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tions, and then to rush into a life, though not perbaps of Vic, yet of indulgences, calenlated to encrease that weakness, to initame those corruptions, and to lead to that misery! There is either no meaning in our prayers, or 10 senst in our conduct. In the one we mock God, in the other we deceive ourselves. i
Wilt riot he who keeps up an habitual intercourse with his vaher, who is vigilant in thonght, self denying in ac. tion, who strives to keep his heart from wrang desires, his id from vain imaginations, and his lips from idie words, bring a more prepared spirit, a more collected m i, be more engaged, more penetrated, more present to the occa ion? Will be not feel more delight in this devont exercise, leap more benefit fronı it, than be who lives at randoin, prays from custom, and who though he dares not intermit the form, is a stranger to its spirit. * () God my heart is ready," cannot belawfully uttered by him who is no wore prepared.
We speak not here to the self-sufficient formalist, or the careless profligate. Among those whom we now take the liberty to address, are to be found, especially in the higlier class of temales, the ainiable and the interesting, and in many respects, the virtuons and correct: Characters so engaging, so evidently made for hetter things, so capable of reaching high degrees of excellence, so formed to give the tone to Christian practice, as well as to fastiov ; 80 calculated to give a beautiful impression of that religion which they profess without sufficiently adorning: which they believe without fairly exemplifying; that we cannot forbear taking a tender interest in their welfare, we cannot forbear breathing a fervent prayer, that they may yet reach the elevation for which they were intended; that they may hold ont a uniform and consistent pattern, of “ whatsoever things are pure, honest, just, lovely, and of good report!" This the Apostle goes on to intimate can only be done by THINKING ON THESE THINGS. Things can only intuence our practice as they engage our attention. Would not then a confirmed habit of serious thought tend to correct that inconsi. deration, which we are willing to hope, more than want of principle, lies at the bottom of the inconsistency we are lamenting
di If, as it is generally allowed, the great difficulty of our pristual life is to make the future predominate over the present, do we not by the conduct we are regretting, aggravate what it is in our power to diminish? Miscalculation of the relative value of things is one of the greatest errors of our moral life. We estimate them in an inverse proportion to their value, as well as to their duration : we lavish earnest and durable thoughts on things so triAing, that they deserve little regard, so brief that they “ perish with the using," while we bestow only slight attention on things of infinite worth, only transient thonghts on things of eternal duration. knowledgement of our dependence, the renunciation of ourselves, the supplication for mercy, the application to 6 the fountain opened for sin, the cordial entreaty for the aid of the Spirit, the relinquishment of our own will, resolutions of better obedience, petitions that these resolutions may be directed and sanctified, these are the subjects in which the supplicant should be engaged, by which luis thonghts should be absorbed. Can they be so absorbed, if many of the intervening hours are passed in pursuits of a totally different complexion? pursuits which raise the passions which we are seeking to allay? Will the cherished vanities go at our bidding? Will the required dispositions come at our calling? Do we find our tempers so obedient, our passions so obsequious in the other concerns of life? If not, what reason have we to expect their obsequiousness in this grand concern. We should therefore endeavour 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 exercise ; but an exercise interwoven with many, and inseparably connected with that golden chain of Christian duties, of which, when so connected, it forms one of the most important links. .
Those who are so far conscientious as not to intermita regular course of devotion, and who yet allow themselves at the same time to go on in a course of amusements, which excite a directly opposite spirit, are inconceivably augmenting their own difficulties. They are eagerly heaping up fuel in the day, on the fire which they intend to extioguish in the evening; they are voluntarily adding to the temptations, against which they mean to request grace to struggle. To acknowledge at the same time, that we find it hard to serve God as we ought, and yet to be systematically indulging habits, which must naturally increase the difficulty, makes onr characters almost ridiculous, while it readers our duty almost impracticable.
While we make our way more difficult by those very indulgences with which we think to cheer and refresh it, the determined Christian becomes his own pioneer; hé makes liis path easy by voluntarily clearing it of the ob stacles which impede his progress..
These habitual indulgences seem a contradiction to that obvious law, that one virtue always involves another; for we cannot labour after any grace, that of prayer for instance, withont resisting whatever is opposite to it. If then we lament, that it is so hard to serve God, let us not by our conduct furnish arguments against ourselves ; for, as if the difficolty were not great enongh in itself, we are continually heaping up monntains in our way, by indulging in such pursuits and passions, as make a small labour an insurmountable one.
