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EARS OF CORN
THOUGHTS FOR THE CLOSET.
EDITED BY SARAH LETTIS.
“Behold, that I have not laboured for myself only, but for all
“ Watching without prayer were but an impious homage to ourselves.
BRISTOL: ABBOTT AND EVANS,
NORWICH: J. FLET
THERE are some, who, in early life, when the heart is tender and the affections are pliant, have been led to fix their thoughts and hopes on God so firmly, that they pass uninjured through the temptations and trials of their lot. Placing themselves habitually under His guidance in child-like faith, they know nothing of the scepticism which sees Him in the great, but not in the small events of life; in the cataract, but not in the drop of dew. They are truly the elect of God. He is their buckler and shield of defence. They need no help, but that of His works and word, for a knowledge of Him or of themselves.
But there are many of us differently constituted, or culpably dependent upon our own powers, who, in the midst of occupations either of a frivolous or useful kind, have given but hasty glances at our own hearts, and have offered most imperfect homage to God. A consciousness of some hidden evil which affects our happiness is not met by an earnest resolution to grapple with it; uintil, perhaps, some unexpected circumstance, some heavy trial, or long-continued affliction, reveals to us our secret sins, and we learn in deep humiliation that our religion is a sentiment rather than a living principle, and that self-love, entering by unsuspected channels, has drawn a thick veil between ourselves and our Creator. No peace can now be attained, except by an unflinching examination into the inmost recesses of our
hearts; and though the revelations made to us may, and in some instances must, throw a sadness over life, it is a sadness that will be sanctified, if, under its influence, we learn to be more watchful and humble, more grateful to God, and more candid and forbearing in our judgment of others.
Yet it is not unfrequently the case, that when we feel the greatest need of God's assistance, and the most anxious desire to amend our lives, we are sensible of a listlessness which renders our prayers and meditations vague, and produces a disheartening sense of estrangement from Him. It is then that the thought of another will sometimes awaken thought in ourselves, and hint to us the existence of an unwatched weakness, or an unrepented sin. With the hope of affording some little assistance to those who may
feel the need of it, the following Selections have been made. They are mostly taken from the works of those Divines who wrote in the early part of the seventeenth century,* and
* Their peculiarities of style easily distinguish them from modern writers. Hooker was born in 1554; Bishop Hall in 1574; Sir Thomas Browne, the learned physician, in 1605; Fuller in 1608, the birth year of Milton; Archbishop Leighton died in 1684; Jeremy Taylor was born in 1613; and Dr. Barrow, who was South's junior by three years, in 1630; Lucas, an admired preacher of the Established Church, died in 1715: as I only know his “Enquiry after Happiness," I have taken the Extract on Death, signed by his name, from "A Manual of Golden Sentences,” edited by the Rev. Joseph Hunter, to which I am also indebted for that of Fuller on Forgiveness. “The Art of Contentment” is a treatise supposed to be written by the Author of the “Whole Duty of Man.” The sentences from Wasse and Thomas à Kempis are intentionally not arranged in exact order: the former are to be found in a book entitled " Hours of Sadness," where it is said that they were copied from a rare volume, of“ Reformed Devotions,” published in 1719, by the Rev. Joseph Wasse, rector of Aynho-on-the-Hill, in Northamptonshire. Abraham Tucker, Author of “The Light of Nature Pursued,” was born in 1705.
who, like Robert Hall and the sainted Channing, formed their exalted characters by watchfulness and prayer, and spent their holy lives in “ascending to fetch blessings from above, to scatter them among mortals.”
For the extracts from the works of living writers, I am indebted to the Rev. James Martineau's “ Endeavours after the Christian Life;" the Sermons of the Rev. Orville Dewey ; to “ The Great Atonement,” by the Rev. Henry Solly; to “ Christian Thought on Life," and a Sermon on the “ Christian View of Future Retribution,” by the Rev. Henry Giles; and to Dr. Perry’s “Prayer Bell for the Universal Church.” These are the only modern Authors whose stores I have laid under contribution, with the exception of the late Rev. R. Hall, Dr. Greenwood, Channing, and the Rev. C. Wolfe, better known by his “ Lines on the Death of Sir John Moore,” than by his prose productions.
The omissions are carefully marked. They have been made when the extract would have been too long, or when there was an allusion to matters unconnected with the subject of the chapter in which it is placed. From those parts of the writers' works which refer to points of doctrine on which Christians differ, I have made no extracts; but delight in helping to afford testimony to the fact, that the great and good of every creed agree in their views on the most important subjects, and incontestably prove that there is but “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” I can only hope, in conclusion, that what has been to me a source of unmingled pleasure, will, in some degree, prove useful and interesting to those who may regard this little book as a fit companion for their hours of solitude.
S. L. YARMOUTH, March 10th, 1851.