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salvation sufficient for his needs, that he could not refrain from telling others of it too. He had made a "good thing" of little Willie. In striving to be a blessing to the child he had himself received the greatest blessing of his life, even the answe- of his mother's prayers and the salvation of his own soul.
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Little child once observed, that in the Bible "the good people always got up early when God sent them on messages." It was a quaint stating of a truth that meets us everywhere, in the perusal of those grand old lives which are the world's examples.
Perhaps the most remarkable of the early risers of Scripture was the military commander Joshua. Again and again we are told of his "rising early in the morning," before the accomplishment of any of his great works. When Israel's host removed from Shittim and came to Jordan, preparatory to the wonderful dry-shod passage, which is the believer's type of the river of death, wherein the feet of his high priest have been dipped,—Joshua rose early to his task of marshalling the multitude. When Jericho was compassed with the army, and its strong walls seemed to scorn a siege, Joshua rose early to arrange that apparently powerless procession of priests and warriors which marched about the city, without raising a hostile hand. When Achan had sinned in the accursed thing, and all Israel was to be convened for a terrible state-trial, Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought them by their tribes. When the town of Ai was to be taken, and the prestige of victory regained for Israel, "Joshua rose up early in the morning and numbered the people." He girded himself betimes to whatsoever work his God laid upon him to do. Justly remarks Matthew Henry, that the habit showed "how little he loved his ease, how much he loved his business, and what care and pains he was willing to take in it."
There is one instance of early rising recorded in Genesis, which has always touched us with a peculiar feeling of admiration. It was probably in a vision of the night that " God did tempt Abraham," and that his ears heard the command, "Take now thy son, thine only son, Isaac, whom thou lovest, and offer him for a burnt offering." And when daylight appears there is no hesitation, no lingering before performance of the dread command. "Abraham rose up early in the morning," and prepared to obey. What mighty faith nerved the patriarch to this prompt fulfilment of the Divine order, which seemed to rend his home and his heart in twain! Truly is he the father of all them that believe, as possessing that excellent grace in tenfold measure. But this was not the only occasion on which we read of Abraham's early rising. He was in the habit of communing with his God while other men slept. On the fated day when Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown, " Abraham gat him up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord." Was it to renew his pleadings for the doomed cities? If so, his eyes were stricken with a sight which quenched the prayer for ever. The heavens rained fire instead of water, and the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. While luxury and profligacy, after a night of wickedness, purposed a day of sloth, the Avenger came forth with the dawn-light, and destroyed the accursed cities for ever.
Job was another who devoted the beginning of the day to worship. He "rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number" of all his children; "for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually." We know an aged Christian woman who did similarly, and rose hours before her family in the morning, for the purpose of pouring out intercessory prayer on their behalf, and putting her God "in remembrance" of the one great sacrifice once offered, to which she trusted for their redemption. Gradually child after child was called into the fold: who shall say it was not in answer to those fervent morning supplications?
Surely there can be no time like this for prayer. David found it so when he said, "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord: in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up." "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High! to show forth thy loving-kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night." It is recorded of Bishop Ken, who has given our English tongue an immortal morning hymn, that he used to rise immediately on awaking, and begin his devotions by a solemn psalm of praise sung to his lute. Observe the beautiful distinction between the engagements of morning and evening: God's loving-kindness when the day begins, — God's proved faithfulness to his promises when the day ends, and the soul has experienced His love through all its hours.
With reverence also we may refer to the life of the Saviour. "In the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." For ever hallowed should be our early hours to prayer by such a forerunner. And not only in prayer but in action did the Divine Master in this respect set us an example. Having spent the night at the Mount of Olives, "early in the morning He came again into the Temple," and taught the people. At daybreak he called unto Him His disciples, and of these chose twelve apostles. In this particular of conduct, as in others, even Christ pleased not Himself, and taught us not to be self-pleasers any more than self-seekers. But the trivial indulgence in "a little more sleep, a little more slnmber, a little more folding of the hands to sleep," may bar many a believer from the supplies of grace and strength he might obtain in an early period of prayer. Well says the earnest Mr. Law: "Self-denial of all kinds is the life and soul of piety; but he that hath not so much of it as to be early at prayer cannot think that he has taken up his cross, and is following Christ. What conquest has he got over himself? What right hand has he cut off, what trials is he prepared for? What sacrifice is he ready to offer to God, who cannot be so cruel to himself as to rise to prayer at such a time as the drudging part of the world are content to rise to their labour?" It really seems irony to talk of getting up early being a cross. Would we count it a hardship to seek an interview with a person we dearly loved, at the sacrifice of an hour's sleep? He can have little love for Jesus who is not willing to meet Him at the mercyseat, even before day, if he have no other time for prayer.
It is told in Sir Henry Havelock's "Life," how that he always secured two hours for devotion before the business of the day began, even in his busiest times, by rising at five or four, as required. No wonder that his soul grew in stature, and in favour both with God and man. Colonel Gardiner had the same habit. Early rising for the objects of this world is usual enough, and much to be commended; but the same industry that will advance a man's temporal interests will make him spiritually rich, and give him great treasure in heaven, if it be used towards God. Many a one has had to lament the declension in religion produced by a neglect of the daily duties of devotion, with sloth as the origin of all. Late rising in the morning, rapid dressing, curtailing even the few moments allotted to thanksgiving and prayer before the plunge into the world's affairs, deafens our ears and hearts to things spiritual; we exchange an interview with our God, who can give us all good, for the miserable gratification of indolence.
The practice of good and great tnen need scarcely be adduced. John Milton writes of himself that he was at his studies "in winter often ere the sound of any bell awake men to labour or to devotion; in summer, as oft with the bird that first rouses, or not much tardier, to read good authors till attention be weary, or memory have its full fraught; then with useful and generous labours, preserving the body's health and hardiness." Sir Thomas More completed his "Utopia" by time stolen from sleep and meals, making it his invariable habit to rise at four; and in his ideally perfect commonwealth he makes the Utopians attend public lectures each morning before daybreak. Bishop Home composed his commentary on the Psalms during early hours won from sleep. Bishop Burnet accomplished his many literary labours by rising at four. Dr. Doddridge attributes his own success to the same source. Paley writes of his college life: "I spent the first two years of my undergraduateship happily, but unprofitably. I was constantly in idle and expensive society. At the commencement of my third year, however, after having left the usual party at rather a late hour in the evening, I was awakened at five in the morning by one of my companions, who stood at my bedside and said, 'Paley, I have been thinking what a fool you are. I could do nothing, probably, if I were to try, and can afford the life I lead: you could do everything, and cannot afford it. I have had no sleep on account of these reflections, and am come now solemnly to inform you, that if you persist in your indolence I must renounce your society.'" Thenceforward Dr. Paley rose at five, and continued the practice through life; thus laying the foundation of his eminence as an author who has done good service to the cause of truth.
In Wesley's journals he repeatedly ascribes his own health and prolonged life to the practice of rising at four. When seventy-eight years old he writes: "By the blessing of God, I am just the same as when I ended my twenty-eighth year. This hath God wrought, chiefly by my constant exercise, rising early, and preaching morning and evening." In his eighty-second year he states that eleven years had passed since he felt any such thing as weariness. His directions to his itinerants are most stringent as to daily preaching at five in the morning. He calls this " the glory of the Methodists," and adds, " Rising early is equally good for the soul and the body. It helps the nerves better than a thousand medicines; and in particular preserves the sight, and prevents lowness of spirits more than can well be imagined." He wrote a