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shall best fulfil it: for on these points at (so persuaded was he, notwithstanding, of least it may be said without controversy that the duty of continuing this holy importunity,
the ignorant (and here who is not igno- that he persisted against all human hope, till rant ?) have nothing to do with the law but he attained to that exalted pitch of unshato obey it.'
ken faith, by which he was enabled to break Others there are, who, perhaps not con- out into that sublime apostrophe, «Though troverting any of the premises, yet neglect he slay me, yet I will trust in him.' to build practical consequences on the ad-| But may we not say that there is a consimission of them, who neither denying the derable class, who not only bring none of duty nor the efficacy of prayer, yet go on to the objections which we have stated against live either in the irregular observance or the the use of prayer; who are so far from rttotal neglect of it, as appetite, or pleasure, ljecting, that they are exact and regular in or business, or humour, may happen to pre- the performance of it; who yet take it up dominate; and who by living almost with-on as low ground as is consistent with their out prayer, may be said to live almost ideas of their own safety; who while they without God in the world.' To such we consider prayer as an indispensable form, can only say, that they little know what believe nothing of that change of heart and they lose.—The time is hastening on when of those holy tempers which it is intended to they will look upon those blessings as inva- produce? Many who yet adhere scrupuluable, which now they think not worth | lously to the letter, are so far from entering asking for; when they will bitterly regret into the spirit of this duty, that they are the absence of those means and opportuni- strongly inclined to suspect those of hypoties which now they either neglect or de-crisy who adopt the true scriptural views of spise. “O that they were wise ! that they prayer. Nay, as even the Bible may be so understood this! that they would consider wrested as to be made to speak almost any their latter end !
Jlanguage in support of almost any opinion, There are again others, who it is to be these persons lay hold on Scripture itself to feared having once lived in the habit of bear them out in their own slight views of prayer, yet not having been well grounded this duty; and they profess to borrow from in those principles of faith and repentance thence the ground of that censure which on which genuine prayer is built, have by they cast on the more serious Christians, degrees totally discontinued it. “They do Among the many passages which have been not find,' say they, that their affairs pros- made to convey a meaning foreign to their per the better or the worse; or perhaps original design, none have been seized upon they were unsuccessful in their affairs even with more avidity by such persons than the before they dropped the practice, and so pointed censures of our Saviour on those had no encouragement to go on. They do'who for a pretence make long prayers;' not know that they had no encouragement ; as well as on those "whouse vain repetitions, they do not know how much worse their af- and think they shall be heard for much fairs might have gone on, had they discon- speaking.' Now the things here intended to tinued it sooner, or how their prayers help-| be reproved, were the hypocrisy of the ed to retard their ruin. Or they do not Pharisees and the ignorance of the heathen, know that perhaps they asked amiss,' or together with the error of all those who dethat if they had obtained what they asked, pended on the success of their prayers, while they might have been far more unhappy. they imitated the deceit of the one or the For a true believer never "restrains prayer' folly of the other. But our Saviour never because he is not certain he obtains every meant those severe reprehensions should individual request ; for he is persuaded that cool or abridge the devotion of pious ChrisGod, in compassion to our ignorance, some-tians, to which they do not at all apply. times in great mercy withholds what we More or fewer words, however, so little desire, and often disappoints his most fa- constitute the true value of prayer, that voured children by giving them, not what there is no doubt but one of the most affectthey ask, but what he knows is really good ing specimens on record is the short petition for them. The froward child, as a pious of the publican ; full fraught as it is with prelate* observes, cries for the shining that spirit of contrition and self-abasement blade, which the tender parent withholds, which is the very principle and soul of prayknowing it would cut his fingers.
