« AnteriorContinuar »
the gospel, and longed for the conversion of sinners! And how often, in fact, have prayer meetings been the precursors of signal deliverance to the church, and of extensive revivals of religion !
To encourage his followers, however few in any place they may be, that can assemble, our Redeemer has made the gracious declaration : • Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. It is not, indeed, to be supposed that the mere fact of our being assembled will excite in the omniscient Jehovah a greater attention to our prayers than they would receive if offered by us apart and at different times. But surely it is our duty to regard every indication of his will; and it is delightful to observe how admirably he has adapted all his requirements of us to our condition, and all the means that he employs to the accomplishment of his purposes. We are not merely individuals : we are also social beings. We are affected by the feelings and the actions of those who are around us. At a prayer meeting, some person is impelled by the call of manifest duty to proceed. The spirit of ardent devotion breathed forth by one in a company of Christians, is an obvious and a
means of exciting it in the rest. One is also roused by the present example of another. Thus more prayers are made than would have been made, had there been no meeting : they are offered with the voice and the heart by more of the saints, and with more faith and fervency.
The same grand motives which urge us to meet once, urge us to continue to meet; and the permanent appointment of a time that recurs regularly after certain intervals, it is evident, conduces much to the continuance of a meeting, and to a general attendånce. And the reasons which exist for Christians who reside near each other to assemble at the same place, exist, in a great degree, for them all to assemble somewhere at the same time. The example in one town or country calls loudly to the friends of religion in others to awake. It reproaches their neglect. It encourages their humble attempts. When the appointed hour of special prayer arrives, the recollection that the children of God in various parts of the world, in America, in Europe, in Africa, and in Asia, are this moment presenting their fervent supplications for the coming of the kingdom of our Lord, can hardly fail to p:oduce in the Christian some emotions favorable to devotion. It reminds him of his own duty, and of his exalted privilege. It asks hiin how he, saved from eternal wo, a child of God, an heir of heaven, can be so engaged in worldly pursuits as to forget the perishing millions around him, or be unable to spend an hour or two in entreating his heavenly Father to cause them to 'taste and see that the Lord is gracious. It prompts him to attend the appointed meeting, and it inspires him with additional servency as he approaches the throne of
grace. With these views, dear brethren, we indulge the pleasing confidence, that, in every church, you will, with increasing interest and promptitude, unite with our brethren throughout the world, in supporting a meeting for special prayer. " The establishment
of a prayer meeting, the first Monday evening in every month, for the revival of religion and the extension of Christ's kingdom in the world, was at an association of Baptist ministers and churches held at Nottingham, (England,) in 1784. Soon after this period, Christians of other denominations began to meet on the same evening for the purpose of offering up solemn prayer and praise to God. The pious example has been almost universally followed. On the first Monday in every month, the prayers of the saints ascend to the Father of mercies, like one vast column of incense, from every quarter of the globe."'*
It will be recollected that the monthly concert has been affectiontely recommended to all our churches by the General Convention of the Baptist denomination in the United States. It is now affording to multitudes of them some of their most delightful sea
Songs of praise, fervent prayers, brief accounts of revivals, and striking pieces of religious intelligence, following each other in due succession, give variety and interest to all the exercises ; while, to the eye of faith, the divine Saviour appears in the midst of the assembly, breathing on them the Holy Spirit.
Partakers of the heavenly calling! Disciples of Christ, that love his truth and his commands ! let us all wait on the Lord,' and 'be of good courage. In this day of wonders, let us with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours,' present our supplications for all inen; for all in authority, that they may rule in the fear of God, and that the rights of man may every where be enjoyed. At a time of political commotion, especially, let us humbly and earnestly commend our country with all its endeared institutions, to the holy and gracious Ruler on high; and then we may hope, in proceeding to the discharge of our duties as members of the civil community, to exhibit a salutary example of Christian moderation and dignity. pray for the churches, that they may be built up in the most holy faith, and in the order of the gospel, abounding in brotherly love, and adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things; for different denominations of professed Christians, that all may be delivered from every error in principle and in practice; for the right instruction of the young; for heavenly wisdom upon all to whom have been intrusted in any measure the interests and character of seminaries, whether of secular or of sacred learning; and for continual showers of divine, sanctifying influence upon the instructers and the instructed. Let us pray for the enlightening of the poor and ignorant; for the diffusion of the Scriptures, that all the inhabitants of the earth may read, each in his own language, the word of God; and for the success of other cfforts, whether direct or indirect, to make known the truth as it is in Jesus. Let us pray more fervently than ever for ministers of the gopel, that they may be full of the Holy Ghost and of faith, scribes well instructed, able and faithful; that they may be sustained under all their trials, that they may shun not to declare all the counsel of
* See Alberican Baptist Magazine, Vol. I. p. 19.
God,' that they may be led to treat most on the most needful subjects, always bearing in mind that they are to watch for souls . as they that must give account.' Let us also raise our fervent and united prayer to the throne of God that missions, conveying the genuine gospel to the benighted nations, may be supported with becoming zeal and liberality; that all who have the superintendence of missionary efforts, may in all the affairs which shall come before them, be guided to the adoption of such measures as shall be pleasing to the great Head of the church; and that the missionaries, those dear brethren and sisters who have gone from us to heathen and barbarous regions, though far from kindred and Christian friends, and though exposed to innumerable dangers, may be shielded by the arm of the Almighty; that they may be cheered and strengthened in their work, and be permitied to see their labors crowned with the blessing of Heaven. It is estimated that six hundred millions—about three fourths of the human raceare involved in the abominations and the miseries of heathenism or of Mahometan delusion. O brethren! who that has himself ever known the preciousness of Christ crucified, can neglect to. raise his fervent cry to that Being who only is able to open their blind eyes, to subdue their hearts, and give to the Son the heathen for an inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession ? With equal ferrency let us pray also for the destitute of preaching, and of faithful preaching, in countries usually denominated Christian; and, remembering that 'neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase, let us implore his inercy upon those to whom the gospel is preached, that to them it may be the power of God unto salvation,' and not by being disobeyed, become the means of their aggravated condemnation.
