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begin the enjoyment of heaven. In every
prayers and the alms of Cornelius attracted his particular notice. He remarked the amiable dis, positions which rose in the heart of this good
But he saw that they were yet imperfect, while he remained unenlightened by the principles of the Christian religion. In order to remove this obstruction to his rising graces, and to bring hịm to the full knowledge of that God whom he sought to honour, he was favoured with a supernatural message from hea,
While the princes of the earth were left to act by the counsels of their own wisdom; while, without interposition from above, generals conquered or fell
, according to the vi. cissitude of human things; to this good Centurion an angel was commissioned from the throne of God.
say more or higher in praise of this blessed character, than that it is what Go
delights to honour? Men singlè out, as the objects of distinction, the great, the brave, or the renowned. But he who seeth not as man seeth, passing by those qualities which often shine with false splendour to human observation, looks to the inward principles of action ; to those principles which form the essence of a worthy character, and which, if called forth, would give birth to whatever is laudable or excellent in conduct. Is there one, though in humble station or obscure life, who feareth God, and worketh righteousness;
and alms, proceeding in regular unaffected tenor, bespeak the upright, the tender, the devout heart? Those alms and prayers come up in memorial before that God who is no respecter of persons. The Almighty beholds him from his throne with complacency. Divine illumination is ready to instruct him. Angels minister to him. They now mark him out on earth as their future associate; and for him they make ready in paradise, the white robes, the palms, and the sceptres of the just.
To this honour, to this blessedness, let our hearts continually aspire ; and throughout the whole of life, let those solemn and sacred words with which I conclude, sound in our ears, and be the great directory of our conduct : * He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but
ON THE INFLUENCE OF RELIGION UPON ADVERSITY.
PSALM xxvii. 5.
In the time of trouble, he shall hide me in his
pavilion ; in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me upon a rock.
The life of man has always been a very mixed state, full of uncertainty and vicissitude, of anxieties and fears. In every religious audience, there are many who fall under the denomination of the unfortunate; and the rest are ignorant how soon they may be called to join them. For, the prosperity of no man on earth is stable and assured. Dark clouds may soon gather over the heads of those whose sky is now most bright. In the midst of the deceitful calm which they enjoy, the storm that is to overwhelm them has perhaps already begun to ferment. If a man live many years, and rejoice in them all ; yet let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many.*
Hence to a thoughtful mind, no study can appear more important, than how to be suitably prepared for the misfortunes of life; so as to contemplate them in prospect without dismay, and, if they must befal, to bear them without dejection.
Throughout every age, the wisdom of the wise, the treasures of the rich, and the power of the mighty, have been employed, either in guarding their state against the approach of distress, or in rendering themselves less vulnerable by its attacks. Power has endeavour. ed to remove adversity to a distance; Philosophy has studied, when it drew nigh, to conquer it by patience; and Wealth has sought out every pleasure that can compensate or alleviate pain.
While the wisdom of the world is thus occupied, religion has been no less attentive to the same important object. It informs us in the text, of a pavilion, which God erects to
* Eccles. xi. 9.