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thousand events of life-ay, and suffering, often-times sinking, and yet at other times soaring and aspiring to things infinite and immortal ;that mind, I say—what is it? What is it made of, and what is it made for, if it does not sometimes stretch out the hand of entreaty for a guidance and support, for a voice of teaching, and a solution of mysteries beyond this world? Let it be so, that right, and rectitude, and obligation, and duty, were all out of the question: yet where is curiosity? Where is the questioning that belongs to a thoughtful and intelligent creature amidst a scene like this? It is a mystery, I will not say of iniquity; but it is a mystery of dulness, surpassing all comprehension. Oh! men of this world, whosoever ye are!-0! men who are altogether of this world!—talk not to us of our mysteries, till ye have cleared up your own mysteries. A mind, insensible to all the highest interests of a mind—a mind, bereft of all the attributes of a thinking, inquiring, suffering, unsatisfied being—what is it, I ask again? Is it matter, or spirit?—Is it an earthly creature? No; for its thoughts stretch beyond the earth. Is it a heavenly being? No; for it cares not for heaven. What is it then, and where is its place? Where, in the universe of things, is its place?

Ah! how surely is that out of its place for which no position can be found, in the eye of reason or of common sense, or even of imagination! Let him who has wandered, whether in the ways of gain, or of philosophy, or of fashion, to the verge of that shadowy region, that shore of spectral illusions, that world of spiritual death and mental chaos, where nothing is right, nor reasonable, nor sure, nor safe ; let him start back, as from the gulph of annihilation, and return to the way of life. Let him turn back to the solid ground of faith, of reason, of wisdom. Let him enter upon the path that is bright with truth and virtue—the path that shincth brighter and brighter to the perfect day.

ON INDIFFERENCE TO RELIGION,

1 PETER i. 17: “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persous

judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sujourning here in fear."

I HAVE spoken, in my last discourse from these words, of the practical apology for religious indifference; the apology, that is to say, which a man finds in his own heart, and which he expresses when he says, that “ he does not need religion—that he is very well as he is now.” I have appealed to life, to the love of happiness, to the desire for improvement; I have appealed to the mind, nay, and the senses, to say whether this can be so: and they have all answered, and truly answered, as I think, that this grand practical assumption of religious indifference is utterly mistaken, untrue, unfounded in the nature of things, and of the mind.

I shall now proceed to consider the theoretical defence of religious indifference; the apology, that is to say, of a limited creed. Let us see, then, whether the most limited creed still is not ample and solemn enough to overshadow with awe, the most negligent mind that takes shelter under it.

If, says the apostle, “ye call on the Father.” Ilere is recognised the first article of almost universal belief that there is a God! It is indeed the first article of every creed—the foundation principle of every religion; it is, as we call it, the first truth and the plainest truth; and we utter it in common words and tones, such as we give to all other truth, till the danger is, that all its sublimity and mysteriousness will be lost in its certainty, and familiarity, and constant repetition. But what a truth is it, and what mind that thinks of it can be indifferent? That there is a God, and with such attributes—eternal, but existing in time; infinite, but existing in space, all around us; all-creating, himself uncreated; all-sustaining, himself independent; all-seeing, himself invisible; all-comprehending, himself incomprehensible—whose mind that thinks of it is not lost, is not overwhelmed in this truth? To acknowledge this, and not to be religious, is an utter, and almost inconceivable contradiction of ideas. It is a moral absurdity, which no language can express. It is like saying there is light, and not seeing it; there is danger, and not fearing it; there is sublimity, and not reverencing; there is glory, and not admiring; there is beauty or loveliness, and not loving it. It is more—for it is saying that there is a Being to whom all these ideas belong, without measure or end, and not entertaining any correspondent emotion.

