« PreviousContinue »
hours which some are wont to think too long, will be lengthened, not into days, or months, or years, but into endless ages of devotion. How can that soul be prepared to join in the eternal worship of heaven, which is wearied by the few hours devoted to the immediate service of God on earth! It has already been observed, in the words of an eminent servant of God, that if we pray often, we shall pray oftener; that our souls will gradually acquire a taste for devotion; and that we shall become as unwilling to omit our prayers as we were at first unwilling to offer them. Every pious Christian knows the truth of this remark; and this being the case, I ask whether it is not of great importance to habituate ourselves as early as possible to the service of our Maker? Life, we all know, is so precarious, that we know not what a day may bring forth. Who then can think seriously of heaven, and the employment of heavenly beings, without wishing to spare an hour or two every day of his life, to be spent, religiously and devoutly spent, in the daily service of the church. Alas! what proportion is there between the whole host of heaven, and the small numbers who think it their duty and their privilege to embrace every op. portunity of publick worship.
to be hoped, that the time will come when these walls shall daily resound with the praises of the assembled multitude, a multitude of those pious disciples of Christ, who, like the holy psalmist, feel a desire and longing to enter into the courts of the Lord?" If we consider," says bishop Taylor, "how much of our lives is taken up by the needs of nature, how many years are wholly spent before we come to any use of reason, how many years more before that reason is useful to us to any great purposes, how imperfect our way of life is made by our evil education, false principles, ill company, bad examples, and want of experience, how many parts of our wisest and best years are spent in eating and sleeping, in necessary businesses, and unneces sary vanities, in worldly civilities, and less useful circumstances, in the learning arts and sciences, languages, or trades; that little portion of hours that is left for the practices of piety and religious walking with God, is so short and trifling, that were not the goodness of God infinitely great, it might seem unreasonable or impossible for us to expect of him eternal joys in heaven, even after the well spending those few minutes which are left for God and God's service, after we have served ourselves and our own occasions.
"And yet it ought to be considered, that the fruit which comes from the many days of recreation and vanity, is very little, and although we scatter inuch, yet we gather up but little profit: but from the few hours we spend in prayer and the exercises of a pious life, the return is great aud profitable; and what we sow in the minutes and spare portions of a few years, grows up to crowns and sceptres in a happy and glorious eternity."
I have dwelt the longer, my brethren, upon the importance of the daily worship of the sanctuary, that I may the more effectually persuade you to devote the few hours to divine service for which you have opportunity. The fasts and festivals, exclusive of Sunday, for which there are appropriate services, are thirty-seven; and if to these you add the Wednesdays and Fridays in Lent, and the Wednesdays and Fridays preparatory to the sacrament, which amount to about thirty, there will be an aggregate of sixty-seven hours in a year! Christians, is this an unreasonable portion of time to devote to the publick worship of our God? Is it not too little, As it is often produced as an argument rather than too much? And is it not in justification of forms of prayer in pub
To the Editor of the Gospel Advocate.
3. Thou art holy, and thy name is holy, and thy saints do praise thee every day. Selah. For a great king and a holy art thou, O God. Blessed art thou, O Lord God most holy.
lick worship, that our blessed Saviour, kest alive, and makest salvation to when upon earth, did uniformly unite spring up as the herb out of the field? in the services of the Jewish synagogue, Thou art faithful to make the dead to where a precomposed liturgy was al- rise again to life. Blessed art thou, ways in use, I have thought that it might O Lord, who raisest the dead again to be satisfactory to your unlearned rea- life. ders to be possessed of some evidence of the fact. I have therefore copied, from the second volume of dean Prideaux, what is called the "Shemoneh Eshreh," i.e. the eighteen prayers, which the Jews say were composed and instituted by Ezra and the great synagogue, and which are mentioned in the Mish nah as old settled forms; and also one additional prayer against hereticks. If you think proper, you will insert these in your very useful publication, with the judicious observations and inferences of the dean which follow them.
PRAYERS FROM THE JEWISH LITURGY,
1. Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, the God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the great God, powerful and tre mendous, the high God, bountifully dispensing benefits, the Creator and Possessor of the universe, who rememberest the good deeds of our fathers, and in thy love sendest a Redeemer to those who are descended from them, for thy name's sake, O King, our helper, our Saviour, and our shield. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who art the shield of Abraham.
