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to gluttonous indulgence and boisterous revelry?-to turn it into an unhallowed festival, in which God and his worship can have no place ? Thus have those anniversary thanksgivings, which our puritan fathers instituted for the purpose of honoring God, been sometimes perverted; so that instead of an additional revenue of praise, he has received new provocations to turn away his face from us, and to curse even our blessings.
3. This Article suggests one important use which should be made of historical reading; and that is, to excite gratitude to God. In the hundred-and-fourth Psalm, we observe David reading the book of nature, to excite gratitude to the God of nature; and in the next Psalm, we see him reading the book of Providence, to stir up his grateful feelings towards the God of providence. History, when a statement of facts, makes us acquainted with events which God has brought to pass: and since the earth is full of his mercy, these historic events, if properly examined, must furnish new reasons for thankfulness. Were history to be written in the spirit of piety, it would illustrate that dec. laration of the Psalmist : “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts." Ps. cxlv. 4. In read. ing the history of our own country, it ought to be no secondary object, to impress our hearts with a sense of the goodness in which God has passed before our nation; whereby he has laid us under immense obligation to be a grateful people.
Every individual ought frequently to review the events of his own life, for the purpose of exciting gratitude towards the Author of all his blessings. How innumerable are the mercies and deliverances which we have all experienced. Surely, goodness and mercy have followed us all the days of our life.
“'T is to His care we owe our breath,
And all our Dear escapes from death." The means of grace with which God has furnished us, lay us under greater obligation than all our temporal blessings. How greatly aug. mented, then, are our obligations, provided we have received grace itself! And every new supply of grace enhances our obligation to be thankful.
4. With this topic in view, we gather new proof of the baseness of our fallen nature; as being devoid of thankfulness to the Supreme benefactor. It is a common remark, that ingratitude is so base a crime, that no one was ever found willing to acknowledge himself guilty of it. But it is an undeniable fact, that mankind are, by nature, entirely ungrateful to Him, from whom all their favors are ultimately received. "The Holy Ghost has testified of this fallen world; * When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful." While men are influenced by the laws of politeness to thank each other for the smallest favors, they seem to feel under no obligation to give thanks to Him, who gave them being, and who gives them all things richly to enjoy. They can pass by the cross without one grateful emotion. God's unspeakable gift excites no thankfulness.
* Fo: an example of a history written in this manner, I would refer the reader to Trumbull's History of Connecticut.
HOLY MEDITATION IS A PART OF INTERNAL RELIGIOX WHICH ALL THE CHILDREN OF GOD ARE FAMILIAR.
By meditation, is meant something more than that involuntary and random exercise of the thinking faculty, which is common to all. All minds think, but all can not, with strict propriety, be said to meditate. There are those, whose minds seem to glance at nearly every thing, and to dwell intently upon nothing. Meditation denotes that musing, that applying of the mind to thought, which is the result of a deep in. terest in the subject of contemplation. And holy meditation means that musing about God, eternity, and other sacred themes, which is accom. panied with corresponding affections of heart-which is engaged in because it affords delight. To constitute one's meditations holy, it is not enough that he contemplates sacred subjects: he must love to contemplate them, and that because they are most in unison with his moral taste. Meditation, in the scriptural sense, includes one kind of prayer, namely, that which consists in silent aspirations to the Father of our spirits. It is very natural for holy minds, while they are con. templating his being, works and word, to mingle such devout breath. ings with their contemplations. See Ps. v. 1, 2. I place meditation in the experimental system; for, whether it consist in thoughts of God, or unexpressed petitions to him, it is secret, being known only to Him and ourselves.
This mental exercise is not peculiar to eminent Christians, but is common to all that love God. They do not restrict it to holy times, places, or employments ; but extend it to all the days of the week, alí the places where they go, and all the employments in which they en. gage. The subjects on which
their thoughts most naturally dwell, are those which relate to God. But since these assertions may be dispu. ted, it will be expedient to show ;-that holy meditation is required that it is practicable—that means are to be employed to promote itand that it holds no unimportant place in Christian experience.
