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not mean the same thing, then as lasting refers to darability, long must refer to the extent of personal perpendicularity! I have seen some preachers, who might perhaps have been benefitted by an augmentation of their longitude ; to become two feet taller would scarcely hurt them—but, unless their people mean to pray for this, let them say, “ Make him a rich and lasting blessing to us and our children.” The exceptionable phrase is so ridiculous in itself that I could scarcely treat it at all without sarcasm.
Familiarity with the Scriptures and readiness in quotation are powerful auxiliaries and even rules of prayer. But here we should be careful: 1. Never to use words without knowing what we mean by them; and 2. Never, without special reason, wrest the scriptural meaning of the passage ;-of which more in remarking.
3. On abuses of Scripture. “God out of Christ is a consuming fire,” is an expression often wrought into prayer---and it is true ; but there is no such text; nay, the alteration perverts its meaning. See Heb. xii. 29. “ For our God [God in Christ] is a consuming fire." He will not indeed consume us, if we be his sincere worshippers : still, this is his character! and of this there
are, besides Nadab and Abihu, thousands of monuments! and thus it is adduced as a reason why we should " worship God acceptably, with reverence and Godly fear”-a duty from which neither saints on earth, nor saints in glory, nor sinless seraphim are exonerated.
“Lift on us the light of thy reconciled countenance." Is the passage improved, think you, by the addition of the participle ? See Psalm iv, 6. Is there no loveliness in the very countenance of God that makes it desirable? or is he wont to lift it on his foes, or to darken its lifted light, with a judicial scowl?
Hos. xiii. 9, contains a beautiful sentiment and a finished expression. How bad their taste who think to improve while they accommodate it in prayer, saying:
we have destroyed ourselves; but in thee is our help found! In God alone is our help--whether we ever find it is another matter.
Psalm cxxxix. 24, is often thus altered, with the de
prosper in his
sign, no doubt, to improve it. 66 See if there be any fatally wicked way in us!” The inference is—that such an one loves sin but not punishment, and wishes only so much of his wickedness to be expelled from his interior as consists not with his safety.
Isaiah iii. 10, last sentence, and Heb. ii. 13, latter part, are often abused in an idolatrous application to ministers of the gospel, while they properly and exclusively appertain to Jesus Christ. The first is often altered with the word cause or work for pleasure of the Lord; and the prayer is that it may hand." Now, 66 who art thou, O man ?? Is the cause in thy hand or in Christ's ? I know a Christian who-very properly-thus accommodates it, “ Let the pleasure of the Lord prosper in thine own hand, through his instrumentality?
Concerning the second, it can be said that, though properly applicable to Christ, it may be accommodated to ministers. From this, for one, I dissent. God will not give his glory to another, neither his praise to consequential ministers. It would be more modest, quite as becoming, and equally appropriate to refer to 1 Thes. ii. 19, 20, where a crown of rejoicing--not of dominion, rivalry, or self-importance--all studded with living and immortal gems, even souls converted to God by them, is rapturously anticipated for all faithful and humble preachers.
We ought to cultivate our gifts and exercise them not that ourselves, but--that our Father in heaven,
may be glorified.” Perhaps few are sensible how much of their barrenness may be traced to causes as unworthy of them as pride, fear of man, or negligence of due preparation and furniture. The noblest object of ambition that ever winged the efforts of man, the purest ingredients of character that ever distinguished a saint, have here their manifesto and epitome--to do aood unto all men, as we have opportunity, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. .
Mr. Backus WILBUR was born Nov. 9, 1788, in Richmond, Massachusetts. When about seven years of age he lost his mother, but her pious instruction had made an impression on his mind which was never obliterated. About two years after, his father married and removed to Newark township. The woman who kindly undertook to be a mother to Mr. Wilbur was emiuently pious, and combined her endeavours with his pious Father to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. When about ten years old, he was seriously impressed with a sense of his own sinfulness from an address of Dr. M'Whorters to the children, after catechising on the worth of their souls; but these impressions were like the morning cloud and the early dew. In 1808 there was a revival of religion in the Elizabethtown congregation. A young man who taught a school in Lyons farms and boarded with Mr. Wilbur's father was awakened; seeing his distress brought Mr. Wilbur to consider his ways. In about a fortnight he obtained a hope through grace, that he had embraced the Lord Jesus as he is freely offered in the gospel. He left no record of the exercises of his mind at this interesting period.
