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who renders all His appointments subservient to the benefit and the happiness of His people. This will be the sure result of a lively sense of the omnipresence of God. But we confine our remarks, at present, to the mode of producing that perception; and in this view it is extremely useful to refer all things to His disposal, and to acknowledge in all things His gracious interposition.
Thirdly, this end will likewise be greatly promoted by the regular worship of God.
In attending the public services of religion, we virtually acknowledge that God is present in our assemblies; and if our hearts be engaged in devotion, we feel the force of the conviction, But so apt are these public duties to degenerate into form, that without the daily exercise of private prayer they will usually cease to produce any lasting impression. The man who habitually presents himself, in the retirement of his own chamber, before the throne of grace, has in these acts of devotion a great additional security that he shall not become insensible to the divine presence. For how is he occupied ? In appealing to the Almighty, as acquainted with every purpose of his heart; in thanking Him for the mercies which have been recently
vouchsafed, and confessing himself unworthy of the least of them; in soliciting His continued favour and direction under every circumstance of life, and in recoinmending to His grace and goodness all those who have an interest in his affections, and whose welfare is connected with his own.
Let occupations of this kind frequently occur; let them engage the mind at the opening and the close of every day, and they will generally produce a lasting effect upon the disposition and character; for prayer is indeed among the chief means by which all spiritual blessings are procured; and he, who would obtain the communications of the Spirit, must thus diligently seek them. But we are speaking here chiefly of their effect in producing an habitual sense of the presence of God: and although even this benefit is not derived from any virtue or excellence in the prayer itself, yet we may mention this as a natural result of the practice, because it can scarcely be long pursued without an operation upon the mind in some measure correspondent with it.
The last remark which we shall offer, points to the importance of firing these impressions in early life.
Would you wish your children to remember their Creator as they advance in years ? Teach them to do so in the days of their youth. Would
wish them to act in their future intercourse with the world as in the presence of Him who will one day call them to account? Let them be taught while they are yet unacquainted with its temptations, and while they have no particular motive for resisting the truth, that there is an eye which pursues them even to the deepest retirement; and that however they may escape human observation, they cannot screen themselves from the notice of God. Let them be instructed in the relation which they bear to Him, and be told with what compassion He looks down upon them that fear Him. Let them learn to lift up their little hands in prayer, to thank Him for the mercies which they are conscious that they enjoy, and to entreat that favour and protection of which they stand in need. Will the lessons thus imparted be forgotten in advancing years? The assurance of the wise man, that a child trained up in the right way, will not depart from it,* may convince us that the seed which is thus sown will rarely be lost. Impressions, which seem almost to be obliterated, are not unfrequently renewed by
apparently casual occurrences in life; and the piety of old age may often be traced to the blessing of God upon the lessons which have been afforded in the morning of our days. May every parent who now hears me, feel the importance of his duty in this respect, and every child profit by that parent's instructions; and may we all live as under the immediate observance of a merciful Creator, and our last moments be cheered with the consolation, that God is with us!
CHRIST THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH.
ISAIAH xxviii. 16.
“ Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold I lay in Zion
for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone; a sure foundation; he that believeth shall not make haste."
It is remarkable, that the promise of the Messiah is sometimes introduced by the prophets in the midst of severe reprehensions of the people, and the denunciation of approaching judgments; as if the heart of the divine messenger, oppressed with the view of sin and retribution, sought to refresh itself by a glance at the Saviour of mankind; or as if He, by whose inspiration the prophet spake, were thus desirous to show that even in wrath He remembers mercy.* On this principle we are perhaps to account for the introduction of the passage just read in this part of the book of Isaiah. The Israelites are severely rebuked in
* Hab. iii. 2.