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shall I go from thy Spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, thou art there," &c. This thought, by being frequent, will make an habitual dread and reverence towards God, and fear in all thy actions. For it is a great necessity and engagement to do unblamably, when we act before the Judge, who is infallible in his sentence, all-knowing in his information, severe in his anger, powerful in his providence, and intolerable in his wrath and indignation.
2. In the beginning of actions of religion, make an act of adoration, that is, solemnly worship God, and place thyself in God's presence, and behold him with the eye of faith; and let thy desires actually fix on him, as the object of thy worship, and the reason of thy hope, and the fountain of thy blessing. For when thou hast placed thyself before him, and kneelest in his presence, it is most likely, all the following parts of thy devotion will be answerable to the wisdom of such an apprehension, and the glory of such a presence.
3. Let every thing you see, represent to your spirit the presence, the excellency, and the power of God; and let your conversation with the creatures lead you unto the Creator; for so shall your actions be done, more frequently, with an actual eye to God's presence, by your often seeing him in the glass of the creation. In the face of the sun, you may see God's beauty; in the fire, you may feel his heat warming; in the water, his gentleness to refresh you: he it is, that comforts your spirit, when you have taken cordials: it is the dew of heaven, that makes your field give you bread; and the breasts of God are the bottles, that minister drink to your necessities. This philosophy, which is obvious to every man's experience, is a good advantage to our piety; and, by this act of understanding, our wills are checked from violence and misdemeanour.
4. In your retirement, make frequent colloquies, or short discoursings, between God and thy own soul. "Seven times a day do I praise thee: and, in the night season also, I thought upon thee, while I was waking." So did David; and every act of complaint or thanksgiving, every act of rejoicing or of mourning, every petition and every return of the heart in
h Boeth. 1, v. de Consol,
these intercourses, is a going to God, an appearing in his presence, and a representing him present to thy spirit and to thy necessity. And this was, long since, by a spiritual person called, " a building to God a chapel in our heart." It reconciles Martha's employment with Mary's devotion, charity and religion, the necessities of our calling and the employments of devotion. For thus, in the midst of the works of your trade, you may retire into your chapel, your heart; and converse with God by frequent addresses and returns.
5. Represent and offer to God" acts of love and fear;" which are the proper effects of this apprehension, and the proper exercise of this consideration. For, as God is every where present by his power, he calls for reverence and godly fear as he is present to thee in all thy needs, and relieves them, he deserves thy love: and since, in every accident of our lives, we find one or other of these apparent, and, in most things, we see both, it is a proper and proportionate return, that to every such demonstration of God, we express ourselves sensible of it, by admiring the Divine goodness, or trembling at his presence; ever obeying him, because we love him, and ever obeying him, because we fear to offend him. This is that which Enoch did, who thus "walked with God."
6. Let us remember, that God is in us, and that we are in him: we are his workmanship, let us not deface it; we are in his presence, let us not pollute it by unholy and impure actions. God hath" also wrought all our works in us1;" and because he rejoices in his own works, if we defile them, and make them unpleasant to him, we walk perversely with God, and he will walk crookedly towards us.
7. "God is in the bowels of thy brother;" refresh them, when he needs it, and then you give your alms in the presence of God, and to God; and he feels the relief which thou providest for thy brother.
8. God is in every place: suppose it therefore to be a church and that decency of deportment and piety of carriage, which you are taught, by religion, or by custom, or by civility and public manners, to use in churches, the same use in all places: with this difference only, that, in churches, let your deportment be religious in external forms and circum
i Isa. xxvi. 12.
stances also; but there and every where, let it be religious in abstaining from spiritual indecencies, and in readiness to do good actions: that it may not be said of us, as God once complained of his people, "Why hath my beloved done wickedness in my house?"
9. God is in every creature: be cruel towards none, neither abuse any by intemperance. Remember, that the creatures, and every member of thy own body, is one of the lesser cabinets and receptacles of God. They are such, which God hath blessed with his presence, hallowed by his touch, and separated from unholy use, by making them to belong to his dwelling.
10. He walks as in the presence of God, that converses with him in frequent prayer and frequent communion; that runs to him in all his necessities, that asks counsel of him in all his doubtings; that opens all his wants to him; that weeps before him for his sins; that asks remedy and support for his weakness; that fears him as a judge; reverences him as a lord; obeys him as a father; and loves him as a patron.
The benefits of this exercise.
