Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

thank him for the favours of the day, and to implore his guardian care through the night, can we not confine ourselves to that which immediately enters into the design of our worship ?

When persons pray for the sake of praying it matters not what the subject matter of the prayer may be. And, really, there appears to be many prayers made for the sake of praying, having no other inducement to the exercise than a sense of duty. The prayers which flow from nothing else than a sense of duty are very insipid and irksome things, and might as well be dispensed with altogether. If a person prays evening and morning, either in public or in private, for the sake of keeping matters on a good footing with conscience, his devotion is to him as irksome as the sin-offerings of the avaricious Jews, and as useless to others as the counting of the beads by the hour, or the hebdomadal repetition of Pater noster ” to a person who knows not the meaning of a single word.

We should, when we pray, have something in view, or some special consideration wbich at the time induces us to the exercise. According to this consideration or design should be our prayer. For example: if we bow the knee to pray in behalf of some afflicted person, our whole address to heaven should have respect unto the case for which we pray, and everything incompatible with the case should be omitted for the time. Again; if we are called upon to return thanks for some favour bestowed, that alone should occupy our attention and characterize our address to heaven on that occasion. If two or three persons first agree to ask for some particular blessing, either for one of the company, for all of the company, or for some absent person or persons, that should be the whole and exclusive burden of the prayer. If, then, these considerations were regarded in all our prayers, there would be no danger of falling into that unmeaning monotony of expression, and insipid uniformity of matter and manner, so irrational and unscriptural. We should, moreover, possess much more of the true spirit of prayer,

nd be much more benefitted ourselv fron our prayers, which is one happy end inseparably connected with the proper

exercise of prayer. Next to a monotonous uniformity of expression we rank a verbose redundancy in the use of epithets and phrases which swell the period without increasing the sentiment or exalting the devotion of the soul. Of this sort are all those pompous high-sounding addresses to the Deity in which the speaker seems to exhaust the whole resources of his vocabulary, and puts his inventive faculties to torture to find out words wherewith to astound the audience and display his elocution. This defect is more impious than the former, for the person who prays seeks his own glory. If he should plead in excuse that in so doing he edifies his audience, he reckons without his host. When a speaker employs more terms than are necessary to express the ideas he would communicate, he is, instead of edifying, confounding the understanding of his audience; he is wasting their attention instead of inspiring their devotion. Plain and unaffected language, which does no more than give scope to the feelings of the heart, is the proper language of public prayer. This is the true eloquence of devotion. When there is no effort of the understanding to be eloquent, when the heart pours forth its desires in terms appropriate, naturally flowing as a gentle stream from a living fountain, then are we cheered and refreshed in waiting upon the Lord. If a person possess but a tolerable fluency of speech and does not strive to be eloquent, but speaks in perfect accordance with his feelings, and if he feels as a Christian ought when in the audience of his Creator, he cannot fail to be both pleasing and edifying to all who unite with him in worshipping his God and Father.

Rapidity of pronunciation is the third item to which we would request the attention of the devout worshipper. When we address God at any time, or in any place, either in public or in private, great deliberation becomes us well. 10 speak to God is no light matter. No person can exaggerate the solemnity and deliberation which become us on such occasions. Well did Solomon say, “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven and thou upon earth.' But deliberation is doubly necessary in public or social prayer; for if we do not speak slowly it is impossible for others to unite with us. We ought to remember that the design of social prayer is that others should unite with us in every petition and every thanksgiving. Hence the necessity of giving sufficient time to the company to apprehend the

full force and meaning of every word and sentence. I have heard many prayers in which it was impossible for me to keep up with the speaker, or to unite with him; and while I was reflecting on the sentence just finished he had got to the close of the next one. The subject was then lost, and even the pronunciation of a final AMEN was at random, inasmuch as our judgment could not be fully made up on the correctness of the whole. The whole prayer appeared like the sound of a mighty rushing wind.

To a rapidity of pronunciation I would add a speaking at random, as another deviation from the standard of propriety. I have often heard, or thought I heard, persons commence a sentence before they knew what they were going to ask. The style or manner, and the apparent indecision of the speaker, led us to suppose that he knew 'not what to ask while the words were still falling from his lips. If this ever be the case with any Christian, repentance and reformation become him well. If at any time we have few petitions to make, let us cease so soon as they are offered. It is better to pause one, two, or three minutes between every petition, than to attempt one at random. We should always have a distinct and full view of what we are going to say before we pronounce a single word.' This is necessary when, with due respect, we speak to men. How much more when we speak to God? Some appear insensible of the impropriety of this manner. They seem to fear nothing so much as to fạil in matter. They advance in a hurry, as if they were anxious to appear fluent, and fly from one thing to another without regard to connexion, and as it without design. It would be well for the religious community-for both teachers anū taught—if every public speaker knew when he had done, and just cease to speak when he had nothing say. Whether from a desire to say something great, or something better, or

correct something said, amiss, I presume not to say, but so it is, that many, both in their prayers and in their preachings, continue to speas a long time after they are done. Our Great Teacher forbade speaking at random in our prayers, and this should be regarded as an authority without any further consideration, of sufficient 'weight to put us on our guard against such a practice.

