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honour, and so earnestly desire. I therefore make it my humble request unto thee, O Lord, this day, that thou wouldst graciously be pleased to instruct me in my duty, and to teach me the way which I should take. I'vamine me, O Lord, and prove me, try my reins and my heart”/ Is there any secret sin, to the love and practice of which I would indulge Is there any of thy precepts, in the habitual breach of which I would allow myself? I trust, I can appeal to thee as a witness, that there is not. Let me not then wrong mine own soul, by a causeless and sinful absence from thy sacred table! But grant, O Lord, I beseech thee, that thy word, thy providence, and thy spirit may so concur, as to make my way plain before met / Scatter my remaining doubts, if thou seest they have no just foundation! Fill me with a more assured faith, with a more ardent love: and plead thine own cause with my heart in such a manner, as that I may not be able any longer to delay that approach, which, if I am thy servant indeed, is equally my duty and my privilege! In the mean time, grant, that it may never be long out of my thoughts: but that I may give all diligence, if there be any remaining occasion of doubt, to remove it by a more affectionate concern to avoid whatever is displeasing to the eyes of thine holiness, and to practise the full extent of my duty! May the views of Christ crucified be so familiar to my mind, and may a sense of his dying love so powerfully constrain my soul, that my own growing experience may put it out of all question, that I am one of those for whom he intended this feast of love “And even now, as joined to thy churches in spirit and in love, though not in so express and intimate a bond as I could wish, would I heartily pray, that thy blessing may be on all thy people: that thou wouldst feed thine heritage, and lift them up for evert May every christian society flourish in knowledge, in holiness, and in love! May all thy priests be clothed with salvation, that by their means thy chosen people may be made joyfulS' And may there be a glorious accession to thy churches every where, of those who may fly to them as a cloud, and as doves to their windows || May thy table, O Lord, be furnished with guests" ; and may all that love thy salvation, say, let the Lord be magnified, who hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servants” . And I earnestly pray, that all who profess to have received Christ Jesus the Lord, may be duly careful to walk in him* ; and that we may be all preparing for the general assembly of the first-born, and may join in that nobler and more immediate Worship, where all these types and shadows shall be laid aside; where even these memorials shall be no longer necessary ; but a living, present Redeemer shall be the everlasting joy of those, who here in his absence have delighted to commemorate his death! Amen."
* Psal. xxvi. 2, #Prov. xv. 19. f Psal. xxviii. 9. § Psal. cxxxii. 16. Isa. lx. 8. * Matt. xxii. 10. ** Psal. xxxv.27.
N. B. I purposed to have added something here, concerning " a regular approach to the Lord's table," a proper " attendance upon it, and suitable reflections after it:" Hut I find this work swell under my hand, beyond what I at first expected; and therefore, as these articles have been handled by so many valuable writers, I chuse to refer to them, and particularly to " Dr. Earle's Sacramental Exercises," and " Mr. Grove's Devotional Exercises relating to the Lord's Supper:" Books which I think remarkably excellent in their kind, and which may be had at very easy rates. Yet for the farther assistance of devout communicants, I have some thoughts of publishing a small volume of " Sacramental Meditations on Select Texts of Scripture," if God spare'me to finish my "Exposition on the New Testament," and some other pieces, which I have now in hand.
Some more particular Directions for maintaining continual Communion with God, or being in his Fear all the Day long.
A Letter to a pious Friend on this Subject introduced here, §. 1. A general Plan of Directions, §. 2. [I.] For the beginning of the Day: §. 3. (I.) Lifting up the Heart to God at our first Awakening: §. 4. (2.) Setting ourselves to the secret Devotions of the Morning; with Respect to which particular Advices are given, §. 5—10. [II.] For the Progress of the Day: §. 11. Directions are given concerning, (1.) Seriousness in Devotion, §. 12. (2.) Diligence in Business, §. 13. (3.) Prudence in Becreations, §. 14. (4.) Observation of Providences, §. 15. (5.) Watchfulness against Temptations, §. 16. (6.) Dependence on Divine Influences, §. 17. (7.) Government of the Thoughts when in Solitude, §. IS. (S.) Management of Discourse in Company, §. 19. (III.) For the Conclusion of the Day: §. 20. (1.) With the secret Devotions of the Evening, §.21. Directions for Self-Examination at large, §. 22, 23. (2.) Lying down with a proper Temper, §. 24. Conclusion of the Letter, §. 25, and of the Chapter: §.26. With a serious View of Death, proper to be taken at the Close of the Day.
§. 1. JL WOULD hope, that upon serious consideration, selfexamination, and prayer, the reader may by this time be come to a resolution to attend the table of the Lord, and to seal his vows there. I will now suppose that solemn transaction to be
• Col. ii. fl.