er. And this specimen perhaps is the best Thus to persevere when we have not the model for that sudden lifting up of the heart encouragement of visible success, is an evi- which we call ejaculation. But I doubt, in dence of tried faith. Of this holy perseve-general, whether those few hasty words to rance Job was a noble instance. Défeat and which these frugal petitioners would stint disappointment rather stimulated than stop- the scanty devotions of others and themped his prayers. Though in a vehement selves, will be always found ample encugh strain of passionate eloquence he exclaims, to satisfy the humble penitent, who, being a • I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard ; sinner, has much to confess; who, hoping he I cry aloud, but there is no judgment,' yet is a pardoned sinner, has much to acknow
ledige. Such an one perhaps cannot always • Bishop Hall
I pour out the fulness of his soul within the prescribed abridgments. Even the sincerest Such wanderings that, as an old divine has Christian, when he wishes to find his heart observed, it would exceedingly humble a warm, has often to lament its coldness. good man, could he, after he had prayed, be Though he feel that he has received much, made to see his prayers written down, with and has therefore much to be thankful for, exact interlineations of all the vain and imyet he is not able at once to bring his way- pertinent thoughts which had thrust themward spirit into such a posture as shall fit itselves in amongst them. So that such an for the solemn business; for such an one has one will indced, from a strong sense of these not merely his form to repeat; but he has distractions, feel deep occasion with the his tempers to reduce to order; his affections prophet to ask forgiveness for the iniquity to excite, and his peace to make. His of his holy things :' and would find cause thoughts may be realizing the sarcasm of enough for humiliation every night, had he the prophet on the idol Baal, they may be to lament the sins of his prayers only. gone a journey,' and must be recalled ; his! We know that such a brief petition as heart perhaps sleepeth and must be awa- 'Lord help my unbelief,' if the supplicant ked.' . A devout supplicant too will labour be in so happy a frame, and the prayer be to affeet and warm his mind with a sense of darted up with such strong faith that his vethe great and gracious attributes of God, in ry soul mounts with the petition, may suffice imitation of the holy men of old. Like Je- to draw down a blessing which may be withhosaphat, he will sometimes enumerate the held from the more prolix petitioner : yet, power, and the might, and the mercies of if by prayer we do not mean a mere form of the Most High,' in order to stir up the sen- words, whether they be long or short; if the timnents of awe, and gratitude, and love, and true definition of prayer be, that it is the dehumility in his own soul. * He will labour to sire of the heart: if it be that secret comimitate the example of his Saviour, whose munion between God and the soul, which heart dilated with the expression of the is the very breath and being of religion ; same holy affections, I thank thee, () Fa- then is the Scripture so far from suggesting ther, Lord of heaven and earth.' A heart that short measure of which it is accused, thus animated, thus warmed with divine that it expressly says, “Pray without ceaslove, cannot always scrupulously limit itself ing'-'Pray evermore'- I will that men to the mere business of prayer, if I may so pray every where'-' continue instant in speak. It cannot content itself with merely prayer.' spreading out its own necessities, but ex- If such repetitions' as these objectors repands in contemplating the perfections of probate, stir up desires as yet unawakened, Him to whom he is addressing them. The or protract affections already excited (for humble supplicant, though he be no longer "vain repetitions are such as awaken or governed by a love of the world, yet grieves express no new desire, and serve no reli
to find that he cannot totally exclude it gious purpose) then are repetitions' not to from his thoughts. Though he has on the be condemned. And that our Saviour did whole a deep sense of his own wants, and of not give the warning against 'long prayers the abundant provision which is made for and repetitions' in the sense these objections them in the Gospel ; yet when he most allege, is evident from his own practice; for wishes to be rejoicing in those strong mo- once we are told he continued all night in tives for love and gratitude, alas ! even then prayer to God.' And again, in the most awhe has to mourn his worldliness, his insensi-ful crisis of his life, it is expressly said, bility, his deadness. He has to deplore the 'He prayed the third time, using the same littleness and vanity of the objects which are words. '* even then drawing away his heart from his All habits gain by exercise ; of course the Redeemer. The best Christian is but too Christian graces gain force and vigour by liable, during the temptations of the day, to being called out, and, as it were, mustered be ensnared by the lust of the eye, and the in prayer, Love, faith, and trust in the dipride of life, and is not always brought with-/ vine promises, if they were not kept alive out effort to reflect that he is but dust and by this stated intercourse with God, would ashes. How can even good persons wlio are wither and die. Prayer is also one great just come perhaps from listening to the flat-source and chief encourager of holiness. If tery of their fellow-worms, acknowledge I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will before God, without any preparation of the not hear me.' heart, that they are miserable sinners?! Prayer possesses the two-fold property of They require a little time to impress on fighting and preparing the heart to receive their own souls the truth of that solemn con- the blessings we pray for, in case we should fession of sin they are making to him, with- attain them; and of fortifying and disposing out which brevity and not length might con- it to submit to the will of God, in case it stitute hypocrisy. Even the sincrely pious should be his pleasure to withhold them. have in prayer grievous wanderings to la- A sense of sin should be so far from keepment, from which others mistakingly sup- ing us from prayer, through a false plea of pose the advanced Christian to be exempt. unworthiness, that the humility growing on • 2 Chron. xv. 5, 6.
