« ForrigeFortsæt »
To the Editor, I save with pleasure observed in your Miscellany, at different times, various judicious and useful remarks on the subject of Preaching, well worthy the attention of the gospel ministers in general, and especially of our young divines. But there is ano. ther subject of equal moment, which I fear is less considered, and that is public prayer. As I do not recollect secing any thing in your Magazine on this subject which fully answered my wishes, will you give me leave to offer the following hints to your readers, which are the effect of much observation, and of a real concern for the honour of religion and the edification of Christian. worshipcrs.
Prayer must be considered as a most important part of public worship; and, cloubtless, much depends on the manner in which it is performed. Though Í do by no means condemn the use of the liturgy as unlawful, I consider extemporary prayer, when properly conducted, as having some peculiar advantages, and the best support from scripture. But I am sorry to say, buat many ministers, whom I have occasionally attended, are so defective in performing this part of public service, as greatly to obstruct the edification of the worshippers, at least of the more judicious part of thein; and some conduct it in such a manner, as tends to bring extemporary prayer into contempt. I hope, Sir, that I shall not be thought inividious, if I freely mention some of the defects and improprieties which I have heard others remark, and which I have too often observed myself.
Some ministers have so little variety, that their prayers are, in reality, forms, though not precomposed. The same sentiments perpetually occur, in nearly the same language and order. * Others, who have a greater variety of sentiment and expression, run into the opposite extreme, and, from an aversion to any thing Jike forms, bring out whatever comes uppermost, and sometimes, with the appearance of too great familiarity and irreverence, such as they would scarcely use in addressing any earthly superior, unmindful of such scripture admonitions as Mal. i. 8. Eccles.
* We have received several sensible papers on this subject :- from one of them 'wc insert a few words on this head :
Cupiousness and ease in prayer, are no less engaging than variety in preaching; but when you can anticipate almost every sentence in a prayer of fifteen or twenty minutes long, and that too, fifty times in a year, it has ca tendency greatly to appal the cnergies of the inind in this devotional part of worship: It is remarkable ibat the persons who fall into this practice, are generally possessed of good preaching gifts; 'but is it not strange that they who can expatiate with fluency and propriety on any subject in a sermon, should, from the neglect of previous thvughts, constantly, confine themselres in a set of phrases in prayer !"
v. 1, 2. Mat. vi. 7. Even some learned and able preachers, who stndy their sermons with care, scem as if they thought any thing good enough for prayer; and sometimes utter such expressions as, if committed to writing, they would be ashamed to see, and could hardly believe to be their own.
Some, who have not a rcady conception, or fluency of expression, often hesitate in such a manner, as to give their hearers pain ; while, on the other hand, those of a fertile imagination, and great volubility of speech, are apt to speak with such rapidity, and to make their sentences so long and intricate, that it is almost impossible to join with them.
One very common impropriety, which I have observed in extemporary prayer, respects Method. While some offend by being too systematically, and pursuing a train of thought, or a series of particulars, as if they were preaching, others have no method at all ; in consequence of which, they deal much in tantology and vain repetitions, as well as bring in many petitions quite out of place: for instance, - When the general prayer is nearly ended, they go back, and implore the divine assistance in the worship, as if it were but just begun. Indeed, I have often noticed the repetition of requests in the same prayer for divine assistance and manifestations to be so frequent, as if they were introduced merely to supply the want of words and ideas, for which the speaker was at a loss!
In this connection, I must mention another great and common impropriety, which is this : Many ministers whom I have attended, baye scemed forgetful of the nature and design of social worship, so as to fail of introducing those acts of adoration, confession, supplication, and thanksgiving, which constitute the principal parts of prayer, proper at all times, and suited to the circumstances of worshippers in general; and, instead of those, have contined their requests almost entirely to the present time and occasion of assembling together; and sometimes I have heard importunate petitions offered for such effocts to be immediately produced, as could scarcely be expected without a miraculous interposition, at least, such as are not agreeable to the ordinary method of the dir yine operation. I do not wonder that pious and sensible churchmen slionld be disgusted with such prayers, and give the preterence to their own liturgy.
If the mention of these defects and improprieties should induce any to guard against them, and to cultivate the gift, as well as the grace of prayer, my principal end will be answered. But I have a further wish, viz. That what'I have remarked may excito some judicious ministers, who see the justice of it, to communicate some hints of advice which may be useful to his brethren, and to young ministers and students in particular, by which they may be stirred up to excel in this gift, to the edifying of the church. I remain, Sir, most cordially yours,
A FRIENDLY MONITOR.
RELIGIOUS PASSENGERS ACCOMMODATED.
To the Editor. It afforded me considerable pleasure to see upon the cover of your Magazine for the present month, an advertisinent, announcing the establishment of a packet, to sail weekly, between Lon.lon and Margate during the season; which appears to have been set on foot, for the accommodation of religious characters; and in which, “no profane conversation is to be allowed.”
