« AnteriorContinuar »
closet chaplain. “ Their prayers,” saith he, “are more prevalent, they flow from minds more enlightened, from affections less distracted.” Admit this true, which is not, this might be something said as to their prayers for him, but what avails it to their praying with him ? If his own mind “ be encumbered with secular affairs,” what helps it his particular prayer, though the mind of his chaplain be not wandering, either after new preferment, or his dinner? The fervency of one man in prayer cannot supererogate for the coldness of another; neither can his spiritual defects in that duty be made out, in the acceptance of God, by another man's abilities. Let him endeavour to have more light in himself, and not to walk by another man's lamp, but to get oil into his own. Let him cast from him, as in a Christian warfare, that secular encumbrance, which either distracts or overloads him; his load else will never be the less heavy, because another man's is light. Thus these pious flourishes and colours, examined thoroughly, are like the apples of Asphaltis, (83) appearing goodly to the sudden eye, but look well upon them, or at least but touch them, and they turn into cinders.
318. In his prayer he remembers what “ voices
(83) Commonly denominated the “Apples of Sodom.” What those apples were I have endeavoured to explain in my « Travels in the Valley of the Nile ;” where, describing the voyage upward from Dandoor, I observe, in speaking of the Asheyr :“ Nothing can be more beautiful than the fruit of this tree : in size greatly exceeding an orange, and of a soft green colour, tinged on the sunny side with a ruddy blush, covered with a
of joy and gladness” there were in his chapel, “God's house,” in his opinion, between the singing men and the organs; and this was “unity of spirit in the bond of peace;" the vanity, superstition, and misdevotion of which place, was a scandal far and near: wherein so many things were sung and prayed in those songs, which were not understood ; and yet he who makes a difficulty how the people can join their hearts to extemporal prayers, though distinctly heard and understood, makes no question how they should join their hearts in unity to songs not understood.
319. I believe that God is no more moved with a prayer 'elaborately penned, than men truly charitable are moved with the penned speech of a beggar. Finally, 0 ye ministers, ye pluralists, (64) hoary down, and a bloom resembling that of the peach, it hangs, tempting the eye, among the pale foliage. Yet frequently, while all its external loveliness remains, it is found, when broken, to contain nothing but dust and ashes. May not this, therefore, since the tree abounds in the vicinity of the Dead Sea, be the celebrated apple of Sodom ?" (Egypt and Mohammed Ali, i. 390.)
(84) It is customary in our own times, as it has always been, to denounce as enemies of the church all who desire to see it purified from carnal stains, and restored to something like its primitive simplicity. Our Saviour, we know, was hated by the Scribes and Pharisees,—the pluralists and tithe-hunters of those days,-because in his divine admonitions he never spared the mammonish spirit which led them to consider religion as “a remunerating profession,” as something by which aristocratic younger brothers, and dextrous time-servers from among the lower orders, might be quartered in droves upon the people. Milton, who in this, as in all things, regarded His example as the best a Christian could follow, denounces with unsparing energy the unspiritual tithe-eaters whom he saw devouring the land; and now, since similar abuses are found in the church, it becomes the duty of every
whose lips preserve not knowledge, but the way ever open to your bellies, read here what work he makes among your wares, your gallipots, your balms and cordials, in print; and not only your sweet sippets in widows' houses, but the huge gobbets wherewith he charges you to have devoured houses and all; the “ houses of your brethren, your king, and your God.” Cry him up for a saint in your pulpits, while he cries you down for atheists into hell.
Upon his penitential Meditations and Vows at
320. It is not hard for any man who hath a Bible in his hands, to borrow good words and holy sayings in abundance; but to make them his own, is a work of grace, only from above. He borrows here many penitential verses out of David's psalms. So did many among those Israelites, who had revolted from the true worship of God,“ invent to themselves instruments of music, like David,” and probably psalms also like his : and yet the prophet Amos complains heavily against them. But to
man, to whom the interests and happiness of his country appear important, to be equally zealous in recommending and pushing forward the work of reformation.
prove how short this is of true repentance, I will recite the penitence of others, who have repented in words not borrowed, but their own, and yet, by the doom of Scripture itself, are judged reprobates.
321. “Cain said unto the Lord : My iniquity is greater than I can bear: behold thou hast driven me this day from the face of the earth, and from thy face shall I be hid.
" And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceeding bitter cry, and said, Bless me, even me also, O my father; yet found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. Heb. xii.
“ And Pharaoh said to Moses, The Lord is righteous, I and my people are wicked; I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you.
“And Balaam said, Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.
“And Saul said to Samuel, I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord; yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people.
“ And when Ahab heard the words of Elijah, he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.
“ Jehoram also rent his clothes, and the people looked, and behold he had sackcloth upon his flesh;" yet in the very act of his humiliation he could say, “ God do so, and more also to me, if the head of Elisha shall stand on him this day.
“ Therefore, saith the Lord, They have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon
their beds. They return, but not to the Most High, Hosea vii.
“ And Judas said, I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood. (85)
“ And Simon Magus said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things come upon me.”
322. All these took the pains both to confess and to repent in their own words, and many of them in their own tears, not in David's. But transported with the vain ostentation of imitating David's language, not his life, (86) observe how he brings a curse
(85) Nothing could more strongly mark the odious light in which Charles I. appeared to Milton, than this section, where tacitly he classes him with Cain, Pharaoh, and Judas Iscariot, who, like him, prayed to the Almighty, when punishment was about to overtake them. But, whatever was the guilt of that bad king, and it was not a little, we ought perhaps to acquit him of the hypocrisy contained in the “ Eikon Basilikè,” which is probably the work of a bishop; though it would seem to have been shown the king, and to have obtained, though we know not how far, his approbation. As this point is doubtful, let him, therefore, enjoy the credit of not having been the author of the cant and nonsense published in his name.
(66) Gibbon, in his account of Andronicus Comnenus, quoted in a former note, describes that consummate tyrant as most adroitly imitating the style of St. Paul, but making no attempt to imitate his life. Our own tyrant must certainly have been an adept in all the subtle arts of autocracy, since he not only im. posed upon his contemporaries, but has obtained from posterity, in a Protestant country, the honours of a popish saint and martyr. But in this transaction our countrymen somewhat resemble the crocodile-worshippers of Egypt, who, when their god grew large, and threatened to become dangerous, killed, and then adored him. Numbers of gods that had undergone this pious kind of martyrdom, are, in fact, still found closely and carefully packed up in the caverns of the Saïd. (Egypt and Mohammed Ali, ii. 174.)