1. Holy meditation, as the stated employment of our thinking pow. ers, is required of us. Paul, in writing to his son Timothy, says, " Meditate upon these things;” (i. e. the things relating to the kingdom of God;) “ give thyself wholly to them.” It will, perhaps, be said, that this command was given to a minister of the word, whose office in the church obliged him to make the subject of religion the whole business of his life. We find, however, a similar command given to Josh. ua, whose business it was to lead the armies of Israel, and to administer their civil government. To him it was said, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night." Josh. i. 8. The same thing is, in effect, enjoined on every man, when it is said, “Be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long.” Prov. xxiii. 17. It is difficult to tell how we can be all the day long in the fear of the Lord, unless we have him much in our thoughts.
2. Constant meditation on divine things is practicable. Had it not been practicable, it would not have been required. And let me ask, what there is to render it impossible to comply with this requisition. The business of this life can be pursued, without its driving from our minds the thoughts of God, and of the life to come. We can think of God, when we are alone, and when we are in company; when we lie down, and when we rise up; when we go out, and when we come in ; when we are in our own, or in a foreign land. To keep divine meditations in our minds, while our hands are employed in worldly business, nothing more is needed, than that we estimate the things of this life and the things of the life to come, according to their comparative importance. Let the things of the life to come be con. sidered as the edifice, and the things of this life as 'nothing but the temporary scaffolding, on which we are to stand until the edifice be completed; and then it will not be difficult to keep the things of eter. nity uppermost in our thoughts, at all times. When Christ enjoined it on his hearers, to lay up their treasure in heaven, he told them that where their treasure was, there their heart would be also. Matt. vi. 21.
Men who are living without God in the world, have commonly some particular subject which engrosses the most of their thoughts. The warrior is ever thinking of battles and victories. The thoughts of the politician dwell on the political concerns of the nation; and are much employed
in devising means to raise himself or his favorites to prefer. ment. The worldling is ever musing on his gains and losses, and is contriving how, in future, he may gain without losing. The scholar's mind is absorbed with his scientific attainments, and with the pros. pect of his rising to eminence in the literary world. And the man of pleasure thinks of scarcely anything but his sports and sensual gratifi
. cations. These men may all of them have some thoughts on other topics; but each one has his own all-absorbing topic, towards which, as to a centre, his thoughts are always gravitating.
And now I ask, What subject should we expect would, above all others, employ the thoughts of the godly man? Where is his treasure ? Is it not in heaven? Then his heart will be there also. Does he not delight in the law of the Lord ? If so, will he not meditate in that law day and night? Are his meditations on the things of God sweet! Then these will be his chosen meditations, at home and abroad, by day and by night.
That such a constancy of meditation on divine things is practicable, is made certain by the fact that it has actually been exemplified. King David had as much of the business of earth to fill his thoughts, as any other man; yet we hear him say to God, " I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.”
Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word." Nor were such thoughts confined to the night watches; for we hear him exclaim, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” This implies, that through the avocations of the day, the law of God was the great subject which employed his thoughts.
Now that which has been done by one of the children of God, and by one whose situation was uncommonly difficult, may be done by them
all. What David tells us concerning his own meditations, he applies to all the other friends of God. In the first Psalm, he makes this assertion concerning every man of pięty: “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” How could a constancy of holy meditation be more emphatically expressed? And notice, such meditation is not here introduced merely as a thing in. cumbent, but as a duty which is actually performed; and that by all such as delight in God's law.*
3. Means are to be employed in promoting holy meditation. Some of the more important of these, I will now suggest.
1st. Let us impress upon our minds this truth, that wherever we are, at home or abroad, there God is : that the works around us are his creation, and that the events which are passing under our eye, are parts of his providence. We can hardly believe that God is omni. present, and not think of him. Though absent friends may sometimes be forgotten, we certainly can not help thinking of them, when they are in our presence. When David composed the 104th Psalm, he saw God in every object, and in every event. He was led to exclaim, “O Lord, how manifold are thy works : in wisdom hast thou made them all.” No wonder that this view of God and his works, should lead him to say, “ My meditation of him shall be sweet."
