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sermon on the "Duty and Advantage of Early Rising." A passage from it is as follows: "One common effect of either sleeping too long, or lying too long in bed, is weakness of sight, particularly that weakness which is of the nervous kind. When I was young my sight was remarkably weak. Why is it stronger now than it was forty years ago? I impute this principally to the blessing of God, who fits us for whatever he calls us to; but undoubtedly the outward mean which he has been pleased to bless was the rising early every morning."
In presenting these Scriptural examples and historical illustrations of the benefits of early rising, it need scarcely be mentioned that the same habits do not suit all climates, all constitutions, all circumstances of life. Neither is there any merit in the mere act or habit of early rising. This may be done by the worldly for their own ends; and it is said even of the wicked (Job xxiv. 5), "Behold, as wild asses in the desert go they forth to their work, rising betimes for a prey." In all actions the motive is what is to be taken into account. Honest work, diligent study, or pious devotion, these are motives which make early rising praiseworthy.
It ought to be considered as a branch of temperance,—of that "bringing the body under, and keeping it in subjection," which is the Christian's duty. If it be a sacrifice to rescue early hours from sloth, it is a sacrifice due to Him who has bought us with a price, and our time as well as our souls belongs to our Redeemer.
As with all virtuous habits, so with this, our God has linked health and enjoyment. Reward comes assuredly after the effort. Philosophers and poets have set it forth in numberless writings. Long life is promoted by the habit, and what will not most people give for long life? Anything, save the gratification of the moment.
"For is there aught in sleep can charm the wise?
Or else to feverish vanity alive,
And again :—
"Oh, how canst thou renounce the boundless store
Of charms which nature to her votary yields?
The warbling woodland, the resounding shore,
The pomp of groves, and garniture of fields;
All that the genial ray of morning gilds . . .
The physician has taken a more practical view, and written with Dr. Cheyne: "Nothing can be more prejudicial to tender constitutions and studious or contemplative persons than lying long in bed after one is distinctly awake, or has slept a reasonable time." And with Dr. Philip to the weakly: "Getting up an hour or two earlier often gives a degree of vigour which nothing else can procure. Lying late is not only hurtful by the relaxation it occasions, but also by occupying that time of day at which exercise is most beneficial."
Surely every motive has been assembled by the advocates of early rising. To the Christian the most powerful will be —" Redeeming the time :"—" Be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience now inherit the promises." He will imitate the sweet Psalmist of Israel, whose great prayer-time was in the morning: "I prevented the dawning, and cried: I hoped in Thy word." He will literally apply the words of Jesus: "I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work." Even a heathen could say: "It is the most culpable death, to have life and not to use it." The Christian will seek to save its smallest portions, and even to deny himself, that from such may be woven some worthy work for his God.
Few of the characters of Scripture but have this excellence noted in connection with some of their deeds. Isaac made at early morning his treaty with the Philistine king. Moses at the same hour brought the Divine messages to Pharaoh. Samuel had then his meetings with Saul. Nehemiah laboured "from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared." The prophet Jeremiah declares that, "from the thirteenth year of Josiah unto this day in the three-and-twentieth year, the word of the Lord hath come unto me, and I have spoken, rising early and speaking." It was the seal of his earnestness. Such are some of the ensamples set forth for our instruction. The subject is trite, but not the less important. Let any of us who have hitherto sinned by sloth considei our ways, and what our God would have us do.
We cannot close this paper better than with the noble lines of the old rhymester, Henry Vaughan :—
"When first thine eyes unveil, give thy soul leave
The spirit's duty; true hearts spread and heave
Give him thy first thoughts then, so shalt thou keep
His company all day, and in him sleep.
Yet never sleep the sun up: prayer should
'Twixt heaven and us: the manna was not good
Rise to prevent the sun: sleep doth sins glut,
And heaven's gate opens when the world's is shut.
Serve God before the world: let him not go
Until thou hast a blessing: then resign
Prevailed by wrestling ere the sun did shine:
Mornings are mysteries: the first world's youth,
Shroud in their births: the Crown of life, light, truth,
Three blessings wait upon them, two of which
Should move,—they make us holy, happy, rich."
1 Gen. xxviii. 18. 3 Rev. xxii. 16.
Jo many in the town it was the most surprising thing in the world how Mrs. Herbert and her children managed to get a living. True, she was young and very industrious; but when so many were in scanty clothing and in want of food, though they worked very hard from morning till night, that she and her four little ones should always appear in church respectably dressed and never be heard to complain, perplexed a great many. It was no perplexity however to those who believed in the goodness of Him who is the Father of the fatherless and the Husband of the widow.
Her husband had simply been a clerk in a country post office, and he worked very hard for very small wages. He was one of the most "willing" men in the town, and was always ready to do any one a kindness. Many a family trouble was lightened by his sympathy, and slender though his salary was, he had a shilling to spare in times of heavy distress for a poor neighbour who was in need. His voice was often heard in the prayer-meetings, and by the beds of the dying. He took a deep interest in the instruction of the young, and in the reformation of the profane and intemperate. In a quiet way Stephen Herbert was an influence for good in the town by speech and life.
For six happy years he and his wife had inhabited a modest little cottage, rejoicing in each other's society, and looking forward with hope to the education of their children in the ways of godliness. Then, suddenly, came a severe illness, and the diligent clerk was no longer seen entering the office true as the clock. A tearing cough set in, which ended in consumption, and in a few days all who entered his dying chamber saw that the conflict with the last enemy was approaching. I visited him many times in his brief and painful illness to comfort him with the consolations of the gospel; and I have never seen a young man in dying circumstances whose faith was firmer at the same time that his heart fondly