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richness of her reveries afford her de. residence at Jerusalem, he taught in light : then she ascendeth from herself the temple by day, and at night he to her Creator, from earth to heaven; withdrew to the mount of Olives. and, haply, to assist her meditations, Shewing to us that the infirmities of she strayeth to the sacred habitations mortality which he partook of, required of the dead, or wandereth beneath the to be healed with these solacements of lonely ruins of ancient temples, when quiet and meditation in order to act in the solemn moon, queen of silence, concert with the higher faculties of the stealeth forth to rule the darkness of divive spirit within him. So also we the night, and the stars come forth to shewed in one of our evening discourattend her course. Then looking up ses, that his servants in the ministry unto the heavens, to the moon, and to have found their strength in such secret the stars, which God hath ordained, retirements from the busy world. Our we feel with the psalmist, “What is fathers perceiving the fitness of this did man that thou art mindful of him, or erect those ancient cathedral churches, the Son of man that thou visitest him?" monuments of their piety and art, and and when we look upon the earth, fal- were a grove of stony arch work, ling asleep under the watchful moon, where with the dead beneath your feet, the birds silent in their nests, and the and monuments of the worthy dead beasts on their grassy couches, and around the walls, and clustering arches the hum of busy men silenced by over our head, with a dim religious sleep, the sister of the grave; then, if light, like the light of twilight, around ever, the voices of immortality lift them- you, the soul might partake a solitude selves within the bosom of man, and in the midst of populous and noisy he feeleth his dignity of nature, which cities, and have all the advantages the commerce of the world obscureth, which place and association and surand he calmly looketh forward to his rounding scenery can give for solemn change, and he loveth the Saviour who and devout thoughts; and oh! I do opened up life and immortality beyond grudge the loss of that spirit of the death and the grave; his soul passeth olden time which, though leagued with upwards to the communion of God, and superstition, did so much for the hoin this recess from worldly turmoil, he nour and accommodation of religion, hath the presence of divine thought, putting to shame the mercantile spirit and a sort of intermediate state between of these days, which findeth infinite the activity of life, and the rest of the means to waste on assembly rooms, grave.
and club houses, and domestic villas Our Saviour in the days of his flesh, and regal palaces, while it is consought the aids of silence, and solitude, tent to do worship under the most and shade, to hold communion with his
shell-work, heavenly Father.
After the bustle of which will hardly bear the strife of the crowds and severe occupation at Ca- elements, much less the hand of despernaum, when all the sick of the tructive time. neighbourhood, had been brought unto Even the Heathens, both the philo. him to be healed, and he had healed sophers and priests, were alive to the them, he retired by break of day, he connexion between retirement and relideparted and went into a desert place. gion-between the mystery of twilight So also, after feeding the multitude and the mysteriousness of things unwith the loaves and fishes, he departed seen. The Pythagoreans, who brought unto a mountain, and spent the whole philosophy into Greece from eastern night in prayer. So also, during his climes—the Druids, before whose
fearful altars our fathers bowed, fol- doth only prove more strongly the lowed their science and their religion universality of the principle concernbeneath the canopy of shady groves-ing which I discourse, that religion is and the sybils dwelt in solitary caves, essentially connected with retirement, and the ancient mysteries were trans- and solitude, and meditation, and can acted in darkness, and the most rever- hardly be felt in full power apart ed shrine of Jove was hid in the bow from them. els of the desert, and the superstitions We who live in cities are, in a great which, from time to time, brought | degree, cut off from imitating the exIsrael under heaven's scourge, were ample of Jesus, and the Patriarchs, transacted in groves and under high and holy men. We cannot go forth places. All which being combined into the field at eventide to meditate ; in the examples of holy writ, and nor is there any mount hard by, like confirmed by every one's experience, the Mount of Olives, to which we can proves it to be the voice of nature, retreat when night falleth upon the ever certifying that the things of the earth. And though no walls be around world unseen, are fostered by medita- our city, and no barriers defend our tion and retirement, and that these going out or coming in, we are shut are essential parts of a religious man's | in by its very extent, and cannot easily occupation; proving that no people escape from its noise and occupation ; have been so ignorant as not to per- and the twilight is chosen by layers in ceive that the things of futurity are wait, to molest the goings out and in best reflected on when the things of of the inhabitants, and temptation time are out of sight, and that the spreadeth its wiles for the unweary, world to come ariseth before us as the and unseemly sights are obtruded beworld that is departeth from us, and fore our eyes; and so most of us are that God cannot come where Mam. effectually hindered from the enjoy
