« ZurückWeiter »
PART XXIII., Vol. IV.]
HOW TO BEGIN THE DAY WITH GOD.
I. At thy first awaking in the morning, consecrate unto GOD the freshest of thy thoughts by lifting up thine heart to Him in praises and thanksgivings for that comfortable rest and refreshment He hath vouchsafed unto thee the night past. For had not the LORD been the more gracious unto thee, thou mightest have slept the sleep of death; yea, thou mightest have awaked with hell flames about thine ears: what cause therefore hast thou to bless God, as for the mercies of the night, so for the renewing of His mercies with the day? And then heartily beg of God His direction, assistance, and blessing upon thy lawful pains and endeavours that day.
II. Having thus consecrated thy first awaking unto God, by blessing Him for the mercies of the night, and for adding another day to thy life, then steep thy thoughts in a serious meditation of God, and of some or other of His glorious attributes, as
1. Of the infinite purity of God, Who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, i. e., with the least approbation ; but hates all sin with a perfect hatred, as being contrary to His nature. A serious consideration whereof would, through God's blessing, prove very effectual for the suppressing of those impure thoughts which are apt to arise from thy corrupt heart.
2. Of the Almighty Power of God, whereby He is able to strengthen thee in all thy weaknesses, to support thee under all thy trials and temptations, to supply all thy wants, to deliver thee out of all thy dangers, to carry thee through all thy undertakings. In which respect the Apostle calleth God's power, a mighty power, and “an exceeding greatness of power,” Eph. i. 19. A serious consideration whereof cannot but stir thee up, as to fly unto God by prayer in all thy wants, straits, and dangers; so to cast thyself upon Him, and His mighty power, to
[We have taken these very valuable hints from a work entitled “Christian Directions, showing how to Walk with God all the Day long, by Thomas Gouge, Pastor of Sepulchre's Church, London,” and published in 1661.--ED.] VOL. IV.
rest and rely upon Him for seasonable help, succour, and deliverance, Who never faileth those who put their trust in Him.
3. Of the Omnipresence of God, of His continual presence about thee, and with thee, wheresoever thou art, and whatsoever thou doest. For He is “about thy bed and thy path,” and taketh_notice of all thy actions, and when no man seeth thee, yet He seeth thee before Whose tribunal thou must one day stand to give an account of all thy actions. Surely it would be a special preservative against sin, and a singular means to make thee watchful over all thy ways and actions, if thou didst seriously consider God's all-seeing presence about thee.
4. Of the Omnisciency of God, His knowing of all things, even the secret thoughts of thine heart, and the inward intentions of thy mind, before Whom all things are naked and unbowelled, as the Apostle speaketh. Not an ambitious, worldly, lustful thought in thine heart, but God is privy to it. And as the wise man speaketh, “He will bring every secret thing into judgment."
This, if it were seriously considered, how would it make thee watchful over thy very heart ? and careful to suppress all wicked lustful thoughts at their first rising? and to keep thee upright and sincere in what thou doest, especially in the duties of God's worship and service, as knowing there is no dissembling before God.
III. Call to mind what sin it is whereunto thou findest thyself most exposed, and with which thou art oftenest and most easily overcome, as having least power to resist it; and every morning furnish thyself with the strongest arguments thou canst against it, and then bring up thine heart to a firm resolution, as against that sin, so against the occasions and allurements thereunto. For it is not possible for thee to forbear any sin, to which thou hast a natural propensity, unless thou shun all the occasions and allurements thereunto.
IV. Every morning exercise thy faith in Jesus CHRIST, and thereby draw forth of His fulness grace sufficient for the day, and the duties thereof. To this end
1. Meditate of that fulness which is in JESUS CHRIST, for the thorough supply of all thy wants, needs, and necessities, as the Apostle expresseth in Col. i. 19. “It pleased the FATHER, that in Christ should all fulness dwell ;" fulness of power to strengthen us in all our weaknesses; fulness of wisdom to direct us in all our doubts; yea, fulness of spirit for the supply of His members with all needful and necessary graces.
2. Believe that Christ is thus filled for the good of His Church and members, that He may communicate unto them
of His fulness grace sufficient for the discharge of the duties both of their general and particular callings. For in CHRIST there is not only a fulness of abundance, in regard whereof He is sufficiently full in Himself, but also a fulness of redundance, an overflowing fulness for the supply of all His members. In which respect we are said, John i. 16, “Of His fulness to receive grace for grace," or grace upon grace, one grace of the SPIRIT heaped upon another.
3. Cast thyself upon Christ and His fulness, resting and relying thereupon for supply of all thy wants, for strength to carry thee through all the duties both of thy general and particular calling : for by resting and relying upon the fulness that is in Jesus Christ, thou wilt draw forth thereof for thy comfort and support, and so make it thine own.
V. As thou art rising out of thy bed, take all occasions of holy and heavenly meditations,
To give you some hints.
1. When thou seest the nakedness of thy body, let that mind thee of thy sin, which caused thee first to be ashamed of it; for our first parents before they had sinned, were not ashamed of their nakedness, as you have it, Gen. ii. 25. “They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed, not because they did not know themselves to be naked, but because there was in their nakedness nothing to be ashamed of, their bodies being more comely than any apparel could make them; but after our first parents had sinned, then were they ashamed of their nakedness.