But we may often judge better of our state by the resnlt, than by the act of prayer. Our very defects, our coldness, deadness, wanderings, may leave more contrition on the son!, than the happiest torn of thonght. The feeling of our wants, the confession of our sins, the ac.
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 its interval; only let us be careful that the indulgence of the one do not destroy the effect of the other, that our pleasures do not encroach on the time or deaden the spirit of our devotions, let us be careful that our cares, occupations, and amusements may be always such that we may not be afraid to implore the divine blessiug on them; this is the criterion of their safety and of our duty. Let us endeavour that in each, in all, one continually growing sentiment and feeling of loving, serviug, and pleasing God, maintain its predominant station in the heart.. .
An additional reason why we should live in the perpetual use of prayer, seems to be, that our blessed Kedeemer after having given both the example and the command, while on earth, condescends still to be our unceas. ing intercessor in Heaven. Can we ever-cease pétitioning for ourselves, when we believe that he never ceases interceding for us?
If we are so unhappy as now to find little pleasure in this holy exercise, that bowever is so far from being a reason for discontinuing it, that it affords the strongest argument for perseverance. That which was at first a forin, will become a pleasure ; that which was a burden will become a privilege; that which we impose upon ourselves as a medicine, will become necessary as an aliment, and desirable as a gratification. That which is now short and superficial, will become copious and solid. The chariot wheel is warmed by its own motion. Use will make that easy which was at first painful. That which is once be. come easy will soon be rendered pleasant. Instead of repidiug at the performance, we shall be unhappy at the omission. When a man recovering from sickness at tempts to walk, he does not discontinue the exercise be. cause he feels himself weak, nor even because the effort is painful. He rather redoubles his exertion. It is from his perseverance that he looks for strength. An additional turn every day diminishes his repugnance, aug. ments his vigour, improves his spirits. That effort which was submitted to because it was salutary, is continued because the feeling of renovated strength renders it den lightful.
THE LOVE OF GOD.
OUR love to God arises out of want. God's love to use out of fulness. Our indigence draws ns to that power which can relieye, and to that goodness which can bless us His overflowing love delights to make us partakers of the bonoties he graciously imparts, not only in the gifts of his providence, but in the richer communications of his grace. We can only be said to love God, when we endeavour to glorify him, when we desire a participation of lyis nature, when we study to imitate his perfections,
We are sometimes inclined to suspect the love of God to us. We are too little suspicions of our want of love to him. Yet if we examine the case by evidence, as we Shoald examine any common question, what real instair
ces can we prodnce of our love to him? What imaginable instance can we not produce of his love to us? If neglect, forgetfulness, ingratitude, disobedience, coldness in our affections, deadness in our duty, be evidences of our love to him, such evidences, but sich only, we can abundantly allege. If life and all the countless cata. logue of mercies that makes life pleasant, be proots of Iris love to us, these he has given us in fiand;-if lite eternal, if blessedness thrat knows no measure and no end, be proofs of love, these he has given tus in pronrise-to the christian we had almost said, he has given them in possession:
It must be an irksome thing to serve a master, whony we do not love; a master whom we are compeded to obey, though we think his requisitions hard, and his com: mands unreasonable; under whose eye we know that we continually live, though his presence is not only undelightful buit formidable. · Now every Christian must obey God, whether he love him or not; he must act always in his sight, whether he delight in him or not; and to a heart of any feeling, to a spirit of any liberality, nothing is so grating, as constrain: ed obedience.. To love God, to serve him because we love him, is therefore no less onr highest happiness, than our most bounden duty. Love makes all labour light. Weserve with alacrity, where we love with cordiality.
Where the heart is devoted to an object, we require not to be perpetually reminded of our obligations to obey bim; they present themselves spontaneously, we fulfil them readily, I had almost said, involuntarily; we think not so mucli of the service as of the object. The principle which suggests the work inspires the pleasure ; to neglect it, would be an injury to our feelings. The performance is the gratification. The omission is not more a pain to the conscience, than a wound to the affections. The implantation of this vital root perpetnates virtnous practice, and secures internal peace.
Though we cannot be always thinking of God, we may be always employed in his service. There must be intervals of our communion with him, but there must be no intermission of our attachment to him. The tender father who labours for liis children, does not always employ his thoughts about tliem; he cannot be always conversing with them, or concerning them, yet he is always engaged in promoting their interests. His affection for them is an inwoven principle, of which he gives the most unequi.