or Belial or any god of this ments of these meditative moods, world is exercising their sway; which which it is the object of this discourse great truth it doth only establish the to recommend. We live the most of more, that designing men have been us in business and bustle, activity is able to take advantage of seclusion in the movement, and anxiety in the and mystery, in order to dupe and countenance of almost every face we deceive mankind. If God were not meet through the live-long day; the inmore easily apprehended in solitude terests and concerns of life infix and than in open busy places, heathen entwine with us, and will not be repriests and Christian monks, would buked away from our thoughts, and not have foregone the pleasures of when an interval of leisure and relaxalife, and retired to cells and privacies tion hath occurred, it is so forestalled in order the more effectually to over- by pastimes and public amusements, awe the people; and there would have and there are outstanding so many been no hermits in caves of the earth, engagements to gay and social comnor dervises upon the edge of deserts, panies, that truly, time is too short to nor any other form of mortification fulfil them all; our spirits are exand concealment; these tricks of su- hausted; everything but active enperstition are addressed to real pro- gagement, or as active dissipation, is pensities of the mind, otherwise they excluded, and the mind never comes would take no hold, and bring no into that quiet and repose which is profit, and the universality with which necessary for reflection and meditathese devises of Satan have succeeded, tion on its own estate. Nature speaks
and cries aloud against the spoliation their minds, but I can speak for to which cities subject her, and so myself, that the greatest obstacle I soon as we are able she prompts us,
find to such heavenward com mmunica. for a part of the year, to escape out of tion, is the frequency of engagements. the midst of the unnatural excitement, and the invasion of business, the one and leave her to her own various moods savouring of the other so much, that and inclinations; or, if we allow not both avail equally to divert thesoul from ourselves these occasional relaxations, her own precious cogitations; duties and drudge it all the year, at our
press one upon every side, which mechanical or commercial callings, it by reason of their multitude, being is in the distant hope-most fondly only half discharged, the mind hath cherished though distant-of being at no pleasure to reflect upon when they length able to leave altogether these are past, and so many remain undone, abodes of bustling men, and embosom and so many stand over against the our family in some sweet rural retire- first unoccupied moment, that from ment, where we may pass our lives in morn to even, from the time we leave peace. But, alas ! ere that much de.
our bedchamber, till we enter it again, sired time arrives, it generally happens what is it, but a succession of waves that the mind, which cannot always succeeding each other, and wearing us endure, hath lost the noble faculty of out till sleep comes more delicious than exciting herself by thought, or of being activity, and oblivion more pleasant excited by nature's silent and change than consciousness, and dreams more ful moods; and being removed from happy, because more tranquil than what agitated and stirred her powers realities. Who, during the day, can in populous cities, she grows stagnant stretch his limbs upon his couch, and and corruptive, and breeding melan- say, now it is over and ended, I choly and disquiet humour, seeks in will sequester myself, I will give my self-defence the world's agitations mind the reins, and let it have its again ; and so it cometh to pass that course? Who can say, now the world the powers of reflection and medita- is shut out, nothing waits for me, and tion, and prayer and self-examination, I wait for nothing, let me have a space and heavenly mindedness, and what- for meditating my latter end, and conever else is above the world, are utterly sidering the end and issue of my days? lost, and the soul is bound down and Now will I make me glad with a little fettered to things seen and temporal, converse and communication with my and lost from almost every occasion of Maker. I will exalt my thoughts to being acted upon by the creation or heaven; I will put the earth under providence of God. The active world my feet, and I will meditate upon the . which was to be only her stage, hath providence of God, which ruleth over become the city of her habitation; the all. Now also will I escape from the body and the things of this world which span of time, and the house of my were intended for the furniture and dress, earthly tabernacle, and give my soul with which she was to play her part, up to thoughts of eternity and infinity. have become the ornaments and only With Job I will meditate the ancient happiness of the soul, the end and ob- of days, and lose myself amongst the ject of her very being, her consumma- unsearchable wonders of his power. tion of good or of evil.
With David I will contemplate the I do not know how it is with other history of his loving kindness to everymen who endeavour to serve their thing that liveth, and call upon all God, and keep him ever present in things in all parts of his dominions, ta magnify his name, or with Solomon I growth, and putting on their fairest will go to the depths of wisdom, and appearance. We ought, therefore, discover the vanity of all things be- men and brethren, whose lot is cast neath the sun; or with Paul, I will in this populous city, and whose apendeavour to apprehend with all saints pointment from God it is, to do our what is the height, and the length, offices therein faithfully and well, to be and the depth of the love of God in upon our guard against these the tempChrist Jesus, which passeth know. tations of our dwelling place, and take ledge; or with John in Patmos I will precautions that they do not destroy unravel the mysteries of the future, our knowledge of ourselves, and our and hold communion with the inha- fellowship with God. For whatever bitants of the world'unseen!
