« AnteriorContinuar »
CONVERSATION OF ENGLISH WOMEN.-Besides the cases already described, there are some darker passages in human life, when women are thrown upon the actual charm of their conversation, for rendering more alluring the home that is not valued as it should be. Perhaps a husband has learned before his marriage the fatal habit of seeking recreation in scenes of excitement and convivial mirth. It is but natural that such habits should with difficulty be broken off, and that he should look with something like weariness upon the quiet and monotony of a fireside. Music cannot always please, and books to such a man are a tasteless substitute for the evening party. He may possibly admire his wife, consider her extremely good-looking, and, for a woman, think her very pleasant; but the sobriety of matrimony palls upon his vitiated taste, and he longs to feel himself a free man again amongst his old associates. Nothing would disgust this man so much, or drive him away so effectually, as any assumption, on the part of his wife, of a right to detain him. The next most injudicious thing she could do, would be to exhibit symptoms of grief, of real sorrow and distress, at his leaving her; for whatever may be said in novels on the subject of beauty in tears, it is sure to be rendered null and void by the circumstance of marriage having taken place between the parties. The rational woman, whose conversation on this occasion is to serve her purpose more effectually than tears, knows better than to speak of what her husband would probably consider a most unreasonable subject of complaint. She tries to recollect some incident, some trait of character, or some anecdote of what has lately occurred within her knowledge, and relates it in her most lively and piquant manner. If conscious of beauty, she tries a little raillery, and plays gently upon some of her husband's not unpleasing peculiarities, looking all the while as disengaged and unsuspecting as she can. If his attention becomes fixed, she gives her conversation a more scrious turn, and plunges at once into some theme of deep and absorbing interest. If her companion grows restless, she changes the subject, and again recollects something laughable to relate to him. Yet all the while her own poor heart is aching with the feverish anxiety that vacillates between the extremes of hope and fear. She gains courage, however, as time steals on, for her husband is by her side; and with her increasing courage, her spirits become exhilarated, and she is indeed the happy woman she has hitherto but appeared; for at last her husband looks at his watch, is astonished to find it is too late to join his friends; and, while the evening closes in, he wonders whether any other man has a wife so delightful and entertaining as his own.t
CONFIRMATION.-Let me draw your attention to a custom, similar to our rite of confirmation, existing amongst the Jews. Their children, you are aware, are
From "The Women of England, their social Duties and Domestic Habits." By Mrs. Ellis, author of "The Poetry of Life," &c. &c. 4th edit. Fisher, Son, and Co., London; Quai de l'Ecole, Paris.-A sensible work, and meriting the attentive perusal of those for whose instruction it was more particularly written.
admitted into covenant with God, by the rite of circumcision, when they are eight days old, as our children are admitted into a better covenant with him, when they are infants, by the sacrament of baptism. When the minds of these Jewish children are matured to understand their duties and obligations, they are brought before the congregation to promise, in their "All own persons, obedience to the law of God. Jewish parents are reckoned to be accountable for the sins of their sons till they are thirteen years old, but no longer; and therefore when boys arrive at their thirteenth year, they are for the first time called up to the law, that is, they stand at the altar in their synagogue on the Sabbath-day, and read a chapter or more in the law themselves, and become accountable for obedience to it, and are called Bar Mitzwah, or sons of the statutes." This was the custom with the Jews in old time; and it is not unreasonably supposed that when our Lord went up with his parents to Jerusalem at the time of the feast of the passover, he accompanied them for the purpose of conforming to the customs and institutions of religion, and fulfilling the righteousness of that covenant into which, in his early infancy, he had been admitted by the ordinance of circumcision. From a letter which I have received from a Jew, who is now a member and ordained minister of our own Church, I find that this custom is still continued amongst the sons of Israel now in the days of their dispersion. "A Jewish boy," he informs me, "at the age of thirteen years is received into full communion in the Jewish synagogue. His father then puts his hand upon the son's head, and says that he, the father, is no more responsible for the sins of his son, but that he must be answerable for them himself." As the Jews, then, admitted infants into covenant with God by the rite of circumcision, so do we admit them into covenant with him, through Jesus Christ, by the sacrament of baptism: and, as the Jews bring their children, in mature years, to promise obedience to the covenant in their own names, so also do we bring the youthful members of our Church to confirmation, to promise for themselves obedience to the "everlasting covenant." As the apostles, by the "laying on of hands," confirmed those who had been converted and baptised, "and prayed over them," that they might receive the Holy Ghost, and as St. Paul has enumerated the "laying on of hands" amongst "the principles of the doctrine of Christ,"-so must we, taking them for our example, the Scripture for our guide, "follow their godly motions" in all things, and seek for the gift of grace, as the first converts sought for it, in answer to many prayers, and by the "laying on of hands."-Rev. J. Downall.
