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ought we to be, when, as if hearing the voice of Christ, we enter upon this work! Here is revealed, and in full view exbibited, eternal life! the ineffable glories of Immanuel ; the wonders of a world which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor the powers of the human mind conceived ! Amidst the deep and absorbing emotions, produced by such objects and hopes, the attractions of earth lose their enchantment;-we feel the poverty and emptiness of present things; and shake off the shackles which bind and encumber us,
draw near to God our exceeding joy, and be filled with felicity by the light of his countenance.
that we may
ON MEDITATION, AS A MEANS OF PROMOTING PRAYER.
MEDITATION is the calm, regular, sober, and steady exercise of the thoughts on those sacred subjects, which interest and affect the heart. True religion, by employing the uuderstanding, by governing the will, by softening the conscience, and sanctifying the passions, new models the inner man, and imparts a peculiar dignity and lustre to the character.
Meditation, as the term is here used, resembles not the calculations and contrivances of worldly prudence, balancing with care the probability of failure or success, and fixing with caution the proportions of loss and gain; nor the excursions of fancy, flitting from toy to toy, and roving through the flowery walks and enchanted grounds of fugitive pleasure; nor the researches of carnal reason, patiently investigating nature's works, without owning or seeking nature's God. Merchants and politicians intensely employ every thought to form their plans and mature their schemes; pleasurebunters give imagination the reins to wander at large over the paradise of fools; and grave philosophers spend day and night in that profound and exhausting study, which is a weariness to the flesh; yet all these are absolute strangers to the divine art of meditation. Nay, it is possible for a man sometimes to think of religion itself, and yet never have that placid, upruffled, happy flow of thoughts, so much to be desired and so rarely attained. Curiosity, or the desire of a name, may prompt a man to give some portion of attention to the evidences and doctrines of Christianity, and to the rites and ceremonies of public worship; in which case a turn for speculation is discovered, but no taste for devotion. He who acts from such motives, reads the Bible, traces the records of church history, and compares different opinions and systems, to shew off the scholar, rather than to imbibe the spirit and exemplify the character of the Christian. He dips into the waters of life, if I may so speak, not to enjoy them, or experience their salutary power, but to investigate their qualities in an inquisitive spirit. The train of ideas which passes through his mind, leaves no tincture of spirituality, no savour of piety. Meditation,” says a good writer," is a fixed, solemn survey, or consideration of some subject of religion, in order to raise the affections, form pious resolutions, improve the mind, and converse with God.*"
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the council of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be as a tree planted by the rivers, which bringeth forth his fruit in his season ; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doth shall prosper.” (Psalm i. 1-3.) In the instance which David has here so beautifully pourtrayed, it is evident that the mind and the heart move in harmony ;-in other words, with fixedness of thought, is joined fervency of affection. When the mists and clouds of sense are dispersed, and the clogs and fetters of the world are thrown aside, the soul sedately looks above and soars heavenward. Some of the heathen themselves made vigorous efforts to emerge from the mass of surrounding error, and emancipate themselves from inglorions thraldrom, as may be seen in the works of Plato, the book of Meditations, so well known and generally admired, by Marcus Antoninus, and the writings of Seneca. The last of these philosophers says, “It would not be worth
* Bennet's Christian Oratóry.
while for a man to be born and live, did he not study heavenly things. How contemptible a being is the creature we call man, unless he raise himself above present and corporeal enjoyments !” Many who live amidst the blaze of evangelical light, may blush when they read such language from the pen of a Pagan. .
“ The constant habit of perusing devout books is so indispensable, that it has been termed, with great propriety, the oil of the lamp of prayer. Too much reading, however, and too little meditation, may produce the effect of a lamp inverted, which is extinguished by the very excess of that aliment, whose property it is to feed it:”
“ The knowledge,” observes Dr. Dwight, “ which barely passes through the mind, resembles that which is gained of a country by a traveller, who is whirled through it in a stage; or of a bird flitting over it in his passage to another. Meditation enables us to feel religious subjects with strength and efficacy. A religious man, particularly, will easily remember, that the truths of the Gospel have at times barely swept the surface of his mind; and at others, have powerfully affected his heart. He will easily remember, that the same things, whether arguments, images, or motives, have affected him in these widely different manners. If he will bestow a little pains on this subject,