But when these four defects are corrected—when we are perfectly free from the charge of a monotonous uniformity of

2 G

[ocr errors]

VOL. VIII.

sentiment and style, a verbose redundancy of expression, a confounding rapidity of pronunciation, a thoughtless speaking at random ;-still the weightier matters may be overlooked, misunderstood, and neglected; I mean the proper subject matter of prayer. I would beg leave to propose to the consideration of the devout reader some of the prayers found in the Sacred Scriptures, for the purpose of coming to correct conclusions on this most important subject. They will be found as follows:

A prayer of Abraham, Gen. xviii. 23–32; of Moses, Ex. xxxii. 11–13; of David, 2 Sam. vii. 18–20; of Solomon, 1 Kings, viii. 23-53; of Ezra, Ez. ix. 6–15; of Nehemiah, Neh. i. 5.–11; of the Levites, Neh. ix. 5-33; of Daniel, Dan. ix. 4–19; of Hezekiah, 2 Kings, 15-19, and xx. 3; of Habakkuk, Hab. iii. 2; the disciples' prayer, Matt. vi. 9-13; a prayer of the publican, Luke xviii. 13; of the Lord, John xvii.; of one hundred and twenty disciples, Acts i. 24, 25; of the congregation in Jerusalem, Acts iv. 24 -30; of Stephen, Acts vii. 59; Paul's prayer for the Ephesians, Eph. iii. 14-21; for the Thessalonians, 1 Thess. v, 23; for the Hebrews, Heb. xiii. 20-21; Aaronic benediction, Num. vi. 20-26; apostolic benediction, 2 Cor. xiii. 14.

A. C.

ITEMS OF NEWS.

Columbia, Missouri, November 1st, 1843. An account of some of the churches of Christ in the state of Missouri, which assembled in annual meeting in Paris, Monroe county, on the 13th of October, 1843. Brother Jacob Creath, junior, was requested to preside, and T. M. Allen to act as clerk, while re. ports from forty-three churches were received. Total number of members, four thousand and ten; additions last year, one thousand three hundred and eighteen.

The following teaching brethren were present; viz-J. Creath, junior, H. Thomas, J. Alexander, T. M. Allen M. P. Wills, L. Hatchett, W. Reed, B. W. Hall, and brother Shutes; also B. F. Hall, from Kentucky; and B. W. Stone, junior, from Illinois; and brother Farmer, from Iowa.

Appointed the next annual meeting to commence on Friday before the third Lord's day in October, 1844, at Bear Creek, in Boon county, when it is earnestly requested that each church communicate by letter, giving their number, and the additions for the past year; also the number dismissed by letter, and excluded, with the names of the elders and evangelists, and the order of their churches.

The meeting continued until Tuesday evening, during which time

[ocr errors]

six confessed the Saviour, Brotherly love and Christian affection prevailed, and the brethren parted with the best of feelings for each other. The Christian Messenger and the Millennial Harbinger were requested to insert the above.

N.B. The state meeting in Missouri is to commence in Fayette, Howard county, on Friday before the third Lord's day in May, 1844, when it is expected that each church in the state will communicate by letter, and every teacher endeavour to attend; and teaching brethren from other states are also respectfully invited to be present.

J. CREATA, junior, Chairman.

T. M. ALLEN, Secretary.

Mercer county, Kentucky, November 3rd, 1843. SINCE I wrote you in the month of July last I have, with the help of the Lord and the brethren, baptized fifty-one persons. L. M.

Charlestown, Indiana, November 25th, 1843. We had, in September, eight additions to the church here; in this month, three. Brother La Rue, of Kentucky, was with us each time.

M. C. Canton, Bradford county, Pensylvania, Dec. 17th, 1843. I TAINK I wrote you in my last that we had eight additions by baptism. Brother Lowell has continued his meeting two weeks with

We have had a glorious time. Seventy-two have, in the space of two weeks been baptized into Christ, and a great number more appear to be concerned for their souls.

E. R.

Wheeling, Virginia, Jan. 1, 1844. BROTHER Poole and myself, on our last tour, added about forty, and enlisted the attention of the most intelligent in sereral places.

G. W.L.

Grangemouth, April 25th, 1844. BELOVED BROTHER,-Grace be with you; and mercy and peace from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ the Son of the Father, in truth and love. I believe that you are already aware that in this place there exists a congregation of immersed believers, who have assembled themselves together for these ten years past, to attend to the institutions of the Lord Jesus. I have to inform you that some of us, being constant readers of the Christian Messenger for a number of years past have been greatly edified thereby, and have long since concluded that the doctrine and practice which it advo. cates, is from above. I have also to inform you that we almost . unanimously concur in approving of the system of co-operation adopted by the churches for the purpose of sending forth evangelists to the world, to proclaim the ancient gospel ; and the enclosed is a post-office order for our mite towards that object, if you may deem us worthy to co-operate in such a glorious work. We never had the pleasure of seeing any of the evangelists; but would be glad to receive such, and would cheerfully defray any expense incurred by them in visiting us. Our village is situated about three-and-a-half miles from Falkirk, a station on the Edinburgh and Glasgow railway.

I beg to add for your information, that we have never been acknowledged as brethren by any church, in consequence of our not sub

« ZurückWeiter »