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his numerous petitions and requests to God; how Daniel and Nehemiah and the prophets addressed the throne of mercy; how our divine and blessed Saviour prayed, and how He has taught us also to pray. Here we have the prayers of apostles and holy saints in the kingdom of Christ. So that, if needful, we might use wholly the very words of scripture in our public prayers. Well, not less than all this should characterise our public devotional services.
Do you object to the length of prayers constructed on this model ? I reply, that all this may be comprised in fifteen minutes, or even less, if the leader of the devotions is not verbose and repetitious. If he has the gift of sententiousness, avoiding a pompous style or mere wordiness of expression. I admit that it may require thought and care, and the formation of a succinct style ; but can we bestow attention on anything more important than glorifying God and edifying our fellow-men? But how often is the devotional part of worship unedifying and profitless. Sometimes : -(1) Through its wandering unconnectedness. No union of thought, no consecutiveness of aim, no natural cohesion of idea or sentiment. Some prayers are like a vague medley or fantastic patchwork, where you have every form and color, without harmonious adjustment. Prayers are often unedifying :-(2) Through their sterility. There is little water in the well, and therefore the utmost labor is required to produce even a moderate supply. The heart must have the desires within, or the mouth cannot give them expression : -(3) Through their wordiness. A mere heap of unnecessary terms and phrases, with few ideas or distinct aspirations. How wearisome this to the intelligent worshipper. How poor a service to present to the only wise God :-(4) Through their limitedness. The prayers of some are nearly all doctrinal forms of speech; of others, experimental realizations; whilst others move in the most contracted circle, leaving out nearly everything that ought to be specially included. In four services during the last summer I worshipped in congregations where no prayer was offered for the Queen, the Magistracy, the Church, the nation, or the world in general ; where no petition was presented for the ministry, for the sick, or for the dying. Some prayers do not edify :-(5) Because they are homilies, or fragments of sermons, and not specifically devotional. How absurd to give a small outline of doctrines in prayers, or portions of didactic teaching, or theological illustration, or mere poetic embellishment. Many are worse even than this, for some persons do all their scolding to their fellow-men, when they are professedly addressing God. Others are profitless, because they are :-(6) So cold and formal. No “thoughts that breathe, or words that burn." No, the fire seems to be dying out on the altar; the spirit of devotion is either gone or departing. All is frigid, icy, and therefore chilling and soul-freezing. Prayers may be unedifying :-(7) By their prettiness. The offering of solemn prayer is laid aside, and a sort of devotional bouquet collected, and fantastically tied together, and in the self-sufficiency of human vanity laid on the altar of God. How absurd to suppose God can be pleased by such attempts at what are no better than childish follies. But prayers may offend :-(8) By their self-elation or boasting. Where there is the absence of deep abasement, the want of self-immolation; and where the avowed suppliant exhibits himself, his learning, his rhetoric, or his high sounding phrases, --which are no better than "sounding brass or tinkling cymbals.” Better than pray thus, more edifying would it be to the people to read in a devout manner portions of the Litany, or some of the short and expressive collects to be found in the book of Common Prayer. Men who have to lead the devotional service are bound to seek divine qualification for their office and work ; to seek both the gift and grace of prayer ; to make suitable preparation, if they cannot depend on their extemporaneous powers. Poor as much of the preaching in some pulpits may be, I am satisfied the praying is poorer still; and I do not wonder that men of devotional minds should rather prefer the long and repetitious, and every Sabbath reiterated, prayers of the Church of England, than have the miserable
fare dissenting chapels often supply. And there can be no well-grounded reason for omitting the Lord's Prayer altogether, as is very often the case. After some years of deep reflection, I believe that a more spiritual devotional service is one of the greatest wants in our public worship, and a want that we should earnestly labor to supply. To be clear, full, comprehensive, earnest, and powerful in public prayer, and to obtain a manner which will evince reverence and deep humility, are among the things immediately connected with our ministerial usefulness, and the edification of the body of Christ. No doubt a due regard to the exercises of the closet, with a regular attendance at the family altar, will be great helps; but we should both study and pray, labor and ask of God, that the spirit of prayer may copiously rest upon us. How needful the request—"Lord teach us how to pray.” Warm our hearts. Stir up Thy good gift of prayer within us, and give us the power, that ours may be the effectual utterances that avail much.