2. Thou, O Lord, art powerful for ever. Thou raisest the dead to life, and art mighty to save; thou sendest down the dew, stillest the winds, and makest the rain to come down upon the earth, and sustainest with thy beneficence all that live therein; and of thy abundant mercy makest the dead again to live. Thou helpest up those that fall; thou curest the sick; thou loosest them that are bound, and makest good thy word of truth to those that sleep in the dust. Who is to be compared to thee, O thou Lord of might? and who is like unto thee, O our King, who killest and ma
4. Thou of thy mercy givest know. ledge unto men, and teachest them understanding; give graciously unto us knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who graciously givest knowledge unto men.
5. Bring us back, O our Father, to the observance of thy law, and make us to adhere to thy precepts; and do thou, O our King, draw us near to thy worship, and convert us to thee by perfect repentance in thy presence. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who vouchsafest to receive us by repentance.
6. Be thou merciful unto us, O our Father, for we have sinned; pardon us, O our King, for we have transgressed against thee. For thou art a God, good, and ready to pardon, Blessed art thou, O Lord most gracious, who multipliest thy mercies in the forgiveness of sins.
7. Look, we beseech thee, upon our afflictions. Be thou on our side in all our contentions, and plead thou our cause in all our litigations, and make haste to redeem us with a perfect redemption for thy name's sake. For thou art our God, our King, and a strong Redeemer. Blessed art thou, O Lord, the Redeemer of Israel.
8. Heal us, O Lord our God, and we shall be healed. Save us and we shall be saved. For thou art our praise. Bring unto us sound health, and a perfect remedy for all our infirmities, and for all our griefs, and for all our wounds. For thou art a God who healest and art merciful. Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, who curest the diseases of thy people Israel.
9. Bless us, O Lord our God, in every work of our hands, and bless unto
us the seasons of the year, and give us the dew and the rain to be a blessing unto us upon the face of all our land, and satiate the world with thy blessings, and send down moisture upon every part of the earth that is habitable. Blessed, art thou, O Lord, who givest thy blessing to the years.
10. Convocate us together by the sound of the great trumpet, to the enjoyment of our liberty, and lift up thy ensign to call together all of the captivity, from the four quarters of the earth into our own land. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who gatherest together the exiles of the people of Israel.
11. Restore unto us our judges as at the first, and our counsellors as at the beginning, and remove far from us affliction and trouble, and do thou only reign over us in benignity, and in mercy, and in righteousness, and in justice. Blessed art thou, O Lord our King, who lovest righteousness and justice.
12. Let there be no hope to them who apostatise from the true religion; and let hereticks, how many soever they be, all perish as in a moment. And let the kingdom of pride be speedily rooted out, and broken in our days. Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, who destroyest the wicked and bringest down the proud.
13. Upon the pious and the just, and upon the proselytes of justice,* and up on the remnant of thy people Israel, let thy mercies be moved, O Lord our God, and give a good reward unto all who faithfully put their trust in thy name, and grant us our portion with them, and for ever let us not be ashamed. For we put our trust in thee. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who art the support and confidence of the just.
14. Dwell thou in the midst of Je
rusalem thy city, as thou hast promised, build it with a building to last for ever, and do this speedily even in our days. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who buildest Jerusalem.
15. Make the offspring of David thy servant speedily to grow up and flourish, and let our horn be exalted in thy salvation. For we hope for thy salvation every day. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who makest the horn of our salvation to flourish.
16. Hear our voice, O Lord our God, most merciful Father, pardon and have mercy upon us, and accept of our prayers, with mercy and favour, and send us not away empty from thy presence, O our King. For thou hearest with mercy the prayer of thy people Israel. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who bearest prayer.
17. Be thou well pleased, O Lord our God, with thy people Israel, and have regard unto their prayers; restore thy worship to the inner part of thy house, and make haste with favour and love to accept of the burnt sacrifices of Israel, and their prayers; and let the worship of Israel thy people be continually well pleasing unto thee. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who restorest thy divine presence unto Zion.
