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the sweet incense of fervent prayer should not rise from it to God the Father. Rather will such a man always be offering, not the offering of his lips indeed, but the far more precious one of his heart. His thoughts, his feelings, his hopes, his wishes will at all times look and soar heavenward: as the excellent Bishop Taylor has beautifully exprest it, his whole life will be one continual prayer.
PRAY WITH THE UNDERSTANDING.
1 Cor. xiv. 15.
I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also.
Or praying with the spirit I have spoken to you already. But this, with all its importance, is not enough: we must pray with the understanding also. The reason is clear. We are God's property. Whatever we may possess,—be it the powers of our bodies, or the faculties of our minds, or the feelings of our hearts,-all were made by him. Therefore of right they all belong to him; and we only hold them under him, as tenants at will. Now it is the duty of tenants to pay rent: and rent accordingly does God demand of us. But what sort of rent? Rent in kind; a portion, yes,
and the best portion of every improvable faculty he has entrusted to us. When God gave the promised land to the Jews, he reserved the firstfruits for himself. The firstfruits of their wine and oil were to be set apart; so were the firstlings of their flocks and herds; and so was the fat of all the beasts that they killed. These things were a sort of reserved rent, which God kept for himself, out of the abundance of the good things wherewith he enriched his people: and they were to be employed as he appointed in his law, partly in sacrifice, partly in the support of his ministers. Now we are God's heavenly people, just as the Jews were his earthly people. As they were bound to set apart a choice portion of all the produce of their land for him, who was their earthly king, so ought we to offer and dedicate to our heavenly king a like portion of all the produce of our souls.
Were the Jews to pay God firstfruits? So should we. Listen to this, ye young; for this more particularly concerns you. You have still all your firstfruits before you. You, and you alone, still have that most precious of all firstfruits, the firstfruits of your lives. Offer them to God, by giving yourselves up to him, soul and body, while you are yet young. Believe me, who am somewhat older; or else ask the oldest man amongst
early life, he
us, and, if he was not religious in will tell you he is sorry for it now if he was, he will bid you, in the words of the Psalmist, (xxxvii. 38,)"Keep innocency, and take heed to the thing that is right; for that brings a man peace at the last." Offer the firstfruits of your lives to God; and he will greatly increase your strength: he will enable you to withstand temptation, and will make you men, in St Paul's sense of the word, even men after the pattern of Jesus Christ himself.
offer the firstlings of
You, parents, should
Again, were the Jews to their flocks? So should we. offer him, and rear up for his service, those children who have been made lambs of Christ's flock by their baptism. You should begin from the very first, you cannot begin too early,-to train them up by your teaching and example to be a holy generation to the Lord. For think of the trust which God puts into your hands, when he gives you children. Think what a child is; that it is an unfledged angel, who has fallen to earth from a great height, just as a young bird sometimes falls out of its nest, and breaks its wings: thus our wings also, my brethren, thus the child's wings are broken by the fall; and God sends the young creature to us, to rear it and do our best to cure it, and so to train it up for finding its way back to heaven.
Lastly, were the Jews to set apart the fat of
every animal, and to offer it in sacrifice to God? This should teach us to set apart a goodly portion, the fat, as it were, of all our faculties, to be employed in the Christian sacrifice of prayer. Such is the rent we are to pay to God for the many blessings he has bestowed on us: out of every one of them we are to give him back that which is choicest and best.
Thus much, I trust, is clear. If so, the duty of praying with the understanding will not need many words. For of all the powers and faculties that God has given us in trust, the chief is the reason or understanding. It is this that distinguishes us from the brute animals. It is this that raises us to be only a little lower than the angels, and that fits us to be candidates for heaven. Therefore being our chief gift, we are in duty bound to employ it in the service of God.
Some of you will perhaps tell me, that it is not our understanding, but our speech, that distinguishes us from the brute animals, and will remind me that for this reason they are so often called the dumb creatures, to mark the difference between them and us. It is true, they are so called, and very justly: for speech is one of the main advantages which we enjoy over the beasts of the field. But it is not our only advantage over them ; nor is it the chief. You will see this in a