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rience, and gifts do not pledge the existence of Thus it is said, Cromwell having asked a minister, grace. John does not say, we know that we have “What was the lowest evidence of regeneration, passed from death to life because we can prophesy said, on receiving an answer, “ Then I am safe.” or speak with new tongues, but “ because we love And yet there are moments of gloom and depresthe brethren."
sion, in which the question must be—not have I When, however, we speak of this confidence, a much grace? but have I any? When the house is little explanatory caution may be necessary. Peo- on fire, the tradesman does not think of taking ple often call it, the full assurance of faith. This stock; his only concern then is to save. is indeed a scriptural expression, but it occurs only It is a good evidence in your favor, if you value once; and then it is used to denote, not a certainty the thing; and while the multitude ask, "Who will of appropriation and experience, but a full persua- show us any good ?" can say-One good only can sion of our being allowed, by the new and living serve my purpose; and the language of the Aposway which he has consecrated, to enter the pre- tle, and of the martyr, is not too strong for mesence of God in prayer, and partake of all the bless- "None but Christ, none but Christ!"
" That I ings of his salvation. There is, therefore, an ex- may know him, and the power of his resurrection, pression we prefer to this—it is "the full assurance and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made of hope." Our present confidence is the confidence conformable unto his death.” “Blessed are they of hope, and of hope only. This hope may be con- that hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they sidered in a state of conflict with doubts and fears; shall be filled.” or in a state of victory and triumph over them: in It is a token for good, when you feel much concern the one case, there will be anxiety and uneasiness; and anxiety about this state. It has been said, that in the other, joy and repose; but the degree does it is easy to believe what we wish; but Paley renot alter the nature of the thing itself.
marks that the experience of every man gives the On what, then, is this confidence founded ? lie to this maxiin. "We all know, that in proportion Dreams? Visions ? Voices in the air ? Sudden as we attach moment to a thing, and find our hapimpulses? Passages or promises accidentally pre- piness involved in it, we find it hard to persuade senied on opening the Bible ? and applied, regard- ourselves that we have a firm hold of it; we are less of the connection from which they are taken, alive and awake to every supposition of uncertainor the characters of those by whom they are adopt- ty; we still want stronger proof and confirmation. ed? On what strange, whát dubious, what unau- Does the miser feel it easy to believe that his mothorized evidences, do some rest their eternal hope! ney, the god of his idolatry, is safe? A mother “To the law and to the testimony. If they speak hears that the vessel is wrecked on a foreign shore, not according to this word, it is because there is no bul that her son is rescued from the deep. There light in them."
is nothing in the world she so much desires to be All the errors, however, in judging ourselves, are true: yet is it easy for her to banish her solicitude not on one side. There are mistakes on the right and doubt? She will peruse every document; and hand as well as on the left: and though they are not examine every witness; and scarcely be able to so dangerous, they may be distressing and even in think he is living, till she presses him in her arms. jurious; and therefore we must guard against them. Now we may reason from the less to the greater. A
In deciding your condition, you should not make man who feels the infinite importance attached to the experience of others too much the standard of the soul and eternity, will always find it difficult to your judgment; for though, as in water, face an- consider himself a child of God, and an heir of swereth to face, so the heart of man to man; yet, glory; and will never cease saying, "Give me a along with a general conformity, there is frequent- token for good, that I may rejoice in thee. Say ly much difference, especially in the degree and unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” Smoke is not duration of those spiritual exercises which com- fire, yet there is no smoke where there is no firemonly precede the joy of God's salvation, and at- doubts and fears are not faith, but they are gendertend the part of divine doctrine that first seizes our ed by it. attention.