* Matt. xxvi. 44.
this very consciousness is the truest and, who offers it. When we pray for the object strongest incentive to prayer, There is, for of our dearest regard, it purifies passion, our example and encouragement, a beautiful and exalts love into religion : when we pray union of faith and humility in the prodigal for those with whom we have worldly inter
I have sinned against lieaven and betore course, it smooths down the swellings of enthee, and am no more worthy to be calledivy, and bids the tumults of anger and ambithy son.' This as it might seem to imply tion subside: when we pray for our country, hopelessness of pardon, might be supposed it sanctifies patriotism: when we pray for to promote unwillingness to ask it; but the those in authority, it adds a divine motive to heart-broken penitent drew the direct con-human obedience : when we pray for our trary conclusion-'I will arise and go to my enemies, it softens the savageness of war, father!'
and molities hatred into tenderness, and rePrayer, to make it accepted, requires nei-sentment into sorrow. And we can only ther genius, cloquence, nor language; but learn the duty so difficult to human nature, sorrow for sin, faith, and humility. It is the of forgiving those who have offended us, cry of distress, the sense of want, the abase- when we bring ourselves to pray for them to ment of contrition, the energy of gratitude. Him whom we ourselvesdaily offend. When It is not an elaborate string of well arranged those who are the faithful followers of the periods nor an exercise of ingenuity, nor an same Divine Master pray for each other, the effort of the memory; but the devout breath- reciprocal intercession delightfully realizes ing of a soul struck with a sense of its own that beautiful idea of the communion of misery, and of the infinite holiness of llim saints.' There is scarcely any thing which whom it is addressing; experimentally con- more enriches the Christian than the circuvinced of its own emptiness, and of the lation of this holy commerce ; than the comabundant fulness of God. It is the complete fort of believing, while he is praying for his renunciation of self, and the entire depen-Christian friends, that he is also reaping the dence on another. It is the voice of a beg- I benefit of their prayers for him. gar who would be relieved; of the sinnerSome are for confining their intercessions who would be pardoned. It has nothing to only to the good, as if none but persons of offer but sin and sorrow; nothing to ask but merit were entitled to our prayers. Merit ! forgiveness and acceptance; nothing to plead who has it? Desert! who can plead it ? in but the promises of the Gospel in the death the sight of God, I mean, Who shall bring of Christ. It never seeks to obtain its ob- his own piety, or the piety of others, in the ject by diminishing the guilt of sin, but by way of claim, before à Being of such tranexalting the merits of the Saviour.
