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robhed of some honor and worship due unto Himl
Let this careless habit be most strictly guarded against.
Let our aim and rule be always to le in church five
minutes 'before the commencement of the service. And
let tliis time be occupied in preparing our heart to
serve the Lord (by silent meditation, or by reading a
psalm or some other portion of Holy Scripture), as we
bear in mind the Wise Man's words, "Before thou


prayest prepare thyself, and be not as one that tempt-
eth the Lord."^

Again, when we are in church let ns endeavor to
realize to ourselves the great truth of GocVs immediate
presence there.^ Let us think that we kneel at God's
very footstool ; that His eye is fixed on us ; that His
ear is open to us ; that He is waiting to receive our
prayers and the adoration of our hearts. Nothing
can so surely keep us from inattention, and careless-
ness, and wandering thoughts, as this remembrance of
the awful but most blessed nearness of Almighty God.

Again, let us be careful to preserve the appointed
and proper postures — to kneel when we should kneel,
to stand when we should stand. An indifference about
our postures will generally lead to indifference about
the matter in which we are or ought to be engaged.

Again, let us avoid the idle habit of staring about
the church, watching the behavior of those who may
be near us, looking at their dress, &c., or having our
attention easily distracted. A wandering eye will pro-
duce wandering thoughts. If we cannot always govern
our thoughts, we can at least govern our eyes ; and
if these be fixed upon om* Prayer-books, we shall find
it a great assistance in our endeavors to control our

Again : let none fall into the common error of im-
agining the sermon to be the most important part of the
service. There is no religious worship in listening to
a sermon. It may be very useful to us, very edi-
fying, very instructive ; but there is no icorsMj:) in
giving our attention to a sermon. And if it be simply
for the interest and instruction afforded by the sermon

1 Ecclus, xviii. 23, 2 Matt, xviii. 20.

98 OUR vows.

that we come to church, our attendance thei-e will not
be followed by much profit to our souls. Communion
with God in prayer, praising and magnifying God's
holy Name, rendering publicly to God (as we are
most bounden) the homage of our hearts, humble
confession of our sins, being assured of God's will-
ino-ness to forgive us,— these are the objects for which
we assemble ourselves together; and these should first
be done, if we would bring ourselves into that frame
of mind wherein a sermon may be really edifying

to us.

Again : upon leaving the church avoid as far as pos-
sible falling into conversation immediately : let some
time be given to calm and quiet reflection upon the ser-
vice in which you have just been engaged. And lastly,
let it be the aim and acknowledged duty of every one
to be present tioice on Sunday at the services of the
church. Let us not come before the Lord in a grudg-
ing spirit, giving as little of our time as possible to
Him, " who giveth us richly all things to enjoy."^ But
rather feeling with the Psalmist, "Jt is a good thing
to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto
Thy name, O Most High: to show forth Thy lovmg-
kindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness every
night.'"' Let us ever be "glad" when they say unto
us, "Let us go into the house of the Lord."'

5. At the head of the last six commandments stands
that which teaches us the duty of odedience—of obedi-
ence generally ; of obedience to all those who are placed
in authority over us; obedience of the people to their
rulers,* of servants to their masters,^ of persons to

1 1 Tim vi 17. 2 Ps. xcii. 1, 2. 3 Ibid, cxxii. 1. * Rom. xiii.
1-5 ; Tit. iii. 1 ; 1 Pet. ii. 13, 14. ^ 1 Pet ii. 18 ; Col. iii. 22-24


their spiritual teachers/ of children to their parents.''
This last alone is actually specified in the command-
ment, " Honor thy father and thy mother." This is
specified particularly, because the obedience of a child
to its parent is the foundation of all other obedience.
It is the first and earliest lesson which can be impressed
upon the opening mind. The first lesson which can be
taught a child is obedience to its parents. To honor
its father and mother, to yield to them, to trust them,
to reverence and respect their commands, is the religion
d a child. The infant mind as yet knows nothing of
its God : the love and worship due to Him are as yet
a hidden mystery. Its whole notion and idea of right
and wrong is contained in the duty of obedience to its
parents. This is the foundation on which the observ-
ance of ail other duties will be built. An obedient
child will make an obedient man. A wilful, disobedient,
irreverent child will make a wicked and ungodly man.
Therefore is this commandment placed the first of all
those which teach our duty to our fellow-men. In
thinking of the obedience due from children to their
parents, let us guard ourselves from the error of ima-
gining that this is a duty confined to childhood only.
Far otherwise. While the parent's life is spared, the
tender respect and reverence and the filial deference,
which are due, will be ever rendered by the loving
child. A good man will know that, in God's eyes,
disobedience, disrespect, want of love and tenderness
shown to a parent, is a most grievous sin, and one
which, sooner than any other, will cause the Almighty
to shut up His own tender mercies in displeasure. He
will feel that the sight of an old man treated with dis-

