« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
is idle, indulgent, or sensual, pleases him, for the same reason that sleep pleases him : and, on the other hand, every thing that requires care or trouble, or self-denial, is hateful to him, for the same reason that he hates to rise: He that places any happiness in this morning-indulgence, would be glad to have all the day made happy in the same manner; — though not with sleep, yet with such enjoyment as gratifies and indulges the body in the same manner as sleep does, or, at least, with such as come as near to it as they can. The remembrance of a warm bed is in his mind all the day; and he is glad when he is not one of those that sit starving in a church.
Now, you do not imagine that such a one can truly mortify that body which he thus indulges: yet, you might as well think this, as that he can truly perform his devotions, or live in such a drowsy state of indulgence, and yet relish the joys of a spiritual life,
For surely no one will pretend to say that he knows and feels the true happiness of prayer, who does not think it worth his while to be early at it?
It is not possible, in nature, for an epicure to be truly devout: he must renounce this habit of sensuality, before he can relish the happiness of devotion.
Now, he that turns sleep into an idle indulgence, does as much to corrupt and disorder his soul—to make it a slave to bodily appetites, and keep it incapable of all devout and heavenly tempers—as he that turns the necessities of eating into a course of indulgence.
A person that eats and drinks too much, does not feel such effects from it as those do who live in notorious instances of gluttony and intemperance; but yet his course of indulgence, though it be not scandalous in the eyes of the world, nor such as torments his own conscience, is a great and constant hindrance to his improvement in virtue: it gives him eyes that see not, and ears that hear not; it creates a sensuality in the soul, increases the power of bodily passions, and makes him incapable of entering into the true spirit of religion.
Now, this is the case of those who waste their time in sleep: it does not disorder their lives, or wound their consciences, as notorious acts of intemperance do; but, like
moderate course of indulgence, it silently, and by smaller degrees, wears away the spirit of religion, and sinks the soul into a state of dulness and sensuality.
If you consider devotion only as a time of so much prayer, you may perhaps perform it, though you live in this daily indulgence'; but, if you consider it as a state of the heart, as a lively fervour of the soul, that is deeply affected with a sense of its own misery and infirmities, and desiring the Spirit of God more than all things in the world, you will find that the spirit of indulgence and the spirit of prayer cannot subsist together. Mortification of all kinds is the very life and soul of piety* : but he that has not so small a degree
* The ardour of special pleading may often carry a person into the use of language, which is emphatical, rather than
of it, as to be able to be early at his prayers, can have no reason to think that he hath taken
his cross, and is following Christ.
What conquest has he got over himself-what righthand has he cut off-what trials is he prepared forwhat sacrifice is he ready to offer unto God—who cannot be so cruel to himself as to rise to prayer at
correct. The passage above, is an instance of this :-while the broad, simple, and well-proportioned statements of Scripture, though they strike the imagination less, yet make the right impression on the heart. The whole subject of " the Mortification of Sin in Believers" is fully set forth in the two following passages of Scripture: Romans viii. 5–13. Colossians iii. 1-11. Here we find “the very life and soul of piety” to be derived from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the heart: it is a "hidden life:" the actings of it consist in “faith which worketh by love." Having first laid down these principles, which contain nothing mystical, nothing but what is simply experimental; and, then, keeping constantly in our view Christ, who is “All, and in all ;" we may safely and effectually consider all the details of the Mortification of Sin. Nor can that be a true and lively faith, which does not, by uniting the soul to Christ, make it a partaker in the fellowship of his sufferings, and in the power of his resurrection.-Should it be said, that Mr. Law means all this to be understood, though he has not expressed it, the reply may be, that this imperfect mode of inculcating Practical Piety is not safe for a young Christian ; neither is it animating to an aged one: it does not come up to the whole scope of Scripture. Much of his work savours of somewhat like Popery: not in the strictness of its standard-(that cannot be too strict)-but, in the manner by which the heart is forced to that standard. The severity of Pharisaïsm has a plausible style about it: the love of Christ works in another, and a more excellent way. EDITOR.
such time as the drudging part of the world are contept to rise to their labour ?
Some people will not scruple to tell you, that they indulge themselves in sleep because they have nothing to do; and that, if they had either business or pleasure to rise to, they would not lose so much of their time in sleep. But such people must be told, that they mistake the matter; that they have a great deal of business to do :--they have a hardened heart to change; they have the whole spirit of religion to get. For, surely, he that thinks devotion to be of less moment than business or pleasure, or that he has nothing to do because nothing but his prayers want him, may be justly said to have the whole spirit of religion to seek.
You must not, therefore, consider how small a crime it is to rise late ; but you must consider how great a misery it is to want the spirit of religion-to have a heart not rightly affected with prayer-and to live in such softness and idleness, as makes you incapable of the most fundamental duties of a truly Christian and spiritual life.
This is the right way of judging of the crime of wasting great part of your time in bed.
You must not consider the thing barely in itself, but what it proceeds from-what virtues it shows to be wanting-what vices it naturally strengthens. For every habit of this kind discovers the state of the soul, and plainly shows the whole turn of your mind.
If our Blessed Lord used to pray early before day; if he spent whole nights in prayers ; if the devout Anna was day and night in the temple; if St. Paul and Silas, at midnight, sang praises unto God; if the primitive Christians, for several hundred years, besides their hours of prayer in the day-time, met publicly in the churches, at midnight, to join in psalms and prayers; is it not certain that these practices showed the state of their hearts? Are they not so many plain proofs of the whole turn of their minds?
And, if you live in a contrary state, wasting great part of every day in sleep, thinking any time soon enough to be at your prayers, is it not equally certain that this practice as much shows the state of your heart, and the whole turn of
mind? So that, if this indulgence is your way of life, you have as much reason to believe yourself destitute of the true spirit of devotion, as you have to believe the Apostles and saints of the primitive Church were truly devout. For, as their way of life was a demonstration of their devotion, so a contrary way of life is as strong a proof of your want of devotion.
When you read the Scriptures, you see a religion that is all life and spirit, and joy in God—that supposes our soul risen from earthly desires and bodily indulgences, to prepare for another body, another world, and other enjoyments. You see Christians represented as temples of the Holy Ghost, as children of the day, as candidates for an eternal crown, as watchful virgins that have their lamps always burning,