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multiply their opportunities of being serviceable :
On the cultivation of personal religion.
- Call not that man wise whose wisdom begins not at home.” Why should not the charity of which we are treating “begin at home ?”
It observes not a due decorum if it do not so; and it will be liable to great exceptions in its pretensions and proceedings. This, then, is to be made an early proposal.
First, Let every man devise what good may be done for the correction of what is yet amiss, IN HIS OWN HEART AND LIFE. It is a good observation
of the witty Fuller: "He need not complain of too little work, who hath a little world in himself to mend." It was of old complained, “No man repented him, saying, What have I done ?” Every man upon earth may find in himself something that wants mending; and the work of repentance is to inquire, not only " What we have done?” but also, “ What we have to do?” Frequent self-examination is the duty and the prudence of all who would know themselves, or would not lose themselves. The great intention of self-examination is to find out the points wherein we are to “ amend our ways.” A Christian that would thrive in Christianity, must be no stranger to a course of meditation. Meditation is one of the master's requisite to make a “man of God.” One article and exercise in our meditation should be to find out the things wherein a greater conformity to the truths upon which we have been meditating, may be attempted. If we would be good men, we must often devise how we may grow in knowledge and in all goodness. Such an inquiry should often be made: “ What shall I do, that what is yet lacking in the image of God upon me, may be perfected? What shall I do, that I may live more perfectly, more watchfully, more fruitfully before the glorious Lord?”
And why should not our meditation, when we retire to that soul-enriching work, of forming the right thoughts of the righteous, conclude with some resolution ? Devise now, and resolve something to strengthen your walk with God. With some devout hearers of the word, it is a
practice, when they have heard a sermon, to think, 66 What good thing have I now to ask of God with a special importunity?” Yea, they are accustomed to call upon their children also, and make them answer this question: “ Child, what blessing will you now ask of the glorious God?” And charge them, then, to go and do accordingly.
In pursuance of this piety, why may not this be one of the exercises which shall go to make a good evening for the best of days ?
On the Lord's-day evening, we may make this one of our exercises, to employ our thoughts seriously on that question: “If I should die this week, what have I left undone which I should then wish I had been more diligent in doing?” My friend, place thyself in dying circumstances, apprehend and realize thy approaching death. Suppose thy last hour arrived: thy breath failing, thy throat rattling, thy hands with a cold sweat upon them—only the turn of the tide expected for thy expiration. In this condition, “ What wouldst thou wish to have done more than thou bast already done for thy own soul, for thy family, or for the people of God?” Think! do not forget the result of thy thoughts; do not delay to perform what thou hast resolved upon. How much more agreeable and profitable would such an exercise be on the Lord's-day evening, than those vanities to which that evening is too commonly prostituted, and all the good of the past day defeated! And if such an exercise were often performed, O! how much would it regulate our lives; how watchfully, how fruitfully would it cause us to live: what an incredi
ble number of good works would it produce in the world!
Will you remember, Sirs, that every Christian is a “temple of God!” It would be a service to Christianity, if this notion of Christianity were more frequently and clearly cultivated.
But certainly, there yet remains
every one of us to do, that the temple may be carried on to perfection, repaired, finished, purified, and the top stone of it laid, with shoutings of “Grace, Grace !" unto it.
As a branch of this piety, I will recommend a serious and fruitful improvement of the various dispensations which the Divine Providence obliges us to take notice. More particularly: Have you received any special blessings and mercies from the hand of a merciful God? You do not suitably express your thankfulness; you do not render again according to the benefit that is done unto
unless yourself to consider, 66 What shall I render unto the Lord ?" You should contrive some signal thing to be done on this occasion; some service to the kingdom of God, either within yourself, or among others, which may be a just confession and remembrance of what a gracious God has done for you. . This is what the “goodness of God leadeth you
I ask you, Sirs, How can a good voyage, or a good bargain, be made without some special returns of gratitude to God? I would now have a portion of your property made a thank-offering, by being set apart for pious uses.
Whole days of thanksgiving are to be kept, when the favours of God rise to a more observable height.
Christians of the finer mould keep their private ones, as well as bear part in the public ones.
One exercise for such a day is, to take a list of the more remarkable succours and bounties with which our God has comforted us : and then, to contrive some suitable acknowledgments of the glorious Lord, in endeavours to serve him, and this by way of gratitude for these undeserved comforts.
On the other hand; you meet with heavy and grievous afflictions. Truly, it is a pity to be at the trouble of suffering afflictions, and not get good by them. We get good by them, when they awaken us “ to do good;" I may say, never till then! When God is distributing sorrows to you, the sorrows still come upon some errands; the best
for find that they do not come in his anger, is to consider what the errands are. The advice is, that when any affliction comes upon you, you immediately consider, “ to what special act of repentance does this affliction call me?
What miscarriage does this affliction find in me, to be repented of?” And then, while the sense of the affliction is yet upon you, solicitously inquire, “ to what improvement in godliness and usefulness does this affliction call me?” Be more solicitous to gain this point than to get out of your affliction. O! the peace that will compose, possess, and ravish your minds, when your afflictions shall be found yielding the “fruits of righteousness.”
Luther did well to call afflictions “the theology of Christians." This may be a proper place to introduce one direction more. We are travelling