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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 love !
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 derotion 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 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 a mutual care to cherish sentiments of this kind will add everlasting endearments to it.
* Prov. xxii, 17,
+ N. B. It was in the year 1727.
$. 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 affictions 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 occur, (though at other times I would recommend them to your enquiry, as you have ability and opportunity ;) but considering them merely in a devotional and practical view. Here take such instructions as readily present themselves to your thoughts, repeat them over to your own conscience, and charge your heart religiously to observe them and act upon them, under a sense of the divine authority which attends them. And if you pray over the substance of this scripture with your bible open before you, it may impress your memory and your heart yet more deeply, and may form you to a copiousness and variety, both of thought and expression in prayer.
§. 10. It might be proper to close these devotions with a psalm or hymn : and I rejoice with you, that through the pious care of Dr. Watts, and some other sacred poets, we are pro. vided with so rich a variety for the assistance of the closet and family on these occasions, as well as for the service of the sanctuary.
$. 11. (II.] The most material directions which have occurred to me, relating to the progress of the day, are these ;that we be serious in the devotions of the day ;-that we be diligent in the business of it, that is, in the prosecution of our worldly callings?—that we be temperate and prudent in the recreations of it;—that we carefully remark the providences of the day ;-that we cautiously guard against the temptations of it;that we keep up a lively and humble dependence upon the divine influence, suitable to every emergency of it ;—that we govern our thoughts well in the solitude of the day, and our discourses well in the conversation of it. These, sir, were the heads of a sermon which you lately heard me preach on this occasion, and to which I know you referred in that request which I am now endeavouring to answer. I will therefore touch upon the most material hints, which fell under each of these particulars.
$. 12. (1.) For seriousness in devotion, whether public or domestic: Let us take a few moments before we enter upon such solemnities, to pause, and reflect, on the perfections of the God we are addressing to, on the importance of the business we are coming about, on the pleasure and advantage of a regular and devout attendance, and on the guilt and fully of an hypocritical formality. When engaged, let us maintain a strict watchfulness over our own spirits, and check the first wanderings of thought. And when the duty is over, let us immediately reflect on the manner in which it has been performed, and ask our own consciences whether we have reason to conclude,
. xix. Directions for Communion with God. 361 that we are accepted of God in it? For there is a certain manner of going through these offices, which our own hearts will immediately tell us, it is impossible for God to approve: and if we have inadvertently fallen into it, we ought to be deeply humbled before God for it, lest our very prayer become sin*.
§. 13. (2.) As for the hours of worldly business ; whether it be, as with you, that of the hands; or whether it be the labour of a learned life, not immediately relating to religious matters : let us set to the prosecution of it with a sense of God's authority, and with a regard to his glory. Let us avoid a dreaming, sluggish, indolent temper, which nods over its work, and does only the business of one hour in two or three. In opposition to this, which runs through the life of some people, who yet think they are never idle, let us endeavour to dispatch as much as we well can in a little time; considering, that it is but a little we have in all. And let us be habitually sensible of the need we have of the divine blessing, to make our labours successful. • §. 14. (3.) For seasons of diversion : let us take care, that our recreations be well chosen ; that they be pursued with a good intention, to fit us for a renewed application to the labours of life ; and thus, that they be only used in subordination to the honour of God, the great end of all our actions. Let us take heed, that our hearts be not estranged from God by them; and that they do not take up too much of our time: always remembering that the faculties of the human nature, and the advantages of the christian revelation, were not given us in vain; but that we are always to be in pursuit of some great and honourable end, and to indulge ourselves in amusements and diversions no farther, than as they make a part in a scheme of rational and manly, benevolent and pious conduct.
$. 15. (4.) For the observation of providences: it will be useful to regard the divine interposition in our comforts and in our afflictions. In our comforts, whether more common or ex. traordinary ; that we find ourselves in continued health ; that we are furnished with food for support and pleasure; that we have so many agreeable ways of employing our time; that we have so many friends, and those so good, and so happy ; that our business goes on prosperously ; that we go out and come in safely; and that we enjoy composure and cheerfulness of spirit, without which nothing else could be enjoyed; all these should be regarded as providential favours'; and due acknow