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Shine on me, Lord! new life impart;
Isaac Watts, D.D.
SUMMER EVENING. How fine has the day been ! how bright was the sun! How lovely and joyful the course that he run! Though he rose in a mist, when his race he begun,
And there follow'd some droppings of rain : But now, the fair trav’ller is come to the west, His rays are all gold, and his beauties are best ; He paints the sky gay, as he sinks to his rest,
And foretells a bright rising again.
Just such is the Christian :-his course he begins,
And travels his heavenly way:
Of rising in brighter array.
Rev. William Law, M.A.
(FROM HIS “ SERIOUS CALL TO A DEVOUT AND HOLY
EARLY RISING. I take it for granted, that every Christian, who is in health, is up early in the morning : for it is much more reasonable to suppose a person up early because he is a Christian, than because he is a labourer, or a tradesman, or a servant, or has business that wants him.
We naturally conceive some abhorrence of a man that is in bed, when he should be at his labour or in his shop. We cannot tell how to think any thing good of him who is such a slave to drowsiness, as to neglect his business for it.
Let this, therefore, teach us to conceive how odious we must appear in the sight of Heaven, if we are in bed, shut up in sleep and darkness, when we should be praising God, and are such slaves to drowsiness as to neglect our devotions for it.
For if he is to be blamed as a slothful drone, that rather chooses the lazy indulgence of sleep, than to perform his proper share of worldly business ; how much is he to be reproached, that had rather lie
folded up in a bed, than be raising up his heart to God, in acts of praise and adoration!
Prayer is the nearest approach to God, and the highest enjoyment of him, that we are capable of, in this life.
It is the noblest exercise of the soul, the most exalted use of our best faculties, and the highest estimation of the blessed inhabitants of heaven.
When our hearts are full of God, sending up holy desires to the Throne of Grace, we are then in our highest state ;-we are upon the utmost heights of human greatness ; — we are not before kings and princes, but in the presence and audience of the Lord of all the world; and can be no higher, till death is swallowed up in glory.
On the other hand, sleep is the poorest, dullest refreshment of the body; that is so far from being intended as an enjoyment, that we are forced to receive it either in a state of insensibility or in the folly of dreams.
Sleep is such a dull, stupid state of existence, that, even amongst mere animals, we despise them most which are most drowsy. He, therefore, that chooses to enlarge the slothful indulgence of sleep, rather than be early at his devotions to God, chooses the dullest refreshment of the body, before the highest, noblest employment of the soul: he chooses that state, which is a reproach to mere animals, rather than that exercise, which is the glory of angels.
You will perhaps say, though you rise late, yet
you are always careful of your devotions when you are up.
It may be so. But what then? Is it well done of you, to rise late, because you pray when you are up? Is it pardonable to waste great part of the day in bed, because, some time after, you say your prayers ?
It is as much your duty to rise to pray, as to pray when you are risen. And, if you are late at your prayers, you offer to God the prayers of an idle, slothful worshipper, that rises to prayers as idle servants rise to their labour.
Further, if you fancy that you are careful of your devotions when you are up, though it be your custom to rise late, you deceive yourself; for you cannot perform your devotions as you ought. For he that cannot deny himself this drowsy indulgence, but must pass away good part of the morning in it, is no more prepared for prayer when he is up, than he is prepared for fasting, abstinence, or any other self-denial. He may, indeed, more easily read over a form of prayer, than he can perform these duties; but he is no more disposed to enter into the true spirit of prayer, than he is disposed to fasting. For sleep, thus indulged, gives a softness and idleness to all our temper; and makes us unable to relish any thing, but what suits with an idle state of mind, and gratifies our natural tempers as sleep does. So that a person that is a slave to this idleness, is in the same temper when he is up: and though he is not asleep, yet he is under the effects of it; and every thing that