AIR. Atmospheric air is a compound body; its elements are azote, oxygen, and carbonic acid. The two former are simple gases, the last is a mixture of oxygen and carbon. The proportion which these elements bear to one another in pure air is that which is most conducive to health. If the quantity of oxygen is increased, the circulation is quickened, and symptoms of fever appear; if, on the other hand, the proportion of carbonic acid is great, it diminishes the vital energy, produces headaches, languor, and even death. When air is respired, its composition is altered; the quantity of azote remains almost the same, but a large portion of the oxygen disappears, and is replaced by carbonic acid.-Curtis on Health.
London: Published by JAMES BURNS, 17 Portman Street, Portman Square; W. EDWARDS, 12 Ave-Maria Lane, St. Paul's; and to be procured, by order, of all Booksellers in Town and Country.
ROBSON, LEVEY, AND FRANKLYN, 46 ST. MARTIN'S LANE.
ON THE OMISSION OF THE DUTY OF
prayer to correspond with the morning sacrifice, evening prayer with the evening sacrifice, and the additional prayer with the additional sacrifice. And we find the sacred writers themselves, both of the Old and New Testaments, alluding to the connexion between sacrifice and prayer. Thus Hosea calls upon Israel to render unto God the calves of the lips" (xiv. 2). Thus Saul is spoken of as making supplication and sacrifice almost the same: "I had not made supplication unto the Lord; I forced myself therefore and offered a burnt-offering" (1 Sam. xiii. 12). And Solomon unites both in a passage already cited: "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord; but the prayer of the upright is his delight" (Prov. xv. 8; 2 Mac. i. 28, 29). And in the New Testament St. Paul calls upon us" by Christ to offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually" (Heb. xiii. 15); and St. Peter describes all Christians as "an holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. ii. 5).
THE actions and outward ceremonies of the
VOL. VII.-NO. CLXXVIII.
But it is probable that the offering of incense was yet more particularly considered as a figure or symbol of the offering of prayer. Accordingly we find, that it was the custom of the Jews, at the time of our Saviour, to offer up their prayers in the courts of the temple, when the priest was burning incense. within the temple itself. So David in the text likens his prayer to incense: and St. John in the Revelation connects incense and prayer in a very remarkable manner; "The four and twenty elders," he says, " fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints" (v. 8). Again;
[London: Robson, Levey, and Franklyn, 46 St. Martin's Lane.]
"Another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hands" (viii. 3, 4).
But now, when we have made all these allowances, and have fully admitted that the children of Israel might be taught the feelings and sentiments of prayer, even when no express command to pray was given them, and no express forms of prayer were prescribed to them; and might be taught the nature and value of prayer, and all other parts of spiritual worship through the medium of outward ceremonies and actions, the offering of incense and sacrifices, which were figures, emblems, and symbols of prayer and praise; and when we have admitted also, that they could never have been ignorant of the duty of prayer, and that they observed, for many years at least before Christ, the practice of prayer, private and public,-still we shall find a marked and surprising difference between the law and the Gospel as to the duty and privilege of prayer. It is scarcely necessary for me to cite passages to point out this difference. Every one must recollect abundance of passages in the New Testament enjoining prayer, exhorting us to pray, encouraging us to pray, and promising an express blessing upon our prayers in Christ's name; passages which must needs appear in marked and striking contrast with those few sentences which we gathered from the law. "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father, which is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him?" (Matt. vii. 7, 8, 11). "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." These are the words of Christ (Matt. vii., Luke xi., John xv. xvi). And hence the commandments, exhortations, and promises to his disciples, " Be sober, and watch unto prayer;" "pray without ceasing;" "I will that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands without wrath or doubting ;" effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much;" "this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us; and if we
know that he hear us, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him" (1 Thess. v. 17; 1 Tim. ii. 8; James, v. 16; 1 Pet. iv. 7; 1 John, iii. 21, 22). A wide difference this between the commands and promises in the law and those in the Gospel, on the subject of prayer.
