Imágenes de páginas

every blessing which he enjoys; lastly, there gious seriousness. The principle itself is destroywould still be the redemption of the world by Je-ed in them, or was never formed in them. Upon sus Christ. All these things would, with or with- those who hear, its effect is this: If they have out religious ordinances, be equally real, and exist-concern about religion, and the disposition towards ing, and valid: but men would not think equally religion which they ought to have, and which we about them. Many would entirely and totally signify by this word seriousness, they will be inneglect them. Some there would always be of a wardly shocked and offended by the levity with more devout, or serious, or contemplative disposi- which they hear it treated. They will, as it were, tion, who would retain a lively sense of these resent such treatment of a subject, which by them things under all circumstances and all disadvan- has always been thought upon with awe, and tages, who would never lose their veneration for dread, and veneration. But the pain with which them, never forget them. But from others, from they were at first affected, goes off by hearing frethe careless, the busy, the followers of pleasure, quently the same sort of language; and then they the pursuers of wealth or advancement, these will be almost sure, if they examine the state of things would slip away from the thoughts entirely. their minds as to religion, to feel a change, in Together with religious ordinances we men- themselves for the worse. This is the danger to tioned religious exercises. By the term religious which those are exposed, who had before imbibed exercises, I in particular mean private prayer; serious impressions. Those who had not, will be whether it be at set times, as in the morning and prevented, by such sort of conversation, from ever evening of each day; or whether it be called forth imbibing them at all; so that its influence is in all by occasions, as when we are to form some mo- cases pernicious. mentous decision, or enter upon some great undertaking; or when we are under some pressing difficulty or deep distress, some excruciating bodily pain or heavy affliction; or, on the other hand, and no less properly, when we have lately been receiving some signal benefit, experiencing some signal mercy; such as preservation from danger, relief from difficulty or distress, abatement of pain, recovery from sickness: for by prayer, let it be observed, we mean devotion in general; and thanksgiving is devotion as much as prayer itself. I mean private prayer, as here described; and I also mean, what is perhaps the most natural form of private prayer, short ejaculatory extemporaneous addresses to God, as often as either the reflections which rise up in our minds, let them come from what quarter they may, or the objects and incidents which seize our attention, prompt us to utter them; which in a religiously disposed mind, will be the case, I may say, every hour, and which ejaculation may be offered up to God in any posture, in any place, or in any situation. Amongst religious exercises, I also reckon family prayer, which unites many of the uses both of public worship and private prayer. The reading of religious books is likewise to be accounted a religious exercise. Religious meditation still more so; and more so for this reason, that it implies and includes that most important duty, self-examination; for I hold it to be next to impossible for a man to meditate upon religion, without meditating at the same time upon his own present condition with respect to the tremendous alternative which is to take place upon him after his death.

These are what we understand by religious exercises; and they are all so far of the same nature with religious ordinances, that they are aids and helps of religion itself; and I think that religious seriousness cannot be maintained in the soul without them.

The turn which this levity usually takes, is in jests and raillery upon the opinions, or the peculiarities, or the persons of men of particular sects, or who bear particular names; especially if they happen to be more serious than ourselves. And of late this loose, and I can hardly help calling it profane humour, has been directed chiefly against the followers of methodism. But against whom soever it happens to be pointed, it has all the bad effects both upon the speaker and the hearer which we have noticed: and as in other instances, so in this, give me leave to say that it is very much misplaced. In the first place, were the doctrines and sentiments of those who bear this name ever so foolish and extravagant, (I do not say that they are either,) this proposition I shall always maintain to be true, viz. that the wildest opinion that ever was entertained in matters of religion, is more rational than unconcern about these matters. Upon this subject nothing is so absurd as indifference; no folly so contemptible as thoughtlessness and levity. In the next place, do methodists deserve this treatment? Be their particular doctrines what they may, the professors of these doctrines appear to be in earnest about them; and a man who is in earnest in religion cannot be a bad man, still less a fit subject for derision. I am no methodist myself. In their leading doctrines I differ from them. But I contend that sincere men are not, for these, or indeed, any doctrines, to be made laughing stocks to others. I do not bring in the case of methodists in this part of my discourse, for the purpose of vindicating their tenets, but for the purpose of observing (and I wish that the obser vation may weigh with all my readers) that the custom of treating their characters and persons, their preaching or their preachers, their meetings or worship, with scorn, has the pernicious consequence of destroying our own seriousness, together with the seriousness of those who hear or join in such sort of conversation; especially if they be