While thus we pray, it may be hoped we shall perceive that, to be consistent, we must do all that is in our power for the prosperity of the Redeemer's kingdom. Shall we then shrink back, and neglect to pray ? No, brethren. . We will not; we cannot. The promises of Jehovah, and the astonishing movements of the present day, urge us onward. May the language of every heart be, 'For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.'
LESSONS FOR THE YOUNG.
(Translated from a work of Chancellor Niemeyer.)
No. III. Special Introduction to the Scriptures. Besides the loftiest religious ideas that any outward and imperfect system contains, the Writings of the Old Testament contain also the most elevated notions of God, majestic songs of praise, powerful attacks upon religious errors, excellent instructions upon
the difference of a merely outward, and a truly spiritual and devout worship of God. They are certainly the only book of antiquity, in which a deep religious feeling is expressed.
Not less important are they in their moral instructions. These are found, 1. in a multitude of short energetic sentences ; 2. in instructive and warning examples ; 3. in spiritual songs, which are patterns for every expression of devout and moral feelings and sentiments. Yet many of the most instructive portions have traces of the imperfect character of the period and of the people. Hence the inexperienced reader needs the guidance of the experience ed; and the pure morality of the Gospel still remains as the standard, by which every thing is to be judged.
OF THE INDIVIDUAL BOOKS OF THE OLD
The Mosaic Writings. With Moses, (1500 years before Christ,) began the literature of the Hebrews, if we may so speak. He is by all considered as one of the most remarkable men of antiquity; remarkable for his early misfortunes, bis education, his patriotism, his enterprising and persevering spirit, his unshaken trust in God, his lasting influence upon his nation, his various services, and particularly for his Law.
Five Books, or the Pentateuch, bear his name. Antiquity ascribes them to him as their author. Documents and fragments of an earlier age are found in them, and other portions could have been written at a later period. That, however, much proceeded from Moses, can be proved by weighty reasons; (and the genuineness of the Pentateuch has been most satisfactorily vindicated by Jahn in his Introduction to the Old Testament.* ]
Great and extensive was the influence of the Mosaic Writings upon the Jewish nation. They are their oldest historical ducuments, their code of laws, the archetype of their language, the regulator of the instructions of their later wise men, frequently the materials of their poets. In reverence for them, even the Jews and the Samaritans unite.
But they are also most remarkable and interesting for later times, as certainly the oldest monument of legislative wisdom. Some laws, for instance those relating to marriage, have long served as rules even for Christians; and upon the decalogue are founded the Christian morals. A philosophical study of the particular laws, must fill every impartial mind with great regard for the lawgiver, although his precepts, adapted to a particular place, time, and people, are as little fitted, as they were intended, to be a system of universal legislation.
Genesis. The contents of this Writing are, first, an account of the origin of all things, particularly the primitive history of the human race; then the history of the patriarchs of the Jewish nation up to the
* See also the Biblical Repertory, for Oct. 1826.
time of Joseph, (1750 years before Christ.) There is no olier, more valuable, and more credible information respecting the primitive world.
An account of the creation of the world, precedes the history of the first human pair and their descendants. What of these remained after the great flood, became the original stock of a new generation. The most ample accounts are those respecting the patriarchs of the Hebrews; Abraham and his son Isaac, his grandson, and his great-grandson Jacob and Joseph. With the historical accounts are mingled poetical fragments.
Genesis is, in general, as an accurate study of its contents and manner of treatment shows, not a continuous historical work, but a collection composed of separate parts. Otherwise the same transactions would not be related more than once, though in different expressions, as the history of the Creation, Chapter i. and Chap. ii. 4, 6; the Flood, Chap. vi. 1–7, and 11-24. Even the name of God is exactly distinguished in these distinct portions. Sometimes it is Jehovah, (in English, the LORD ;) sometimes it is Elohim, (in English, God.)
The manner and the language are distinguished by the greatest simplicity, and by a view of things adapted to the childhood of the human mind. One sees, that the author gives no more than he has ; seeks not, by exaggeration and fiction, to compensate for the want of certain accounts. But what is related, namely, of the gradual progress of men in cultivation and ideas, bears the impress of naturalness and of internal probability.
But in order to judge rightly respecting so ancient a book, one must examine it from a true point of view, and thus come to the reading of it. He must regard it as exhibiting sketches that pertain to a period of time altogether different from ours. For this purpose, an acquaintance with other very old works, as for instance Homer, may be recommended as a very good means of helping, particularly to comprehend the spirit and character of the patriarchal age; since both writings shed mutual light upon each other.
The most remarkable, but in part the most difficult sections, are those respecting 1, the creation of all things ; 2, the first sin, or the fall of the first parents; 3, Noah's flood ; 4, the life of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; 5, the history of Joseph.
For an Israelitish reader, Genesis was very important, especially as the history of his ancestor Abraham, and the next patriarchs, from which the origin of many laws and customs could be explained. To us, it is worthy of regard, not only on account of its antiquity, but also many portions contain most excellent matter for religious and moral consideration. Much also in the later.writings refers to this.
Erodus. The contents of this book consist 1, of historical pieces—what befel the descendants of Abraham who removed to Egypt; the birth of Moses ; his endeavors to rescue the nation from servitude ; their departure from Egypt; the marching of their army, the giving of the Law, and its consequences. 2, Of laws of variAUGUST, 1829.