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We give place to the following remarks, at the desire of our worthy Corres.
pondeni, simply to prevent any wrong inference being made from the communication to which he alludes. We are persuaded that it was not the design of " Gaius," either to countenance the neglect of prayer, or to deny the propriety of what some might denominate long prayers on particular occasions. His remarks, it will be perceived, refer solely to prayers offered in public, in the social meeting, or in the family, where the impropriety of which he complains has been known too frequently to exist. On this subject our correspondents are agreed. We hope the duties of the closet, so necessary to the life and comfort of the christian, will not, and they certainly cannot, be either neglected or abridged, in consequence of any remarks des signed to render public services appropriate and agreeable. [Editors.
To the Editors of the American Bap. should the humble suppliant oc
vent breathings of devotion, even tist Magazine.
casionally spend more than fifPERMIT me to offer to your teen minutes in praise, in confesreaders some remarks suggested sion, and in petition. Surely we by a communication in the num- can conceive it possible to spend ber for September, entitled, "Im- even an hour in prayer, without propriety of long Prayers." vain repetitions; and when the
It is indeed true, as your Cor. spirit of supplication is bestowed respondent observes, that many in large measure on him who who lead in devotional exercises, leads in prayer, we may consider are injudiciously and unappropri- it very probable, that the same ately long. And it would be well spirit is shed on others, and that if some friend should inform them an exercise of devotion longer of the impropriety, into which than usual will not then occasion they have, perhaps unconscions, the saying, "What a weariness is ly, fallen. It is true, also, that it !" the weariness and distraction of I am persuaded your corresthought, of which he complains, pondent would not wish that the arises, in part, from these de- Christian, in his secret devotions, fects.
should restrict himself to two or Notwithstanding this, few per- three minutes, although his resons, I think, would object, in the marks have been maderstood by social prayer meeting, to the fers some as implying this. Undoubi
edly there are but few, if any, $o frequently attendant on devowho spend too much time in the tional exercises, consisteth not so devotions of the closet ; the much in shortening our prayers, greater proportion of Christians as in strengthening our faith, and err on the side of remissness in love, and spirituality. Let ministhose duties, in the performance ters and all who occasionally lead of which po eye but that of God the devotions of others, aim after is upon them. Sutcliffe, though the devotional spirit of Paul; let a man of prayer, lamented on his Christians live nearer to God, death bed, that he had not more and conform more to the lives of abounded in the exercises of de- primitive believers; and then, to votion ; and it is beyond doubt, use the words of your corresthat Daniel, Brainerd, and Gardi- pondent, “our prayer meetings ner, did not lament, in prospect of will become increasingly pleasdeath, that they had spent so ant, family worship will be demany hours in communion with lightful; and in the prayers on the Father of their spirits. public occasions, the assembly
I have already granted that a will feel an interest and pleasure, weariness is often occasioned by of which, at present, they have the improper length of prayers. no conception." A good judgment is necessary on
TABOR. the part of him who leads in devotion, that the exercises may be
For the A. B. Magazine, adapted to the occasion. By introducing what is not appropriate,
JOY IN THE GOD OF SALVATION. persons often injudiciously protract their prayers, while often
Although the figtree shall not blos
Som), neither shall fruit be in the they become tedious on account vine ; the labour of the olive shall of repetition, or in consequence fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; of a heavy, dull, languid delive
the flock shall be cut off from the ry. Sometimes a prayer is unnec
fold, and there shall be no herd in essarily lengthened by a redund- Lord, I will jov in the God of my
the stalls : yet I will rejoice in the ance of expressions, by a too fre. salvation. Hab. iü. 17, 18. quent introduction of the names of God, by unappropriate epithets at- We must not imagine, that tached to those names, and by the heaven consists merely in the too frequent recurrence of such emigration of the soul to some terms as, “We pray thee," - distant and unexplored region, “We humbly beseech thee," nor yet in its translation from when they had better be omit- abodes of pain and uncertainty, ted.
