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the exigencies of the poor, of the friendless, of the afflicted, and of the ignorant; and connect with their miseries, their claims; their claims on your commiseration, your time, and your property. Think how many of your fellow-creatures, with natural susceptibilities of delight not inferior to your own, are altogether strangers to true happiness, and destitute of the moral and divinely prescribed means of discovering the way to its attainment! Are not myriads perishing for lack of knowledge? Are you not in possession of the treasures of Divine truth, by which they may become “wise unto salvation," and happy through an unchanging eternity? Remember, that he who winneth souls" to the paths of peace and glory, is, by the highest authority, pronounced “wise," Prov. ii. 30; he is wise in seeking for himself and for others the happiness of immortality; for they who are thus wise shall hereafter shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever.” Dan. xii. 3.
THE PLEASURES OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE.
In the pursuit of happiness, no pleasures are more to be valued than those which are now to engage our attention, the pleasures of a good conscience. In themselves they are a source of exquisite and refined delight; and their influence, they are most powerfully conducive to the enjoyment of every other legitimate pleasure. A good conscience is to the mind what health is to the body Health is itself a spring of indescribably pleasurable feelings, while it predisposes and qualifies for every other species of enjoyment. A good conscience, also, is a never-failing source of the purest and the noblest delights, while it renders the mind and heart susceptible of ever growing happiness. ·
We enter not, in this chapter, on any metaphysical analysis of that part of our mental constitution, to which we give the name of conscience. It is not important to our present purpose, to ascertain whether it be a simple, original faculty of the mind, or whether it involve a complexity of operations, which may be resolved, by a careful and scrutinizing analysis, into more simple elements. Suffice it to say, that to conscience belong the most important decisions if the intellect, and the most powerful emotions of the heart. It is
that part of our mental constitution, by which we arraign and examine, with a view to an impartial judgment, our own actions and our own motives, and by which we become susceptible of pain or of pleasure, corresponding with the nature of the decision pronounced.
The pleasures of a good conscience may be comprised under four heads:
To the First of these belongs the relief enjoyed.
To a person who has never felt pain of body, it would be difficult to conceive of the pleasures arising from instantaneous ease, and entire relief from agony. To a being who had never been conscious of sin, it might be difficult to conceive of the pleasure imparted by relief from the burden of guilt and of fear. In both cases, the cessation of anguish is felt to be equivalent to positive and even high delight. What cannot conscience inflict? In the pungent words of an old writer, it may be said, “ Conscience is God's greatest officer and vicegerent in man; set by him te be as it were thy angel, keeper, monitor, remembrancer, witness, examiner, judge, yea, thy lower heaven. If thou slight this officer, it will be an adversary, informer, accuser, jailor, tormentor to thee, yea, thy upper hell.”' Now this representation, strong as is the language, is fully justified by facts. What a history of its inflictions might be unfolded, if in thousands of instances there should be brought before us a disclosure of its secret stings, its fearful struggles, and its terrific forebodings!
6 What awful discoveries would appal us, if sweeping aside the pomp and deception of life, we could draw from the last hours of some, all the illuminations, the convictions, and the uncontrollable emotions of their hearts !” What would be our feelings, if we could learn their reluctant but irresistible persuasion of many things on which they laboured to maintain a perfect scepticism, and their torturing dread of that wrath to come, of the terrors and the dangers of which they before felt no impression! But even without the development of these awful secrets, may not a correct estimate be formed by overt acts? Why has many a Romish devotee, after a life of guilt, incarcerated himself in his cell, lacerating his body, and almost denying himself the sustenance of food, and the refreshment of sleep, but with a view to silence the reproaches of an ever-accusing conscience ? Why does the deluded Hindoo devote his life to privation and to pain, but that, under the consciousness of guilt, and the dread of futurity, he endeavours, by the sufferings of his body, to expiate the sin of his soul? “Here is a man,” says Mr. Ward, of Serampore, “entering on a pilgrimage full of perils and hardships. He expects to travel a thousand miles on foot, begging his way. Ask him why he encounters all these terrors, and he will tell you, that his salvation requires it. Under that tree sits a man; repeating the name of his guardian deity, counting the repetitions by his bead-roll, and intending to continue the
employment till his death. I once saw at Calcutta two Hindoos, each of whom had surrounded himself with three large fires, so near as almost to scorch him, while the vertical sun beat upon his bare head. · Every day was passed in the practice of these austerities; and it was said, that these men remained up to the neck in the Ganges during a considerable part of the night. I have sometimes asked an inquiring Hindoo, Why do you wish to become a Christian? Ah, sir,' replied the poor man, I have tried all the ways which my countrymen follow, yet I find no inward satisfaction, no relief. But I have lately heard, that Jesus Christ became incarnate, and that he died for sinners. This, I think, must surely be the true way of salvation, and it is from this conviction that I wish to become a Chris, tian.'
And can you entertain any doubt whether this be the true way of peace, the only way of salvation? Why does conscience accuse, but because God condemns? How then can conscience acquit, unless God absolve, and pardon, and justify? This he can do—this he is ever willing to do; and it is the glory and the excellency of the gospel, that it discloses the wondrous plan, and reveals the grand expedient by which this can be effected. It demonstrates that God can be just, while the justifier of him who believeth on the Saviour. “We are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through