But again: a cause which has a strong tenden-young persons: and I am persuaded that much cy to destroy religious seriousness, and which al- mischief is actually done in this very way. most infallibly prevents its formation and growth in young minds, is levity in conversation upon religious subjects, or upon subjects connected with religion. Whether we regard the practice with respect to those who use it, or to those who hear it, it is highly to be blamed, and is productive of great mischief. In those who use it, it amounts almost to a proof that they are destitute of reli

A phrase much used upon these occasions, and frequent in the mouth of those who speak of such as in religious matters are more serious than themselves, is, "that they are righteous over-much." These, it is true, are scripture words; and it is that circumstance which has given currency to the expression: but in the way and sense in which they are used, I am convinced that they are exceedingly

misapplied. The text occurs once in the Bible, choly shall fall upon religious ideas, as it may and only once. It is in the book of Ecclesiastes, upon any other subject which seizes their distem7th chap. and 16th verse. It is not very easy to pered imagination. But this is not religion leaddetermine what is meant by it in the place in ing to melancholy. Or it sometimes is the case which it is found. It is a very obscure passage. It that men are brought to a sense of religion by seems to me most probable, that it relates to an calamity and affliction, which produce, at the same external affectation of righteousness, not prompt-time, depression of spirits. But neither here is ed by internal principle: or rather to the assuming religion the cause of this distress or dejection, or the character of righteousness, merely to vaunt or to be blamed for it. These cases being excepted, show our superiority over others; to conceitedness the very reverse of what is alleged against religion in religion: in like manner as the caution delivered is the truth. No man's spirits were ever hurt by in the same verse, "be not over-wise," respects the doing his duty. On the contrary, one good action, ostentation of wisdom, and not the attainment it-one temptation resisted and overcome, one sacriself. So long as we mean by righteousness, a sin- fice of desire or interest purely for conscience' cere and anxious desire to seek out the will of God, sake, will prove a cordial for weak and low spirits and to perform it, it is impossible to be righteous beyond what either indulgence or diversion or over-much. There is no such thing in nature: company can do for them. And a succession and nor was it, nor could it be, the intention of any course of such actions and self-denials, springing passage in the Bible, to say that there is, or to from a religious principle and manfully mainauthorise us in casting over-righteousness as a tained, is the best possible course that can be folreproach or a censure upon any one. lowed as a remedy for sinkings and oppressions of In like manner it has been objected, that so this kind. Can it then be true, that religion leads much regard, or, as the objectors would call it, to melancholy? Occasions arise to every man over-regard for religion, is inconsistent with the living; to many very severe, as well as repeated interest and welfare of our families, and with suc- occasions, in which the hopes of religion are the cess and prosperity in our worldly affairs. I be-only stay that is left him. Godly men have that lieve that there is very little ground for this objec- within them which cheers and comforts them in tion in fact, and even as the world goes; in reason their saddest hours: ungodly men have that which and principle there is none. A good Christian strikes their heart, like a dagger, in its gayest modivides his time between the duties of religion, ments. Godly men discover, what is very true, the calls of business, and those quiet relaxations but what, by most men, is found out too late, which may be innocently allowed to his circum- namely, that a good conscience, and the hope of stances and condition, and which will be chiefly our Creator's final favour and acceptance, are the in his family or amongst a few friends. In this only solid happiness to be attained in this world. plan of life there is no confusion or interference Experience corresponds with the reason of the of its parts; and unless a man be given to sloth thing. I take upon me to say, that religious men and laziness, which are what religion condemns, are generally cheerful. If this be not observed, he will find time enough for them all. This calm as might be expected, supposing it to be true, it is system may not be sufficient for that unceasing because the cheerfulness which religion inspires eagerness, hurry, and anxiety about worldly afdoes not show itself in noise or in fits and starts fairs, in which some men pass their lives; but it of merriment, but is calm and constant. Of this is sufficient for every thing which reasonable pru- the only true and valuable kind of cheerfulness, dence requires; and it is perfectly consistent with for all. other kinds are hollow and unsatisfying, usefulness in our stations, which is a main point. religious men possess not less but a greater share Indeed, compare the hours which serious persons than others. spend in religious exercises and meditations, with the hours which the thoughtless and irreligious spend in idleness and vice and expensive diversions, and you will perceive on which side of the comparison the advantage lies, even in this view of the subject.