And yet it can scarcely be pretended, that the greater knowledge of the elder people made them stand less in need of instruction; and if it be alleged, that they would be more disposed to pray, because the allowed subjects of their prayers were temporal blessings, and the grant of their petitions was frequently immediate and extraordinary, yet this would furnish an additional reason for full instruetion under circumstances so peculiar and tempting, rather than lessen our surprise at so extraordinary a defect in the Mosaic law.
Why then was this? Can we at all account for it-for so considerable an omission in the law? It is obvious that the case before us is remarkably similar to that of the omission of the doctrine of a future state in the law; and the resemblance between these cases is well worthy of our attention. Scarcely any thing is said in the law of Moses on the doctrine of a future state, or of the duty of prayer; yet the people knew of the doctrine of the future state, and most of them believed in it long before the era of the Gospel; so also they knew of the propriety of prayer, and probably observed the practice of it in private and public long before the Gospel. But in both cases the prophets subsequent to Moses had gradually improved the knowledge of the people, and added to the light imparted by the law. Nevertheless, it was still the glory of the Gospel to shed full light upon the doctrine of "life and immortality." And so also it was reserved for Christ to teach his disciples how to pray aright; and when they knew at length in whose name they should pray, to promise a blessing upon their prayers. For indeed, as it is through Jesus Christ alone that we are made heirs of eternal life, so through him alone our unworthy prayers are really acceptable to Almighty God. And yet it was thought fitting that men should believe and hope in the doctrine of a future life, even before the grounds of that doctrine and foundation of their hopes could be clearly discovered. And in like manner we understand, that it was fitting that men should observe the duty of prayer to God, even before they could be fully instructed in His name through whom their prayers were acceptable; just as men teach their children to lisp their prayers to God before their understandings have attained even to that slight knowledge of his majesty to which we ourselves can attain.
have now considered, let them enforce the great Christian lesson of our own unworthiness, teaching us habitually and practically to ascribe the acceptance of prayer to His merits alone, who presents the prayers of his saints before his Father's throne. Let us always remember that prayer is not only a great duty, but a high privilege; and let the thoughts of these great truths make us ashamed of the careless, proud, unworthy offerings which we too frequently dare to offer up before the majesty of God. I do not speak merely of the prayers of the wicked: even Solomon could tell us that "the sacrifice of the wicked is abomination to the Lord." A Christian should not require to be reminded, that the hands which he lifts up in prayer must be "holy." But what we perpetually forget, is, the great majesty of God to whom we pray, and the great unworthiness of all who worship him,-their utter unfitness to pray unto him except through Christ. He is the Priest who offers up incense for us, and through his sacrifice alone our prayers are acceptable; and prayer is a great privilege, which Christ has procured for us. How little do we think of this, when we kneel down in our chambers, and hurry over a few short prayers, scarcely thinking of their sense and meaning as if this were serving God, or likely to profit ourselves! Nay, even in our churches, where we meet at stated seasons, and devote a short space expressly to prayer, even there our thoughts wander, our eyes are distracted, we slight the duty and forget the privilege of prayer. For our these high privileges we shall, indeed, give account hereafter; but let us, as we easily may, under grace, improve ourselves diligently by them, and value them aright whilst yet they are permitted to us; approaching the house of prayer with gladness and humility, as the redeemed servants of the most high God, and earnestly seeking through the grace of the Holy Spirit that our prayers may in truth and in deed ascend up to God as the incense, and that we may always offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to him through his Son..
