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blefs God for his paft mercies, or implore his future protection. Thofe animated compofi tions he has left us under the name of Pfalms, are, in general, nothing more than the fervent expreffions of his piety on these occafions, the converfations he held with his own heart. It is in thefe he unbofoms himself without reserve, and pours forth his whole foul before God. We are admitted into the deepest receffes, and see the most fecret workings, o of his mind. We fee him poffeffed alternately with hopes and fears, doubt and confidence, forrow and joy and agitated, by turns, with all those different paffions and emotions, which the different afpects of his foul, on the most careful review, would naturally excite. By thefe well-timed retreats he prevented any presumptuous fin, if not from accidentally furprizing him, yet at least from getting the dominion over him; and though he fometimes flipt, and fometimes even fell, yet he instantly rofe again, more vigorous and alert to the dif charge of his duty.
But we have this practice of felf-communion recommended to us by a still holier and brighter example, that of the bleffed Jefus him felf.
himself. The nature of his miffion, indeed, and the boundlefs benevolence of his temper, necessarily led him to mingle in society; to listen to every call of humanity; to go about doing good, healing difeafes, relieving infirmi ties, correcting errors, removing prejudices, forgiving fins, inculcating repentance ; promoting piety, justice, charity, peace, harmony, courtesy, chearfulness, amongst men; crouding, in thort, into the narrow compass of his ministry, more acts of humanity and kindness, than the longest life of the most beneficent man on earth ever yet produced. Yet, in this active course of life, we find him fréquently breaking away from the crouds that furrounded him, and betaking himself to privacy and folitude. The defart, the mountain, and the garden, were scenes which he feemed to love, and with which he took all opportuni ties of refreshing himself; purchafing them fometimes even at the expence of nightwatches, when the day had been wholly taken up in the offices of humanity, and the bufinefs of his miffion. Here it was he spent whole hours in pious contemplation and fervent prayer; in adoring the goodness of God to mankind,
mankind; in expreffing, on his own part, the utmost fubmiffion to his divine will; in reviewing the progrefs, and looking to the completion, of the great work he had undertaken; in confirming his refolutions, and ftrengthening his foul against the severe trials he was to undergo in the prosecution of it. From these retreats, and these holy meditations, he came out again into public, not gloomy and languid, not disgusted with the world and discontented with himself, but with recruited fpirits, and a redoubled ardour of benevolence; prepared to run again his wonted course, and to pour fresh benefits and mercies on mankind.
If then not only the pious author of the text, but the divine Author of our faith himfelf, found retirement and recollection neceffary to the purposes of a holy life, there can be little doubt of its ufe and importance to all that are defirous of treading in their steps. But I shall endeavour to fhew ftill more distinctly the advantages attending it, by laying before you the following confiderations; confiderations, which the present holy season *, set apart
* This Sermon was preached at St. James's Chapel on the frft day of Lent, Feb. 6, 1788.
for the practice of this very duty, will, I hope, affift in preffing home upon your hearts.
I. In the first place, it is a truth too notorious to be denied, and too melancholy not to be lamented, that the objects of fenfe, which here surround us, make a much deeper impreffion upon the mind than the objects of our faith. And the reason is plain." It is, because the things that are temporal are seen ; are perpetually foliciting our fenfes, and forcing themfelves upon our obfervation; whilft the things that are eternal, merely because they are not seen, and therefore want the advantage of continual importunity and folicitation, have but little influence upon our hearts. It is, therefore, the first and most obvious ufe of retirement, to take off our attention from the things of this world, and thereby to deftroy, for a time at least, their attractions. When they cease to be seen, or are seen only in imagination, they lofe, in a great measure, their dominion over us. We can then contemplate them in their real forms, ftript of that falfe glare with which they are apt to dazzle our eyes and mislead our understandings. We then. plainly fee, how little they can boast of intrin子
fic worth, how much they owe to the warmth of fancy, the tumult of paffion, the ardour of purfuit, and the hurry of the world. For as these causes no longer operate in the stillness of retirement, every charm that they bestowed drops off, and vanishes with them; the objects of our pursuit shrink to their proper dimenfions; and we are amazed to fee them reduced in an instant almost to nothing, and fo little left of all that we gazed at with so much admiration, and followed with fo much eagernefs.
11. If at the fame time that we recede from this world we turn our eyes upon the next, we shall reap a double advantage from our selfcommunion. By frequently meditating on the concerns of eternity, we shall begin to perceive their reality, and at last to feel their influence. Spiritual meditations are at first very irksome and difagreeable, not because they are unnatural, but because they are unusual. Give but the foul a little refpite, a moment's breathing, from the inceffant importunity of cares and pleasures, and she will almost naturally raise herself towards that heavenly country, where the hopes at laft to find rest and happiness. Every faculty and power, both of