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moment, by minding what speech is. It is not the mere power of making sounds and noises: most of the animals that we call dumb can do this. Speech is the power, not of making ourselves heard merely, but of making ourselves understood. It is the power of telling each other what we think and feel, the utterance of one understanding to another understanding. Unless speech does this, unless it expresses either thoughts or feelings, it misses its proper mark, and becomes unmeaning gabble, no better than the blustering of the wind. Yet how many, when they pray, that is, when they speak to God,-for prayer is nothing else than speaking earnestly to God about the things we need and wish for,-how inany, when they come to church, send their thoughts and feelings wandering after other matters, and behave as if they fancied the sound of the words and the motion of the lips would be enough! Is this praying? It is not even speaking. For speaking requires thought; yet these people give no thought to what they say. It is merely repeating a string of sounds, which will draw down any thing but a blessing.
Here we have two reasons for praying with the understanding: first, because it is the best and choicest of our possessions, so that we are bound in duty and gratitude to devote the firstfruits
and the fatness of it to God's service: that is, we are to use it fully and vigorously in our prayers both at home and in church. The second reason for praying with the understanding is, that we cannot even speak, much less pray, to any purpose without it. Yet, plain as this must be, even to the simplest mind,-clear as it must be to every one that, before a man can pray effectually, he must understand what he is praying for,-it is a sad but certain truth, that for hundreds of years, while the Pope and the Church of Rome bore sway in England, the public prayers in the churches were offered up, not in English, the language of the people, but in Latin, which to almost the whole of the congregation was an unknown tongue. In those days the prayerbook was in Latin, the Scriptures were in Latin. Few English Bibles or New Testaments were to be seen; and those few were in the hands of the clergy or of the rich. The art of printing, which has so multiplied the copies of the Book of Life, was either not discovered, or in its infancy. From all these causes acting together, the light of the Gospel was in great measure shut out from the land; and the body of the people, instead of living under the midday brightness of truth, sat in a sort of superstitious twilight.
This evil state of things, God be praised, has
long since past away: nor is there any likelihood of its returning. Why then do I speak of it? To shew you how good God has been to this favoured land, in calling it out of its former darkness into light; and to set before you the benefits we have received, that you may learn to prize them accordingly. For only try to fancy what your feelings would be, were you to be carried back to the times I have been speaking of, when the yoke of Rome was upon this country, and when the service was performed in an unknown tongue. Fancy yourselves coming to church, and, instead of the prayers I have just been reading to you, which you can all follow and join in, fancy yourselves hearing nothing but a long service, partly sung and partly muttered, in a language you could not understand. It is easy to guess what your feelings would be. You would say, "Let me have an English Prayerbook, that I may know what the priest is doing and saying." The answer would be, "There are no English Prayerbooks." "Well then, (you would go on,) let me at any rate have an English Bible, to read to myself at home, since I cannot learn anything from the service at church." The answer would be again, "There is no English Bible for you: the Pope has forbidden your reading it." Ask yourselves what your feelings would be, were you carried back by some miracle,
and placed in such an evil state of things. How would you long for an English New Testament and Prayerbook! You would long for them as a sailor on shipboard longs for green fields; as a sick man, tossing on a bed of pain, longs for a little fresh air and warm sunshine, and for the power of getting up and enjoying them. Thus sadly and deeply would you miss the religious privileges you enjoy, were they to be taken away from you. Yet, though there is no man who would not repine and complain bitterly, if God were to take these blessings from him, there are numbers who make little or no use either of their New Testament or Prayerbook, and so to all intents and purposes do the work of the Romish clergy, and lock up these good gifts from themselves. For, as money lying in a man's chest can do him no good, and he might just as well be poor, so a thoughtless inattentive Christian of the present day might just as well have been born under the darkness of our forefathers: since his New Testament and Prayerbook cannot profit him, so long as he does not use them; nor can the service, though it is read in English, profit him, if he does not exert his understanding and attend to it.
The practical lesson I would have you draw from what has been said, is this. God has showered down his spiritual blessings upon you, and has
placed you amid opportunities for learning his will greater almost than are enjoyed by any other nation. You are not stinted in the means for becoming holy and godly. Churches, services, sacraments, Bible, Prayerbook . an Englishman in a country village has them all; or it is his own fault if he has not. Sunday after Sunday, from the reading-desk and the pulpit, you may all hear in your own tongue the wonderful works of God. God of his free bounty has done all this for you. He might have cast your lots, as he has that of so many others, among the benighted heathens, among the poor negroes, among the most ignorant and wretched of mankind. Instead of this, he has cast your lot here, in a protestant and a free land, amid an overflowing abundance of all the outward means of grace and knowledge. God, I say, has done all this for you: what ought you then to do for him in return? You ought to bless him from the bottom of your hearts for giving you all these means of becoming wise unto salvation; and you ought to shew your sense of his goodness by prizing those means, and by making a right use of them. If you do not use and apply them for the purposes for which God intends them,-if you do not learn by their help to love his holy law and to keep it, the means, so far as you are concerned, are thrown away and you will be in the unhappy