scendant holiness, that 'the heavens are not But as it is the effect of prayer to expand clean in his sight?' And if we wait for perthe affections as well as to sanctify them; the fect holiness as a preliminary to prayer, benevolent Christian is not satisfied to com- when shall such erring creatures pray at all mend himself alone to the divine favour. Ito Him who chargeth the angels with The heart which is full of the love of God ' folly ! will overflow with love to its neighbour. All! In closing this little work with the subject that are near to himself he wishes to bring of intercessory prayer, may the author be near to God. He will present the whole hu- allowed to avail herself of the feeling it susman race as objects of divine compassion; gests to her own heart? And while she earbut especially the faithful followers of Jesus nestly implores that Being, who can make Christ. Religion makes a man so liberal of the meanést of his creatures instrumental to soul, that he cannot endure to restrict any his glory, to bless this humble attempt to thing, much less divine mercies, to himself: those for whom it was written, may she, he therefore spiritualizes the social affec-without presumption, entreat that this work tions, by adding intercessory to personal of Christian chavity may be reciprocal; and prayer; for he knows that petitioning for that those who peruse these pages may put others is one of the best methods of exerci- up a petition for her, that in the great day to sing and enlarging our own love and charity, which we are all hastening, she may not be even if it were not to draw down those bless- found to have suggested to others what she ings which are promised to those for whom herself did not believe, or to hare recomwe ask them. It is unnecessary to produce mended what she did not desire to practice? any of the numberless instances with which in that awful day of everlasting decision, Scripture abounds, ou the efficacy of inter-may both the reader and the writer be parcession : in which God has proved the truth doned and accepted, not for any works of of his own assurance, that his ear was open righteousness which they have done, but to their cry,' I shall confine myself to a few through the merits of the GREAT INTERobservations on the benefits it brings to himCESSOR,
OR THE INFLUENCE OF
THE RELIGION OF THE HEART
ON THE CONDUCT OF THE LIFE.
The fear of God begins with the Heart, and purifies and rectifies it; and from the Heart, thus rectified, grows a conformity in the Life, the Words, and the Actions.—Sir Matthero Hale's Contemplations.
Ar eminent professor of our own time modestly declared that he taught chemistry in order that he might learn it. The writer of the following pages might, with far more justice, offer a similar declaration, as an apology for so repeatedly treating on the important topics of religion and morals. Abashed by the equitable procept,
Let those teach others who themselves excelshe is aware, how fairly she is putting it in the power of the reader, to ask, in the searching words of an eminent old prelate, “They that speak thus and advise thus, do they do thus She can defend herself in no other way, than by adopting for a reply the words of the same venerable divine, wbich immediately follow :- 0 that it were not too true. Yet although it be but little that is attained, the very aim is right, and something there is that is done by it. It is better to have such thoughts and desires, ihan altogether to give them up; and the very desire, if it be serious and sincere, may so much change the habitude of the soul and life,rhat it is not to be despised.'
The world does not require so much to be informed as reminded. A remembrancer may be almost as useful as an instructor; if his office be more humble, it is scarcely less necessary. The man whose employment it was, statedly to proclaim in the ear of Philip, REMEMBER THAT THOU ART MORTAL, had his plain admonition been allowed to make its due impression, might have produced a more salutary effect on the royal usurper, than the impassioned orations of his immortal assailant
whose resistless eloquence Shook th' arsenal and fulmined over Greece To Macedon and Artaxerxes' throne.
While the orator boldly strove to check the ambition, and arrest the injustice of the king, the simple herald barely reminded him, how short would be the reign of injustice, how inevi. table and how near was the final period of ambition. Let it be remembered to the credit of the monarch, that while the thunders of the politician were intolerable, the monitor was of his own appointment.
This slight sketch, for it prelends to no bigher name, aims only at being plain and practical. Coniending solely for those indispensable points, which by involving present doiy, involve future happiness, the writer has avoided, as far as Christian sincerity permits, all controverted topics; bas shunned whatever might lead to disputation rather than to profit.
We live in an age, when, as Mr. Pope observed of that in which he wrote, it is criminal to be moderate. Would it could not be said that Religion has her parties as well as politics ! Those who endeavour to steer clear of all extremes in either, arc in danger of being reprobated by both. It is rather a hardship for persons, who have considered it as a Christian duty to cultivate a spirit of moderation in thinking, and of candour in judging, that, when these dispositions are brought into action, they frequently incur a harsher censure than the crrors which it was their chief aim to avoid
Perhaps, therefore, to that human wisdom whose leading object is human applause, it might answer best to be exclusively attached to some one party. On the protection of that party at least, it might in that case reckon; and it would then have this dislike of the opposite class alone to contend against; while those who cannot go all lengths with either, can hardly escape the disapprobation of both.
To apply the remark to the present case :--The author is apprehensive that she may at once be censured by opposite classes of readers, as being too strict and too relaxed :-too much attached to opinions, and too indifferent about thein ;-as having narrowed the broad field of Christianity by labouring to establish its peculiar doctrines ;--as having broken down its enclosures by not confining herself to doctrines exclusively ;--as having considered morality of too little importance ;-as having raised it to an undue elevation ;--as having made practice every thing ;--as having made it nothing.
