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Lord..., II. Cor. iv. 5. About this, therefore, we should be very solicitous in our enquiries, Wherewithal shall I come before the Lord,' so as to please him? For this we should be very importunate in our prayers_that I knew where I might find him! Yob xxii. 3. O that I might be met at the table of the Lord with a blessing, and not with a breach! that God would smile upon me there, and bid me fvelcome! O that the beloved of my soul would shew me some token of good there, and say urito me, thy salvation! Son, daughter, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee. Let him kiss me with the kiss of his
mouth, for his love is better than wine.' Othat it inight be a communion indeed between Christ and my soul! That which is in vogue with the most of men is, “Who will shey us any good ?' But when I am admitted to touch the top of the golden sceptre, this is my petition, this is my request...Lord lift up the light of thy countenance upon me, and that shall put true gladness into my heart, greater than the joy of harvest.
(4.) Pray, that what is amiss may be pardoned in the blood of Christ. This prayer goud Hezekiah hath put into our mouths, (God put it into our hearts!) n Chron. xxx. 18, 19... The good Lord pardon every one that prepareth his heart in sincerity to seek the Lord God of his Fathers, and aims honestly, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.' We cannot but be conscious to ourselves, that in many things we come short of our duty, and wander from it: the rule is strict: it is fit it should be So, and yet no particular rule more strict than that general and fundamental law of God's kingdom, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and soul, and mind, and might: but our own hearts koow, and God, who is greater than our hearts, and knows all things, knows that we do not come up to the rule, nor continue in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them. By our deficiences we becomč
obnoxious to the curse, and should perish by it if we were under the law: but we are encouraged by a penitent believing prayer to sue out our pardon, having an advocate with the Father.
Would we take with us words in these prayers, David's psalms, and St. Paul's epistles will furnish us with great variety of acceptable words... words which the Holy Ghost teacheth-and other helps of devotion which, thanks be to God, we have plenty of, may be used to much advantage: and if, in these prayers, we stir up ourselves to take hold on God, our experience shall be added to that of thousands, that Jacob's God never said to Jacob's seed, seek ye me in vain.
Directions in what Frame of Spirit we should come to
and attend upon this Ordinance. To make up the wedding-garment, which is proper for this wedding-feast, it is requisite not only that we have an habitual temper of mind, agreeably to the gospel, but that we have such an actual disposition of spirit, as is consonant to the nature and intentions of the ordinance. It is an excellent rule in the scripture directory for religious worship-Eccl. v. 1... Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God; that is,
Keep thy heart with all diligence'... Prov. iv. 23.Look well to the motions of thy soul, and observe the steps it takes, when we are to see the goings of our God, our king in the sanctuary, (Psal. lxviii. 24), it concerns us to see to our own goings. Keep thy foot that is, do nothing rashly; but, 'when thou go :st to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee'...Prov. xxiii. 1. It was not enough for the priests under the law, that they were washed and dressed in their priestly garments when they were first consecrated; but they must be carefully washed and dressed every
time they went in to minister-else they went in at their peril : we are spiritual priests to our God, and must do the office of our priesthood with a due deco. rum, remembering that this is that which the Lord hath said, (God by his grace speak it home to our hearts), I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me; that is, I will be attended as a holy God in a holy manner, and so before all the people I will be glorified.... Lev, X. 3. We then sanctify God in holy duties, when we sanctify ours:lves in our approaches to them; that is, when we separate ourselves from every thing that is common or unclean...from ail filthiness both of flesh and spirit, and consecrate ourselves to God's glory as our end, and io his service as our business. If we would have the ordinance sanctified to us for our comfort and benefit, we must thus sanctify ourselves for it. Joshua's command to the people, when they were to follow the ark of the covenant through Jordan, should be still sounding in our ears, the night be. fore a sacrament, Josh. iii. 5....Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you. When the God of glory admits such duoghill-worms ...such a generation of vipers as we are, into covenant and communion with himself-when he gives gists, such gifts, even to the rebellious--when, by the power of his grace, he sanctifies the sinful, and comforts the sorrowful, and gives such holiness and joy as is lise from the dead, surely then he doib wonders among us. That we may see these wonders done, and share in the benefit of them-ihat we may experience them done in our souls, Jordlan driven back at the presence of the Lord...at the presence of the God of Jacob, to open a passage for us into the heavenly Canaan, let us sanctify ourselves, and earnestly pray to God to sanctify us.
