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firm; humbling himself to perverse, rude, ignorant people, wherever he can find them : and is so far from desiring to be considered as a gentleman, that he desires to be used as the servant of all; and, in the spirit of his Lord and Master, girds himself, and is glad to kneel down and wash any of their feef. He now thinks the poorest creature in his parish good enough, and great enough, to deserve the humblest attendance, the kindest friendships, the tenderest offices, he can possibly show them.
He is so far now from wanting agreeable company, that he thinks there is no better conversation in the world, than to be talking with poor and mean people about the kingdom of heaven. All these noble thoughts and divine sentiments are the effects of his great devotion. He presents every one so often before God in his prayers, that he never thinks he can esteem, reverence, or serve those enough, for whom he implores so many mercies from God.
Philip Doddridge, D.D.
RISE AND PROGRESS OF RELIGION IN THE
I. IN THE BEGINNING OF THE DAY, it should certainly be our care to lift up our hearts to God, as soon as we wake, and while we are arising; and then, to set ourselves seriously and immediately to the secret devotions of the morning.
1. For the first of these, it seems exceedingly natural. There are so many things that may suggest a great variety of pious reflections and ejaculations ; which are so obvious, that, one would think, a serious mind could hardly miss them. The ease and cheerfulness of our mind, at our first awakening; the refreshment we find from sleep; the security we have enjoyed in that defenceless state; the provision of warm and decent apparel ; the cheerful light of the returning sun ; or even the contrivances of art, taught and furnished by the Great Author of all our conveniences, to supply us with many useful hours of life, in the absence of the sun; the hope of returning to the dear society of our friends; the prospect of spending another day in the service of God and the improvement of our own minds; and, above all, the lively hope of a joyful resurrection to an eternal day of happiness and glory—any of these particulars, and many more, which I do not mention, may furnish us with matter of pleasing reflection and cheerful praise, while we are rising.
2. For the exercise of secret devotions in the morning, which I hope will generally be our first work, I cannot prescribe an exact method to another. The constituent parts of the service are, in the general, plain. Were I to propose a particular model for those who have half or three-quarters of an hour at command (which, with prudent conduct, I suppose most may have), it should be this :
To begin the stated devotions of the day with a solemn act of praise, offered to God on your knees, and generally with a low, yet distinct, voice, acknowledging the mercies we had been reflecting on while resting ; never forgetting to mention CHRIST, as the great foundation of all our enjoyments and our hopes, or to return thanks for the influences of the BLESSED SPIRIT, which have led our hearts to God, or are then engaging us to seek him. This address of praise may properly be concluded with an express renewal of our covenant with God, declaring our continued repeated resolution of being devoted to Him, and particularly of living to His glory, the en
It may be proper, after this, to take a prospect of the day before us, so far as we can probably foresee,
in the general, where and how it may be spent: and seriously to reflect, “ How shall I employ myself for God this day? What business is to be done, and in what order? What opportunities may I expect, either of doing, or of receiving, good? What temptations am I like to be assaulted with, in any place, company, or circumstance, which may probably occur? In what instances have I lately failed? And how shall I be safest now?"
After this review, it would be proper to offer up a short prayer, begging that God would quicken us to each of these foreseen duties; that he would fortify us against each of those apprehended dangers; that he would grant us success in such or such a business, undertaken for His glory; and also, that he would help us to discover and improve unforeseen opportunities, to resist unexpected temptations, and to bear patiently, and religiously, any afflictions which may surprise us in the day on which we are entering.
I would advise you, after this, to read some portion of Scripture; not a great deal, nor the whole Bible in its course; but some select lessons out of its most useful parts, perhaps ten or twelve verses ; not troubling yourself much about the exact connexion, or other critical niceties, which may occur, (though, at other times, I would recommend them to your inquiry, as you have ability and opportunity,) but considering them merely in a devotional and practical view.
It might be proper to close these devotions with a
psalm or hymn ; and I rejoice with you, that, through the pious care of Dr. Watts, and some other sacred poets, we are provided with so rich a variety, for the assistance of the closet and family on these occasions, as well as for the service of the sanctuary.
II. The most material directions which have occurred to me, relating to THE PROGRESS OF THE DAY, are these: That we be serious in the devotions of the day; - that we be diligent in the business of it; that is, in the prosecution of our worldly callings ;— that we be temperate and prudent in the recreations of it ;-that we carefully remark the providences of the day ;-that we cautiously guard against the temptations of it;—that we keep up a lively and humble dependence upon the Divine influence, suitable to every emergency of it;—that we govern our thoughts well in the solitude of the day, and our discourses well in the conversations of it.
1. For seriousness in devotion, whether public or domestic.-Let us take a few moments, before we enter upon such solemnities, to pause, and reflect on the perfections of the God we are addressing ; on the importance of the business we are coming about; on the pleasure and advantage of a regular and devout attendance; and on the guilt and folly of an hypocritical formality. When engaged, let us maintain a strict watchfulness over our own spirits, and check the first wanderings of thought. And, when the duty is over, let us immediately reflect on the manner in which it has been performed, and ask our own con