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making known the “glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people;" pardon through the atonement made on Calvary; and holiness through the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God—the writer and his companion found themselves, one Saturday morning, in a neat, clean, little inn, by the side of a fine natural bay, running inland for more than a mile, and capable of affording shelter to the largest vessels during the greatest storms. Here we proposed to preach upon the sabbath, and Saturday we wished to devote to preparation for the duties of that blessed day. During the night, however, a number of vessels had been driven, by wind or tide, into the bay for shelter. Particularly one small vessel, which the current had laid almost alongside of the house in which we were living. This seemed as if the Macedonian were come to our very door calling for help; and we were not long in deciding upon visiting all the vessels in the bay, to converse with the seamen, and give them tracts.
With two'fine young men as boatmen, one seventeen, the other about nineteen years of age, we started, and soon found ourselves by the side of the small vessel which had come so near the shore, and which we found to be a French cod-fishing smack. The seamen were so far acquainted with English as to understand, generally, the remarks which we made. As soon as they understood that our design in visiting their vessel was' to converse with them upon the subject of religion, they produced a number of prayer-books and catechisms, which, they assured us, they read frequently, and never left home without.
We attempted to call their attention to heart religion—the serving God because we love him; and suggested that, as they themselves admitted, their religious services were performed solely under the expectation that, on account of them, they would be delivered from hell, and admitted to heaven—that it was utterly inconsistent with the character of God to pardon on account of these, or even to accept of services so mercenary as to the motive from which they sprung-pure selfishness; and so degrading to the work of the Son of God in the end at which they aimed-the procuring salvation through another channel than his atoning work; the only way whereby we must be saved.
We tried to illustrate this principle, and, although we saw plainly that they did not approve of such doctrine, we thought they understood it. One of them, who had been a chief speaker, appeared for the moment to be rather silenced. His converse with Protestants upon religious subjects had hitherto evidently been upon what might be termed the politics of religion; and out of the difficulties which might
arise in discussion, he found an easy escape by asserting, with the greatest frequency, and with great fervency, that he did not believe all that the priest said, that he believed only so much as he himself thought proper. In calling his attention to the nature of heart religion, we had evidently brought before him a subject with which he was totally unacquainted; and hence his silence. It was not the silence of one who is honestly weighing evidence, but of one who feels himself overcome in argument, and is anxiously searching for something to retrieve his failure; and I could very soon perceive that he had found something which, in his own opinion, was capable of effecting this.
If,” said he, coming forward and addressing us, “you wish to make Christians, you had better go to the people around; we pray every morning and evening, they rise up and lie down like the beasts."
I own I was struck with the statement which he made, and which, alas! I knew to be too generally true. It seemed humbling that a Roman Catholic should come over to reprove open sin existing among us, who, by profession, and in the general estimation of the world, are so far superior to them in knowledge and piety.
We attempted to point out the little difference in the sight of the heart searching God, between the formalist, whose spirit was not engaged in the service which he offered, and the openly wicked, who had cast off the very form of religion. We assured them affectionately, that from the false refuges upon which they seemed to be resting, we very much feared that their souls were in great danger; that our visit was a call in the providence of God for them to examine their ways; and that they would act wisely in viewing it in that light, and attending to the statements made to them. After leaving a few tracts, such as we thought they would be interested in reading, and offering some general advice, we departed.
The first object my eye rested upon when we regained our places in the boat was our eldest boatman. I had observed, from the time of starting, his intelligent counte
Whilst we conversed with the Frenchmen, he stood on the boat with his arms upon the deck of the vessel, and appeared attentively to notice every word that passed. But when the Frenchman charged the islanders with want of prayer,
eye sunk, and it continued to remain so during the time he was with us. Shame, at least, if not a sense of sin, had laid fast hold upon him. We called his attention to the awful state of the soul, which want of prayer indicated. He heard us with attention and respect, but made no reply. Oh that God may make, at least to that young wanderer, the
reproof from the Roman Catholic seaman, a word in season, which may lead him to the cross !
Now, my reader, I turn to you. You are a Protestant, and not a Roman Catholic, Well; but do you rise
and lie down like the beasts ?” A man may be a Protestant or a Roman Catholic, and yet not be a Christian. To be a Christian is not simply to adopt particular sentiments, however scriptural these may be. It is the love of them. It is th you have found the doctrine of salvation through atoning blood and pardon, solely by the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, exactly such a doctrine as suits your case. That you once sought to save yourself, but found that even your holiest acts were utterly defiled, not simply in the sight of the pure and holy God, but even in your own.
To be a Christian implies that you have received, accompanying the promise of pardon through the work of the Lord Jesus,—the no less precious promise of sanctification through his Spirit. “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. Á new heart also will I give unto you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them,” To be a Christian is to hear this promise, and such promises, as the man on the brink of the grave would hear the tidings of health, or the condemned man the news of pardon—with joy and gratitude. That if God had bid you, as he bade Solomon, “Ask what I shall give,” this would have been the blessing—holiness; conformity to the image of God. 'God's will set up alone as the sole ruling principle in the heart.
