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ready now to turn the stones into bread for His beloved Son, that His wearied nature may taste of His Father's goodness.” And so in some sort the temptation comes to us; our minds have been much interested, much drawn to serious things, much called upon to resolve, and watch and pray; nature requires a rest, for we cannot always bear strong exertion. So the rest as we call it begins,
nd we let our souls as it were go to sleep after their labour, and we give ourselves up to our lawful enjoyments with a free heart : suspecting no harm, we change the stones into bread, as the tempter bids us, and begin to take our pleasure. So we cease to watch; and what we called rest, instead of fitting us and strengthening us for work to come, steals upon us and makes us forget that we have any work at all.
There is always danger in these moments of recoil. In things not spiritual we know that after an examination such as is so soon to begin for some among you, the mind often flies back too vehemently when its work is over, and abandons itself to total idleness. After every effort there is always the notion that we have earned our rest. Although not put in words, there is, or soon will be, I doubt not, the feeling amongst many
you, that by the preparation for confirmation and for the communion, you have earned as it were a season of indulgence, when serious thoughts should not be pressed upon you.
As some have felt when Lent was over, after having kept it strictly, that now was their time to make up for their past severities, so many think that when the church's solemn services are over, it is hard to keep their minds still earnest ; they would fain go and play unreproved.
And this, which would be a likely feeling to rise among you, even if it were now no more than the middle of the half year, is much more likely to possess you, when all things are visibly pointing to the beginning of the holidays, and to the full enjoyment which is commonly your portion then. You will have a greater difficulty, it may be, in remaining faithful to Christ, from a circumstance which in itself is no fault of yours, nor can you at all help it; the circumstance, namely, that the holidays are so near.
But this circumstance, like all others of the same kind, which make our duty harder or easier, is, in fact, God's will with respect to us. He wills that we should be so tried : and we may be sure that He is faithful, and will not suffer us to be tried above what we are able, but will with the temptation also make a way for us to escape, that we may be able to bear it.
And, therefore, I would earnestly advise you all, while the impression of this day's services is still strong upon you, to pray to God, each for yourselves before you sleep this night, that He will preserve you in the danger which threatens you. Pray to Him in so many words, that He will keep you through the business of this week, and through the pleasant expectations and enjoyments of the next; that He will graciously hallow both your work and your pleasure, and make both really work for your good; as all things do work for good to those who love God.
Pray to God this night, and pray to Him also to-morrow. When to-morrow comes, already the services of to-day will seem to have a little gone by; they will be numbered amongst things past. No examination for confirmation; no preparation for the communion, will be then immediately before you : but examinations of another sort, and preparations for worldly pleasures. How easily will that present drive out the past, unless Christ's grace preserves it to us. How readily will the mind turn in other directions, and the sun of our life will be veiled in clouds, so as neither to be seen nor felt. Pray that these clouds may not overshadow Him ; pray that Christ may be present with us in our labours of to-morrow, even as He has been present with us in this place to-day.
For indeed it is our privilege to be with Him ever, and to have Him ever with us; whether we eat or drink, or whatever thing, grave or light, we may be engaged in. There is nothing strange,
nothing profane, nothing presumptuous, in praying that Christ may be with us in all those common works which our daily life here brings with it. I do not say that it is so easy to find Him in common places, as in this sacred place; or in common occupations, as in prayer and reading His word. Of course it is far less easy, but yet it is not impossible; and it is the great object of our finding Christ here ; it is the great object of our receiving the holy communion, that we should so find Him everywhere. That we should enter, for instance, upon our work of to-morrow, as on a duty which He commands to us, and look forward to the enjoyment of the holidays, as on a pleasure which He gives to us.
And if any one were so to pray this day and to-morrow, and being careful, were indeed to go through his work and his amusements of to-morrow, as Christ's service and Christ's gifts; would not the difference in his own feelings, when the day was over, be very great, as compared with what he had ever felt before? Would it, indeed, be an irksome task, a painful constraint, to pray yet again in the evening that Christ would be present with bim also on the morrow? Would he indeed shrink from rendering his account to Christ, if he could feel that he might render it with joy ? Supposing his conscience were to say for him, I have tried to walk this day in God's sight; I have tried to do my work as Christ's service; I have striven to do it honestly and cheerfully, I have used no unfair tricks to give me an advantage over others. I have tried, also, when I was receiving the many pleasures of my happy life,—for we well know that our life here is a rarely happy one,-I have tried to think of them as Christ's gift, and to thank Him for giving them; and by so thinking of them, I have tried to keep them free from the many sins which often go along with them; from profane, or impure, or angry, or insulting, or teasing words; from all unkindness and bad temper; from all gluttonous or riotous excess. Supposing, I say, th at any one's conscience could say this for him to-morrow evening, would such a one be unwilling to present himself before Christ? Would he omit his prayers, or hurry them over as a mere form? Or, would not he feel rather, that if he came before Christ, Christ would love him? Would not he be encouraged to pray again for the morrow? And if the morrow also were marked to the end by the presence of Christ's grace, would not the next night's prayer be still happier, and the resolution of the following morning be yet stronger ?