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superior erudition, should expatiate with rapture on this once renowned hymnologist. But when a learned and judicious Protestant sits down to the perusal of Synesius, his sympathy is continually blunted by some exposition which he does not understand, and his devotion is checked by some dogma which he cannot believe. He will admit, that in the closet the wild and warm effusions of a philosophical devotee may sometimes annuse the learned reader; but he will be at a loss to conceive how in the sanctuary they can interest the serious inquirer, or can improve any sober-minded and well-principled congregation.
Deep therefore as may have been the researches, intense the feelings, and vivid the fancy of Synesius, his devotional works will not stand the test of comparison, with the simplicity, the energy, the majestic solemnity, the inartificial and irresistible pathos which characterize the writers of the Old Testament; when they set before us the name, the attributes, the righteous counsels, and mighty works of Jehovah, the Lord our God. Yet less instructive and less impressive do they appear when contrasted with the Lord's Prayer.
In order to give you clearer notions of its intrinsic merit, I have expatiated thus long on the senseless and fruitless babblings, unprofitable redundances, and disgusting impurities which our blessed Master meant to discourage when he instructed his disciples in what manner it became them to pray.
6 Do not use vain repetitions, nor think that ye shall be heard for your much speaking.” My brethren, you will
cease to wonder at the caution here given to disciples, when I tell you that the word adoration is by some learned men supposed to allude to the custom of oriental nations, where the worshipper puts his hand before his mouth, lest one indecorous expression, one rash vow, one unwise or unholy word, should escape from his lips.
The writer of Ecclesiasticus has left us a short but significant injunction not to make mueh babbling when we pray. But the fullest and most energetic precept occurs in Ecclesiastes : “ Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God. For God is in heaven, and thou upon earth, therefore let thy words be few.”
But in the Scripture formulary of which I am speaking, the keenest sophists, and the fiercest adversary, can detect no traces of redundancies and imperfections, which the writer of the Book of Ecelesiastes has justly condemned. Even they who dispute the evidences adduced in favour of Christianity, they who arraign the fitness of some doctrines said to be contained in it, they who depreciate its general usefulness to man in a social state, yet unanimously and unequivocally confess the unqualified excellence of this prayer. There, in reality, are no metaphysical refinements, no rhetorical embellishments, no whine of superstition, no rant of fanaticism. On the contrary, there is brevity without deficiency - there is variety without disorderthere is calmness without languor—there is simplicity without degrading imbecillity—there is seriousness without ostentatioạs solemnity-there is humility without slavish fear—there is trust in God, uncorrupted by pharisaical presumption: the unlearned may understand—the
perverse can scarcely refuse to assent—the most enlightened to approve and sympathize-every member of the Church of England, the Church of Greece, the Church of Rome, and in every Protestant Church besides our own, the stubborn Jew, the haughty Mahommedan, the visionary Gentoo, the untutored Indian, every worshipper of every denomination in every region of the earth, acknowledges a Father in heaven; and therefore every one of them, with equal sincerity and equal propriety, may join with us in this prayer ; while for the Christian is reserved the privilege of knowing distinctly, and remembering gratefully, by whom the contents of it were imparted, and the contents of it are explicitly and imperatively imposed.
Let then the barbarian, not assisted, as we have been, by a Divine instructor, call down the angry thunderbolt from his tutelary deity in the sanguinary conflicts of war, and express his thankfulness for victory in the rude carols of his progenitors, or shouts and savage exultation over a vanquished foe. We contemplate God as the gracious protector of all his creatures in the hour of danger, and the hour peace.
Let the churlish bigot view his master as confining his choicest gifts to those who repeat the same creed, and fall down before the same altar with himself, while the rest of mankind are the outcasts of heaven. We are convinced that, in every
nation, he who endeavours to work righteousness, according to the extent in which he is acquainted with the will of heaven will be accepted at the last day. Let the presumptuous Calvinist maintain, that the glories of immortality are reserved for those only whom God has arbitrarily elected, and to whom he vouchsafes those extraordinary and almost preternatural aids of grace and faith which are denied to the bulk of mankind. We, on the contrary, hold the more consolatory, and, I trust, the sounder doctrine, that God has made all his rational creatures for his own glory; that his glory consists not in the destruction, but the preservation of those who are under his moral government-not in the mystery of redemption, proffered to all, and intended only for a few-not in the exclusive preference of any sect, illuminated and regenerated by special assistance from above—but in the felicity of all those who, without any express distinction of religions, or any marked limitations of time and place, hallow the name of their Father in heaven, strive to do His will, and forgive the trespasses of their brethren, as they hope for their own to be forgiven. Such are the thoughts which rise in the breast of
every reflecting man when he searches the principles contained in our Lord's Prayer; and, therefore, we ought to commend the wisdom and piety of the Church which has assigned a place to that prayer in the services of every morning and every evening, for the litany, in the communion, for baptism and marriage, for deliverance from the pain and peril of child-birth, and for the interment of those with
whom we hope to be summoned from the grave to appear before our common Redeemer and our common Judge.
Frequently has my bosom glowed with gratitude upon remembering the aid which, if, in discharging the most hallowed of all duties, I use it aright, will preserve me alike from being decoyed into improprieties by the latent sorcery of religious prejudice, and being precipitated into them by the strong impulse of religious feeling. Frequently and justly do other ministers confess the imperfection of their other petitions, before they begin to pronounce the words which our Lord has prescribed; and familiar as those words may be to our minds, yet, surely, you will learn to prize them more highly when you recollect that the difficulty of forming prayers adapted to a Christian audience is manifest in the repeated failures of experiments made by men whose habits of piety, whose rectitude of intention, and whose ingenuity, and even felicity, in other kinds of grave composition are indisputable, pre-eminent, and very meritorious. It has sometimes been my own lot to write discourses on subjects which required much circumspection from their importance, and much exertion from their magnitude ; but my attempts to draw up prayer have been few; and never did I make them without wariness leading to diffidence, and diffidence gradually deepening into
You, my brethren, have been taught to repeat the Lord's Prayer from your earliest youth to the present hour - you have been accustomed to use it in