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an indifferent thing in the eye of the blessed Jesus, who distributes the crowns, and allots the thrones there, whether you have been among the most zealous, or the most indolent of his servants Surely you must wish, to have an entrance administered wnto you abundantly, into the kingdom of your Lord and Saviour * : and what can more certainly conduce to it, than to be always abounding in this work f * You cannot think so meanly of that glorious state, as to imagine, that you shall there look round about you with a secret disappointment, and say in your heart, that you over-valued the inheritance you have received, and pursued it with too much earnestness. You will not surely complain, that it had too many of your thoughts and cares ; but on the contrary, you have the highest reason to believe, that if any thing were capable of exciting your indignation and your grief there, it would be that amidst so many motives and so many advantages, you exerted yourself no more in the prosecution of such a prize.
§. 9. But I will not enlarge on so clear a case, and therefore conclude the chapter with reminding you, that to allow yourself deliberately to sit down satisfied with any imperfect attainments in religion, and to look upon a more confirmed and improved state of it as what you do not desire, nay, as what you secretly resolve that you will not pursue, is one of the most fatal signs we can well imagine, that you are an entire stranger to the first principles of it.
A Prayer suited to the State of a Soul, who desires to attain the Life recommended above.
“BLESSED God, I cannot contradict the force of these reasonings: Oh that I may feel more than ever the lasting effects of them I Thou art the great fountain of being, and of happiness; and as from thee, my being was derived, so from thee my happiness directly flows; and the nearer I am to thee, the purer and the more delicious is the stream. With thee is the fountain of life; in thy light may I see lightt / The great object of my final hope is to dwell for ever with thee. . Give me now some foretaste of that delight! Give me, I beseech thee, to experience the blessedness of that man who feareth the Lord, and who delighteth greatly in his commandments' ; and so form my heart by thy grace, that I may be in the fear of the Lord all the day long || 1
“To thee may my awakening thoughts be directed ; and with the first ray of light that visits mine opening eyes, lift up, O Lord, the light of thy countenance upon me”! When my faculties are roused from that broken state in which they lay, while buried, and as it were annihilated in sleep, may my first actions be consecrated to thee, O God, who givest me light ; who givest me, as it were, every morning a new life and a new reason 1 enable my heart to pour out itself before thee, with a filial reverence, freedom and endearment' And may I hearken to God, as I desire he should hearken unto me! may thy word be read with attention and pleasure may my soul be delivered into the mould of it, and may I hide it in mine heart, that I may not sin against theet ! Animated by the great motives there suggested, may I every morning be renewing the dedication of myself to thee, through Jesus thy beloved Son; and be deriving from him new supplies of that blessed spirit of thine, whose influences are the life of my soul | “And being thus prepared, do thou, Lord, lead me forth by the hand to all the duties and events of the day ! In that calling, wherein thou hast been pleased to call me, may I abide with thee; ; not being slothful in business; but fervent in spirit, serving the LordS 1 May I know the value of time, and always improve it to the best advantage, in such duties as thou hast assigned me; how low soever they may seem, or how painful soever they may be To thy glory, O Lord, may the labours of life be pursued ; and to thy glory may the refreshments of it be sought ! Whether I eat, or drink, or whatever I do|, may that end still be kept in view, and may it be attained ' And may every refreshment, and release from business, prepare me to serve thee with greater vigour and resolution 1 “May mine eye be watchful to observe the descent of mer. cies from thee; and may a grateful sense of thine hand in them add a savour and a relish to all ! And when afflictions come, which in a world like this I would accustom myself to expect, may I remember that they come from thee; and may that fully reconcile me to them, while I firmly believe, that the same love which gives us our daily bread, appoints us our daily crosses; which I would learn to take up, that I may follow my dear Lord's, with a temper like that which he manifested, when ascending Calvary for my sake; saying like him, the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it” And when I
* Psal. iv. 6. + Psal. cxix. 11. : I Cor. vii. 20. § Rom. xii. 11. || 1 Cor. x. 31. Al Mark viii. 34. ** John xviii. 11.
enter into temptation, do thou, Lord, deliver me from evil” Make me sensible, I intreat thee, of my own weakness, that my heart may be raised to thee for present communications of proportionable strength ! When I am engaged in the society of others, may it be my desire and my care, that I may do, and receive, as much good as possible; and may I continually answer the great purposes of life, by honouring thee, and diffusing useful knowledge and happiness in the world ! And when I am alone, may I remember my heavenly Father is with me ; and may I enjoy the pleasure of thy presence, and feel the animating power of it, awakening my soul to an earnest desire to think, and act, as in thy sight !
