« AnteriorContinuar »
anxieties and great selfishness; our souls cleansed from the dross and corruption, which they
have contracted in their passage through it.
Fifthly, It is no slight work to bring our tempers to what they should be: gentle, patient, placable, compassionate; slow to be offended, soon to be appeased ; free from envy, which, though a necessary, is a difficult attainment; free from bursts of anger; from aversions to particular persons, which is hatred; able heartily to rejoice with them that do rejoice, and, from true tenderness of mind, weeping, even when we can do no more, with them that weep; in a word, to put on charity with all those qualities, with which St. Paul hath cloth
ed it, 1 Cor. xiii. which read for this purpose.
Sixthly, Whilst any good can be done by us, we shall not fail to do it; but even when our powers of active usefulness fail, which not seldom happens, there still remains that last, that highest, that most difficult, and, perhaps, most acceptable duty to our Creator, resignation to his blessed will in the privations and pains and
afflictions, afflictions, with which we are visited ; thankfulness to him for all that is spared to us, amidst much that is gone; for any mitigation of our sufferings, any degree of ease, and comfort, and support, and assistance which we experience. Every advanced life, every life of sickness, or misfortune, affords materials for virtuous feelings. In a word, I am persuaded, that there is no state whatever of christian trial, varied and various as it is, in which there will not be found both matter and room for improvement; in which a true christian will not be incessantly striving, month by month, and year by year, to grow sensibly better and better, and in which his endeavours, if sincere, and assisted, as, if sincere, they may hope to be assisted by God's grace, will not be rewarded with sucCeSS.
PRAYER IN IMITATION OF CHRIST.
LUKE v. 16.
“And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.”
The imitation of our Saviour is justly held out to us, as a rule of life; but then there are many things, in which we cannot imitate him. What depends upon his miraculous character must necessarily surpass our endeavours, and be placed out of the reach of our imitation. This reason makes those particulars, in which ..we are able to follow his example, of great importance to be observed by us; because it is to these that our hopes of taking him for our pattern, of treading in his footsteps, is necessarily confined. Now Now, our Lord's piety is one of these particulars. We can, if we be so minded, pray to God, as he did. We can aim at the Spirit, and warmth and earnestness of his devotions; we can use at least, those occasions, and that mode of devotion,
which his example points out to us.
It is to be remarked, that a fulness of mental devotion was the spring and source of our Lord's visible piety. And this state of mind we must acquire. It consists in this: in a habit of turning our thoughts towards God, whenever they are not taken up with some particular engagement. Every man has some subject or other, to which his thoughts turn, when they are not particularly occupied. In a good christian this subject is God, or what appertains to him. A good christian, walking in his fields, sitting in his chamber, lying upon his bed, is thinking of God. His meditations draw, of their own accord, to that object, and then his thoughts kindle up his devotions; and devotion never burns so bright, or so warm, as when it is lighted up from within. The immensity, the stupendous nature of the adorable Being who made, and who supports every thing about us, his grace, his love, his condescension towards his reasonable and moral creatures, that is, towards men; the good things, which he has placed within our reach, the heavenly happiness, which he has put it in our power to obtain; the infinite moment of our acting well and right, so as not to miss of the great reward, and not only to miss of our reward, but to sink into perdition; such reflections will not fail of generating devotion, of moving within us either prayer, or thanksgiving, or both. This is mental devotion. Perhaps the difference between a religious and an irreligious character depends more upon this mental devotion, than upon any other thing. The difference will shew itself in men's lives and conversations, in their dealings with mankind, and in the various duties and offices of their station; but it originates and proceeds from a difference in their internal habits of mind, with respect to God, in the habit of thinking of him in private, and of what relates to him; in cul