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and heavenly meditations, are utterly ertinguished in your breast. To prevent this, you must give up the world, before the world gives up you ; you must be decisive and immoveable in the plan you have formed, and the time you have marked out for its execution; and in the meanwhile, in the very midst of your business, you must preserve some intercourse with your Maker, “ some communion with your own heart.”. You must seize with eagerness, and employ with alacrity, the few moments you have to spare from business, in cultivating devout sentiments and virtuous habits, and sowing silently and imperceptibly, in your soul, the seeds of eternal life. You will then be prepared for the true enjoyment of a religious retreat; you will feel nothing of that vacancy and languor, that disappointment and regret, which retirement frequently produces in minds long debased by low cares and sordid pursuits, and which have brought the thing itself into disgrace and contempt. You will, on the contrary, find full employment in cultivating and bringing to maturity the good seed that has already begun to spring
up in your heart, and will be continually acquiring greater strength of mind, greater firmness of principle, greater uniformity of practice. Having already made yourself acquainted with God, you will feel yourself no stranger in his presence, but will, with humble confidence, commit yourself, and all your concerns, to his gracious guidance and protection. You will have leisure to improve your intercourse with him by frequent prayer, and to contemplate his power, his wisdom, his goodness, in his astonishing works of creation and redemption, in his providential care of the universe, in his daily mercies to yourself in particular.
By meditations such as these, you will find an ardent love of God kindling in your soul. Your mind will gradually detach itself from the present scene, and raise itself to Heaven and heavenly things. Your passions will become every day more tranquil and composed : your affections more spiritual and refined ; your thoughts more elevated, your prospects more noble and exhilarating; and the peace, the comfort, the delight, you will experience in a retirement such as this, can only be exceeded by those pure celestial joys hereafter, to which they will be a prelude and an introduction.
PROVERBS iii. 27.
WITHHOLD NOT GOOD FROM THEM TO WHOM
IT IS DUE, WHEN IT IS IN THE POWER OF
W HEN we reflect on that general turn
'to acts of charity and humanity which is so observable in this country, it may perhaps appear perfectly needless to recommend to our hearers the injunction contained in the text. If they are so well disposed, as it should seem they are, to do good, to what purpose are they exhorted not to withhold it from them to whom it is due? And, indeed, if there was no other way of doing good but that of relieving the indigent, there would not often, it must be owned, be much occasion to urge the practice of this duty. But we must not flatter ourselves, that when we have distributed to the ne
cessitous all the wealth we can spare, we have done every thing that the love of our neighbour requires at our hands. At the best, we have only performed one part, and that a small part, of the great, the ROYAL LAW* (as it is called) of CHRISTIAN CHARITY, which involves a great variety of most important and useful acts of kindness to our fellow-creatures. Several of these, though extremely easy and obvious, are, for that very reason, perhaps, apt to be overlooked. Some of them, therefore, I shall beg leave, at present, to suggest to your thoughts, from whence the two following good consequences, among others, may arise. The great and the wealthy will see, that to be truly benevolent, something more is necessary than liberality to the poor. And they who are in an humbler station of life, and who on that account are apt to lament their inability to do good, will find that there are many roads to beneficence still open to them; and that scarce any one, however low or indigent, can want opportunities of doing good, if he will but honestly make use of them.
* James ïi. 8.