Nor is there any thing in the nature of religion to support the objection. In a certain sense it is true, what has been sometimes said, that religion ought to be the rule of life, not the business; by which is meant, that the subject matter even of religious duties lies in the common affairs and transactions of the world.. Diligence in our calling is an example of this; which, however, keeps both a man's head and hands at work upon business merely temporal; yet religion may be governing him here meanwhile. God may be feared in the busiest scenes.

In addition to the above, there exists another prejudice against religious seriousness, arising from a notion very commonly entertained, viz. that religion leads to gloom and melancholy. This notion, I am convinced, is a mistake. Some persons are constitutionally subject to melancholy, which is as much a disease in them, as the ague is a discase; and it may happen that such men's melan

Another destroyer of religious seriousness, and which is the last I shall mention, is a certain fatal turn which some minds take, namely, that when they find difficulties in or concerning religion, or any of the tenets of religion, they forthwith plunge into irreligion; and make these difficulties, or any degree of uncertainty which seems to their apprehension to hang over the subject, a ground and occasion for giving full liberty to their inclinations, and for casting off the restraints of religion entirely. This is the case with men, who, at the best, perhaps, were only balancing between the sanctions of religion and the love of pleasure or of unjust gain, but especially the former. In this precarious state, any objection, or appearance of objection, which diminishes the force of the religious impression, determines the balance against the side of virtue, and gives up the doubter to sensuality, to the world, and to the flesh. Now, of all ways which a man can take, this is the surest way to destruction; and it is completely irrational. I say it is completely irrational; for when we meditate upon the tremendous consequences which form the subject of religion, we cannot avoid this reflection, that any degree of probability whatever, I had almost said any degree

of possibility whatever, of religion being true, ought to determine a rational creature so to act as to secure himself from punishment in a future state, and the loss of that happiness which may be attained. Therefore he has no pretence for alleging uncertainty as an excuse for his conduct, because he does not act in conformity with that in which there is no uncertainty at all. In the next place, it is giving to apparent difficulties more weight than they are entitled to. I only request any man to consider, first, the necessary allow- A TASTE and relish for religious exercise, or ances to be made for the short-sightedness and the want of it, is one of the marks and tokens by the weakness of the human understanding; se- which we may judge whether our heart be right condly, the nature of those subjects concerning towards God or not. God is unquestionably an which religion treats, so remote from our senses, object of devotion to every creature which he has so different from our experience, so above and be-made capable of devotion; consequently, our yond the ordinary train and course of our ideas; minds can never be right towards him, unless and then say, whether difficulties, and great diffi- they be in a devotional frame. It cannot be disculties also, were not to be expected; nay further,puted, but that the Author and Giver of all things, whether they be not in some measure subservient upon whose will and whose mercy we depend for to the very purpose of religion. The reward of every thing we have, and for every thing we look everlasting life, and the punishment or misery of for, ought to live in the thoughts and affections of which we know no end, if they were present and his rational creatures. "Through thee have I immediate, could not be withstood, and would not been holden up ever since I was born: thou art leave any room for liberty or choice. But this he that took me from my mother's womb: my sort of force upon the will is not what God de- praise shall be always of thee." If there be such signed; nor is suitable indeed to the nature of things as first sentiments towards God, these free, moral, and accountable agents. The truth words of the Psalmist express them. That devo is, and it was most likely beforehand that it would tion to God is a duty, stands upon the same proof be so, that amidst some points which are dark, as that God exists. But devotion is an act of the some which are dubious, there are many which mind strictly. In a certain sense, duty to a felare clear and certain. Now, I apprehend, that, if low-creature may be discharged if the outward we act faithfully up to those points concerning act be performed, because the benefit to him dewhich there is no question, most especially if we pends upon the act. Not so with devotion. It determine upon and choose our rule and course of is altogether the operation of the mind. God is a life according to those principles of choice which Spirit, and must be worshipped in spirit, that is, all men whatever allow to be wise and safe prin- in mind and thought. The devotion of the mind ciples, and the only principles which are so; and may be, will be, ought to be, testified and accomconduct ourselves steadfastly according to the rule panied by outward performances and expressions: thus chosen, the difficulties which remain in religion but, without the mind going along with it, no will not move or disturb us much; and will, as we form, no solemnity can avail, as a service to God. proceed, become gradually less and fewer. Where It is not so much a question under what mode as, if we begin with objections; if all we consider men worship their Maker; but this is the quesabout religion be its difficulties; but, most espe- tion, whether their mind, and thoughts, and affeccially, if we permit the suggestion of difficulties tions, accompany the mode which they adopt or to drive us into a practical rejection of religion itself, not. I do not say, that modes of worship are inand to afford us, which is what we wanted, an ex- different things; for certainly one mode may be cuse to ourselves for casting off its restraints; more rational, more edifying, more pure than anothen the event will be, that its difficulties will mul ther; but they are indifferent, in comparison with tiply upon us; its light grow more and more dim, the question, whether the heart attend the worship, and we shall settle in the worst and most hopeless or be estranged from it. of all conditions; the last condition, I will venture to say, in which any man living would wish his son, or any one whom he loved, and for whose happiness he was anxious, to be placed; a life of confirmed vice and dissoluteness; founded in a formal renunciation of religion.