over, or some other deliberate act to have passed by which he has given himself up to the service of God; and that his concern now is to enquire, how he may act according to the vows of God which are upon him. Now for his farther assistance here, besides the general view I have already given of the christian temper and character, I will propose some more particular directions, relating to maintaining that devout, spiritual, and heavenly character, which may in the language of scripture be called a daily walking with God, or being in his fear all the day long*. And I know not how I can express the idea and plan, which I have formed of this, in a more clear and distinct manner than I did in a letter, which I wrote many years agot to a young person of eminent piety, with whom I had then an intimate friendship ; and who, to the great grief of all that knew him, died a few months after he received it. Yet I hope he lived long enough to reduce the directions into practice, which I wish and pray that every reader may do, so far as they may properly suit his capacities and circumstances in life, considering it as if addressed to himself—I say, (and desire it may be observed,) that I wish my reader may act on these directions, so far as they may properly suit his capacities and circumstances in life; for I would be far from laying down the following particulars as universal rules for all, or for any one person in the world at all times. Let them be practised by those that are able, and when they have leisure : and when you cannot reach them all, come as near the most important of them as you conveniently can.—With this precaution I proceed to the letter, which I would hope, after this previous care to guard against the danger of mistaking it, will not discourage any the weakest christian. Let us humbly and cheerfully do our best, and rejoice that we have so gracious a father who knows all our infirmities, and so compassionate an high priest to recommend to divine acceptance the feeblest efforts of sincere duty and lovel
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Since you desire my thoughts in writing, and at large, on the subject of our late conversation, viz. “By what particular methods in our daily conduct, a life of devotion and usefulness may be most happily maintained and secured?” I set myself with cheerfulness, to recollect and digest the hints which I then gave you; hoping it may be of some service to you in your most important interest; and may also fix on my own mind a deeper
* Prov, xxiii, 17. + N. B. It was in the year 1727.
sense of my obligations to govern my own life by the rules I offer to others. I esteem attempts of this kind among the pleasantest fruits, and the surest cements of friendship, and as I hope ours will last for ever, I am persuaded z. mutual care to cherish sentiments of this kind wiU add everlasting endearments to it.
$. 2. The directions you will expect from me on this occasion, naturally divide themselves into three heads, how we are to regard God,—in the beginning,—the progress,—and the close of the day. I will open my heart freely to you with regard to each, and will leave you to judge how far these hints may suit your circumstances; aiming at least to keep between the extremes, of a superstitious strictness in trifles, and of an indolent remissness, which, if admitted in little things, may draw after it criminal neglects, and at length more criminal indulgences.
§. 3. [I.] In the beginning of the day: it should certainly be our care,—to lift up our hearts to God, as soon as we wake, and while we are rising!—and then, to set ourselves seriously and immediately to the secret devotions of the morning.
^. 4. For the first of these, it seems exceedingly natural. There are so many things that may suggest a great variety of pious reflections and ejaculations, which are so obvious, that one would think a serious man could hardly miss them. The ease and cheerfulness of our mind at our first awakening ; the refreshment we find from sleep; the security we have enjoyed in that defenceless state; the provision of warm and decent apparel; the cheerful light of the returning sun; or even (which is not unfit to mention to you,) the contrivances of art, taught and furnished by the great author of all our conveniences, to supply us with many useful hours of life in the absence of the sun ; the hope of returning to the dear society of our friends ; the prospect of spending another day, in the service of God, and the improvement of our own minds; and above all, the lively hope of a joyful resurrection to an eternal day of happiness and glory: any of these particulars, and many more which I do not mention, may furnish us with matter of pleasing reflection and cheerful praise, while we are rising. And for our farther assistance, when we are alone at this time, it may not be improper to speak sometimes to ourselves, and sometimes to our heavenly Father, in the natural expressions of joy and thankfulness. Permit me, Sir, to add, that if we find our hearts in such a frame at our first awakening, even that is just matter of praise, and the rather, as perhaps it is an answer to the prayer with which we lay down. §. 5. For the exercise of secret devotion in the morning, which I hope will generally be our first work, I cannot prescribe an exact method to another. You must, my dear friend, consult your own taste in some measure. The constituent parts of the service, are in the general plain. Were I to propose a particular model for those, who have half, or three quarters of an hour at command, (which with prudent conduct I suppose most may have) it should be this.
§. 6. To begin the stated devotions of the day with a solemn act of praise, offered to God on our knees, and generally with a low, yet distinct voice; acknowledging the mercies we had been reflecting on while rising; never forgetting to mention Christ, as the great foundation of all our enjoyments and our hopes, or to return thanks for the influences of the blessed Spirit, which have led our hearts to God, or are then engaging us to seek him. This, as well as other offices of devotion afterwards mentioned, must be done attentively and sincerely; for not to offer our praises heartily, is in the sight of God not to praise him at all. This address of praise may properly be concluded with an express renewal of our covenant with God, declaring our continued repeated resolution of being devoted to him, and particularly of living to his glory the ensuing day.
§. 7. It may be proper after this, to take a prospect of the day before us, so far as we can probably foresee in the general, where and how it may be spent; and seriously to reflect, " how shall I employ myself for God this day? What business is to be done, and in what order? What opportunities may I expect, either of doing, or of receiving good? What temptations am I like to be assaulted with, in any place, company, or circumstance, which may probably occur? In what instances have I lately failed? And how shall I be safest now?"
§. 8. After this review, it would be proper to offer up a short prayer, begging, that God would quicken us to each of these foreseen duties; that he would fortify us against each of those apprehended dangers; that he would grant us success in such or such a business undertaken for his glory ; and also, that he would help us to discover and improve unforeseen opportunities, to resist unexpected temptations, and to bear patiently, and religiously, any afflictions which may surprise us in the day on which we are entering.
§. 9. I would advise you after this to read some portion of scripture ; not a great deal, nor the whole bible in its course: but some select lessons out of its most useful parts, perhaps ten or twelve verses; not troubling yourself much about the exact connection, or other critical niceties, which may ©ccur, (though