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Again, in the prayer for all conditions of men, we thus commit the afflicted to the peculiar protection of the Almighty: “ Finally, we commend to thy fatherly goodness, all those who are any ways afflicted in mind, body, or estate; that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them according to their several necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions.” How delightful the idea that true believers in Jesus Christ may commit all the afflictions of their friends and families to the almighty and merciful protection of God, as a Father, an affectionate parent, “ who does not willingly afflict the children of men,” but considers our infirmities, and remembers that we are but dust!”
But it will necessarily occur to our minds, that if our church instructs us to pray thus particularly for the alleviation of the poverty and misery of our fellowcreatures, she intends also that we should accompany our prayers with be
nevolent exertions, and liberal contributions for the relief of the objects of our pity. Without this correspondence of word and act, our petitions must be considered as vain and hypocritical. St. James* accurately illustrates this observation, “ if a brother or sister,” (by which expression he means any true believer in Jesus Christ, “ if a brother or sister,” if any fellow Christian “ be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit ?” And thus we may ask, if you are offering prayers to God continually to show pity upon the destitute, afflicted, and needy, and yet accompany those prayers by no contributions of labour or money for their relief, or if you give sparingly, grudgingly, or of necessity, what does it profit? Are not your prayers and actions fearfully at variance? Yet thus it is with many professed Christians. They wish to maintain the reputation of liberality and charity, they would not be accounted unfeeling and covetous; but at the same time they dole out their parsimonious gifts with reluctance, and entirely withhold their aid from many excellent societies that greatly need their assistance. How common is it to meet with a refusal of the call of charity under the plea of positive inability and want of means, from those very persons who scruple not to squander large sums on excessive apparel, sumptuous entertainments, pompous display, and unnecessary establishments! They are “ clothed in purple and fine linen, and fare sumptuously every day,” they recline on the lap of ease and self-indulgence, they pamper their appetites with costly viands—but they regard not the cry of the poor and destitute! They shun the hovel of distress and suffering! They
* James ii. 15, 16.
turn a deaf ear to the call of anguish! They cannot afford to give any assistance! or, if they do, they give grudgingly where they should give liberally, and squander the greater part of their fortunes in idle follies, forgetting that for every talent committed to their trust they must render a strict account at the last day!
God grant that the actions of our lives, may, on all occasions, be consistent with the professions and prayers of our lips! As we pray for the souls of the Jews, and of the Heathen, may we feel the duty of exerting ourselves in support of those societies which seek their salvation! And as every child of poverty and sorrow is remembered in our supplications at the throne of grace, may our hands be freely stretched out to their relief, remembering the words of our Saviour, Christ; “ if ye know these things, happy are ye if do them !"
PSALM XLVII. 6, 7. 6 Sing praises to God, sing praises : sing praises
unto our King, sing praises : for God is the King of all the earth; sing ye praises with understanding.”
It is a fearful confirmation of the extent of the fall and corruption of the human race, that there is no capacity of the mind however noble in its original design, nor any faculty of the body however useful and necessary to the functions of life, but the depravity of man has perverted and abused it. Even that to which our attention is particularly called on the present occasion, the power of giving and receiving pleasure by means of melodious sounds, has not escaped such perversion, although it would have appeared to us at first sight