He that has to preach Christianity to persons in this state, has to preach to stones. He must not expect to be heard, either with complacency or seriousness, or patience, or even to escape contempt and derision. Habits of thinking are fixed by habits of acting; and both too solidly fixed to be moved by human persuasion. God in his mercy, and by his providences, as well as by his Spirit, can touch and soften the heart of stone. And it is seldom perhaps, that, without some strong, and, it may be, sudden impressions of this kind, and from this source, serious sentiments ever penetrate dispositions hardened in the manner which we have here described.



But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth.-John iv. 23, 24.

These two points, then, being true; first, that devotion is a duty; secondly, that the heart must participate to make any thing we do devotion; it follows that the heart cannot be right toward God, unless it be possessed with a taste and relish for his service, and for what relates to it.

Men may, and many undoubtedly do, attend upon acts of religious worship, and even from religious motives, yet, at the same time, without this taste and relish of which we are speaking. Religion has no savour for them. I do not allude to the case of those who attend upon the public worship of the church, or of their communion, from compliance with custom, out of regard to station, for example's sake merely, from habit merely; still less to the case of those who have particular worldly views in so doing. I lay the case of such persons, for the present, out of the question; and I consider only the case of those, who knowing and believing the worship of God

aged persons, who passed the greatest part of
their time in acts of devotion, and passed it with
enjoyment. "Anna, the prophetess, was of great
age, which departed not from the temple, but
served God with fastings and prayers, night and

to be a duty, and that the wilful neglect of this,
as of other duties, must look forward to future
punishment, do join in worship from a principle
of obedience, from a consideration of those conse-
quences which will follow disobedience; from the
fear indeed of God, and the dread of his judg-day." The first Christians, so far as can be
ments (and so far from motives of religion,) yet gathered from their history in the Acts of the
without any taste or relish for religious exercise Apostles, and the Epistles, as well as from the
itself. That is the case I am considering. It is subsequent account left of them, took great de-
not for us to presume to speak harshly of any light in exercises of devotion. These scemed to
conduct, which proceeds, in any manner, from a form, indeed, the principal satisfaction of their
regard to God, and the expectation of a future lives in this world. "Continuing daily, with one
judgment. God, in his Scriptures, holds out to accord, in the temple, and breaking bread," that
man terrors, as well as promises; punishment is, celebrating the holy communion, "from house
after death, as well as reward. Undoubtedly he to house, they eat their meat with gladness and
intended those motives which he himself proposes, singleness of heart, praising God." In this spirit
to operate and have their influence. Wherever Christians set out, finding the greatest gratifica-
they operate, good ensues; very great and import- tion they were capable of, in acts and exercises
ant good, compared with the cases in which they of devotion. A great deal of what is said in the
do not operate; yet not all the good we would New Testament, by St. Paul in particular, about
desire, not all which is attainable, not all which "rejoicing in the Lord, rejoicing in the Holy
we ought to aim at, in our Christian course. The Ghost, rejoicing in hope, rejoicing in consolation,
fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: rejoicing in themselves, as sorrowful, yet always
but calling it the beginning, implies that we ought rejoicing," refer to the pleasure, and the high and
to proceed further; namely, from his fear to his spiritual comfort which they found in religious
exercises. Much, I fear, of this spirit is fled.
There is a coldness in our devotions, which
argues a decay of religion amongst us. Is it true
that men, in these days, perform religious exer-
cises as frequently as they ought, or as those did
who have gone before us in the Christian course?
that is one question to be asked: but there is also
another question of still greater importance, riz.
do they find in these performances that gratifica-
tion which the first and best disciples of the reli-
gion actually found? which they ought to find;
and which they would find, did they possess the
taste and relish concerning which we are dis-
coursing, and which if they do not possess, they
want one great proof of their heart being right
towards God.

