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prepare ourselves for the active duties of life, and the changing circumstances of human condition; we must move in the sphere of our duty with circumspection and wisdom, and continue to do so till the latest period of human existence. We would not be objects of pity to the moralist, nor beacons to warn others not to fail of the promise of their youth, nor dishonor the weakness of declining life by the decay of moral strength and imbecility of religious motives.
There is a great and glorious Being in the world and in the universe, although he is unseen by the eye of men. We believe that he exists, that he is the author and governor of all things, and that we are the creatures of his forming hand. As his power is exercised every where, we cannot imagine any spot on this earth, or throughout all worlds, where the energy and glory of his presence are not felt and displayed; and wonderful as it is to our thoughts that he should be near us, and we not see him-that he should be on our right hand and on our left, without our being able to perceive his presence-yet are we fully convinced that he is thus present with us and with all his creatures. On this Being-the good and eternal God-we feel that we depend. After we have experienced, at least how
little we can effect for ourselves, what a slight provision we can make for our own support and comfort, what a poor protection we can interpose between ourselves and danger, and how soon we must sink away and perish, did we depend on our efforts alone for life, and breath, and all things; we become fully sensible of the agency and support of another, and learn to see in the Father of all the families of the earth, a kind and beneficent Friend, who causes his providence to shed its blessings upon all that live, who guards them from danger and destruction, perpetually renews the produce of his bounties, that their souls may rejoice; and with a wise and merciful regard for the happiness of their life, prepares to their hand an almost infinite variety of blessings, and teaches them how to adapt them to their own use, and to form from them a succession of innocent and rational enjoyments. Knowing, therefore, our dependence upon him-and believing, as every thoughtful mind must do, in his omniscience-that is, in his universal presence; is it not natural that we should seek communion with him that we should express to him the pious thoughts of our minds that we should endeavour to thank him for his innumerable mercies-that we should ask of him guidance and support in every portion of our existence? This sacred communion with our Maker-this expression of our pious thoughts-this thanksgiving for mercies this request for future guidance and supportis Prayer.
It is scarcely necessary to prove at length that prayer to God is essential and becoming. But consider what is com
monly and justly thought among men respecting the kindness and favor they shew to each other. Is not that considered to be a thankless heart, which makes no return of feeling and words for benefits received from another? Does any one commend the benefited who slights and neglects his benefactor? Does ingratitude pass for a virtue among us? or is he esteemed wise, who, knowing that he has a friend kindly disposed towards him, both willing and able to render him even a signal service, is too proud or too indolent, to apply to him for the aid which is most important to his own success? We need not answer these questions; every one who reads them can do it without much reflection. But if it be ingratitude not to acknowledge the good deeds of our friends, and folly not to seek their assistance when it is of great consequence to us, and would be most freely given; how much more is it ingratitude and folly, neither to acknowledge the unremitting kindness and mercy with which we are honored and blessed by our heavenly Father, nor to supplicate him still to regard-and treat us as his children.
Deeply convinced of the sanctifying power of a prayerful spirit, we desire to see it more generally acquired. We affectionately entreat the young, in the words of an Apostle, "to pray without ceasing;" to cultivate the habits of prayer, frequently to address themselves to the Father of of our spirits, frequently to kneel before the throne of his grace. Do they still enquire, Why pray to God? We answer with another question-Have you a sense of the blessings he gives? If you can look around you from
earth to heaven, and behold in the works of creation the manifestations of the Creator's power, and wisdom, and love; if you can so far comprehend the state of earthly things as to perceive that the providence of God watcheth over and protecteth all; if you are sensible that your own frame is the work of the same Being, your powers his gift, your preservation his act, your pleasures and advantages the communications of his love; express this sense to him, your admiration of his works, and your thankfulness for the numerous favors which, not your own merit, but his infinite beneficence, brings to you. Praise him for his glorious deeds: adore him because he refresheth your soul with his mercies.
Have you no earthly friends to whom you owe both duty and affection? You are not in this state of absolute abandonment. You have relatives and friends who cherish you with watchful care, and are anxious to see you at once good and happy. Such friends have strong claims upon your love to them your obedience is due. Why not ask of heaven such strength and determination as will enable you to make a just and grateful return for all that they have done and are doing for you? Why not pray, with a thankful heart, that they may be as happy as they endeavour to make you? that their life may be long spared to you and others, and that as they approach the decline, and you the maturity of life, you may be the honored instruments of comfort to them, sooth their feebleness and pain, support their tottering steps, and receive their dying blessing.
Are you aware that you have a part to perform in the
world, and that life is not designed to be a scene of vanity, thoughtlessness, and folly? Have you not heard of goodness and virtue, and that it becomes the rational offspring of God to be good and virtuous? Have you neither been told, nor made the discovery, that there are temptations in the world which it is difficult to resist; that there are misfortunes which try the spirit of man, and afflictions so touching as to prove with a mighty force the piety that desires ever to trust in God? The moral and religious instruction you have received, has made you acquainted with these things, and being aware of them, you must be disposed to pray unto your beneficient Parent for wisdom to act aright, and fortitude to bear every earthly change. How must you desire to ask him to guide you in the path of his commandments, to assist you in endeavouring to do honor to his will, to instruct you when you are conscious of your own ignorance, to increase your courage when the enemies of your virtue assail you, and so to encourage all your dutiful endeavours to employ the moments of your life and the talents he has committed to your trust, that you may succeed in maintaining a good profession, and come to the end of your days in peace, and sink to sleep in the hope that brighter scenes shall greet your waking eyes, and holier employments await your immortal spirits! If you think it of the least importance whether you lead a good or a wicked life, or attach any value to the assistance which the divine goodness may be pleased to impart to you, nothing can be more natural than that you should pray to be delivered from the evil that is in the world, and seek