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habits of that Church, they freely admitted, and in some cases expressly enjoined, the continuance of this duty. Thus, in the Westminster Confession of Faith, mention is made of " solemn fastings and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times H!!ii seasons, to be used in a holy and religious manner." C. 21, § 5. And among the duties required in the second commandment, as laid down in the. Larger Catechism, we have " religious fasting."
15. Nor have such enactments been allowed to remain altogether a dead letter. Many special occasions of lasting have occurred in the history of our own country, and been improved by the appointment of days set apart to that purpose. The General Assembly of the Cliurch of Scotland was also accustomed to commence their sittings with this observance; and the occupying a portion of time in prayer, preparatory to the business of the Assembly, is still continued. The practice of observing days of humiliation, in connecuun with the Lord's Supper, and calling themybsr-rfoy*, is, whether right or wrong, another testimony to the continuance of fasting in our Reformed Churches. And, along with these, and other social acts of fasting, it was 1 common practice, during the seventeenth, and at least pott of the eighteenth century, for private individuals to observe both stated and occasional fasts; and these, though less common, arc still observed.
10. And now, with such evidence before us we cannot but reflect on our own conduct, as a generation professing godliness, and in some respects " asking for tlie old paths," that we may " lind rest." It surely becometh us to ask, whether our general neglect of this duty does not argue a low state of practical godliness? Suppose, if we will, that fasting has no meaning, except as an expression of deep and intense devotion, still oar neglect will, even in this sense, argue a lack of influential godliness. But fasting is more than this. It is a means as well as an effect. If a Christian mnn separate himself, for a time, from the business and the pleasures of the world, and, in so far as may be conWent with health, from all sensual enjoyments, he is inly the more perfectly giving himself up to exercises )f devotion; he is only the more fully entering into us closet, and shutting the door behind him, that he nay pray in secret: for even to this extent did our Lord U'mplify his own command, when he spent whole ights alone amidst the solitude of the mountains. But he opposite extreme, into which so many seem to have alien, is so utterly at variance with every thing like ;rious and practical godliness, as to render it as fearful * it is prevalent. For will it be found of any Bible 'hristian, of any described by the apostles, that with mind fuU of the world's business, and the world's ires, lie thought only of religion when he had no:iti:» else to tl.ink of, and that he restrained himself no lawful indulgence, any more than if he were an ^believer? Yet such is doubtless the common, and, many cases, the avowed conduct of men professing I'.'iiness among ourselves. Comparing themselves with hers like themselves, they perceive not the delusion; d thus taught by example, they think it strange to told of the setting apart of certain portions of time special praver, with fasting; and perhaps even wonr tf.at such should be alleged to bo of scriptural oblition. But this is only one branch of the duty. The rriptuxes speak of it as obligatory upon Churches; and thing can be clearer than the evidence of the New well as the Old Testament under this head; and in the language which we are accustomed to use in r Reformed Churches, shews us that this was the opi>n also of our fathers; and that it was considered by pm as obligatory, not only upon Churches, but also oti nations. It were surely then becoming on the rt of all whose conscience has been rendered accesile to the authority of the Word, and who desire to
see the salvation of our God, to cortsidcr whether increased devotedness, and more enlarged prayer with fasting, be not our duty, in present circumstances.
Christ a Helper Above all, I would say to the
Christian, never distrust the kindness, the love, the wisdom, the faithfulness of your Saviour; but confide in him who has promised all things shall work together for your good. Though you may not now know what he is doing, you shall know hereafter. You will see the reason of all the trials and temptations, the dark and comfortless hours, the distressing doubts and fears, the long and tedious conflicts, with which you are now exercised, and you will be convinced that not a sigh, not a tear, not a single uneasy thought wit allotted to you, without some wise and gracious design. Say not then, like Jacob of old, all these things are against me; say not, like David, I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul; for all these things are for your good, and you shall never perish, neither shall any pluck you out of Christ's hand. Why should you, who are sons of the King of Heaven, be lean and discontented from day to day? Remember, if you are in the path of the just, you are the heir of God, and joint heir with Christ, of an inheritance incorruptible, eternal, and that fadeth not away. Be not discouraged at the small progress you appear to make, or the difficulties you may meet with. Why should the infant be discouraged because he has not the strength of manhood, or the wisdom of old age? Wait on the Lord in the diligent use of his means, and he will strengthen your hearts, so that you " shall mount up as on eagles' wings; you shall run, and not be weary, you shall walk, and not faint." Who is he that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay himself upon his God. Let him go to Jesus, the compassionate Saviour of sinners, who heals the broken in heart, who gathers the lambs in his arms, and carries them in his Bosom. Go, 1 say, to him, tell him all your griefs and sorrows; tell him that your souls cleave to the dust; that iniquities, doubts, and fears prevail against you; that you are poor, ami miserable, and wretched, and blind, and naked. Go to his mercy-scat, where he sits as a merciful High Priest, on purpose to give repentance and remission of sins; go and embrace his feet, lay open your whole heart, state all your difficulties, complaints, and diseases, and you will find him infinitely more willing to grant your requests, than you arc to make them. He is love itself; 'tis his very nature to pity. Have you a hard heart? carry it to him and he will soften it. Have you a blind mind? he will enlighten it. Are you oppressed with a load of guilt? he will take it off. Are you defiled and polluted? he will wash you in his own blood. Have you backslidden ?" turn unto me," says he, "ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings." Come, then, to Christ, and obtain these influences of his Spirit, by which you will be enabled to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; so shall your path he "as the shining light, that shineth more and more uuto the perfect day."—Payson.
