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things before him, without thinking about himself; what he is, and what is to become of him ? and these thoughts will lead him to his prayers; that he may be ready to receive into his mind the good seed of God's word, and to lay it
up in his heart, as the grain is covered in the earth, that it may bring forth fruit to life eternal. Then shall the angels come at the end of the world, when the great harvest shall be gathered, to take the elect into the kingdom of God. If the husbandman thinks on these things, his work will be sanctified; and he himself will be brought nearer every day to the kingdom of heaven. It is very truly said of the husbandman, that his work is never done ; every season, every day, brings some new employment with it. It is the same with the Christian : his work is never done; and he would be under a dangerous mistake, if he should think it is: for the tempter is always at some new device, to give a Christian sorrow or trouble; he never thinks his work done, till the man is destroyed, and made a child of hell, instead of a child of God.
I would have it here to be remembered, that I am only giving a few examples, which the learner is to practise upon, and be multiplying all the days of his life. I open a school-door,
into which he that is disposed may enter and profit according to his capacity; the employment is delightful; and the matter inexhaustible.
In our observations upon other people, charity and all the christian virtues will be exceedingly promoted, if we use ourselves to make a short prayer on what passes before our eyes. Thus if we see one that is blind; how proper would it be to say, “Lord, thou hast taken from that man bodily sight, give him the sight of the mind, which is far better.” If you see one that is lame, you may say, “Othou who didst enable the lame to walk ; tho’thou art not now present with us, to heal the infirmities of our bodies, thou canst still show us the path of life, and enable us to walk in the way everlasting: thus shall the halt and lame enter into life.” If we hear of any one that is fallen into some dreadful sin or calamity, it would be proper to say, “Lord, I bless thy name, that I myself am not made an example to that man, who is now made an example to me : raise up him that is fallen ; and let me not be high minded, but fear; for blessed is the man that feareth always in such a world as this.” If you should hear the bell sound for a funeral, you may say, “Lord, make me wise to consider my latter end: that while I live I may live unto thee, and when I die, I may die unto thee, so that living and dying may be thine." Once more :
you should be present when criminals are judged at an assize; think of the great tribunal of Jesus Christ : think, how we shall all be called out of our graves, to stand before his judgment-seat : in which case it is hardly possible for a man to turn his eyes towards himself, without saying, “Lord, how, where, shall I appear in that dreadful day? O let thy holy angels find me, to strengthen and encourage me, before I dare to look upon thy face ; that I may
have boldness in the day of judgment, and find myself placed on thy right hand among the heirs of salvation : Lord remember me in that day; for my heart panteth, my strength faileth, when I think of it: but thou didst expire upon the Cross, to lessen the terrors of it to me and all poor penitent sinners."
There would be no end, if we were to collect such other examples as might be thought of; the day, the night, the sea, the land, the heaven above, and the earth beneath, abound with objects to exercise our devotion. I would now say a word or two on the advantage of praying in this manner. If
If prayer be
be a labour to the mind, there is none of it here: a small transient
ejaculation is sufficient to signify the disposition of the heart, even though it be not uttered by the lips: for God is a witness to the meditations of the heart. Therefore it may be used in society, as well as in solitude: and in whatever work a man is employed, provided it be lawful, it will not be interrupted but promoted. Is the husbandman interrupted, if, when he casts the seed into the ground, he prays
that the seed of God's word may take root in his own heart? so far from it, that it will bring down a blessing upon himself and his labour; and improve his daily work into a work of grace; a work, by which his mind will be kept in conştant practice, to a temper of piety ; so that he may be strictly said, to walk with God, as the Saints did of old; which should be the first object of a Christian's ambition. The agreement between the objects of the natural world and the objects of revelation, so amply and illustriously displayed in the Scriptures, shews (to those who understand it) a wonderful sight; it shews the whole Creation as one great picture of divine truth: which will give as much entertainment, and afford more variety to the imagination of a Christian, than all the works of genius, which all the wit of man ever did, or ever will invent. It is as wide as the world, and as bright as the
ocean, when the sun shines upon it. Religious meditation and devotion draw it forth into use; and shew so many ways of applying it to the edification of the mind, that if we can bring any qualified person to this one employment, he will never complain that Christianity is a dry study. It infuses a new spirit into common things, which in themselves are dull and insipid : every trifling event assumes a new figure and new importance, when applied to spiritual things : every common object changes its nature and value : * the touch of a devout mind has a magical effect upon it, and turns it into gold; so that to live by this rule, and turn all objects to a spiritual use, is the next thing to living in a spiritual world.
There will be this further advantage, and a great one it is, that we shall find this sort of devotion our best security against temptation.
* If the reader wishes to know better this art of applying natural objects to sacred subjects ; I would desire him to consult a small Key to the language of Propbesy, bound up with the third edition of the Book of Nature; also, Lectures on the Figurative Language of the Scriptures. The husbandman's Manual; with such other things as he can collect of the same kind : particularly a treatise on Ejaculatory Prayer, by the Rev. Robert Cooke, late Vicar of Boxted, in Essex. All printed for Rivingtons,