1 Heb. xiii. 17. a Ephes. vi. 1-3 ; Col. iii. 20.

100 OUR vows.

respect and slighted in his own family is a disgrace to
all his children, and that bitter tears drawn from the
dim old eyes, or that hitter sorrows w^hich how down
the old gray head, when caused by thankless and ir-
reverent children, do indeed cry out to heaven with an
exceeding loud and jjiercing voice, demanding a most
just and speedy retribution. That wicked and most
accursed thought (accursed in the sight of God) of an
aged parent's being a hurden to be got rid of, in any
manner and through any means, will find no place in
the heart of one who is diligent to keep God's com-
mandments. He will bear in mind the ^Mse Man's
words, "He that forsaketh his father is as a blas-
phemer; and he that angereth his mother is cursed
of God.'" He will remember that, however respect-
able or seemingly excellent in all other respects a man's
character may be, however sober, temperate, chaste,
honest, upright his life may appear, yet all these seem-
ing virtues in the sight of God and in the eyes of holy
men are spoiled and marred, and are nothing worth, if
he fails the while in reverence to his parents. Those
good deeds by themselves and without some filial duty
can claim no blessing, while to the obedient child God
will be ever gracious ; He will prolong his days, and
it shall be well with him upon the earth.''

6. We are not to set aside this sixth commandment,
and imagine that it does not concern us in any way, and
that we need scarcely join in that prayer in the Com-
munion Service, " Incline our hearts to keep this law."
It may be very true that we do not feel any inclination
to the shedding of another's blood. So far from pre*
senting any temptation to our minds, indeed, the very

» Ecclus. iii. IG. 2 Ephes. vi. 3.


thought of murder may be absolutely abhorrent to us.
It might be really impossible to us to stretch out our
hands to take our neighbor's life. But even if this be
so, we are not therefore entirely free from any danger
of breaking this commandment. If we call to mind our
Lord's words upon this subject, we shall know that
what is here forbidden and what is hateful in God's
sight is not only the actual crime of murder, but as
well that temper, that spirit, that disposition, which, if
perfectly unrestrained and suffered to go on and de-
velop e itself, may, if the occasion offers, issue out into
a deed of blood. Thus our Lord speaks on this matter
in His Sermon on the Mount : " Ye have heard that it
was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill : and
whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judg-
ment: but I say unto you, that whosoever is angry
with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of
the judgment : and whosoever shall say to his brother,
Eaca, shall be in danger of the council : but whosoever
shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."^
Here our Lord declares that not the letter of the law
alone, but the spirit of the law it is which should gov-
ern Christians in their lives, and by which they must
be judged in the sight of God. Our Saviour warns us
that they are regarded by God as breaking this great
commandment who indulge that perverse disposition
which we call ill-temper, or who suffer themselves to
cherish feelings of malice, ill-will, or causeless anger
against any of their brethren. All such feelings par-
take of the nature of murder. They are the evil seeds
which, if permitted to come to maturity, will bear the
fruit of murder.

