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to depart from evil;"
tions, to give none offence to the world, or to the sures; he gives in exchange the robe that would clothe Church, it were boldly and presumptuously intermed-him with beauty through eternity, that he may adorn dling with his conscience to bid him stay; let him himself with some of the short-lived decorations of only see to it, for his owa final justification, that in time. He forgets that the God with whom he has to godly sincerity he has applied these principles, and that do, estimates human spirits by their moral worth, not the love of the world's society, and of its amusements, by their intellectual capabilities; and therefore it were has not warped his judgment, and precipitated him ten thousand times better that he remained in ignorance into conclusions, and consequently into a course of of all that men of unsanctified genius ever wrote, and conduct, which his principles condemn. forfeited whatever advantage he might have derived from converse with their works, than that his spirit should catch a sympathy with theirs, and be moulded after their likeness; better, ten thousand times, that the only book in the Christian's library were, the Book of God; that his only favourite poet were, the sweet Psalmist of Israel; the histories which he most delighted to peruse, the histories of the patriarchs and prophets, his Saviour's life and dying love; better far, that the only enticing words which he could speak were, the simple expressions of divine love which the Holy Ghost had taught him; that his only knowledge were, the knowledge of Christ crucified; that the only wisdom he possessed were, "the fear of the Lord," and that his only understanding were, better far, that the mind of the Christian should remain thus simple and unadorned, than that he should gather into his intellectual cabinet the brightest and choicest jewels of literature, if he gave in exchange for them that which is of infinitely higher value-the refinements and sensibilities of the spiritual heart! How seldom Christians, in the present day, are determined in the books they read, or the studies they pursue, by such reasons, need scarcely be told. They suffer themselves to be carried along by the current, and follow where the world leads, applauding its idols, eulogising its works; deeply imbued with its spirit, they join their hosannas to those of the multitude, and build the monuments of those who would have stoned the prophets and killed them. Nor need it be told how many a spirit has become dwarfed and stinted in its Christian growth, by its too free converse with the favourite authorship of the world; how a superficial worldly religion has taken the place of a deeper spiritual discernment of the things of God; and how Christian society, that might have found its appropriate conversation in higher themes, and been animated with nobler subjects, has exhausted its resources of admiration and praise on subjects scarcely worthy of the Christian's regards. But to what extent such works may engage the time and thoughts of the Christian, must, we repeat, be a matter for his own determination. The rule inspired for his direction is before him" This is the will of God, even your sanctification."
We might shew how these three rules might be applied for the determination of various other questions regarding the Christian's conduct, and how the application of one or more of them, according to the particular case, would always prove a guard to the Christian against worldly conformity. Let one other instance suffice; and we shall select an instance in which it might be necessary to apply only one of the rules, in order to arrive at a safe and satisfactory conclusion. We shall suppose the question proposed, a question that often arises to the mind of a young Christian in the present age of letters and intellectual refinement :Ought I to indulge myself by perusing those works of taste and genius, which breathe the spirit and the sentiments of the world? In this, as in the former case, the person who proposes the question must be thrown upon himself for the answer; for while some minds, strong in their principles, might only obtain confirmation by tracing the follies and wanderings of genius uninformed by Religion, others might be silently seduced by admiration of their powers into a sympathy with their spirit. The question, therefore, must be left to every man to reply for himself; the application of the second rule will direct him to the right answer; we would not directly answer in the negative the inquiry of any one who proposed the question, "Ought I as a Christian to read such works?" We would remind such an one of the charge given to him over his own spiritual being; "this is the will of God, even your sanctification." Apply, we would say to him, this rule-let not the mere pleasures of taste, or the fascinations of genius, or the attractions of human wit or eloquence, seduce you into the perusal of works, however universally read, or high in fame in the mouths of men, if you cannot arise from their perusal without having allied yourself more closely to the spirit of the world, and alienated your heart from the life of faith, and from the world that is unseen. There are pearls in hterature, precious pearls; there are thoughts of lofty intellect and impassioned feeling; there are forms of fancy's brightest creation, and there is wit to dazzle, and eloquence to fascinate and carry captive the heart; but O, it is a question for every Christian to resolve, whether these pearls may not be too dearly bought; whether the taste may not be refined at the expense of the purity of the heart. The pearls are precious, but the water is dark and deep in which they must be sought; and surely the bauble were too highly valued, if sought for at the hazard of the life of the diver. It is over his moral and spiritual being that the Christian's guard should be set; and, worthless, nay, pernicious, and destructive of the high end of his being, is that refinement of taste, and discipline of intellect, that is obtained by the sacrifice of devotional feeling or spiritual affections. By such a sacrifice, the Christian barters heavenly for earthly trea
Comfort under Bereavements. Has death entered our habitations, and carried away one after another of the loved ones with whom we set out on the journey of life? And are we constrained to feel, that we do indeed dwell in the land of the shadow of death, as we look around on the narrowed circle, and think how link after link has been broken off the chain, which has long bound our affections, perhaps to closely to earth?
