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writer," is the very life and soul of piety; but he that hath not so much of it, as to be early at prayer, cannot think that he hath taken up his cross, and is following Christ. What conquest has he gained over himself? What right-hand has he cut off? What trials is he prepared for? What sacrifice is he ready to offer to God, who cannot be so cruel to himself, as to rise to prayer at such a time as the drudging part of mankind are content to rise to their labour?”
Close the day with God; and let not this be at an unseasonably protracted hour. I have read of a good man, who would leave the company of his most intimate acquaintance, when the hour of closet retirement arrived, saying, you must now excuse me, as I have an appointment to meet an excellent Friend, whom I would not on any account displease.” There is a disposition in some pious people, to task themselves for the day. Such a work shall be done, such a volume read, such a letter answered; but an undue eagerness to complete the work, or to finish the book or the correspondence, may intrude upon the time which ought to be devoted to God. “ The Christian," says Bishop Hall, “ does not lay himself down, as the swine in the sty, or a dog in the kennel, without any further preface to his desired sleep; but improves those faculties, which he is now
closing up, to a meet preparation for a holy repose; for which purpose, he first casts back his eye to the now expired day, and seriously considers how he has spent it; and will be sure to make his reckonings even with his God, before he part.
3. Remember in whose presence you are, and in what work you are engaged, when retired to your closet. Though fellow-mortals are remote, there is one Being who cannot be excluded. Christian, thy God and Father seeth in secret. O solemn thought! Why is not this truth more deeply impressive? O, my soul, dwell upon it in thy retired hours. Were millions of creatures constantly employed to record thy words, and number thy steps, and scan all thy actions, and mark all thy motions, this were nothing, compared to the piercing eyes of Jehovah !
0, then, set a watch over thy treacherous powers, that they may be intently engaged in the worship of Him, to whom the inmost recesses of the heart are always open! Think and pray, as if awful voices addressed, and celestial visiops surrounded thee! With realizing views of God and eternity, thou shalt
* The Christian Laid Forth in his Whole Disposition and Carriage,' price 1s., is an excellent tract, written by Bishop Hall, and lately re-published, in this cheap form, by the Rev. Henry Budd.
turn from all the glittering toys and trifles of the world, as utterly unworthy of thy regard!
4. Be free and unreserved, and yet serious and unassuming, in your closet addresses to God. It has been before observed, that every one has some mental wanderings and spiritual conflicts to confess and open to the God of mercy, which could not, without impropriety, be disclosed to the dearest friend; some wants to be supplied, which can only be fully spread forth at the throne of grace, in solitude. And this is one reason why the pious Christian cannot be satisfied with precomposed prayers, however excellent. They are too general, and do not always meet his own case. He may indeed find assistance from such writers as Andrews, Scougal, Beveridge, Henry, and Bennet; but it would be unwise to confine himself to them. "For any one," says Bishop Wilkins, "to sit down, and satisfy himself with his book-prayer, or some prescribed form, and to go no farther, this were still to remain in his infancy, and not to grow up in his new nature; this would be, as if a man, who had once need of crutches, should always afterward make use of them, and so necessitate himself to a continual impotency. Prayer by book is commonly, of itself, something flat and dead, floating for the most part too much in generalities, and not particular enough for each several occasion.
There is not that life and vigour in it, to engage the affections, as when it proceeds immediately from the soul itself, and is the natural expression of those particulars, whereof we are most sensible. It is not easy to express what a vast difference a man may find, in respect of inward comfort and satisfaction, betwixt those private prayers that are thus conceived from the affections, and those prescribed forms, which we say by rote, or read out of books.”
It is surprising how far many go in search of what, after all their travels and toils, can be found nowhere but at home. The glaring pomps and ever-shifting scenes, the tumultuous pursuits, and the tempting pleasures of public life, exhaust and weary their warmest votaries. Few venture into the great world without suffering much loss, and shewing, at their return, the deep and dreadful injuries they have received. We easily see, what no art can long conceal, the keen stings of resentment, the livid marks of envy, the mortifying wounds of pride, the convulsive fits of remorse, or the shivering chills of despondency. The dearbought and far-fetched joys of the gay world, are not worthy to be compared with those quiet, home-born, fire-side comforts, which are rashly sacrificed at the shrine of fashion and folly. But let no one think to reap where he does