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it, in him who thus employs himself, that it may harden the mind in a contrary course, and render it gradually more insensible: that is, may form a habit of insensibility to all moral considerations.”
One short sentence I leave with you, from Him who spake as never man spake: it will convey all my meaning; and expresses that, which alone can draw virtue from any useful book, which alone stamps value on the study even of the Bible itself:-If ye KNOW THESE THINGS, HAPPY ARE YE IF YE DO THEM!
I subscribe myself,
Your faithful and affectionate friend,
SEPT. 23, 1834.
The Holy Scriptures.
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven, to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days, and years :
And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven, to give light upon the earth : and it was so.
And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night : he made the stars also.
And God set them in the firmament of the heaven, to give light upon the earth.
And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.-Genesis i. 14-18.
- Order was Heaven's first law !” This is apparent, not only from the beauty and conveniency of many things around us, even in this fallen, and therefore disordered, world ; but yet more, from the undeviating exactness with which TIME is divided into its appointed portions, by the various positions and movements of the Heavenly Bodies and of our Earth. The science of Astronomy, gathering from this
vast Celestial Mechanism observations of great practical utility, is, after all, but a Student of the System; like a Scholar, slowly apprehending and copying out those Lessons which the Divine Master wrote, ages ago, in perfection.
As the heavenly lights were set in their place expressly "to rule the day," and "to rule the night,” is not the due observance of this design a part of our obedience to God ? Men, especially in what may be called an ultra-civilized state of Society, frequently pervert this order ; turning night into day, and day into night. This is a great folly, to say the least of it; and (if we except those special in. stances justified by the laws of necessity, or of mercy) it is perhaps not too much to call it, Sin.
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.-Genesis ü. 2, 3.
When God hallowed the seventh day, He prepared thereby a blessing for all that should observe it, both of man and of beast, throughout all generations. All need times of rest; for all things are full of labour. Therefore, besides the balmy refreshment of nightly sleep, which is, comparatively speaking, an involuntary act, we have here a secondary division of our time, divinely instituted; the observance of which is a voluntary, rational, and holy act.
Man needs, especially, the addition of Holy Rest, that his soul may be soothed, and yet invigorated. He, who made us, best knew how to lay out our time for us ; that is, what proportion, and at what intervals, (whether regu. lar, or irregular,) would be effectual for our continual restoration. He has appointed the seventh part; and that, at regular intervals.
The Book of Nature shews us other divisions of Time: the Book of God, alone, teaches this.
And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the even-tide. xxiv. 63.
Remember the sabbath-day, to keep it holy.
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates :
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day, and hallowed it.—Exodus xx. 8-11.
And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the Lord, be nigh unto the LORD our God, day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, at all times, as the matter shall require. (Hebrew, The thing of a day in his day.)—1 Kings viii. 59.
“ The thing of a day in his day.” A most exact description of all that a man can do! Of all, consequently, that is required of him. And there is great comfort in thus viewing all our duties, trials, and difficulties, as being the affair of one day at a time, and therefore quietly to be committed to God in daily prayer and thanksgiving. The endeavour to crowd into the present day more than
belongs to it, seems like flying in the face of that God who has limited our powers. Not to be content with leaving a work unfinished which is not imperative, and which needs only the additional aid of to-morrow to finish it, is like saying to God, Why hast thou made me thus ?
Is it not also, sometimes, a mark of a low faith to aim at completing a work, under such circumstances, before its time? As if we doubted, wbether God would bestow upon us, day by day, the requisite faculties of memory, judgment and application, with which he has hitherto endued us. Moreover, eagerness to despatch a favourite project late at night may so hurry us, as to leave no sufficient space for prayer and the preparing of the soul to lie down in sweet peace with God.
There is such a thing as false diligence, an impatience to finish and be beforehand with our work: this is often connected with a desire to be as much as possible independent of God, and free from the claims of duty in its regular order.
The cause of God requires effort, but not to a high pitch of excitement; diligence, but not in excess. God is a gra. cious Master, who will himself supply all the deficiencies of those whose two talents are gaining other two; or, whose one talent is unambitiously, and evenly, gaining one more.
These remarks, however, afford no encouragement to such persons as are habitually behindhand with their work. They are only designed for the over-doers, who, bent upon some end in view, forget moderation in the means of reaching it.
We are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow.—Job viii. 9.
Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.
He, cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down :