Shall we not lift up our hearts in thankfulness to God, even for this trial, if the links thus broken off the chain of earthly affections, have been added to the chain of Divine love, by which God is drawing up our hearts to himself and heaven ?-WHITE.
LINES BY JAMES GLASSFORD, Esq., Author of "Lyrical Translations from the Italian Poets." "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works."-JOHN x. 37, 38. "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father."-JOHN xv. 24.
BEHOLD the pity of the Lord,
His grace and condescending love;
The legal Pharisee and Scribe,
If faith be weak and doubts increased;
That signs and miracles have ceased.
Both in his works and in his word.
To know and feel his power is thine:
Is there no mental sight restored?
No tongue to sing his praise unloosed?
When was the prayer of faith refused?
Has ceased to curse, and learned to pray?
And peace returned into his breast?
And went and washed, and now is whole?
Whom sins and trespasses enthralled,
The hardened heart and stubborn will;
Would, if on earth, reject him still.
Best mode of Mortifying Sin.—“ Five persons," says Mr Brooks, "were studying what were the best means to mortify sin: one said, to meditate on death; the second, on judgment; the third, on the joys of heaven; the fourth, on the torments of hell; the fifth, on the blood and sufferings of Jesus Christ; and certainly the last is the choicest and strongest motive of all.
Youthful Instruction. It is related of Ben Syra, that, when a child, he begged his preceptor to instruct him in the law of God; but he declined, saying that he was as yet too young to be taught these sacred mysteries. But, master," said the boy, "I have been in the burial ground, and measured the graves, and find some of them shorter than myself; now, if I should die before I have learned the Word of God, what will become of me then?" Grace teaches us, in
the midst of life's greatest comforts, to be willing to die, and in the midst of its greatest crosses, to be willing to live. The churchyard is that market-place where the things of this world are duly rated.
An English Soldier.-An English deserter, who had turned a deaf ear to the solicitations of his friends in Yorkshire, was led by the good providence of God to hear Dr Vanderkemp, in Caffraria, whose ministry brought to mind the text quoted by a Christian minister in England,-" Ye must be born again." He went and conversed with the doctor, and the result was pleasing in the highest degree. He became a man of prayer, forsook his dissolute companions, and gave How wonderful satisfactory proof of his conversion. was the goodness of God, in sending the bread of life to this poor man in the deserts, which he had rejected in his native country!
Bishop Hildesley.-On Saturday, the 28th of November, 1772, Dr Hildesley, bishop of Sodor and Man, was favoured with the inexpressible happiness of receiving the last part of the translation of the Bible into the Manks language, so long and so greatly the object of his ardent prayers: upon which occasion, according to his own repeated promise, he very emphatically sung, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace!" Luke ii. 29, in the presence of his congratulating family. The next day, which was Advent Sunday, he officiated in his own chapel, and preached on the uncertainty of human life; urging, with much energy, the duty of being ready to meet our summons hence, and standing In the evening he again before the great tribunal. called his family together, and resumed the subject, in a manner which drew tears from every eye. Thus, "in something like prophetic strain," did this good man appear to anticipate his own death, and prepare others for it; for, on the following day, while cheerfully conversing with his family and a neighbouring clergyman, he was seized with a stroke of apoplexy, which deprived him, in a moment, of intellectual powers; and on that day week he left our world, in the forty-seventh year of his age.
A Hint to Interpreters of the Bible.-Rica, having been to visit the library of a French convent, writes thus to his friend in Persia, concerning what had passed:
"Father," said I to the librarian, "what are these huge volumes which fill the whole side of the library ?" "These," said he, "are the interpreters of the Scriptures. "There is a prodigious number of them," replied I; "the Scriptures must have been very dark formerly, and very clear at present. Do there remain still any "Are doubts? are there now any points contested?" "there are. There there!" answered he with surprise, are almost as many as there are lines." "You astonish me," said I; "what then have all these authors been doing?" "These authors," returned he," never searched the Scriptures for what ought to be believed, but for what they did believe themselves. They did not consider them as a book wherein were contained the doctrines which they ought to receive, but as a work which might be made to authorize their own ideas."