For our help herein, the following directions, perhaps, may be of some use :
First, Let us address ourselves to this service with a fixedness of thought. There is scarce any instance of the corruption of nature, and the moral impotence which' by sin we are brought under, more complained of by serious Christians, than the vanity of the thoughts, and the difficulty of fixing them to that which is good. They are apt to wander alter a thousand impertinences; and it is no easy matter to gather them in, and keep them employed as they should be ; we all find it so by sad experience. Vain thoughts lodge within us,' and are most a hinderance and disturbance to us when good thoughts are invited into the soul, and should be entertained there. When, therefore, we apply ourselves to a religious service, which will find work for all our thonghts, and which presents objects well worthy of our closest contemplation, we are con. cerned to take pains with ourselves to get our hearts engaged, and to bring every thought into obedience to the law of this solemnity.'
This is a time to set aside the thoughts of every thing that is foreign and unseasonable ; and all those foolish speculations which use to be the unprofitable amusements of our idle hours, and the sports and pastimes of our carnal mindsaway with them all : clear the court of those yagrants, when the doors are to be opened for the king of glory to come in. Are they thoughts that pretend business, and are as buyérs and sellers in the temple?-tell them you have other business to mind; bid them depart for this time, and at a more convenient season you will call for them. Do they pretend urgent business, as Nehemiah's enemies did when they sought to give him a diversion? give them the repulse that he gave, and, like him, repeat it as oft as they repeat their solicitations--Neh. vi. 2, 3, 4... I am doing a great work; why should the work
cease, while I leave it and come down to you ?? Do they pretend friendship, and send in the name of thy mother and thy brethren standing without, to speak with thee?--yet dismiss them, as Christ did, by giving the preference to better friends. Let not thoughts of those we love best, civert us from thinking of Christ, whom we know we must loye better.
This is the time to summon the attendance of all the thoughts, and keep them close to the business we are going about. Suffer none to wander--none to trifle ; for here is employment...good employment for them all, and all little enough. Though a perfect fixation of thought without any distractions, during the solemnity, is what I believe none can attairy to in this state of imperfection, yet it is what we should desire and aim at, and come to ás near as we can.Let us charge our thoughts not to straggle-keep a watchful eye upon them, and call them back when the; begin to rove-keep them in full employment about that which is proper and pertinent, which will prevent the starting aside to that which is otherwise. Come, bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar,' that it may not be to seek when it should be sacrificed....Psal. cxviii. 27. Be able to say, through grace, O God, my heart is fixed, my heart is fixed;" though unfixed at other times, yet fixed now. Look up to God for grace to establish the heart, and keep it steady : look with sorrow and shame upon its wanderings : shut the door against distractions: watch and pray against the temptation : and when those birds of prey come down upon the sacrifices, do as Abraham did-Gen. xv. 11....Drive them away. And,
you sincerely endeavor to keep your hearts fixed, be not discouraged ; the vain thoughts that are disallowed, striven against, and repented of, though they are our hindrance, yet they shail not be our ruin.
Secondly, Let us address ourselves to this service, with an evenness and calmness of affection, free from the disorders and ruffies of passion-a sedate and quiet spirit; not tossed with the tempests of care and fear, but devolving care on God, and silencing fear with faith ; not sinking under the load of temporal burdens, but supporting itseli with the hopes of eternal joys; easy itself, because submissive to its God:this is the spirit sit to receive and return divine visits.
were still waters, on the face of which the spirit