« السابقةمتابعة »
tionate? We know the contrary. We know that the more a man indulges any evil propensity, the more he falls under its sway, and the worse he becomes. If he indulges his vanity and selfishhe is sure to become vainer and more selfish. Nor is it too much to say, that every action of seeming goodness, which does not flow from a sincere and honest heart, is so far from helping to make a man better, that it tends directly to make him still more the child of the devil and the slave of sin than he was before.
Be not deceived then, my brethren, by the idle talk, which the ungodly are wont to set up, that goodness, which from such lips means the mere outward show of what the world deems to be good, is better than religion; and that the only thing of importance is to teach children to do right, without caring about bringing them up in the fear and love of God. That goodness is better than religion, I will believe, when any man has convinced me that the rind of an orange is better than the whole orange. That teaching children to be honest, sober, and industrious, is better than bringing them up in Christian holiness, I will not believe, until I have seen it proved that it is better to sow bread than to sow wheat. Make the bread; and take care that your children make the bread. Be careful
that you yourselves keep, be careful to make them keep, every wholesome rule for the conduct of life: teach them to walk in all the ordinances of the moral law blameless: teach them to do their duty, regularly, faithfully, exactly. Set them the example of industry, of sobriety, of honesty; and do your best to lead them to follow it. But sow the wheat, as you value your own souls, and theirs. Lose no opportunity, from the cradle upward, of teaching them to fear and to love God. Speak to them of God, of his power, of his purity, of his fatherly goodness: speak to them of Christ, and of his exceeding love in dying for us sinners: speak to them of the Holy Ghost, and bid them pray to him for comfort and help. Do this; and God, you may trust, will do the rest. He will take charge of the seed which you have dutifully sown. He will send down the dew of his Spirit upon it. The seed will grow up and prosper, and will blossom to everlasting life.
PRAY WITH THE SPIRIT.
1 COR. xiv. 15.
I will pray with the spirit; and I will pray with the understanding also.
AMONG the evil customs which had crept into the Church of Corinth, one was that some of the teachers, or ministers, were wont to disturb the congregation by preaching and praying to them in a foreign language, which most of them could not understand; thus misemploying and abusing their gifts, for the sake of making their hearers stare, and of feeding their own vanity. The folly and mischief of such a practice is plain enough. What would you think of me, if I had been reading prayers to you in Latin this morning, or were to begin preaching to you in French? What could
you be the better for the prayers? or what the wiser for the sermon? Now this is just what St Paul is reproving in the chapter from which the text is taken. He sets forth the uselessness of speaking to a congregation in a language they are ignorant of. If any man pray, he says, in an unknown or foreign tongue, his spirit indeed prayeth, but his understanding is unfruitful: that is to say, his soul, or spirit may pray; but his meaning will be hidden from his hearers; and his words, not being understood by them, will yield them no fruit. Then comes the text. "What is it then?" or, what ought we to do then? “I will
pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also." In other words, when we assemble together for the worship of God, the ministers are not to pray with the spirit, or soul only, for their own edification and improvement; but every minister ought so to pray, that the people may understand him, and that even the most unlearned, knowing what is asked for, may be able, as we read in the next verse, to say amen from the heart, at the end of each petition.
This is the strict and primary meaning of the text, the meaning which, if we consider the circumstances of the case, St Paul had chiefly in view, when he wrote this part of his epistle.
His purpose was to reprove and
correct the extravagant conceit of the prayerutterers, whose vanity led them to pray before the people in a language nobody could understand. Since those times however things are changed, and in this respect happily for the better. No one can now get up in one of our churches, and disturb the congregation by praying in an unknown
or foreign tongue. We have a form of sound words given us in the Prayerbook, which every minister of the Church of England is bound to keep to, and which every minister does keep to from one end of the kingdom to the other. Go where you will, into whatever church you will, in London, in any country town, in any village, in the most out-of-the-way hamlet, you will everywhere hear the same morning service in the morning, the same evening service in the evening: you will hear the same Psalms, the same Lessons, the same thanksgivings, the same prayers. In the furthest corners of England, in Wales, in Ireland, nay, even in the East and West Indies, wherever the brethren of our Church meet together to worship God, you would hear the same wise and sober and hearty and pious and truly Christian praises and petitions, which you have been used to in this place from your childhood.
What shall we say then? Shall we flatter ourselves that the command in the text,-for such we