The benefits of this consideration and exercise being universal upon all the parts of piety, I shall less need to specify any particulars; but yet, most properly, this exercise of considering the Divine presence is, 1. an excellent help to prayer, producing in us reverence and awfulness to the Divine Majesty of God, and actual devotion in our offices. 2. It produces a confidence in God, and fearlessness of our enemies, patience in trouble, and hope of remedy; since God is so nigh in all our sad accidents, he is a disposer of the hearts of men and the events of things; he proportions out our trials, and supplies us with remedy, and, where his rod strikes us, his staff supports us. To which we may add this; that God, who is always with us, is especially, by promise, with us in tribulation, to turn the misery into a mercy, and that our greatest trouble may become our advantage, by entitling us to a new manner of the Divine presence. 3. It is apt to produce joy and rejoicing in God, we being more apt to delight
Jer. xi. 15. secun. vulg. edit.
in the partners and witnesses of our conversation; every degree of mutual abiding and conversing being a relation and an endearment: we are of the same household with God; he is with us in our natural actions, to preserve us; in our recreations, to restrain us; in our public actions to applaud or reprove us; in our private, to observe us: in our sleeps, to watch by us; in our watchings, to refresh us: and if we walk with God in all his ways, as he walks with us in all ours, we shall find perpetual reasons to enable us to keep that rule of God, Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice." And this puts me in mind of a saying of an old religious person', "There is one way of overcoming our ghostly enemies; spiritual mirth, and a perpetual bearing of God in our minds.” This effectively resists the devil, and suffers us to receive no hurt from him. 4. This exercise is apt also to enkindle holy desires of the enjoyment of God, because it produces joy, when we do enjoy him; the same desires that a weak man hath for a defender; the sick man for a physician; the poor, for a patron; the child, for his father; the espoused lover, for her betrothed. 5. From the same fountain are apt to issue humility of spirit, apprehensions of our great distance and our great needs, our daily wants and hourly supplies, admiration of God's unspeakable mercies: it is the cause of great modesty and decency in our actions; it helps to recollection of mind, and restrains the scatterings and looseness of wandering thoughts; it establishes the heart in good purposes, and leadeth on to perseverance; it gains purity and perfection (according to the saying of God to Abraham, "walk before me, and be perfect,") holy fear, and holy love, and indeed every thing that pertains to holy living: when we see ourselves placed in the eye of God, who sets us on work and will reward us plenteously, to serve him with an eye-service is very pleasing; for he also sees the heart; and the want of this consideration was declared to be the cause, why Israel sinned so grievously, "for they say, The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not ".” “ therefore the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness "." What a child would do, in the eye of his father; and a pupil, before his tutor; and a wife, in the presence of her husband; and a servant, in
In vita S. Anthon. m Psal. x. 11. n Ezek. ix. 9.
the sight of his master; let us always do the same for we are made a spectacle to God, to angels, and to men; we are always in the sight and presence of the all-seeing and almighty God, who also is to us a father and a guardian, a husband and a lord.
Prayers and devotions, according to the religion and purposes of the foregoing considerations.
For grace to spend our time well.
O eternal God, who, from all eternity, dost behold and love thy own glories and perfections infinite, and hast created me to do the work of God after the manner of men, and to serve thee in this generation, and according to my capacities; give me thy grace, that I may be a curious and prudent spender of my time, so as I may best prevent, or resist, all temptation, and be profitable to the Christian commonwealth, and, by discharging all my duty, may glorify thy name. Take from me all slothfulness, and give me a diligent and an active spirit, and wisdom to choose my employment; that I may do works proportionable to my person, and to the dignity of a Christian, and may fill up all the spaces of my time with actions of religion and charity; that, when the devil assaults me, he may not find me idle; and my dearest Lord, at his sudden coming, may find me busy in lawful, necessary, and pious actions; improving my talent entrusted to me by thee, my Lord; that I may enter into the joy of my Lord, to partake of his eternal felicities, even for thy mercy's sake, and for my dearest Saviour's sake. Amen.
Here follows the devotion of ordinary days; for the right employment of those portions of time, which every day must allow for religion.
The first Prayers in the morning, as soon as we are dressed. Humbly and reverently compose yourself, with heart lift-up to God, and your head bowed, and meekly kneeling upon your knees, say the Lord's Prayer: after which, use the following collects, or as many of them as you shall choose
"Our Father which art in heaven," &c.