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inquisitive inspection of holy watchfulness. The religion of the age is all bustle, and hurry, and flutter: the consequence is, that many really know not what manner of spirit they are of; they are strangers at home. I am not contending for mysticism, for quietism, for a system of devotional reverie, which cuts a person off from society, and shuts him up in retirement, to indulge in solitary and selfish raptures: no; love is a social grace, it is benevolence in action, and in communion with others; not an ascetic and sentimental abstraction, which indulges its morbid sensibilities in the seclusion of the hermitage: but still it must have its retreats, from which it shall come forth from time to time invigorated and strengthened for its busy activities in the social haunts of man.
There is much of a public nature in this age, as in the sequel I shall more particularly point out, to call off the attention of Christians from the state of their own hearts. We must not neglect the public good, I admit; but we must be very careful that our public spirit does not lead us to forget our personal piety. It is not merely the time we give to the public that
is to be considered, but the
danger of that occu
pancy of our minds with the concerns of others, which would hold us too much away from ourselves.
Then there is another circumstance which may be mentioned, as very materially interfering with that progress in self-improvement which it is the duty of
every professing Christian to maintain; and that is, the present mode of conducting this world's business. The urgency of commercial anxieties was never so great as now: trade is no longer confined by those regularities of time, and place, and degree, that once directed it the stream has broken through its old banks, and spread out like a flood on every side. Most men go forth to their industry, rising up early, sitting up late, eating the bread of carefulness, and often drinking the water of affliction; and after they have been exercised, and irritated, and injured, through the day, by the various temptations which have but too successfully assailed their meekness, kindness, generosity, truth, and integrity, they find no time in the evening to humble themselves before God, to seek forgiveness through the blood of Christ, and to obtain the grace of the Holy Spirit for the work of mortification. The soul has no time to calm her perturbations, before they are again produced; no opportunity to put out the sparks of envy and ill-will, before they are again kindled; no season to rally and strengthen its principles, before they are again called into action in their dispersed and enfeebled state. A dreadful accumulation of guilt, by the commission of secret and smaller faults, is going on upon the conscience; and a most desolating havoc is made in spirituality of mind and the Christian temper. The mode of doing business, also, in the present
day, is often shockingly at variance with the "whatsoever things are true, and just, and honest." It has been said by some, that trade is a lie from beginning to end. This is an extravagant expression, but it is partially true; so that what with the bad practices which custom too easily reconciles to the conscience of even pious people, and what with the time which is usually employed, even where there is no departure from the strictest integrity,-personal religion is in imminent peril. Men professing godliness, however, should remember that Christian morality does not fluctuate with the circumstances of the time, nor does it accommodate itself to the various systems of policy or expediency which are devised by covetousness and sanctioned by custom and as they should not allow their principles to be corrupted, so neither should they permit all their hours to be occupied, and their feelings to be absorbed, by the things that are seen and temporal. The affairs of this life should be so arranged as to leave time and leisure for the improvement of the heart.
I trust, my Dear Friends, that, as you have solicited the publication of this volume, you will give it a serious and attentive perusal: for, to derive any benefit from it, you must grant to it a very different kind of notice to that which you would yield to a daily journal or a tale. Take it with you into the closet of private devotion, and read it in those seasons when the mind
is softened and hallowed by prayer. The Bible is, or should be, the Christian's chief companion in his holy retirements. No work should be allowed to occupy the time which is claimed by this book of books: but still there are works which enable us to understand the inspired volume more clearly, and to conform to it more accurately. Time was, when professing Christians found or made leisure for the especial purpose of religious reading; not only with a view to grow in knowledge, but also to grow in grace. In this way does your minister solicit that his present production may be read; in solitude, with great seriousness, with a conviction of the importance of the subject, and with an earnest desire after improvement in THE CHRISTIAN TEMPER. If you are anxious to be flattered into a good opinion of yourselves, or are satisfied with your present attainments, whatever they are ; if you have not courage to look into a mirror, and to see your moral aspect as it really is; if you feel no wish to have, at any expense of labour and pains, what is sinful in your disposition amended;-this work can be of little service to you: but if you are anxious to partake more largely of the mind which was in Christ, and to imbibe more of the dove-like temper of his religion, it may, with all its defects and imperfections, and they are many,-do you good.
Consider this volume as a collection of tests, and remember that your danger lies in the extreme of
thinking too well, and not of thinking too ill, of selves. If you would "know yourselves," you must be much upon your guard against the deceitfulness of the heart, which is ever misleading the judgment by means of self-love: and if you would be improved, it must be by great watchfulness and exertion. The reason why so few excel in the Christian temper is, either because they expect it to spring up spontaneously, without culture, an absurd hope from such soil as our hearts; or else they imagine that the soil is too bad to produce it under any cultivation. Both extremes are wrong. We must take great pains with ourselves, if we would improve; and even then we must do everything in a spirit of entire dependence upon his grace, who worketh in us to will and to do according to his own good pleasure. Unless the perusal of this book be accompanied, therefore, by your constant and earnest prayer that it might be of service to you, I expect no good whatever to result from its publication.
I am deeply anxious for your spiritual and eternal welfare: "for what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy." "Look to yourselves, that we love not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward." "If there be, therefore, any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love,