There is no thought which we can admit to our minds concerning God but it is a solemn thought. If he dwelt at an infinite distance from us; if his presence never came near to us; if he never had any concern with us; if the world had formed itself and us by certain selfproducing powers of its own; if we, and our humble sphere, were too insignificant to be noticed; still that atheism in the thoughts leaves to us the conception of a Being, though distant, yet so wonderful, that the bare idea of him must strike us with awe; that the bare idea of him might be enough to arrest the most careless mind, and to fix it for ever in the profoundest admiration. But, suppose that the doctrine concerning that great Being came nearer to us—suppose that God were the actual Maker of this world and our Maker, but had left all to itself, as some seem to imagine, and took no further account of the work of his hands; yet how much does even that supposition leave us to awaken a religious devoutness? Even then we should have it to consider that we dwell where God has been! that we dwell amidst the tokens of a mighty presence passed away! that every hill and mountain lifted up before us the dread monuments of departed omnipotence! What a thought might that be, to strike the mind with the profoundest awe? He who should wander amidst some silent city of the mighty dead, amidst broken columns and falling temples, and feel no serious nor sublime emotion, would not be guilty of such unpardonable inconsistency or dulness, as the moral being who acknowledges, in any sense, that there is a God, and feels no religious awe.

But how solemn is the truth, and what words shall declare it, -that this awful and glorious Beiug is not in the infinite height, nor in the unfathomable depth only, nor in the immeasurable distance where thought and imagination never wa ed; but that God is here also !—here in all the majesty and glory that fill the heavens with his splendours? “ Oh, God!” should we not exclaim, if we felt this, “ God, who art present with us! help our unbelief and indifference.” Indifference! my brethren,--and the admission that there is a God! -what power of imagination can make such things to coexist–to dwell together in the same world, in the same soul! And yet, alas! they are found to meet in the experience of thousands.

But I pass to another part of what may be considered as the general belief.

ye
call
upon

the Father"—this implies the first partwho without respect of persons judgeth every man's work. Here is recognised the universal obligation of duty, and the certainty of retribution,

Now, duty—to consider this in the first place-duty is, in its very nature, something that admits of no neutrality, and, consequently, of no indifference. To whatever it applies, it imparts a peculiar character: it binds the most indifferent things with a bond, strong as the Almighty will. But duty is, at the same time, a principle of boundless application. There is not a thought, nor a word, nor a deed, but duty has a relation to it. There is no place of our abode but duty is there with its claims. No view is there which we can take of it but is of very deep import. Its sanction is an infinite authority; its residence is in the immortal part; its issues go forth to eternity ; it is the dignity, and happiness, and perfection of our nature; it is the end of our being. If it is failed of, what misery is the consequence! And yet it is as easy to fail of it, as to take any of a thousand devious paths rather than the only one that is right.

" If

There is no class of our duties that are so readily acknowledged, as those which are relative those which we owe to one another. These are, indeed, first principles of the doctrine of Christ. But they are held also to be the first principles of reason. They are the faith and boast of unbelievers! To be just, generous, and kind; to have a benevolent regard to the best welfare of others; to be honest, disinterested, and useful; these are obligations which it would be thought unnatural, unpardonable, to deny. To admit and practise them, is thought to be the least that we can do. And yet, after all, how momentous an affair is it rightly to discharge the very least of these universally acknowledged duties! How rare is it to see a perfect, or even a very high exemplification of the faithful and friendly offices that men owe to oue another! How difficult is it to preserve our conduct from offence, our lips from guile, our hearts from unworthy feelings! How strait is the path even of honesty, of friendship, of natural affection! Who does not deviate? Who does not require a strict guard? The best, the kindest, the most faithful err, and have occasion to mourn over their folly, their carelessness, or their passions.

And then there are others for whom society mourns. How do all the relations of life bleed under one cruel infliction! How easy is it to touch some point in the delicate system of social connexions that shall send contagion and suffering through the whole! How prevalent is evil! How prolific, how diffusive is vice!

Or, to take a higher view of these relative duties, if we are bound to regard each other's welfare, then, surely, that which is the highest and the most permanent—the future, the eternal. And this view presents society before us, as one vast association, whose great concern is, to form its members to religious virtue, to piety, to the love of God, to the spirit of heaven. It teaches us that our greatest duty is to the soul ; our most momentous influence is on the character. Now it need not be said what fidelity, what circumspection, what care, what perfection of social life, ought to flow from the simple acknowledgment of these most simple and unquestionable principles and duties.

