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complain, let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley."
Early rising is beneficial to health. I am aware, that " to ask what is wholesome is like asking whether the wind be fair, without specifying to what port we are bound;" for some animals live on poisons : however, it may safely be affirmed, that, in general, lying long and late in bed impairs the health, generates diseases, and in the end destroys the lives of multitudes. It is an intemperance of the most pernicious kind, having nothing to recommend it, nothing to set against its ten thousand mischievous consequences, for to be asleep is to be dead for the time. This tyrannical habit attacks life in its essential powers; it makes the blood forget its way, and creep lazily along the veins; it relaxes the fibres, unstrings the nerves, evaporates the animal spirits, saddens the soul, dulls the fancy, subdues and stupifies a man to such a degree, that he, the lord of the creation, hath no appetite for any thing in it, loathes labour, yawns for want of thought, trembles at the sight of a spider, and in the absence of that, at the creatures of his own gloomy imagination. In every view, therefore, it was wise in the Psalmist to say, “ My voice shall be heard in the morning."
Our chief concern at present is with devotion, for which, we contend the morning is the proper time. The indolent man pretends, he lies in bed because he hath nothing to do: and yet he lives in the neglect of morning prayer. Let him arise, and do this, and he will find abundance of materials at hand to compose this good work; the earlier he rises the more abundant his stores will be. To give a sort of order to this exercise, let us remark, that there are four funds of early devotion : reflection, observation, faith, and foresight. I will explain myself.
To reflect is to look back, and a reflection on six hours sleep affords abundant matter for devotion. The solemn stillness of the morning, just before break of day, is fit and friendly to the cool and undisturbed recollection of a man just risen from his bed fully refreshed, and in perfect health. Let him compare his condition
with that of half the world, and let him feel an indisposition to admire and adore bis Protector, if he can. How many great events have come to pass in these six hours, while I have been dead? I feel my insignificance. The heavenly bodies have moved on, the great wheels of nature have none of them stood still, vegetation is advanced, the season is come forward, fleets have continued sailing, councils have been held, and, on the opposite side of the world, in broad noonday, business and pleasure, amusements, battles, and revolutions have taken place without my concurrence, consent, or knowledge. Great God! what am I in the world? An insect! A nothing! “In the morning, O Lord,” thou GREAT being, “ unto thee will I look up."
How many of my fellow-creatures have spent the last six hours in praying in vain for ten minutes sleep! How many in racking pain, crying, “Would God it were morning !" How many in prison ! in the commission of great crimes! How many have been burnt out of house and home! How many have been shipwrecked at sea, or lost in untrodden ways on the land ! How many have been robbed and murdered! How many have died unprepared, and are now lifting up their eyes in torment! And here stand I, a monument of mercy, “ the living, the living to praise God." “ In the morning, O Lord,” thou PATIENT and mérciful being, “ unto thee will I look up. I will bemoan the vices, and sympathize with the distresses of my fellow-creatures. I will try this day to show my gratitude to my Preserver by taking care not to offend him.
I admire the wISDOM of God in the formation of man. By what means have I disburdened myself of that load of weariness, with which I lay down oppressed! Whence have I derived the vigour and the spirits, which I now feel? A part of the night my rest was perfect, I felt nothing. The other part, as I approached to waking, my fancy treated me with many pleasing scenes. recollect them with I know not what satisfaction still ... In some such manner as this, will the early Christian use his recollection in the morning, and will adore the perfections of God, 46 In the morning, O Lord, will 1 Q4.."
Let him avail himself next of observation. Let us look about us, and take notice, at least, of some of the beauties of nature in the morning, for 6 the heavens declare the glory of God, the firmament sheweth his handy work, and day uttereth speech.” How incomparably fine is the dawning of the day, when the soft and stealthy light comes at first glimmering with the stars, and gradually eclipses them all! How beautifully fitted to excite our attention is the folding and the parting of the grey clouds, drawn back “ like a curtain” to give us a sight of the most magnificent of all appearances, the rising of the sun ! How rich the dew, decking every spire of grass with coloured spangles of endless variety, and inexpressible beauty! Larks mount and fill 'the air with a cheap and perfect music, and every bush and every tree, every steeple and every hovel emits a cooing or a twittering, a warbling or a chirping, a hailing of the return of day. Amidst so many voices, shall man be dumb ? Surely, a good man must say, “ My voice also shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord."