They who are united to Christ are characterized Neither should you be too minute in your in- by the change which they have experienced. This quiries. The blind man, who was not able to an change is not only real, but entire-entire, not in swer every question pertaining to his case, could the degree, but extent. It is complete in nothing; yet say, "One thing I know: whereas I was blind, but it is begun in all the Christian's views, and sennow I see.”. A man may be sure of his natural timents, and dispositions, and dependence, and taste, life, though he knows not when it commenced; and and motives, and pursuits. Hence, says the Aposbe actually possessed the boon, long before he was tle, " If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: able to prove it to himself, though he always old things are passed away; behold, all things are evinced it to others. What we have to look after become new. should be influences and effects; and these may be They are also distinguished by the principle which undeniable, without the knowledge of the time, the governs them. Hence we read, "" They that are in means, and the manner of their production. A Christ Jesus walk not after the flesh, but after the slow and gradual operation is less striking than a Spirit.”. The former will excite as well as the sudden and instantaneous; but the increase of the latter; but they do not yield to it: and his servants coro sown, is as real, and as divine too, as the mul- ye are, whom ye obey. The one is opposed, the tiplication of the barley loaves, in the gospel. other is encouraged. The one enters into the mind
When we are deciding our Christian state, we by fraud or force like a robber, producing alarm should not try ourselves by attainments. The real and misery, and allowing of no peace till he is exity of divine grace is one thing; the degree is an- pelled. The other is invited; and when he comes, other. We may be of the same species with a fel- is welcomed and entertained as a friend. “They low-creature, though not of the same stature: and that are after the flesh do mind the things of the though not equally advancing, we may be in the fesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things same way. This I know is liable to some abuse; of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, and we are always afraid, when we thus speak, lest but to be spiritually minded is peace. Because the people should avail themselves of it, " to settle," as carnal mind is enn against God: for it is not the Scripture has it," upon their lees;" or in other subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. words, to be content with a hope of their safety, So then they that are in the nesh, cannot please while they are careless of religions progression. | Gud. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit,
if the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now ji any concern. You cannot be happy too soon; and while man have not the Spirit of God, he is none of you hesitate and linger, the opportunity may be irhis.”
recoverably lost. Therefore,“ Seek ye the Lord And this leads us to remark, that all they who while he may be found; and call upon him while are in him resemble him. “He that saith he dwell- he is near.” And for your encouragement, be pereth in him ought himself also to walk, even as he suaded that you will not, cannot seek him in vain. walked.” Not only gratitude and consistency re- All things are now ready. Rise, he calleth theequire this, but evidence. "If,” says the holy Sa- and says, “ Him that cometh unto me, I will in no viour, “I wash thee not, thou hast no part with wise cast out." me." There must be likeness in order to fellow How ought we to conduct ourselves towards those ship. “For what fellowship hath righteousness that are in Christ? Surely, if they have liule of with unrighteousness, and what communion bath earthly distinction, they should be judged of by their light with darkness? Or what concord hath Christ treasure in heaven. Whatever they are in themwith Belial ?" Christ and Christians are not like selves, their destination, their rank, their relation, Nebuchadnezzar's statue: the head of which was should ensure them respect. They are to be valued of gold, while the subordinate parts were of infe- for his sake with whom they are one; and shall be rior metal, down to the feet which were partly iron one for ever. In consequence of this union, if we and partly clay. “He that sanctifieth, and they slight and injure them, he feels it as if done to himwho are sanctified, are all of one.” He is a par- self: "He that touches them, touches the apple of laker of their nature; and they are the partakers his eye." In the same way, he regards our attenof his. They are not of the world even as he is not lions and kindnesses to them, as if they were favors of the world. They have the same mind which conferred upon himself: “Inasmuch as ye did it unto was also in Christ Jesus: a sameness of sentiment one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto and feeling; a oneness of heart and soul-" he that me." is joined to the Lord, is one spirit.”
