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Inform’d, He gathered up the broken thread,
The fool bath said in his heart, There is no God.-Psalm xiv. 1.
What fools doth the devil make of those men, which would fain otherwise be accounted wise! Wise Solomon speaks of the wickedness of folly; and we may no less truly invert it: the folly of wickedness. The fool, saith our Saviour, builds his house upon the sand, so as it may be washed away with the next waves; what other doth the foolish worldling, that builds all his hopes upon uncertain riches, momentary pleasures, deceitful favours ? The fool, saith Solomon, walketh in darkness. The sinner walks in the darkness of ignorance, through the works of darkness, to the pit of darkness. The worldling may, perhaps, hit the way through the golden gates of honour, or down to the mines of wealth, or to the flowery garden of pleasure ; but way of true
peace he knows not;” he no more knows the way to heaven than if there were none.
Lastly, the fool is apt to part with his patrimony for some gay toys; and how ready is the carnal heart to cast away the favour of God, the inheritance of heaven, the salvation of his soul, for these vain earthly trifles !-BISHOP HALL.
ST. PHILIP AND ST. JAMES'S DAY.
Thou the Way art, Thou the Prize
MAY 2. Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing praises unto our God.
Psalm cxlvii. 1. David, the royal Psalmist, had just finished one of his most beautiful psalms in honour of his great Deliverer, and the air which he breathed was still fragrant with that soft gale from heaven which day by day, as the sun uprose, played upon his harpstrings, and awoke him by its melody. Then came Satan, the enemy of man, and stood beside him, and filled the heart of the king with pride because of
“ Hast Thou, 0 Almighty God,” said he, “ any other living creature in all the earth whose song can be compared to mine ?"
As he spake these words, a grasshopper alighted upon the hem of his long-flowing garment, and began to chirrup with a clear glad voice; this one grasshopper was speedily joined by many others, and the air resounded with their united notes. Then a nightingale from a neighbouring tree began to pour forth its soul in exquisite melody, evoking answering voices from other nightingales sheltered in the thick green boughs of the surrounding trees. And God opened the ear of the king, and he understood the chirp of the grasshoppers, the song of the birds, the murmur of the brooks, the rustling of the leaves, the silent marching of the stars, the uprising and downgoing of the sun. Lost in wonder at
Lost in wonder at the unceasing and unwearying voice of all creation singing its Maker's praise, he remained wrapt in silent awe. Humbled and abashed, he smote the strings of his harp, and sung, “All Thy works praise Thee, O Lord. ... Praise the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, praise His Holy Name.”—HERDER.
Thou therefore endare hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus
Christ.—2 TIMOTHY ii. 3.
We talk of mighty warriors that have done great exploits in conquering kingdoms; but the Spirit of God tells us of a greater conquest than all theirs : “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith ” (1 John v. 4). Alas! the conquest of those great commanders was but poor and partial, of some small spots of the earth; the conquest of the regenerate Christian is universal, of the whole world. Those other conquerors, while they prevailed abroad, were yet overcome at home; and, while they were the lords of nations, were no other than vassals to their own lusts: these begin their victories at home, and enlarge their triumphs over all their spiritual enemies. The glory of those other victors was laid down with their bodies in the dust; the glory that attends these is eternal. What pity it is that the true Christian should not know his own greatness, that he may raise his thoughts accordingly, and bear himself as one that tramples the world under his feet BISHOP HALL.
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for
the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.-PHILIPPIANS iii. 20. It matters not a little with whom we hold our familiar conversation ; for commonly we are transformed into the dispositions and manners of those whose company we frequent. Why shouldst thou not, then, O my soul, by a continual conversation with God and His angels, improve to a heavenly disposition ? Thou canst not while thou art here but have somewhat to do with the world ; that will necessarily intrude into thy presence, and force upon thee businesses unavoidable; and thy secular friends may well look to have some share in thy sociable entertainments. But these are but goers
comers, easily and willingly dismissed after some kind interlocutions; the company that must stick by thee is spiritual, which shall never leave thee if thou have the grace to apply thyself to them upon all occasions. Thou mayst hold fair correspondence with all other, not offensive companions; but thy entireness must be only with these. Let those other be never so faithful, yet they are uncertain ; be their will never so good, yet their power is limited: these are never but at hand; never but able and willing to make and keep thee happy. O my God, Thou seest how subject I am to distractions. Oh, hold me close to Thee: let me enter into the same company here in my pilgrimage which I shall for ever enjoy hereafter in
my home.-BISHOP HALL.