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"THE FEAR OF the lord, THAT IS WISDOM."
VOL. I. No. 12.
SATURDAY, MAY 21, 1836.
ON THE DUTY OF PRAYER.
One of the Ministers of the Old Greyfriars' Parish,
and remind us of the long dark night of death, when our bed will be the grave, it surely becomes us to offer the tribute of our gratitude and praise to the bounteous Author of all our blessings-to implore his forgiveness of the sins which we have committed to beseech him to sanctify and bless the hours of our repose, and to commit ourselves into his hands, that whether we awake in time or in eternity, we may awake to the light of his countenance. The duty of prayer to God being adwe should " acknowledge his loving-kindness every morning, and his faithfulness every night."
In every country, and under every form of religious belief, prayer has constituted a principal part of worship. It may, therefore, be concluded, that this is a duty which nature itself prompts us to discharge. From our earliest years we have observed the propriety and advantage of pre-mitted, the least that can be required of us is, that senting our requests to earthly superiors; and impressed as we must be with a sense of our need, and of our entire dependence upon God, we may naturally infer, that it is our duty and our interest to let our requests be made known to our Father in heaven. The dictate of nature is, in this instance, abundantly confirmed by the Word of God. One of the titles by which the Most High is known to us, is, the "Hearer of prayer;" and the injunctions to pray, the promises annexed to the fulfilment of this duty, and the instances recorded of the efficacy of prayer, are too numerous and too well known to render it necessary for us to make a more particular reference to them.
The admission that prayer is a duty, implies that there are certain times or seasons when it should be performed. Under the law, it was required that the morning and evening sacrifice and prayer should be regularly offered. And nature itself seems to point out these as appropriate seasons for prayer. In the morning when we awake to consciousness, and seem to obtain a renewal of life, it becomes us to render thanks unto Him, whose sleepless eye has been upon us during the silent watches of the night, and whose upholding hand has preserved us when we lay in helpless unconsciousness; and being ignorant of the events which may befal us during the day-the scenes in which we may be called to act a part-the snares that may be set for us-the trials that may await -the duties that we may be required to discharge-it becomes us to seek the supply of all our wants, and the protection, and guidance, and grace of Him, who is the Father of mercies, and the supreme disposer of all events. And when the shades of evening closing in, summon us to rest,
It is in the power of all, however they may be situated, to draw near to God in the exercise of prayer at the seasons we have mentioned. When circumstances will admit, however, it seems desirable that there should be additional periods set apart for stated and regular prayer. We are told that Daniel prayed three times a-day. "Evening, and morning, and at noon," says David, "will I pray, and cry aloud.” And in another Psalm he says, seven times a-day do I praise thee, because of thy righteous judgments." When our circumstances, therefore, will permit of it, we may, with profit, appropriate certain portions of every day, or if this cannot be done, certain portions of particular days, to holy communion with God, supplicating the blessings that are needful for ourselves and others. Besides these stated and periodical seasons of prayer, there are occasions when we are required to be more frequent and earnest at a throne of grace: when any unusual event befals us when we are blessed with remarkable prosperity-when we are exposed to severe trials-when an important and difficult duty has to be performed-when our iniquities have been prevailing against us, and the life of God is languishing in the soul-when we have the near prospect of observing, or when we have recently observed, some solemn religious ordinance-on these, and on similar occasions, it becomes us to engage in more frequent, and importunate, and prolonged supplications. There are some, we are aware, who are disposed to regard such frequency and fervency in prayer with suspicion, if not with aversion, as if it were indicative of a weak understanding, or an excited imagination, or a diseased
conscience. They look upon such earnest and repeated supplications as manifesting a want of reverence, or a want of faith. They remind us of the short and simple, but sublime form which was prescribed by our Lord; all repetitions they think are vain, and they say that we shall not be heard for our much speaking. It must be obvious, however, to every one who will consult it, that the words of our Lord in the passage referred to are inapplicable to the cases which we are considering. Besides, we know that our Saviour spent whole nights in prayer. In the garden, he offered the same prayer three several times, and we are told that then he prayed more earnestly. When we consider, therefore, the example of our Lord himself -when we consider the natural effect of honest and ardent desire upon the frequency and fervour of our prayers-and when we think of the encouragement held out to us in Scripture, to pray always and not to faint to ask, to seek, to knock-to watch unto prayer with all perseverance, it cannot be believed that importunate and prolonged prayer is to be condemned as a sin, or pitied as a weakness. On the contrary, if, when we are unusually tried, or when our soul has relapsed into a state of worldliness and sin, we are not stirred up to more earnest and persevering supplication, then we evince an indifference to our spiritual welfare, which is itself a sin, and which will soon manifest itself to be the source or root of many sins.
