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heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses." Were we to think rightly on these words we should never harbour bitter feelings towards any human being. God will not hear our prayers, either in public or private, if we live in malice and envy with any of our fellows. When we pray to God without forgiving men their trespasses we are actually praying to God not to forgive us. Dreadful conduct! How many are guilty of this sin against their own souls! They will not forgive those that have injured them; therefore, in every prayer they offer, and at every prayer-meeting they attend, they beseech God, in reality, never to forgive them their trespasses.
Prayer-meetings should be attended with a devout spirit. When we come to appear before God, our thoughts should be fixed on spiritual and eternal things. We should banish from our minds all worldly thoughts, all trifling thoughts, and especially all profane thoughts. We should make a vigorous effort on the way to the prayer-meeting to compose our minds and to fix our thoughts on the best things, or we are not likely to feel happy when we get there, for we shall not be able to worship God aright. Prayer-meetings should be attended with a considerate spirit. "Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools; for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few." We should never rush to the prayer-meeting like a horse rusheth to the battle. We should think seriously about where we are going, what we are going to do, what we need, what the Church requires, what the world wants ; and if we think rightly about these important matters, the prayer-meeting will be both interesting and profitable.
Prayer-meetings should be attended in a believing spirit. We should go to them relying upon the promises of God, expecting the presence of Jesus, expecting the Holy Spirit to help our infirmities in prayer, expecting our prayers to be heard and answered, expecting great good to be done in and through the meeting. We should never go to the meeting with an unbelieving or doubting mind. We had better stay away than go with an unbelieving heart. Such a spirit in us will bring coldness and death into the prayer-meeting, and prevent Christ from doing "mighty works." These meetings should be attended with a thankful spirit: thankful that we are not in hell, where prayer is made in vain—thankful that we have a desire to be found where many are gathered together praying—thankful that we have the opportunity and are in a condition to go to the place "where prayer is wont to be made" —thankful, above all, that the eternal and infinitely blessed God will condescend to meet with us and bless us in the prayer-meetings. Did we always attend these means of grace with a thankful heart they would always be "times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord."
Before closing this article, we think it needful to refer to the manner in which prayer-meetings should be conducted. Order should be maintained in a prayer-meeting. "Let everything be done decently and in order," is the inspired injunction. There should be all that decorum, seriousness and solemnity which become a company of persons worshipping the living God: but remember that decorum does not mean stiffness, seriousness is not formality, solemnity is iwt death. By order, wo understand doing anything properly, as it should be done. The prayer-meeting, we think, should commence with singing two or three verses of a hymn, then a brother or two should pray; the leader would do well to direct the people what to pray for, and then the people should keep to the object before them. We call it most disorderly conduct when we meet in a prayer-meeting to pray for those public blessings which are needed, those who wander all over the world and pray for anything and everything that comes next. When the leader does not state any object as the matter for prayer, then let each person pray for that, either for the Church or the world, which lies most upon his heart; and when he has done this let him stop aud give place to others. Order does not consist in praying in a certain way, with a peculiar tone of voice, or for just so many minutes. In these respects let all pray as the Spirit gives them utterance; but never should two, or three, or ten, or twenty, as we have heard before now, pray at once. Let one pray, and all the rest say Amen to each petition, confession, or thanksgiving. We are truly sorry to find that in many Churches the truly scriptural practice of all the people saying Amen in an audible voice to the prayers offered has ceased. It ought to be revived, and must be revived before our worship is of a truly scriptural character.
These meetings should be conducted in a lively, interesting manner. Nothing destroys so much the good of a prayer-meeting as long singing and long praying. To keep a prayer-meeting lively and interesting, only one verse should be sung at a time after the opening hymn, and then two or three should engage in prayer. By praying short, and to the point, the people will not get weary upon their knees. We have often seen the good of a prayer-meeting completely destroyed by singing after every prayer. There is so much singing at some so-called prayer-meetings that we have thought singing-meetings would be by far the most appropriate name. The deep devotional feeling which wrestles with God, and prevails, has often been destroyed in our heart by so much singing. To keep up the interest of a prayer-meeting, it is well occasionally for the leader to drop a word to quicken or sustain devotional feeling. If something serious, short, and to the point is said, much good will be the result.
Earnestness is especially required in a prayer-meeting. It ill becomes us to be indifferent in any act of worship, but indifference in a prayerineetiug is monstrous. We should be in earnest in pleading with God. When we think of the worth of souls, the uncertainty of life, the nearness of death, the solemnities of the judgment, the everlasting joys of heaven, the eternal torments of hell, can we be too earnest in a prayermeeting? Ah, no! Let the leader be in earnest, and give to the meeting an earnest character. Do not be afraid of what people whose hearts are as cold as ice may say about your earnest praying. Throw your whole soul into your prayers, and, like the importunate widow, be determined to have what you pray for.