It is in the morning, remarkably, that “the ox knoweth his owner,” and “ the ass his master's crib.” Then, if ever, man feels himself the monarch, and to him who rises first, all domestic animals pay their homage. One winds and purs about him, another frisks and capers, and doth ail but speak. The stern mastiff and the plodding ox, the noble horse and the harmless sheep, the prating poultry and the dronish ass, all in their own way express their joy at the sight of their master; he is a god to them, for 6 the eyes of all wait on him, and he giveth them their meat in their season.”
It is to these animals, that the Prophet sends us for instruction, and from their bebaviour to lis he would have us learn our duty to God. Let us observe how much these creatures contribute to our ease and comfort through life; let us remark that we owe them all they look to us for; let us acknowledge the debt, and our inability to discharge it without the supplies of Providence ; let us address our prayers and praises to that good Master in heaven, whose stewards we have the honour to be ; let
us lay up for this great family, who have s neither storehouse nor barn;" let us supply them with a liberal hand; and for wisdom and prudence to perform all these duties, let us resolve with the Psalmist, “ My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord. In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up."
When man walks abroad in a morning, every sense is feasted, and the finest emotions of an honest and benevolent heart are excited. It is next to impossible to be sour or dull. Above, the spacious canopy, “ the tabernacle,” or tent“ for the sun,” in a thousand clouds of variegated forms, glowing with colours in every conceivable mixture, skirted and shaded with sulky mists, affords a boundless track of pleasure to the eye. Around, the fragrant air, perfumed by a variety of flowers, refreshes his smell. He snuffs the odour, and tastes, as it were, in delicate mixtures the sours and the sweets. The village pours forth its healthful sons, each with his cattle parting off to his work, with innocepce in his employment, a ruddy health in his countenance, and spirits and cheerfulness. in his address, that make him an object of envy to a king. Here the sly shepherd's boy surveys and plots for his flock, and there the old herdman tales and talks to his cattle, and loves, patting their flanks, to chant over the history of every heifer under his care. And have I only nothing to do in this busy scene : have I nothing to say among so many voices ? Am I a man, and have I no pleasure in seeing the peace and plenty, the health and happiness of my fellow creatures! Have I no good wishes for them? " Lord, in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up."
Should we make our observations on a different season of the year, on the morning after a tempestuous night, in which the howling winds had torn up our timbers by the roots, overset our tottering chimnies, and carried half the thatch of our cottages away; or in which our sheep lay buried in drifts of snow, and the other cattle were deprived of all their green winter meat: or in which our rivers had swelled into floods, blown up the banks, laid all our meadows under water,
covered the very ridges of our corn, threatened the lives of all our flocks, and “ destroyed the hope of man;" in all these, and in all other such cases, the
perfections of God are displayed, the emotions of men and Christians excited, and the language of the text enforced, “ My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord. In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up."
Having in some such way as this made our observations, let us proceed to extract devotion in the morning from the storehouse of faith. For this purpose let us divide Scripture into the two general parts of history of the past, and prophecy of the future; the first is credible, we believe it hath been, the last is credible, and we believe it will be. We suppose a good man's memory to be well furnished with Scripture, and for this purpose we have often advised young people to get by heart every night, the last thing they do before they go to rest, one verse, to think of it till they drop asleep, and in the morning when they wake that verse will probably be the first thought. This will always afford a subject for a morning meditation, and the practice continued for seven years will fill and enrich the mind with the word of God. A great advantage through life, and doubled when, along with old age, dimness of sight or blindness comes, so that, however desirous, we cannot then read the Holy Book.
In the historical parts of Scripture we may observe in general that industry and early rising are inculcated as a doctrine ; as, “Thou shalt diligently keep the commandments ... Give diligence to make your calling and election sure." They are exemplified as a practice, as, “ Awake, I myself will awake early Abraham gat up early in the morning ... Jacob rose up early in the morning . . . Moses rose early in the morning ... Joshua rose early ... Samuel rose early .. Job rose early in the morning ... King Darius rose very early in the morning ... Jesus came early in the morning into the temple, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him.” All these were probably early risers by habit, and it is certain most of them