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worth, or variety of characteristics; and the number of them interspersed throughout the different offices, together with the collects, form a most considerable manual of enlightened devotion, adapted to all wants, fears, trials, and affections.
A few remarks, further, on the manner of praying, or rather the temper of mind in praying, may be requisite. When you pray, be earnest in your manner; think seriously that you are addressing God, who sees you although you do not see him, and then you will think only of that you are doing; and if you are sincere, (ie. if your heart is concerned in ship,) this will be an easy matter. When you address a superior person on earth, upon a petition which you are anxious to have granted, while in the presence of that person your thoughts are occupied with him and the fate of your petition; you will see, therefore, how reasonable it is, if you expect God to hear you, that you think only of him and the nature of your pe
tition, while you are praying; for when your thoughts wander to any thing else, you are occupied by those thoughts, and not by the thoughts of God. But such is the frailty of human nature, that I believe every one, more or less, occasionally detects his thoughts wandering from prayer; in such cases, recover your thoughts as quickly as you can; pray God's pardon for your negligence, and he, knowing the weakness of your nature, will pardon you. You may generally judge whether or no you pray sincerely, by observing whether or not you are the more watchful over your conduct the oftener you pray. You will, if sincere, pray also with earnestness and fervour; but don't mistake enthusiasm for fervour, and imagine that you are not fervent unless you are enthusiastic, which some do. Enthusiasm is the heat produced in a mind overcharged and puffed up with fanciful imaginations ; enthusiastic expressions of piety being similar to what rhapsodies are in love, any
thing but rational. Be always collected at your prayers; the more sincerely you pray, the more will your heart be warmed with the exercise, but never lose sight of reason, and the immeasurable distance between you and the Deity. Avoid familiar expressions, of which enthusiasts are remarkably fond; and in some of their prayers and hymns there are expressions that no creature ought to dare address to his Creator, as well as language calculated more for sensual passion than pious praise. In short, if you pray from inclination, praying will become a pleasure to you; and in that from which we derive pleasure we are most likely to be sincere.
There are some persons of a melancholic temperament who always pray despondingly, and therefore are not refreshed by their prayers; for such persons look upon religion in a gloomy light; but this often springs from bodily disease, and hypocondriac affection, (or the hip, as it is vulgarly called ;) and such persons looking
upon the dark side of religion, misapprehend its character. But, from whatever source such gloomy thoughts proceed, religion has no terrors but for those who contemn its ordinances; these are the people who have reason to feel terror, because they cannot have hope; which is the portion of those who obey the laws of religion; and the Christian religion, having faith for its basis, hope for its assurance, charity for its criterion, and salvation for its end, cannot, if properly contemplated, produce other than happy associations of mind in those who look to Christ as their Redeemer; to his promises as their security, to his charity for their example, and to the salvation he offers them of his free grace for the reward of their obedience; that Christ whose "yoke is easy, and whose burthen is light;" "Come unto me ye that are weary, "Him who comes
to me, I will in no wise cast out." Can he
be a master to inspire terror in the humble
and fearful who seek him? What did he say to the poor woman who touched the hem of his garment to obtain relief from a malady she had lingered under many years? Did he, when she came trembling before him, speak to her with the language of harshness? No-he said,
Thy faith hath made thee whole!" So, humble, melancholy, Christian, will he say to thy heart, if thou seekest him with the faith of this poor woman: thinkest thou that she went away melancholy? No. Why then shouldest thou? God created man to make him happy; the God who redeemed man did so to prevent man being wretched; the God who imparted to man the Holy Spirit did so that man might be sanctified, and made fitting for the heaven prepared for him. Would this God then, thinkest thou, cast out the prayer of the humble? No. Will he reject the broken spirit? "look and see,"
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O,