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the public solemnities. His venerable appearance, and the devout and pertinent address which he offered at the Throne of Grace, made a deep impression upon the audience. It seemed as if he had come before his God to give back his commission, while he was on the eve of going to give an account of his stewardship.
On the following week, he was attacked by a comatose affection, to which he had before been occasionally subject, and which now threatened to terminate his life. While his friends were anxiously waiting the event of his illness, and expecting that the profound sleep into which he had fallen, would terminate in the lethargy of death, he unexpectedly revived, and after a few days was restored to his usual health. He spake of his recovery in a manner which indicated the most unqualified resignation to the Divine will, as well as the most grateful sense of the Divine goodness.
From this period, the recurrence of his disorder was more frequent, and seemed at times to abate, in a considerable degree, his intellectual vigour. His friends who were in the habit of conversing with him daily, were often pained to find a train of animated and interesting remarks suddenly interrupted by the failure of his recollection. But notwithstanding the inroads which his disease was evidently making, both upon his constitution and intellect, he was an almost constant attendant on public worship, and occasionally took part in the service, until about two months before his death. The last public exercise which he ever performed was a funeral service in a case of uncommon affliction. His manner on this occasion was unusually paternal and affectionate. The prayer which he offered was replete with impressive sentiment, and seemed like the breath of a soul that was panting for heaven, while the trembling limbs and the quivering voice seemed to proclaim that it would soon be there.
On the Sunday next succeeding the 25th of August, 1820, (the sixtyfourth anniversary of his ministry,) he attended public worship and heard a discourse on the responsibility of the Christian minister. The subject made a deep impression on his mind, and, as he afterwards remarked, led him to another review of his own ministry. To a friend with whom he returned from church, he made, in substance, the following remarks : “ I have been a steward for a long time, and shall have a large account to render. I often think of it. When I look back upon my ministry, I find great cause for humility. I have been an unprofitable servant, and my only hope is in the glorious Redeemer. If I do not come short at last, it will be not on account of any worthiness in me, but on account of the all-sufficiency of Christ. I think I can say with another, that if I ever arrive in that blessed world, I shall have had so much forgiven me, that I will sing the praises of redeeming love in as loud strains as any saint or angel there."
The last day of October following completed his eighty-ninth year. He observed it as a day of solemn recollection and self-examination. In the course of the day, he paid a visit to one of his neighbours, apparently with a view to give him an opportunity of rejoicing with him in the Divine goodness. In conversation with a friend, he remarked that he had been reviewing his life, and he found that it had been crowded with blessings. He then said with a profusion of tears, that it overwhelmed him. “ I have endeavoured,” he added, “ to exercise some degree of gratitude, particularly for the blessings of the past year, but I have not yet asked God to add to my life another year, and I have not determined that it is my duty to make such a request.
In the early part of December, his health began more sensibly to decline, though there were still occasional intervals, when he conversed with great freedom and vivacity, and manifested no small degree of his native energy of mind. But it was evident to himself and his friends that his earthly house of this tabernacle was soon to be dissolved ; and he spake of it with as little agitation as if he had been only laying by his garments for the repose of the night. He often remarked, that he had not the assurance of hope, but that his confidence in the Redeemer was so strong that he was not afraid to die. A few days before his death, one of his friends remarked to him, that it must be a source of great satisfaction to reflect that his life had been distinguished by such eminent usefulness. “Oh no,” said he, " I find little consolation from any thing which I have done. I believe I have endeavoured to be diligent in my profession, but every step of my course has been marked by imperfections. I have consolation, I trust, in the prospect of death, but it is all derived from the hope which I have built on the atonement of my Redeemer.” His humility and resignation, which had long been prominent features in his character, became still more conspicuous, the nearer he approached the grave. It was impossible to be in his presence without an impression that he possessed the genuine graces of the Christian—that his religion was not assumed merely to quiet a corroding conscience, or to disguise the terrors of death ; for instead of manifesting any of that gloomy restraint, which the prospect of death usually imposes upon those who are not prepared to meet it, his conversation was cheerful, occasionally brilliant and innocently humorous, and always like himself. Every one perceived that religion had taken firm hold of his affections, and that there was no effort to bring into operation a principle which had not been implanted. To the last, he united with the submission of the humble Christian, the dignity and courtesy of a gentleman, and the affectionate tenderness of a friend. On the day preceding his death, a neighbouring minister, who had called to take his final leave of him, expressed to him the hope that he enjoyed consolation in the prospect of death; to which he replied with animation and emphasis, “ Yes, I do.” Soon after this, his speech entirely failed ; and he sunk into a state of apparent insensibility, and afterwards gave no indications of reason, except by fixing himself in the attitude of devotion for a few moments, during a prayer which was offered by his bed-side. On the morning of Sunday the 31st of December, 1820, having lived eighty-nine years and two months, he exchanged a world of pains and tears, for a world of happiness and glory.
