Hannah More.

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and sanctified ; these are the subjecte in which
the suppliant should be engaged, by which his
thoughte should be absorbed. Can they be so
absorbed, if many of the intervening hours are
passed in pursuite of a totally di&rent com-
plexion ; pursuite which raise the passions which
we are seeking to allay? Will the cherished va^
tiities go at our bidding? Will the required dis-
positions come at our calling ? Do we find our
tempers so obedient, our passions so obsequious
in the other concerns of life ? If not, what rea-
son have we to expect their obsequiousness in
this grand concern. We should therefore en
deavour to believe as we pray, to think as we
pray, to feel as we pray, and to act as we pray.
Prayer must not be a solitary, independent ex-
ercise ; but an exercise interwoven with many,
and inseparably connected with that golden
chain of Christian c^uties, of which, when so
coDiMcted, it forms one of the most important

Business however must have its period as
well as devotion. We were sent into this world
to act as well as to pray ; active duties must be
performed as well as devout exercises, Even
relaxation must have ite interval, only let us be
careful that , the indulgence of the one do not de-
stroy the eflect of the other ; that our pleasures
do not encroach on the time or deaden the spi-
rit of our devotions : let us be careful tiiat our
cares, occupations, and amusemente may be
always such that we may not be afraid to im*
plore the divine blessing on them ; this is the
criterion of their safety and of our duty. Let
us endeavour that in each, in all, one continu-
ally growing sentiment and feeling, of loving,
serving, and pleasing God, maintain ite predto.
minant station in the heart

An additional reason why we should live in
the perpetual use of prayer, seems to be, that
our blessed Redeemer after having given both
the example and the command, while on earth,
condescends still to be our unceasing interces.
sor in heaven. Can we ever cease petitioning
for ourselves, when we believe that he never
ceases interceding for us ?

If we are so unhappy as now to find litUe
pleasure in this holy exercise, that however is
so far from being a reason for discontinuing it,
that it afibrds the strongest argument for per
severance. That which was at first a form, will
become a pleasure ; that which was a burden

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win beoome a privitoge ; that which we impose
upon oanel?e8 as a medicijie, will become ne«
cessarj as an aliment, and desirable as a grati-
fication. That which is now short and super-
ficial, will become copioos and solid. The cha-
riot wheel b warmed b^ its own motion. Use
will make that easy which was at first painfuL
That which is once become easy will soon be
rendered pleasant ; instead of repining at the
performance, we shall be unhappy at the omis-
skm. When a man recoTcrinff firocn sickness at-
tempts to walk, he does not discontinue the ex-
ercise because he ieels himself weak, nor eren
because the eflfort is painfuL He rather redou-
bles his exertion. It is friNn his perseverance
that he looks for strength. An additional turn
eTery day diminishes his repugnance, augments
his Tigour, improves his spirits. That efibrt
which was submitted to because it was salutary,
is continued because the feeling of renovated
strength renders it delightfuL


The Lne of Qad,

Our love to God arises out f£ want God*s
love to us out of fulness. Oar indigence draws
us to that power which can relieve, and to that
ffoodness which can bless us. — His overflowing
love delights to make us partakers of the boun-
ties he graciously imparts, not only in the gifts
of his Providence, but in the richer communica.
tkms of his grace. We can on^ be said to bve
God when we endeavour to gtorify him, when
we desire a participation of his nature, when we
study to imitate his perfections.

We are sometimes inclined to suspect the love
of God to ns. We are too little suspicious of our
want of love to him. Tet if we examine the
case by evidene , as we should examine any
common question, what real instances can we
produce of our love to him V What imaginable
instance can we not produce of his love to us?
If neglect, fbrgetfulness, ingratitude, disobedi-
ence, coldness in our affections, deadness in our
duty, be evidences of our love to him, such evi.
dences, but such only, we can abundantly allege.
If life and all the countless catalogue of mercies
that make life pleasant, be proofs of hit love to
us, these he has given us in hand ; if life eter-
nal, if blessedness that knows no measure and
no end, be proofs of love, these he has given us
in promise — to the Christian we had almost
said, he has given them in possession.

It must be an irksome thing to serve a master
whom we do not love ; a master whom we are
compelled to obey, though we think his requisi-
tions hard, and his commands unreasonable;
under whose e^e we know that we continually
live, though his presence is not only undelight-
fol but formidable.

