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Psal. xlv. I. It prompts us to confefs fin, and mourn for it, Pfal. li. 3.
Be persuaded then to engage your hearts to this nea cessary but much neglected duty; for, though it be most useful and profitable, yet I know no duty more flighted and forgotten. The best of God's people have cause to lament this most bitterly before the Lord : Who can fay with David, Psal. cxix. 97. « O how love I thy law, it is my meditation all the day.”. As for the generality of the world, they have no sense of the obliga. tion of this duty upon their spirits ; they live without thinking, and that proves their ruin. O! if sinners would retire from company, and spend some little time now and then in secret thinking, it would, through the blessing of God, work fome change in them. I remem ber a passage I have read of a dying father, that on his death-bed left it as a charge upon his only fon, who was a great prodiga), " That he should spend a quarter of an hour every day in retired thinking ;" and, to encourage him to undertake it, he gave him liberty to choose any fubject he pleased. The son thinks this an easy talk, and engages to.do it; and accordingly fets himself to perform his promise: One day he thinks on his bypast pleasures, another day he contrives his future delights After a while, he begins to reason with himself what was his father's design in laying this task upon him; at length he thinks his father was a wise and good man, and therefore intended and hoped that, among the rest of his meditations, he would some time or other think of religion. When this had truly posseft his thoughts, one thought and question comes upon the back of another, about his bypast life and future state, that he could not contain himself in fo short a confinement as a quarter of an hour, but was that night without sleep; yea, and afterwards could have no rest, till he became leriously religious. i ;
O carelefs sinner, if you think it too much to spend a quarter of an hour every day, I would beg it of you to spend a quarter of an hour every Lord's day in retir. ed thinking upon some spiritual subject : Who knows what it might produce ? Do you say that this is a hard
task? Will it not be far harder to ly in hell a whole eternity thinking on your bypast folly, when there is no remedy? O finner, will you perish for want of thinking ?
Be not scared at the difficulty of it; for though at first this duty seem hard, and corrupt nature thew aver, fion to it, yet press your heart to it, and afterwards you fhall find it pleasant : Though it be dificult to climb this mount of meditation, yet, when once we get up, we will be ready to say with Peter, on the mount of transfiguration, " It is good for us to be here." David found it so, “ My, meditation of him shall be sweet," Psal. civ. 34. The more we medicate on God, the sweeter we will find him: Yea, so sweet did he find this duty, that he spent whole days in it, Pfal: cxix. 97and, as if the day had been too little, he borrows a part of the night too, Pfal. Ixiji. 6.
Object.“ Alas! (some fay,) our minds are barren of good thoughts.”
Ans; 1. If you would accustom yourselves more to the duty, you would have less ground of complaint this way. 2. When your hearts are barren, there are two fubjects you can never exhauft: Fix your thoughts upon any one of them, viz. God's mercies to you, and your fins against him. The Psalmist acknowledges them both to be innumerable, in the same psalm, Pial. xl. 5. 12., · Queft. What subjects of meditation are molt proper for the Sabbath-day?
Anf. Natural things may be spiritualized, and common things may afford us ground for spiritual instructions, if we had our eyes enlightened, and minds fpiritually exercised. But it is fit that on the Sabbath, we choose those subjects of meditation that are most edify. ing, and most suitable to the great ends of the day. In general, we ought this day to think upon God, upon ourselves, and upon eternity. But, more particularly,
I. Meditate upon the goodness of God: Both that which is common, and manifested to you in his works of creation and providence, and that which is special and distinguishing, discovered to you above others. That
this is a suitable subject for the Sabbath, is clear to any that reals the xcii, psalm with its tiile.'
