Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

A SABBATH AT HOME.

“How sweet, how passing sweet is solitude !

But grant me still a friepd in my retreat,
When I may whisper,--solitude is sweet.
Yet neither these delights, nor aught beside,
That appetite can ask, or wealth provide,
Can save us always from a tedious day,

Or spin the dullness of still life away :
| Divine communion, carefully employed,

Or sought with energy, must fill the void.”

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

As I had taken a severe cold, and the morning was very stormy, I resolved to forego the gratification of attending the public services of religion. After the family was gone, I returned to my own room, from whence I viewed, with pleasure, the rustic cottagers, and some few of the more respectable inhabitants of the village, braving the severity of the weather, as they pressed towards the church. This scene alternately elevated and depressed my spirits ; but as the bell ceased to toll, I became more composed, and betook myself to reflection.

“ Here I am, solitary and alone, while others are uniting in the solemn exercises of prayer and praise. I shall not hear this day, the gospel's joyful sound.' I shall not feel that sacred glow of passion which has been enkindled within my breast in past seasons, when I have been holding fellowship with the saints. My harp, tuned to the songs of Zion, I must now hang up as a useless instrument, and spend these

"Çonsecrated hours' in the solitude of silence. But the cause of my grief became a source of gratitude. There was a time, when, like too many who profess and call themselves Christians, I went to the house of prayer,' if not with reluctance, yet with indifference; and when prevented from going, I felt no loss of happiness. But now, no place presents such powerful attractions, and when I am rendered incapable of visiting it, my spirit sinks within me. To what cause is this change of inclination and disposition to be ascribed ? What cause? The influence of the truth on my heart. Public worship now, is not so much a duty as a privilege ; 'my taste is formed for its various parts ; its length does not weary me; I love the habitation of

[ocr errors]

the Lord's house, and the place where his bonour dwelleth. Yes, there I heard the word of truth—there I felt its power,--there my wounded spirit was healed --there I have been animated with fresh courage to press onwards to the mark of the prize of my high calțing,--there I have been raised above the conflicting passions and interests of this world, in the contemplation and enjoyment of things unseen and eternal. there I have united with others in singing,

Welcome, sweet day of rest,
That saw the Lord arise ;
Wolcome to this reviving breast,

And these rejoicing eyes !
+ The King himself comes near,

Ard feats bis saints to-day;
Here we nay sit, and see him here,

And love, and praise, and pray.
One day amidst the place

Where my dear Lord hath been,
Is sweeter than ten thousand days

Of pleasurable sin.
* My willing soul would stay

In such a frame as this,
And sit and sing herself away

To everlasting bliss.' " But now I am forbidden to partake of these sublime enjoyments. I am a solitary pilgrim in my own chamber. But I am not alone. "The Lord of the sabbath is here. Delightful thought! Consolatory fact ! His presence is not confined to the temple"! His attention is pot limited to the great congregation, He dwells in every house, in every closet, in every heart, He hears erery domestic address, every secret prayer, every silent meditation of him. He can bless me, and make this sabbath at home, more profitable than any one I have ever spent within the courts of his house.

There is no reading which has such a powerful effect on the mind of a Christian, as the reading of the Seriptures. “Indited under the influence of Ilim to whom all hearts are known, and all events foreknown, they suit mankind in all situations, grateful as the manna which descengled from above, and conformed itself to every palate. The fairest produc, tions of human wit, after a few perusals, like gathered

peruse

with so

flowers, wither in our hands, and lose their fragrance; but these unfading plants of paradise become, as we are accustomed to them, still more and more beautiful; their bloom appears to be daily heightened ; fresh odours are emitted, and new sweets extracted from them. He who hath once tasted their excellencies, will desire to taste them yet again ; and he who tastes them oftenest, will relish them best. But there is no portion of the sacred volume which I much pleasure in the seasons of retired devotion, as the Psalms of David. Though composed upon particular occasions, they are adapted for general use ; and while the imagination is delighted with the beauty of the style in which they are composed, the mind is elevated by the sentiments which they express, and refreshed by the inexplicable unction of piety which they distil.

Bishop Horne's commentary on the Eighty-Fourth Psalm, afforded me much enjoyment, and which I will now transcribe for the spiritual benefit of those of my readers, who, like myself, may sometimes be compelled to spend a Sabbath at home.”

