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so the wants and failings of each individual suggest the importance and fitness of secret prayer. “ The heart knoweth its own bitterness, and a stranger intermeddleth not with its joy." In many cases our anxieties and hopes are all our own. To utter them before any. human being might subject us to the impu. tation of weakness, or otherwise produce injurious effects. In some cases, to offer up those petitions, which conscience dictates for our dearest connexions, in their presence and hearing, might rather irritate than improve ; and, in all cases, when secluded from every other eye and ears. We pray to our father, who seeth in secret,” we may feel and indulge a freedom, which is unknown, when associated with the smallest number of fellow crea. tures. Oh! how enlivening to our happy prospects ! how quieting to our distracted fears ! how soothing to our afflictive sorrows, to leave the world and all its inhabitants be. hind, and draw near to an almighty friend, who “ knows our frame, and remembers that we are dust ;" to pour out our whole souls
in his presence ; and to “ cast all our cares , upon him!”
- This, moreover, is the best criterion, by which to prove our sincerity. The person, who spends his solitary moments without once raising his thoughts and desires to God, can neither claim the reputation, nor expect the reward, of true piety. Though he attend, or even make prayers on other occasions, « to be seen of men” may be the motive. But if we accustom ourselves to those retired acts of devotion, “ which the world knows not of," there is reason to believe that the “one thing needful” is an object of our serious concern. This, too, is the most useful preparation both for family and publick worship. It fixes the attention, solemnizes the mind, and adds fervour to our joint supplications, in company with those, whom, in retirement, we have previously commended to God. Avail your: selves, therefore, of this powerful incentive to the acquisition and improvement of the christian character. Let its returns be regular and frequent ; otherwise it will be neglected and forgotten. ..... iii..!
4. There is yet another method of approaching God, usually denominated mental prayer, which no circumstance of time or place need to prevent. The most busy cant
not plead the want of leisure, nor the niost diffident the want of ability. Wherever we are, and however occupied, the displays of divine power, wisdom, and goodness call us to adoration, praise, and gratitude. The whole earth is a spacious temple, full of images far better calculated to excite devout sentiments and wishes, than all the exhibitions of sculpture and painting, which have adorned churches. These we may recognize, without obstruction to our secular pursuits. ; " and in the midst of business and company, may offer up correspondent ejaculations of piety, without the formality of utterance.' “ For the Lord seeth not as man seeth : Man looketh, on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” How many, and how great are the benefits to be derived from this practice ! What a security it would prove against the. numberless temptations to anger, licentiousness, and excess, to which we are exposed ! And how much more becoming, dignified, and virtuous, when assailed by unexpected danger, insult, or injury, to flee in silent aspi. rations to the sovereign preserver of men and avenger of wrongs for direction, than, as too often happens, to “ speak unadvisedly with our lips,” and give indulgence to malignant and
criminal passions ? By this mean, we instantly transport ourselves into the conscious presence of an omniscient God, and are led to act and * endure, as seeing him that is invisible.”
Say not that you are too degenerate and sinful to pray. That were to plead one crime in èxcuse for another; and allege, as a war. rant for negligence, the very fact which ren ders it indispensably incumbent upon you to “ pray God, if perhaps the thoughts of your hearts may be forgiven you.” The gospel gives no encouragement of salvation independent of this condition. « Be careful for nothing, therefore ; but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
· ON THE · RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE OF. < .. . THE S'A'B BATH.
.'' diyos MARK ii. 27. , , !1;?! The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the . . . e sabbath. ... .
IT is a fact too often overlooked and for gotten, that all the institutions and commands of the gospel are adapted to our benefit. There are instances, in which even the serious and devout appear to consider a conformity. to. them, as a service exacted by the Most High, for his own sake. Hence it happens, that some overrate the exertions of obedience, as if, by them, they contributed to augment the essential glory and happiness of their maker ; whilst others view and exhibit religion in a garb of melancholy and gloom, interdicting the cheerful enjoyment of life, and imposing perpetual sacrifices to an austere and hard mas