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A Father's Advice to his Son.
To the Editor of the Cottager's Monthly Visitor.
As you thought the few lines sent you by “ A Scribbler” worth inserting in your Cottager's Visitor, I enclose the following.
(From Addison.) No kind of life is so happy as that which is full of hope, especially when the hope is well grounded, and when the object of it is of an exalted kind, and in its nature proper to make the person happy who enjoys it. This must be very evident to those who consider how few are the present enjoyments of the most happy man, and how insufficient to give him an entire satisfaction in them. A religious life then is that which most abounds in a well-grounded hope, and such an one as is fixed on objects that are capable of making us entirely happy. This hope in a religious man is much more sure and certain than the hope of any temporal blessing, as it is strengthened not only by reason but by faith. It has, at the same time its
fixed on that state, which is full of the most complete happiness. A religious hope has still greater advantages. It does not only bear up the mind under her sufferings, but makes her rejoice in them, as they may be the instruments leading to the great end of all her hopes. It is able to revive the dying man and to fill his mind not only with secret comfort and refreshment, but with the joyful expectation of his soul being again united to the body in a glorious resurrection. How emphatical are those expressions of a lively hope which the Psalmist made use of in the midst of those dangers and adversities which surrounded him; for the following passage had its present and personal, as well as its future and prophetic sense. I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth : my flesh also shall rest in hope. For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer thine Holy One to
Reverence for the Name of God. 427 see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
ADDISON'S REMARKS ON THE SABBATH. When the sublime pleasure of Devotion on the Sabbath is added to the leisure of our minds from the cares of this life, it exalts our being above itself; and he who spends a seventh day in the contemplation of the next life, will not easily fall into the corruptions of this in the other six. They who never admit thoughts of this kind into their imaginations, lose higher and sweeter satisfactions than can be raised by any other entertainment. The most illiterate man who is touched with devotion, and uses frequent exercises of it, contracts a certain greatness of mind, mingled with a noble simplicity, that raises him above those of the same condition; and there is an indelible mark of piety in those who sincerely possess it. It is hardly possible it should be otherwise; for the fervour of a religious mind will naturally contract such an earnestness and attention towards a better being, as will make the ordinary passages of life go off with a becoming indifference. By this, a man, in the lowest condition will not appear mean, or in the most splendid fortune insolent.
ON REVERENCE FOR THE NAME OF GOD.
I FIND the following passage in an excellent sermon preached at the funeral of a gentleman who was an honour to his country, and a more diligent as well as successful inquirer into the works of nature, than any other our nation has ever produced. He had the profoundest veneration for the great God of heaven and earth, that I have ever observed in any person. The very name of God was never mentioned by him without a pause, and a visible stop in his discourse ; in which, one that knew him most particularly above twenty years, has told me that he was so exact, that he does not remember to have observed him once to fail in it.
Every one knows the veneration which was paid by the Jews to a name so great, wonderful, and holy. They would not let it enter even into their religious discourses. What can we then think of those who make use of so tremendous a name in the ordinary expressions of their anger, mirth, and most impertinent passions? Of those who admit it into the most familiar questions and assertions, ludicrous phrases, and works of humour ? Not to mention those who violate it by solemn perjuries. It would be an affront to reason to endeavour to set forth the horror and profaneness of such a practice. The very mention of it exposes it sufficiently to those in whom the light of religion is not utterly extinguished.Addison.
HINTS CONCERNING PRIVATE PRAYER. Offer up your prayers every morning and evening. Let no common circumstance prevent you. And if by some extraordinary circumstance, you have not time for your usual form, yet at least fall down on your knees, and ask God's pardon and protection, for Christ's sake.
Put up your prayers in the morning as soon as you can, after you are up, that worldly affairs may not get possession of your mind and distract your attention. Offer
up your prayers at night as late as you can before you get into bed; and after
have said them, endeavour to keep your thoughts from Hints concerning Private Prayer. 429 rambling on' worldly affairs, and turn them rather to reflect on a future state.
If you find that by using constantly one form of prayer you repeat it by rote, without attending to the meaning, change your form, or use different forms on different days.
And whatever forms you use, it is not necessary to confine yourself to the very words, but pour out your thoughts freely before God. In whatever you have done amiss beg his pardon for that particular offence. If you have escaped any danger, return him thanks for that particular preservation. If you have received any particular blessing or advantage, return him thanks for that, in particular. If you are going to engage in any thing of importance, ask his assistance. If you have any doubt, beg his direction. In short, consider him as your best friend, from whom you can conceal nothing, who will never be offended, but when you do wrong, who will never forsake you but when you forsake him. And therefore, accustom yourself
, on all occasions, to open your heart freely to him. Do not be afraid of not properly expressing your thoughts: for he knows them before you utter them, and will hear the prayer that proceeds from an humble and sincere soul, however it may be expressed. But as he knows, and you do not, what is best for you in this life, in your prayers for worldly prosperity, and for deliverance from worldly evils, remember always our Saviour's words : Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done;" and remember also that all our petitions are to be made in the name, through the merits, and for the sake of Jesus Christ: for petitions put up in his name are those which God has promised to hear, and it is by his merits, and for his sake alone, that we can hope for pardon and favour from God.