1 Matt. V. 21, 22.


102 OUR vows.

It is hardlj necessary for us to be reminded tljat the
seed which we sow, and the fruit which that seed pro-
duces, are in fact the very same substance, only in
diflferent stages of existence. We sow the corn in the
ground : the blade springs up, wliich is still corn in
another stage ; and the full ear follows, and this too is
corn, which giveth bread to strengthen man's heart.
So, too, the act of murder, and the evil, malicious, un-
governed temper, do both partake of one nature. The
one is the root of the other. The one is the miserable
seed ; the other, the frightful fruit which the seed, if
fostered and not checked in its growth, may very pos-
sibly produce ; and, being such, both are abominable
in the sight of Him who, being Love itself, must hold
such tempers in abhorrence. Xor is there any diffi-
culty in tracing the connection between the two, — be-
tween the temper and the deed of blood. There are
instances, indeed, of men who deliberately, and for
most base and wicked purposes, have planned the
taking of another's life. Wicked companions, a disso-
lute life, the promptings of the devil, have brought men
to this depth of iniquity. But such instances are rare,
perhaps, compared with that more frequent cause of
murder, a hasty and ill-governed temper, which in in-
numerable cases has brought on quarrels, when some
fatal and irrevocable blow is given, causing a brother's
blood to cry for vengeance. This is the commonest
cause of murder. Men meet together : their passions
are inflamed, perchance, by drink : some foolish word
is spoken, " raca," " thou fool," or something similar ;
then the ungoverned temper blazes up, a hot dispute
arises, blows soon follow on hard words, and presently,
in a moment of wild madness, the evil fruit is borne,


and that is done which drives a man to be a wretched
outcast from his fellows, or which brings him to a
death of shame ; that is done, which no agony of grief,
no bitter tears, no life-long penitence can undo. And
a man, one who in his sober moments would abhor the
deed, even as we should now, becomes a murderer, —
a murderer, because he had not learned to rule his
evil and unchristian temper. Well has Solomon said,
" The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out
water. "^ And again, " He that is slow to anger is bet-
ter than the mighty ; and he that ruleth his spirit, than
he that taketh a city.'"^

Perhaps we may take the Sixth Commandment as
laying this plain injunction on us all (the force and
necessity of which we shall more easily allow, than of
the law " Thou shalt not kill ") — this. Rule thy temijer ;
restrain that hasty spirit, that hot angry disposition to
which so many men are prone ; that temper which
displays itself very frequently in provoking bitter,
sneering, or abusive words ; that temper which is apt
to take offence, which is unforgiving, which ever re-
sents injuries, and nourishes thoughts of vengeance;
which is easily and on slight grounds aroused, and
which burns fiercely, devouring every thing around.
Kestrain, control, subdue, mortify this temper, for this
is the root whence murder springs.

7. Of the sin of uncleanness, forbidden by the
Seventh Commandment, but few words may here be
spoken. It is the most fearful, the most defiling of all
sins. This is a sin against those bodies of ours, which
are, as St. Paul declares, temples of the Holy Ghost.^
This only may be said. Preserve yourselves jealously

1 Prov. xvii. 14. = Ibid. xvi. 32. 3 1 Cor. vi. 18, 19.

104 OUR vows.

from the heginnings of this sin. Keep your thoughts
pure. Turn away from the contemplation of any im-
purity as you would flee from some fearful shape of
evil. Carefully avoid any thing that can possibly lead
to or suggest this defilement, — bad books, pictures,
places, entertainments, companions. Any thing that can
beget within you even a single unclean, impure ima-
gination, avoid as you would avoid the presence of
ISatan himself.

Let this caution be added. About all other sins, we
may and should examine ourselves ; we may seek to
learn how our sins arose in us, whence their hold on
us proceeds, how best they may be resisted and dis-
armed. But of this one dark sin let us question noth-
ing ; let us only put it from us; we may not dally with
it for one moment, we may not give it place, no, not
for one single instant. If we are so unhappy as to
have sinned in thought, or word, or deed, we must
only hide ourselves from the remembrance of the pol-
lution, and cry aloud to God, "Create in me a clean
heart, O God ; and renew a right spirit within me."

8. When it is said to us in the Eighth Command-
ment, "Thou shalt not steal," it is not simply meant
to forbid our committing direct acts of robbery ; but
the injunction is hereby laid upon us to be honest and
upright, and straightforward in all our dealings with
our fellow-men. Actually to steal is, at all hands,
confessed to be base, and miserable, and mean. But
there are many ways in which men may break this
commandment, and be dishonest in the sight of a just
God, about which we sometimes give ourselves but
little concern. Incurring dehts^ which we can never
reasonably hope to pay, is a breach of this com-


