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tention to the manner of composition, it may be well occasionally to discuss and exhibit some subject with more than usual care.
A good style is an attainment, which amply repays all the effort that has here been enjoined. It is to the scholar, a consummation of his intellectual discipline and acquirements. He, who in this land of free institutions holds an able pen, has a weapon of powerful efficacy both for defence and attack; and if this weapon be wielded with honest and patriotic motives, he who wields it, may become a public benefactor.
Exercise 1. Didactic persuasive writing. First, therefore, every morning, make your private prayer unto Almighty God, give him thanks for his protection of you the night past, and that he hath brought you to the morning, and desire him to bless and direct you by his grace and providence that day, and to preserve you from the evils and dangers of it, and to keep you in obedience to him.
Secondly, a little before you go to bed, make again your private prayers to God, returning him thanks for his protection, and for bringing you to the end of the day; desire him to forgive you the sins and failings of the day, and beg bis protection over you the night following
Always be attentive to your prayers, and keep your mind
upon the business you are about, with all due seriousness and solemness, without playing or staring about, or thinking of other matters ; for you must remember that in prayer you are speaking to the great God of heaven and earth, that doth not only see and observe your outward carriage, but also the very thoughts of your
hearts and mind. Let no occasion whatsoever hinder you from
your private, constant, devotion towards Almighty God, but be steady, and fixed, and resolved in it; and not go about any business of importance (but only reading of a chapter, whereof in the next) till you have performed this duty ; and although it be upon the Lord's Day, when you go to public prayers, morning and afternoon, and though there be morning and evening prayers in the schools or college where you live, yet this must not make you omit your private devotions ; for it must be a solemn and sacred employment, as a great and necessary means of your protection, and blessing, and safety, the ensuing day or night. I was ever distrustful of the success of that business which I undertook before I commended myself and affairs to Almighty God in my private morning prayers.
Let all your thoughts and words be full of reverence; think not of him lightly, nor speak of him, nor use his name vainly ; consider, it is he by whose mercy and goodness you live and have all the blessings and comforts you enjoy, and that can call them away from you at his pleasure ; it is he that knows all your thoughts, words, and actions, and discerns whether they are such as are decent, becoming and suitable to his will and persence ; it is he that sees you though you see him not, and this is the reason of the third commandment, whereby you are forbidden to take his name in vain.
Sir Matthew Hale.
Exercise 2. Didactic preceptive writing.
DAILY PRAYER, EVENING.
Let us now consider another part of the day which is favourable to the duty of prayer ; we mean the evening. This season, like the morning, is calm and quiet. Our labours are ended. The bustle of life is gone by. The distracting glare of the day has vanished. The darkness which surrounds us savours seriousness, composure, and solemnity. At night the earth fades from our sight, and nothing of creation is left us but the starry heavens, so vast, so magnificent, so serene, as if to guide up our thoughts above all earthly things to God and immortality,
This period should in part be given to prayer, as it furnishes a variety of devotional topics and excitements. The evening is the close of an important division of time, and is therefore a fit and natural season for stopping and looking back on the day. And can we ever look back on a day, which bears no witness to God, and lays no claim to our gratitude? Who is it that strengthens us for daily labour, gives us daily bread, continues our friends and common pleasures, and grants us the privilege of retiring, after the cares of the day, 'to a quiet and beloved home?
The review of the day will often suggest not only these ordinary benefits, but peculiar proofs of God's goodness, unlooked for successes, singular concurrences of favourable events, singular_blessings sent to our friends, or new and powerful aids to our own virtue, which call for peculiar thankfulness. And shall all these benefits pass away unnoticed? Shall we retire to repose as insensible as the wearied brute? How fit and natural is it, to close with pious acknowledgement, the day which has been filled with divine beneficence!
But the evening is the time to review, not only our blessings, but our actions. A refleeting mind will naturally remember at this hour that another day is gone, and gone to testify of us to our judge. How natural and useful to inquire, what report it has carried to heaven! Perhaps we have the satisfaction of looking back on a day, which in its general tenor has been innocent and pure, which, having begun with God's praise, has been spent as in his presence ; which has proved the reality of our principles in temptation : and shall such a day end without gratefully acknowledging Him in whose strength we have been strong, and to whom we owe the powers and opportunities of Christian improvement?
But no day will present to us recollections of purity unmixed with sin. Conscience, if suffered to inspect faithfully and speak plainly, will recount irregular desires, and defective motives, talents wasted and time mispent ; and shall we let the day pass from us without penitently confessing our offences to Him who has witnessed them, and who has promised pardon to true repentance ? Shall we retire to rest with a burden of unlamented and unforgiven guilt upon our consciences? Shall we leave these stains to spread over and sink into the soul?
A religious recollection of our lives is one of the chief instruments of piety. If possible, no day should end without it. If we take no account of our sins on the day on which they are committed, can we hope that they will recur to us at a more distant period, that we shall watch against them to-morrow, or that we shall gain the strength to resist them, which we will not implore ?
The evening is a fit time for prayer, not only as it ends the day, but as it immediately precedes the period of repose. The hour of activity having passed, we are soon to sink into insensibility and sleep. How fit that we resign ourselves to the care of that Being who nev, er sleeps, to whom the darkness is as the light, and whose providence is our only safety! How fit to entreat him that he would keep us to another day ; or, if our bed should prove our grave, that he would give us a part in the resurrection of the just, and awake us to a purer and immortal life! Let our prayers, like the ancient sacrifices, ascend morning and evening. Let our days begin and end with God.
EXERCISE 3. Didactic preceptive writing,
ETERNITY OF GOD,
We receive such repeated intimations of decay in the world through which we are passing ; decline and change and loss, follow decline and change and loss in such rapid succession, that we can almost catch the sound of universal wasting, and hear the work of desolation going on busily around us.
" The mountain falling cometh to naught, and the rock is removed out of his place. The waters wear the stones, the things which grow out of the dust of the earth are washed away, and the hope of man is destroyed.” Conscious of our own instability, we look about for something to rest on, but we look in vain. The heavens and the earth had a beginning, and they will have an end. The face of the world is changing, daily and hourly. All animated things grow old and die. The rocks crumble, the trees fall, the leaves fade, and the grass withers. The clouds are flying, and the waters are flowing away