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the field, arrayed in all their various glories; the gradual approach of still evening and solemn darkness; the pale moon and starry host of hea ven, in the serenity of an eastern climate, would all have their several charms for a contemplative mind; would all teach him to look up.
from nature to that great God of nature, by whom they were formed in .“ number, weight and
He had also other subjects for his solitary meditation. The recent death of an affectionate mother, and the approaching dissolution of a venerable father, would naturally call forth, in a disposition like bis, every tender and affecting thought; would remind him of the shortness of human life, and of the necessity of summoning every faculty to the discharge of his duty, whilst youth and vigour yet enabled him to perform it. The prospect of his approaching marriage also, however pleasing it might be, would somewhat contribute to the seriousness of his disposition, when rightly weighed. “I am now “ entering,” would he say, upon
all the cares " and concerns of life. Those kind parents, by “ whose friendly hand I have hitherto bcen fos
tered, by whose wise precepts I have been " formed and guided, like yonder declining sun, hare now run their race of glory, and are
gone to enjoy the rewards of their piety in a “ better world. I am now to follow their steps, " I am now to act as becomes the son of Abra
ham, the friend of God, the Father of the “ faithful. But what an arduous task is this, " and how .unequal do I find myself to the ac
complishment of it! I am now going like“ wise to enter upon that state, which, though “ it increases the happiness of life, yet also
multiplies its cares. I am to support the aw“ ful characters of a master, husband, father. “ I am to answer for my own conduct; and I
am also to watch over the conduct of others, 66 in all these untried scenes and relations of “ life. It will become me, therefore, well to “ weigh and examine the duties I am going to “ undertake : it will become me to guard and “ fortify my soul by serious meditation, to “ which this solemn stillness of approaching
night invites me.
Such might probably be the subjects of Isaac's meditation. And would to God we could all of us be persuaded to imitate his wise and instructive example! But the misfortune is, we are generally either triflers, and do not consider at all, or we are so much engaged in other matters, that we have not time to consider what ought to be the principal object of our concern: many live as it were extempore, and without any thought beyond the news of the day, the futter of dress and diversions, or the subject of a play or a novel : the rest are the unwearied slaves of business, pride, or ambition. And from these causes arises the greatest part of that multifarious wickedness, which so much predominates in the world : for it is impossible that any man should be deliberately wicked from day to day, and year to year, who would allow himself time to consider seriously, that there is a God above and a life to come, that there is a heaven and a hell.
It cannot therefore but be of the greatest importance to every man to imitate the example of Isaac; to stand still and consider what he is, and what he should be; to pry into the secret springs and motives of his actions; to examine the secret tendencies and inclinations of his heart; to fortify his soul by serious meditation; before the night cometh when no man can "s work.”
And indeed, what is there that so well deserves our regard and attention, as the faculty of consideration? It is this, by which man is discriminated from the brute of the field. It is this, by which he can look up to the noblest of
all objects, the God that made him: It is this, by which we can pervade the boundless regions of space, or look forward into the regions of eternity. It is this also, by which we can look into our own breasts and actions. The man, thereforé, who does not consider, knows not the value of this distinguishing faculty; knows not the highest privilege and dignity of his own nature.
And again, if we consider the various uses and advantages of meditation, what is there so valuable and iinportant to man?
It was the just observation of a great man, when he retired from his military employments, that there ought always to be some time for recollection, between the life of a general and his death. And the same observation will hold true with regard to every other employment. We all know that a life of bustle and constant engagements in the world is a life of danger. Tossed' as it were on the ocean, and driven about by the conflicting elements, we live in a state of agitation and confusion : we are delivered over from toil to toil, or from dissipation to dissipation, without power to stand still; tò examine and consider. Now, this danger is diminished by frequent meditation. It sets the world and its views at a distance from us. It
gives us time to reflect where we are, and what
The still eventide of reflection drives out of our minds the cares and concerns of the day: the calm solitude of the field chases away from our thoughts the tumults and projects of the crowded haunts of men. Our passions too have then time to cool, and to view things in their proper colours. The rage of ambition will subside, when reflection shews us the emptiness of earthly honours. The fire of lust will burn with less violence, when reason has time to tell us, that remorse and shame are its inseparable companions. The stings of animosity and revenge will operate less forcibly, when we will give ourselves leave to remember, that friends and foes will soon lie down together in the dust. The arrows of affliction will give us less pain, when meditation informs us, that they are but for a moment, and cannot follow us to that better country, where all tears are wiped away from all faces.
It is another advantage of meditation, that it teaches us that best of all knowledge, which therefore the ancients supposed came down from heaven, I mean tlie knowledge of ourselves. In the language of the Psalmist, to “ commune " with our own hearts,” to pry into its' secret springs and motives of action, to examine its