March 6, 1808, he made a public profession of his attachment to Christ. From that time he was actively engaged in the cause of that Master whose service was his delight. He, commenced a meeting for prayer among the young people, in which he took the leading part; and it pleased the Lord to pour out on his young servant a spirit of prayer and supplication, and even to bless his prayers to the awakening of one soul. In the course of the year a woman applied for church privileges, who, when asked to what she traced her first serious impressions, answered, “The prayers of young Mr. Wilbur.” His attending societies brought him into notice, and several ministers thought he ought to devote himself to the work of the ministry. This met his own wishes. He had been brought up a farmer, and his education was very limited when, at the age of
twenty, he commenced his classical studies. He felt his deficiencies and strove, by constant diligence and application, to supply them. In 1811 he entered the junior class in college ;--graduated September 1813, He remarks in his diary, " This I consider an important period of my life; O may it prove the introduction to a better course of conduct and a more useful life than I ever have led. Now, if God will be in very deed with me, keep and assist me, I will devote my whole self to him. Choose thou my changes and appoint my portion, my, God and my Redeemer. Nov. 16, 1813, was admitted a meinber of the Theological seminary of Princeton. 0
may the spirit of the living God assist and direct me. Keep me, O thọu Preserver of men! Great opportunities are now afforded. Solemn obligations are now upon me; O may I be faithful and successful. April 24, 1816, was licensed to preach the gospel; my soul trembled. How can I do this work? I have now ob tained a part of that trust I have been seeking for many years; O may I have grace to be faithful. More than seven years I have been studying for the ministry, yet how insufficient am I still for this work. I do desire to record here that I determine to be faithful to my work; by divine aid to preach the word in season and out of season, may the spirit of God make me successful. May this day never be forgotten
“ 24th September 1816, passed iny final examination in the Theological seminary. Scarce ever has my mind been more solemn. About to go into the world; O may the God of Israel be my God. 26th September set out on my mission. Never did I feel such afflicting and solemn reflections. My weeping friends, entrance into public life, responsibility all affect me much. O may the God of Abraham be with me, and assist me, Morgantown, Vir. 5th October, am now on missionary ground-saw several things indicative of a low state of morals! The Lord make me a blessing. Sunday, 6th October, began my missionary preaching, felt my zeal for Zion inflamed, spoke with ease to myself,--audience attentive and affected. Am very kindly received by the inhabitants; all seem desirous to hear preaching.
Mr. Wilbur's first mission commenced in Morgantowu and extended to the mouth of the great Kenhawa. In a letter dated October 7th he remarks, 6 I find work enough to do here-have made appointments to preach every day this week, and one day am to preach twice. the people are crying, Come over and help us. This you may be sure is pleasant language to me.
I mean to preach as often as I am able; do not fear my doing too much. I feel as if I should see these people no more below, and I must preach while I can ; these souls may perish for want of a sermon.
I feel encouraged and animated in my work.
Have great reason to bless God that he gives what does give me such health ; 1 hope and pray I may never be unwilling to spend it in his service. I hope every anxious prayer will be offered up for me. When I am imprudent, kindly and freely reprove me, but when in the path of duty, however hard it may appear, do yourself the justice and me the kindness to leave me with God.” In another letter from Bererly, October 21st, “ I never preached with less trouble and more satisfaction to myself than since I have been on missionary ground. Notes are out of the question, and one hour's preparation is a long time for me. I have been so followed from place to place that I have rarely rode alone. Have preached fifteen times in fifteen days.” Mr, Gilbert joined Mr. Wilbur in Tyguts valley, and was his companion the remainder of his mission.
Extracts from diary. “ November 30th. I have now completed my first mission, with what success God only knows. Much of the time I have spent very agreeably. The people every where very kind. Have preached fifty times in fifty-six days, travelled Give hundred miles on missionary ground. On leaving this people, I feel many serious thoughts, because I leave them without any to break to them the bread of life, and because I have not done all the good I might have done among them. May the Lord provide.
66 December 6th. Rode from Lebanon to Dayton, through a beautiful country. The people in Dayton in an unpleasant state as it regards religion,