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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 be bas strengthened; to acknowledge bis 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 tongu 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 on 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 beaven or hell. I am this day to meet temptations which have often subdued me; I am to be entrusted again with opportunities of usefulness, which I have often neglected. I am to influence the minds of others, to help in moulding their characters, and in deciding the happiness of their present and future life. How uncertain is this day! What unseen dangers are before me! What unexpected changes may await me! It may be my last day! It will certainly bring me nearer to death and judgment! - Now, when entering on a period of life so important yet so uncertain, how fit and natural is it, before we take the first step, to seek the favour of that Being on whom the lot of every day depends, to commit all our interests to his almighty and wise providence, to seek his blessing on our labours and his succour in temptation, and to consecrate to his service the day which he raises upon us. This morning devotion, not only agrees with the sentiments of the heart, but tends to make the day happy, useful, and virtuous. Having cast ourselves on the mercy and protection of the Almighty, we shall go forth with new confidence to the labours and duties which he im.. poses. Our early prayer will help to shed an odour of piety through the whole life. God, having first occupied, will more easily recur to our mind. Our first step will be in the right path, and we may bope a happy issue.
So fit and useful is morning devotion, it ought not to
be omitted without necessity. If our circumstances will allow the privilege, it is a bad sign, when no part of the morning is spent in prayer. If God find no place in our minds at that early and peaceful bour, he will hardly recur to us in the tumults of life. If the benefits of the morning do not soften us, we can hardly expect the heart to melt with gratitude through the day. If the world then rush in, and take possession of us, when we are at some distance and have had a respite from its cares, how can we hope to shake it off, when we shall be in the midst of it, pressed and agitated by it on every side. Let a part of the morning, if possible, be set apart to devotion; and to tbis end we should fix the hour of rising, so that we may have an early hour at our own disposal. Our piety is suspicious, if we can renounce, as too many do, the pleasures and benefits of early prayer, rather than forego the senseless indulgence of unnecessary sleep. What! we can rise early enough for business. even anticipate the dawn, if a favourite pleasure, or an uncommon gain requires the effort. But we cannot rise, that we may bless our great Benefactor, that we may arm ourselves for the severe conflicts to wbich our principles are to be exposed. We are willing to rush into the world, without thanks offered, or a blessing sought. From a day thus begun, what ought we to expect but thoughtlessness and guilt.
Let us now consider another part of the day which is favourable to the duty of prayer; we mean the evening. This season, like the morning, is calm and quiet. Our labours are ended. The bustle of life has gone by. The distracting glare of the day bas vanished. The darkness which surrounds us favours seriousness, composure, and solemnity. At night the earth fades from our sight, and nothing of creation is left us but the starry beavens, so vast, so magnificent, so serene, as if to guide up our thoughts above all earthly things to God and immortality.
This period should in part be given to prayer, as it furnishes a variety of devotional topics and excitements. The evening is the close of an important division of time, and is therefore a fit and natural season for stopping and looking back on the day. And can we ever look back on a day, which bears no witness to God, and Jays no claim to our gratitude? Who is it that strengthens us for daily labour, gives us daily bread, continues our friends and
common pleasures, and grants us the privilege of retiring after the cares of the day, to a quiet and beloved home? The review of the day will often suggest not only these ordinary benefits, but peculiar proofs of God's goodness, unlooked for successes, singular concurrences of favourable évents, signal blessings sent to our friends, or new and powerful aids to our own virtue, which call for peculiar thankfulness. And shall all these benefits pass away unnoticed? Shall we retire to repose as insensible as the wearied brute? How fit and natural is it, to close with pious acknowledgment, the day which has been filled with divine beneficence!
But the evening is the time to review, not only our blessings, but our actions. A reflecting mind will naturally remember at this hour that another day is gone, and gone to testify of us to our Judge. How natural and useful to inquire, what report it has carried to heaven. Perhaps we have the satisfaction of looking back on a day, which in its general tenor has been innocent and pure, which, baving begun with God's praise, has been spent as in his presence; which has proved the reality of our principles in temptation: and shall such a day end without gratefully acknowledging Him, in whose strength we have been strong, and to whom we owe the powers and opportunities of Christian improvement? But no day will present to us récollections of purity unmixed with sin. Conscience, if suffered to inspect faithfully and speak plainly, will recount irregular desires, and defective motives, talents wasted and time mis-spent; and shall we let the day pass from us without penitently confessing our offences to Him, who has witnessed them, and who has promised pardon to true repentance? Shall we retire to rest with a burden of unlamented and unforgiven guilt upon our consciences? Shall we leave these stains to spread over and sink into the soul? A religious recollection of our lives is one of the chief instruments of piety. If possible, no day should end without it. If we take no account of our sins on the day on wbich they are committed, can we hope that they will recur to us at a more distant period, that we shall watch against them tomorrow, or that we shall gain the strength to resist them, wbich we will not implore?