18. We will give thanks unto thee with praise. For thou art the Lord our God, the God of our fathers for ever and ever. Thou art our rock and the rock of our life, the shield of of our salvation. To all generations will we give thanks unto thee, and declare thy praise, because of our life which is always in thy hands, and because of our souls, which are ever depending upon thee, and because of thy signs, which are every day with us, and because of thy wonders and marvellous loving kindnesses, which are, morning, and evening, and night, continually before us. Thou art good, for thy mercies are not consumed; thou art merciful, for thy loving kindnesses fail not. For ever we hope in thee. And for all these mercies be thy name, O King, blessed, and exalted, and lifted up on
high for ever and ever; and let all that live give thanks unto thee. Selah. And let them in truth and sincerity praise thy name, O God of our salvation and our help. Selah. Blessed art thou, O Lord, whose name is good, and whom it is fitting alway to give thanks
19 Give peace, beneficence, and benediction, grace, benignity, and mercy, unto us, and to Israel, thy people Bless us, O our Father, even all of us together as one man, with the light of thy countenance. For in the light of thy countenance hast thou given unto us, O Lord, our God, the law of life, and love, and benignity, and righteous ness, and blessing, and mercy, and life, and peace And let it seem good in thine eye's to bless thy people Israel with thy peace, at all times, and in every moment. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who blessest thy people Israel with peace. Amen.
The twelfth of the foregoing prayers was added to the original eighteen, by rabbi Gamaliel, a little before the destruction of Jerusalem, and had reference, it is supposed, to the Christians. Whoever wishes for further proof, that forms were common in the Jewish church, may turn to the prayer, in the apocryphal book of Baruch, which was sent from Babylon to Jerusalem, during the captivity.
"Since," therefore, "our Saviour spared not freely to tell the Jews of all the corruptions which they had, in his time, run into, and on all occasions reproached them therewith, had it been contrary to the will of God to use set forms of prayer in his publick service, or had it been displeasing to him to be addressed to in such mean forms, when much better might have been made, we may be sure he would have told them of both, and joined with them in neither. But he, having never found fault with them for using set forms, but, on the contrary, taught his own disciples a set form to pray by; nor at any time expressed a dislike of the forms then in use, because of the meanness
and emptiness of them, but always joined with them in their synagogues in the forms above recited, (excepting the twelfth,) this may satisfy our dissenters, if any thing can satisfy men so perversely bent after their own ways, that neither our using set forms of prayer in our publick worship, nor the using of such, which they think not sufficiently edifying, can be no objections sufficient to justify them in their refusal to join with us in them. For they have the example of Christ, in both these, directly against them. The truth is, whether there be a form or no form, or whether the form be elegantly or meanly composed, nothing of this availeth to recommend our prayers to God. It is the true and sincere devotion of the heart only, that can make them acceptable unto him; for it is this only that gives life, and vigour, and true acceptance, to all our religious addresses to him. Without this, how elegantly and moving soever, the prayer may be composed, and with how much seeming fervour and zeal soever, it may be poured out, all is as dead matter, and of no validity, in the presence of our God. But if we bring this with us to his worship, any form of prayer, provided it be of sound words, may be sufficient to make us and our worship acceptable unto him, and obtain mercy, peace, and pardon, from him. For it is not the fineness of speech, or the elegancy of expression, but the sincerity of the mind, and the true devotion of the heart, only, that God regards, in all our prayers which we offer up unto him. It is true, a new gingle of words, and a fervent delivery of them, by the minister, in prayer, may have some effect upon the auditors, and often raise in such of them as are affected this way, a devotion which, otherwise, they would not have. But this being wholly artificial, which all drops again, as soon as the engine is removed that raised it, it is none of that true habitual devotion, which can alone render us acceptable unto God in any of our addresses unto him. Whe ther any form of sound words can be
well preserved in those extemporary effusions of prayer, which some delight
in, or whether these do not often lead them into indecent, and sometimes blasphemous expressions, to the great dishonour of God, and the damage of religion, it behooves those who are for this way seriously to consider." Prideaux's Connex. vol. ii. p. 538.
For the Gospel Advocate.
EXTRACT FROM THE MESSIAH.
They look and still revere! Before the view
Messiah's altar; and each cloud unroll'd
Two golden censers, each with heaven's
And holiest incense fill'd. Full near him stood
As the vast ocean rolls his waves, and quakes
Translated from the original German of When the Eternal's voice rides o'er the storm;
(Continued from p. 70.)
Thus came th' etherial on, through beams
Of freshest suns, to meet Christ's messenger.
That angels, who alone, long ages past,
The first birth of creation; by whose aid
Tho' into one united, ne'er might equal.
With looks of rapture: joy beam'd as they
So, in such guise, quak'd Gabriel, while God
From his aw'd lips, the mission of his Christ;
And stilly bore it to the roofs of heaven,
That awful seal'd the lives and deaths of
And told the time, wherein the blood of Christ
Their breezy wings spread out, his voice
Deep peals of thunder roll'd majestick o'er
Of those, that sat awaiting on the thrones,