« PoprzedniaDalej »
the sanctuary and in your own private houses--you find comfort from it when you repose your heads on the pillow, and intreat God to watch over your slumbers-you are prepared by it for the duties of every revolving day, when going forth in the morning to your wonted labour you pronounced the sacred petition ; occasionally in the course of those labours you recollect and you utter part of it, and thus invest the homely employments of the plough and the loom with the dignity and sanctity of a religious act. In future, then, let me intreat you to bear in mind one striking property, which the most unlettered among you may easily understand; and which the young and the old, the rich and the poor, would do well to treasure up in the most sacred recesses of their souls. Lord's Prayer,” says a writer, equally distinguished by the depth of his researches, and the elegance of his style, “ runs throughout in the plural number. We are instructed to say, 'Our Father, give us this day ;' all these petitions are of universal extent and comprehension." “ Should not this teach us," he continues, " that an enlarged, universal benevolence ought to accompany our religious addresses ; and, indeed, to consider a little the plain reason of the thing — when can we so properly awaken in our souls a strong sense and conviction of an alliance to one another as beings of the same nature, as when we are in a more especial manner presenting ourselves before that great Being who is the common parent of our species :"
My brethren, do not the observations just now re
cited to you exhibit in brighter colours the importance of those words which you have again and again uttered in this sanctuary and in your closets. Apply, therefore, each of your own hearts, and your own duty, what, for the purpose of illustrating and enforcing the foregoing remarks, I will now speak as in my own person for your own edification, Well, then, Christ has taught me to say, not my Father, but
our Father, which art in heaven.” I ask not for myself only, but for my fellow-creatures; that he would this day give me bread for the coming morrow (as perhaps the original means), or as Solomon well expresses the same thought, “the food that is convenient for us.” Į implore from his mercy that forgiveness to their trespasses, of which I stand in urgent need for my own. I beseech him to deliver them, as well as myself, from the severe and perilous trials to which we are exposed in our spiritual warfare; and to guard us from the snares and assault of the evil adversary to our innocence, our peace, and our salvation.
Maker omnipotent! art not thou the righteous judge of all the earth? grant the supplication which I now most unfeignedly address to thee in the name of my gracious Redeemer, and in the behalf, not of myself only, but of those who now hear me, and many of whom, till they and I are summoned to our last solemn account, will see my face no more! Whensoever, in obedience to thy command, and for the promotion of thy glory, we are assembled in the “House of Prayer,” may the precepts and the example of our blessed Lord be so present to our
minds as to regulate every thought and consecrate every word-may the love of man, whom we have seen, be intimately and inseparably blended with the love of God, whom we have not seen-may we pray at once with the understanding and the heart, for this is “the beauty of holiness " -may we offer to Thee the reasonable and most acceptable sacrifice of our unseemly prejudices, our untoward humours, our worldly appetites, and all the odious feelings and pernicious habits which defile our souls, from selfishness, pride, intolerance, envy, hatred, and malice, and every kind of uncharitableness. Finally, O heavenly Father, may we worship Thee, not as did the benighted heathen, or the sanctimonious Pharisees, with vehemence of gesticulation, loudness of voice, and multiplicity of words; but reverently, yet earnestly; joyfully, yet humbly; and, according to the emphatical and comprehensive language of thy well-beloved Son, “ in spirit and in truth.”
ON THE DEATH OF GEORGE THE THIRD.
NUMBERS xxiii. 10.
“ Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end
be like his."
These words were spoken by Balaam, a corrupt, crafty, and avaricious prophet, when he had been repeatedly and importunately summoned by Balak, King of Moab, to curse the people of Israel; and when he had been impelled by the irresistible though unwelcome commands of the Deity, again and again, to bless them. They contain a solemn wish suggested by the voice of nature herfelf in the prospect of dissolution, or, I should rather say, a fervent ejaculation, arising from the circumstances in which Balaam was placed, when he saw, reluctantly but clearly, that the Almighty would extend his protection to that nation whom Balaam had been employed to devote to destruction. Whensoever they are heard in the sanctuary they seldom fail to rouse the most inconsiderate from their habitual lethargy, and to awaken in the bosom of the pious the most serious reflections. But in other places also, and at other times, they more or less present themselves to the mind of every human being, who remembers that for his deeds, be they good or evil, he must render a strict account at the tribunal of Heaven. Do we see the remains of a fellow-creature whom we revered for his talents, or loved for his virtuės, borne amidst the tears and the sighs of his friends to the silent and dreary grave? It is impossible for us not to pour out a short and earnest petition that our own end may be like his. Communing with our own hearts upon our humble but honest endeavours to perform the will of God, are we not induced to implore his aid for such perseverance in well-doing as may enable us to die the death of the righteous ? If the remembrance of our past sins pierces our souls with remorse, do we not tremblingly dread the justice of God, and then supplicate his mercy, that, by resolutions and efforts of future amendment, we may be enabled to breathe our last in the humble and well-founded hope of final pardon?
* Feb. 1820.
Such, my brethren, is the efficacy of Balaam's words, according to the sense in which they are usually understood; and considered, no doubt, as general principles of morality, they must be allowed to have a tendency to dispose our hearts for meeting the hour of death and the day of judgment. It becomes me, however, as your spiritual instructor, to inform you that the real meaning of the text is very different from the import it bears, at first sight, among hearers who cannot have been much em