Prayer-meetings should be conducted with especial reference to the conversion of the sinners present. If no unconverted men and women are present, the meeting may assume a joyous character; but if siuuers are present something different is required. More attention should be paid to them. We should forget ourselves, and sing and pray for their
conversion. The prayers should be such as to make them feel that they are in imminent danger of losing their souls —that it is their own fault that they are thus in danger—that it is their duly at once to repent, to believe in Jesus and be saved. We have often been pained in prayermeetings in hearing Christians praying for themselves when they ought to have been praying for the conversion of the sinners present; and still more deeply have we been grieved to hear Christians praying for sinners in that way that they have received the impression that they are poor unfortunate creatures that cannot help themselves; instead of being made to feel that they are wilful, ungrateful rebels against God, who deserve perdition more for rejecting salvation by Christ and resisting the Holy Spirit, than for any other sins they ever committed. In conducting prayer-meetings, we should ever so sing and so pray that sinners may be converted as well as believers established. Prayer-meetings should be conducted under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We should ever follow his leadings, and never scruple for a moment to act as he suggests.
Oh for improvement in the prayer-meetings! They must be more numerously attended, and in a better spirit too, before many souls will be converted, before our Churches will be in great prosperity, before Gods kingdom will come and his will can be done on earth as in heaven. Come up to the prayer-meetings, all ye professed followers of the Lamb! and soon shall your hearts be gladdened by a revival of religion in the Churches and by the more rapid spread of religion in the world. "God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us. Selah. That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations."
The Great Polar Ocean.—At the last meeting of the London Geographical Society, Lieut. Osborne, a member of one of the British Arctic expeditions, argued at some length in support of the existence of a great Polar Ocean. He said that in Wellington Channel be had observed immense numbers of whales running outfrom undertheice, a proof that they had been to water and come to water, for everyone knew they must have room to blow. He further said that there were almost constant flights of ducks and geese from the northward, another proof of water in that direction, since these birds found their food only in such water. He added that it was his deliberate opinion, from observations made on the spot, that whales passed up Wellington Channel into a noi them sen. In reference to the abundance of animal life in the latitude of this supposed Polar Sea, he remarked that while on the southern side of Lancaster Sound he
never saw game enough to keep his dog, Melville Island, one hundred and fifty miles to the northward, abounded in deer and musk oxen. It was thus clear, he continued, that animal life did not depend on latitude, but increased, if anything, after passing the seventieth degree. Moreover, while in Baffin's Bay, the tide made for the southward, coming from the Atlantic; in Bai row's Straits, it made for the northward, which could only be explained on the hypothesis of a sea in that direction. All this seems to us proof on proof of a great Polar Ocean.
Temperance Will Rear Refi.ec Tion.—What is a man the worse fo» the last year's plain diet, or what now the better for the last great feast? What's a voluptuous dinner, and the frothy vanity of discourse that commonly attends these pompous entertainments? What is it but a mortification to a man of sense and virtue to spend his time among such people? BIBLICAL CRITICISM.
AN EXAMINATION OF SIX PASSAGES ERRONEOUSLY QUOTED IN SUrPORT OF
"Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily, 1 say unto thee, thon shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."—(Mat. v. 25,20.)
Another passage adduced by Romanists to support the doctrine of purgatory is the one placed at the head of this article. The prison mentioned in this passage is supposed to mean purgatory, and the paying of the last farthing is said to imply the doctrine of satisfaction hy penal suffering in purgatory. It is, however, very unfortunate for this notion that it is opposed by high authorities among tho fathers, and even by some Papal writers of eminence. Therefore, before we enter upon an investigation of the meaning of this passage, it may be well to confront the modern interpretation by the interpretation of ancient authorities.