Would such a man pray? As surely as he lived. A sense of gratitude for mercies received, a perception of the dangers from within and from without which still threaten him, would lead him instinctively to his God in prayer. As the child hurries to the bosom of its parent to communicate its joys, and to find there solace for all its cares, so would the Christian to the throne of grace. He knows that prayer is the medium through which God communicates grace to strengthen holy principle, and to subdue that evil and bitter thing, sin, which both God and himself now unite in hating. This knowledge, then, in the awakened sinner, lays a sure foundation for prayer ; as in making known to some poor starving family, where supplies of food may be obtained, we make certain that they will apply for them.
A man may live, may be a living man, when he has lost an eye or an arm, but he is not so when the breath has stopped. In like manner the Christian may want several things which are desirable, and some which are important; but he cannot be a Christian, a living soul into whom God has breathed the breath of spiritual life, if he does not pray.
“ Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,
The Christian's native air,
He enters heaven by prayer.” Almost every record extant of ancient nations which possessed the very first rudiments of knowledge, contains frequent allusions to prayer, as existing among them. The Egyptians prayed! The Greeks prayed! The Romans prayed! Modern heathen nations all pray! The Hindoos pray! The Chinese pray!
But the objects that they pray to cannot save them. True, they cannot. But is it so, then, that anything monstrously wicked, or obviously unable to help, receives unhesitatingly the prayers of its professed worshippers; whilst from a large proportion of the nominal worshippers of the true God no worship is offered, no homage is presented ?
O thou only true God, from whom emanates all that excellence which exists in scattered rays in angels, and spirits of just men made perfect, and of which we sometimes behold small sparks in good men on earth! Thou whose goodness to mankind surpasses the conceptions of men, and even of higher intelligences to grasp-is it possible that, under the wide canopy of heaven, there scarcely exists a nation, polished or rude, that does not pray each one to its god, with the exception of those of thy followers holding a pure creed, and calling themselves Protestants ?
Ye it is true! The Frenchman did not fals when he stated that by far the greater part of the professing Protestant worshippers of Christ, in whose neighbourhood he was, did not worship Christ. And we do not falsify when we state that, speaking generally of this Protestant country, a very large proportion of its inhabitants do not worship Christ!
O Lord, spare, spare, spare! Do not cut them down. Do not pour out thy fury upon, but convert the families which call not upon thy name. O let this paper be to the thoughtless sinner now reading it, an instrument of mercy, leading, with tears of repentance, to pray, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” Grant that vengeance-thy strange work—may not be needed; but that the cords of thy love may draw the thoughtless sinner to thyself, and effect his conversion.
There are some, however, that do pray, have prayed from their youth, and are perhaps shocked to hear that there are
persons who “rise up and lie down like the beasts;" and yet if we examine what they call prayer, it may, alas! be found that in the sight of that God by whom nothing but the offering of the heart is looked upon as prayer, they too are numbered among the persons who present no worship unto God !
The presentation of words unto God, when there exists no corresponding emotion in the heart, is not prayer. Prayer is the expression of honest, heartfelt desire. This is its
Without this it cannot exist. Wherever this is, whether it manifest itself in
“ The breathing of a sigh,
The falling of a tear,
When none but God is near, there still is prayer.
Now, if there be any person reading these pages, who has never yet seen himself guilty, and exposed to the wrath of God; never seen that he can be saved from everlasting ruin only by the work of the Lord Jesus Christ; never with gratitude and joy accepted of that salvation, and submitted himself to that Saviour; then that man, however often he may have been in a praying posture; however often, and however long, he may have repeated words of prayer, still has never prayed.
For what could such a man pray? God, in answer to the daily prayers of his people, gives grace to subdue sin, to promote holiness. But an unconverted man has no sense of sin, no desire for holiness. These would have led him to the Lord Jesus Christ, for the new heart, and the right spirit, promised to every guilty soul that sees himself a sinner, and comes to the Saviour really desiring salvation. There is no intermediate state between seeing the danger of sin and the value of Christ, and fleeing from sin and accepting of Christ. No intermediate state between saint and sinner, converted and unconverted. If converted, you have seen your need of the Lord Jesus Christ, and with joy and gladness accepted of his salvation. If not, whatever your words may have been, you never can have desired either Christ or his salvation. Can you desire to be delivered from the wrath of God, whilst you do not believe yourself exposed to that wrath! Can you desire boliness, whilst you loathe and have an aversion to holiness! This, in the nature of the human mind, is impossible. If, then, you are in this state, whatever your words may have been, you never have desired spiritual blessings from God; then you have never prayed, for prayer is desire. And then in God's sight you are numbered amongst those who “rise up and lie down like the beasts !"
Every son of man is capable of distinguishing the good