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And now for the argument already suggested, you will be more sensible of its force by attending to the following observations; that the firmness with which so many of you guard your virtue, being transferred to the practice of Piety at large, will, by God's assistance, contribute to render it easy and delightful; that the considerations of Religion will, in their turn, support and cheer you under the restraints of conscience and decorum; that you will hence derive the mighty satisfaction of the divine approbation amidst the censures of the uncharitable, and the divine protection against the machinations of the ungodly; and, in the last place, that the injustice, the unkindness, and treachery of the world, should engage you to greater prudence, purity, and devotion.
As to the first, it is certain that the practice of real Piety requires no small resolution and perse
Is it not likewise certain that in what concerns their reputation, many young women possess a large share of these? Let them but apply this to the discharge of their duty as christians and the happiest effects will ensue ; uniformity, facility, and joy in religion. What cannot courage and constancy achieve? In the point to which I allude you are often heroines. Your life is a series of self-denial. But self-denial from right principles is the perfection of christianity. Do but act on these principles throughout, and you shall one day walk with your Saviour in white: he will confess your names as worthy before his Father, and before his angels : you shall follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, singing to your golden harps a new song, expressive of signal triumph and praise.
It has been said of women, and I believe with truth, that they are remarkably steady to their pur. pose. Let it be seen that you are so in what is
good. And “ let not your good be evil spoken of," on account of any thing that might give ground to suspect you control your passions in one way only, and that too from no higher principle than the fear of shame. By a noble command of yourselves in other points, where this consideration cannot be supposed to operate so strongly, make it appears that you are governed by religious as well as prudential motives..
We would not lessen the influence of any one wise, or useful consideration, from the side of this world : but we wish your minds to lie more open to the efficacy of the next. So far as mere reputą. tion goes,
it is much the same to a woman, whether the regularity of her conduct be the result of pious or of political maxims. But in the sight of God, and at the bar of conscience, how vast the difference! In that day when the secrets of all hearts shall be laid, open, what will it avail you, if the decency of your behaviour should be found to have proceeded from no nobler spring than the desire of saving appearances? Who can express the horror of a female hypocrite at that all-revealing period, when, stript of every disguise, she shall be pointed out to the congregated universe as an infamous creature, whose soul was enslaved to sensuality, at the very time that she affected the strictest virtue, treated indiscretion in others with the severity due to vice alone, had no other. allowances to make with human frailty, and with supercilious disdain looked down on many of her sex not half so wicked as herself?
Let it be carefully remembered, that as, in what regards ourward trials, the gospel is literally the doctrine of the cross ; so, with respect to inward
conflicts, it is properly the discipline of the passions. Here, in truth, the religion of a christian must begin and end. What pity, my honoured pupils, if you who have that amazing power over the exterior of your deportment, if you who offer to å spotless name those continual sacrifices which your greatest enemies cannot deny, should after all lose the reward of undissembled sanctity by being excluded from that vision of God, which. Jesus has promised to the pure in heart! What pity, in the mean while, that such power is not more generally allowed to exert itself on the ample theatre of a life truly virtuous ; and that such sacrifices should not by the consolations of devotion, be sweetened, consecrated, and turned into so many sources of sublime enjoyment !
But this reminds me of having likewise said, that the considerations of Religion will conduce mightily to support and cheer you under the restraints of sobriety and decorum. tion as those considerations are made more familiar, will these restraints become less painful, till at length they in a manner change their nature, and seem like silken bands, that even while they confine you, are as easy as they are ornamental.
Between all other philosophy and the philosophy of Jesus, one glorious distinction is this; that the latter not only displays a higher standard of moral excellence, but also communicates superior powers of virtuous action. To the fainter conclusions of Reason it superadds the bright discoveries of Faith. The future world, with the great transactions of the supreme administration, which are introductory to it, are there unveiled. There the vanity, and withal the importance of the present state is unfold
ed. There divine pardon and eternal life, as “the gift of God through Jesus Christ,” are ensured and ascertained to obedient believers. The history of the Redeemer is there exhibited with all the beauty of simplicity, and energy of truth; a history, my dear hearers, equally important to all that read it, and to those that read it with a serious unprejudiced disposition, unspeakably affecting ; a history which involves the most extensive and lasting interests of human nature, and to such as view it in that light carries with it, beyond all other writings, a vital, home-felt, and heart-awakening influence. The ingenuous breast, inflamed by the friendship, and penetrated by the spirit of Jesus, burns with the love of virtue, and heaves with the hope of salvation. Jesus is the pattern of virtue : gratitude is one of its worthiest incentives, and faith, which is the fundamental principle of the whole system, faith in the mercy and acceptance of the Universal Father, through the mediation of his meritorious Son, by whom he is carrying on a scheme of grace, that comprehends all sincere penitents of whatever name or nation, throughout all successive ages-this Faith, I say, imparts to feeble and desponding creatures a strength and encouragement that no other system could ever inspire.
Nor are these ideas beyond the ordinary reach of female understanding. They depend not on a nice chain of reasoning, nor on the abstruse researches of science. How much soever they may have been disguised by the dreams of the schools, to conceive them as they are set forth in scripture, masculine intellects are by no means necessary. Connected with Facts the most astonishing to the imagination, and Sentiments the most touching to the heart, they seem
to lie particularly level to the best characters among your sex.
In short, to feel their tendency, and experience their operation, a modest, susceptible, and affectionate mind is chiefly required.
Permit me to ask you, as in the presence of God, do ye in good earnest believe in the Holy Ghost, in the catholic church, in the communion of saints, in the forgiveness of sins, in the resurrection, of the body, in the life everlasting, in Him who is the resurrection and the life, the all-sufficient sacrifice, the all-prevailing advocate, the meek, the lowly, and the loving master, as well as the awful and impartial judge? Do ye often by devout contemplation realize these, and the other wonderful objects of christianity, together with the grand principles of natural religion? To both do ye frequently join the heaven-moving force of fervent prayer, the powerfully combined influences of public worship, and the sweetly supporting communications of holy friendship? Then say, whether you can ever be at a loss for motives to animate, or for aids to second your endeavours after wisdom and virtue? Surely no.
Wisdom and virtue are beautiful forms, and for their own intrinsic worth unquestionably entitled to all possible love and veneration. But little acquainted with the human heart are they, who would build the morals of mankind on this single basis.
Decency of character, dignity of conduct, the honours due to temperance, integrity, benevolence, magnanimity, and other qualities of that order, are ideas as solid as they are refined, and which ought certainly to be cherished by all who are capable of comprehending their moment. To offer to depreciate them is vile, and not more repugnant to reason than to scripture,