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THE STUDENT'S PRAYER.
like sacrifices without salt, and but the painted sepulchres of alms, which soon will putrify and corrupt inwardly. Therefore, measure not thine advancements by quantity, but frame them by measure; and defer not charities till death: for, certainly, if a man weigh it rightly, he that doth so is rather liberal of another man's than of his own.
The Student's Prayer.
To God the Father, God the Word, God the Spirit, we pour forth most humble and hearty supplications, that He, remembering the calamities of mankind, and the pilgrimage of this our life, in which we wear out days few and evil, would please to open to us new refreshments out of the fountains of His goodness, for the alleviating of our miseries. This also we humbly and earnestly beg, that human things may not prejudice such as are divine; neither that from the unlocking of the gates of sense, and the kindling of a greater light, anything of incredulity or intellectual night may arise in our minds towards Divine mysteries. But rather, that by our mind thoroughly cleansed and purged from fancy and vanities, and yet subject and perfectly given up to the Divine oracles, there may be given unto faith the things that are faith's. Amen.
The Writer's Prayer.
Thou, O Father, who gavest the visible light as the firstborn of Thy creatures, and didst pour into man the intellectual light as the top and consummation of Thy workmanship, be pleased to protect and govern this work, which coming from Thy goodness returneth to Thy glory. Thou, after Thou hadst reviewed the works which Thy hand made, beheldest that everything was very good, and Thou didst rest with complacency in them. But man, reflecting on the works which he
had made, saw that all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and could by no means acquiesce in them. Wherefore, if we labour in Thy works with the sweat of our brows, Thou wilt make us partakers of Thy vision and Thy sabbath. We humbly beg that this mind may be steadfastly in us, and that Thou, by our hands, and also by the hands of others on whom Thou shalt bestow the same spirit, wilt please to convey a largess of new alms to Thy family of mankind. These things we commend to Thy everlasting love, by our Jesus, Thy Christ, God with Amen.
The most erudite of Englishmen-an encyclopædia of knowledge, antiquarian, historical, legal-master of many languages, dead and living—the author of works which had filled Europe with his fame—and possessor of a collection of 8000 volumes, now among the most precious treasures of the Bodleian Library, -when Selden lay dying, he said to Archbishop Ussher and Dr Langbain:-"I have surveyed most of the learning that is among the sons of men, and my study is filled with books and manuscripts on various subjects, but at present I cannot recollect any passage out of all my books and papers whereon I can rest my soul, save this from the sacred Scriptures: "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good
The confession is interesting, as the eventual landing-place of one of the most learned of mankind; and its meekness
contrasts affectingly with the hale-heartedness and arrogance of his healthier days. For Selden's was a mind by no means naturally devout or reverential, and the style in which controversy was conducted in his day did not tend to deepen his veneration for religion or its ministers. Still, his confidence in fundamental truths remained unshaken, and when the king of terrors stared him in the face, he was thankful to have for his retreat the simple and unchanging "faithful saying."
It was a boast of Selden, that "laymen have best interpreted the hard places in the Bible, such as Joannes Picus, Scaliger, Grotius, Salmasius, Heinsius." With the cross-lights of his immense general and legal erudition, he was enabled to throw much elucidation on subjects lying out of the theologian's ordinary track; and his Latin treatises on "The Syrian Gods," "The Hebrew Wife," "The Sanhedrim," are magazines from which students of sacred antiquities will long continue to draw their materials. In an early work, "The History of Tithes," he laboured to shew that a legal maintenance for the ministry is not obligatory under the Christian dispensation. The book, however, not only excited many angry rejoinders, but entailed on the author the displeasure of the Court. The upshot was, that, in order to escape graver consequences, he signed an apology, scarcely retracting its doctrines, but expressing regret for its publication.
Selden was born December 16, 1584, near Tarring, in Sussex, where we believe that the cottage of his father is still standing. From the Free School of Chichester he passed to Hart-hall, Oxford, and afterwards to the Inner Temple, London. By his publications, and in the friendship of men like the antiquaries, Camden and Spelman, and Archbishop Ussher, he soon attained a vast reputation; and in 1621, when King James, in a speech to Parliament, asserted that their privileges were originally grants from the crown, Selden was the lawyer whom the House of Lords consulted; and as his opinion was
adverse to the royal doctrine, as soon as a dissolution took place he was thrown into prison-an incarceration, however, which was of very short continuance. On the accession of Charles I. he was elected member for Bedwin, in Wiltshire; and by pleading for Hampden in the Court of King's Bench, and opposing absolute measures, he made himself so obnoxious to the king, that he was committed to the Tower for eight months, and spent a still longer period in the King's Bench and Gatehouse prisons. In 1643 he was appointed one of the lay members of the Westminster Assembly. His death. took place at Whitefriars, November 30, 1654.
In the hearty words of the Earl of Clarendon: "Mr Selden was a person whom no character can flatter, or transmit in any expressions equal to his merit and virtue. He was of so stupendous learning in all kinds, and in all languages (as may appear in his excellent and transcendent writings), that a man would have thought he had been entirely conversant amongst books, and had never spent an hour but in reading and writing; yet his humanity, courtesy, and affability was such, that he would have been thought to have been bred in the best courts, but that his good nature, charity, and delight in doing good, and in communicating all he knew, exceeded that breeding. His style in all his writings seems harsh, and sometimes obscure, which is not wholly to be imputed to the abstruse subjects of which he commonly treated, out of the paths trod by other men, but to a little undervaluing the beauty of a style, and too much propensity to the language of antiquity; but in his conversation he was the most clear discourser, and had the best faculty of making hard things easy, and presenting them to the understanding, of any man that hath been known."*
Of such conversational remarks, his amanuensis, Richard Milward, has preserved an interesting selection in "The Table*Life of Clarendon.
Talk of John Selden." This book has been lately reprinted.* It does not raise our moral estimate of the author, and it contains too many indications of paradox and special pleading; but on some topics its sayings are valuable, as the utterances of a mind rarely shrewd and wonderfully well-informed.
Popery.-Catholics say, we, out of our charity, believe they of the Church of Rome may be saved; but they do not believe so of us; therefore their Church is better according to ourselves. First, some of them, no doubt, believe as well of us as we do of them, but they must not say so. Besides, is that an argument their Church is better than ours, because it has less charity?
Faith and Works.-Twas an unhappy division that has been made between faith and works. Though in my intellect I may divide them, just as in the candle I know there is both light and heat; but yet, put out the candle, and they are both gone; one remains not without the other. So 'tis betwixt faith and works; nay, in a right conception, fides est opus; † if I believe a thing because I am commanded, that is opus.
Humility.-Humility is a virtue all preach, none practise, and yet everybody is content to hear. The master thinks it good doctrine for his servant, the laity for the clergy, and the clergy for the laity.
Excessive Humility.-There is humilitas quædam in vitio. If a man does not take notice of that excellency and perfection that is in himself, how can he be thankful to God, who is the author of all excellency and perfection? Nay, if a man hath too mean an opinion of himself, 'twill render him unserviceable both to God and man.
*Edited by David Irving, LL.D. Edinburgh: 1854.