One observation more, and we bave done. The evening is a fit time for prayer, not only as it ends the day, but as it immediately precedes the period of repose. The hours of activity having passed, we are soon to sink into insensibility and sleep. How fit that we resign ourselves to the care of that Being who never sleeps, to whom the darkness is as the light, and whose providence is our only safety! How fit to entreat him, that he would keep us to another day; or, if our bed should prove our grave, that be would give us a part in the resurrection of the just, and awake us to a purer and immortal life. The most important periods of prayer have now been pointed out. Let our prayers, like the ancient sacrifices, ascend morning and evening. Let our days begin and end with God.
The Recollections of Jotham Anderson.
(Continued from page 334.)
It was in the summer of that Mr. Garstone took
his residence in our village. It occasioned no little surprise and speculation in that retired place, that a stranger of education and property, should select it for his abode. He built a commodious but small house upon a little hillock by the side of a beautiful pond, which lay about a mile from the meeting-house. I never had seen him, but as soon as he had taken possession of his place I felt it my duty to call and bid him welcome.
The room into wbich I entered, impressed me at once with respect for the owner of the mansion; and as I cast my eyes around on its neat and elegant comforts, I thought that I saw indications of taste and refinement, beyond any thing to which I had been accustomed. A piano forte, a rarer luxury then than now, stood open on one side, and opposite to it a bookcase, well and handsomely filled. I could give but a hasty look, when Mr. Garstone entered. He was apparently about fifty years of age, thin and pale, with a settled melancholy upon his countenance, which sometimes approximated to sternness; and a manner reserved and cold. His appearance rather repressed the warmth with which I was disposed to greet him; and after several inefi al attempts to throw off the restraint which bis manner imposed, I left bim, disappointed and sad.
I looked in vain for his entrance to the meeting-house on Sunday, though his two daughters were there. They were dressed in deep mourning; and this, I thought might account for their father's manners, though he had made no allusion to any affliction. I soon visited him again, and gradually we became a little acquainted. His wife, I found, had died about ten months previous; he had lost his only son jast before, and had now bid farewell to the world, intending to spend the remainder of his life with his daughters, in retirement. He attended to their education, he studied and read, and amused himself with the cultivation of his lands. He had an extensive acquaintance with books and subjects, and oftentimes would delight me with his animated and intelligent conversation. I derived much instruction from his society, and he seemed to take pleasure in mine. But all attempts to introduce religious conversation be uniformly set aside; and never attended public worship. This made me uneasy; and I longed to know why it was, that a man who was evidently unhappy, was yet willing to be a voluntary stranger to the consolations of religion.
It was not so with his daughters. They were little instructed in religion, but they took an interest in it. Indeed, as far as they had been taught, they felt its great truths deeply, and exercised a profound piety.. They were glad to converse, when it happened—which was very seldom-that their father was not present; and I often thought that their countenances expressed sorrow, that the subject must be dropped on his entrance. day expressed my surprise to them, that their father should habitually absent himself from public worship. They replied that it had been so ever since their memory; and that they believed he did it from principle.
“ Has he no sense of its importance and value?” said I; “ does he feel nothing, think nothing, of the great truths of religion?"
“ Alas,” replied the eldest, whose name was Charlotte, “ I fear he thinks but too much, and feels too much. I bave reason to suppose, although he never speaks of it, that it is this which lies at the bottom of his unhappiness, and that if this burden could be removed, he would be a cheerful and happy man.”.
I looked at her for explanation. “Unreflecting men," said she, “ may be happy without religious faith; for their habitual thoughtlessness excludes the subject from their minds. But a man who is in habits of reflection, and who cannot keep from bis mind the thoughts of the Author of