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the knowledge of those things which concern the safety of their souls, and which also will, at the same time, contribute to their present welfare and respectability. And let all females, in whatever rank or station, give due attention to those studies and pursuits, which may advance them in that important knowledge, qualify them to do their respective duties, and adorn them with graces, far above pearls and precious stones, and all outward adorning; graces which are pleasing not only in the sight of man, but of God. Let them be inspired with a generous and religious emulation to adorn themselves with those qualifications, which may fit them like the “ holy women of old,” to be noted in the book of life, as benefactors of society, and examples of godliness and usefulness. Thus may they both grace and bless the community to which they belong. Like Rebecca, they may display the excellencies, and dispense the comforts, of conjugal fidelity and obedience; like Ruth, they may display the tender power, and unchangeable faithfulness, of a daughter's love; like Hannah, the pious cares of an affectionate and holy mother; like Naaman's maiden, the attachment and sympathy of a good and religious servant ; like Lois and Eunice, they may sow the seeds of Christian consolation, and lay the foundation of a Christian minister's zeal and success; and finally, like Mary, they may choose “ that good part which shall not be taken away,” through Christ Jesus.
ON PRAYER GENERALLY.
Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in our supplications and prayers, and dispose the way of thy servants towards the attainment of everlasting salvation; that, among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, they may ever be defended by thy most gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Phil. iv. 6, 7.
BE CAREFUL FOR NOTHING; BUT IN EVERY THING BY PRAYER AND
SUPPLICATION WITH THANKSGIVING LET YOUR REQUESTS BE
MADE KNOWN UNTO GOD.
AND THE PEACE OF GOD, WHICH
PASSETH ALL UNDERSTANDING, SHALL KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND
MINDS THROUGH CHRIST JESUS.
We have already shown how necessary to the true well-being of all it is, that a spirit of holiness and religion should prevail among families '; and our manual, which we desire to render acceptable to masters of families for the purpose of being placed in the hands of their household, would be very defective indeed, were it to contain no discourses on a subject so essential as prayer. We will therefore now proceed to consider it in its several branches. 1. Prayer generally; 2. Private Prayer; 3. Public Prayer; 4. Family Prayer.
1 Sermon XX.
Prayer, in the strict sense of the word, means petition; the asking for something. But it is commonly understood in a much larger sense, and is used to denote all kinds of devotion and adoration offered to God. It comprehends under it not only the asking for what we need, but also our acts of praise and thanksgiving, our confession of unworthiness, our professions of repentance, our deprecation of the punishment of our guilt; in short, all the particulars of public and private devotion. And it is in this larger sense that I now use it, and in this sense it seems to have been contemplated by St. Paul, as may be seen by a comparison of the text with his exhortation to Timothy', wherein he speaks of public prayer in much the same terms as he does here of private prayer; showing that, under each, the same offices and objects may be understood to be comprehended.
Prayer, as distinguished from mere religious meditation, has been defined to be a speaking to God. “ Your prayer,” said Augustine, “ is speaking to God; when you read, God speaks to you; when
you pray, you speak with God.” For if we merely think of God without addressing Him, it is not prayer: but then it is to be remembered that words are not always necessary when we speak to God, we speak to Him mentally, in our mind, without uttering one single word. When we speak to our fellow-creatures, we cannot generally, with any certainty or clearness, express our thoughts without the assistance of words, either spoken or written. But this arises from our imperfection, and limited powers. God requires no such helps. He is the “ Almighty God unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid?.” He “ understandeth our thoughts afar off?” The very dumb can pray, and though it may be said of them, as of the works of nature, that there is neither speech nor language, yet their voices are heard.
“ There is a language perceived of our inward spirit, and felt by that Spiritual Being whom we address. Many a prayer will ascend to the mercy-seat, and enter into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, to which no outward form of words has been given, and for which no place has been set apart. To the sighing of the sorrowful, and the desire of the contrite, his ears are open, who has been Himself a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. The lips may utter no sound, but the breast may be full, and its sorrow, its trust, its
2 Psalm cxxxix.
hope, and desire, like the gentle flowing of a crystal fountain, or the soft dew-drops of the morning prime, are grateful in the sight of the Almighty God. The sob of anguish, the tear, the bowed head, the humbled heart, can plead with an eloquence which no tongue can rival, and with a power to which no language can do justice. At home or abroad, in private or in public, by the labourer in the field, by the youth at his play, by the man of business at his desk, by the man of learning in his study, by the monarch on his throne, or by the captive in his dungeon: at all times, and in all places, the silent aspirations of prayer may be indulged, and the heart hold communion with its God. We
We may thus speak to God, without the aid of language. But we must speak to God, either in our mind, or by words; otherwise it is not prayer?"
In truth, though we speak of mental and vocal prayer as things which can have a distinct existence, we do not speak accurately so far as relates to one of them. For though the desire of the mind, laid in silence before God, without any words, is prayer; yet the words of prayer, without the desire and aspiration of the soul?, would no more be
See the Editor's observations on this, Penny Sunday Reader, vol. v. p. 21,
22. Prayer,” observes Isidore, “ is of the heart, not of the lips. For God does not weigh the words of the supplication, but looks to the heart of the petitioner. It is better to plead