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example of Christ, the preaching of Christ, the goodness of God, the fear of judgment, are so powerless on our souls? Alas! men feel not their need of religion. They seek it not earnestly. Like Martha, " they are cumbered about much serving,” even when they can sit at Jesus' feet and hear his word. Be it not so with us - but let us press home to our bosoms every consideration, which will impress upon us the needfulness of love to God and man: of a constant reference of our whole selves to the future, of a life of earnest prayer and purest practice. This is what we want. This is what we must have, if we would be well and happy. Let us remember, then, the things which belong to our peace.
Let us consider, briefly, man's need of religion to support, enlighten and direct him.
I. Man needs religion, because this life is a state of discipline and full of temptation ; within the soul are agitating passions and lawless appetites, without are the allurements of pleasure, the excitements of vice. Selfishness engrosses, riches enslave, avarice begs, ambition sounds its trumpet, lust craves continually, anger burns, hypocrisy cheats, and the soul's foes gather a numerous host, to destroy the soul's peace. Man is daily tempted, and daily yields to temptation. Here in the domestic circle, is the ungenerous reproach, the bitter word and the harsh temper. There in the place of merchandize, is dishonesty and deception. Again - in the halls of pleasure, there is giddiness and profanity, licentiousness and intoxication. In the place of power there is the
and dreadful prostitution of the heaven-born soul to the lusts of dominion. Temptation invades the VOL. XIV.—NO. 157.
sanctuary of home, stands at the corners of the streets, visits the secret chambers of the soul, enters the church of God, stirs up the evil desires, the unholy temper of man, poisons the springs of his life, and throws over him the deceitfulness of hypocrisy. It has an allurement fitted for every character and every condition. To riches it offers luxury, to poverty, crime, to the miser, gold, to the youth, pleasure. It ministers to the pride of some, to the vanity of others, to the weakness of all. It offers, in fine, anything and all things, if we will but fall down and worship sin. Many are deceived; many consent. Oh! look abroad, reader, and see the ravages of temptation. How it has crowded yonder prison with its victims! How it has withered the peace of yonder family, with its pestilence ! How it has banished that young man from society, doomed him to a life of shame, or to an early and dreadful grave! In fine, do you not see it daily? Is it not by your own side ? Hear you not its whisper in your own ear ? Comes not its wicked counsel to your own soul? Is not life one constant struggle with temptation ? - Yes. Man is to be purified through labor and suffering. Heaven is to be won by hard and constant strife. Where shall he find fitting armor, to what weapon shall he trust ? Will you, my friend, trust to your long tried integrity ? So thought that man, whose chains clank upon the prison floor, or who is an outcast from among his fellows, - until poverty stared him in the face, until the bribe became thousands, and temptation whispered there is none to see. Will you trust to the law of honor ? So did that poor wretch, who bears about the fire of revenge within him, or who has laid his bosom friend in the grave. Will you trust to public opinion ? So think the multitude who are wasting life in following fashion, in giddy pleasure, or in the pursuit of wealth. Will you trust to your cautious prudence ? So have thought many whom sin hath enslaved. My friend, there is no sure trust in these things. The armor that is to defend man in this contest with the enemies of his soul, is from above : it is the “one thing needful.” Oh then seek it. "Pray against temptation, carry the old man forth to the funeral with tears of repentance, bury him in the
grave of Jesus; put on the new man, new heart, a new understanding, new affections and excellent appetites of heaven, - then beauty shall be marble, riches dross, power vanity, ambition toil;" — th
then the massive chains of sin shall be broken asunder, and thou shalt come forth in the freedom of righteousness.
II. Man needs religion because he is afflicted. Who has never been a mourner ? Who has not known misfortune? Has not every heart its own bitterness? Is there not some wound in every soul, which earth cannot heal ? Some have followed friends and kindred to the grave. Others lament the sinfulness and ingratitude of those in whom their fondest affections centered. Many have been stretched upon a weary sick-bed, some have been cast down from affluence to poverty. All have found hopes delusive, had their plans frustrated, their cheeks bathed with tears. Amid all the bustle and gaiety of life, there is heard the sigh and mourning of the bereaved. Reader, when your turn for sadness comes, do you not feel the need of a comfort from on high; do you not realize, that naught but a hope, which passes beyond the grave, which goes forward into eternity, can cheer you in this hour ? In a word, do you not feel, now, your need of religion, of a belief in Christ, that "your heart may not be troubled ?”
And when you look around, is not the same truth im. pressed upon you? You see that miserable man. You notice his ragged garments, his bloated countenance, his eye without lustre, his unsteady and trembling step, his mind desolate and dark: Follow him home, enter his house of poverty, see his pale and heart-broken wife, his starved and naked children, hear his horrid oaths, mark the brutal blow, how the madman rages! Witness this, day after day, till the grave covers the victim of intemperance, and his family become the tenants of the alms. house. Now would you know why this is ? Turn to that man's history. Ask his neighbors about his life. You will probably find that in the day of prosperity, he forgot his God and his Saviour. He was too proud, or too worldly, to be an humble and prayerful christian. He thought to pass life away without a cloud to shadow it. He was not in the sanctuary, no prayer arose from his family altar, he came not to his master's table, he knew not God. By and by, misfortunes came, his hopes were put out, his property fled, he was alone amidst desolation and darkness, for the light within him was extinguished. The consolations of the gospel were not for himn. He had despised, rejected with contempt, its offers of salvation. In this sad condition, he seizes the winecup, he drowns his sorrows in its mad oblivion, he is a drunkard! and lives and dies like the brutes. This is no fancy. You have seen and heard of such cases, where affliction has driven the irreligious to intemperance. You have heard too of the suicide, who sunk beneath his
burden of wretchedness. You have gone into families, where death has come and left despair, because there was no readiness to meet him. Perhaps you have been by the side of the dying, when the soul was about to depart, and have heard the shrieks, seen the struggle, witnessed the last agony of one whom no faith in Jesus strengthened for that strange bour.
And in all this you have read man's need of religion, to enable him to endure the sorrow's of life, to meet the event of death. Reader ! have you profited by such scenes, or go you on thoughtless still, hoping to escape all sorrow? Alas, how vain your hope ! — Heard you ever of the man who needed no affliction to chasten him ? Heard you ever of a life of unalloyed happiness on earth? Oh no! Sorrow is the lot of all. It is the lot of the young.
Parents inust die, friends must depart, sickness must be borne, the world will mistake, and though the young feel never so strong, and laugh never so gay, the gloom of sadness will visit them. It is the lot of fathers and mothers. There are many pleasant families on earth, many with whom joy hath thus far been a dweller. But it will not, it cannot be so always, nor long. Death will be among them. those happy circles shall be broken up. The parent's pride shall be humbled, and the parent's heart wrung. The bright eyes of childhood shall be dimmed with tears or closed forever. They cannot escape. The garb of mourning which clads so many, declares they cannot escape it. It will come to all. All must suffer, all must be afflicted; and religion alone will support them. Be warned, then, dear reader. Raise up by prayer a firm trust in God. Go often to him who was touched with a feeling of human infirmities. Press onward every hour in the