Finally. How ought they that are in Christ to Men and brethren- Are you in Christ?
conduct themselves? How cheerfully, how gratePerhaps you have never yet asked yourselves fully ought you to feel! Once far off, and now this question. You have been careful of your pro- nigh! Önce strangers and enemies, and now felperty; and every legal doubt has led you to call low-citizens with the saints, and of the household in the lawyer. You have been anxious for your of God! Once having nothing, and now possesscharacter, and every whisper of slander has led ing all things! You have had much forgiven-you you to vindicate your reputation. You have been should love much. He has done great things for all alive to your health, and every symptom of dis-you-you should largely inquire what you can do ease has instantly led you to consult the physician. for him; and,“ by the mercies of God, present your But to this very hour-and you know it--to this body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which very hour-never once in your lives have you re- is your reasonable service." O you who live by tired, and seriously asked yourselves-Am I in this Saviour, make him known. Recommend him. Christ? And yet you acknowledge that your eter-Begin with your own family. You are concerned nal happiness depends upon it, and that this life to provide for your children. But how is your love is your only opportunity io attain it, and that this operating? Is it not in laying up for them treaseason is not only short but uncertain, and that sure on earth ? or seeking great things for them in "in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man the world ? It would be infinitely better to leave cometh!" Yet you call yourselves rational crea- them in Christ, than to leave them with thousands tures! Yet you allow that “a prudent man fore- of gold and silver; or to leave them with kings seeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple upon the throne. Forget not your friends and your pass on and are punished !"
neighbors. Hold forth the Word of Life impressMy dear hearers-You admire one and another ively and invitingly to all around you. Teach of your fellow-creatures, and think how happy you transgressors bis ways, and let sinners be converted should feel if you could make their advantages unto him. What says the poet ? your own. And what are these advantages? Are “O'tis a Godlike privilege to save; they not things that perish in the using? that afford
And he that scorns it is himself a slave. no satisfaction in the enjoyment ? that profit not in Inform the mind: one beam of heavenly day the day of wrath? that cannot deliver from death? And are these the things for which you envy men
Will heal the heart, and melt his chains away." of the world, who have their portion in this life? Is
What says the Apostle? "If a man err from the it not time, especially for some of you, to grow truth, and one convert him, let him know that he wiser; and to form your estimates by the judgment which converteth a sinner' from the error of his of God which is always according to truth!'"Search ways, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide the Scriptures.” There you will find that they, and a multitude of sins." Amen. they alone, are wise, and safe, and happy, who can say, to the praise of the glory of his grace, we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given
LECTURE II. us an understanding, that we may know him that is
THE CHRISTIAN, IN THE CLOSET. true: and we are in him that is true; even in his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eter
"Enter into thy closet.”—Matthew vi. 6. nal life.” Envy these—not by grudging them their The curiosity and attention of men are awakened blessedness, but by longing for a participation of it; by very different excitements, according to their and praying with one, who though a king himself, temper, and education, and habits in life ; and what yet overlooking all his earthly advantages, kneeled is despised by some as worthless, is studied by others and said, “Remember me, O Lord, with the favor with peculiar delight. thou bearest unto thy people: Oh, visit me with thy
But there is really a gradation in the value of obsalvation; that I may see the good of thy chosen, jects themselves. The works of art display great that I may rejoice in ihe gladness of thy nation, and skill and ingenuity; but the productions of nature glory with thine inheritance."
are much more deserving of our inspection ; witLet this be your concern-let it be your supreme ness the remark of our Saviour concerning the lilies concern—“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and of the field—“Solomon in all his glory was not arhis righteousness.” And let it be your immediate rayed like one of these." But the operations of
grace far surpass the results of nature: for they re-1 Our theme is very extensive. Let us detach from gard the soul and eternity, and display more of the four things. Let us review the Christian in his perfections of Deity. Therefore, says David, “Thou Retirement, with regard hast magnified thy word above all thy name:"
