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moment of separation approached, interceded for his friends and followers with all the anxiety of affectionate tenderness. But we will venture to say that practically there is no such philosopher. If prayer were not enjoined for the perfection, it would be permitted to the weakness of our nature. We should be betrayed into it, if we thought it sin, and pious ejaculations would escape our lips, though we were obliged to preface them with, God forgive me for praying!
To those who press the objection, that we cannot see in what manner our prayers can be answered, consistently with the government of the world according to those general laws by which we find, in fact, that it is governed; it may be sufficient to say, that
; prayer being made almost an instinct of our nature, it cannot be supposed but that, like all other instincts, it has its use; that no idea can be less philosophical than one which implies, that the existence of a God who governs the world, should make no difference in our conduct; and few things less probable than that the childlike submission which bows to the will of a father, should be exactly similar in feature to the stubborn patience, which bends under the yoke of necessity.
It may be further observed, that petitions for temporal advantages, such, I mean, as a spirit of moderation will allow us to wish with sufficient ar dour to make them the subject of our prayers, are not liable to more objections than petitions for spiritual blessings. In either case the weak man does, and the wise man does not expect a miracle. That the arrogant, the worldly, and the licentious, should on a sudden, and without their own strenuous endeavours, be rendered humble, simpleminded, and pure of heart, would be as great a violation of the order of nature in the moral world, as it would be in the natural world that the harvest should ripen without the cooperation of the husbandman, and the slow influence of the seasons. Indeed, 'as temporal blessings are less in our power than dispositions, and are sometimes entirely out of it, it seems more reasonable of the two to pray for the former than for the latter; and it is remarkable that, in the model given us in the Lord's Prayer, there is not a single petition for any virtue or good disposition, but their is one for daily bread. Good dispositions, particularly a spirit of resignation, are declared and implied in the petitions, but they are not prayed for; events are prayed for, and circumstances out of our own power, relative to our spiritual concerns, are prayed for, as, the not being led into temptation ; but there is no prayer that we may be made holy, meek, or merciful. Nor is it an objection to praying for health, that sickness may possibly turn out a blessing, since it is no objection to the using all the means in our power to get rid of sickness, which we do as eagerly and as unreservedly, as if we had not the least idea that it ever could be salutary. And we do right; for the advantages of sickness are casual and adventitious; but health is in itself, and in its natural tendencies, a blessing, devoutly to be wished for. That no advantage of this nature ought to be prayed or wished for, unqualified with the deepest submission to the will of God, is an undoubted truth; and it is a truth likewise universally acknowledged by all rational Christians.
It cannot be denied, however, that great reserve is necessary in putting up specific petitions, especially of a public nature; but generally the fault lies in our engaging in wrong pursuits, rather than in imploring upon our pursuits the favour of heaven. Humanity is shocked to hear prayers for the success of an unjust war ; but humanity and heaven were then offended when the war was engaged in ; for war is of a nature sufficiently serious to warrant our prayers to be preserved from the calamities of it, if we have not voluntarily exposed ourselves to them. The frivolous dature of most national contests appears strongly in this very circumstance, that petitions from either side have the air of a profanation ; but if in some serious con
; juncture our country was ready to be overwhelmed by an ambitious neighbour, as that of the Dutch was in the time of Louis the Fourteenth,-in such a season of calamity, the sternest philosopher would give way to the instinctive dictates of nature, and implore the help which cometh from on high. The reason why both sides cannot pray with propriety, is because both sides cannot act with justice.
But supposing we were to discard all petition, as the weak effort of infirm minds to alter the unbroken chain of events; as the impatient breathings of craving and restless spirits, not broken into patient acquiescence with the eternal order of Providence the noblest office of worship still remains.
Praise is devotion fit for mighty minds,
The jarring world's agreeing sacrifice. And this is surely of a social nature. One class of religious duties separately considered, tends to depress the mind, filling it with ingenuous shame and wholesome sorrow; and to these humiliating feelings solitude might perhaps be found congenial; but the sentiments of admiration, love, and joy, swell the bosom with emotions, which seek for fellowship and communication. The flame indeed may be kindled by silent musing; but when kindled it must infallibly spread.
The devout heart, penetrated with large and affecting views of the immensity of the works of God, the harmony of his laws, and the extent of his beneficence, bursts into loud and vocal expressions of praise and adoration ; and, from a full and overflowing sensibility, seeks to expand itself to the utmost limits of creation. The mind is forcibly carried out of itself, and, embracing the whole circle of animated existence, calls on all above, around, below, to help to bear the burden of its gratitude. Joy is too brilliant a thing to be confined within our own bosoms; it burnishes all nature, and with its vivid colouring gives a king of factitious life to objects without sense or motion.
There cannot be a more striking proof of the social tendency of these feelings, than the strong propensity we have to suppose auditors where there are none. When men are wanting, we address the animal creation; and, rather than have none to partake our sentiments, we find sentiment in the music of the birds, the hum of insects, and the low of kine; nay, we call on rocks and streams and forests to witness and share our emotions. Hence the royal shepherd, sojourning in caves and solitary wastes, calls on the hills to rejoice and the floods to clap their hands; and the lonely poet, wandering in the deep recesses of uncultivated nature, finds a temple in every solemn grove, and swells his chorus of praise with the winds that bow the lofty cedars. And can he who, not satisfied with the wide range of existence, calls for the sympathy of the inanimate creation, refuse to worship with his fellow men ? Can he, who bids “ Nature attend,” forget to "join every living soul” in the universal hymn ? Shall we suppose companions in the stillness of deserts, and shall we overlook them among friends and townsmen ? It cannot be ! Social worship, for the devout heart, is not more a duty than it is a real want.