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we must all have appeared before an all-seeing God of infinite justice and holiness, without security of being considered otherwise than as objects of displeasure : but we know that he looks upon us now as objects of the tenderest mercy. He invites us to " pour out our hearts before him," at all times; “ to call upon him in the time of trouble,” “ to look unto him, and be saved.” O my soul, in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Let me then ask myself, as in his sight, what is the general turn of my temper, and disposition of my mind? My most trifling words and actions are observed by him; and every thought is naked to his eye. Could I suppose the king, or any the greatest person I have any knowledge of, were within reach of observing my common daily behaviour, though unseen by me, should I not be very particularly careful to preserve it, in every respect, decent and becoming ? Should I allow myself in any little froward humours ? Should I not be ashamed to appear peevish and ill-natured ? Should I use so much as one harsh or unhandsome expres. sion even to my equal, or my meanest inferior, even were I ever so much provoked ? Much less should I behave irreverently to my parents or superiors. This awful Being, in whom I live and move, and from whom no obscurity can hide me, by whom the very hairs of my head are all numbered; he knows the obligations of every relation in life; he sees, in their full light, the reciprocal duties of parents and children, of husbands and wives, of
neighbours and fellow-servants; he kpows the aggravated guilt of every offence against these ties of society, however we may be disposed to treat them as trifles : and every piece of stubbornness and pride, of ill humour and passion, of anger and resentment, of sullenness and perverseness, exposes us to his just indignation.
The Improvement of Time, and Self Examination.
6 BLESSÉD are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness." Our Lord and Saviour has pronounced this blessellness, and, through his grace, I hope to partake of it. Hunger and thirst naturally prompt us to seek, without delay, the means of satisfying them. What then is the food of the mind ? Wholesome instruction and religious meditation. If then I sincerely do hunger and thirst after righteousness, I shall be frequently feeding my mind with pious books and thoughts; I shall make the returns of these meals as regular as I can, and seldom shall I find any necessity strong enough to make me miss them a whole day together. But then it ought to be remembered, too, that even these, the best hours of my life, ought never to encroach upon the duties and employments of my station, whatever they may be. Am I in a superior station of life? My duty then, probably, takes in a large compass; and I am accountable to my Maker for all those talents entrusted with me by him, for the benefit of my fellowcreatures. I must not think of living to myself alone, or devoting that time to imitate the employ
ment of angels, which was given me for the service of men. Religion must be my chief end and my best delight; it must regulate all I think or do: but whatever my station is, I must fulfil all its duties. Have I leisure and genius? I must give a due portion of my time to the elegant improvements of life; to the study of those sciences that are an ornament to human nature; to such things as may make me amiable and engaging to all whom I converse with; that, by any means, I may win them over to religion and goodness : for if I am always shut up in my closet, and spend my time in cothing but exercises of devotion, I shall be looked upon as morose and hypocritical, and be disregarded as useless in the world. When this life is ended, we have'a whole eternity before us to spend in those noblest employments and highest, delights : but man, in this low state of mortality, pays the most acceptable obedience to God, by serving his fellowcreatures. ;
Perhaps all these considerations are wide from my case. So far from having leisure upon my hands, I have scarce a moment free from the necessary engagements of business and bodily labour: while I am working hard for bread for myself and my family, or attending diligently the commands of a strict master, to whom I am justly accountable for every hour I have, how can I find frequent opportunities for studying the word of God, or much time to spend in devout meditation ? Why, happily, much is not required, provided I make the best use of what little I have. Some time I must needs have
on Sundays, and this I may improve: I may diligently attend to what I hear at church; I may examine whether my own practice is conformable to what I am there taught; and I may spend some hours in that day, either in good discourse with such as are able to instruct me, or in reading such religious books as are put into my hands. Scill enough will be left for cheerful conversation and pleasant walks. Why should either of them be the less cheerful, for a mixture of religious thoughts ? What, indeed, is there so gladdening as they are ? Be my state rever so mean and toilsome, as a Christian, if, indeed, I behave like one, I am equal to the greatest monarch upon earth. Be my mis. fortunes and sorrows never so severe, as a Christiau, I can look beyond death to an eternity of happiness, of happiness certain and unspeakable. These thoughts, therefore, I should keep upon my mind through the whole week; they should be the amusement of my labour, and the relief of my weariness: and when my heart is thus ready, I shall gladly take every opportunity to sing and give praise. I shall awake early to worship that God, who is my defence and my delight; and I shall close every evening with prayer and thanksgiving to him, whose “ ways are ways of pleasantness, and all whose paths are peace.” Whenever I can have a quarter of an hour to spare from the necessary business, and the (at fit times) as pecessary relaxations of life, which, while they are innocent, moderate, and reasonable, will never be disapproved by that good God who has created every thing that is comely and pleasant in the world, and invites us