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The habit of looking up to God through all his works, and of considering him as the author and giver of every good, as it seemed of all other habits that which was with least difficulty acquired, so I trust it will of all Others be found to have taken the deepest root. But, though planted in a congenial soil, it will not spring unless care be taken to cherish and improve it. That care, my dearest Lady Elizabeth, must now be yours. In aid of it, take all I now can offer — a few affectionate instructions.
In order to render prayer an effectual mean of establishing an abiding sense of the presence of Deity in your heart, I should earnestly recommend it to you, before you bow the knee to God, to ask yourself the following questions: "To whom am "I going to address myself? Am
"I about "I about to speak to the great "Creator of the universe! To Him "whom angels and arch-angels wor"ship; who is from eternity to eter"nity unchangeably the same! To "Him who knows every thought "that passes through my heart, and "has been the witness of all my "actions! And how can I, weak, "and ignorant, and sinful, as I am, "hope to have my prayers accepted? "I hope to have them accepted ** through the Lord Jesus Christ, my "redeemer and mediator. He has "commanded, he has taught me to "pray; and through his merits and "intercessions, will make my prayers "acceptable at the throne of grace."
Some such reflections as these* seriously made before you enter upon the duty of prayer, will make the regular performance of it the certain means of keeping alive a sense of
the the Divine Presence in your heart. Of other benefits to be derived from prayer, I shall have occasion to speak more fully hereafter: I now confine myself solely to the consideration of its use as tending to impress our minds with such a conviction of the presence of God as cannot fail to influence our conduct. But this conviction must not only be sincere; it must be constant. Though it returns with the morning dew, it must not like the morning dew evaporate with the heat of the mid-day sun.
In order to prevent this, a habit of looking up to God, as the disposer of every event in life, as the dispenser of every blessing, and as the immediate giver of every good, must be acquired and cherished. This is, in my opinion, the grand arcana of happiness. It enhances the value of
every blessing, and alleviates the pain of every sorrow.
The truth of this may at present be best illustrated to you by a familiar example. When you are gratified by the possession of any object upon which you have set your heart, does not the idea of its having been bestowed as a mark of affection by a fond and indulgent parent, add to your gratification? Orf when you are disappointed in your wishes, but are at the same time convinced that the object was withheld from motives of affection, and with a view to procure for you a greater good than the accomplishment of your wishes could have bestowed, does not the conviction instantly disarm disappointment of its sting? If our confidence in the wisdom, love, and affection of a being subject to error
can thus operate, how much more effectually must our confidence in the wisdom and goodness of our heavenly Father tend to rejoice or tranquillize our hearts! One thing more I shall only mention.
As the works of nature tend much more than the works of art to raise our thoughts to heaven, I would earnestly recommend it to you to pursue the study, for which you appeared to have such a decided taste. Natural history, in all its branches, leads the mind to a perpetual admiration of the wisdom and power of the Supreme Being. Of its efficacy in producing habits of attention, I had many convincing proofs; but had it answered no other purpose than to cherish in your mind those feelings that arise from contemplating the wisdom of God in his works, the time bestowed on it would not have been spent in