To those among the followers of a crucified Redeemer, wbo are in the habit of visiting the Isle of Thanet in the summer, and who, for the sea air, or from other considerations, prefer travelling by water, such a conveyance must certainly be a desideratum, especially if they have experienced a mortification similar to that of the writer in the course of the last summer, when shut up in a cabin with a mixed multitude, who spake almost all languages but that of Canaan. Totally unconnected with the concern, and personally a stranger to the worthy owner, I take the liberty of recommending this vessel to the notice of my fellow-Christians; persuaded that they will think themselves bound to patronize and encourage an undertaking that has the honour of the dear Redeemer for its professed object. It ought ever to be remembered, that every talent we possess, whether large or small, is given us in trust to be laid out for God ;- and I have often thought that Christians act inconsistently with their high profession when they omit, even in their most common and trivial expenditures, to give a decided preference to the friends of their Lord. I do not, however, antici. pate any such ground of complaint in this instance; but rather believe, that the religious world in general will cheerfully unite with me, while 1 most cordially wish success to the Princess of Wales Yacht, and pray that she may ever sail under the divine protection and blessing! - that the humble followers of Him who spoke the storm into a calm, when crossing the lake of Gennesareth, may often feel their hearts glowing with sacred ardour, while in her cabins they enjoy sweet communion with their Lord, and with each other; - and that strangers, who may be providentially brought among them, may see so much of the beauty and excellency of the Religión of Jesus exemplified in their conduct and conversation, that they may be constrained to say, “ We will go with you, for we perceive that God is with you."-"Your God shall be our God, and his people shall henceforth be our chosen com pan ons and associates.
1 an, Mr. Editor, Your obliged friend and sister in the gospel, Sandwich
In reply to the enquiry relative to Usury, in your Magazine for February last, the writer is recommended to consult the marginal references ; by which he will find that it was lawful for the Jews, under the Mosaic dispensation, to lend money to strangers upon usury; 'but they were not allowed to do so to their brethren the Israelites; at least, if they were poor (see Exodus xxii. 25, Deut. xxiii. 20. Levit. xxv. 35, 36, 37.): and it is evident that Ezekiel alludes to this law, chap. xviii. 8.
Now it is generally admitted, that the Usury here mentioned, was an unreasonable charge for money lent, and it is remarkable that the Jews, to the present day, are guilty of this crime; as it is well known they will advance money for the sake of uşury in hazardous cases, where others would not venture: such is their love of gain. It therefore cannot be supposed to refer to what we call lawful interest; for if it did, a man might as well let his house witbout rent as his money without some benefit * ; besides, it is evident that, in our Lord's time, interest was a common thing f; or He would not have introduced it in the relation of the unprofitable servant, who was charged with injustice for not puiting his Lord's money into the bank, that at his return he might have received his own with usury.
I have, therefore, no doubt that receiving interest for money lent, as by law established among us, is consistent with the word of God; and it would be a happy circumstance if, in our day, this simple mode of receiving interest was attended to, both hy the community at large and the professors of Jesus Christ in particular; but what are we to think of those who exact usury and unjust gain? This is done in various ways : for instance, if a tradesman solicits payment a short time before the expiration of the credit he gives, and the debtor requires an unreason'ble discount or allowance for the time, knowing the creditor cannot do without immediate payment, surely, this is usury in the worst sense. Many other ways might be mentioned, but this may suffice.
Such characters we refer to Prov. xxiii. 8. J. W.
* See Buck's Theological Dictionary, under this article.
ANSWER TO A QUERY
To the Editor. Permit me to suggest a few thoughts for the serious consideration of a Quierist, who, in a former Number of your Magazitie, subscribes himself A Seeker after Salvation.” His Query,
to which I here allude, is thus stated : - 66 What are the duties incumbent on man, in a natural state, in order to acquire an er. perimental knowledge of the gospel of salvation." An experimental knowledge of the gospel is certainly an object of the highest importance; and he is the wisest and happiest man who has attainel, through divine grace, the clearest perceptions of that way of salvation, from which the gospel derives all its importance and glory. The proposer of the above Query seems to be fully satisficul as to the latter of these points. - He confesses the necessity of experimentally knowing the gospel of salvation; but he assomes, that this infinite blessing is to be acquired by the performance of duties; and that man in a natural state, is capable of discharging them. His only question of difficulty is, “ What are these wonder-working duties ?" Now, Sir, as I am persuaded you have but few correspondents who could meet our enquirer upon his own terns, and as some questions are best answered hy pro, posing others, I woukl take the liberty of requesting his unbiased attention to the following particulars ; First, What is the scriptural import of the descriptive terms here
" Man in a natural state?" Is it not that he is a sinner faller from God by original sin? - that he is altogether ignorant of divine things? - that he is at enmity with God in the ap. pointed medium of salvation ? — that he is enslaved by error and his own carnal base passions ? - that he has neither will nor poxer to perform holy exercises? -- that, as a natural man, not believing in Christ, his very best sacrifices are bad and abomina. ble in the sight of God: -- How apposite to our purpose is the thirteenth article of our established church ! - Works,” says that article, “ donc before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of this Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmueh as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men mect to receive or deserve grace; and as they are not done as God liath willed and commanded, they have the nature of sin.”
Secondly, If this account of man in his natural, or unregcne. rate state, be scripturally accurate, on what ground can it be, for a moment, admitted that there is any possibility of his perform. ing spiritual and acceptable duties ? - For those duties, which are to acquire an experimental knowledge of salvation, so far from bu ving the nature of sin, in the sense here understood, and so far from being unpleasant to God, they must be spiritual and accept, able; and must deserve, and make men meet to receive his grace. These will be the natural consequences of the sentiment evidently contained in the Query of your correspondent: -a sentiment which, wherever it obtains, must derogate from the glory of the gospel, and tend to the most dangerous and fatal mistakes as to ihe ground of a sinner's justification. Who does not see that, if the wisdom and diligence of unholy men are to be employed in aequiring the blessings of salvation, as in the affairs of compierce : --who-floes not sce, that in tạis case the death of Jesus