I. TO PLACE. Therefore, he himself says, “ Behold, I create new
II. TIME. heavens and a new earth : and the former shall not
III. ENGAGEMENT. be remembered, por come into mind."
IV MOTIVES. The subjects of divine grace, therefore, are the most interesting characters in our world. Many, I. With regard to PLACE. indeed, neglect and despise them; but there is one
Our Saviour says, “Enter into thy closet.” The class of persons, always dear to a minister of Christ, word signifies any retired apartment; and some who feel them the most powerfully attractive. They imagine that he employs a term of such latitude, are those who, roused to a sense of their danger, that we might have no excuse for omission, if we are exclaiming, “What must I do to be saved ?"- are unfurnished with a place appropriated more exwho, longing to return to him from whom they pressly to pious use. have revolted, are inquiring, “How shall I come
The connection requires this extension of meanbefore the Lord, and bow before the High God ?”– ing. Our Lord applies the word “closet” obviously who, bound for the glory to be revealed, are “ ask; in opposition to the corner of the street;" and in ing their way to Zion, with their faces thitherward.” distinction from the openness of the “ synagogue," If you are going a journey of great difficulty, and where persons could be " seen of men,” and for yet of unspeakable importance, and you were in which purpose these situations were chosen by the company with a multitude of individuals, he amongst Pharisees.' But He would have his disciples to them all who had travelled the road himself, would avoid all appearance of ostentation; and perform be the man of your preference; and you would en- their devotions where they would be concealed, undeavor to get near and converse with him. To a less from a witness in heaven. Yet if the end, which suffering patient, the most engaging person he could is privacy, can be answered, the place would be inmeet with, next to the physician--for none would different. bear a comparison with him-would be the man who had himself labored under the same complaint,
“Where'er we seek him he is found; and could tell of the manner in which the remedy is
And every place is holy ground.” applied; and whose own recovery would be a living "I will that men pray every where,” says the Apostle, voucher not only of its safety, but of its efficacy and lifting up holy hands, without wraib, and doubt
ing." God said to Ezekiel, “Go forth into the plain, In a series of discourses, to bring the CHRISTIAN and there I will talk with thee." Isaac made a before you, for your admiring and practical con- closet of the field. Daniel of the river-side, as well templation, last Lord's Day we viewed him In as of his chamber. Nathaniel, of the fig-tree. Peter, CHRIST: we are this morning to consider him of the house-top. IN THE Closet.
A variety here must be admitted, or the duty canWonder not, my brethren, that we bring forward bers are there who are unable to command a con
not be performed by many at all. For what numibis view of the Christian so early. By this he is venient room for religious engagement. This is a distinguished from the commencement of his religious concern. He soon turns aside from the vile and trying case: and especially to those who have been
accustomed to enjoy such an advantage. The ihe vain, and bewails himself alone. They cannot enter into his feelings now. They know nothing of preacher knew a pious female, who had been rea broken heart and a contrite spirit,
unless as a sub-duced from a mansion, and compelled to occupy a jeçt of wonder or contempt. He feels his sin to be hired and contracted apartment; yet nothing in the
humiliating and distressing change seemed to afa burden too heavy for him to bear, and longs for fect her, but her want now of a place of seclusion, ease; but the “wide world” cannot relieve him, in which to indulge her private devotion. For the cannot sympathise with him, cannot direct him to “the rest and the refreshing." All great sorrow fail not to give proof of their distinction : "They
peculiar people," even in common circumstances seeks solitude and secrecy: He sitteth alone, and
that are aster the flesh, do mind the things of the keepeth silence, because he hath borme it upon him; flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things be hope.". Did ever language describe the expe- the privilege of accommodation, be grateful for it, rience of the penitent so beautifully, so feelingly, as and use it well: and if you have not, remember the words of our heavenly bard?
your Heavenly Father knoweth it, and that where "I was a stricken deer, that left the herd
« there is first' a willing mind, a man is accepted Long since. With many an arrow deep infix'd
according to what he hath, and not according to My panting side was charged, when I withdrew what he hath not.” Be as retired as you can, since To seek a tranquil death in distant shades.
you cannot be so retired as you would ; and if your There was I found by one, who had himself
circumstances will not allow of your being hid, and Been hurt by the archers.' In his side he bore,
some of your family must witness your exercises, And in his hands and feet, the cruel scars.
be not afraid of opposing the Saviour's pleasure. With gentle force soliciting the darts,
Though you are seen of men, you are not seeking He drew them forth, and healed, and bade me live. to be seen by them. Since then
It is possible to retire mentally, even in company; With few associates, and not wishing more, and many an act of devotion is performed by the Here much I ruminate, as much I may,
Christian without the formality of the exercise, With other views of men and manners now
when he is busied in his ordinary concerns. NeThan once; and others of a life to come.”
