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Of each new-hatched unfledged comrade. Beware
Train up thy children, England ! in the way
But in their industry?
Thy might but in their arms?
Oh, grief then, grief and shame,
If in this flourishing land
Where squalid poverty
And on her wither'd knees
RELIGIOUS OR DEVOTIONAL READINGS.'
I.-EXHORTATION TO YOUTH TO CULTIVATE A DEVOTIONAL
I EARNESTLY wish, that I could induce all young persons to divest religion of every gloomy and repulsive association; to feel, that it does not consist-as some would fain represent it-in grave and solemn looks, and a sanctified demeanour, or in an affected fondness for long sermons and long prayers : but that, properly understood, it is—and especially for the young--a cheerful and lightsome spirit, springing up naturally in pure and innocent hearts, whose affectionate confidence in the universal Father is not yet alloyed with fear, or weakened by distrust. Would you have within your bosoms that peace, which the world can neither give nor take away? Would you possess a source of the sweetest pleasures? Would you have that richest of all blessings—a disposition to relish, in their highest perfection, all the innocent and rational enjoyments of life? Let me conjure you to cherish a spirit of devotion—a simple-hearted, fervent, and affectionate piety. Accustom yourselves to conceive of God, as a merciful and gracious parent-continually looking down upon you with the tenderest concern, and inviting you to be good, only that you may become everlastingly happy. Consider yourselves as placed upon earth for the express purpose of doing the will of God; and remember, if this be your constant object-whatever trials, disappointments, and sorrows you may be doomed to experience--you will be sustained under them all by the noblest consolations. With the view of keeping up a perpetual sense of your dependence on God, never omit to seek him habitually in prayer, and to connect the thought of Him with all that is affecting and impressive in the events of your
1 It is almost unnecessary to observe, that in Readings of this kind, the manner should be impressive, and the tone devotional.
lives—with all that is stupendous, and vast, and beautiful in the productions of his creative power and skill. Whatever excites you—whatever interests you—whatever in the world of nature, or the world of man, strikes you as new and extraordinary—refer it all to God: discover in it some token of his providence, some proof of his goodness; convert it into some fresh occasion of praising and blessing his holy and venerable name. Do not regard the exercises of devotion as a bare duty, which have a merit in themselves, however they are performed; but recur to them, as a privilege and a happiness, which ennobles and purifies your nature, and binds you by the holiest of ties to the greatest and best of all beings.
When you consider what God is, and what he has donewhen you cast your eyes over the broad field of creation, which he has replenished with so many curious and beautiful objects; or raise them to the brilliant canopy of heaven, where other worlds and systems of worlds beam upon the wondering view—when day and night, and summer and winter, and seed-time and harvest-when the things nearest to you, and most familiar to you, the very structure of your own bodily frame, and that principle of conscious life and intelligence which glows within you—all speak to you of God, and call upon your awakened hearts to tremble and adore:-when to a Being thus vast-thus awful-you are permitted to approach in prayer,—when you are encouraged to address him by the endearing appellation of a Father in heaven ; and, with all the confidence and ingenuousness of affectionate children, to tell him your wants and your fears, to implore his forgiveness, and earnestly to beseech him for a continuance of his mercies :—you cannot, my young friends, if you have any feeling—any seriousness about you, regard the exercises of devotion as a task; but must rejoice in it, as an unspeakable privilege, to hold direct intercourse with that great and good Being—that unseen, but universal Spirit, to whose presence all things in heaven and on
earth bear witness, and in whom we all live, and move, and have our being. Thus excite and cherish the spirit of devotion: whenever any thing touches your hearts, or powerfully appeals to your moral feelings, give way to the religious impulse of the occasion, and send up a silent prayer to the Power who heareth in secret. And, in your daily addresses to God, do not confine yourselves to any stated form of words which
may be repeated mechanically, without any concurrence either of the heart or of the head; but, after having reviewed the mercies of your particular condition-after having collected your thoughts, and endeavoured to ascertain the wants and weaknesses of your character-give utterance, in the simple and unstudied language which comes spontaneously to the lips, to all those emotions of gratitude and holy fear, of submission and trust, which cannot fail to arise in your hearts, when you have previously reflected what you are, and find yourselves alone in the presence of an Almighty God.
Beloved friends, yours is the time to cultivate this pure, this heavenly frame of mind. You have as yet known God only in his countenance of love; you have felt his presence only in the communications of his loving-kindness and tender mercy. Your hearts are as yet strangers to the fear of habitual guilt; but swell, with a holy, trembling joy, to think, that He who made heaven and earth is your God and Father,—that He who controls the course of nature, and rules the destinies of nations, is not unmindful even of you. Seize, then, oh seize this precious, this golden period of existencel improve it, while it is yours; for, believe me, it will never return again. When the heart has once been alienated from God-when guilt has once polluted it—though repentance and reformation may at length bind up its broken peace, it will never more experience that warmth and fulness of affectionate confidence—that entire and unhesitating trust in the Father of mercies, which belong only to pure and innocent minds.
II.ON THE CREATION OF THE WORLD.
Before the sun and the moon had begun their course, before the sound of the human voice was heard, or the name of man was known ; “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” To a beginning of the world we are led back by every thing that now exists; by all history, all records, all monuments of antiquity. In tracing the transactions of past ages, we arrive at a period, which clearly indicates the infancy of the human race. We behold the world peopled by degrees. We ascend to the origin of all those useful and necessary arts, without the knowledge of which mankind could hardly subsist. We discern society and civilization arising from rude beginnings in every corner of the earth ; and gradually advancing to the state in which we now find them : all which afford plain evidence that there was a period when mankind began to inhabit and cultivate the earth. What is very remarkable, the most authentic chronology and history of most nations coincide with the account of Scripture, and make the period, during which the world has been inhabited by the race of men, not to extend beyond six thousand years. But, though there was a period when this globe, with all that we see upon it, did not exist, we have no reason to think that the wisdom and power of the Almighty were then without exercise or employment. Boundless is the extent of his dominions. Other globes and worlds, enlightened by other suns, may then have occupied — they still appear to occupy — the immense regions of space. Numberless orders of beings, to us unknown, people the wide extent of the universe, and afford an endless variety of objects to the ruling care of the great Father of all. At length, in the course and progress of his government, there arrived a period, when this earth was to be called into existence. When the signal moment, predestined from all eternity, was come, the Deity arose in his might, and with a word created the world. What an