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OF EARLY PIETY, AND PRAYER. 201 Without it I must be a mere cumberer of the ground. Then my very being would be a curse to myself; and I should be a curse to my friends, and a curse to the world; but with it, in my humble sphere, I should be enabled to glorify my God; I should live to my blessed Redeemer; and might die leaning, as it were, my languishing head for support upon his Almighty arm.

Great and blessed God, from revolving these things in my mind, to thee would I turn. O, let them not be lost upon me; let these precious blessings all be mine. Deny me other treasures, if thou wilt but give me these. Let me win Christ,” and know him as mine; and know all the blessings which flow from his love, either on earth, or in heaven, as also mine. Give me the comfort of hope; the assurance of faith ; and the heaven of holy love; that heaven in the soul, on earth, which is the forerunner and the earnest of an eternal heaven within me, and around me, when time shall be no more. Let me not have merely a wavering hope, but a strong unshaken confidence that thou art my God; that thy promises are my charter; thy love my portion; thy kingdom my inheritance. While early religion is thus profitable and honourable, and desirable, let it be my immediate choice. Let me not, by delay, make repentance more

bitter, and conversion more difficult; but may I feel true humility and sorrow for having wasted, and worse than wasted, so much of my life; and again, let me entreat thee to give me grace, gladly to yield the rest to thee; or if, O compassionate Father, thou seest that I have been led to this happy choice, then, confirm me in it, and never let sin or the world divide the bands which bind my soul to

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EARLY PIETY THE thee; but may I be blest in Jesus, and humbly and faithfully cleave to him. Grant me but these blessings, and then make whatever pleases thee, welcome to me. Let amictions be welcome, as the chastisement of thy band; and pain, as sent to meeten me for the rest, where there shall be no more pain. If thou art pleased to prolong my days, let life be welcome for the sake of live ing to my Lord. But if thou hast determined otherwise respecting me, if a few weeks or months are to finish my pilgrimage below, let even early death be welcome, as a speedier removal to eternal life; and let those years, which are taken from my mortal course, be added to that eternal day, to which thou hast promised to conduct all the humble followers of thy Son. Great God, thou seest nothing in me, to add weight to these requests; and never wilt thou see such worthiness in a creature so unworthy; but grant them for his sake whose blood was shed to wash away my sins. Amen.



“On parent knees, a helpless, new-born child,
Weeping thou sat'st, while all around thee smil'd,
So live, that, siuking in thy last long sleep,

Calm thou mayst smile, when all around thee weep."
§ 1. As another reason for early piety, glance
at some of the pleasures which true religion
yields. It is the common delusion of the world,
that religion is a melancholy thing; unsuitable
to the young and sprightly; and of such a na.



ture that it would blast all their pleasures, and render their lives dark and dreary. The word of God, on the other hand, describes true reli. gion as the only source of real comfort. It is the only remains of Paradise below.

That holy Book declares, that “the ways of wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and that all her paths are peace.”

It also tells us of "joy and peace in believing;” of “rejoicing in God;" "rejoicing in the Lord always;" of "rejoicing" in Christ, “with joy unspeakable and full of glory;” of delighting” in “ the Lord.” The scriptures represent it as the Christian's portion to possess "a peace which passeth all understanding;" "if sorrowful,” to be" always rejoicing;” to “glory even in tribulation;" and even if “ the fig-tree should not blossom, and there should be no fruit in the vine,” if the “labour of the olive should fail, and the fields should yield no meat,” if the "flocks should be cut off from the fold, and there should be no herd in the stall;" if, in short, famine and desolation were ravaging all around, still to “rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of his salvation.”

§ 2. If, after this, you wish for human testimonies, to the comforts which true piety affords, you may have them in abundance. Not that you should ask the men of the world. This would be as absurd as to request a man born blind, to describe the beauties of a fine prospect. As he, who never saw, cannot tell what pleasures sight affords; as he who never heard, cannot describe the delights which music yields its admirers; no more can they, who never knew religion, tell you

Prov. Hi. 17. Rom. xv. 13. Rom. v. 2. Phil. iv. 4. 1 Peter, i. 8. Ps. XXXVII. 4h Phil. iv. 7. 2 Cor. ri, 10. Rom. v. 3. Habak. iii, 17, 18



what its pleasures are. But would you know whether religion is the best source of happiness, ask those who possess it in reality. How many such would tell you, they never knew what true delight was, till they found it in religion! How many such would unite their testimony with that of a young person, known to the writer, on the evening after her solemn admission into the church of Christ, “ This has been a happy day to me; I hope I shall be faithful unto death, and then my last will be a happier !"

§ 3. True religion, though it forbids conformily to this world, and directs you to set your affections on the things above, yet forbids no law. ful use of the innocent comforts of earth and time. It is true, it denies you the play-house, that hot-bed of vice, the licentious romance, the silly novel, and those scenes of worldly revelry, which a poor deceived world call happiness; yet these are not sources of real happiness, even to those who love them so well. On one occasion, when some of Colonel Gardiner's dissolute companions were congratulating him on his happiness in licentious dissipation, a dog happened to come into the room, and he could not forbear groaning inwardly, and saying to himself, “O that I were that dog !” Such was his happiness, and such is doubtless that of thousands more. Early piety would give you the best pleasures. Through the knowledge of Jesus you would have peace. Peace within. Conscience, that else must be a troublesome monitor, would become a delightful friend; while the Holy Spirit would witness with your spirit that you are a child of God. Peace with God is another source of true

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Rom. viii. 16.

PEACE, AND COMMUNION WITH GOD. delight, and this too would be yours; you might look on the Most High as a tender Father, and beloved friend, while to the careless sinner he is a dreadful foe.

§ 4. Early piety would open to you another fountain of real pleasure, by forming your heart for the enjoyment of delights, far, far superior to those of sense. In communion with God, in meditation on divine promises and love, the Christian has those pleasures which he would not exchange for all the pleasures of the world. Even his tears of penitential grief afford him more sincere delight, than they find in all their noisy mirth. The public, as well as the private services of religion, also yield true delight to those, who, partaking of renewing grace, are capable of relishing the sacred pleasure. Hear how one who knew these pleasures, could express his feelings, “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord; my heart



out for the living God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live; I will lift up my hands in thy name.”

Ps. lxxxiv. 1, 2, 4, 10. Ixiii. 1-4

and my

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