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profession, to censure or reproach ; nothing injurious to those that are absent, or to those that are present; nothing malignant, nothing insincere, nothing which may corrupt, nothing which may provoke, nothing which may mislead those about us.
Nor should we, by any means, be content that what we say innocent: it should be our desire that it
be edifying to ourselves and others. In this view, we should endeavour to have some subject of useful discourse always ready; in which we may be assisted by the hints given about furniture for thought, under the former head. We should watch for decent opportunities of introducing useful reflections; and, if a pious friend attempt to do it, we should endeavour to second it immediately.
III. The directions for a religious CLOSING OF THE DAY, which I shall here mention, are only two.—Let us see to it, that the secret duties of the evening be well performed. And, let us lie down on our beds in a pious frame.
1. For secret devotion in the evening*, I would propose a method something different from that in the morning; but still, as then, with due allowances for circumstances, which may make unthought-of
* A simple and excellent form of Self-examination is here drawn out by Dr. Doddridge; being, in fact, an epitome of the counsels given above. It is as follows :
“ Did I awake, as with God, this morning, and rise with a grateful sense of His goodness ? How were the secret devotions of the morning performed ? Did I offer my solemn praises, and renew the dedication of myself to God, with becoming attention and suitable affections ? Did I lay my scheme for the business of the day wisely and well ? How did I read the Scripture, and any other devotional or prac
tical piece, which I might afterwards conveniently review ? Did it do my heart good ? or was it a mere amusement ?
“ How have the other stated devotions of the day been attended to, whether in the family or in public ?--Have I pursued the common business of the day with diligence and spirituality ; doing every thing in season, and with all con. venient dispatch, and as unto the Lord ?—What time have I lost this day, in the morning, or the forenoon; in the afternoon, or the evening ? (for these divisions will assist your recollection) and what has occasioned the loss of itWith what temper, and under what regulations, have the recreations of this day been pursued ?-Have I seen the hand of God in my mercies ; health, cheerfulness, food, clothing, books, preservation in journeys, success of business, conversation and kindness of friends, &c.? Have I seen it in afflictions; and particularly in little things, which had a tendency to vex and disquiet me? And, with regard to this interposition, have I received my comforts thankfully, and my afflictions submissively ?-How have I guarded against the temptations of the day, particularly against this or that temptation, which I foresaw in the morning ? Have I maintained an humble dependence on Divine influences ? Have I lived by faith in the Son of God; and regarded Christ this day as my teacher and governor, my atonement and intercessor, my example and guardian, my strength and forerunner ? Have I been looking forward to death and eternity this day, and considered myself as a probationer for Heaven, and, through grace, an expectant of it ?-Have I governed my thoughts well, especially in such or such an interval of solitude ? How was my subject of thought this day chosen ; and how was it regarded ?-Have I governed my discourses well, in such and such company? Did I say nothing passionate, mischievous, slanderous, imprudent,
I should advise to read a portion of the Scripture, in the first place, with suitable reflections, and prayer, as above : then to read a hymn or psalm : after this, to enter on self-examination, to be followed by a longer prayer than that which followed reading, to be formed on this review of the day: in this address to the throne of grace, to intreat that God would pardon the omissions and offences of the day; to praise Him for mercies, temporal and spiritual ; to recommend yourselves to His protection for the ensuing night; with proper petitions for others, whom we ought to bear on our hearts before Him ; and, particularly, for those friends with whom we have conversed or corresponded in the preceding day.
2. The sentiments with which we should lie down, and compose ourselves to sleep.-Now, here, it is obviously suitable to think of the Divine goodness, in adding another day, and the mercies of it, to the former days and mercies of our life; to take notice of the indulgence of Providence, in giving us commodious habitations and easy beds, and continuing to us such health of body, that we can lay ourselves down at ease upon them; and such serenity of mind as impertinent ?-Has my heart this day been full of love to God and to all mankind ? and have I sought, and found, and improved, opportunities of doing and of getting good ?
“ With what attention and improvement have I read the Scripture this evening ? How was self-examination performed the last night ? and how have I profited this day, by any remarks I then made on former negligences and mistakes? With what temper did I then lie down, and compose myself to sleep?"
leaves us any room to hope for refreshing sleep;-a refreshment to be sought, not merely as an indulgence to animal nature, but as what our wise Creator, in order to keep us humble in the midst of so many infirmities, has been pleased to make necessary to our being able to pursue His service with renewed alacrity. Thus may our sleeping, as well as our waking hours, be, in some sense, devoted to God. And when we * are just going to resign ourselves to the image of death (to what one of the ancients beautifully calls, its “Lesser Mysteries”), it is also evidently proper to think seriously of that end of all the living, and to renew those actings of repentance and faith which we should judge necessary, if we were to wake no more here.
(FROM HIS LIFE, BY ORTON.) This was the most striking part of his character, and must be, in general, visible to every one who is acquainted with his writings, and considers his relations, as pastor of a numerous congregation, and instructor of youth intended for the ministry. He applied himself with great assiduity to his studies, while a pupil, and during his retirement at Kibworth: yet so intent was his heart upon the work in which he was engaged, that, while others applauded his diligence
in that period, he deeply laments his mispence of much time. I will insert one of his mournful reflections on this subject: “Upon reviewing the last year, I find that I have trifled away a great deal of time. Not to speak of that which hath been lost in formal devotion, and an indolent temper in the dispatch of business, I find, upon computation, that I have lost some hundred hours by unnecessary sleep: I have lost many in unnecessary visits, journeys of pleasure, or of business prolonged to an unreasonable length, and by indulging vain roving thoughts while travelling. A multitude of precious hours have been lost in unprofitable discourse, when I have been necessarily engaged in company; for want of taking care to furnish myself with proper subjects of conversation, or not making use of them, or not attending to opportunities of introducing profitable discourse.”
In following years he laments the mispence of time in his youth; and reflects, what superior improvements he might have made in learning and piety, and how much more useful he might have been, had he exerted more diligence in those days, when he had fewer avocations than when he lived in a large town, appeared under a more public character, and his labours and connexions were increased. He endeavoured then to make up what he thought his culpable deficiency, by habitual diligence in his proper busi
In this view, he rose up early, and sat up late. He reckoned the smallest parcels of time precious; and was eager to seize every moment, even while he was