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376 "THE NATION THAT WILL NOT SERVE THEE SHALL PERISH."
some rely upon force, and think that by rendering the army and navy more and more efficient we shall be secure; some trust to policy and worldly wisdom, and prefer to use this rather than to follow righteousness, forgetting that man is at best a short-sighted creature, and only safe when guided by the Wisdom that is infinite. Others think that the spread of knowledge will give prosperity and happiness to a kingdom. But the words chosen for our title state the only principle that will truly advance in this life both the individual and the nation. The Supreme Being by Whom all things are sustained and governed, can as easily cause a nation to perish as He can cut off the man who will not obey His commands. With the resources of the universe at His disposal, He could bring miraculous plagues on the land, as He did to Egypt, when He made their very gods their tormentors, devastated their fields, slew their cattle, destroyed their crops, and at last overthrew their proud monarch and his military power in the Red Sea. Or as He did to the Jews when, in the hardness of their hearts, they refused to receive Christ as the Messiah, He commissioned the Romans, the "fiery flying serpent of the Prophet Isaiah, (an allusion to the rapid movements of their armies and their recognition of the advantage of facilities for communication in making military roads, etc.,) to overthrow their power, slay their people with famine and sword; destroy their temple, and scatter them throughout the world, a people despised and without national privileges. The sceptre has departed from Judah, and the lawgiver from between his feet. But we see constant proofs, in the nation as well as in the individual, that, as Solomon says, "the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness." We see it in the diseased frame of the drunkard and debauchee; in the man who, anxious for this world's goods, toils on the Sabbath as well as the week-day to amass wealth, who gives himself no rest, and finally breaks his constitution, unhinges his mind, and finds that after all he has
been pursuing that which will not give one hour's solid comfort. We see it in kings dethroned by subjects justly indignant at unrighteous government; and we have to go no farther than our own country and times to note how the lack of true religion in a nation may be the cause of its decline.
The means of England's greatness are her manufactures; it is these that cause the wealth of the country, and it is in exchange for them that the productions of every clime are brought to minister to our comfort and necessity. With them we are enabled to command the corn and provisions of America, and the fruits and spices of the East Indies for our tables, the cotton of the West and the wool of Europe for our clothing. Possessing iron, and coal to smelt it with, and being foremost in inventing and applying efficient machinery, we have been able hitherto to compete with all our rivals, and maintain our position of hardware factors to the world. now this support of our population seems likely to be lost by us from a cause that perhaps few in the past have expected. Of late years education and enlightenment have made rapid advances among the labouring classes; they have discovered that they are really the most powerful body in the kingdom; they see the advantage of having an acknowledged leader, of organization and combination in all important movements; and being as selfish as human nature unregenerated always is, they, in order to secure personal advantage, have used their power in such a way as, there can be little doubt, will eventually prove the impoverishment of the country, by so increasing the cost of its articles of commerce, that other lands where labour is cheaper will be able to take goods to the market at a price that will undersell those produced by English workmanship. It may be some time before the result is seen; the snow is a long while collecting on the Alpine heights before it descends in an avalanche on the village beneath; but it must be clear to every reflecting mind that the suddenly-increased rate of
wages is the cause of the increased price of almost every commodity in the present day. Competition, so potent in promoting cheapness, is as great as ever; the improvements in machinery and in facilities for commerce tend to lower prices. All mankind are so mutually dependent on one another, that if the labouring man control the profits of his employer, the latter must recoup himself through his customers; and in this way every one that takes a part in the vast co-operative association formed by means of trade for the sustenance and comfort of the body, if he receive increased payment for his time and energy, must more or less affect the resources of the rest. Selfishness, like the dog in the fable, will grasp at a shadow and let the substance go.
Had religion advanced in the country at a corresponding speed with knowledge, we think the men would have considered, "Will this movement be beneficial to my country and posterity in the long run?" not as now looking only at the shillings they will immediately obtain, but which make them poorer in the end. Godliness brings with it contentment. The Christian does not hope and strive with all his power and by every means for the riches of this world, but seeks to lay up treasure in heaven, treasure that will be lasting, satisfying, and without alloy. Greece and Rome cultivated knowledge; in military science they were far before their contemporaries, in philosophy and worldly wisdom they are unsurpassed in modern times, and in many branches of art only imperfectly imitated; but this did not give them strength to stand. With true religion only, and the acknowledging God in everything, there are blessings for the individual, blessings national, blessings civic, blessings political, blessings commercial, blessings in health, blessings in sickness, blessings all through life, blessings in death, blessings in all things, blessings everywhere.
THE EFFICACY OF PRAYER.
BY POMPILIUS APEX.
"Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth.....But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men."-2 TIMOTHY iii. 7-9.
