during many periods of the popish superstition, and remains still visible in some dark corners of its dominions. The whole host of canonized saints and martyrs owe their idolatrous pre-eminence to the same principle which planted Minerva at Syracuse, Diana at Ephesus, and Jupiter in the Capitol. Their jurisdiction too, like the deities of old, extends only over a limited class of worshippers. Santa Rosalia is in high honour at Palermo; but Santa Maria would be justly jealous, if she claimed any authority at Trapani. The patron saint of Catania has often arrested