hemiah worshipped secretly, without retirement; Yes, his chief business noro is with God; and this and, while, as a cup-bearer, he was performing his is not to be managed in a crowd; and this busi- / office in attending on the king, “prayed to the God ness continues and increases through life, abstrac- of heaven.” tion and retirement will always be desirable, always The Jews had their Prosenchæ, oratories, or necessary. His religion cannot flourish-cannot praying-houses, in secluded situations, by streams live without it.
of water, and in woods, and on the sides of moun-·
tains. The Scripture more than once refers to himself away from the delights of solitude, 10 ensuch places. In one of these it is probable our Sa- gage in services, far less pleasing, than lying down viour passed the night he spent in devotion; and in in these green pastures, and feeding beside these one of these Paul seems to have addressed his still waters. But self-indulgence, even when the hearers in the vicinage of Philippi. They were enjoyment is religious-must yield to the will of a pleasing and a wise provision; as persons could his Heavenly Father, as soon as it is known. here indulge themselves in private devotion when Retirement, however, should be frequent.
Yet, ever they were prompted by disposition and oppor- if you ask how frequent? I do not pretend abso tunity; and especially those who had scarcely any lutely to determine. The Scripture does not deother sacred retreat. We have not such accommo- cide: it was needless to decide-as needless as the dations: but Nature itself, during a large portion prescribing how often you should eat and drink. of the year, affords us advantages; and it is won Your wants will regulate the one; and your love derful that persons do not oftener avail themselves will regulate the other. Love is the Christian's of these interesting spots of retirement. We have grand principle; and love does not require to be known some who, whenever the season and the bound; it is ingenuous; it is urgent; it is contrivweather allowed, retired thus, to perform their ing; and will get, with all possible expedition, to morning and evening devotions. Instead of their its object. Besides, no rule can be laid down that minds being diverted, and their thoughts dissipated, will apply equally to all. There is a great differby the scenery, the works of God refreshed and ence in our conditions, and our callings. At differ. impressed them, and furnished them with excite- ent periods too, the Providence of God may vary ments and assistance. And there are those now our duties.
Thus good people formerly spent living, who, if ever they feel devout, feel it in a much more time alone, than the peculiarities of garden, or a field, or a' meadow. The bubbling the day in which we live, will allow us. It does spring; the apple-tree among the trees of the not follow that they had more piety than Christians wood; the rose of Sharon; the lily of the valley; now: their religion was more compressed, and the purple rising and the golden setting of the sun; flowed in a deeper channel; but that of modern aid their communion with him who is all in all
. Christians, though shallower, is more diffusive and The sowing of the grain; the blade; the ear; the rapid. They had not those openings for activities full corn in the ear; the mower filling his hand, abroad—those calls to extensive and manifold beneand the binder of sheaves his bosom; the husband | ficence and exertions, which the followers of Christ man and the gleaner-all these teach ibem to think now have. These, therefore, cannot gratify themand feel devoutly. They love the creatures of their selves by spending hours together in their loved God, and feel ihem their friends; and while the seclusion. They hear a thousand voices crying, herd grazes at their feet, and the sheep repose at * Come, and help us." They see that "the fields their side, and the lambs sport in sight, a voice are already white unto harvest:" they know that seems to say, “ Thou shall be in league with the the barvest is great;" that "the laborers are stones of the field; and the beasts of the field shall few;" that the season is short; that the weather be at peace with thee.” They hear God in the is uncertain ; and the consequences of negligence, breeze; they sing his praise in the note of the bird; not only incalculable, but remediless. they make every scene a book; every object a Christians, however, should get as much leisure preacher; every place a temple.