The Glory of Free Grace God is so jealous of the
glory of his free grace, that he will not save lis, by any works, though of his own working in us, lest any man should boast. lie knoweth when he uealcth any man by physic, or maintaincth him by the labour of his hands; lie is prone to attribute the glory rather to the means he has used, than to God's sole bounty and goodness Marshall.
The Art of Preaching —A preacher should endeavour to draw out the heart of the text, and put it into the hearts of his liearers.^AsHuiiiNLU.
PARAPHRASE OP ISAIAH, CHAP. XXXV. BY ROBEIIT GlLFILLAN.
Lo! in that day, when to the just
God shall redemption bring,
And all the woods shall sing!
Shall singing thus rejoice—
And her Redeemer's choice.
Where green leaf never grows;
And blossom as the rose 1
Confirm the feeble knees,
For God their trouble sees.
Their sorrows will repay;
A Saviour in that day 1
The blind shall look and sec;
The mouth shall opened be!
Where weary pilgrims go,
In living streams shall flow 1
For just men shall be spread,
That pathway sliall not tread.
Shall find that valley fair;
Shall"walk and worship there 1
And there for ever stay;
Shall ever flee away.
ON THE DEATH OF A CHILD.
Sleep on, sweet babe, the conflict's o'er,
Why should our hearts be sorrowful,
And still she lives for you.
But cannot part.
Those bound in heart.
With smiling face,
In angel's grace,
The Indian Devotee The following is related bt
the late Reverend Mr Swartz, then a Danish Missionarv in the East Indies. A certain man, on the Malabar coas:, had inquired of various devotees and priests, how h might make atonement for his sins; and at last he wis directed to drive iron spikes, sufficiently blunted, through his sandals j and on these spikes he was directed to place his naked feet, and to walk, if I mistake not, two hundred and fifty coss, that is about foe hundred and eighty miles. If, through loss of blood, ot weakness of body, he was obliged to halt, he might mil for healing and strength. He undertook the journer. and while he halted under a large shady tree, whereto Gospel was sometimes preached, one of the missionaries came, and preached in his hearing, from those words, "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sit. While" he was preaching, the man rose up, threw offkitorturing sandals, and cried out aloud, "This is what I want 1" and he became a lively witness that the bloods Jesus Christ does indeed cleanse from all sin.
