« PreviousContinue »
Idumeans gloried in the same origin. Ishmael, the son of Abraham, is recognised by the Arabs as their ancestor. They retain the rite of circumcision as a proof of their descent, and have immemorially practised it-not on the eighth day, as among the Jews, but at the age of thirteen years, as it was administered to their father Ishmael, according to the Bible, (Gen. xvii. 25); a custom still in use among the Mahomedans.-Bossuet.
The Enquirer. ANSWERS TO QUESTION XIII. On Prayer. To EUGENIA,-In reply to your query, “ Is it right or wrong to tell enquirers after salvation they should pray?" I answer without hesitation, in the affirmative. It is the duty of all men always to pray and not to faint. (Luke xviii. 1.) Peter exhorted Simon Magus to pray; he of whom Peter said, that his “heart was not right in the sight of God, and that he was in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.” (Acts viii. 18-23.) To which may be added, the charge brought against the wicked, “ They have not called upon God.” (Psalm liii. 4.)
“ Pour out thy wrath upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.” (Psalm Exxiii. 6.) If prayer were not their duty, the omission of it would not be their sin. If their duty, it is right to exhort em to do it. The current language of the Scriptures is “Repent, believe, pray." Nothing can be more conclusive than the direction to the wicked, (Isa. lv. 6, 7,) “Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Pardon whom ? the sinner that prays to him: prayer being the first indication of a sinner's return to God. The sacrifice of the wicked is said to be an abomination to the Lord ; the formal, deceitful, hypocritical, offering or prayer of the wicked, indulging still in a course of impiety and studied rebellion against God. Read and meditate attentively, Prov. xv. 8, xxi. 27, xxviii. 9, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things. Penryn.
( To the Editor of the Youths' Magazine.) SIR,--On reading, the question proposed by “Eugenia," as to the propriety of exhorting enquirers to pray, a passage which I met with a few days ago, in a valuable little work entitled, “Hall's Help to Zion's travellers,” instantly occurred to my mind, and as the sentiments it expresses are, I think, consistent with the Word of God, I shall transcribe it, hoping it may be useful to “ Eugenia;” should you deem it suitable for the pages: of your interesting and instructive magazine.
“To assert that persons are not to pray till they are converted, is dangerous and absurd. Dangerous, as it leads into a state of deception-into the very essence of Pharisaism; for such as think themselves converted before they come to Christ by penitential prayer and faith, found their hopes on self-righteousness; the secret language of their deceived hearts is, ‘God be thanked, I am not now like other men ; stand by, thou unconverted sinner, I am holier than thou !'
“Such do not go to Christ as a trembling criminal, but a confident convert; not as an undone sinner, but a self-admired saint. Besides, it is absurd to say, that a person ought not to pray until he feels himself converted; for it is much the same as saying a man ought not to ask for guidance till he knows he is right; nor to seek for a cure, till he feels himself healed.”
Are there not in the word of God, many promises of blessings suited to the wants of a convinced and anxious soul. Can it then be wrong, for one, conscious of his need of these blessings, to
pray for their bestowment, when Jehovah has declared—“I will yet for this be enquired of, to do it for them.” (Ezek. xxxvi. 25–38.)
M. E. Manchester.
To the Editor of the Youths' Magazine. SIR,—It cannot, surely, be wrong, to tell enquirers after salvation, that they should pray, if Peter, speaking under inspiration, directed a decidedly unconverted character to do so. (See Acts viii. 22.) If the ear of God were open to one whose heart was expressly said to be “not right in the sight of God," who was described as having neither part nor lot in the gospel, as being still in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity;
there cannot be the shadow of a reason, for the doubt implied by Eugenia's question. On this text, therefore, Doddridge has well remarked, “Here is so incontestible an evidence of an unconverted sinner being exhorted to repentance and prayer, while he was known to be in that state, that it is astonishing, it should ever have been disputed.”
Paul has stated all the pre-requisites, necessary to a proper approach to God, in few words, “He that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. xi. 6.) Your's faithfully,
To the Editor of the Youths' Magazine. SIR, -In answer to Eugenia's letter, does she not think that enquirers after salvation, shew faith in the very act of enquiring? If she can admit this, her doubt is solved; as it must surely be right to obey the command of God, and that command is express : “Ask and it shall be given you,” (See also, Luke xviii. 1,) and are not those enquirers, who are spoken of in 2 Chron. vii. 14 ? A Constant Reader and Subscriber,
A MOTHER'S CONSOLATION.
( Extracted from a letter a friend, giving an ac of the second of four
brothers, who all died within seven years,) As you, my dear friend, have expressed a wish to be supplied with a written statement of the great mercy and goodness of God, bestowed upon my dear departed son, I can do no less than render a ready compliance with that wish.