2dly. Holy meditation is greatly promoted by the frequent reading and hearing of God's word. “Thy testimonies," said the Psalmist,
meditation.” Again he said, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” Ps. cxix. 97, 99. That protracted Psalm, in which we find these passages, seems to be wholly made up of those meditations for which the scriptures had furnished the materials. They were originated and cherished by a familiar acquaintance with this repository of truth. The word gives rise to all the believer's spiritual meditations. It is true that he meditates on the works of God; but it is by the light reflected from his word, that he discovers the glo. ry of his works. They who desire to meditate much on God, will often look into his word, and will greatly prize the ministration of it; and, of course, they will love the habitation of his house, and every place where his word is faithfully dispensed. Those who desire to have God much in their thoughts, through the week, will not fail to be in his house on the Sabbath.
3dly. Prayer is of immense importance in assisting holy medita. tion. In the 19th Psalm, there is a petition adapted to this particular subject : “ Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and Redeemer.” It is as proper to pray God, that the meditation of our heart may acceptable in his sight, as to pray, that the words of our mouth and the actions of our life, may
And prayer is one of the most im, portant means which can be used, to give a right direction to our thoughts, words, and actions. Pious meditation is greatly promoted by secret ejaculations; and, indecd, such ejaculations constitute the most interesting part of the exercise. The meditations of which the
An agod Christian, with whom I once had conversation on experimental religion, told me,
chat for many years, he believedr, there had not been three minutes together, when the thoughts of God and divino things had been out of his mind.
119th Psalm is composed, appear to have been accompanied with many fervent aspirations, or short, disconnected petitions, which silently ascended to God from the altar of a devout heart. It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, that these precious thoughts and holy breathings should not be lost to the Church. By them we are taught, not only what were the meditations of the man after God's own heart, but also by what methods we ourselves may have those of a like character.
4thly. Habitual meditation on divine things may be aided, by a special consecration of certain portions of our time to this exercise. We are informed that Isaac went out into the field to meditate at even. tide. Gen. xxiv. 63. The time and the place selected by him, were both favorable to devout contemplation. It is mentioned in the Life of President Edwards, that, when he was the minister of Northampton, he was in the habit of resorting to retired groves in the vicinity, for the
purpose of meditation. It is also stated, that these were found by him to be very profitable seasons. Baxter, in his book entitled “The Saints' Rest,” urges the duty of meditation, and the importance of devoting some special seasons to it. These special seasons, besides being in themselves precious, will exert an influence to keep the mind in a frame of holy meditation, even when we are occupied with world. ly business.
4. Holy meditation holds no unimportant place in the experiences of the Christian. To promote and improve it, is an object worthy of engaging much of his attention.
(1.) It is necessary to render us objects of delight to our Maker. He witnesses all which is passing in our minds. He understands our thoughts afar off. And with what displeasure must he look upon those intelligent creatures, whom he has made capable of contemplating his glorious perfections, and meditating in his law day and night, when he sees, that, so far from doing this, they are utter strangers to pious contemplation—that God is not in all their thoughts. On the other hand, must it not be pleasing to Him who searches all hearts, to see his creatures employed in devoutly'contemplating those manifestations of his glory, which he has made in his works and in his word ? Must he not have been pleased with that devout man, who could appeal to him and say, “ I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands!” Ps. cxliii. 5. His saints must be objects of peculiar de. light, when he sees their heart so intently fixed, that neither a press of business, nor a throng of company, can drive him from their thoughts.
(2.). Spiritual meditations constitute a good preparation for many other duties.
They are a good preparation for prayer. Like the sacred fire that was ever burning upon the altar, ready to consume every sacrifice which should be laid upon it, so it is with holy meditation. The man who ever keeps this fire burning upon the altar of his heart, will be always prepared to engage in prayer. See Lev. vi. 13.
Meditation is a good preparative to spiritual and profitable discourse. It is when the heart is inditing a good matter, that the tongue is like the pen of a ready writer. Ps. xlv. 1. What can be more natural, than to talk of that which is uppermost in our minds ? If the medita. tions of our heart are acceptable in the sight of God, so will be the