for the closet, as they are able. And in order to We only add, what an advantage is the omni- this, they should guard against the waste of time; presence of devotion, in that solitude which is not they should economize time; they should redeem chosen, but brought upon us by the necessity of cir. time from indecision and trifling, and especially cumstances; when lover and friend are put får (from the vile and wretched consumptions of unnefrom us by death, and the heart within us is deso- cessary sleep. David mentions three times a day; late; when travelling, and we droop in the loneli- "Evening and morning, and at noon will I pray, ness that is felt in the midst of strangers; when by and cry aloud.”. Daniel observed the same rule: distance or condition, our connections are beyond “He went into his house; and his windows being our reach, and we are inaccessible to them. Ah! opened in his chamber towards Jerusalem, he says Jonah, in the midst of the sea, "I will look | kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and again towards thy holy temple." "From the ends prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did of the earth,” says David, "will I cry unto thee, aforetime." "This was a custom much recommendwhen my heart is overwhelmed.” Cowper has not ed, and observed by many of our forefathers; they overlooked this consolation, in the language he has thought, and they wisely thought, that a few moput into the mouth of the lonely islander ments of retirement in the middle of the day, as "But the sea-fowl is gone to her nest,
well as morning and evening, tended to check The beast is laid down in his lair;
temptation and vanity, and to keep the mind in the E'en here is a season of rest,
things of God. But twice a day, at least, the Chris
tian will withdraw. Less than this will not surely And I to my cabin repair.
keep us " in the fear of the Lord all the day along" " There's mercy in every place,
—and for this, the morning and evening will be And mercy, encouraging thought! deemed the most suitable periods. Under the law, Gives every affliction a grace,
a lamb was offered every morning and every evenAnd reconciles man to his lot."
ing. How much is there in each of these returnWe consider it,
ing seasons to excite and to impress! " It is a good II. With regard to TIME.
thing,” says the Psalmist, "to give thanks unto the
Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most When are we to enter our closet ? and how long High. To show forth thy loving kindness in the are we to remain there? You are not to be there morning, and thy faithfulness every night.” always. You will hear, as we proceed, that the As to the particular hour, this must be a matter Family, the Church, the World, have all claims of discretion: only it should be as early as possible upon you. Every duty has its season, in which both in the morning and evening, to avoid disturbalone it is beautiful and acceptable. “No duty," ance in the one, and drowsiness in the other. I will says Bishop Hopkins, “will be approved of God, put amusements out of the question. But if you that appears before him stained with the murder of return late from visiting, it is better to retire even another duty." Yea, a Christian sometimes forces late than not at all. Yet in many of these cases
would it not be preferable to retire a few moments, is better to peruse a paragraph with attention and before you go? Would you be less prepared for reflection, than carelessly and without observation, company? Would you be less safe? Would you to run over several chapters.--For, be less edifying ?
Secondly, He is engaged in Meditation. And, What may be done at any time, is often done at my brethren, it is desirable that you should employ no time: and while we have no plan or purpose, we your own powers; for you will be more affected are open to every casualty that may seize us, and and benefited by the efforts of your own minds, turn us aside. It is therefore necessary to have ap- than by the thoughts of others. The faculty will pointed seasons for retirement; and desirable to ad- be improved and increased by exercise; and canhere to them as invariably as we can.
not be acquired without it, any more than a inan There are also occasional and extraordinary calls can learn to swim by never entering the water. And to private devotion, when more than usual time surely you cannot be at a loss for subjects. If your should be allowed, that the mind may be affected reading does not supply you immediately with mawith the event, and obtain the peculiar assistance terials, there are the seasons of the year, the state the case requires. I should have a poor opinion of the world, the condition of your family, your of that Christian, who would not employ more than own individual circumstances, temporal and spiritcommon retirement, when going to change his resi- ual. Two subjects are always at hand-your own dence, his calling, his condition in life; or to take depravity and unworthiness, of which fresh proof any important step, the consequences of 'which may is given every day, and every hour; and—the love affect not only his comfort, but his conduct and cha- of Christ, which passeth knowledge." In his sufracter for ever. When Jacob was going to meet ferings and glory, the angels always find enough to his exasperated brother Esau, who was coming attract and engage their profoundest thoughts; and against him with four hundred men, he was found shall these be less interesting to you to whom alone wrestling with the angel. When our Saviour they are not only true, but important; not only was going to ordain his twelve Apostles, the day wonderful, but infinitely necessary? They are all following, “ He went out into a mountain to pray; your salvation; let them be all your desire: and and continued all night in prayer to God.” “And say, with David, “My meditation of him shall be when his hour of suffering was drawing near, we sweet.”—“My soul shall be satisfied as with marfind him in the Garden of Gethsemane, and retiring row and fatness, and my mouth shall praise thee three times even from his selected disciples, and with joyful lips, when I remember thee upon my praying. Let us,
bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches."III. Consider this retirement with regard to its how great is the sum of them! If I should count
How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God ! ENGAGEMENTS.