1. How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts !

“ Thus ardently doth a banished Israelite express his love for Zion, his admiration of the beauty of holiness. Nay, Balaam himself, when from the top of Peor he saw the children of Israel in their tents, with the Glory in the midst of them, could not help exclaiming, How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob! and thy tabernacles, Israel!' Numbers xxiv. 5. How amiable, then, may the Christian say, are those eternal mansions, from whence'sin and sorrow are excluded; how goodly that camp of the saints, and that beloved city, where righteousness and joy reign triumphant, and peace and unity are violated no more; where Thou, Oblessed Jesus, Lord of hosts, King of men and angels, dwellest in glorious majesty, constituting by thy presence the felicity of thy chosen."

2. My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh cryeth out for the living God.

“ It is said of the Queen of Sheba, that upon beholding the pleasantness of Jerusalem, the splendour of Solomon's court, and, above all, the magnificence of the temple, with the services thereia performed, there was no more spirit in her.' What wonder, therefore, if the soul should be deeply affected, wliile, from this land of her captivity, she beholdeth, by faith, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city and court of the great King, with all the transporting glories of the church triumphant; while in her meditations, she draweth the comparison between her wretched slate of exile upon earth, and the unspeakable blessedness of being delivered from temptation and affliction, and admitted into the everlasting courts of Jehovah.' Whose heart dotħ not exult and shout aloud for joy, at the prospect of rising from the bed of death, to dwell with the living God, to see the face of him, in whom iš life, and the life iš the light of men? Did the Israelites from all parts of Judea, go up, with the voice of jubilee, to keep a feast at Jerusalem; and shall Christiáns grieve, when the time is come for them to ascend, and to celebrate an eternal festival in heaved ?"

3. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swal low a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God.

“ The Psalmist is generally supposed, in this verse, tő lãment his unhappiness, in being deprived of all access to the tabernacle, a privilege enjoyed even by the birds, who were allowed to build their pests in the neighbourhood of the sanctuary. It is evidently the design of this passage, to intimate to us, that in the house, and at the altar of God, a faithful soul findeth freedom froth care and sorrow, quiet of mind, and gladness of spirit, like a bird that ha's secured a little mansion for the reception and rearing of her young, And there is no heart endued with sensibility, which doth hot bear its testimony to the exquisite beauty and propriety of this affecting image.'

4. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.

i Here the metaphor is dropped, and the former seutiment expressed in plain language. Blessed are, hot the mighty and the opulent of the earth, who are clothed in purple, and fare sumptuously at the feast of convivial mirth, but they that dwell in thy house, the minister of the eternal temple in heaven, the

[ocr errors]

angels, and the spirits of just men made pertect; there, every passion is resolved into love, every duty into praise, hallelujah suceeeds hallelujah; they are still, still for ever praising thee. And blessed, next to them, are those ministers and members of the church here below, who, in disposition, as well as in employment, do most resemble them.”

5. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee, in whose heart are the ways of them.

· Not only they are pronounced blessed who dwell in the temple, but all they also who are travelling thi therward, and who are, therefore, meditating on their journey, and on the way' which leadeth to the holy city, trusting in God to strengthen,' and prosper, and conduct them to the house of his habitation, the place where his glory dwelleth. Such a company of sojourners are Christians going up to the heavenly Jerusalem : such ought to be their trust in God, and sạch the subject of their thoughts."

6. Who passing through the valley of Baca, make it a well: the rain also filleth the pools.

7. They go, from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.

“ After numberless conjectures offered by commentators upon

the the construction of these two verses, it seemeth impossible for us to attain to any other than a general idea of their import; which is this, that the Israelites, or some of them; passed, in their way to Jerusalem, through a valley that had the name of . Baca,' a noun derived from a verb, which signifies, to weep,' that in this valley they were refreshed with plenty of water; that with renewed vigour they proceeded from stage to stage, until they presented themselves before God in Zion. The present world is to us the valley of weeping : in our passage through it we are refreshed by the streams of divine grace flowing down from the great fountain of consolation; and thus we are enabled

proceed from one degree of holiness to another, until we come to the glorified yision of God in heaven itself.” 8. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: gide ear,

0 God of Jacob. Seiak.

9. Behold, O. God, our shield, and look upon the face

« EdellinenJatka »