Disinterestedness Rewarded.—The Marshal D'Armont, having taken Crodon, in Bretagne, during ike League, gave orders to put every Spaniard to death wb was found in the garrison. Though it was imnoraeed to be death to disobey the orders of the general,» English soldier ventured to save a Spaniard. He"1' arraigned for this offence before a court-martial, who he confessed the fact, and declared himself ready tosaffer death, provided they would still save the life of tit Spaniard. The Marshal being much surprised at sue. conduct, asked the soldier how he came to be so mo interested in the preservation of the Spaniard. "«■ cause, sir," replied he, "in a similar situation he oms saved mv life." The Marshal, greatly pleased with « goodness" of the soldier's heart, granted him pa* saved the Spaniard's life, and highly extolled thoir. bf.A 0 ! that Christians never forgot Him, who, while t»? were enemies, died for them: then would they neitm at any time deny his name, nor decline sustaining «ny»* in his cause! He, by his death, not only saw then from the second death, but puts them in possession* eternal life ; compared to which, what have they to lost
Improvement of Time—Such was Mr Heriey's pietr, that he suffered no time to go unimproved. .^^JTM6* was called down to tea, he used to bring his HcW*1 Bible or Greek Testament with him; and wouldotw speak upon one verse or upon several verses, as or* sion offered. "This," says Mr Romaine, "was genewl) an improving season. The glory of God is very w«* promoted at the tea table; but it was at Mr Her«;> Drinking tea with him was like being at an orduu.i«; for it was ' sanctified bv the word of God and p«;'-'
HOW A BELIEVER MAY KNOW WHETHER
The question, How may I know whether my prayer will be heard? is both an interesting and important one. The late Dr Hamilton of Strathblane, who was esteemed by all who knew him, as a deeply experienced Christian, as well as an able divine, says in his diary, " I could almost, judge of the issue of my prayer, by the manner in which I was enabled to pray. When my soul was drawn out and enlarged in prayer; when pleas unexpectedly multiplied during the exercise; and while, notwithstanding great longings for the attainment of the object desired, there was a holy acquiescence in the divine will, and ambition to have God glorified, though it should be by a refusal, I either obtained the blessing which I had requested, or something lar better. But when, in addressing the throne of grace, my mind wandered, my affections were cold, and I could enjoy no liberty or enlargement of heart, this was a sad intimation that the prayer »as vain, and no blessing would be bestowed. Frequently have all my efforts to spread particular cases before the Lord, and to pour out my soul for certain objects, been so utterly abortive, that though God had said to me by a voice from heaven, ' Speak to me no more of this matter,' I could not have more assuredly inferred, that the object I sought was not to be imparted." Such sentiments may appear, to some, to savour of superstition. And yet we rather think that they will '* found to be those commonly held and proceeded upon, by the great bulk of truly pious and experienced Christians. Such, at least, accords with whatever the writer has been accustomed to observe among praying people. Many statements to this effect crowd upon his recollection, and *ith these some very remarkable cases, with the circumstances of which he had an opportunity of being acquainted. And if we are allowed to go back to earlier times, when such matters occupied more of the attention of the Church, instances innumerable will occur. But, instead of going mto any detail, it may be enough to quote the
opinion of Fleming, in his " Fulfilling of the Scriptures ;" than whom, few, if any, knew better the prevailing sentiments and feelings of the Church on this subject, during especially the seventeenth century. "They knew," says he, "by experience, that as there are judicial times, wherein an inhibition, as it were, is laid upon them from the Lord, in their wrestling, vea, and sore restraint on their spirits, which hath been very sensible; so also they have found times of prayer let forth before some special mercy and deliverance to the Church, whereby they could, in some measure, discern its near approach." Something of the same kind is also apparent in Scripture examples. In many of the Psalms, we have first great depression and something like restraint and bondage of spirit; and then we have afterwards progressive, and often great enlargement. And this is uniformly accompanied with expressions of confidence in God as to the issue. Instances of this kind will be found, among others, in the 6th, 10th, 13th, 22d, 42d, 43d, and 51st Psalms. Statements also occur, shewing this experience to be part of the divine economy. Thus, when God was about to grant to Israel certain blessings, his prophet was instructed to intimate, "I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication." And again, "In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces thitherward, saying, come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten." And of these feelings, in connection with God's purpose to grant the thing asked, we have a special and detailed example in the case of Daniel. The very words of his prayer are recorded in the 9th chapter of his prophecies, and there is subjoined to it an express assurance, that the thing he prayed for would be granted, and in a way which he could not have anticipated. The same thing is observable in the New Testament. The special period, when God began to hear and to answer the prayer of the Church, in reference to its enlargement, through the power of the Gospel, in the conversion of sinners, was from the day of Pentecost onward; and it is remarkable, that God was pleased, from this time, to grant to believers great enlargement of spirit, and holy boldness in the exercise of prayer itself. One example of this may be enough. The prayer itself will be found in the 4th chapter of the Acts. It concludes with these words: "And now, Lord, behold their threatening*: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, by stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus." "And," it is immediately added, " when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness." And if we now pass from mere examples and incidental expressions, to the great fixed principles of the divine economy respecting prayer, our evidence will, we are persuaded, grow both in clearness and in strength. There are especially two conditions of acceptable and answerable prayer. These are, that the thing asked be according to the divine will, and that it be asked in faith.