There are other seasons friendly to prayer which the pious mind will gladly embrace. The retirement of the closet-the day of sacred rest-the solitary walk-the sleepless night-these are seasons peculiarly appropriate to prayer, and these presenting themselves frequently, afford us many opportunities of drawing near to God.
But it is not enough to observe the stated and occasional seasons of prayer to which we have referred. We are commanded to "pray without ceasing; " and there are similar injunctions in other parts of the Word of God. Our Lord spoke a parable to this end, "that men ought always to pray and not to faint." "Watch, therefore," said he, at another time, "and pray always that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." We are commanded by the apostle to continue instant in prayer," "to pray always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, and to watch thereunto with all perseverance;" to "continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;" and again, not to multiply quotations, we are commanded to "be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication to let our requests be made known unto God." From these passages it appears habitual prayerfulness of mind is required of us. It is necessary, not only, that we should scrupulously and regularly observe certain stated seasons for prayer, and that occasionally, and as our circumstances require, we should be more frequent and earnest at a Throne of Grace, but we must also maintain habitually the temper and spirit of
prayer. Not that this duty is to take the place of all other duties. We are not to abandon the world and retire to the seclusion of a cloister, in order to fulfil the commands which we have now quoted. It is, in fact, one great end of prayer to enable us to fulfil all duties, and to glorify God in the sphere which has been assigned to us. On the other hand, the discharge of other duties must not supersede, or interfere with the discharge of this duty. Whatever may be the nature of our worldly calling, however lawful, and however laborious may be the exertions which it requires of us, and whatever be the cares and anxieties which it naturally costs us, we are not to be considered as exempted from yielding obedience to the requirement, that we should pray always, and not faint. It is not necessary, it is not possible, it is not desirable, that we should be always engaged in actual prayer; but we must have such an abiding sense of our dependence upon God-such a constant reference to him as the Father of Mercies, and the Ruler of the universe, and such a habitual application to him, and such a continual waiting upon him for mercy to pardon, for wisdom to direct, and for grace to help us, that it will be impossible to characterise us otherwise than by saying, that we pray without ceasing. if at every moment we are dependent upon the bounty of God-if every blessing we enjoy cometh down from him-if prayer is an appointed means for obtaining the blessings that we need-if it is not sufficient to sum up all our supplications in one brief and comprehensive petition-if it becomes us to pray for specific and individual blessings, and if there is not an hour of our lives when some particular mercies are not especially required, then it is obvious that no limits should be set to the frequency of our supplications. If it becomes us to receive every blessing as from our heavenly Father's hand, seeing that we are indebted for them to him, then it is fit that we should wait upon him, in the attitude of humble and helpless supplicants for them all. It is in this way, and not simply by stated and occasional prayers, that a sense of our dependence will be most effectually maintained, and the riches of God's unwearied benevolence, and the minuteness and tenderness of his paternal care will be most fully appreciated. It is in this way, therefore, that we will be best enabled to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts, and to render to him the honour which is due unto his name. The feelings of reverence, and gratitude, and love, and humility, and confident hope, which are called into exercise during the prescribed and periodical seasons of prayer, will thus be maintained throughout life, and the homage which we pay to him will be a perpetual incense. incense. It might also be shewn that prayer is indeed the breath of the Christian's life, and that in order to our continuance and advancement therein, it is essential for us to pray without ceasing.