we may gain is a poor reward for the In want of such devout exercises of loss of those sweet enjoyments which calm thought and undisturbed medi-grow out of an examination of our tation, our city religion hath in it little ways, and a well ordering of them be. mellowness; it is formal, ceremonial, fore the Lord, and whatever we may fashionable, active, talkative, and do outwardly for the sake of our hapworldly; and it hath little tenderness piness, is nothing so important as of feeling and softness; it is shut up that which we may do inwardly, by a in doctrines which can only pass cur. right regulation of our desires and rent from mouth to mouth, which doc- affections and passions, from which trines want expansion over the soul inward discipline we are cut off if we and spirit of human fellowship. City lend ourselves to the incessant calls congregations have, in general, no that accumulate upon us from withtaste for the contemplative moods of out. the mind, but call out for the strong
Therefore, I do recommend to my excitement of controversy, declama. flock, and to all who hear me, to make tion, or passion; something that may a stand against the oppression of the stir them in the way after which they world, however it may recommend itare accustomed to be stirred by the self, and to have of every day a clear occurrences of every-day life; the and vacant space to themselves, to simplicity of the pastor must be make of it what they please. Let no cast off, and pastoral duties foregone pushing of business, as it is called, let for a sort of religious agency, and busi- no harvest of gain, let no promises of ness, and a commerce of religion, to pleasure, nay more, let no desires to all ends of the earth, producing in spi- serve another, or to profit the comritual matters such a character and monwealth, or to superintend charities, spirit as are produced in secular mat- or to do and transact any thing howters by the commerce of merchandize ; ever good and noble it may be, hinder and prayer is the exercise of a formal you of a period in every day, whereou hour, and hath its stated intervals ; but this world hath no claims, and wherethere wanteth the spirit of prayer in you may do or not do, read or not which ever converseth with God, and read, write or not write, but be yourbeareth the soul on high to commune selves your own free masters to attend with his holiness; for the domains of to those interests in which none in the God and of Mammon border so closely universe save you yourself is concerned. upon each other in cities, that the This world with all the good or ill, noisome vapours and exhalations of profit or loss, within its continent, the one, hinder the plants and fruits can nothing avail to gain you that of the other from reaching their full other world in which you are to be for ever miserable or happy, seeing all reason, and that better light which ye make, and all men ye oblige and
God hath shed on us from above. serve with all ye enjoy, can ye stand in this interval of self-possession which no stead to obtain an abundant entrance I move every one to enquire after, and into the joy of your Lord, which, desire and claim as his own right for whenever it is obtained, is obtained God and eternity—and which no masthrough solitary reflexion on our ways,
ter would refuse to his most menial serand sclitary prayer for mercy, and so- vant, if he knew that it was sought for litary perusal of the Scripture, solitary
an end that would return him profit mameditations, reflexions and resolutions. nifold—this interval which all who hear Seeing these future things are so at
me may possess without trenching upon tained unto, do I ask of you who are
necessary action or necessary rest, I candidates for them, too much, when would have you to fill up with those I ask you to have a season of each employments of the mind that are inprecious day to the exercise of such termediate between action and rest, solitary avocation with the things of necessary to bring the one gently on, the world unseen. Although you may
and to invigorate and direct the other to already be advanced in the knowledge calm thought and meditation ; I would and enjoyment of these everlasting have it devoted to the remembering of things, they will fade from your pos
the past, to the weighing of the presession if ye do not court them and sent, and to the forecasting of the fu. converse with them alone, even as love ture. But, verily, though the mind fadeth when its object is never present
were to do nothing but lie upon its or never thought of, or transferreth wearied oars, and gather her strength itself to some object which is always again, it is her sacred right, and if soliciting the eye with its presence, you refuse it, she will lose sprightliand the heart with its winning charms. ness, originality, determination, and This call, therefore, for a season of all the other poble qualities of selfeach day, is not to be prudently re
guidance, and fall into the drudging sisted by any one, saint or sinner, to regularity, the measured pace and joywhom I now speak, and though it be less occupation of slavery, being truly true that God in calling sinners to re
a slave, not to another, perhaps, but pentance, doth generally use the mi- to that great leviathan which enslaves nistry of the word in public places,
us all, the present evil world. To fathe well timed counsels of religious
vour these contemplative moods, let friends, good examples, and other every one who can, escape into the things not met with in solitude ; yet solitude of nature, and stretch himself when we are by these means called to
at ease amidst her soft and silent thought, if we take not our refuge in scenes, and let those to whom this is solitary meditation, the seed will not forbidden, separate themselves to their take root, but will be plucked away by private chambers, and spreading before the angels of the evil one, or burnt up them the book of God, give themselves by heats and fires of pleasure, or choked largely and liberally to consider all his by the cares and anxieties of active
wonderful works and gracious ways life. And besides, it seemeth to me a
unto the children of men. Their chekind of degradation of ourselves, thus quered life let them review-its wayto commit the vessels in which our ward courses—its sinful wanderingeternity is embarked to the random its various escapes—its utter unprofitinfluence of wind and tide, instead of ableness; and over against these set steering by the guidance of our own
the bounty of God, his long suffering,