Although you are fully aware that the youth, whose history during the last few weeks of his short life is now to occupy my pen, brought himself to a premature grave by following the bent of his own depraved inclinations; yet I cannot refrain from referring to the melancholy fact, lest this narrative should ever fall into the hands of any young man who is casting off the fear of God, and the restraints of parental authority; and, at the same time, is imagining that he shall have peace, though he is walking after the desire of his eyes, and is gratifying the sinful propensities of his carnal and corrupt affections and appetites. But let such an one know, assuredly, that the end of these things is
certain death to the body, and unless the Almighty perform a miracle of grace and mercy, (which neither the Scriptures nor experience warrant him to indulge the hope of,) eternal death to the soul. God is indeed a Sovereign, and can, if he please, save, under any circum= stances of aggravated guilt; but woe be to that delinquent who shall daringly presume upon God's clemency as a Sovereign ; rather let him deprecate his vengeance; let him crouch beneath his footstool, and humbly supplicate his mercy; let him penitently smite upon his breast;
“ God be merciful to me a sinner;" let him raise his streaming eyes upward, and say, “ Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight; but if thou canst, consistently with thy justice, pardon a self-condemned and trembling criminal, oh! pardon me. • Then will I teach transgressors thy ways;' then will I sing of thy salvation.”
I need not remind you, my dear friend, that God's thoughts are not as our thoughts, neither are his ways our ways. We for the most part confer our favors upon the thankful and the deserving ; but he is, in a variety of ways, kind and gracious to the unthankful and to the unholy. I am about to record an instance, not merely of his grace, but of the abounding of his grace manifested toward one who had not only learned to turn a deaf ear to the expostulations of parental solicitude, but had also assumed the hardihood to contemn the counsel of the Most High. A mortal disease was made subservient, in the hand of Providence, of bringing this deluded and infatuated youth to thoughtfulness and reflection. The opinion of his medical attendant being faithfully disclosed to him, he listened to the mournful report with apparent firmness; but in the course of an hour or two afterwards, he betrayed considerable emotion, and enquired of me whether I had observed any alteration in his countenance at the time when he had urged me to tell him the doctor's opinion of his case. I replied that I had not. I did feel,” he rejoined, “ as I never felt before !” He then asked me, in a submissive and subdued tone of voice, whether I should consider it a great sacrifice to stop away from the prayer meeting that evening, and employ the time in reading the Bible to him! I have no occasion to attempt to describe my feelings at this most unexpected request, nor to inform you that the petition was joyfully responded to. During the course of the evening, he told me that his own feelings coincided with, and corroborated the doctor's, and that he now felt there needed some preparation, to meet with calmness the solemn event that awaited him! To obtain that preparation, at once became the business of his few remaining days. The precious Bible, which for a long previous period had been neglected and despised, was now examined and searched into with the deepest interest: the prayers of God's people were entreated, and
ministerial visits and instruction were earnestly solicited; and it was most surprising and delightful to observe, how the fetters wherewith he had been bound, burst asunder, and with what amazing rapidity he advanced from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son. The change that was wrought within him was of such a character as convinced those who saw him, that he had been with Jesus; and even such as were unwilling to give unto God the glory due unto his name, for his transforming power and grace, were constrained to admit that a wonderful change had passed upon him, which they were ready to ascribe to any cause rather than the true one. But no one acquainted with the workings of Divine grace could listen to his devout and fervent supplications, or witness those marks of deep and heart-searching repentance which, upon the recollection of a misimproved life, he constantly manifested; and mark his humility, his teachableness, his meekness, his patience, his gratitude, his lively faith in the promises of the Bible, and his humble hope of final pardon, without exclaiming, “ This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.”
It is a very remarkable fact, considering the flattering and changeable nature of the disorder under which he labored, and which proved to be consumption, that from the period when his dangerous situation was announced to him, he never entertained a hope, nor expressed a wish, to recover. His cough being very troublesome, he could seldom remain long in a reclining posture; and for the same reason he obtained but little repose, either by day or by night, but the presence of God softened and cheered the solemn midnight hours, so that the voice of prayer and praise was heard, instead of complainings and peevish repinings. I was his constant and only companion by night; and, consequently, the fatigue I endured was excessive, yet I remained almost unconscious of it until the task was ended, and my poor services were needed no longer. None but Christian parents can understand the emotions that are excited in beholding the child for whom longcontinued and agonizing prayer has been presented, at length becoming a fellow citizen of the saints, and of the household of God.
Having tasted that the Lord is gracious himself, my dear son felt deeply anxious that others might share his happiness; and for that purpose, he requested that two or three of his former companions might be allowed to call occasionally. On every such occasion he earnestly pressed upon their attention, the importance of instantly seeking God by prayer, and by the daily and diligent perusal of the Holy Scriptures; nor was he ashamed, in the presence of those whom he knew to be scoffers, to lay his hand upon the Bible, and to declare that all his hopes of pardon and acceptance with God, were built upon