« ZurückWeiter »
are there. He feels more the presence of God than others. He loses himself, and forgets others in the solemnity of the place.
His first thought is self-recollection and prayer. It was a beautiful custom which our fathers observed, when they did not even take their seats without first offering a prayer, with the bat or hymn-book held up before the face. This custom has passed away ; it is well if, with some at least, the prayer has not gone with it! Is it not to be feared-yea, must it not be concluded, from the way in which many persons present themselves in their pews, that silent prayer is not thought of, much less practiced. It is to be feared that hearts which do not thus rise to God in the beginning, do not truly rise to Him in the continuance of the service.
Will not he who devoutly begins, be better prepared for the remaining service? Will not the singing, the prayer, and the sermon, to such an one, possess new interest ? Have not those who present themselves before God without prayer, reason to blame themselves if they depart from the sanctuary unprofited and unblest ?
It is the omitting of this silent prayer which makes room for improprieties and sins which are too common even in the best regulated congregations—such as looking around, noticing every new worshipper that comes in, and even, in some cases, conversation carried on in annoying whispers. This it is certainly which deserves to be called, in the strong language of Solomon, “the sacrifice of fools.” Conduct like this has a very bad effect, not only on the guilty themselves, but on others. It is exceedingly annoying to all who are compelled to witness it. Who is it that has not at some time or other been robbed of all the satisfaction of a service by such-like improprieties in some that were near them ? This is certainly a serious crime before God! Well does this wise man say: "they consider not that they do evil.”
We must speak also of the nature of true worship itself. The worship of God ought to be solemn and beautiful. This can only be realized where all worshippers observe the greatest order, and the most decent propriety. No sight on earth is more beautiful than a worshipping congregation, where all seem pervaded with the one great thought and feeling: "The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him!” To such worshippers the angels are near--with such a beautiful service God is well pleased.
To such a worship the wise man exhorts us. “ 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.” Reverence, humility, and solemnity, which always exert a subduing influence on the soul, are the deepest elements, and surest characteristics of true worship. Where these are found, the worship is beautiful in the sight of man, and acceptable to God. There the challenge may be made
Let strangers walk around
The city where we dwell,
And mark the building well.
The worship of thy court,
The cheerful songs, the solemn vows,
And make a fair report.
How decent and how wise!
How glorious to behold!
And rites adorned with gold ! The worshipper should take earnest and devout part in all the exercises. He ought to be not merely a spectator and a listener, but a worshipper. Hearing the sermon is not the only duty, nor the chief duty, of the worshipper. Even more important than this are the prayers and praises of the sanctuary—in Psalms and Hymns, and spiritual songs to make nielody in our hearts unto the Lord ! This is more properly worship.
A devout attitude ought to be observed in prayer. We teach our children to fold their hands, close their eyes, and present a devout attitude when they say their prayers ; does it not become us as well ? Nothing can be more improper than to gaze about, or to stand with an air of careless unconcern, to shift attitudes, to assume a lazy lounging position, or even so sit still when others rise, or crouch down behind the pew, or make it a pillow for easy reverie. No such habits of rudeness become those who are presenting a petition before the king immortal, invisible, and holy, whose throne is in the heavens, and before whom the angels veil their faces in the deepest adoration and most sublime reverence—a petition, too, upon the answer of which they profess to believe their heaven or their hell depends!
In like manner, and with like reverence and propriety of attitude and position, ought the solemn blessing, which closes the service to be received. This is the most solemn part of the whole service. It gives us the blessing to take with us, that it may abide with us and over us till we come again. It connects our service with the other next following—by the Love of God, the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Communion of the Holy Ghost, which go down with the people of God, to sanctify their secular life, and protect them in it. With what an humble and devout spirit of attention ought such a blessing to be received. Yet, how often is this taken as the mere signal for departureas a mere dismission-and is therefore used to fix clothing, to put on the shawl or the overcoat—to seize a hat or umbrella, and to make other preparations to depart.
We ought to depart from the house of God as we came; and that which has been referred to as improper in going up to the sanctuary, is also improper in going down from it
Tell me, hast ever thought apon the Being
FROM THE GERMAN, BY THE EDITOR.
XXXIII- THE GHOST. At midnight, Martin crept into the palace garden, filled his bags with fruits, and intended to carry them home, one after the other.
Just as he was walking along the garden wall with a bag on his back, the clock in the tower struck twelve. The wind moaned dolefully in the leaves of the trees, and suddenly Martin espied a black man, moving along by his side, who was apparently carrying the other bag on his shoulders!
Martin, overcome with fear, shrieked aloud, dropped his bag, and fled as fast as he could. The black man also threw down bis bag, and continued to run along by the side of Martin to the end of the garden wallwhen he vanished !
The next morning Martin told every one of the hateful ghost which he had seen; but that he had stolen fruit he was careful not to tell. But the Magistrate, the same day called Martin before him, and said : “ Last night you stole fruit in the palace garden ; the bags on which your father's name is written, have betrayed you! I will, therefore, confine you in the tower. The black man which you saw was nothing but your own shadow, which, as the moon arose at twelve o'clock, you saw on the newly white-washed garden wall."
