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constitution or the heart. Absolute solitude is decidedly injurious; since He who made us hath declared, that “it is not good that man should be alone.” But occasional retirement, for the delightful purpose of holding converse with the Saviour, greatly refreshes the spiritual faculties, just as rest from bodily labour recruits the wasted powers of our animal frame.
Some good men are so wedded to their studies, that they can scarcely force themselves from their beloved retreat ; while others are so fond of active pursuits, that their minds seem averse to the sedentary employments of the closet. Like birds of passage, they live upon the wing.
Both these extremes are faulty, and consequently hurtful to each party. Every man has his circle of duty to fill up. This is larger or smaller, according to the station in which God has placed him. Let no one think that he may live for himself alone. Each individual has a sphere of usefulness to occupy; and his happiness is closely connected with the performance of his duty. Our divine Redeemer has teft us an example that we should tread in his steps. May we daily study the conduct of Him, whose -Hife was one continued exercise of unwearied benevolence-"who went about doing good.”.
Nothing can more beautifully exemplify the duties of holy retirement and active benevolence, than the life of Jesus. In the Gospels we read, how incessant were his labours for the spiritual and temporal good of the thousands who followed him. And there we also read, how, "he went up into a mountain apart to pray; how, “when the evening was come, he was there alone;" how, “he continued all night in prayer to God.”
This he did, not occasionally, but frequently ; thus setting us an illustrious example of ardent
devotion, combined with unceasing exertion for the present and future happiness of fallen man.
Come then, O! my soul, and withdraw thyself from a thoughtless world, which is so eagerly pursuing the phantom of happiness. Look unto Jesus -place all thy affections upon him. He is the only source of spiritual felicity.
Whilst delighting thyself in the active services of a loving obedience, seek an increase of grace by daily secret converse with the Saviour.
We love the society of a dear friend. Can we then be strangers to communion with Jesus, if we indeed love him? Oh! that we may feel a sweeter relish for sacred retirement, when this retirement is designed to cultivate a closer acquaintance with our own hearts and with Him, who is "the chiefest among ten thousand”—the “altogether lovely."
Blessed Spirit of grace and truth, shed forth thy kindly influences on my soul. Preserve me from spiritual sloth, under the specious mask of religious retirement; and from ostentatious pride, under the imposing garb of active benevolence.
0! make me sincere in all my professions of love and obedience; simply depending on thy grace, whilst labouring to promote the welfare of my fellowcreatures; that in all things I may be willing to do, and suffer thy righteous will.
Jesus ! my soul would now repose,
Beneath the banner of thy love:
Each dark’ning cloud far hence remove.
Beneath thy smile is heavenly bliss,
How sweet is solitude with thee !
May now from anxious cares be free.
Reveal thy mercies to my heart,
With joy, my longing spirit fill i
To do and suffer all thy will.
O! leave me not one moment, Lord ;
Uphold me all my journey through ;
The wonders sov'reign grace can do.
Yes-when I stand before thy throne,
A monument of love divine,
The grace, which made such blessings 'mine.
II. ON INSENSIBILITY TO ETERNAL THINGS.
Come, O! my soul, call in thy scattered thoughts; collect thy wandering desires, and meditate with solemn awe on everlasting things.
How busy is the world! How big with designs, all resting on tomorrow. But tomorrow's sun may never rise on thousands who are fondly hoping to behold a range of following years. Short-sighted mortals ! He who ruleth over all, hath assigned to each a limit, beyond which the worldling cannot pass. Man hath an appointed time upon earth; his days are the days of an hireling. O! for true wisdom to learn the measure of our days; and to compute with justness the extent of life.
The volume of inspiration has done this with peculiar force and beauty. There, human life is compared to a sleep; to the rapidity of a flood ; to a tale that is told ; to a vapour that appeareth for a little time; to a flower which flourisheth in the morning, and in the evening is cut down and withered; to vanity ; to a shadow that passeth away. Eternity, that solemn word, soon passes from the lip: but who can grasp the mighty, the immense idea, which this word ETERNITY conveys ? All thought is lost in its immensity, and swallowed up in its fathomless abyss.
The mind may conceive, though faintly, of millions of ages heaped upon millions, till numbers lose themselves; or rather, till we are lost in the vast calculation.
But who can measure eternity, compared with whose everlasting lines, myriads of years are infinitely less than atoms floating in the mid-day sun ?
All men are hastening to eternity. All are standing upon the brink of an interminable state of being. Yet all, except the little flock of Christ, are living, as if life would never end; and die, as if beyond the grave, there was nothing to awaken their solicitous concern.
Awful insensibility! how fatally has sin blinded the mind of them that believe not. Men are willing to believe that, which they wish to be true. They flatter themselves that all will be well at the last, though they follow the corrupt desires of their hearts, in direct opposition to the revealed will of God.
Here indeed the wicked, from their animal nature, have many objects to gratify their sensitive appetites, even at the very time when their spirits are enduring the stings and lashes of an upbraiding conscience. But in eternity, where the body shall no longer be the seat of animal desire; in eternity, where all the sensual gratifications shall for ever cease ; the soul will experience no change from pain to pleasure, or from pleasure to pain ; but all will be either unmixed pain, or unalloyed pleasure.
Surely no thought can be more awakening then this; and yet with what subtlety does the heart evade its force ; with what shocking indifference is it treated by a world of dying sinners.
0! blessed Jesus ! thou compassionate HighPriest, awaken my drowsy sense. Deliver me from the fatal lethargy of unbelief. Captivate all my heart by the sweet constraining influence of thy redeeming love.
Dispel the mist of error. Dissipate every darkening cloud, which would intercept thy bright beams from shining into my soul. Thou, who art the Sun of righteousness, let all thy brightness burst upon my ravished sight; let all thy goodness pass before me.
Reveal thyself as my Saviour. Say to my trembling heart, “ I am thy salvation.” Then shall I be able to contemplate eternity with joyful expectation, knowing that to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord.
Moses was well acquainted with the insensibility of the human heart to eternal things, when he prayed : “ So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” We are walking every moment on the verge of eternity. A slight accident can loosen the cords which unite soul and body ; and thus bring us instantly into the world of spirits. Then why should we calculate upon length of days? Why should we act, as if we had years at command? This moment only is our own. So precious is time, that Infinite Bounty deals it out by seconds. And yet how prodigal we are of time, as if it were of all things the easiest to attain; or its loss the easiest to repair. Dying sinners, whose consciences are awakened, and whose eyes are opened to see their danger, know the incalculable value of time. They feel every moment to be inconceivably precious, if, in this fleeting remnant of