St. Jerome interprets the "prison" as hell; for he says, " He is never released from prison who does not pay the last farthing before the end of life."* St. Chrysostom applies the phrase to "outer darkness," where men suffer divine vengeance, and where there is no longer time for repentance. He says, " Agree with thine adversary whilst thou art in the way with him, that is, in this life; for when the way is finished there is no longer time for repentance. Beware lest the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge to the avenging powers, and thou be cast into prison, that is, into outer darkness; being condemned, not only for thy deeds but even for thy thoughts. Let us implore the all-merciful God, that we be not delivered up to the devils."-] Augustine delivers the following exhortation: "Induced, therefore, by these salutary reflections, beloved brethren, let us agree with our adversary while we are in the way with him: that is, let us conform to the word of God while yet we are in this life; for afterwards, when we shall have departed hence, there will be neither room for contrition nor satisfaction. Nothing will then remain except the judge, the officer, and the prison."* Now this language, like that of Chrysostom, cannot apply to purgatory, but to eternal perdition. A state in which there is no room for repentance and satisfaction can belong to no place but the regions of eternal misery and despair. The same ancient writer again remarks, when speaking of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, "With reference to his (Abraham's) declaration, that the good cannot, even if they wished, pass over to those places in which the wicked are punished, what else does it mean except that no merciful assistance can be rendered by the just, even if they wished to render it, to those who, hy the immutability of the divine sentence, are so fast in prison that they cannot go out thence until they have paid the uttermost farthing?"§ Fulgentius likewise applies the phraseology to hell, and that in the most unequivocal language. He observes, "A man makes the word of God his adversary when he does those things which Holy Writ forbids. To such a one it is said in the Psalm, 'Thou hatest to be reformed, and hast cast my words behind thee.' If any one in the way, that is in this life, agree not quickly with this divine word, he is thrown into the prison of eternal fire, and will have no rest beyond it."|| Bede, remarking on this passage, gives
* Hieron. Comment, in Marc hi., torn, v., p. 895. Paris, 1700.
,f Chrysostom, Horn, xxvii., de Poenitentia, torn, i., p. 824, B.C.—Ed. Paris, 1030. See also Horn. xvi. in Matt. v. 25, 20, torn, i., p. 204, etc.
J Augustin, Horn. v. in 1 Tim. iv., torn, x., col. 420. D. Basil, 1569.
§ August. Qusestionum Evangeliorum, lib. 2, sec. iii., col. 205, torn. iii. Paris, 1689.
|| Fulgentii Rusensis Episcopi de Remissione Peccatorum, lib. 2, cap. v., p. 387. Paris, 1684.
it the following interpretation: " Until thou payest" is put for infinity, just as, in another place, "Until I place thine enemies beneath thy footstool."* Maldonatus expressly applies it to hell, the place of everlasting torment. He says,-" The way is the time of this life, the prison is hell. He will never come out, because those who are in hell never pay."f Alexander is equally clear and decided in applying this scripture to everlasting punishment'. These are his words: "It does not mean that we shall come out afterwards, but that we shall never come out; because, when the condemned suffer infinite punishments for mortal sins, they never thoroughly discharge them. Those of whom this is said will never come out of the prison of hell."!
We have introduced these comments, not because we regard them as being strictly correct, but to confront papal doctors in their attempt to force the passage to speak in favour of purgatory. Opinions are neither true nor false because they are old; but when a Church boasts of her unity of sentiment, and argues her dogmas on the ground of her infallibility and the unanimous consent of the lathers, we have a right to show that the boast is fallacious and the pretence hypocritical. All the authorities we have adduced are clearly against the Papal use of this scripture, and we might add to the number. Leaving the contradictory authorities between the Fathers and the Romish Church, we have now to inquire what is the true meaning of the passage.
We do not think there is any evidence that our Lord, in this passage, was making a direct reference to the future world. There is nothing in the literal phraseology of the passage which expresses the slightest allusion to the spiritual world, or the future condition of souls. It is only by giving a figurative meaning to the passage that it can be thus applied; and such a figurative application we believe does not convey the proper meaning of the Saviour who uttered the words.
If we look at the context, we find that our Lord is inculcating the duty of meekness and gentleness of spirit—of peace and brotherly affection, without which our devotions are unacceptable and our professions of religion are vain. He says, "Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first go and be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." Then comes the text under consideration, and it is a further application of the same principle—that of meekness and placability. "Agree with thine adversary quickly," &c. That is to say, " Be not contentious, resentful or litigious; but be gentle and placable. Live peaceably with all men. Seek peace and pursue it; and if a controversy or misunderstanding should exist between thee and any person, and lead thine antagonist to prosecute thee at law, take the first opportunity of composing the difference by making all reasonable concessions. Do this quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him; that is, by mutual agreement, before you appear together at a legal tribunal. Lest the judge decide against thee, and stern justice take its course—the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, until thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." Having neglected the opportunity of mutual arrangement by timely concession, the unrelenting law will exact from thee all its rigorous demands.
That this is the true meaning of the passage is evident from the version which Luke gives of the Saviour's words in a parallel text. "When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he haje thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into the prison. I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence till thou.hast paid the very last mite." (Luke xii. 58, 59.) We have here the same precept in
» Beda, lib. 5, p. 12. Colonise, 1612.
+ Maldonat. Comment., p. 121. Mentz, 1596.
* Alexand. Histor. lib 9, p. 385. Paris, 1683.