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love which he could not find in his own reflections. Here he has ground of consolation. “With the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.” This mercy in pardoning his sins he has experienced ; and this redemption renews and rejoices his mind. These things alone can keep him from fainting under the sense of his sinfulness and danger; they alone can minister sound and strong consolation over the grave of the departed year. Through grace he looks forward to the coming one, with some hopeful and peaceful views, derived from the same sources.
But it is his earnest prayer and trust, that he may not have the same cause again for shame and sorrow at himself. He expects indeed still, and ever, to feel those humbling sentiments, but he trusts that an advance may every year be made in that holiness which he covets and loves; and that whatever fruit has hitherto been produced by grace, may be changed from thirty-fold to sixty-fold, and from sixty-fold to an hundred-fold.
ON THE VARIOUS USES OF THE LORD'S PRAYER. Our blessed Lord gave this beautiful prayer to his Church at the particular entreaty of the twelve Apostles, who had asked Him to teach them to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
Its complete and wonderful suitableness to the wants of the Church in general, in all ages and in all circumstances, is perhaps one of the most astonishing proofs given us of the infinite wisdom of Christ, and his knowledge of what is in man. It seems, indeed, to comprehend every right desire which the Christian's heart can feel, and to express every supplication which he has need to offer at the throne of grace. There is one peculiar excellence in it, besides those more generally noticed, which has so often and so powerfully struck my mind, and been of such great service to me, especially in our public worship, that I wish to present it before your readers, in the hope that it may prove also serviceable and edifying to them. I mean its remarkable fitness for each and all the different occasions of private and public prayer. Its words and petitions have been so adapted as
to be exactly suitable to express every particular want, as well as our wants in general; and it seems to be capable of many different meanings, according to the different circumstances under which it may be used.
Each petition expresses, not one want, but a large class of wants; and we may therefore, in our own mind, separate and single out any one which we wish to dwell upon, and present it, in particular, before God. And as prayer is the desire of the heart, and is there read by God before it comes upon the lips, it is not very material that we should accurately explain it in words. This is very frequently mistaken: and an error is often made of very serious consequence to the minds of many. Simple persons are led to suppose that prayer requires a command of language and a freedom of utterance, such as they do not feel they possess; and they are occasionally heard saying that they do not know how to pray. But if we understand the real nature of prayer, we shall see that it does not require any such gifts: it is simply the voice of the heart, heard by Him who knoweth the heart, and the language in which it is expressed is a very secondary matter. The words of our Lord in the prayer He has given us, will supply our deficiency; and, if fully understood, will be found to comprehend almost every petition we can desire to make. Not that we ought to confine ourselves to this one form by any means; but I think we ought to study to make it of all the use it was intended to be. And this is much more than many persons suppose.
In our public worship the Lord's Prayer occurs very frequently; and some are tempted to think it a needless or vain repetition. If they do not find its value, to them it may become vain. But there is a way of using it which will effectually prevent any repetition at all; and this is, to offer it really from the heart, and to consider it as having a meaning different in every place, appropriate to the service, or part of the service, in which it occurs. I dare say almost every one has done this in some instances; as, for example, when this prayer is offered up by the preacher immediately before the sermon, most of us, in joining in that supplication, have meant by the petition
give us this day our daily bread," to pray God to feed our souls with the spiritual food of his holy word, and have put out of mind all thought of that which nourishes only the body. And I am sure the devout preacher, when he utters the words “ Forgive us our trespasses," will particularly allude, in his own mind, to those trespasses he may commit in the awful and responsible office of teaching others, in which he is then engaging. It is only to carry this out in all the other places where this prayer occurs, and we shall find it convey a new meaning, and possess a new beauty, as often as we utter it. There are hardly any two places in which it will mean altogether the same thing, or cause us to make a repetition. It would take too long to explain this with reference to the whole service; but a few examples may be mentioned, with a remark or two in explanation. The first place in which the Lord's Prayer occurs is immediately after the general confession and absolution. Here it has a peculiar beauty and a very appropriate place; because Christian minds are well prepared to address God as “ Our Father" when they have just unburdened themselves by a penitent confession of sins, and have afterwards heard the gracious terms of forgiveness in the Gospel of Christ. It may be here understood as expressing and collecting all our wants together, and þe used in the most general sense. When again it occurs in the Litany, let it be used in a sense appropriate to the Litany, which is a form of
supplication against all the ills and evils to which we are subject in our mortal state, and was formerly appointed more particularly for seasons of calamity and trouble. In the communion service, let it have a sense in unison with that part of our worship, in the same manner; and we scarcely need point out that its occurrence after we have received the sacrament is most beautiful and striking. Every devout communicant must have experienced a peculiar delight and refreshment in repeating it at that time, with a fervency of thankfulness and confidence of entreaty, then more than usually kindled, by the sacred ordinance in which we have been engaged.
