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Here also the encouraging thought presents itself, that the humblest, the poorest Christian can comprehend these weighty and profound expressions; while, by this daily and devout perusal of the Sacred Word, the same delight recurs in regard to another and another passage, till at last he ascends to glory everlasting “ There, discerning how exquisitely the several parts of Scripture are fitted to the several times, and persons, and occurrences wherein their all-foreseeing Author intended most to use them, he will then discern, not only a reconcileableness, but a friendship and perfect harmony betwixt those passages which here seemed most at variance; and will then discern, not only the sense of these obscurer passages, but the requisiteness of their having been written so obscurely."* And there, like Abraham, even after he was enthroned in glory, who
The notion of depth, as a quality attributed alike to God's riches -and wisdom-and knowledge, is first expanded in the next couplet :
How inscrutable are his judgment,
And untraceable his ways! Riches-wisdom-and knowledge, are then, in a fine epanados enlarged upon in the inverted order:
Knowledge-For who hath known the mind of the Lord ?
And it shall be repaid him again? “Let now the most skilfully executed cento, from the heathen classics, be compared with this finished scriptural Mosaic of Paul; the former, however imposing at the first view, will, on closer inspection, infallibly betray its patch-work jointing, and incongruous materials; while the latter, like the beauties of creation, not only bears the microscopic glance, but the more minutely it is examined, the more fully its exquisite organization is disclosed."
* With this exception, the preceding extracts from Mr. Boyle are taken from his valuable tract, entitled, “ Considerations touching the Style of the Holy Scriptures," written at the request of his brother, Lord Broghill, partly in England, partly in another king. dom, and partly even on shipboard. Such was the language of this extraordinary man, when he had reached only the twenty-si.cth year
is represented as testifying to the sufficiency and potency of the Sacred Word, will he possess a more profound conception of the “ manifold wisdom of God.”
3. Family Prayer.—As one reason for the heartless and dull spirit of many Parents, when engaged in prayer, is to be traced to their superficial acquaintance with the of his age; and his “ Motives to the Love of God” were written when he was four years younger! These “Considerations,” however, are only part of a larger volume, entitled, An Essay on the Scripture, and I presume may form but a small proportion of it. The writer has inquired for it repeatedly, when in London and Dublin, but in vain; and although it is said to have been published after the “ Considerations,” by Mr., afterwards Sir Peter, Pett, attorney-general for Ireland, he has never been able to obtain even a sight of it, at any of the public libraries. If this work was really published, which is somewhat doubtful, from its being mentioned as No. 11 in the Manuscripts not inserted in his works; how much is it to be regretted, that the ideas of such a man should remain hid and unknown, respecting a book which he not only held in such profonind veneration, and which he not only studied so diligently, but which he was so well qualified to explore, both by his deep and consistent piety as a Christian, and his abilities as a scholar, from his acquaintance with Hebrew and Greek, Chaldee and Syriac. In this work are to be found his thoughts respecting the last translation of the Bible, and the advantage of understanding the original languages of the Scriptures, as well as various other subjects. In the list of his Manuscripts, No. 10, which certainly has never seen the light, is entitled, “ The Excellence of Christianity.” Among these papers, too, are to be found his views of the “Causes of Atheism,"
,"" Considerations about Miracles,” and “ Whether Philosophy and Christianity contradict each other.” These, as well as fifteen other theological tracts, and above thirty on philosophical subjects, all in inanuscript, were, about the year 1743, in the possession of the Rev. Henry Miles, F.R. S., of Tooting, in Surrey; and it is long since the regret has been expressed at their not being examined, and such of them as are complete given to the public. If a late work, such as that ascribed to Milton, must not remain in concealment, although the authenticity of it is far from being yet estabblished; of how much greater benefit to mankind would the thoughts of Boyle prove, could the possessors of these manuscripts only be entreated to survey and communicate them?
Sacred Scriptures, and this as a necessary consequence of their superficial way of reading them ; hence the importance of their being perused in the exercise of such dispositions as have been mentioned. As such readers will then no more be satisfied with knowing Scripture historically, or considering it casually, so also, upon their bended knees, will they desire to have their minds, not only impressed with its truths, but imbued with its spirit; while such a course of reading must, of necessity, ever be furnishing them with fresh materials for prayer.
