« ElőzőTovább »
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 !--Channing.
EVENING PRAYER. Let us now consider another part of the day which is favourable to the duty of prayer; we mean evening. This season, like the morning is calm and quiet. Our labours are ended. The bustle of life is gone by. The distracting glare of the day has 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 heavens ; 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 of God, and lays 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 proof of God's goodness,-unlooked for successes,—singular concurrences of favourable events signal blessings sent to our friends, or new and powerful aids to our own virtue, which call for peculiar thank. fulness. And shall all these benefits pass away un
noticed ? 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, having 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 recollections of purity unmixed with sin. Conscience, if suffered to inspect faithfully and speak plainly, will recount irregular desires, and defective notions, talents wasted and time misspent; 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 burthen of unlamented and unforgiven guilt upon our conscience ? 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 which they are committed, can we hope that they will recur to us at a more distant period, that we shall watch against them to-morrow, or that we shall gain the strength to resist them, which we will not implore ?
One observation more, and we have done. The evening is a fit time for prayer, not only as it ends the day, but as it immediately precedes the hour 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 darkness is as the light, and whose providence is our only safety! How fit to entreat him that he would keep us another day; or if our bed should prove our grave, that he 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. --Channing.
THE SONG OF HEAVEN.
Harps of eternity! begin the song ;
Before the morning stars their song began,
They praise Thee now; their hearts, their voices, praise,
THE INFLUENCES OF RELIGION.
It is in the affections of the heart, and in the conduct of the life, that the effects of the Spirit's influences display themselves in the loveliest forms and in the highest glory. Antecedently to the operations of that mighty agent upon the soul, the breast was the seat of carnal, depraved, and malignant passions, which, at the slightest degree of irritation, were ever ready to burst into a flame. The first fruit of the Spirit is love-love towards