to climes of undisturbed bliss and But most of these defects arise reality ; but rather, that it refrom one other, from a defect of sults from the capacity of the piety, from a want of spiritaality. soul to take pleasure in God. This, I apprehend, is the great The error of placing the felicity cause of the weariness complain- of the righteous at an immense ed of. They who join, as well distance, and considering it as as they who lead in prayer, pos- differing in essence from all that is sess not that fervent devotion, felt in the present life, is more that delight in communion with general, and more burtful, than God, which should characterize will be at first admitted. It is the Christian. The efficient through the prevalence of this remedy, therefore, for the weari- delusion, that those who have ness and distraction of thought, bad only superficial views and experiences in religion, can per- pains to obtain realizing assorsuade themselves that their state ances, are under no disquietude may be good, and their hopes from their unproductive profeswell founded. For, whilst they sion, are prompted to little or are conscious of the absence of nothing of that self-inspection by that joy wbich the favonr and which the godly try themselves, presence of God must impart, are strangers to the anguish they console themselves under which results from the hidings this manifest deficiency, by re- of God's countenance, are incurring to the long cherished vulnerable to the piercing arerror, that heaven is an uptast- rows of the Almighty, and secured delight. Accordingly, they ed in the slumbers which have are contented to live in the ut- been invited by a false view of ter destitution of that spiritual religious joy. It is allowed that happiness which they consider an eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, impracticable attainment, whilst neither have entered into the in the body. They indolently heart of man, the things which sorrender themselves to the in- God hath provided for them who fluence of whatever is adverse love him; yet it must be mainto experimental piety, and re- tained, that faith is able to afford gard all the present feelings of a "joy unspeakable and full of christian satisfaction as a pre- glory;" that it is not so much sumptuous anticipation of a fu- place as capacity that constitutes iure prerogative. To them, re- heaven; and that the final glory ligion would appear gloomy and of saints will be only the perfecsolitary, if it were disjoined from tion of that spiritual capacity, the enjoyments of sense, and the which has its rudiments in this cheering aspect of this world. life, for receiving pleasure from The conclusion in which they communion with God. rest, is, that although the spirit The words prefixed to this should have had no joyful inter- essay, furnish a lively view of course with heaven during its that sacred pleasure which residence in the body; yet as pious mind could receive from soon as it enters the scenes of the presence of God, and the eternity, it must be in an instant security of his salvation. It is accommodated to the amazing here we see the believers' pow. dimensions of its new habitation, er to be happy in spite of all and suited to the exercises of a the oppressions of bodily want, state wholly foreign to its for- and amidst the desolations of mer pursuits.
In like manner This dangerous mistake re- should be prepared, in the most sults, in a great degree, from signal prostration of our earthly the influence of that fallacious hopes, to exult in God; and hope which induces men to ex- grasp those joys, the chief repect a joy, they know not what, commendation of which is, that on their transition from the body; they are wholly purified from and though it is sustained by no all the mixtures of earthly desensible and consistent impres- light. For although, neither sions of present comfort, they drought nor any other disaster account for their incapacity to should frustrate the hopes of the be happy in religion, from their husbandman, so as to present an preconceived opinion of the re- arid waste, instead of fruitful moteness of heaven. Under such fields and golden harvests; yet a persuasion, they are at no it is certain, that to us who now
live, the verdure of the fields found in the Lord a happiness, and the splendor of the heavens which the sudden extinction of must be shortly arrayed in black- all created good could pot vary, To the eye dim with age,
The pre requithe fig-tree loses its beauty ; sites to this happiness, we shall and to the taste vitiated with now consider disease, the cluster loses its rel- 1. To be joyful in the Lord, ish.
