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light is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night*. Various matter of prayer may by this means be suggested, and the soul brought into a proper frame for pouring out itself before God. Observe in what channel the devotion of David and Asaph ran in the Old Testament, and that of Paul, John, and the other apostles under the New, and, above all, that of our great Lord ; and labour, with allowances for the difference of circumstances, to have your heart affected with divine things, as theirs seem to have been.
Labour not only to breathe out this temper before God in the seasons of solemn devout retirement, for which you will do well to have your hours and your plan, to be, if possible, strictly and resolutely observed, but also endeavour to carry it along with you into the world : and be lifting up your heart to God, in many of those little vacancies of time, which often hang on the hands even of the busiest of mankind, but might this way be profitably employed. Why should you, for several hours toge. ther, be in the presence of such a master, and such a friend, without speaking one word to him? Or why should any of his most affectionate servants, in former ages, have addressed him with a devotion warmer and more constant than yours! If this advice be observed, you will also be glad to have an occasional errand to the throne of grace, will be heartily glad to sweeten the hours of friendly conversation, by making them subservient to communion with God. It will gladden you often to conclude your visits with prayer, and cheerfully to come into any scheme of seeking God in a more solemn and express manner, on any particular emergencies that may arise relating to yourself and friends; as also to encourage, what we commonly call, private meetings for social prayer at stated times, which, so far as I can judge, greatly promote a minister's usefulness, and which are generally kept up with the greater spirit, and the best order, when he accustoms himself to be often present at them.
But permit me, Sir, before I dismiss this head, to remind you, that it is evangelical devotion I am recommending : a devotion in which a due regard is habitually maintained, to the love and grace of Christ, and to the influence of his good Spirit. Indeed one would think, if a man believed the gospel, his devotions should naturally and unavoidably take this turn. Would to God we could find it so; nevertheless this I may confidently say, so far as reason and experience can justify a confidence in saying any thing, that very much will depend upon turning our thonghts into the channel to which the gospel has directed them, and viewing things in the light in which that has placed them. No devotion so sweet, and none so lasting as that which is thus guided and animated. Remember it is the gospel in which you are serving him; and you can never serve him so effectually, as by a close and constant attendance to it. Keep your heart therefore full of those impressions, which it will naturally introduce into an attentive mind. Think what a friend the blessed Jesus has been to you, and how much you are, and must for ever be indebted to his life and death, his resurrection and ascension, his guardianship and intercession. And when this view grows daily familiar to your own soul, your Heart will teach your mouth, and add this best kind of knowledge to your lips *. So that you will be in no danger of starving or destroying the souls of your hearers, as I fear many who should be ministers of the gospel do, by a criininal and fatal silence upon these heads: and this will happily infiuence you to all humility of spirit in the service of Christ ; for nothing has so great a tendency to humble the soul, as the sight and converse of the blessed and glorious Jehovah, in whose presence we are less than nothing, and vanity: especially when we consider ourselves as introduced to him by the blood of Christ; and formed and animated by his own spirit, in every thing which is pleasing, in every thing which is not offensive to him. Pride, my dear brother, is one of the most subtle, and one of the most dangerous enemies that you will encounter with, in the whole course of your christian and ministerial warfare. It is at once astonishing and grievous, to think under how many specious forms it insinuates itself into the very sanctuary of God, and hides itself, if I may be allowed the expression, even under the vestments of those who serve at his altar ; indeed frustrating its own most darling end, and exposing them at once to the displeasure of God, and, to what they seem yet more to fear, the contempt of men. You must therefore continually and constantly guard against it; and make it one of the chief cares of your life, not only to suppress its growth, but to root it out of your soul.
* Psal. i. 2.
If you would be honourable in the sight of the Lord whom you serve, you must be humble; and that humility must be seated, not merely in the external behaviour, but in the heart. A small degree of common sense may be sufficient to preserve a man from the ridiculous folly of making encomiums upon him
self, and his own performances; or from the madness of putting on iinperious airs in common life, which is indeed no other than bespeaking the scorn and aversion of all about us. I had almost said, a manly pride will set a minister above these things, and teach him to curb every appearance of them. But our humility should dwell in our very souls: and I am well persuaded the greatest and the best of men, may find enough in themselves to nourish it from day to day. When I think, for instance, what the man and the minister, in the most perfect view of his character, ought to be, in comparison with what I myself am: when I look about on all the negligences and irregularities of my life ; when I look in especially on all the folly and corruption of my heart; and farther recollect, that all these things are open to the eyes of God, who sees what I am, and what I have done, in comparison with what I should have been, and should have done; in comparison to what I might have been, and might have done, for his glory, and the good of mankind, if all my capacities, and all my opportunities had been improved to the highest possible degree! what reason do I find for the deepest abasement in the divine presence? What reason to abhor, rather than applaud myself; to hide my head with conscious blushes, rather than to lift it up in a haughty and supercilious manner, as if I had whereof to glory before God or man! It is not a freedom from gross matter of reproach among men, no, nor some distinguishing share of genius, of learning, of eloquence, of reputation and popularity, that will raise a man's esteem for himself, when such views as these are made familiar to the mind. He will apprehend it to be, at least a supposable, and indeed a very probable case, that many, who, in these things, and in the eye of the world, are his inferiors, may, on account of their better temper and conduct, be, in the eyes of God, far superior to him; and may be fitted for much more distinguished honours in that world which is to fix our rank for ever : and we shall certainly find it very much for our own ease and comfort in life, thus to Esteem others better than ourselves, in honour preferring one another*. When we do not look upon any distinguishing regards as our due, if we miss them we shall not be much disappointed, and if they meet us, we shall think ourselves obliged to the world for its kind partiality in our favour; and behave so much the more humbly, while we endeavour indeed to be, what they are so kind as to think we are: and thus, in more senses than one, it will be prudent for him, Who would be the greatest, to be the least and
hend itbut many feriors
* Phil, ü, 3, Rom. xii, 10.