J. BURNS, D.D.
SUBJECT :- Time is Short.
"But this I say, brethren, the time is short : it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.” Cor. vii. 29–31.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Sixty.
It is common, just, and useful, to illustrate the brevity of. man's time on earth, by comparing it with the longevity of the first Patriarchs ; the magnitude of the spiritual work we have to accomplish ; and the immeasurableness of that eternity to which we are all destined. I shall confine my attention at present, however, to indicate those aspects in which the apostle in the text regards its brevity.
I. He intimates that the time for THE DOMESTIC COXNEXIONS OF THE WORLD IS SHORT. “ It remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none,” &c. The matrimonial principle is the basis of the family institution, and seems peculiar to man. It appears not to exist either with higher or lower life. Man is the creature of the family. His domestic impulses are all-imperious. He is nursed in infant-hood, and trained through all the successive stages to mature life, under the soft and moulding influence of the family institution. When in the vigor of youth, Providence calls him to leave his first home, for the development of his powers in the open world, the domestic instinct, instead of weakening, waxes stronger, and impels him to become the head of a family himself. Thus the world goes on. Man's life runs through a circle of domestic relations. He is first the subject of parental solicitude and rule; then he advances to the position of parental love and power; and then on he passes, until amidst the infirmities of old age, when the grasshopper becomes a burden, he becomes again the subject of domestic solicitude and sway. Far enough am I from complaining of this arrangement; on the contrary, I thank my Maker for the goodness it indicates and imparts. What generous, self-denying, and deathless sympathies are brought into play in the home of a well organized family. It is earth's chief nursery and highest type of Heaven.
But this relationship, good and beautiful as it is, Paul says, “is short.” The connexion between husband and wife “is short." Few are allowed to climb the hill together, and fewer still, are permitted hand-in-hand, “to totter down.” The millions of the married separate on the green slopes on their way up.
If family connexions are thus so dissoluble and transient, how ought the members to feel and act towards each other? Why, live in vital connexion with that Gospel, which consecrates, exalts, beatifies, and immortalizes, all human friendships ;-live, so as to weave around the hearts those spiritual ties of holy love, which will strengthen with years,
survive the grave, unite in heaven, and reign through the eternal hereafter.
II. He intimates that the time for THE SORROWS AND JOYS OF THE WORLD IS SHORT. “They that weep, as though they wept not, and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not,” &c. There are a weeping and rejoicing that will never end. The lost sinner will weep for ever tears of ruthless remorse, black despair, and terrible forebodings. There is a rejoicing that will never end; the joy of disinterested love, of a commending conscience, of an harmonious nature, of an ever-brightening and an ever-expanding hope.
But there is a sorrow and a rejoicing that will end with life. The tear of worldly anxiety and disappointment will flow no more after death. The joy, too, of worldly success and sensual gratification goes out at the grave. (1) The transitoriness of worldly sorrow and joy is a consolatory thought to the good man ;-for all his sorrows end here, and all those of his joys which are carnal and unsatisfactory. (2) This transitoriness of worldly sorrow and joy is a terrible thought to the wicked. Many of the sorrows he has now, will make way for greater ones, and all the pleasures he has now, will end for ever.
III. He intimates that the time for THE MERCANTILE TRANSACTIONS OF THE WORLD IS SHORT. "They that buy, as though they possessed not.” We, the men of this age and Island, are emphatically a commercial people. The market commands our talents and engrosses our time. We make well-nigh all things marketable; we trade even in ideas ;yes, and religion too.
Whether man is constitutionally, as some have affirmed, an exchanging animal or not, he has become so now. The characteristics of the soul are often lost in the attributes of the shopkeeper; the man is absorbed in the merchant. The principle of commerce we appreciate as an element in the disciplinary system under which we live. It is adapted to