It may be objected, however, that the maintenance of such a prayerful frame as the Scriptures inculcate,
will operate injuriously as a constraint upon the mind. It would be a sufficient answer to this objection to observe, that unremitting prayer is enjoined by God, and is essential to our own spiritual welfare. In reality, however, the objection has no foundation in truth. We deny not, that to the ungodly man, habitual prayer would be a constraint, but it is our duty "whatsoever we do to do all to the glory of God;" and if it is our permanent and prevailing desire to glorify God in all that we do, then there is nothing that will more easily and naturally fall in with the general tenor of our thoughts, or contribute more to preserve them in a right direction, than a spirit of sustained prayerfulness. On this subject we might refer to the experience of the people of God; and the testimony they would bear is this, that prayer has often been the means of delivering their minds from constraint, and that never have their thoughts been more clear, and their minds more active and more under command, than when they were in the most devotional frame. It may be objected by others, that the duty of habitual prayerfulness is impracticable. To perform this duty perfectly may indeed be impracticable while we remain upon earth, but the same objection may be urged in reference to every duty. The mere hopelessness, then, of rendering a faultless obedience to this command, is no reason for refusing to aim at the highest attainable perfection; besides, it is believed that habitual prayerfulness is much less impracticable than is sometimes supposed. The mind is unspeakably active, our thoughts succeed each other with incredible rapidity, and the mechanic in his workshop, and the merchant amidst the hurry of the crowded and busy market-place, may lift up their hearts in secret prayer,-and even the student, without sensibly interrupting his train of thought, may ask the guidance of the Spirit of God. And further, when we consider, how many foolish, and useless, and sinful thoughts are entertained by us daily, and which might well be dispensed with, it must be acknowledged, that without being hindered in the discharge of any other duty, abundant scope and opportunity are afforded to us to pray without ceasing.
The blessings bestowed directly in answer to our prayers, and their importance to our spiritual welfare, will not be known until "the day shall reveal it." They will, in some degree, indeed be manifest in this world, in our victory over sin, in our growing likeness to Christ, in our inward peace and joy. And of this every believer may rest assured, that none of his prayers, however short, or however imperfect, are unheard or unheeded in heaven. Besides, how many, and how important are the indirect advantages which would result from the maintenance of a devotional spirit. If we were to pray without ceasing, what a change would be wrought upon our heart and life! How many vain and frivolous thoughts would be expelled from the mind! How many desires would be crucified, which now are entertained! How many
unguarded words would be repressed before they had obtained an utterance! What an improvement of our time would be made,-what activity and diligence in the discharge of every duty would be exhibited,-with what patience and meek resignation would we submit to every trial,-what nearness to God would be enjoyed,-what fortitude would a sense of his presence inspire,-what an unspeakable happiness would be imparted to the soul! Sin would become exceeding sinful in our eyes, we would grow in a sense of the preciousness of Christ; an elevation of mind would uniformly characterize us, an aspect of sacredness would be imparted to every action which we perform, and God would be all in all.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF THE REV. HENRY MARTYN, B. D. IN our last number, we called the attention of our readers to the brief but interesting career of a faithful messenger of the Lord Jesus, and in doing so, we felt ourselves irresistibly reminded of one who, kindred in name as in spirit, was honoured to be a successful labourer in the Lord's vineyard, not amid the comforts and encouragements of home, but under the unhealthy climate, and amid the darkness and superstition of Eastern countries. If, in the general characteristics of their minds, there was a considerable resemblance between the late pastor of St George's Parish, and the distinguished individual whose life we are about to sketch, in the events of their history they differed widely-so widely, as to present a sufficient variety of incident, amid the obvious similarity in point of disposition and feeling.
Henry Martyn was born at Truro, in the county of Cornwall, on the 18th of February 1781. His father had originally followed the humble occupation of a miner, but by diligent attention to the acquisition of knowledge, he rose from a state of poverty and depression to one of comparative ease and comfort, having been admitted as chief clerk to a merchant in Truro.
Henry's education was commenced at the grammar school of the town, and his progress appears to have been satisfactory both to his master and his parents. His dispositions at this early period of his life are represented to have been of a very amiable cast, tender and affectionate, mild and pliant.
After having remained at school till he was between fourteen and fifteen years of age, he was induced to become a candidate for a vacant scholarship at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. In the competition, however, he was unsuccessful, and in after life he adverted to his disappointment as having originated in the wise arrangements of his heavenly Father, who had thereby altered the whole aspect of his future history. After this repulse, Henry returned home, and continued at school some time longer. At length he entered St John's College, Cambridge, where he studied with the utmost ardour and perseverance. Providentially for his spiritual improvement, he had the privilege of the conversation and company of a religious friend at College, besides enjoying the tender counsels and admonitions of a sister in Cornwall, who was a Christian of a meek, heavenly, and affectionate spirit. To the latter, particularly, he was indebted for much instruction in that knowledge which alone, by the blessing of the Spirit, "maketh wise unto salvation." In speaking of her frequent conversations with him on spiritual matters, he thus expresses himself:-"I went home this sum mer, and was frequently addressed by my dear sister on the subject of religion; but the sound of the Gos