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in expectation of the bridegroom. But can he be thought to have this joy in God, this care of eternity, this watchful spirit, who has not zeal enough to rise to his prayers ?
When you look into the writings and lives of the first Christians, you see the same spirit that you see in the Scriptures ;-all is reality, life, and action. Watchings and prayers, self-denial and mortification, was the common business of their lives.
From that time to this, there has been no person like them, eminent for piety, who has not, like them, been eminent for self-denial and mortification. This is the only royal way, that leads to a kingdom.
You perhaps now find some pretences to excuse yourself from the severity of fasting and self-denial, which the first Christians practised. You fancy, that human nature is grown weaker; and that the difference of climate may make it not possible for observe their methods of self-denial and austerity in these colder countries.
But all this is but pretence; for the change is not in the outward state of things, but in the inward state of our minds. When there is the same spirit in us that there was in the Apostles and primitive Christians, when we feel the weight of religion as they did, when we have their faith and hope, we shall take up our cross and deny ourselves, and live in such methods of mortification as they did.
Had St. Paul lived in a cold country, had he had a constitution made weak with a sickly stomach and
often infirmities, he would have done as he advised Timothy-he would have mixed a little wine with his water.
But, still, he would have lived in a state of selfdenial and mortification. He would have given this same account of himself :-I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection ; lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away.
I do not insist much on the crime of wasting so much of
your time in sleep, though a great one; but I desire you to renounce this indulgence, because it gives a softness and idleness to your soul, and is so contrary to that lively, zealous, watchful, self-denying spirit, which was not only the spirit of Christ and his Apostles, the spirit of all the saints and martyrs which have ever been amongst men, but must be the spirit of all those who would not sink in the common corruption of the world.
Here, therefore, we must fix our charge against this practice: we must blame it, not as having this or that particular evil, but as a general habit, that extends itself through our whole spirit, and supports a state of mind that is wholly wrong.
It is contrary to piety; not as accidental slips and mistakes in life are contrary to it, but as an ill habit of body is contrary to health.
On the other hand, if you were to rise early every morning, as an instance of self-denial, as a method of renouncing indulgence, as a means of redeeming your time, and fitting your spirit for prayer, you would find mighty advantages from it. This method, though it seems such a small circumstance of life, would, in all probability, be a means of great piety. It would keep it constantly in your head, that softness and idleness were to be avoided--that self-denial was a part of Christianity. It would teach you to exercise power over yourself; and make you able, by degrees, to renounce other pleasures and tempers that war against the soul.
This one rule would teach you to think of others : it would dispose your mind to exactness; and be very likely to bring the remaining part of the day under rules of prudence and devotion.
But, above all, one certain benefit from this method you will be sure of having ;-it will best fit and prepare you for the reception of the Holy Spirit. When you thus begin the day in the spirit of renouncing sleep, because you are to renounce softness and redeem your time; this disposition, as it puts your heart into a good state, so it will procure* the assistance of the Holy Spirit. What is so planted and watered will certainly have an increase from God. You will then speak from your heart; your soul will be awake ; your prayers will refresh you, like meat and drink; you will feel what you say; and begin to know what saints and holy men have meant by fervours of devotion.
* Not that this good disposition," or “ good state of the heart,” has in it any procuring merit, by which further assistances of the Holy Spirit are obtained ; but, it is that state which Christ condescends to own. HE FIRST, and HE ALONE, thus prepares the heart. Then, to the humble he giveth more grace ; according to His own unmerited and gracious appointment, that to him that hath shall be given, and he shall have yet more abundantly. This is one of the instances in which this very perspicuous Writer not only fails to exhibit clearly the doctrine of free grace, but even uses language which favours the natural leaning of the heart toward the idea of human merit.--EDITOR.
THE SCHOLAR AND THE GENTLEMAN, TRANSFORMED
INTO THE DEVOTED CLERGYMAN.
URANIUS is a holy priest, full of the spirit of the gospel; watching, labouring, and praying for a poor country village.
When Uranius first entered into holy orders, he had a haughtiness in his temper, a great contempt and disregard for all foolish and unreasonable people: but he has prayed away this spirit, and has now the greatest tenderness for the most obstinate sinners; because he is always hoping that God will, sooner or later, hear those prayers that he makes for their repentance. The rudeness, ill-nature, or perverse behaviour, of any of his flock, used at first to betray him into impatience; but it now raises no other passion in him, than a desire of being upon his knees, in prayer to God for them.
Thus have his prayers, for others, altered and amended the state of his own heart. It would strangely delight you, to see with what spirit he converses, with what tenderness he reproves, with what affection he exhorts, and with what vigour he preaches; and it is all owing to this because he reproves, exhorts, and preaches to those for whom he first has prayed to God. This devotion softens his heart, enlightens his mind, sweetens his temper, and makes every thing, that comes from him, instructive, amiable and affecting.
At his first coming to this little village, it was as disagreeable to him as a prison; and every day seemed too tedious to be endured in so retired a place. He thought his parish too full of poor and mean peoplethat there were none of them fit for the conversation of a gentleman.
This put him upon a close application to his studies. He kept much at home, writ notes upon Homer and Plautus, and sometimes thought it hard to be called to pray by any poor body, when he was just in the midst of one of Homer's battles. This was his polite, or,
rather say, poor, ignorant, turn of mind, before devotion had got the government of his heart.
But now his days are so far from being tedious, or his parish too great a retirement, that he only wants more time to do that variety of good, which his soul thirsts after. The solitude of his little parish is become matter of great comfort to him, because he hopes that God has placed him and his flock there, to make it their way to heaven. He can now, not only converse with, but gladly attend and wait upon, the poorest kind of people.
He is now daily watching over the weak and in