Respecting the former, John says, "This is the confidence that we have m him, that, if we a.sk any thing according to his will, he heareth us." Now, the will of God is twofold. There is the moral or revealed will of God, which is the rule of man's duty, and there is his will of purpose, which man knoweth not. On the expressions of his will in the former sense, our prayers ought directly and intelligibly to proceed. That is, we ought to have distinctly before us, God's promise of what we ask, before we proceed to ask it; and our prayer should proceed on the persuasion, that we are thus made welcome to what our hearts otherwise desire. But the promises of God are general. "Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." I may, therefore, feel myself perfectly warranted to pray, respecting anything which truly concerns me; but I could not from this infer, that any particular request which I might present, would be granted. Here the secret and unrevealed purpose of God interferes. It is doubtless my duty, in every case, to commit the matter to God, and even to pray that it may be overruled for God's glory and my good; but it would be presumptuous in any creature to claim to himself the special disposal of any event. This is altogether a matter of divine sovereignty. Nevertheless, we may express truly our desires. Like an obedient child, wistfully looking to the parent, and yet never contemplating anything like crossing his will, we may desire even strongly, what we ask; but we must feel even more strongly, unreserved confidence in the divine Disposer, and entire acquiescence in whatever he may appoint.
The other condition is, faith in the answer of prayer. "If any of you," says James, " lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men
liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing waverin;; for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think, that he shall receive anv thing of the Lord." In cases where the will of God is special and express, this exercise of faith is simple, h proceeds upon the persuasion, that, such is the divine will. But in few cases does this strict!' occur. In almost every case, there is between the promise and the prayer an exercise of divine sovereignty; and thus the confidence, which wehave in the promise, merges in the more general confidence which we have in the sovereign Disposer. The exercise of our mind, therefore, is complete; yet is it, in all its parts, an exercise of contiiitii;' as to the issue. And in it, the mind is sometimes so carried out of itself, and beyond its ownlikinis, as to rest entirely and joyfully in the divine iti-posal, and yet so to see it to be the will of Wto grant the thing asked, as greatly to enlarge an I spiritualize the prayer. And this is what web'; been regarding, as an indication that God will be* and answer such a prayer.
Now while it ought to be admitted, that Iks may deceive themselves, alleging the enjoym ■'• of such experience, it is quite clear, that who* such truly exists, there the Holy Spirit Bwt * present, helping the infirmities of the creutut, and sanctifying his desires. And this we cannd conceive, without believing with it, that he »fc "knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit,"' i* tendeth thereby to grant the matter of his • -a tercession." Like the rays of the morning *» opening each flower, and spreading it forth tplh influence of heaven, are these visitations ol tk Spirit. They open the heart to wait upon G<* to see the outgoings of his majestv, and to dr.s in heavenly influences from the visitations of p vidence which follow. How can we otoerrt conclude? Would God thus implant a desire, w pour around it the holy influence of filial suf'iiu sion and unreserved confidence, and yet &>*' afterwards to wither and die? Would he z'1 the very conditions of acceptable prayer, ami »a the thing asked rested solely on his own faithf" ness, would he then disappoint? And above all. * we at liberty for a moment to suppose, thald Spirit of truth leadeth to err? The thing is" possible, and may not be entertained. Ad »: promises of God are, in such circumstances, ■* J< and amen."
This view of praver suggests several import-J reflections:—It shews, first, that there B&: between the secret purpose and the revealed" currence, an intermediate intimation; thit,lik" altered condition of the earth, when the h«Ta are about to drop down rain, there is in the ha of man a persuasion, that the things a*l^ * about to be bestowed. Nor ought it to be !"• gined, that such anticipations are without fti unto God. One of the main sources of prac* unbelief is, the habit of living without any disn» and practical recognition of the divine pre**1 But if Christians were more generally to pray in faith, and to wait with expectation the issue of their prayers, God would reveal himself, and the effect would be a deeper and more lively sense of a presiding and directing providence. And this, again, would lead to greater spirituality in all religious duties.
We may thus also learn, more correctly to interpret the almost oracular sayings of our pious forefathers. These have, in our age of alleged attainment, been generally condemned, or at least explained as so many shrewd guesses and coincidences. The times in which many of these great and good men lived, were exceedingly trying; and God was pleased to bestow upon them an uncommon measure of the spirit of grace and of supplication. They were much given to what has been called wrestling in prayer, and were often favoured with great liberty of access and enlargement of spirit in pouring out their souls before God. And will it be thought strange, that, in such circumstances, God should, on some occasions, have fiven to his servants strong confidence as to the issue of their prayers? Rather than come to sach a conclusion, it were becoming to inquire, whether our own coldness and earthly affections may not be darkening our vision, and forming spectres of living men?