WE cannot consent to forsake our subject in the unsatisfactory aspect of affairs and the undecided position in which we left it at the conclusion of the last chapter, neither would our opponents wish to escape from their self-imposed task on the appearance of the first difficulty. One of the first principles we endeavour to instil into the mind of early childhood is that of perseverance:"If at first you don't succeed,
Try, try, try again."
And in an experiment of chemical analysis, if the subject operated upon remains indivisible and indissoluble under the ordinarily successful means, other and more powerful agents are employed.
We have already supposed that the proposed prayer has been offered, that the succeeding circumstances have been in complete conformity with the terms of the prayer, and that the adjudicator is engaged in the scrutiny of an issue which has unexpectedly arisen,—the question being, how far God's direct interference has tended to bring about the result. A scrutiny which we fear will never come to a conclusion; for all who have so far been employed upon it, are in a similar condition to Timothy's acquaintances referred to above, "Ever learning," - ever diligently inquiring and investigating,-"and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." And the decree against them is, that, like the felon on the treadmill, "they shall proceed no further."
There is nothing 66 new under the sun." All this inquiry has many times been acted out before, and the case of Gideon comes forcibly to our minds in illustration of our subject at its present stage. Gideon had done what Abraham's
servant did, he prayed for a specific token, and the token in all its minuteness was given, with precisely the same effect. "Gideon said unto God, If Thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as Thou hast said, Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that Thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as Thou hast said." Gideon and Professor Tyndall are both equally open to conviction, and pledge themselves ready to be fully satisfied with the result. Gideon "rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water." We should expect he would promptly have said, "Now I know that Thou wilt save Israel by mine hand." But, O no! The question of natural causation arose, and to Gideon's mind it seemed quite possible that the whole affair could be accounted for independently of Divine interposition. However, as the matter was of serious moment, Gideon acted on the principle of "trying again," and this time he reversed the token. "And
Gideon said unto God, Let not Thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray Thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground." Still Gideon was not convinced; he had not been "able to come to the knowledge of the truth,"-he had "proceeded no further," but stood where he had taken his position before he offered his prayer, at the head of thirty-two thousand men, placing his trust chiefly in the hackneyed proverb, "God helps those who help themselves."
If Professor Tyndall is not fully satisfied with the result of his first experiment, he cannot do less than follow the example of Gideon. He has requested the Christian world to pray for the recovery of the afflicted inmates of some particular hospital or ward. The prayer
is offered, and the sufferers strangely recover. The Professor is astonished, but not convinced. He cannot give his verdict until he has inquired into all the surroundings of the case. And when his investigation is completed, and he has exhausted all his trusted appliances, he is not "able to come to the knowledge of the truth." Therefore the only course open to him is, that, like Gideon, he reverse the token. We cannot allow him to retire from his arbiter's office until the test is complete, and a satisfactory verdict given. He must call the praying public together again, and this time they must pray that the disease of every sufferer in the prayer-devoted hospital may prove incurable, and terminate in speedy dissolution. he prepared to do this?
If he be ready to urge this crucial test, it will be only to find himself, like Gideon, still among the doubters, still unconvinced, still unable "to come to the knowledge of the truth ; " still endeavouring to advance, but bitterly discovering that he can "proceed no further;" and being only the more fully assured that his "folly shall be manifest unto all men."
But our philosophers will say there is no analogy between the examples we have quoted from Holy Scripture, and the case under discussion. The servant of Abraham, Gideon, and Simon Peter were isolated individuals. They stood alone during the trial of their faith. If they had been associated with others, their faith would have been stronger, as they would have received mutual encouragement and help. The proposal of Professor Tyndall is not to any individual disciple in the solitude of his own closet, but to the Church,-the whole community of praying men, who shall sustain each other, as Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses. We grant that the theory is good. Nevertheless, like many other theories of the Schools of Philosophy, it is not always to be relied on, but will require considerable modification when brought into practice. Unfortunately for its
advocates, we have examples of aggregate as well as individual unbelief, and the doubt has been all the more confirmed by the doubter's consciousness of not being alone in his perverseness. God's infinite wisdom and foreknowledge become manifest to every diligent student of His Holy Word. Knowing that in the latter times men would rise up to gainsay His revelation of Himself and His will, He has provided an answer therein to every quibble and evasion yet urged or acted upon by the enemy, illustrated and backed by facts which cannot be controverted.
We have only to refer to another episode in Simon Peter's life in proof of our statement, and in reply to the last objection of our opponents. Herod apprehended Peter, and cast him into prison. No sooner was this known in the city, than "prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him." Here was precisely the procedure the Professor suggests,-united public prayer. Peter was miraculously delivered from his confinement, and made his way to the house "where many were gathered together praying." He knocked; his name was announced, and the company said, "impossible!" And yet they had been praying all night for this very 'impossibility." The answer came so suddenly, and so much more quickly than their sluggish faith could entertain a notion of, that they forgot all about their petitions to the Throne of Grace, and their numbers only made them the more courageous in questioning the evidence of their own senses, and prompted them to laugh to scorn the suggestion of Rhoda, that the answer to their prayer had come, and to give to her the only rejoinder which the world has ever given to a sincere believer in the power of prayer,-"Thou art mad!" And even when the Apostle stood before them in the house, they continued their disputation on the "possibility" of the circumstances, until he was compelled to "beckon unto them with the hand to hold their peace."