mandment. Eeceiviug payment for work whicli we
have not faithfully performed ; usmg our " neighbor's
service without wages, and giving him not for his
work ;'" hard, and oppressive, and extortionate bar-
gains, with those who are at our mercy ; idleness and
waste on the part of a servant, and neglect of his
master's interests,— these all are acts of dishonesty.
In buying and selling, again, to palm off inferior arti-
cles for good ones, to take advantage of a person's
ignorance; to use the false balance and the scant
measure,^ to adulterate goods, to pretend that things
are what on trial they will not prove to be ; or, on the
buyer's part, unjustly to depreciate an article which
is really good, to attempt to obtain a thing at a price
below its real value, in all these several ways it is
common to offend against the spirit of this command-
ment. Again, refusing payment of what we know
to be justly due from us; compelling persons to sue
us at the law, and so driving them to a ruinous ex-
pense that they may obtain their rights ; keeping back
by fraud the hire of those who have labored for us in
any way,^ — the Lord will not hold them guiltless who
do such things. If we would hope at the last to be
numbered among those who have led an uncorrupt
life, and done the thing which was right, and spoken
the truth from their heart, and have used no deceit in
their tongues, nor done evil to their neighbors/ we
must, in all our dealings with our fellow-men, set these
rules before our eyes, and act upon them continually
and sincerely : " Whatsoever ye icould that men should
do to you, do ye even so to them.''"'^ " That no man go
heyond and defraud his brother in any m.atter ; ie-

1 Jer. xxii. 13. 2 Prov. xi. 1; Micah vi. 10.

3 Rom. xiii. 7 : Jauies v. 4, * Ps. xv. 2, 3, ^ Matt. vii. 12.

106 OUR vows.

cause that the Lord is the avenger of all suchy^ ^^Looh
not every man on his own thinga^ hut every man also
on the things of others^^ ^^ Whatsoever things are
true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things
are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsover things
are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; thinh
on these thingsy^

9. Perhaps of all the commandments which teach
us our duty to our neighbor, there is not one that we
are more apt to break than this, which we must
speak of next. This forbids the sins of our tongues;
false witness, lying, slandering, evil-speaking ; sins of
that "little member" of our bodies, which is so prone
to evil, that the Apostle calls it " a fire, a w^orld of in-
iquity,"^ a member that " defileth the Avhole body,"
" an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." Surely, if we
bear in mind these w^ords of the Apostle, and if we
recall what our own experience of life must teach us,
— how commonly and how easily men transgress this
commandment ; how hard and difficult it is to restrain
our tongues ; how much of the ordinary conversation
in the world around us consists in remarks upon our
neighbors' lives and doings, and how sorely tempted
we often are to say unkind, uncharitable, unnecessary
things; with what keenness and malicious pleasure
persons wiU receive an evil report ; and how easy it
is, in relating something, to pass, perhaps almost un-
consciously, the strict line of truth and fiiirness, — if
we call these things to mind, we must be well con-
vinced that in nothing is God's grace more really
needed than in assisting us to " keep our tongue from
evil ; and our lips, that they speak no guile. "^

1 1 Thess. iv. 6. 2 pi,ii. ji. 4. 9 ibid. iv. 8.

* James iii. 2-10. " i'e,. xxxiv. 13.


10. The duty enjoined upon us bj this last com-
mandment is " contentment." TTe are not to be ea-
vious and covetous of our neighbor's possessions, or
of liis good fortune ; but we are to be contented with
such things as we have, and are ever to bless God for
the many mercies which, through His good providence,
we enjoy.

If it be sometimes difficult for us thus to possess our
souls in patience, on account of troubles, or misfortunes,
or privations that may have befallen us ; if we are press-
ed by want and poverty ; our wisdom will be still to
strive after the spirit of contentment and patient sub-
mission by keeping ever before our minds, not the more
prosperous and, as it may seem, happier circumstances
of some of our fellow-men, but rather the still deeper af-
flictions of many of those around us. If we are troubled
above measure, there are yet others in the world, let
us remember, whose position is still more afflicting ;
if we are poor and reduced in circumstances, there are
others poorer still perchance ; if all God's waves and
storms have gone over us, yet if we have not made
shipwreck of our faith, it is reaUy well with us, and
we are indeed unspeakably more blessed than those
unhappy ones (be their worldly circumstances what
they may) who are living " without God in the world."
Even in our deepest wo, and amidst the loss of all
that in this life we count most dear, we have comfort
in the firm persuasion that nothing in all the world
" shall be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."^ It is in the
thankful contemplation of the many and undeserved
mercies still vouchsafed to us through God's goodness,

1 Eom, viii. 39.

]08 OUR vows.

and not in tho rcgrctfnl rcmembranco of wliat we
have lost, that we may preserve in ourselves that
spirit of contentment which, more than any thing else,
will tend to promote our real and lasting happiness.