Let the same observations be applied to the occasional services, and it will be with the same advantage. The Lord's Prayer is offered immediately after the ceremony of baptism. Here, too, it has a peculiar import. We offer praise and thanks to God for allowing us to baptize in his name, and for receiving a new member into his Church. We pray that that holy "Name" may be “hallowed” by the event; we entreat Him to forgive us our trespasses, if we have in any way transgressed his will in what we have done; and to cause that this ordinance may be a means of leading us out of “ temptation” and “delivering us from evil.”
In the services for marriage, and the churching of women, and burial of the dead, it requires only that we should change the sense according to the occasion, and throw into our use of this prayer the feelings and thoughts which are suitable to each. This practice may tend very much to our edification, and will certainly remove altogether any appearance of sameness from the frequent recurrence of that admirable form of prayer. It will appear so suitable for every time and occasion, that it never can come too often; and although we may hope that this is already the opinion of every devout member of our Church, yet whatever may enable him to relish it the more will be acceptable and valuable in his eyes. E.
THE WAGES OF SIN.
The following conversation will be more interesting to my readers, if they first read some account of the sad event referred to in it.
On one of the dark evenings in the month of February, a respectable farmer, belonging to a village near the town of A—, was returning from market; and as he was walking along the public road from A--, he was joined by a young man, who was a stranger to him. The youth made some remark on the night being dark, which the farmer civilly answered, and the young man then went on to ask which way he was going, and when he heard, he told the farmer that he was going to the same village to see a relation, whom he had not seen for many years, as he had been away from the place for some time. He had at this time nothing in his hand, but he stopped soon after and cut a stick from the hedge. They had to cross two lone fields before they reached the village; and it was in the middle of one of these that this wicked youth went suddenly behind the farmer, knocked him down, and demanded his life or his money. The farmer attempted to rise, when the wretched man again knocked him violently on the head; so violently, that he stunned him. He rifled his pockets, taking his watch and purse, which contained only a few pounds, and then went off, leaving the poor man bleeding very much, and quite insensible. He left him for dead, as he afterwards confessed. Fortunately, however, the farmer, after lying for some minutes, recovered his senses, and dragged himself along to the nearest house. For several days his life was in great danger; the blow on his head had been so severe that it was feared that his senses were quite lost. On examination it was found that his skull was fractured, and the doctor gave very little hope of his recovery. He did, however, recover at last, and was well enough at the trial to identify the youth, who proved to be William Cooper. Two days after he had committed the outrage, he had been taken in a neighbouring town, where he had stopped to drink at a public-house-taken by his own father, who was a constable belonging to that town, but who did not know his illegitimate child, whom he had abandoned to sin and infamy from its birth. Ah, how little do we know to what dreadful consequences our beginnings of sin may lead!
As these circumstances took place only a short time before the assizes were held, the trial came on very soon, and William Cooper was found guilty of robbery, with intent to murder, and was condemned to death.
“What are you reading so attentively, James Bell ?” asked the Curate of M- as he came up to the cottage gate, and saw James sitting in his porch, reading a printed paper.
James. Why, it is but a sad story, sir ; it is the account of that poor lad who was executed yesterday at A
Curate. That is a sad story, James; and it ought to prove an useful warning to other young men. I have