Now every Christian must obey God whether
he lovo him or not ; he must act always in his
sight, whether he delight him or not; and to a
heart of any feeling, to a spirit of any liberality,
nothing is so grating as constrained obedience.
To lore God, to serve him because wc love him.

is therefore no less our hwbest happiness, thaa
our most bounden duty. £sv» makes all laboar
li^ht We serve with alacrity, where we love
with cordiality.

When the heart is devoted to an object, we
require not to be perpetually reminded of out
obUgations to obey him ; they present themselves
spontaneously, we fulfil them readily, I had al-
most said, involuntarily ; we think not so much
of the service as of tlra object The principle
which sqg^sts the work inspires the pleasure ,
to neglect it would be an injury to our feelings.
The performance b the gratification. 'Ae
omission is not more a pain to the oonsoience,
than a wound to the aflections. The implant»>
tion of this vital root perpetuates virtuoos prao-
tice, and secures internal peace.

Though we cannot be always thinking of God,
we may be always erapfeyed in his service.
There must be intervals of our communion with
him, but there must be no intermissioii of our
attachment to him. The tender father who la-
bours for his children, dees not always eropkiy
his thoughts about them ; be oannot be always
conversing with them, or concerning tliem, yet
he is always engajifed in prooMting their inters
ests. His afifootion fer them is an inwove
principle, of which he gives the most noeqeivo*
oal evidence, by the assiduoasDess of his appli-
cation in their service.

*Thou shouldst bve the Lord thy God with
all thy heart,* is the primary law of oar rehgMXk
Yet how apt are we to complain that we csmis<
love God, Uiat we cannot maintain a devout in-
tercourse with him. But would God, who is all
justice, have commanded that of which he knew
we were incapable 7 Would he who is all raer^
have made our eternal happiness to depend on
something which he knew was out of onr power
to perferm, capriciouriy disqualifying os for the
duty he had preecribed? Would he bare given
the exhortation, and withheld the capacitvT
This would be to charge Omniscience with feJJy,
and infinite goodness with ininstiee ; — no, when
he made duty and happinees inseparable, be nei-
ther made our datv imsracticaUe, nor onr hap-
piness nnattainabfe. but we are oontinually
flying to false refuges, dinging to false holds,
resting on false supports ; o ihej are uncertain
they disappoint us, as they are weak they fiil
us ; but as they are numerous, when one faib
another presents itselfi Till they slip fVom un-
der us, we never suspect how much we rested
upon them. Life glides away in a perpetual
succession of these felse dependences and sac-
cessive privations.

Hiere is, o we have elsewhere obeerved, a
striking analogy between the natural and spi-
ritual life ; the weakness and helplessness of the
Christian resemble those of the infant ; neither
of them becomes strong, vigorous, and fhU
grown at once, but through a long and oflen
painful course. This keeps up a sense of de-
pendance, and accustoms us to lean on the hand
which festers us. Tliere is in both conditions,
an imperceptible chain of depending events, by
which we are carried on insensibly to the vigour
of noatority. The operation which is not alwsys
obvious, is always progressive. By attempting
to walk alone we discover our weakness, thees

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perience of tfatt weaknen hnmbles us, nnd every
fall drlyes us back to the suftaining hand, whose
anistance we vainly flattered ourselves we no
kmffer needed.

In some halcvcm moments we are willing to
persuade ourselves that relig^ion has made an
entire conquest over our hMrt ; that we have
renounced the dominion of the world, have con-
qaered our attachment to earthly things. We
flatter ourselves that nothing can now again ob-
struct our entire submission. But we know not
what spirit we are of. We say this in the calm
sf repose and in the stillness of the passions :
when our path is smooth, our prospect smiling,
danger distant, temptation absent, when we have
many comibrts and no trials. Suddenly, some
k)ss, some disappointment, some privation tears
ofi* the mask, reveals us to ourselves. We at
once discover that though the smaller fibres and
lesser roots which fasten us down to earth may
have been loosened by preceding storms, vet our
substantial hold on earth is not shaken, the tap-
root is not cut, we are yet fast rooted to the
•oil, and still stronger tempests must be sent to
make us let go our hold.