And now, with the single exception of those hallowed moments, when the hearts of the flock, conjoined with their Shepherd, arise to the throne of God; there seems not to be, in this world, a single prospect so engaging and lovely to the eye of the Christian, as a Family thus assembled in the morning for their affectionate devotions ; combining piety to God, their common Parent, with tenderness to each other,” and living through the day in conformity with such a commencement. 66 In the devotions of this little assembly, Parents pray for their Children, and Children for their Parents ; the Husband for his Wife, and the Wife for her Husband ; while Brothers and Sisters send
their requests to the throne of Infinite Mercy, to call down blessings on each other. Who, that wears the name of man, can be indifferent here? Must not the venerable character of the Parents, the peculiar tenderness of the conjugal union, the affectionate intimacy of the filial and fraternal relations ; must not the nearness of relations long existing, the interchange of kindness long continued, and the oneness of interests long cemented, -all warm the heart, heighten the importance of every petition, and increase the fervor of every devotional effort ?»*
Independently, however, of all that is attractive to the
outward eye, to the Christian Parent himself, who has been received into the divine favor under the sovereign shelter of his Mediator, and through his abounding merit alone, these morning Family devotions are productive of great personal advantage. Often does he, when thus engaged, feel an adoptive freedom, and nearness of access to God. Conscious that there is no spiritual blessing so great, and no evil so small, respecting which he may not address his Heavenly Father, whether for himself or those so dear to him, his prayers are circumstantial, without irreverent familiarity, and changing with the aspect of each returning day or revolving year, they are characteristic of the circumstances in which his Family stands at the moment. Certainly he does not thus descend to particulars, because Jehovah does not know them infinitely better than ever he can ; but he feels it to be of value to himself, thus to intercede for and with others,—to be of importance to himself, as a Parent, thus to bear his charge on his heart before God; and of yalue to all who are present, to hear the concerns of the entire family thus acknowledged, as originating with God, or laid down in reverent submission before him. Besides all this, he believes it to be the law of Heaven, that such blessings as he implores, are to be obtained from thence, only by prayer. “God," he will say, “ does not promise to those who want that they shall have, but to those who ask; nor to those who need that they shall find, but to those who seek. So far, therefore, from his previous knowledge of our wants being a ground of objection to prayer, it is the true ground for our application. Were he not Knowledge itself, our information would be of as little use as our application would be, were he not Goodness
It is, however, very much to be feared, that many Chris
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tians are not sufficiently aware of the importance which is to be attached to the spirit and temper of such Morning devotion in the Family. The truth is, that these seasons may, in general, be regarded as the index to a man's life, and the probable condition of his Family through the whole day; while the evening prayer itself, will as generally respond or testify to the truth of this remark. Should any Parent not have before observed this sufficiently, let him only recollect, that, as the spirit of prayer must, of necessity, precede the act itself, so the design of this exercise is not merely to excite a devotional frame only while he is engaged in it. Its influence, if he and his family have engaged with sincerity, will remain with them, not only after they rise from their knees, but it will extend through the day to its close, and in proportion as they possess the spirit of prayer, will it thus extend ; so that “
we may often judge better of our state by the result than by the act of prayer.”
The importance of such an extension of influence, or devotional consciousness of the Divine Presence, the Christian reader will be fully impressed with, if he observes what takes place at Evening Family Prayer, or even private devotion afterwards. Have you never then observed, that “we cannot, in retiring into our closets, change our natures as we do our clothes ? The disposition we carry thither will be likely to remain with us. We have no right to expect that a new temper will meet us at the door. only hope or fear that the spirit we bring thither will be cherished. It is not easy, rather it is not possible, to graft genuine devotion on a life of an opposite tendency; nor can we delight ourselves regularly, for a few stated moments, in that God whom we have not been serving during the day. We may indeed, to quiet our conscience, take up the employment of prayer, but cannot take up the state of mind which will make the employment beneficial to our