There is nothing in this commandment, be it ob-
served, which forbids a man's honest endeavors to
improve his circumstances in life, and to raise himself
and those who are dependent on his care to a better
position, provided only tliat in his efforts to " do well
unto liimself " he does not neglect his higher interests
and duties. Let every one write these words upon
his heart and memory : — '■'■Lay not up for yourselves
treasures upon earthy where moth and rust doth cor-
rupt^ and cohere thieves hreaTc through and steal: dut
lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven^ where neither
moth nor rust doth corrupt^ and where thieves do not
hrealc through nor steaiy^ '■'■Set your affection on
things ahove, not on things on the earth.'"''^ '■'■We
Itrought nothing into this world, and it is certain we
can carry nothing outy^ '■'■Wisdom is the x>f'incipal
thing : therefore getioisdom: and tcithall thy getting,
get imderstanding.''''* " What shall it profit a man, if
he shall gain the ichole icorld, and lose his own soul?
or ichat shall a man give in exchange for his 8021I ? '"
If a man will act faithfully, and be ruled by the spirit
of these golden exhortations, lie may be earnest, active,
diligent, wise, in the lawful i)ursuits of this world's
goods, and yet give his heart in all sincerity to God ;
and, seeking first the kingdom of God and Ilis riglit-
eousness, may avoid that " covetousness" which St.
Paul declares to be " idolatry,"*

1 Matt. vl. 19, 20. a Col. iii. 2. 3 Tim. vi. 7. * Prov. Iv. 7.

" Mark viii. 3G, 37; sec also Luke xii. 15- "21. « Col. iii. 5.

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AST of all, the
EucHAEisT. Our
baptismal vow is
this: "We prom-
ise to renounce
all God's enemies
— the world, the
flesh, and the de-
vil, and to repent
U3 of our sins;
we promise to
believe ; and we
promise to obej.
This vow we re-
new and take upon ourselves afresh at the solemn time
of Confirmation. And how are we to keep this sacred
promise ? ISTot by our own strength certainly. That
were impossible to our frailty. But only by that Di-
vine grace which God gives ; which He is ever ready
to pour upon us more and more abundantly, and a
larger share of which we must seek, and may obtain
by earnest hearty prayer. Prayer ! Let us pause a
moment to speak of prayer — the communion of the
soul with God. How can its importance be sufficiently


declared? "What words can be found to impress upon
our mind its unspeakable value ? Prayer is the very
life and strength of the soul. What the breath, which
we every moment draw, is to the body, such is prayer
to the soul; without it our spirits cannot live. In
prayer we find comfort, strength, power to resist and
to stand fast, help, grace, blessing. Without prayer
we must be weak, unarmed, easily overcome, unstable,
hopelessly infirm. See in the following texts what
wonderful things are spoken about the all-prevailing
power and efiicacy of prayer: — Matt. vii. 7-11 ; Luke
xi. 5-13; Matt, xviii. 19; 1 John v. 14, 15; James v.
16-18; John xvi. 23, 24; Matt. xxi. 22; 1 John iii.
21, 22 ; Mark xi. 24.

Two rules may be given, very shortly, about prayer.
First: there should be certain hours of the day at
which it should be our custom and habit to off'er up
our regular devotions; when it should be as nRtural
to us to kneel down to pray, as it would be to do any
thing else to which we are most accustomed, and to
neglect or omit which would cause us some sensible
uneasiness of mind. These regular devotions should
be so much our habit, as to make it impossible for us
to omit them without our feeling at once that we have
left undone some known and acknowledged duty, and
without our being sensibly warned by our consciences
of our neglect. These fixed and stated times for prayer
should be, for all persons^ at least every morning and
every evening. And it were better still to follow the
example of holy David in this matter: "Evening and
morning, and at 7ioo?i, will I pray, and cry aloud,'"
says the Psalmist. This retirement from the world in

1 Ps. Iv. 17.


the middle of the day for prayer, this leaving the busy
turmoil and care and anxieties of the world for a little
while to enter into the quietness and holy calm of
God's more immediate presence, is of inexpressible
value to them who would lead a holy life. There is

1 2 3 4 5 7

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