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Yet here seems to be the one great fault in the story. Lillie's reformation is accomplished in secret, and almost nothing of it is revealed except her confession at the close. Her husband's aid in the work is hardly disclosed. So good and faithful a man as Johu Seymour is represented to be, should have drawn out, by his influence and unwearying efforts, the better traits in the character of his wife, and have helped her to become more truly a woman. The power of the story to help those in similar circumstances would certainly have been greater, had the work been given more fully to her husband, instead of being accomplished by sickness.
Faithfulness in well-doing should have a greater reward, even in this world, than a mere acknowledgment.
NOTES ON CURRENT EVENTS.
ON THE WORD AMEN. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Dean of Westminster, has consented to become a contributor to the pages of the New York Independent, and his first article, with the above heading, appeared in the paper of September 21, and was continued in the papers of the two following weeks. Its great length forbids its entire insertion, but we think the following extracts will be read with pleasure and profit. The article begins as follows:
“ There is a story told of two strangers from foreign lands meeting on a ship in the Eastern seas, who had no language in common. They tried one tongue after another in vain. At last they found that there were two words which they had heard from the missionaries in their respective countries, which at once wakened a spark of intelligence, and called forth a cordial welcome from each. One of these words was Hallelujah, the other was Amen. Each of these words, no doubt, has a depth of meaning behind it. I propose to consider now the value of the word Amen as used in the domains of Christendom.
“ We first observe that Amen, like Hallelujah, is not an English, or even a Latin, but a Hebrew word, which has come down to us from the ancient Jewish people.
“ It thus reminds us that we were Jews before we were Christians.
“ It reminds us that we have imbedded in our worship a fragment of those old, old times before even our Saviour's birth. It is like
one of those granite boulders which we sometimes find in the midst of a flat plain, which was borne along by ancient glaciers and ancient torrents, and transferred far away from its native countries.
" It is like the Coronation Stone in Westminster Abbey, a fragment of a rock from the distant northern hills, belonging to a time long before the birth of the English monarchy and the English Church, of the Americon Republic and the American Union. The very sound of ' Amen' is Eastern. It is the very word which was heard through the courts of the Temple of Jerusalem, and which was echoed backward and forward from Gerizim to Ebal, and from Ebal to Gerizim. And, further, having been thus in its origin Jewish, it has since become an inheritance of the whole of Christendom. There are Christians who do not use the creeds, there are Christians who do not use a written liturgy, there are Christians who have even a scruple in public worship at using the Lord's Prayer ; but I believe that there is no church - French or English, Greek or Roman, Episcopalian or Presbyterian — which refuses to pronounce the word Amen. This, then, is the first lesson we have to learn from it.
“ But again : What is its meaning, as we now use it in our services? Whenever we so use it we intend to express our assent, our agreement, our confirmation of what we hear. • So be it.' • So it is.' It was a saying of the Jewish Rabbis : ' He that says
66 Amen is greater than he that blesses.'
. Whoever says
66 Amen,” to him the gates of Paradise are open.' And, if an Amen was said in the synagogue inaudibly or indistinctly, it was called an orphan Amen i. e., an Amen without root and without parentage.
“What had been the use in the synagogue was continued in the early Christian Church. Even the most solemn of all its prayers and blessings the consecration prayer of the Lord's Supper not considered valid or complete till the people had given their assent to it by saying 'Amen.' The presiding minister (says one who describes the communion service in the second century) gives thanks, and the whole congregation shout • Amen.' It was so eutirely felt to be a part of the service that no one failed to join in it. Just as now we should be surprised, on coming to church, or coming to the communion, to hear no prayer from the minister, so in those first ages there would have been an equal surprise if there had been no loud · Amen’ from the people.”
The following remarks on the connection between prayer and the Amen are very suggestive and interesting :
“There was a form of agreement once required in the English Church of an unfeigned assent and consent to all and everything contained in the · Book of Common Prayer.' That was a form of agreement which no church had a right to ask, and which, accordingly, a few years ago, was abolished by the legislature of England, to the great delight of the churches. But, without endeavoring to procure an agreement to every detail, which is quite impossible, it still remains certain that we only call that a living, cordial service in which the congregation truly joins. And the word Amen, at the end of each prayer, is intended to show that in each prayer there is something which, at least, some one in the church can heartily echo from his own secret needs. It is this which makes true prayer so elevating a work. Mechanical prayer, prayer which repeats words merely by rote, is often worse than useless. But true spiritual prayer, prayer in the spirit of the Lord's Prayer, is what one of the first living philosophers has called it — the potent, inner supplement of noble, outward life. There is a habit, into which some good people have fallen at the present day, of speaking as if philosophers were hostile to prayer. It is not so. They may be hostile to certain kinds of prayer; but prayer which has the real Amen of the conscience and the soul is as dear to them as to us. This, and nothing short of this, is the meaning of the expression common prayer. If it were enough for the minister to offer prayers or praises, without the concurrence of the people, then common prayer and common worship would be needless. The people might be at their homes, and the minister might be in church, and each might pray for himself. But there is a new force given to prayer and praise, as well as to every other spiritual act of men, from the consciousness that others are praying with us — that the same thoughts are throbbing at the same moment in a thousand hearts."