them, they are more in number than the sand. Many retire. But the tradesman retires to cast When I awake, I am still with thee.” Whatever up his accounts, and to plan his schemes; the the subject of your meditation may be, content not statesman, to enjoy his relaxations and ease; the yourselves with considering it generally and abphilosopher, to pursue his theories and experiments; stractedly; but take some particular view of it, and the poet, to rove among the aspects of nature, or to bring it home to yourselves. "Is the Lord thy porlose himself in creations of his own—and perhaps tion, o my soul? Dost thou hope in him? Art God is not in all their thoughts. So far from in- thori an heir of this promise? Dost thou stand in viting Him into their solitude, when they appre- the way of this threatening? Art thou living in hend his approach, they repel the impertinent in the performance or neglect of this duty ? Say not, truder; and say unto God, “ Depart from us; we and what shall this man do?' but; 'Lord, whai desire not the knowledge of thy ways.” But we wilt thou have me to do ?!" are speaking of religious retirement. The Chris Thirdly, He is employed there in Prayer. This tian withdraws for three purposes.
is the special design of it. This is what our SaFirst, He is engaged in reading. This enlarges viour here enjoins: “ Enter into thy closet; and his views, and impresses his mind, and furnishes when thou hast shut thy door, Pray." If ever you him with aids to devotion. But what does he pe- are at a loss to meditate, surely you can never be rose ? Principally the Scriptures. I say principal- at a loss to pray! How numberless are your wants ! ly, because other books may be occasionally read How much have you to implore for yourselves and to advantage, and we have a plenitude of excellent others! How much to confess at the foot of the works for the closet. Yet I confess, the Scriptures Cross! How much to call forth your thanksgivings alone appear to be the best reading in retirement, and praise ! And all this is included in Prayer. especially for the poor, and those who have little And the manner need not discourage you. For leisure. They are the fountain ; other books are here the excellency does not consist in the mode of streams; and streams are seldom entirely free from expression—the desire is all in all. “The sacrifices something of the quality of the soil through which of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite they flow. Who would not draw the water of life heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Even words for himself from the spring-head! The Scriptures are not necessary here. God reads deep meaning come immediately from God and lead immediately in the tear; and hears heavenly eloquence in the to bim! There is a boundless variety and fulness sighs of those that seek him: and often the most acin them. They are always new. They entertain, ceptable and successful intercession is made “with while they teach; and profit, while they please. groanings which cannot be uttered.” There is always something in them that bears upon These are the engagements of the Christian in own character and condition, however peculiar it his retired moments. But it is not necessary that he may be. “They are profitable for doctrine, for re- should perform all these exercises always; though proof, for correction, and for instruction in right- it is very desirable that they should be all included; eousness, that the man of God may be perfect, or that he should observe them precisely in the orthroughly furnished unto all good works.” I would der we have stated them. They may, sometimes, recommend, generally, a regular reading of the alternately precede each other; and they may somesacred volume: for every work of God is pure: times be intermingled. We have an instance of the and whatsoever things were written aforetime, blending together of these exercises in the retirewere written for our learning; that we, through ment of David, with the recital of which we shall patience and comfort of the Scripture, might have conclude this division of our discourse. For, as hope. But "let bim that readeth understand.” It | soon as Nathan had waited upon him, and had de