“Thus let my days be spent: and let them always be closed in thy fear, and under a sense of thy gracious presence? Meet me, O Lord, in mine evening retirements 1 May I chuse the most proper time for them ; may I diligently attend to reading and prayer; and when I review my conduct, may I do it with an impartial eye | Let not self-love spread a false colouring over it; but may I judge myself, as one that expects to be judged of the Lord, and is very solicitous he may be approved by thee, who searchest all hearts, and camst not forget any of my workst / Let my prayer come daily before thee as tncense, and let the lifting up of my hands be as the morning and the evening sacrifices / May I resign my powers to sleep in sweet calmness and serenity ; conscious that I have lived to God in the day, and cheerfully persuaded that I am accepted of thee in Christ Jesus my Lord, and humbly hoping in thy mercy through him whether my days on earth be prolonged, or the residue of them be cut off in the midst' / If death comes by a leisurely advance, may it find me thus employed; and if I am called on a sudden to exchange worlds, may my last days and hours be found to have been conducted by such maxims as these ; that I may have a sweet and easy passage from the services of time to the infinitely nobler services of an immortal state I ask it through him, who while on earth was the fairest pattern and example of every virtue and grace, and who now lives and reigns with thee, able to save unto the uttermost || : to him, having done all, I would fly, with humble acknowledgment that I am an unprofitable servant" to him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
* Matt. vi. 13. + Amos viii. 7. f Psal. cxli. 2.
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CHAI* XXI. A Cautionagainst various Temptations, by which the young Convert may be drawn aside from the Course recommended above.
Dangers continue, after the first Difficulties (considered chap, xvi.) are broken through, §. 1. Particular Cautions, (1.) Against a sluggish and indolent Temper, §. 2. (2.) Against the excessive Love of sensitive Pleasure, §. 3. Leading to a Neglect of Business and needless Expence, §. 4. (3.) Against the Snares of vain Company, §. 5. (4.) Against excessive Hurries of worldly Business, §. 6. which is enforced by the fatal Consequences these have had in many Cases, §. 7. The Chapter concludes with an Exhortation to die to this World, and live to another, §. 8. And the young Convert's Prayer for Divine Protection against the Dangers arising from these Snares.
$. ]. JL HE representation I have been making of the pleasure and advantage of a life spent in devotcdness to God and communion with him, as I have described it above, will I hope engage you, my dear reader, to form some purposes, and make some attempt to obtain it. But from considering the nature, and observing the course of things, it appears exceedingly evident, that besides the general opposition which I formerly mentioned as like to attend you in your first entrance on a religious life, yon will find even after you have resolutely broke through this, a variety of hindrances in any attempts of exemplary piety, and in the prosecution of a remarkably strict and edifying course, will present themselves daily in your path. And whereas you may, by a few resolute efforts, baffle some of the former sort of enemies; these will be perpetually renewing their onsets, and a vigorous struggle must be continually maintained with them. Give me leave now therefore, to be particular in my caution against somc of the chief of them. And here I would insist upon the difficulties, which will arise from indolence and the love of pleasure; from vain company, and from worldly cares. Each of these may prove insnaring to any, and especially to young persons, to whom I would now have some particular regard.
§. 2. I intreat you therefore, in the first place, that you will guard against a sluggish and indolent temper. The love of ease insinuates itself into the heart, under a variety of plausible pretences, which are often allowed to pass, when temptations of a grosser nature would not be admitted. The mispending a little time seems to wise and good men but a small matter ; yet this sometimes runs them into great inconveniences. Jt often leads them to break in upon the seasons regularly allotted to devotion, and to defer business, which might immediately be done, but being put off from day to day is not done at all; and thereby the services of life are at least diminished, and the rewards of eternity diminished proportionably: not to insist upon it, that very frequently this lays the soul open to farther temptations, by which it falls in consequence of being found unemployed. Be therefore suspicious of the first approaches of this kind. Remember, that the soul of man is an active being, and that it must find its pleasure in activity. Gird up therefore the loins of your mind”. Endeavour to keep yourself always well employed. Be exact, if I may with humble reverence use the expression, in your appointments with God. Meet him early in the morning; and say not with the sluggard, when the proper hour of rising is come, a little more sleep, a little more slumbert. That time which prudence shall advise you, give to conversation and to other recreations. But when that is elapsed, and no unforeseen and important engagement presents, rise and be gone. Quit the company of your dearest friends, and retire to your proper business, whether it be in the field, the shop, or the closet. For by acting contrary to the secret dictates of your mind, as to what it is just at the present moment best to do, though it be but in the manner of spending half an hour, some degree of guilt is contracted, and a habit is cherished, which may draw after it much worse consequences. Consider therefore what duties are to be dispatched, and in what seasons. Form your plan as prudently as you can, and pursue it resolutely; unless any unexpected incident arises, which leads you to conclude, that duty calls you another way. Allowances for such unthought of interruptions must be made ; but if in consequence of this, you are obliged to omit any thing of importance which you proposed to have done to-day, do it if possible to-morrow ; and do not cut yourself out new work, till the former plan be dispatched, unless you really judge it, not merely more amusing, but more important. And always remember, that a servant of Christ should see to it, that he determine on these occasions, as in his master's presence. §. 3. Guard also against an excessive love of sensitive and animal pleasure, as that which will be a great hindrance to you in that religious course, which I have now been urging. You cannot but know, that Christ has told us, that a man must deny himself, and take up his cross daily, if he desire to become his disciples. Christ the Son of God, the former and the heir