And how should the consideration thereof stir thee up earnestly to long after the robe of Christ's righteousness, to be clothed therewith, which will make thee lovely and amiable in the sight of God?
2. Let thy rising out of thy bed mind thee as of a resurrection from the death of sin unto the life of grace here; so likewise of the resurrection of thy body out of the grave unto eternal life at the last day, when thou and every one of us must appear before the great Judge, to give an account of whatsoever we have done here.
3. Let the light of the day mind thee of Jesus CHRIST, Who is often in Scripture termed light, yea, the true light. 4. When thou art putting on thine apparel
, let out thine heart in a serious meditation of the robe of Christ's righteousness, which alone can make thee amiable in the sight of God; and by faith apply Christ and His righteousness unto thyself, resting and relying thereupon for the pardon and forgiveness of thy sins here, and for eternal salvation hereafter. Having thus showed thee how to begin the day with God, I shall add a few motives to quicken thee up to a due use of these forementioned directions.
1. This will be a special means to keep out worldly, wanton, and impure thoughts out of thine heart, so that either they will not dare to come in, or shall the easier be kept out.
2. Hereby thine heart will be exceedingly fenced and guarded against all the suggestions of Satan : for the heart being first possessed with the thoughts of God, it will keep out the suggestions of Satan, who otherwise will not be wanting to cast his hellish firebrands into thy soul.
3. Good and holy thoughts first let into the heart of a Christian in the morning, will keep it in the better tune all the day after; so that the heart seasoned with heavenly meditations, or spiritual matter in the morning, will be the more savoury and spiritual all the day after. For the heart retains all the day a tincture of its first thoughts in the morning ; as a vessel retains the savour of the liquor first put into it.
Obj.-Haply some will object, that to put in practice these rules and directions will take up too much time, even more than their callings and employments will afford.
Ans.-1. True it is, some men's callings and employments do not afford them so much time as others' do, yet there is none but may find some time for spiritual and heavenly meditations, if it be but in their rising out of their beds, and putting on their clothes.
2. If thou hast not time to put in practice all these directions, at least thou mayest go over some or other of them; yea, I shall give thee this as my special advice, If thou art straitened in time, rather to fix upon one or two at one time, than in an overly and perfunctory manner to ramble over them all every morning.
Thus much of morning meditation.
THE STORY OF S. LYDWINA; OR, CROSS-BEARING.
(Concluded from page 235.) So Lydwina prayed that she might only be conformed to His image, and acceptable, through Him, in her heavenly Father's sight. It was now the depth of winter, and Lydwina, who, like all Dutch girls, was accustomed to skating, went with her young companions, having quite recovered from her illness, to enjoy their wonted amusement on the ice; for Lydwina was of a lively active disposition, and could enjoy such sport like others of her age. Very likely they joked her about her ugliness; but this
did not spoil her enjoyment, as she darted in and out amongst them, delighting in the keen, bracing air, and the swift gliding motion over the smooth surface. Little did any of them think that it was the last time that Lydwina would share their pastime, but so it was. Whether through thoughtlessness on the part of her companions, or from their inability to avoid coming in contact with her, is not known, but she was thrown down, and falling on some broken pieces of ice, she broke a rib, and was otherwise so severely injured, that it was not thought she could long survive; and thus she was carried to that bed from which she was never more to rise in this life. Night and day her pains continued, so that she had little or no rest; and an ulcer in her lungs added to her suffering. Some persons, miserable comforters, like the three friends of Job, spoke of her affliction as a token of God's displeasure, and a manifest judgment upon the poor sufferer, forgetting that “whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth.” Others there were who judged more truly, that the sickness was not unto death, but for the glory of God; and that Lydwina's childish devotion of herself to the LORD was to be manifestly accepted in this trial of her faith and patience, that she might be for an example unto others of cross-bearing. Still the cross was heavy, and Lydwina felt it so; it came like a dark shadow over all her youthful dreams of devoted service unto God. Instead of ministering to others, she must be ministered unto; instead of worshipping in the House of the LORD, she must pray unto Him in her sick chamber, and till she learned to say “ Thy will be done,” the restlessness of her spirit sorely aggravated her bodily pain. Frequent vomitings and inability to take food, weakened her more and more, and in the intensity of her suffering, she tossed about, and was for some time like one in delirium.
The detail of her sufferings is too painful to dwell upon; all that medicine and surgery could do was tried in vain, and when her parents had spent all their means, she was rather worse than better. For the first three or four years of her sickness, it was only by doing violence to herself that she could conquer the emotions of impatience and rebellion; but she was not left unaided. Her pastor came to her assistance, and when she told him how unable she found herself through the violence of her pains, to fix her mind upon God, he said to her, “It is true, my daughter, that of yourself you can do nothing, but look unto CHRIST hanging on the Cross for you, and you will be led into all truth ; listen to CHRIST, and you will be taught all wisdom; bear the yoke of Christ, and you will find all rest; imitate Christ, and you will attain all perfection.” His words were received by the sufferer as the counsel of her LORD, and after re