naturas son is so listes, and exacern to peether, as the f
seroant of all*. Our blessed Redeemer is such an example of this amiable temper, that nothing in the world illustrates the natural pride and corruption of the human heart more, than that this lesson is so little learnt and practised, by those who call themselves his disciples, and even his ministers.
3. Let it be your concern to preserve a due freedom and elevation of spirit. I join these together, as being nearly of a kin, and the latter only a superior degree of the former. And therefore when I mention liberty of mind, you will apprehend I intend not only, or chiefly what the world calls freedom of sentiment. You have long since been taught to indulge that, and have I hope taken your religion from the word of God, and not from any human system or composition whatever. Go on to act upon this maxim. I dare not say, like St. Paul, Continue in the things thou hast learnt, and been assured of by me, knowing of whom thou hast learned them t. It rather becomes me to say, examine all I have taught you, and Search the scriptures daily whether these things are so or not. You will not, I am persuaded, run the matter to extremes, and imagine, like some halfthinkers, that liberty consists in boldly daring to decide against received opinions, as soon as some new difficulties are discerned; and confidently venting raw and undigested notions, however noxious, without fearing any of the consequences. And while you guard against this, I am not so conscious of the weakness of any cause in which I am embarked, as to fear it should be brought to the test of strict enquiry. But this enquiry, how well soever guarded and regulated, is not the whole that I mean by freedom. I intend something much nobler and greater; something which many who boast loudly of their liberty are entirely ignorant of, I mean a freedom from all undue attachments to every thing that would debase and enslave the mind, and render a man the ignominious servant of corruption.
If Paul thought it proper to say to Timothy, Keep thyself pure, and flee youthful lusts g, the admonition cannot be unseasonable to any who are early in life entering on the ministry. And indeed, if, after so many years spent in the apostolic office, he represented it as a daily labour of his life, to Keep under his body, and bring it under subjection ||; we may reasonably conclude, that the most advanced servants of Christ had need to be cautious on this head; had need, while they dwell in animal
punable to any who iso many years sphis life, to R
body, to Watch and pray, that they enter not into temptation*. Especially considering that some of the excesses to which un, guarded appetite may betray aman, are of such a nature, as to fix a lasting stain upon his character. A minister especially may, in one single hour, incur a reproach, which past and future years of the strictest temperance shall not be able to avert, remove, or efface. Yet I cannot but say, that to a person in whom the has bits of a temperate and regular life are formed, I apprehend the passions to be much more dangerous enemies than the appetites; and especially those excesses of the passions which are generally, among virtuous and worthy men, reckoned weak rather than in famous. By these has many a wise and good man been miser, ably enslaved, and fallen far beneath the dignity of his charac. ter and office; not to mention the unhappy consequences they have often drawn after them, with respect to the ease and com. fort of future life.
Wisdom is not indeed intended to root out the passions, but she seldom dwells in the heart in which they are suffered to grow wild. They turn the soul into a desart, and render it a disagreeable abode to so divine a guest; or rather, to speak in language more becoming a christian divine, the blessed Spirit of God is by this means driven away, and it is impossible to say how much the evil spirit may sometimes do, in his absence, to irritate our minds and drive them into the most fatal extremes. It must therefore be of great importance to keep a resolute guard on these turbulent subjects, and to check the first rising of sedition among them; lest they gather strength by insensible degrees, and break out into such open rebellion, as to depose reason and religion from the throne, reducing the soul into a state of anarchy; or rather making its noble rational powers the slaves of those, whom they were formed to command.
To be secure from all the danger, and all the appearances of so great an evil, let it be your care, Sir, to maintain a be. coming elevation of spirit, and to fill your mind with sublime ideas, principles and vielvs. This the christian religion naturally suggests to all its votaries, and above all to its ministers. Think, what a master you serve, and in what a work you are engaged ! Think how little all the titles which the princes of this world can give must appear, when compared with that of the minister of Jesus, and a servant of God in the salvation of souls. Think how low the employments of secular life are, even those in which the nobles and kings of the earth are engaged, in comparison with
* Mat. xxvi. 41.