It might be useAil to cultivate the habit of
stating our own case as strongly to ourselves as
if it were the case of another ; to express in so
many words, thoughts which are not apt to as-
sume any specific or palpable form ; thoughts
which we avoid shapmg into language, but
slur over, generalize, soften, and do away. How
indignant, for instance, should we feel, though
we ourselves make the complaint* to be told by
others, that we do not bve our Maker and Pre-
server. But let us put the question fairly to
ourselves. I>o we really bve him 7 Do we love
him with a supreme, nay even with an equal
afiection 7 Is there no friend, no child, no re-
potation, no pleasure, no society, no possession
which we do not prefer to him 7 It is easy to
aflirm hi a general way that there is not But
let us particularize, individualize the question —
bring It home to our own hearts in some actual
instance, in some tangible shape. Let us com-
mnne with our own consciences, with our own
feelings, with our own experience ; let us ques-
tion pointedly and answer hcnestly. Let us not
be more ashamed to detect the ^ult, than to have
been ^ilty of it

This then will commonly be the result Let
the friend, child, reputation, possession, pleasure
be endangered, but especiaJly let it be taken
away by some stroke of Providence. The scales
fiUl fVom our eyes ; we see, we feel, we acknow-
ledge, with brokenness of heart, not only fbr our
loss but for our sin, that though we did love
God, yet we loved him not superlatively, and
that we loved the blessing, threatened or re-
sumed, still more. But this is one of the cases
in which the goodness of God bringeth us to re-
pentance. By the ooeration of bis grace the re
sumption of the gift brings back the heart to
the giver. The Almighty by his Spirit Ukes
possession of the temple from which the idol is
driven out God is re-instated in his rights, and
becomes the supreme and undisputed Lord of
QOr reverential affection.

There are three requisites to our proper en-
joyment of every earthly blessing which God

Vol. I

bestows on us; — a thankful reflection on the
goodness of the giver, a deep sense of the un-
worthiness of the receivei, and a sober recollec-
tion of the precarious tenure by which we hold
it The first would make us grateful, the second
humble, the last moderate.

But how seldom do we receive his favours in
this spirit ! As if religious gratitude were to be
confined to the appoiirted days of public thanks-
giving, how rarely in common society do w%
hear any recognition of Omnipotence even on
those striking and heart-rejoicing occasions,
when, ' with his own right hand, and with his

C' »rious arm he has gotten himself the victory!'
t us never detract from the merit of our va-
liant leaders, but rather honour them the more
for this manifestation of divine power in (heir
fkvour ; but let us never lose sight of hira *who
teacheth their hands to war, and their fingers
to fight^ Let us never forget that ' He is Uie
Rock, that his work is perrect, and all his ways
are Judgment*

How many seem to show not only their want
of affiance in God, but that * he is not in all
their thoughts,* by their appearing to leave. him
entirely out of their concerns, by projecting
their uSairs without any reference to him, by
setting out on the stock of their own unassisted
wisdom, contriving and acting independently of
God; expecting prosperity in the event, without
seeking his direction in the outset, and taking
to themselves the whole honour of the success
without any recognition of his hand ! do they
not thus virtually imitate what Sophocles makes
his blustering Atheist* boast : ' Let other men
expect to conquer with the assistance of the
gods, I intend to gain honour without them.'

The Christian will rather rejoin to ascribe
the fflory of his prosperity to the same hand
to which our own manly queen gladly ascribed
her signal victory. When after the defeat of
the Armada, impiously termed invincible, her
enemies, in order to lower the value of her
agency, alleged that the victory was not owing
to her, but to God who had raised the storm, she
heroically declared that the visible interference
of God in her favour was that part of the sue
cess from which she derived the truest honour.

Incidents and occasions every day arise, which
not only <^ on us to trust in God, but which
furnish us with suitable occasion of vindicating,
if I may prestime to use the expression, the
character and conduct of the Almighty in the

fovemmentof human afiairs; yet there is no
uty which we perform with less alacrity
Strange, that we should treat the Lord of hea-
ven and earth with less confidence than we ex
ercise towards each other ! That we shoirid vin
dicate the honour of a common acquaintance
with more zeal than that of our insulted Maker
and Preserver !

