"Christian Days and Thoughts" is a devotional volume collected from the works of Ephraim Peabody of Kings Chapel. Published in 1858, the editor describes the volume thus: "The book will do little good where it is hastily read and put aside. Its voice is not one to be heard in the streets, or to join in the discussions of the day. It rather asks to be admitted to the confidence of those who will receive it, in the stillness of their most retired and private hours. Its calm tones of religious tenderness and trust would find their way into the closet. It offers itself as a companion to the thoughtful in their seasons of meditation and their times of trial. It would touch their religious sensibilities. It would feed them with devout thoughts. It would store their minds with images of Divine purity and love."
Following, and for the next few days, selections from Peabody's writings on Ash Wednesday...
Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing which thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; create and make in us new and contrite hearts; that we worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE GOODNESS OF GOD LEADING US TO REPENTANCE.
" Not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth men to repentance." So do the Scriptures speak of repentance. In them it is nothing of gloom, or arbitrary exaction. It is an act illumined with the highest and most glorious hopes. Their language is, Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It is leaving behind all things base and bad and degrading, and ascending into the light. God smiles upon it; the angels rejoice over it; the earth is blessed by it.
The opportunity and ability to repent, is one of the highest privileges that God has granted to man. Let decay commence at the heart of the oak, the tree has no self-restoring power, but must go on decaying till it falls. The temple whose foundations begin to crumble cannot restore itself, but, faster or slower, will crumble till it sinks in the dust. Bird and beast, could they wander from their instincts, know not how to correct their errors. But to man, within certain limits, and to man alone, Almighty God has seen fit to give the power of self-recovery. If moral decay touch his heart, and the innocence of childhood be gone, and sin have darkened his way and his bosom, still all hope is not gone. There is still a power at the centre to resist evil. And through its exertion, difficult though it may be, he may be raised from the darkness and the night into the day. Is the use of this power—is repentance, to be spoken of as a thing of gloom ? No : for the possession of it, so frail and sinful as we are, we ought to give loudest thanks. What were we without the power of repentance?...
Repentance rescues the man from sin to holiness, from earth to heaven. It takes him from the sympathies of the bad indeed, but it is to raise him to the society of the good—to the sympathy of all pure spirits, to the companionship of angels—yes, of angels ; for they look on and rejoice over but one sinner who repenteth."