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uniformly guided in a calm course of rectitude and goodness, and the passions moved only at the dictates of truth, within the prescribed Jimits of order. But the forbidden fruit, though probably giving a delicious and momentary pleasure, soon raised those intoxicating vapours, which weakened, and dissipated, and ruined the soul; it is now like a machine, injured by some violent shock, whose motions, at best, are irregular and imperfect. Vain man would be wise, but wisdom is far from him. We have lost that concord of harmonious powers, which was the soul and source of bliss. Reuben was, by his father Jacob, characterised, as “ weak and unstable as water;" and with reference to spiritual duties, this language gives a correct description of all men: the slightest breath of flattery or censure, ruffles the smooth stream, and a thousand causes agitate the vile sediment wuich lies at the bottom. In a state of nature, every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is only evil, and that continually, (Gen. vi. 5.) And even when a principle of divine grace is implanted, the depravity of the soul is not speedily nor easily subdued ; and hence a pious man feels that inward struggle between good and bad thoughts, holy and unholy passions: the conflict varies indeed, but continues in all places, and all circumstances, to the end of life.

Wandering thoughts in prayer, may sometimes take their rise from the power and temptations of the great enemy. While Joshua the high priest stood to minister to the Lord, Satan stood at his right hand to resist him. This malignant adversary is neither less crafty, nor less active, to distract and disturb us in our approaches to God. For wise reasons, doubtless, he is permitted at times to harass the saints, though they shall finally vanquish him. Hence those strange, atheistical, and blasphemous thoughts, which the best of men have at seasons found rushing into their hearts amidst the holiest duties. Without any previous leading train of circumstances, or any perceptible link of association, and while breathing an element, and performing a work so unlikely to produce them; these horrid ideas have thrown the devout soul into the greatest perturbation and agony.

Can it be doubted, whether they are, or are not, the suggestions of Satan? Do they not carry the black hue and baleful effluvia of the infernal origin from which they sprung? Paul speaks of the fiery darts of the wicked one ; and such thoughts as have been now referred to, answer to the description, whether we consider the suddenness with which they are shot into the mind, or their inflammatory power and painful effects.

Wandering thoughts in prayer, are often the

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consequence of habitual negligence in the government and discipline of the mind. The soul of man, from the activity of its nature, must be employed ; and if we give a licence to our thoughts to range amidst vanities in the general, they will not obey our call when the bell rings for prayer. If,” says one, “ you keep company with vain thoughts all the day, you

will find it hard to shut them out of your closet at night; they will claim acquaintance, and crowd in after you.” Lukewarmness, in a considerable degree, occasions these restless, roving cogitations in duty. While the liquor in a vessel continues hot, the flies do not settle upon it; but when once it become cool, it is covered with them: and so, while the heart is fervent, the mind is kept intent, and every power obeys the main impulse derived from the centre of spiritual life and motion. Swarms of vain thoughts seldom trouble the saint, so long as his soul melts and glows with divine ardour; it is when he grows careless, listless, and indifferent. Many a good man has been ready to draw harsh conclusions against the safety of his own state, on account of his mental fluctuations and wanderings in religious duties; yet the very sensibility evinced in this matter, is a proof of the existence and operation of holy principles. Carnal and formal worshippers make no such complaints, feel no such troubles.

“ If at any time conscience, or custom, or still meaner motives, induce them to pray, or to perform any other outward act of devotion; they feel no elevation of soul, and no inward awe and reverence at the thought of appearing before God. They wonder to hear some Christians talk of the difficulty, and others of the pleasure of prayer: it is to them as easy to pray at one time as another ; but never is it pleasant. Satan disturbs not, and God hears not such prayers*." It is no easy matter to prevent or cure wanderings of mind in devotion; but the following hints of advice may be of some service:

1. When you begin to pray, set the Lord always before you. Endeavour to get a clear and full view of his majesty, his holiness, his power, his goodness. Can you trifle, while conscious of being called into the presence, and engaged in the service of that God, before whom the hosts of heaven bow with the deepest reverence ? “ Were you in company with persons greatly your superiors, you would not talk at random of any thing that occurred to your mind. If you were admitted to plead for your life before the king, would you frequently forget what you were saying, and oblige his majesty to repeat his questions to you again and again, and cooly

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Be humble for your past levity and distractions in the service of God. This sense of your sin will check the rising of vain imaginations. Employ every figure, comparison, and contrast, which is calculated to present the folly and criminality of such conduct in the most vivid and affecting colours. Suppose, for instance, some of your prayers had been written as you uttered them; and all the frivolous, low, carnal, covetous, arrogant, and impious thoughts which crowded into the mind at the time, had been written also at large, and blended with your petitions ;-would you not almost die with shame, to have such a paper read to a vast assembly? And yet the exposure here conceived would be as nothing, compared to the piercing eyes of the heart-searching Jehovah. All the ways of man are constantly before him, and he sees every thought, and the very buds of thought, before they are formed and full blown,

2. Resist the first suggestions of Satan. You have to wrestle not only against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers,-against spiritual wickedness in high places. Long after the grand adversary and his legions have ceased to annoy us in the low retreats of sensuality, they continue to wage the war in high places, in holy duties, and heavenly things. Nor must

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