If we hear a friend accused of any act of in.
justice, though we cannot bring any positive
proof why he should be acquitted of this specific
charge, yet we resent the injury offered to his
character ; we clear him of the individual alio-
gation on the jrround of his general conduct, in
ferring that ^om the numerous instances w«


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otn produce of bis rectitade on oUier ooisaiioiu,
he cannot be guilty of the alleged injustice. We
reason from analogy, and in general we reason
fairly. But when we presume to judge of the
Most High, instead of vindicating bis rectitude
on the same grounds, under a providence seem-
ingly severe ; instead of reverting, as in the case
of our friend, to the thousand instances we have
formerly tasted of his kindness; instead of giving
God the same credit we give to his erring crea-
ture, and inferring from nis past goodness, that
the present inexplicable dispensation must be
consistent, though we cannot explain how, with
his general character, we mutinously accuse
him of inconsistency, nay of injustice. We ad-
mit virtually the most monstrous anomaly in the
character of the perfect God.

But what aelie has revelation furnished to
the intricate labyrinth which seems to involve
the conduct which we impiously question ! It
onrols the vdLume of divine Providence, lays
open the mysterious map p€ infinite wisdom,
throws a bright light on the darkest dispensa-
tions, vindicates the inequality of appearances,
and points to that blessed region, where to all
who have truly loved and served God, every ap-
parent wrong shall be approved to have been un-
impeachably right, every affliction a' mercy, and
the severest trials the shortest blessings.

So blind has sin made us, that the glory of
Hod is concealed from us, by the very means
#hich, could we discern aright, would display
t That train of second causes, which he has
•o marvellously disposed, obstructs our view of
himself. We are BO filled with wonder at the
'mmediate elfect, that our short si^ht penetrates
lot to the first cause. To see him as he is, is
reserved to be the happuiess of a better world.
We shall then indeed admire him in his saints,
and in all them that believe ;* we shall see how
necessary it was for those whose bliss is now so
perfect, to have been poor, and despised, and op-
pressed. We shall see why the * ungodly were
in such prosperity.* Let us give God credit
here for what we shall then fully know ; let us
adore now, what we shall understand hereafter.

They who take up religion on a false ground
will never adhere to it If they adopt it merely
for the peace and pleasantness it brings, they
will desert it as soon as they find their adherence
to it will bring them into difficulty, distress, or
discredit It seldom answers therefore to at-
tempt making proselytes by hanging out false
colours. The Christian * endures as seeing him
who is invisible.' He who adopts religion for
the sake of immediate enjoyment, will not do a
virtuous action that is disagreeable to himself;
nor resist a temptation that is alluring, present
pleasure being his motive. There is no sure
basis for virtue but the love of God in Christ
Jesus, and the bright reversion for which that
love is pleoged. Without this, as soon as the
paths of piety become rough and thorny, we
shall stray into pleasant pastures.

Religion, however, has her own peculiar ad-
vantages. In the transaction of all worldly af-
fairs, there are many and great difficulties.
There may be several ways out of which to
choose. Men of the first understanding are not
»«#»vs certain which of these ways is the best |

Persons of the deepest penetration are fuD of
doubt and perplexity ; their minds are undecided
how to act, lest while they pursue one road,
they may be neglecting another which might
better have conducted thom to their proposed

In religion the case is different, and, in this
respect, easy. As a Christian can have but one
object in view, he is also certain there is but one
way of attaining it Where there is but one
end, it prevents Sn possibility of choosing wrong
— where there is but one road, it takes away aU
perplexity as to the course of pursuit That we
so oflen wander wide of the mark, is not from
any want of plainness in the path, but from the
perverseness of our will in not choosing it,
from the indolence of our mind in not following
it up.