If the spirit of prayer, as it is sometimes called,
if the taste and relish for devotion, if a devotional
frame of mind be within us, it will show itself in
the turn and cast of our meditations, in the
warmth, and earnestness, and frequency of our
secret applications to God in prayer; in the deep,
unfeigned, heart-piercing, heart-sinking sorrow
of our confessions and our penitence; in the sin-
cerity of our gratitude and of our praise; in our
admiration of the divine bounty to his creatures;
in our sense of particular mercies to ourselves.
We shall pray much in secret. We shall address
ourselves to God of our own accord, in our walks,
our closet, our bed. Form, in these addresses,
will be nothing. Every thing will come from the
heart. We shall feed the flame of devotion by
continually returning to the subject. No man,
who is endued with the taste and relish we speak
of, will have God long out of his mind. Under
one view or other, God cannot be long out of a
devout mind. "Neither was God in all his

To apply this distinction to the subject before us: the man who serves God from a dread of his displeasure, and therefore in a certain sense by constraint, is, beyond all comparison, in a better situation as touching his salvation, than he who defies this dread and breaks through this constraint. He, in a word, who obeys, from whatever motive his obedience springs, provided it be a religious motive, is of a character, as well as in a condition, infinitely preferable to the character and condition of the man whom no motives whatever can induce to perform his duty. Still it is true, that if he feels not within himself a taste and relish for the service which he performs, (to say nothing of the consideration how much less acceptable his services may be,) and for devotion itself, he wants one satisfactory evidence of his heart being right towards God. A further progress in religion will give him this evidence, but it is not yet attained: as yet, therefore, there is a great deficiency.

The taste and relish for devotion, of which we are speaking, is what good men in all ages have felt strongly. It appears in their history it appears in their writings. The book of Psalms, in particular, was, great part of it, composed under the impression of this principle. Many of the Psalms are written in the truest spirit of devotion; and it is one test of the religious frame of our own minds, to observe whether we have a relish for these compositions; whether our hearts are stirred as we read them; whether we perceive in them words alone, a mere letter, or so many grateful, gratifying sentiments towards God in unison with what we ourselves feel, or have before felt. And what we are saying of the book of Psalms, is true of many religious books that are put into our hands, especially books of devotional religion; which, though they be human compositions, and nothing more, are of a similar cast with the devotional writings of Scripture, and excellently calculated for their purpose.* We read of

* Amongst these I particularly recommend the pray. ers and devotions annexed to the new Whole Duty of

Man. Bishop Burnet, in speaking of such kind of
books, very truly says, "By the frequent reading of
these books, by the relish that one has in them, by the
delight they give, and the effects they produce, a man
will plainly perceive whether his soul is made for
divine matters, or not; what suitableness there is be.
tween him and them, and whether he is yet touched
with such a sense of religion, as to be capable of dedi-
cating himself to it."

[ocr errors][merged small]

thoughts," is a true description of a complete | so with thanksgiving. It will be the same likedereliction of religious principle; but it can, by wise with every other part of divine worship. The no possibility, be the case with a man, who has confession of sins in our liturgy, and perhaps in all the spirit of devotion, or any portion of that spirit, liturgies, is general; but our sins, alas! are partiwithin him. cular: our conscience not only acknowledges a deplorable weakness and imperfection in the discharge of our duty, but is stung also with remembrances and compunctions, excited by particular offences. When we come, therefore, to confess our sins, let memory do its office faithfully. Let these sins rise up before our eyes. All language is imperfect. Forms, intended for general use, must consist of general terms, and are so far inadequate. They may be rehearsed by the lips with very little of application to our own case. But this will never be so, if the spirit of devotion be within us. A devout mind is exceedingly stirred, when it has sins to confess. None but a