Thus it happens to him that commits mischief. Every leaf that shakes alarms him, and he flies in fear before his own shadow.
“Keep your conduct free from harm,
XXXIV - THE PILGRIM. Long ago there lived a very rich man in a beautiful palace, of which there remains not now one stone upon another. He spent a great amount of money, to beautify his palace; but he gave little to the poor.
It happened that one evening there came a poor pilgrim to his door and begged that he might be kept over night. The rich man angrily bade him depart, crying: “This palace is no Inn." The pilgrim answered : “Only allow me to put three questions to you, and then I will depart.” The rich man said : “On this condition you may ask your questions, and I will cheerfully answer."
Then the pilgrim asked : "Who lived in this palace before you ?" "My father," said the rich man. The pilgrim asked further : Who lived here before your father!” “My grand-father," said the rich man.” "And who will probably live in it after you ?” asked the pilgrim. The rich man said : “My son, if God will."
“Well,” said the pilgrim, “if each one only resides for a time in this palace, and one ever makes room for another, what are you else than travellers ; and is not then this palace an Inn? Do not, therefore, spend so much money to beautify this palace, for it will not contaiu you long ! Rather do good to the poor, and so build for yourself an abiding home in heaven."
The rich man took his words to beart, kept the pilgrim over night, and from that hour on, was kind to the poor.
The world and riches all are vain.
XXXV - THE HERMIT. A certain Prince who greatly prided himself on account of his beauty, riches, and high rank, was once in the chase in a lonely mountain region. There he discovered an aged Hermit sitting before his cave earnestly examining a skull!
The Prince approached him and with a sportive smile said: "Why are you so carefully examining that skull! What do you expect to discover in it?"
The Hermit, very solemnly regarding the Prince, said: "I wish to ascertain whether this is the skull of a Prince or a beggar; but I cannot decide !"
Ye who after beauty, gold and honor reach,
NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN.
The following well authenticated facts will illustrate the principle that man is never too old to learn.
Socrates, at an extreme old age, learned to play on musical instruments. This would look ridiculous for some of the rich old men in our city, especially if they should take it into their head to thrum a guitar under a lady's window, which Socrates did not do, but only learned to play upon some instrument of his time—not a guitar—for the purpose of resisting the wear and tear of old age.
Cato, at eighty years of age, thought proper to learn the Greek language. Many of our young men, at thirty, and forty, have forgotten even the alphabet of a language, the knowledge of which was necessary to enter college, and which was a daily exercise through college. A fine comment upon love of letters, truly !
Plutarch, when between seventy and eighty, commenced the study of Latin. Many of our young lawyers, not thirty years of age, think that nisi prius, fieri facias, etc., are English expressions; and if you tell them that a knowledge of Latin would make them appear a little more respectable in their profession, they would reply that they are loo old to think of learning Latin.
Boccacio was thirty-five years of age when he commenced his studies in polite literature. Yet he became one of the three masters of the Tuscan dialect. Dante and Petrarch being the other two. There are many among us, ten years younger than Boccacio, who are dying of ennui, and regret that they were not educated to a taste of literature, but now they are too old.
Sir Henry Spelman neglected the sciences in his youth, but comnenced the study of them when he was between fifty and sixty years of age. After this time, he became the most learned antiquarian and lawyer. Our young men begin to think of laying their seniors on the shelf when they reach sixty years of age. How different the present estimate put upon experience from that which characterized a certain period of the Grecian republic, when a man was not allowed to open his mouth in cases of political meetings, who was under forty years !
Dr. Johnson applied himself to the Dutch language but a few years before his death. Most of our merchants and lawyers of twenty-five, thirty and forty years of age, are obliged to apply to a teacher to translate a business letter written in the French language, which might be learned in the tenth part of the time required for the study of the Dutch ; and all because they are too old to learn.
Ludovico Monaldesco, at the great age of one hundred and fifteen, wrote the memoirs of his own times; a singular exertion, noticed by Voltaire, who was himself one of the most remarkable instances of progress of age in new studies.
Accorsa, a great lawyer, being asked why he began the study of law so late, answered, that indeed he began it late, but that he should, therefore, master it the sooner. This agrees with our theory, that healthy old age gives a man the power of accomplishing a difficult study in much less time than would be necessary to one of half his years.
Colbert, the famous French Minister, at sixty years of age, returned to his Latin and law studies. How many of our college-learned men have ever looked into their classics since their graduation ?
We could go on and recite thousands of examples of men who commenced a new study, and struck out into an entirely new pursuit, either for a livelihood or amusement, at an advanced age. But every one familiar with the biography of distinguished men, will recollect individual cases enough to convince him ihat noue but the sick and indolent will say, I am too old to learn.
How sweet are the affections of kindness! How balmy the influence of that regard which dwells around our fireside! Distrust and doubt darken not the lustre of its purity; the cravings of interest and jealousy mar not the harmony of that scene. Parental kindness and fil al affection blossom there, in all the freshness of eternal spring. It matters pot if the world is cold, if we can but turn to our dear circle, and ask and receive all that our heart claims.