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I. ON RETIREMENT.
How needful to the real Christian, surrounded as he is by sensible objects, which have so powerful an influence on his mind and affections, are seasons for retirement from the hurry and distracting cares of the world.
The soul cannot prosper in spiritual things, without much secret converse with its God and Saviour.
Many duties are unavoidably of a public nature; but these, except in extraordinary cases, should not occupy those portions of time, which are sacred to meditation, reading the Scriptures, and prayer.
There is something peculiarly pleasant and profitable in the interchange of activity and retirement.
As activity sweetens retirement, so retirement prepares the mind for renewed activity.
Those persons, who are most engaged in active labours for the benefit of others, will find peculiar need for frequent retirement. In their closets, they must draw down from the Fountain of love, by faith and prayer, that spiritual strength, and those heavenly graces, which alone can enable them to labour
perseveringly, as well as suffer patiently for Christ's sake.
The present times, which are so happily characterized by religious exertion, render this duty highly needful. It is no uncommon thing to hear excellent persons complain, that their whole time is nearly divided between their own avocations and the claims of multiplying societies; thus leaving little or no leisure for the important duty of Christian retirement.
Hence, spirituality of mind is much injured from the constant bustle in which some benevolent persons live. They have frequent cause to join in the lamentation of the Spouse in the Canticles; “They made me a keeper of vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept."
The increase of valuable institutions, formed for the purpose of extending the kingdom of Christ throughout the earth, calls for perpetual gratitude to God, who thus deigns to bless our favoured island with the light of his truth, and to stir up his faithful servants to those interesting labours of love.
But it never was the design of Infinite Wisdom, that one duty should extirpate another.
As everything is beautiful in its season, so there is a time for every thing:
The art of doing much consists in giving to every duty its proper place, time, and quantity.
Here much wisdom is required; yet by prayer, watchfulness, and self-denial, much practical knowledge may be attained.
When we seldom retire for holy converse with God, is there not great reason to suspect some latent, though perhaps unconscious repugnance to the more silent, unobtrusive offices of secret devotion ?
Some persons grow almost melancholy if much alone.
This surely betrays a defect either in the