But it is not in our private religion alone, that the effect and benefit of this principle is perceived. The true taste and relish we so much dwell upon, will bring a man to the public worship of God; and, what is more, will bring him in such a frame of mind as to enable him to join in it with effect; with effect as to his own soul; with effect as to every object, both public and private, intended by public worship. Wanderings and forgetfulness, remissions and intermissions of attention, there will be; but these will be fewer and shorter, in proportion as more of this spirit is prevalent within us; and some sincere, some hearty, some deep, some true, and, as we trust, acceptable ser-hardened sinner can even think of his sins withvice will be performed, before we leave the place; out pain. But when he is to lay them, with supsome pouring forth of the soul unto God in prayer plications for pardon, before his Maker; when he and in thanksgiving; in prayer, excited by wants is to expose his heart to God; it will always be and weaknesses; I fear also, by sins and neglects with powerful inward feelings of guilt and calawithout number; and in thanksgivings, such as mity. It hath been well said of prayer, that prayer mercies, the most undeserved, ought to call forth will either make a man leave off sinning, or sin from a heart, filled, as the heart of man should be, will make him leave off prayer. And the same is with a thorough consciousness of dependency and true of confession. If confession be sincere, if it obligation. be such as a right capacity for devotion will make it to be, it will call up our proper and particular sins so distinctly to our view, their guilt, their danger, their end; whither they are carrying us; in what they will conclude; that, if we can return to them again without molestation from our conscience, then religion is not within us. If we have approached God in his worship so ineffectu ally as to ourselves, it is because we have not wor shipped him in spirit; we may say of all we have done, "we drew near him with our lips, but our hearts were far from him."

Forms of public worship must, by their very nature, be in a great degree general; that is, must be calculated for the average condition of human and of Christian life; but it is one property of the devotional spirit, which we speak of, to give a particularity to our worship, though it be carried on in a congregation of fellow Christians, and expressed in terms which were framed and conceived for the use of all. And it does this by calling up recollections which will apply most closely, and bring home most nearly to ourselves, those terms and those expressions. For instance, in public worship, we thank God in general terms, that is, we join with the congregation in a general thanksgiving; but a devout man brings to church the recollection of special and particular mercies, particular bounties, particular providences, particular deliverances, particular relief recently experienced, specially and critically granted in the moment of want or danger, or eminently and supereminently vouchsafed to us individually. These he bears in his thoughts; he applies as he proceeds; that which was general, he makes close and circumstantial; his heart rises towards God, by a sense of mercies vouchsafed to himself. He does not, however, confine himself to those favours of Providence, which he enjoys above many others, or more than most others; he does not dwell upon distinctions alone; he sees God in all his goodness, in all his bounty. Bodily ease, for instance, is not less valuable, not less a mercy, because others are at ease, as well as himself. The same of his health, the use of his limbs, the faculties of his understanding. But what I mean is, that, in his mind, he brings to church mercies, in which he is interested, and that the most general expressions of thankfulness attach with him upon particular recollections of goodness, particular subjects of gratitude; so that the holy fervour of his devotion is supported; never wants, nor can want, materials to act upon. It is the office, therefore, of an internal spirit of devotion to make worship personal. We have seen that it will be

What we have said concerning thanksgiving and confession, is likewise true of prayer univer sally. The spirit of devotion will apply our prayers to our wants. In forms of worship, be they ever so well composed, it is impossible to exhibit human wants, otherwise than in general expressions. But devotion will apply them. It will teach every man, in the first place, to know how indigent, how poor a creature without a continued exercise of mercy and supply of bounty from God, he would be; because, when he begins to enumerate his wants, he will be astonished at their multitude. What are we, any of us, but a complication of wants, which we have not in ourselves the power of supplying? But, beside those numerous wants, and that common helplessness, in which we all partake, every man has his own sore, his own grief, his own difficulties; every man has some distress, which he is suffering, or fearing. Nay, were worldly wishes satisfied, was worldly pros perity complete, he has always what is of more consequence than worldly prosperity to pray for; he has always his sins to pray against. Where temporal wants are few, spiritual wants are often the most and the greatest. The grace of God is always wanted. His governing, his preventing, his inspiring, his insisting grace is always wanted. Here, therefore, is a subject for prayer, were there no other; a subject personally and individually interesting in the highest degree; a subject above all others, upon which the spirit of devotion will be sure to fix.

« AnteriorContinuar »