Herod could respect an oath, and feel what was due to the company around him, yet gave himself to the most aggravated licentiousness. Let not, 0 God, my sense of honour, or of any social virtue whatever, buoy me up against the consciousness of a deficient purity, whether in laxity of thoughts or actions. Let me cultivate with all strenuousness the grace of a holy abstinence from all evil propensities and evil imaginations.
And while I shun the example of wicked men, let me make a study of the character and doings of my Saviour. And what a number of lessons crowd upon us from the several passages of His history. Here within a short compass we see His compassion in healing the sick - compassion too in feeding the hungry; relieving all the varieties of actual distress, though a sound political economy in coincidence with His own example, forbids the impohicy of making certain provision for all the varieties of eventual distress - piety in looking up to heaven as the source of all our earthly blessings - and frugality in gathering up the fragments of the meal, and not suffering even that food to be wasted which He had produced miraculously and could have multiplied at pleasure.
And O what a needful lesson is given to us, by the retiement of our Saviour from the scene of beneficence to the solitude of devotion. - Give me, 0 Lord, thus to alternate duty with prayer and prayer with duty. What a sad rebuke upon my habits and history is conveyed by this passage in the life of Jesus Christ. Pour on me, 0 God, the Spirit of grace and supplication. Be Thou, 0 God, a very present help in the time of troubleand more especially in the time of temptation. Forgive, 0 Lord, my transgression. May Christ appear in the midst of this darkness and tumult and so appear as to become the object not of my dread, but of my confidence. Let not my faith give way under a sense of delinquency, however foul and however recent. But, 0 God, however bold in the sense of pardon, save me from the boldness of presumptuous imiquity; and let the remainder of my days be spent in peace and holiness - in the worship and service of the Son of God.
I feel as if a great lesson hung on the efficacy of a touch, though it was only the hem of the Saviour's garment. I feel as if it corresponded to faith in His name, when the power of conception was dull and feeble - so that we could frame no apprehension of His person. When I labour undere the want of a lively manifestation, let the sound of sound of His name uphold my confidence and be as ointment poured forth. But, O my God, that this confidence might continue undisturbed, do Thou cleanse my heart of all regard for iniquity.
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