« AnteriorContinuar »
ceeding on their part; as has been often said, It is much more agreeable to flee from the danger than to face it. We all know, and have daily proofs that it is much easier to abstain entirely, than to use with moderation. But the Christian's duty is far different. -A city set on a hill, to be seen of all men,-a candle giving light to all that are in the house, the salt scattered through the earth to preserve it from corruption; such are a few of the emblems given by our Lord of the members of his Church. Oh, then, let us ever remember, that however lowly our lot in life may be, however small the circle in which we move, we each individually exert an influence either for good or evil, on those around us. Let us then beware how by our careless walk we cause our brethren to offend. There is a line between cheerfulness and levity which may be easily perceived by a tender conscience, and without being morose and setting ourselves up as if we were holier than others, we may yet in a quiet but decided manner do much to approve ourselves as disciples of him who prayed not that we should be taken out of the world, but that we should be "kept from the evil."
"Thou compassest my path, and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways." cxxxix. 3.
In the busy scene of life, in the social home, and
in the silence and repose of solitude, the eye of God is upon thee,―he knoweth every secret thought, every intent of the heart is open to his searching glance.
source of the
"Thou God seest me," may be a most inexpressible comfort and delight; or a cause of unutterable misery and dread :-the thought will bring with it either the brightness and the blessedness of heavenly joy, or the darkness and the gloom of despair. To conceive the eye of so great, and powerful, and holy a Being, constantly directed to that scene of sin and pollution,-the human heart, is indeed a fearful and a solemn thought! But how much more solemn, when we reflect that that piercing scrutiny is also directed towards the unrenewed heart! O, it is a contemplation from which we shrink with painful sensitiveness and dread. The eye of providence following the sinner through all the paths of guilt, and folly, and misery; -every secret thought, impervious perhaps to all besides, open and obvious to his sight. Every unholy word and action laid bare before him! And who shall stand such a scrutiny? Could even the beloved of the Lord, the child of his adoption, the pardoned, the justified, the sanctified, could even such an one but see, as God sees it, the naked heart, stript of all its false colourings and adornments, stript of all its vain subterfuges and deceptive arts,-that child of God, that heir of heaven, would start aside with horror, and turn away his eyes from the humiliating sight, and be ready to hide himself in the dust from the eyes of the Lord, and from the glory of his majesty:" and yet, so God actually sees us! But how doth he view the sin that he hateth, in the soul that he loveth? "Like as a Father pitieth his
own children, even so is the Lord merciful unto them that fear him." Jehovah-a Jehovah a name implying such sovereign power, such great, such glorious, such unapproachable attributes-is softened down into the love and mercy of Jesus! Oh, then, thou risen Saviour, be thou ever "about my path, and about my bed," and go not from me! In the day of darkness and distress, O go not far from me; let thy holy Spirit "arise and shine upon me with healing in his wings! In my hour of happiness be thou still by me, and let my "joy be alway in the Lord." In the silence of solitude let me hold sweet communion with thee. And in the awful stillness of death, let me hear thee still whisper those sweet words of support and consolation, "I am with thee, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee !"
ON EARLY RISING.
"O Lord, early in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up," Psalm v. 3.
I take it for granted that every Christian who is in health is up early in the morning: for it is much more reasonable to suppose a person up early because he is a Christian, than because he is a labourer, or a tradesman, or a servant, or has business that wants him.
We naturally conceive some abhorrence of a man that is in bed when he should be at his labour, or in his shop. We cannot tell how to think any thing
good of him who is such a slave to drowsiness as to neglect his business for it.
Let this, therefore, teach us to conceive how odious we must appear in the sight of heaven, if we are in bed, shut up in sleep and darkness, when we should be praising God, and are such slaves to drowsiness as to neglect our devotions for it.
For if he is to be blamed as a slothful drone that rather chooses the lazy indulgence of sleep than to perform his proper share of worldly business, how much is he to be reproached that had rather lie folded up in a bed than be raising up his heart to God in acts of praise and adoration?
Prayer is the nearest approach to God, and the highest enjoyment of him that we are capable of in this life.
It is the noblest exercise of the soul, the most exalted use of our best faculties, and the highest estimation of the blessed inhabitants of heaven.
When our hearts are full of God, sending up holy desires to the throne of grace, we are then in our highest state; we are upon the utmost heights of human greatness; we are not before kings and princes, but in the presence and audience of the Lord of all the world, and can be no higher, till death is swallowed up in glory.
On the other hand sleep is the poorest, dullest refreshment of the body, that is so far from being intended as an enjoyment, that we are forced to receive it either in a state of insensibility, or in the folly of dreams.
Sleep is such a dull stupid state of existence, that even amongst mere animals, we despise them most
which are most drowsy. He therefore that chooses to enlarge the slothful indulgence of sleep, rather than be early at his devotions to God, chooses the dullest refreshment of the body before the highest, noblest employment of the soul; he chooses that state, which is a reproach to mere animals, rather than that exercise, which is the glory of angels.
You will perhaps say, though you rise late, yet you are always careful of your devotions when you are up.
It may be so; but what then? Is it well done of you to rise late because you pray when you are up? Is it pardonable to waste great part of the day in bed, because some time after you say your prayers? It is as much your duty to rise to pray as to pray when you are risen. And, if you are late at your prayers you offer to God the prayers of an idle, slothful worshipper, that rises to prayers as an idle servant rises to his labour.
Further, if you fancy that you are careful of your devotions when you are up, though it be your custom to rise late, you deceive yourself; for you cannot perform your devotions as you ought. For he that cannot deny himself this drowsy indulgence, but must pass away good part of the morning in it, is no more prepared for prayer when he is up than he is prepared for fasting, abstinence, or any other self-denial. He may indeed more easily read over a form of prayer than he can perform these duties; but he is no more disposed to enter into the true spirit of prayer than he is disposed to fasting. For sleep, thus indulged, gives a softness and idleness to all our tempers, and makes us unable to relish any thing but what suits with an idle state of mind, and gratifies our natural