From the remarks made by Dean Stanley, at the meeting where the subject was discussed of the proper qualifications of a member of the Committee on the Revision of the Sacred Scriptures, it seems quite certain that Dean Stanley knows something of the Swedenborgians, and something of some of the doctrines of the New Church; and the following extract suggests the idea that he has at least a dim perception of a spiritual meaning within the literal sense of Scripture :
“ Struggle, wrestle with the words in which sacred things are expressed. Behind them, within them, like jewels beneath the deep sea, like treasures hid at the bottom of a deep well, lie the truths themselves. In this way every man can become, as it were, a teacher to himself, can extract gold out of dross, can make even a doubtful creed or a foolish discourse impressive, can almost draw sermons out of stones,' and water out of the flinty rock.
“ And this leads me to the special thought of the use to be made of sermons. They must be, they will be of different kinds of excellence; but if we were to name the quality which we should desire them to have, it would be that they should so appeal to the hearts and understandings of the hearers that the hearers should feel the words uttered to be, as it were, their own words - that they should feel the words to be the voice of which their own inmost thoughts were the echo."
We close with the description of a sermon preached on the chief sacred day of the Mussulman religion :
“There is a description of a sermon preached, not in any Christian church, which has yet always seemed to me the most moving example of what the effects of a sermon should be.
The scene described was in that great day — the chief sacred day of the Mussulman religion — the Friday in the great Sanctuary of Mecca where the pilgrims are assembled from all parts of the world, around the sacred stone, the object of the Mussulman devotions. The vast quadrangle,' says the eye-witness, whose words I quote, was crowded with worshippers, sitting in long rows, and everywhere facing the central black tower, in such diversity of costume as would probably not be seen mixed together in any other building upon earth. In the midst, and raised above the crowd by the tall, pointed pulpit, whose gilt spire flamed in the sun, sat the preacher, an old man, with snowy beard, which flowed down from his white turban upon his robes, which were white as both. Gradually he rose in his place, and began to preach. It was to all those thousands of pilgrims the great sermon, the great crisis of their lives. As the majestic figure began to exert itself, there was a deep silence. Presently a general Amen (the word is the same in Arabic as in Hebrew] was intoned by the whole crowd at the conclusion of each sentence. And at last, toward the close of the sermon, every third or fourth word was followed by the simultaneous rise and fall of this same Amen, repeated by thousands of voices.'
“He who described this sight was one not given to be moved by any strong sentiment, human or divine. But he adds: “I have seen the religious ceremonies of many lands; but never, nowhere, aught 80 solemn, so impressive as this spectacle.'"*
THE USE OF BLACK GARMENTS AS A SIGN OF MOURNING. - The custom of wearing black garments when our relations or friends die, is not, in New England at least, so generally observed as it was forty years ago; and it is quite likely that many who still follow the custom, do so more from a regard to the wishes of others than from a desire to do so on their own account. Some of the religious journals, and other periodicals, not especially devoted to religious subjects, have occasionally added their influence to weaken the hold which this expensive and useless custom has on the public mind; and a great deal, without doubt, has been accomplished in this direction. The writer of the following extract proposes to carry the reform one step further, and we sympathize cordially in the views expressed :
“Some of the newspapers are protesting against the wearing of black garments as a sign of mourning. There is good reason for the protest. The advertisement to the world of our private griefs is an offence against true delicacy of feeling. But, if the religious journals cannot stop the use of mourning apparel, they can, at least, desist from the absurd custom of turning their column-rules upside down in commemoration of the death of their distinguised men. Scarcely a week passes but some of our exchanges come to us in this ridiculous garb. When it happens, as it sometimes does, that not only the well-meant obituary of the editor concerning the eminent deceased, but items, jokes, and even advertisements are enclosed within the lugubrious parallels, the solemnity of the page is somewhat impaired. Let us endeavor, dear brethren of the provincial press, to abstain from every appearance of snuffle!”. – New York Independent.
PROCEEDINGS at the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Missionary and Tract Society of the New Church, held in London May 10, 1871. – We have read these proceedings with much satisfaction, and are not surprised that the managers of the society feel encouraged to go on, considering the success that has attended their past efforts.
* Burton's “ Pilgrimage to Mecca."