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sciences, whether we have reason to conclude that we are accepted of God in it. For there is a certain manner of going through these offices, which, our own hearts will immediately tell us, it is impossible for God to approve: and if we have inadvertently fallen into it, we ought to be deeply humbled before God for it, lest our very prayer become sin.
2. As for the hours of worldly business, whether it be that of the hands, or whether it be the labour of a learned life, not immediately relating to religious matters ; let us set to the prosecution of it with a sense of God's authority, and with a regard to His glory. Let us avoid a dreaming, sluggish, indolent temper, which nods over its work, and does only the business of one hour in two or three. In opposition to this, which runs through the life of some people, who yet think they are never idle, let us endeavour to despatch as much as we well can in a little time; considering, that it is but a little we have in all. And let us be habitually sensible of the need we have of the Divine blessing, to make our labours successful.
3. For seasons of diversion. Let us take care that our recreations be well chosen ; that they be pursued with a good intention, to fit us for a renewed application to the labours of life; and thus, that they be only used in subordination to the honour of God, the great end of all our actions. Let us take heed that our hearts be not estranged from God by them; and that they do not take up too much of our time: always remembering, that the faculties of human nature, and the advantages of the Christian Revelation, were not given us in vain ; but that we are always to be in pursuit of some great and honourable end, and to indulge ourselves in amusements and diversions no farther than as they make a part in a scheme of rational and manly, benevolent and pious, conduct.
4. For the observation of providences ;-it will be useful to regard the Divine interposition, in our comforts, and in our afflictions. In our comforts, whether more common or extraordinary ;—that we find ourselves in continued health ; that we are furnished with food for support and pleasure; that we have so many agreeable ways of employing our time; that we haye so many friends, and those so good and so happy; that our business goes on prosperously; that we go out, and come in, safely; and that we enjoy composure and cheerfulness of spirit, without which nothing else could be enjoyed. All these should be regarded as providential favours: and due acknowledgments should be made to God on these accounts, as we pass through such agreeable scenes. Ou the other hand, Providence is to be regarded in every disappointment, in every loss, in every pain, in every instance of unkindness, from those who have professed friendship. And we should endeavour to argue ourselves into a patient submission, from this consideration, that the hand of God is always mediately, if not immediately, in each of them. It is a reflection, which we should particularly make, with relation to those little cross accidents (as we are ready to call them), and those infirmities and follies in the temper and conduct of our intimate friends, which may else be ready to discompose us. And it is the more necessary to guard our minds here; as wise and good men often lose the command of themselves on these comparatively little occasions ; who, calling up reason and religion to their assistance, stand the shock of great calamities with fortitude and resolution.
5. For watchfulness against temptations ;—it is necessary, when changing our place, or our employment, to reflect, “ What snares attend me here?" And, as this should be our habitual care, so we should especially guard against those snares which, in the morning, we foresaw. And, when we are entering on those circumstances in which we expected the assault, we should reflect, especially if it be a matter of great importance, “ Now the combat is going to begin : now God and the blessed angels are observing what constancy, what fortitude, there is in my soul; and how far the Divine authority, and the remembrance of my own prayers and resolutions, will weigh with me, when it comes to a trial.”
6. As for dependence on Divine grace and influence ; it must be universal i and, since we always need it, we must never forget that necessity. A moment spent in humble fervent breathings, after the communications of the Divine assistance, may do more good than many minutes spent in mere reasonings : and though, indeed, this should not be neglected, since the light of reason is a kind of Divine illumination, yet
still it ought to be pursued in a due sense of our dependence on the Father of Lights: or, where we think ourselves wisest, we may become vain in our imaginations. Let us therefore always call upon God; and say, for instance, when we are going to pray, “Lord, fix my attention! Awaken my holy affections, and pour out upon me the spirit of grace and of supplication !” When taking up the Bible, or any other good book : “ Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy Law! Enlighten mine understanding! Warm my heart ! May my good resolutions be confirmed, and all the course of my life in a proper manner regulated !” When addressing ourselves to any worldly business : “ Lord, prosper thou the work of my hands upon me, and give Thy blessing to my honest endeavours!” When going to any kind of recreation: “ Lord, bless my refreshments ! Let me not forget Thee in them, but still keep
Thy glory in view!” When coming into company: “ Lord, may I do, and get, good! Let no corrupt communication proceed out of my mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister gruce to the hearers !” When entering upon difficulties : “ Lord, give me that wisdom which is profitable to direct ! Teach me Thy way, and lead me in a plain path !” When encountering with temptations : " Let Thy strength, O gracious Redeemer, be made perfect in my weakness !” These instances may illustrate the design of this direction; though they be
far from a complete enumeration of all the circumstances in which it is to be regarded.
7. For the government of our thoughts in solitude : Let us accustom ourselves, on all occasions, to exercise a due command over our thoughts. Let us take care of those enlargements of passion, and those attachments to any present interest and view, which would deprive us of our power over them. Let us set before us some profitable subject of thought; such as, the perfections of the blessed God, the love of Christ, the value of time, the certainty and importance of death and judgment, and the eternity of happiness or misery which is to follow. Let us also, at such intervals, reflect on what we have observed, as to the state of our own souls, with regard to the advance or decline of religion; or, on the last sermon we have heard, or the last portion of Scripture we have read. It might be very useful to select some one verse of Scripture, which we had met with in the morning ; and to treasure it up in our mind, resolving to think of that at any time, when we are at a loss for matter of pious reflection, in any intervals of leisure for entering upon it. This will often be as a spring, from whence many profitable and delightful thoughts may rise, which, perhaps, we did not before see in that connexion and force.
8. Lastly, For the government of our discourse in company ;-we should take great care that nothing may escape us, which can expose us, or our Christian