But our relation to futurity is not that merely of an influence exerted on others, but it is the more solemn relation of an influence, because it is a deeper influence, exerted on ourselves. All is not to end here indeed; but we believe, moreover, that what is to go onward is retribution; that while the good have everything to hope, the bad have everything to fear; that every man has enough to hope or to fear-to occupy many deep and weighty thoughts. We believe that our actions, when committed, are not for ever done with ; that the record of life, as it passes, is sealed up for a future inspection ; that these days of our mortal existence are to be subjected, not merely to that partial review of conscience with which we sometimes close them, but to the tribunal of that great Being who gave to conscience all its power. We expect the day when we shall stand before the judgment-seat; when the book, -ah! how firmly closed against all inspection now!—when the book of our experience will be opened, and we shall be judged out of it. How serious is that prospect! Who can look to that future scene with indifference? Who, while the time of his sojourning here is hastening away, will not pass it in wisdom, and sobriety, and godly fear? Oh! there is enough in the bare, the indefinite possibilities of a future account to fill us with apprehension. Our experience tells us that the retribution which awaits the sinful soul cannot be a slight matter; it cannot be a slight matter now ; it cannot now be pushed aside by the hand of indifference. But what shall be that great consummation of the work of conscience, its last infliction, its gnawing worm and unquenchable fire, futurity—the unknown, the awful futurity-alone can reveal; but let us believe, that one word of revelation from that future world would break up our indifference for ever.

But our belief-i. e. the common belief-goes still farther. Each of us probably believes, not only that he has a rational nature, and not only that this is bound by the obligation of duty, and to the certainty of retribution, but that this soul is immortal ; that there is within him an emanation from the Divinity--which has a being commensurate with that of the Divinity itself—which will live while God exists.

What an amazing connexion is this with the future! What thoughts does it suggest for each one of us to meditate upon. “ This soul within me," -may you say—“so familiar, so endeared to me by its earthly experience — my soul — myself, am to live for ever and ever! Ages will crowd on ages, and yet I shall live. Unbounded systems will revolve —the eternal fires that enlighten them may grow old and die away, and revive again, and kindle their light anew,—and yet the morning of my endless being will hardly have broken around me! Time shall be no longer, and duration shall pass all thought and measurement; yet when ten thousand boundless revolutions of ages are accomplished, and thousands and millions more are added to them, I shall live, and yet look forward to eternity! O, poor and vanishing life! O, ye toys of a summer's day, wealth, and fame, and pleasure!—where are ye now!" And yet, brethren, I have seen a man who could be serious in gathering up this perishing dust; yes, I have seen him serious; and anxious with the fear of losses; but he thought it too much to be serious in religion ; too much to be anxious for his immortal being! Yes, I have seen him meditate-I have seen him tremble-I have seen him labouring-labouring on through life, with many and wearisome cares; but he cannot meditate, he cannot tremble, he cannot labour for his soul! His indifference to what is spiritual and immortal can be equalled, I was about to say, by nothing; and yet there is one thing to equal it; and that is, his eagerness for every passing phantom of this perishing world. His indifference, and all his indifference centres in the only point where his essential interest lies, where his essential being is treasured up-in his soul? and he never saw the day—it is no fiction, it is reality that I utter-he never saw the day, when he could think so much of his soul, when he could labour so much for it, as he can for the most trifling addition to his worldly gains!

But to escape the charge of an inconsistency so palpable as that which is implied in the acknowledgment of any religious truth, and a total religious indifference, there may be some who are prepared to go farther than we have yet supposed. There may be some who will say believe nothing in regard to religion, and therefore we are bound to feel nothing, and to care nothing, about it.”

I am not sure but I have now presented a case which makes indifference more shocking and monstrous than any other that can be supposed. Let me state it to you in terms. It is common, and it is thought de

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