In the discourse preached at his funeral, it is stated that he was in many respects a very remarkable man ; that his intellect was of a very high and commanding order, and its operations singularly bold, rapid, and energetic; that he possessed peculiar powers of invention, so that the most trite topic was enlivened in his hands by originality and striking illustrations; that his heart was as tender and affectionate as his mind was powerful; that he was every where loved, but most at his own fire-side ; that he was always cheerful, affable, and modest; and that he possessed habitually the highest character of politeness in the simplicity, deference, and loveliness of his whole deportment.
Of his character as a Christian, the preacher of his funeral sermon thus speaks :
" If we were to attempt to describe his religious character in a single word, we should say that it was eminently consistent. He was equally remote from the intemperate heat of enthusiasm on the one hand, and that miserable, lifeless system, which excludes all exercise of the affections on the other. It was his favourite maxim, that the evidence of a Christian temper is not so much to be sought in occasional fervours, as in a consistent, pious, and exemplary deportment. Those who knew him best are most ready to testify in what rich abundance he brought forth the fruits of the Spirit; how frequent, fervent, and affectionate was his communion with his God; how exemplary were his patience and fortitude under the pressure of deep affliction, and the accumulated infirmities of age; how inoffensive, and forbearing, and charitable, he was in all his intercourse with the world; how much disposed to mourn over the deficiencies and sins of his life, and give to God all the glory of his salvation ; how benign, joyful, and even rapturous was the spirit with which he sometimes spake of his approaching departure, and his entrance upon that rest which remains for the people of God. The glorious plan of redemption was the theme which occupied his mind above every other; and while absorbed in meditation on this wonderful subject, he seemed almost to rise above these regions of mortality, and anticipate the transports of the redeemed.”
Of his character as a minister we read as follows:-"' It was as a minister of Jesus that his reputation shone with the most unclouded splendour. To his comprehensive intellect and exalted piety was added all that acquired ministerial furniture which is necessary to constitute a great theologian. The science of theology he had carefully studied in all its parts and connexions. The system of truth which he found in the Bible, and to which he stedfastly adhered, was that of which salvation by the atoning blood and life-giving spirit of Christ is the prominent feature. Here, he often declared, he rested his hope of heaven; and that if the great doctrine of atonement were taken away, there was, in his view, nothing left in the Gospel to meet the necessities of a sinner. At the same time, his enlarged views of Christianity led him to place a due estimate upon every part of evangelical truth. The system of doctrines and precepts, revealed in the Gospel
, was, to his apprehension, a harmonious and beautiful whole; every part of which bears the impressions of truth and Divinity.”
Equally high is the character given of his exertions as a pastor and a preacher. His sermons, it is said, and so we should judge from those we have seen, “ though they kept constantly in view the same cardinal truths, had always an air of freshness and novelty,” so as never to satiate the hearers. But his highest elevation appeared in his conduct of the devotional exercises of Divine worship : “ Those who have been privileged to accompany him to the Throne of Grace will never forget the affectionate fervour which seemed to glow in every petition ; the exalted strain of evangelical sentiment; the expressions of deep humility and unfeigned confidence in the merits of the Redeemer, and the tender and animating benedictions which he pronounced upon his beloved people. The interests of his congregation were peculiarly near his heart, and his prayers were never more fervent than while he was commending them in all the tenderness of a father to the blessing of his Father in heaven.”