And to him who descends there must be a sweet accordto the valley of the shadow of ance betwixt bis spirit and ours. death, all the visible properties An agreement of nature is necof nature are rendered equally essary to the happiness of those incapable of giving comfort. But who must dwell together ; for we should consider it very pos- what joy can exist in a state of sible, that the scene which the variance and strife? What grateprophet supposes, may be ex- ful quietude can take place, ahibited to us; for our country, midst the agitations of perpetuat least that part of it where the al hostility? The men of the writer of this resides, from an world do not consent to the ways unexampled drought during the of God; they are equally averse summer of 1818, was threatened to the dispensation of his grace, with an alarming inadequacy in and the administration of his justhe customary supplies of pro- tice ; to the holiness of his charvision. In numerous instances, acter, and the rectitude of his throughout extensive fields the government ; to the purity of the means of human nourishment, law, and the sanctity of the gosinstead of being matured by ge- pel. Can two walk together exnial seasons, have been seen on cept they be agreed ? No object, the burning surface of a parched all the attributes of which are earth, drooping and withering in repulsive to every principle of dismal ruin. Such circumstan- our nature, can yield us pleasces are to us the call of provi, ure; and perhaps no greater tordence to scrutinize our qualifica- ture could be imagined, than to tions for enjoyment in the God be confined exclusively to such. of our salvation, when we shall The material creation is in some have been shut out from all that measure suited to the residence gives enjoyment to our sensitive of fallen creatures. Its parts are existence. This serious exam- so constructed as to convey aination of ourselves will appear greeable impressions to all our more necessary, if we allow due senses. But it is possible to iminfluence to the consideration, agine a different construction ; that many of those who wear the and to suppose, that every pleasexternal garb of religion, could ing quality of nature were renot be rendered more niserable versed, that its wide extent was than to be excluded from every only an aggregate of properties other source of happiness but repugnant to all the laws of our their religion. This is no sub- constitution, that the lustre of stitute to them for earthly pleas- the sun imparted a horror inexures, no compensation for the pressible to our inmost souls, that loss of secular enjoyments; and the flowers and fruits of the earth the place which should furnish were nauseating to our taste, that access to nothing else would be sympathy had no lenitives, frienddeemed a most unwelcome sol- ship po endearments, and beauty itude.
This supposed But let us remember that not. inversion in the objects of natural withstanding this, there is to be pleasure, becomes real in reference to the spiritual world. The ty. The more we find, that is animal man has no taste for the lovely in him, the more we shall joys of heaven. The Son which exult to be like him. And if the shines there, would strike amaz- expectation of heaven warm our ing terror to his soul by the ex- hearts with peculiar transports, cessive purity of his rays the it is because “ when he shall apfruit from the tree of life, would pear, we shall be like him, for sicken instead of heal. Accord- we shall see him as he is." ing to Milton, the idea of singing A mind that dissents from none "forced hallelujahs to the God- of the operations of the divine head,” was more intolerable to dispensations, is not easily perthe fallen angels than the fiery plexed, nor disquieted. By the lake on which they lay extended. extent of its resignation, it antici
If, therefore, there is any fe- pates the more obvious possibililicity in the presence of God, that ties of probationary suffering, and agreement of our nature with is, therefore, not thrown into the the divine, which was lost by dissonance of a murmuring spirit, original goilt, must be restored. by unexpected visitations. It has In the conversion of the soul this already conceded, that “the way spiritual concord begins. It is of a man is not in himself ;" that then we yield to the influences of God's will must be done, that the the Spirit, desist from our rebel Lord shall “ do what seemeth lion, surrender to the control of him good ;" that “he doeth his the Lord, consent to the excel. pleasure in the armies above, and lency of his law, and concur in among the inhabitants of the all his methods of mercy.
In earth beneath :” and such a consuch an assimilation of nature to cession must secure to all the the image of Christ, we must be events of providence, a peaceful sensible of a peculiar joy. It submission. By such a mind it will be our happiness to follow will be easily seen, that those where he leads, to practise what acts of seeming severity by which he commands, and to visit the the Lord exercises the faith and place of his abode. Like Enoch, patience of his people, and which we may walk with God; like might appear calculated to break Moses, prefer the afflictions of his the harmony betwixt him and his people to the pleasures of sin, afflicted children, obtain their and like Job, trust in him though consent, as methods of wisdom he slay us. We shall not ask the and grace. They find, that when world to help us to be happy, earthly things are most remote, nor shall we dread its power to God is nearest to them; that inflict a lasting wound.
when their bearts are most sev. "Too blest to mourn
ered from all present objects, “ Creation's obsequies,”
they have the more sensible dewe shall think of nothing so much light in communion with Him ; as the ultimate bliss of that com- that it is an unspeakable happimunion, the subordinate resultsness to meet him all alone, with of which are so cheering and de- the world shut out, and the soul lightful As the soul's accord- closed against its intrusive vaniance with the character, the will, ties. Accordingly it will appear, the grace, and providence of God that the agreement of spirit is confirmed, and matured by cer- of which we speak, is not only tain gradations, so the happiness the conformity of the heart to of this blessed harmony, will in- the divine pature as effected in crease with every additional dis- regeneration, but also the concovery of his goodness and beau- sent of the judgment to the va