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THERE are a number of persons whom we have no reason to believe to be under the influence of real religion; their tempers are frequently unsubrlued and irritable; their affections, in the main, are worldly; and their pride of heart is evident; that yet express themselves in a devout way, and talk as if they found pleasure in devotion. The beauties of creation, the charms of nature, the fancied pictures which they draw of the goodness of the Deity, all their minds with lively ideas of the benevolence of the Creator. They love to.con, template these things, and to converse about them in a strain of devout admiration and praise. Deists and idolaters sometimes express themselves in this way; and Socinians ofien talk as if their view of religion encouraged rent devotion. - What then are the great defects of the kind of devo. tion which has been described ? It is accompanied by some one or other of the following marks.
With respect to those who profess to have it, it has little or no induence on the temper, which still remains unsanctified, either self-indulgent or fretful, and exposed to bursts of passion. It puffs up, and fosters pride of heart, and fills the mind with self-conceit, and selfsufficiency. It leads men to court rather than shun the admiration of others; or, it is often a mere indula gence of natural imagination, of a pensive disposition,
of taste, and the like. Pleasurable sensations are excited by the idea of the dignity of such contemplations, and that they give a mark of a superior state of mind to the common class of persons, and this satisfies them.
With respect to God, it has no regard to his holiness or justice; it overlooks the Scripture account of his character, and those sorrows and evils of life which visibly mark his hand, and the sinfulness of man. It greatly, if not totally, disregards the only mediator by whom we may draw near to God. No man cometh unto the Father but by Him. '
And with respect to others, there is little or no séparation from vain and sinful company, from worldly habits, practices, and maxims; no ful6lling of the precept, Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and therefore no obtaining of the promise, and I will receive you, and I will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters: 1 saith the Lord Almighty. ...
In the feelings to which we allude, there is no real time communion with God: that is ever humbling and . purifying. Men of the description which has been mentioned, know nothing of the character of God as the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose de name is holy; who says, “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble 941 spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.'
Let the reader, then, be on his guard, and not suppose tube that every thing of a contemplative or devotional cast, is be real devotion and acceptable to God.
Yet there is a true devotional feeling, essential to our well-being and happiness, of the greatest value and
Direžisks to assist in attaiwites Sport V
Prayer, 1 HE duty and privilege of the various kinds of prays bave now been brought before the reader. They douche all be attended to; they are ench beautiful, au Hesvik in their seasoo. A Christian will not attend public neglect family worship; be will not pray in hia fuit and neglect his secret devotions; he will not fra statedly in secret, and neglect social or habitaal VC Each will come regularly in its lit place au nima, without interfering with the other; each not hinderthe
succeeding, and mutually helping the other's Nam will be count all this course of prayer burdensanie w Wearisonne. To enjoy the presence of God is his han Pitems, and therefore be longs to live in the continue practice of prayer. Your views of devotional exereis
as a task or a privilege, are a test by which you may judge of your progress in religion, if not of its reality.
And while there will, in the advanced Christian; be a constant attention to all these kinds of prayer, he will especially attend to the spirit ia which each is per. formed. It will not be sufficient to satisfy his mind that he has gone through the mere act of devotion; he la bours for the inward feeling as well as the outward ex. À pression. He longs for the spirit of prayer, which is not the mere business of this or that hour, but the con: tinual panting and breathing of the heart after God (Ps. xlii, 1, 2.) at all times.
Ardent love to God is, indeed, the true spring of gen. uine prayer: Where this is, all other graces will follow.. “Love,” says one,“ renders prayer delightful to ourselves, and acceptable to our Maker. It makes us willing to ask, and willing to receive." .. ..
Andrew Gray also observes, “the spirit of prayer consists more in the voice of the affections, than the voice of words.” He suggests the following queries.to detect the want of the spirit of prayer.-Do you know this what it is to go to prayer on an internal principle of love, love and the grace of Christ constraining you ?-Do you do know what it is by prayer to attain greater conformity to the God, and the mortification of your lusts ?-Do you know what it is to distinguish between absence and presence ?
Do you know what it is to sit down and lament over absence from Christ, and think this an insupportable want?..
I have endeavoured, under each kind of prayer, to give such hints as might assist you in attaining this spiritual worship ; it may not be useless to sum up these hints in a few practical rules applicable to prayer in general. Only let the reader aguin remember, what
we are apt perpetually to forget, but what should both humble, direct, and comfort us, that no knowledge of rules is of itself sufficient to enable us to pray: it is the Holy Spirit alone impressing the rule on the heart, that can enable us rightly to worship God. "
"To maintain a devotional spirit, iwo things,” says Mrs. Moore, " are especially necessary :- habitually to cultivate the disposition, and habitually to avoid whatever is unfavourable to it." We will first point out some things which hinder your attaining the spirit of devotion, and then add some directions which may help you to at. taio it. Sect. I.--Rules relating to Hinderances to Prayer.
I. Rexounce AI.L KNOWN SIN AND SENSUAL INDULGENCE. --The allowed practice of any sin is utterly inconsistent with devotional feelings. If you live in habitual sin, or in the indulgence of evil tempers, or if any, corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, you cannot at the same time enjoy commuDion with God. 1 John i, 6; iii, 21-23. His Spirit is grieved, and withdraws its influence. • Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, and who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean bands and a pure heart. Ps. xxiv, 3, 4. Any sin indulged, raises those fears, doubts, disorders, and tumults in the mind, which make it averse to, and incapable of, fervent affectionate prayer. An instance or two may contirm this re. mark. St. Paul exhorts us to pray every where, lifting up holy “hands, without wrath or doubting. I am sure, if you have any Christian experience, you know that it is necessary, that all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice, if you would