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pétitions suitable to that change, will soon find, that he has taken an excellent mean, not only of praying with fervour, but of living, as he prays.
The next condition, to which we are always to adapt some part of our prayers, is the difference of our hearts; by which is meant the dif ferent state of the tempers of our hearts, as of love, joy, peace, tranquillity, dulness of spiritj anxiety, discontent, motions of envy and ambition, dark and disconsolate thoughts, resent 'ments, fretfulness, and peevish tempers.
As these tempers will have their succession more or less, even in pious minds ; so we should constantly make the present state of our heart the reason of some particular application to God:
If we are in the delightful calm of sweet and easy passions, of love and joy in God, we should then offer the grateful tribute of thanksgiving to God, for the possession of so much happiness, thankfully owning and acknowledging him as the bountiful giver of it all.
If, on the other hand, we feel ourselves laden with heavy passions, with dulness of spirit, anxiety, and uneasiness, we must then look up to God in acts of humility, confessing our unworthiness, opening our troubles to him, be
seeching him, in his good time, to lessen the weight of our infirmities, and to deliver us from such passions, as oppose the purity and perfec. tion of our souls.
By thus watching, and attending to the present state of our hearts, and suiting some of our petitions exactly to their wants, we shall not only be well acquainted with the disorders of our souls, but also be well.exercised in the method of curing them.
By this prudent and wise application of our prayers, we shall get all the relief from them, which is possible ; and the very changeableness of our hearts will prove a mean of exercising a greater variety of holy tempers.
It is for want of considering devotion in this light, as something, which is to be nursed and cherished with care ; as something, which is to be made part of our business; which is to be improved with care and contrivance, by art and method, and a diligent use of the best helps ; st is for want of considering it in this light, that so many people are so little benefitted by it, and live and die strangers to that spirit of devotion, which, by a prudent use of proper means, they might have enjoyed in a high degree,
To conclude this chapter. Devotion is nothing else but right apprehensions and right affections towards God.
All practices, therefore, which heighten and
fuel of this holy flame, so we must use all our care and contrivance to give prayer its full power; as by alms, selfdenial, frequent retirements, and holy readings, composing forms for ourselves, or using the best we can get, adding length of time, and observing hours of prayer ; changing, improving; and suiting our devotions to the condition of our lives, and the state of our hearts.
Those, who have most leisure, seem more especially called to a more eminent observance of these holy rules of a devout life. They, who by the necessity of their state, and not through their own choice, have but little time to employ thus, must make the best use of the little they have.
This is the certain way of making devotion produce a devout life.
Recommending thanksgiving, as a subject of devotion.
THERE is no state of mind so holy, so excellent, and so truly perfect, as that of thankfulness to God; and consequently nothing is of more importance in religion, than that, which exercises and improves this habit of mind.
A dull, uneasy, complaining spirit, which is sometimes the spirit of those, who seem careful of religion, is yet of all tempers the most contrary to religion; it disowns that God, which it pretends to adore. For he sufficiently disowns God, who does not adore him, as a being of infinite goodness.
If a man do not believe, that all the world is. as God's family, where nothing happens by chance, but all is guided and directed by the. care and providence of a being, who is all love and goodness to all his creatures; if a man do not believe this from his heart, he cannot be said truly to believe in God. Yet be, w
Yet he, who has this faith, has faith enough to overcome the world, and always be thankful to God. For
he, who believes, that every thing happens to him for the best, cannot possibly complain for the want of something, which is better.
If therefore you live in murmurings and com plaints, accusing all the accidents of life, it is not, because you are a weak, infirm creature, but it is, because you want the first principle of religion, a right belief in God. For, as thankfulness is an express acknowledgment of the goodness of God towards you, so repinings and complaints are as plain accusations of God's want of the goodness of God towards you.
On the other hand, would you know, who is the greatest saint in the world? It is not he, who prays most, or fasts most ; it is not he, who gives most alms, or is most eminent for temperance, chastity, or justice ; but it is he, who is always thankful to God; who wills every thing, that God willeth ; who receives every thing, as an instance of God's goodness, and has a heart always ready to praise God for it.
All prayer and devotions, fastings and repentance, meditation and retirement, all sacraments and ordinances are but so many means to render the soul thus divine and conformable to the will of God, and to fill it with thankfulness and praise for everything, which comes