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that will brighten up our prospects, that will lessen our danger, that will calm our apprehensions, and speak peace and comfort to our souls. No, it must be something of a very different nature; a deep sense of our own unworthiness, a sincere contrition for our past offences, a prostration of ourselves in all humility before the throne of Grace, an earnest application for pardon and acceptance through the merits of Him who died for us (whose death and sufferings for our sakes the approaching week will bring fresh before our view,) an ardent desire to manifest our love and gratitude, our devotion and attachment to our Maker and our Redeemer, by giving them a decided priority and predominance in our affections and our hearts; by making their will the ruling principle of our conduct; the attainment of their favour, the advancement of their glory, the chief object of our wishes and desires. These are the sentiments we ought to cultivate and cherish if we wish for any solid comfort under calamity or affliction,
affliction, any confidence in the favour and protection of Heaven; these alone can support and sustain our souls in the midst of danger and distress, at the hour of death, and in the day of judgment. And how then are these holy sentiments, these heavenly affections to be excited in our hearts P Most certainly not by giving up all our time and all our thoughts to the endless occupations, the never-ceasing gaieties and amusements of this dissipated metropolis; but by withdrawing ourselves frequently from this tumultuous scene, by retiring into our chamber, by communing with our own hearts, by fervent prayer, by holding high converse with our Maker, and cultivating some acquaintance with that unseen world to which we are all hastening, and which, in one way or other, must be our portion for ever. Many of those whom I now see before me have, from their high rank and situation in life, full leisure and ample N 4 - oppor
opportunities for all these important purposes; and let them be assured, that a strict account will one day be demanded of them in what manner and with what effect they have employed the talents, the time, and the many other advantages with which their gracious Maker has indulged them. And even those who are most engaged in the busy and laborious scenes of life, have at least one day in the week which they may, and which they ought to dedicate to the great concerns of Religion. Let then that day be kept sacred to its original destination by all ranks of men, from the highest to the lowest. Let it not be profaned by needless journies, by splendid entertainments, by crowded as. semblies, by any thing in short which precludes either ourselves, our families, or our domestics, from the exercise of religious duties, or the improvement of those pious sentiments and affections which it was meant to inspire. Let me not, however, be misunderstood. I mean not not that it should be either to the rich or the poor, or to any human being whatever, a day of gloom and melancholy, a day of superstitious rigour, and of absolute exclusion from all society, and all innocent recreation. I know of nothing in Scripture that requires this; I know of no good effects that could result from it. On the contrary, it is a festival, a jouful festival; a day to which we ought always to look forward with delight, and enjoy with a thankful and a grateful heart. . But let it be remembered at the same time, that it is a day which God claims as his own; that he has stamped upon it a peculiar mark of sanctity; and that it ought to be distinguished from every other day, in the first place, by resting from our usual occupations, and giving rest to our servants and our cattle ; in the next, by attendance on the public worship of God; and in the remaining intervals, by relaxations and enjoyments peculiarly its own ; not by quotidian tumult, noise and dissipation ; but by the calm and silent pleasures of - retirement, retirement, of recollection, of devout meditation, of secret prayer, yet mingled discreetly with select society, with friendly converse, with sober recreation, and with decent cheerfulness throughout the whole.
It was to draw off our attention from the common follies and vanities of the week, and to give the soul a little pause, a little respite, a little breathing from the incessant importunities of business and of pleasure, that this holy festival was instituted. And if we cannot give up these things for a single day, if we cannot make this small sacrifice to Him from whom we derive our very existence, it is high time for us to look to our hearts, and to consider very seriously whether such a disposition and temper of mind as this will ever qualify us for the kingdom of Heaven.
“ Could ye not watch with me one hour?” said our divine Master to his slumbering companions”. Can ye not give - me * Mark, xiv. 37.