And two of the uses of this gradual de- | claration of the truth would be these:-1st, The absence from the law of Moses both of express general injunctions to pray, and of distinct promises of blessing on their prayers, would greatly tend to make the Jews in later times acknowledge the inferiority of their law to the Gospel. And it was of great consequence, as we know from St. Paul's epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. vii. 18, 19; viii. 6, 7; x. 1, &c.), that the Jews should be taught and should feel that the law of Moses-nay, that the law and the prophets together, were far below the Gospel of Jesus Christ. had been necessary for many ages that they should set a high value on the law; but now at last it was become necessary that they should learn its great inferiority to that Gospel, of which it was but the forerunner and the shadow.
2dly, The omission in the law of commands and promises respecting the great natural duty of prayer, would make not Jews, but Christians also, consider what it was which really gives efficacy to their unworthy prayers. It seems, therefore, to have been ordered, that the great sacrifice on the cross should be at hand before that duty was most distinctly enjoined, and the highest blessings distinctly promised to its observance; because prayer was, in fact, only acceptable to an offended God through the merits of that Saviour who died on the cross to reconcile to him a fallen and sinful world. Till that time was near at hand, the offering of sacrifices, which represented and typified the great atonement, and the offering up of incense, which, being offered only by the hands of the priest, represented not prayers simply, but prayers and mediation together,-had a great and evident propriety in the economy of the Divine revelations. And thus the omission in the law was part of the great scheme of preparation for the Gospel.
I scarcely need remark, in the last place, that every additional circumstance which we can discover in the great scheme of Providence, by which preparation was made for the Gospel of Christ, was designed to impress more and more deeply upon our minds the immense value and importance of that Gospel. And most assuredly every Christian, of every age and condition, who will sincerely and carefully examine his own heart, must deeply feel the need of every circumstance which, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, that best gift of all that prayer can procure for us, may touch our hearts, and make us practically alive to the value and importance of the Gospel.
Again, as to the particular circumstances concerning the duty of prayer, which we
Delivered on the Anniversary of a Parish Provident Society.
BY THE REV. J. MELLOR BROWN, B.A. Late Incumbent of Hylton, Durham.
"I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and lo! it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down."-Prov. xxiv. 30, 31.
WE here see an instance of the way in which the wisest of men judged of his fellow-creatures. Although Solomon had never heard that precept of the Gospel,
"By their fruits ye shall know them," yet it is evident that it was the rule by which he formed his opinion of men's characters. When he beheld a field overgrown with thorns, and a garden ruined with weeds, he concluded that they belonged to the slothful and inconsiderate man; and he was not mistaken.
And the same rule will be found equally useful and correct in discovering a man's character now, as it was in the days of Solomon. The ruined wall and the neglected garden will still point out the sluggard; and thorns and nettles are still the fruits which mark the man void of understanding. And as the rule may be as easily applied to ourselves as to those we see around us, it will enable a man to know his own character no less certainly than his neighbour's. Let us all, accordingly, endeavour to judge ourselves by this rule. Let us seek to know ourselves by our fruits, and by the condition in which our heritage is kept: so shall our works, if they are good, praise us; and if they are evil, lead us to repentance and amendment.
Among the ancient Jews, lands continued in the same families for ever. No man could sell his inheritance for more than fifty years; for the year of jubilee came round once in forty-nine years, and then all landed property returned back to the family to which it at first belonged. This law, which had been framed by the Almighty himself, made the sale of lands and vineyards difficult. No spendthrift had any encouragement to turn his field into money, for purchasers must have been few. No wealthy miser had any temptation to join field to field and house to house, for "the year of release was at hand," when his large estate would be again broken up into small parcels. Hence men would oftentimes be compelled to keep their inheritance, and to till it that they might obtain bread.
