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divine influence, and make us all thy own! Too long, misguided by youth, misled by ambition, or corrupted by example, we have neglected the fear of God, we have trodden the steps of folly, we have listened to the voice of sin. But now,
convinced of our danger, we fly to thee for succour, we fall as prostrate suppliants at thy altar. Teach, oh teach us, therefore, to despise the vanities of the world, to look down with pity on the slaves of ambition, to abhor the maxims of sin, to fly the wiles of temptation, and to place our happiness on objects beyond the power of fortune, beyond the reach of chance.
And thou, eternal Providence, who dost make the heavens revolve and the insect crawl, who art watchful even over the least and lowest of thy works; oh! lend thy friendly hand to snatch us from the paths of darkness and the shadow of death! Do thou deign to receive from us that homage and submission which thou alone canst render worthy to be offered to thee! Do thou teach us. to revere those virtues which thou hast condescended to instruct us in, and inspire our breasts with thy heavenly graces of innocence, peace, and contentment!
Thus guided by thy spirit, instructed by thy precepts, supported by thy comforts, we shall securely conduct our trembling steps through the paths of life: thus shall we joyfully resign this anxious being at the hour of death, in full confidence of receiving from thy hands the immortal crown of patience and virtue, which thou hast prepared for them that love and fear thee.
1 COR. i. 23.
We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness. But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God; because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
E need not to be informed that, even at
the first appearance of Christianity in the world, there were not wanting wicked and audacious infidels, who branded it with the opprobrious names of weakness and foolishness. And, that this unhappy race of men is not yet extinct in the world, our own experience in private and the many daring attacks which are publicly made both upon the divinity of Christ and the doctrines of his Gospel, but too plainly declare to every man, who has a just regard for the interests of religion. What then can be the
foundation of so heavy a charge against a re Iligion, which seems to carry with it marks of the strongest benevolence, and to recommend itself to the approbation of all men, by a system of the purest and most enlightened doctrines? Doctrines, which tend to rescue us from all uncertainty and error here, and open to us the most cheering prospects of a state of future happiness; which, therefore, it is certainly every man's interest to wish at least to be true: For if the doctrines of Christianity be not true, what is there within the compass of either ancient or modern learning, sufficient either to heal the wounds of present suffering, or ward off the stings of future apprehension? What then can balance the weight of these great considerations, or induce men to reject a religion so truly desirable, and essential to human happiness?
Why truly, the Jew of old wished to have the law of Moses perpetual: but the Gospel declared it to be a dead letter, and of none effect: He expected a glorious and triumphant Messias: but the Gospel declared him to be of humble birth, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.