I Think upon his common goodness to us, reprefented in that great looking glass of the creation. He hath made the world a commodious habitation for us, arched it over with the bespangled heavens, and floor ed it with the folid earth. He hath set up great lights in it for our accommodation : He hath placed a tabernacle for the sun, at a due distance from the earth and the upper heavens, to enlighten the stars above and en. liven the earth below. And, that we might neither be staryed with cold, nor burnt up with heat, he gives us the clouds as fans to screen us from the scorching heat, and as cifterns to water the parched ground : He gives us the wind to purify the air, the sea to be a pond for fish, the valleys to be granaries for corn, the mountains to be a treasure of minerals, the rivers to be as veins to carry refreshment to every part of the earth. Let us admire both the goodness and wisdom of God displayed in his wonderful works, Psal. civ. 24. "O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made. them all: The earth is full of thy riches." The Pfal. mist also faith, “ The heavens declare the glory of God," Psal. xix. J. and indeed we may look up and read it in these shining capital letters of fun, mo in, and stars. . His being is legible in their existence; his wife dom in their frame; his power in their motion, his goodness in their usefulnefs, and his faithfulness in their continuance. The book of nature, as well as the scriptures, shews much of God to us. “. This book (as one faith) consists of three leaves, heaven, earth, and sea ; the creatures therein are fo many letters whereby we may spell out the attributes of God: Some whereof are capital letters, and more legible than others. Man is a capital letter on earth, the fun in the heavens, and the whale in the sea." :
Again, we ought to meditate upon his goodness manifested in his works of providence. He hath curiously formed us in the womb, and carefully watched over us therein. He preserved us several months in that dark cell, without air or breath. He brought us safe out of
it, and presently thereafter provided two bottles' to suftain us, and ever since hath fuccoured us in distress, refcued us from danger, supplied us in wants; yea, he hath set us at his own table, and made us live upon his cost, Acts xvii. 28. He hath given us all the creatures for our use and service, yea, the most glorious of them; the angels are our ministering spirits, the lower heavens serve to give us breath, the middle heavens to give us light and heat, and the highest heavens afford us a dwelling place. The sun shines, the fire burns, the wind blows, and the water flows; nay, all the creatures are at work, both day and night, and all for the fervice of a poor worm of fix foot long. . . ?
If a friend give us our bread for a month or two, we think ourselves much bound to him ; but how much more beholden are we to God, who keeps an open free table for us all the days of the year, and all the years of our life, and even to us when enemies to him? Behold, these who have their mouths opened wide against God, he mercifully puts bread in their mouths. How great is God's goodness to us! and, how great is our ingriti. tude to him ! I know not which of them we fhould most wonder at. God gives us peace, money, health and wealth ; but, in tead of serving him therewith, many offer them up in a sacrifice to the devil and base lufts, according to Hof. ï. 8. God gives some folk ftrength, and they waste it among har'ots; to others money, and they waste it in drunkenness and prodigality; to others power, and they walte it in oppression; to others honour, and they abuse it to pride and vainglory. Many inake use of the mercies of God as darts to shoot against the heavens ; 'they pervert and mifap. ply them for dithonouring God, wounding Christ, and grieving the Spirit; fur debauching their bodies, damriing their souls, and dalhing both tables of the law in pieces before God's face. And yet, even while they are doing so, God is guarding them by his providence, and feeding them by his bounty. “O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works,” to such undeserving and ill deserving creatures! We ought this day to " triumph in the works of his
hands, according to Pral. xcii. s. and cry, Lord, what is man that thou art mindful of him pox
ainda ** 2. Meditate 'this day upon God's special and diftin guishing goodness to us beyond others, both with res spect to foul and body: He hath not dealt fo with any nation as with us. Both our national and perfonal mer cies are fingular, and ought this day to be remembered by us. Hath not God delivered many of you from death, when some dangerous accident, or violent sickness, was threatning to break the flender twig of life, and to let you' fail into the grave, and into hell both at once? Hath he not mercifully recovered you, and given you further space and place for repentanc;." * Hath not God long preferved this land from the fa. mine, sword and peftilence, and such destroying judg. ments as have been making havock in other nations about us, laying heaps upon heaps ? He hath mercifully removed that dearth and scarcity wherewith we were almost consumed fome years ago, when the poor swoon. ed in the streets, and fainted in the high-ways for want of bread. "God hath fecured our lives, liberties and e. flates from rapine and violence, and lengthened out our peace and tranquility, when other nations have been iurned into a feat of war and fea of blood." **
Consider the goodness of God to us this day, that we are not among the Jews or pigans on the earth, that never heard the news of Chrilt; or among the damned in hell, who are beyond the reach of the offers of Chriff. Let us also bless God, that we live not under the Old Teftament times, but under the New ; nor under that darker and harsher dispensation of the coveriant by Mofes, whose first miracle was the 's turning of water into blood;'but under the clearer and tweeter; dispensation of the Messiah, whose first miracle was the "i turning of water into wine," that chears the heart of man; and hath mercifully freed us from the heavy yoke of Levitical facrifices and ceremonics. de
Let'us a!so this day thankfully remember God's goodness in delivering us from the yoke of Antichristian tyranny, popery, idolatry, and persecution, and frequently blasting the hellih plots and contrivances of