But although the laws discouraged the Israelites from parting with the inheritance of their fathers, we may readily conclude what was the disposition of some, at least, among them; they were slothful, they were void of understanding. They took no pleasure in their little fields; their gardens became a waste; their vineyard grew up into a wilderness; the king of Israel, as he passed through the villages of the land, saw many a neglected field. He saw vineyards and oliveyards which had become wild; thorns and briars had choked the vines, and brambles were climbing up the fig-trees. Instead of grass in the orchards, nothing but nettles could be seen. The stone walls, which some of the owner's industrious forefathers had built round his garden, were broken down, and he had never repaired them; where they fell down, there they lay and such as his vineyard was, such also, in all likelihood, was his cottage; the windows broken, and the roof dropping through. In wet and wintry weather he could not repair the breaches thereof, and in the warm and summer season he did not feel the need of a shelter.
And if such was the habitation, what, we may naturally ask, was the state of the owner who dwelt in it? He is described as a sluggard, and a man void of understanding. He was an indolent, thoughtless, idle man. He loved sleep, and gave way to slumber as the royal company went along, he seems to have been standing at the door of his house
folding his hands together for sleep," or leaning over the ruinous wall, idly looking at the king as he passed by. Solomon appears to have stopped, and made those reflections which the scene was calculated to excite-reflections which, perhaps, were addressed to the man himself, and which are recorded for our admonition to the end of the world. "Then I saw," said the king," and considered it well; I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man."
Scenes, in many respects similar to that which king Solomon describes, may sometimes be witnessed in England. Less frequently, however, do they occur now than in former days; for our laws give every encouragement for the sale of property. And whenever the sluggard or the wasteful prodigal wishes to sell his little field, industrious and thriving men in abundance are found ready to buy it, and to make that profit of it which its unworthy owner was unable to do.
On every hand, in every parish, we may meet with those two classes of character-the slothful man and the diligent man. And although it is not every man who has a field or a vineyard which he may neglect, yet every man has something which may be improved by care, or ruined by sloth. And I would remark, in further pursuing the present subject, that this holds true in things temporal, and in things spiritual.
Let the remark be first applied to things temporal, to the things and concerns of the present world. There is, perhaps, no man in this kingdom, however humble be his station, who has not had opportunities, in the course of his lifetime, of providing for a comfortable old age. What man is there who has arrived at three score years of age, but must confess, that if all the pence and all the shillings which he has spent in folly or in sin,-all which he has squandered at the publichouse, or wasted in idle bets, and wagers, and gambling, all which he has thrown away in vanity, or in clothes which ill became his rank,-were to be all collected together, it would make a goodly sum?
How many among the poor have on various occasions had opportunities of bettering their state and condition, if diligence and frugality had been employed in improving them! What master is there who does not value a careful and industrious, an honest and sober servant? And few masters are so hard and unjust as not to reward and encourage such. Although Joseph was brought into Potiphar's house a bondman and a slave, yet you will recollect that he quickly rose to a place of confidence and trust. And although the same Joseph was, on another occasion, unjustly and maliciously cast into prison, yet even there he was promoted to have authority over his fellow-prisoners. Joseph was diligent, and he was not only diligent, but conscientious. He made conscience of every duty; and it is impossible to say whether he served his God or his master with greater faithfulness; and thus also he found favour both with God and man. To Joseph the words of Scripture were eminently applicable: "Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before mean men."
In this subject, however, there is a distinction which ought carefully to be made, and that is, between the diligent man, and the man who "maketh haste to be rich." Diligence is a virtue approved and commended by God; but over-anxious speed to be rich, is a fault, of which the Scripture declares, that the man who is guilty of it "shall not be innocent." "The love of money is the root of all evil." "Covetousness is idolatry." To set our hearts upon money, to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of carefulness, in order that we may gain wealth, so far from being according to the will of God, is directly contrary to it. Such habits will pierce a man through with many sorrows; they will harden the heart, and will at last shut us out from the kingdom of heaven. It is of the utmost importance, then, that whilst a man shuns one sin, he should not fall into another; whilst he guards against becoming a sluggard, he must also beware of worldly-mindedness and a miserly love of money. The grace of God, if we sincerely seek it, will preserve us from all errors, and enable us to walk safely in the narrow path of righteousness.
Would you know certainly whether it is Christian diligence or a worldly mind which influences you in your business, ask your conscience, how you wish, and