While a catholic spirit is accused of being latitudinarian in one party, it really is so in an. other. In one it exhibits the character of Christianity on her own grand but correct scale; in the other, it is the offspring of that indifference, which, considering all opinions as nearly the same value, indemnifies itself for tolerating all, by not attaching itself to any, which, establishing a self-complacent notion of general benevolence, with a view to discredit the narrow spirit of Christianity, and adopting a display of that cheap material, liberal sentiment, as opposed to religious strictness, sacrifices true piety to false candour.
Christianity may be said to suffer between two criminals, but it is difficult to determine by which she suffers most ;-whether by that uncharitable bigotry which disguises her divine character, and speculatively adopts the faggot and the flames of inquisitorial intolerance; or by that indiscriminate candour, ihat conceding slackness, which, by stripping her of her appropriate attributes, reduces her to something scarcely worth contending for ; to something which, instead of making her the religion of Christ, generalizes her into any religion which may choose to adopt her.—The one distorts her lovely lineaments into caricature, and throws her graceful figure into gloomy shadow; the other, by daubing her over with colours not her own, renders her form indistinct, and obliterates her features. In the first instance, she excites little affection ; in the latter she is not recognized.
The writer has endeavoured to address herself as a Christian who must die soon, to Chris. tians who must die certainly. She trusts that she shall not be accused of erecting herself into a censor, but be considered as one who writes with a real consciousness that she is far from having reached the attainments she suggests; with a heartfelt conviction of the danger of holding out a standard too likely to discredit her own practice. She writes not with the as. sumption of superiority, but with a deep practical sense of the infirmities against which she has presumed to caution others. She wishes to be understood as speaking the language of sympathy, rather than of dictation; of feeling rather than of document. So far from fancying herself exempt from the evils on which she has animadverted, her very feeling of those erils has assisted her in their delineation. Thus this interior sentiment of her own deficiencies, which might be urged as a disqualification, has, she trusts, enabled her to point out dangers to others. If the patient cannot lay down rules for the cure of a reigning disease, much less effect the cure ; yet from the symptoms common to the same malady, he who labours under it may suggest the necessity of atiending to it. He may treat the case feelingly, if not scientifically. He may substitute experience, in default of skill: ho may insist on the value of the remedy he has neglected, as well as recommend that from which he has found benefit.
The subjects considered in this treatise have been animadverted on, have been in a manner exhausted, by persons before whose names the author bows down with the deepest homi. lity ; by able professional instructors, by piety adorned with all the graces of style, and invigorated with all the powers of argument.
Why, then, it may be asked, multiply books which may rather incumber the reader than strengthen the cause ?--' That the older is better,' cannot be disputed. But is not the being 'old' sometimes the reason why the better' is not regarded ? Novelty itself is an attraction which but too often supersedes merit. A slighter drapery, if it be a new one, may excite a degree of attention to an object, not paid to it when clad in a richer garb to which the eye has been accustoined.
The author may begin to ask with one of her earliest and most enlightened friends • Wiere is the world into which we were born ?' Death has broken most of those connexions which made the honour and happiness of her youthful days. Fresh links however have continued to attach her to society. She is singularly happy in the affectionate regard of a great number of amiable young persons, who may peruse with additional attention, sentiments which come recommended to them by the warmth of their own attachment, more than by any claim of merit in the writer. Is there not something in personal knowledge, something in the feelings of endeared acquaintance, which by that hidden association, whence so much of our undetined pleasure is derived, if it does not impart new force to old truths, may excite a new interest in considering truths which are known? Her concern for these engaging persons er tends beyond the transient period of present intercourse. It would shed a ray of brightness on her parting hour, if she could hope that any caution here beld out, any principle here sug. gested, any habit here recommended, might be of use to any one of them; when the hand which now guides the pen, can be no longer exerted in tbeir service. This would be remembering their friend in a way which would evince the highest affection in them, wbich would confer the truest honour on berself.
Burley Wood, March 1st, 1811.
• Dr. Johnson.