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continues to live after death, he has then for his greatest afflictions the greatest consolation ; his noblest instincts, like all his other instincts, are then gratified. Reason is then the best gift that could be conferred on him. All his faculties and powers are then a master-piece of harmony. He is then wise if he diligently cultivates and applies them. He has then the strongest inducements to remain virtuous under all the circumstances of life. The most perfect administration of justice in the moral world is then to be hoped for. The constitution of the earth is then the most sublime that can be imagined. In short there is everywhere consistency; whereas there would be everywhere contradiction; consistency between the faculties and instincts of man; consistency in all the arrangements made around him for his benefit; consistency in the whole terrestrial world itself; everywhere the most complete, the most admirable consistency.
Besides this consistency, these arguments are consistent with the revealed will of God. There it is clearly announced that man was created for the glory of God; is an heir to immortality, passing here through his probation; that righteousness is his great good; that trial is his best preparation, and everlasting happiness his reward. That when this clayey tabernacle is dissolved, he has a house not built with hands, eternal in the heavens. That the soul in this state is merely a germ which cannot be fully developed till the body dies ; but that then corruption shall put on incorruption, mortality shall put on immortality. That eye hath not seen nor ear heard the things which God has prepared for those that love him, and who, by the Spirit, are conformed to the image of their Redeemer Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of that spiritual existence which is in them and shall be in them.
LESSON XI. THE BIBLE; STAR OF ETERNITY. Most wondrous book ! bright candle of the Lord ! Star of eternity! the only star By which the bark of man could navigate The sea of life, and gain the coast of bliss Securely. Only star which rose on time; And, on its dark and troubled billows, still, As generation, drifting swiftly by, Succeeded generation, threw a ray Of heaven's own light, and to the hills of God, The everlasting hills, pointed the sinner's eye. By prophets, seers, and priests, and sacred bards, Evangelists, apostles, men inspired, And by the Holy Ghost anointed, set Apart, and consecrated to declare To earth, the counsels of the Eternal One! This book, this holiest, this sublimest book, Was sent-heaven's will, heaven's code of laws entireTo man. This book contained, defined, the bounds Of vice and virtue, and of life and death; And what was shadow, what was substance, taught. Much it revealed ! important all; the least Worth more than what else seemed of highest worth : But this of plainest, most essential truth That God is one, eternal, holy, just, Omnipotent, omniscient, infinite ; Most wise, most good, most merciful and true; In all perfection most unchangeable.— That man—that every man, of every clime And hue, of every age, and every rank, Was bad—by nature and by practice bad; In understanding blind, in will perverse, In heart corrupt; in every thought and word, Imagination, passion, and desire, Most utterly depraved throughout and ill In sight of heaven, though less in sight of man ;
At enmity with God, his Maker, born ;
MORNING PRAYER. The Scriptures of the old and new Testament agree in enjoining prayer. Let no man call himself a Christian, who lives without giving a part of life to this duty. We are not taught how often we should pray; but our Lord, in teaching us to say, “ Give us this day our daily bread,” implies that we should pray daily. He has even said to us, “Pray always ;' an injunction to be explained, indeed, with that latitude which many of his precepts require, but which is not to be satisfied, we think, without regular and habitual devotion. As to the particular hours to be given to this duty, every Christian may choose them for himself. Our religion is too liberal and spiritual to lead us to any place or any hour of prayer. But there are parts of the day particularly favourable to this duty, and which, if possible, should be redeemed for it. On these we shall offer a few reflections.
The first of these periods is the morning, which even nature seems to have pointed out to men of different religions as a fit time for offerings to the Divinity. In the morning, our minds are not so much shaken by worldly cares and pleasures, as in other parts of the day. Retirement and sleep have helped to allay the violence of our feelings, to calm the feverish excitement so often produced by intercourse with men. The hour is a still one. The hurry and tumults of life are not begun, and we naturally share in the tranquillity around us. Haying, for so many hours, lost our hold on the world, we can banish it more easily from the mind, and worship with less divided attention. This, then, is a favourable time for approaching the invisible Author of our being, for strengthening the intimacy of our minds with him, for thinking upon a future life, and for seeking those spiritual aids which we need in the labours and temptations of every day.
In the morning there is much to feed the spirit of devotion. It offers an abundance of thoughts, friendly to pious feeling. When we look on creation, what a happy and touching change do we witness! A few hours past, the earth was wrapped in gloom and silence. There seemed “ a pause in nature.” But now a flood of life is broken forth, and creation rises before us in fresher and brighter hues, and seems to rejoice as if it had received birth from its Author. The sun never sheds more cheerful beams, and never proclaims more loudly God's glory and goodness, than when he returns after the coldness and dampness of night, and awakens man and inferior animals to the various purposes of their being. A spirit of joy seems breathed over the earth and through the sky. It requires little effort of the imagination to read joy in the kindled clouds, or in the fields bright with dew. This is the time when we can best feel and bless the power which said, “ Let there be light ;” which “ set a tabernacle for the sun in the heavens ;” and made him the dispenser of fruitfulness and enjoyment through all regions.
If we next look at ourselves, what materials does the
morning furnish for devout thought! At the close of the past day we were exhausted by our labours, and unable to move without wearisome effort. Our minds were sluggish, and could not be held to the most interesting objects. From this state of exhaustion, we sank gradually into entire insensibility. Our limbs be. came motionless ; our senses were shut as in death. Our thoughts were suspended, or only wandered confusedly and without aim. Our friends, and the universe, and God himself were forgotten. There is something very touching in the consideration, if we will fix our minds upon it, that God thought of us when we could not think; that he watched over us when we had no power to avert peril from ourselves ; that he continued our vital motions, and in due time broke the chains of sleep, and set our imprisoned faculties free. How fit is it at this hour to raise to God the eyes which he has opened, and the arm which he has strengthened ! to acknowledge his providence; and to consecrate to him the powers which he has renewed! How fit that he should be the first object of the thoughts and affections which he has restored! How fit to employ in his praise the tongue which he has loosed, and the breath which he has spared!
But the morning is a fit time for devotion not only from its relation to the past night, but considered as the introduction of a new day. To a thinking mind, how natural at this hour are such reflections as the following :-I am now to enter a new period of my life, to start afresh in my course. I am to return to that world, where I have often gone astray ; to receive impressions which may never be effaced; to perform actions which will never be forgotten; to strengthen a character which will fit me for heaven or hell. I am this day to meet temptations which have often subdued me; I am to be entrusted again with the opportunities of usefulness which I have often neglected. I am to influence the mind of others, to help in moulding their characters,