And, finally, it becomes us to consider, whether there be not, in the practicability of the question proposed, a source of reviving influence, which may prove a general blessing to the Church. All rev:vals must begin in the closet. The prayer of faith, and it alone, prevails. Nothing will so cherish faith as the experience of faithfulness. And M each individual may, through the blessing of God, enrich his own experience by an unlimited number of facts, it is difficult to see, how else, the Church may be so efficiently revived. Not more subtle and powerful is the electric fluid, as it passes ■rom cloud to cloud, and from man to man, than ■s 'he influence of the Spirit, passing from heart ■0 heart, and from Church to Church. It was hus, at least, with the early apostolical Church. It has been so, in later ages, in every Church, 'here many were thus taught to pray, not in word, tir in faith. And we consider it no presumption 0 add, (hat when God shall be pleased to pour orth upon us, as a people and nation, such a pint of prayer as we have described, it will he «~ause he is also about to bestow upon us a spirit f regeneration.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF
|harles Wolfe, youngest «on of Theobald Wolfe, ■sq., Blackball, county Kildare, was born in Dublin lithe 14th December 1791. The family from which e was descended was highly respectable, and has not ten undistinguished; particularly in the persons of kt illustrious hero of Quebec, and the late eminent B»h judge, Lord Kilwarden. Having lost his father|fn early age, the family soon ufterwards removed to ■■fland, and Charles received the rudiments of his dotation in Bath and Salisbury. In the Winchester
school, to which he was subsequently sent as a boarder, he was distinguished for his proficiency in classical knowledge and powers of versification, and from his amiable character and sweetness of disposition, wag much beloved by his teachers and companions. It is stated by a near relative that he never received even a slight punishment or reprimand at any school to which he went; or, so far as she recollects, for nearly twelve years that he was under his mother's care, ever acted contrary to her wishes, or caused her a moment's pain, except parting with him when he went to school.
The family having returned to Ireland, Charles entered the University of Dublin in the year 1809. He subsequently undertook the duties of a College tutor, and having obtained a scholarship with the highest honour, became a resident in College. To the degree of Bachelor of Arts he was admitted in the year 1814, and his ordination to the ministry took place in the month of November 1817.
Mr Wolfe's college course was eminently successful. He obtained the highest distinction among his contemporaries for classical attainments, and was rewarded by many academical honours. He also acquired great celebrity in the Historical Society, in which he not only gained medals for oratory, and for compositions in prose and verse, but was appointed to deliver the opening speech from the chair, an honour which was always reserved for a man of talent. Some of his poetical compositions written about this period, are remarkable for great vigour of thought and felicity of expression, and indicate the possession of a genius which promised to raise him to a high rank among British poets. His claim to the authorship of the well-known lines on the burial of Sir John Moore, which were published without bis knowledge, has been long since established; although the author seemed to regard poetic reputation of so little value, as to shrink from receiving the honour to which they entitled him, and with the native modesty of his character even remained silent when that honour was unjustly claimed by others. It is more than probable that, but for the circumstance of the unauthorised publication of these celebrated lines, and the high opinion expressed of them by the bite Lord Byron, Mr Wolfe's name and character would have been little known beyond the immediate sphere of bis own labours.
Mr Wolfe appears, before his ordination, and even from his childhood, to have been deeply impressed with the importance of religion, and to have entered on his preparation for the ministry fully alive to the responsihility connected with it. "But," (says his attached friend and biographer, the Reverend Mr Russell,) "when he came to preach the doctrines and duties of Christianity to others, they burst upon bis mind in their full magnitude, and in all their awful extent; he felt that be himself had not given up his whole heart to God,—that the gospel of Christ had held but a divided empire in his soul; and he looked back upon his earlier years with self-reproach and self-distrust, when he recalled to mind the subordinate place which the love of God bad possessed in his heart."
Immediately after his ordination, Mr Wolfe was engaged in a temporary curacy at Ballyclog, Tyrone, in the north of Ireland, not far remote from the parish where he was soon after permanently fixed. lie removed in a few months from this situation to the curacy of Castle Caullield, the principal village of the parish of Donoughmorc. His duties here were very laborious, partly in consequence of the population being much scattered over the parish, of which a large portion was situated in "a wild hilly country, abounding in bogs and trackless wastes." His hand was, however, to the plough, and he did not look back. He willingly resigned the society of his friends, and the classical pursuits in which he had been so ardently employed,