In each of the illustrations we have
given, the prayer was assuredly answered; and in each case the heart of the petitioner was filled with doubt, because he could not see how the miracle had been performed. Because God did not appear in person, and permit the suppliant to stand by Him as He "wrought for His own name's sake," he refused to admit that He had had any share in the transaction. And yet our opponents come forth to offer their services as detectives at the trial which they propose, telling us that if God takes a part in the event, they will certainly be able to apprehend Him in the act. "No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you."
Ah! Professor Tyndall, thou hast set out on a bootless errand! "Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?"
"NO CROSS-NO CROWN." THE poet who has charm'd the world,
May in a garret pine for bread; And he who bears the flag unfurl'd,
Must in the van of battle tread, Amid the dying and the dead. The butterfly for one brief day
May flit from flower to fairer flower; Our lives as quickly glide away;
And death will rob us of the power To reap the pleasures of the hour. A thousand forces lie in wait
To drag us from our purpose down; But shall we, on the verge of fate,
Forsake the pathway of renown, Forego the Cross and lose the Crown? They only rise who first aspire;
The martyr wears the gloriole
Hereafter we shall not complain
MEMORIALS OF THE DEPARTED.
AT Kempley, in the Ledbury Circuit, on March 3rd, 1873, died MRS. SARAH PALMER, aged seventy-one years. Born and educated in a remote village in the commencement of the present century, where multitudes of villages and many towns were shut up to the perfunctory ministrations of an apathetic, because unconverted clergy, Mrs. Palmer, though regular in her attendance on the Church service, was in utter ignorance of the way of salvation. About the year 1825 it pleased God that a young lady, who had had the advantages of the Wesleyan ministry, by which she had been brought to the knowledge of the truth, came to reside in the neighbourhood. This change of residence involved the want of that ministry and of the Class-Meeting, which had ever been to her a special means of blessing. These privations were keenly felt, and to a person of less devotedness might have served as a prelude of spiritual declension and departure from God. She, however, became the more diligent in the cultivation of the heart, and was thus being prepared to fulfil the work of an evangelist among a population that was sitting "in the region and shadow of death;" and of establishing a Society, many of whose members are now before the throne of God. One of these members was our lately departed sister.
Soon after the arrival of Miss Reece, the lady already mentioned, she was introduced to Mrs. Palmer, by whom she was heartily welcomed to the neighbourhood. In the course of succeeding familiar interviews, spiritual religion was introduced, and discussed with increasing pathos, when its nature was defined, its privileges exhibited, and its immediate pursuit earnestly and affectionately pressed. To one whose whole conceptions of godliness were confined to attendance on the Sabbath services of the Establishment, and propriety of social character, such views were absolute novelties, and strongly savoured of
fanaticism, inducing something akin to pity for this well-meaning but infatuated friend. Similar attentions having been paid to the spiritual state of the cottages in the village, Miss Reece determined on hiring a cottage for worship, to be conducted by the Local brethren of the nearest Circuit. Mr. Palmer had one vacant, which was immediately taken, and worship commenced; the novelty of cottage-services conducted by working men on the one hand, and the house-tohouse visitation of Miss Reece on the other, filled the place. Mr. and Mrs. Palmer also went occasionally, then more regularly, till at length the eyes of their mind being enlightened, and their spirit thoroughly broken, they gave themselves to God and to the Church by the will of God. Mrs. Palmer's Note of Admission into Society was given her by the late Rev. Richard Jackson, in March, 1829.
From that time their house was the house of God; as God's worship was regularly conducted in it, and their children instructed in Christian truth. And the labourer's cottage was the place of public service, where the respectable farmer with his wife and family were accustomed to keep holy day, and in which the power of God has been frequently felt" mighty to save."
Mrs. Palmer was a woman of strong mind; as her faith apprehended God in Christ" reconciling the world unto Himself," so she believed in an indwelling God, and hence was never satisfied but as the Spirit witnessed with her spirit that she was a child of God; while her aspirations may well be given in the language of the poet,—
"With clearer light Thy witness bear,
More sensibly within me live."
On conviction of duty, she allowed no hesitation, on plea of inconvenience or difficulty; but having first prayerfully excogitated her plan of action, she went forth, calm in the confidence that God was with her, and success certain. Hence, though delicate in constitution, the mother of ten children, the mis