In our attachments to earthly things^ even the
most innocent, there is always a danger of ex-
cess ; but from this danger we are here perfectly
exempt, for there is no possibility of excess in
our love to that Being who has demanded ike
xdHoU heart. This peremptory requisition cuts
off all debate. Had God required (mly a portion,
even were it a large portion, we might be puided
in settling the quantum. We mi^t be plotting
how large a part we might venture to keep back
without absolntely foneiting our safety; we
might be hagglii^^ for deduotionB, bargaining
for abatements, anube perpetually oomproraising
with our Maker. But the injunction is entire,
the command is definitive, the portion is unequi-
vocaL Thou^rh it is so compressed in the ex.
pression, yet it is so expansive and ample in th»
measure : it is so distinct a claim, so imperative
a requisition of aU the fiiculties of the mmd and
strength; oZZ the a£^tions of the heart and
soul : that there is not the least opening left fot
litigation; no place for any. thing bat absolute
unreserved compliance.^

Every thing which relates to God is infinite.
We must therefiM-e while we keep our hearts
humble, keep onr aims high. Our highest sei^
vices indeed are but finite, imperfect But as
God b unlimited in goodness, be aboal^ have
our unlimited bve. The best we can offer is
poor, but let us not withhold that best He d^
serves incomparably more than we have to giv&
Let us not give him less than all. If he has en-
nobled our corrupt nature with spiritna] afieo.
tions, let us not refbse their noblest aspirations,
to their noblest object Let him not behold us
so prodigally lavishing our afibctions on the
meanest of his bounties, as to have nothing left
for himself. As the standard of every thing in
religion is high, let us endeavour to act in it with
the highest intention of mind, with the largest
use or our faculties. Let us obey him with the
most intense love, adore him with the most fer-
vent gratitude. Let us * praise him according
to his excellent greatness.' Let us serve him
with all the str^igth of our capacity, with aU
the devotion of our will

Grace being a new principle added to onr na-
tural powers, as it determines the desires to a
higher object, so it adds vigour to their activity
We shall best prove its dominion over ns by de-
siring to exert ourselves in the cause of hMven
with the same energy with which we onoe ex

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•rCed ouradvM in tb« cause of the world. The
world wmi too little to fill our whole capacity.
Scaliger lamented how much was lost beoaose
so fine a poet as Clandian, in his choice of a sub-
ject, wanted matter worthy of his talent; but it
IS the felicitjT of the Christian to have chosen a
theme to which all the oowers of his heart and
of his understanding wul be found inadequate.
It is the glory of religion to supply an object
worthy of the entire oonseeration of every power,
&cnlty and affection of an immaterial, immortal


The Hand af Ood to be acknowledged in ihe
daily eireumetaneee of life. s

I# we would indeed love God, let us * acquaint
onrsekes with him.* The word of inspiration
has assured us that there is no other way to * be
at peace.* As we cannot lore an unknown Grod,
so neither can we know him, or eren approach
toward that knowledge, but on the terms which
he liimself -holds out to us ; neither will he save
us but in the method which he himself has pre.
icribed. His very perfections^ the just objects
of our adoration, all stand in the way of crea-
tores so guilty. His justice is the flaming
•word which excludes us fh>m the Paradise we
have forfeited. His purity is so opposed to our
corruptions, his omnipotence to our infirmity,
his wisdom to our foUy, that had we not to plead
Che great propitiation, those very attributes which
ue now our trust, would be our terror. The
most opposite images of human conception, the
widest extremes of human language, are used
tu the purpose of showing what God is to us in
our natnrsJ state, and what he is under the
Christian dispensation. The * consuming fire*
is transformed into essential love.

But as we cannot find out the Almighty to
perfoction, so we cannot love him with that pure
flame, which animates glorified spirits. But
there is a preliminary acquaintance with him,
an initial love of him, for which he has furnish-
ed us with means bv his works, by his word,
and by his Spirit £ven in this weak and bar-
ren soil some germs will shoot, some blossoms
will open, of tiut celestial plant, which, watered
by the dews of heaven, and ripened by the Sun
of righteousness, will, in a more genial clime,
expand into the fulness of perfection, and bear
immortal fruits in the Paradise of God.

A person of a cold phlegmatic temper, who
laments that he wants that Tervor in his love of
the Supreme Being, which is apparent in more
ardent characters, may take comfort, if he find
the same indifierence respecting his worldly at-
tachments. But if his afiections are intense to-
wcrds the perishable things of earth, while they
are dead to such as are spiritual, it does not
prove that he is destitute of passions, but only
that they are not directed to the proper object
!£, however, he love God with that measure of
feeling with which God has endowed him, he
will not be punished or rewarded because the
stock is greater or smaller than that of some

Online LibraryHannah MoreThe complete works of Hannah More → online text (page 107 of 135)