Such was the venerable Dr. Lathrop; and if, from this specimen, our readers think the occasional notices which we have promised of transatlantic divines are likely to be useful and interesting to us of the old country, we will, in some future Numbers, tax our memory and our notes to exhibit to them other choice specimens, ever with the practical exhortation, “ Whose faith follow, remembering the end of their conversation ; Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.”
ON FIGURATIVE EXPRESSIONS IN PRAYER.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. Being dissatisfied with the forms of prayer which I had used in my family, I procured others, by four different authors, with the expectation of finding
one set that would suit me; but they all, except one, contain many figurative expressions; which, though in general taken from the Scriptures, seem to me out of their place in such compositions, being such as few of the persons who attend family worship can understand; the greater number of them being children and servants, before whom no figurative expressions should be used, but such as are familiar or easy to be understood. I noticed the following amongst many others : “ Spread before thy mercy seat all our wants, _" Perfumed with the incense of his merits,”
Through the rent veil of his crucified body,”—“ Thou hast caused the outgoings of the morning, as well as of the evening, to praise thee,". “ Wash us in the fountain of Christ's blood.”
The last of the above phrases, besides being figurative, is objectionable, on other accounts. A fountain is not a place for a person to wash himself in, by immersion ; but that from which water flows, and whence it is taken for drinking or for washing. I am not aware of any passage in the Bible, in which a person is said to wash in a fountain, though there is one in the Apocrypha, where Judith is said to have washed herself in a fountain, in the valley of Bethulia. But the words in the Greek from which our English translation is taken, are επι της πηγης, at the fountain, not εν τη anyn. We have, in our translation of the Bible, the expression, “ washed in his blood," Rev. i. 25 ; and also the expression, “ robes washed white in the blood of the Lamb," Rev. vii. 14: and the words of the original in both, are, ev tw aquati; but they were, no doubt, meant by the translators to signify the same as they do in the Greek, with his blood ; that is, by the sprinkling of his blood, as in the let of St. Peter, i. 2. For we are referred in the margin, at both passages, to chap. ix. 14, of the Epistle to the Hebrews, as a parallel passage; and, at the 13th verse of this chapter, we are referred to the Book of Leviticus, chap. xvi. 14, for the type, of which the sprinkling of the blood of Christ is the antitype. It would therefore have been better, if the words εv tw apart had been translated with the blood. In the Septuagint, the dative case without the preposition, and with it prefixed, is used promiscuously. In the Book of Exodus, chap. xxix. 4, where Aaron and his sons are commanded to be washed, before they went into the tabernacle, the words in the Greek, are, ev vðarı; and in chap. xxx. 20, where the same ceremony is mentioned, it is vồatı only; and in the English Bible both passages are properly expressed by with water. In Solomon's Song, chap. v. 12, we have, in the Septuagint, the words ev yalaktı; and in the Prophet Jeremiah, chap. ii. 22, ev vitpw, neither of which could have been expressed otherwise than by the preposition with, as the eyes of one could not well be washed in milk, nor the other be washed in natrum, or soda, by immer. sion. In the Epistle to the Romans, chap. v.9, we have the very same words as those in the first chapter of the Book of Revelation, ev tw alparı avrov, properly translated by his blood. The authors of the forms of prayer above mentioned, seem to me to have taken the expression “ washed in the fountain of Christ's blood,” from one of Cowper's hymns; which begins with the words, “ There is a fountain filled with blood;” their admiration of his religious character, and of his poetry, making them overlook the impropriety of this sentence, and of that in the third line “plunged in that stream ;” both inapplicable to the stream of blood that flowed at the crucifixion.
If such figurative expressions in family prayers be objectionable, although they are taken from the Scriptures; they are much more so, when used in a sense different from that in the Bible: as in the following:
Our souls cleave to the dust, quicken thou us;” taken from the cxixth Psalm ; but in a sense quite different from that in which it is used by the Psalmist, Christ. OBSERV. No. 371.
the writer of the prayer meaning the soul being too much attached to earthly things; so that those who are in the habit of hearing this in the family prayer, when they hear the 25th verse of the cxix th Psalm read in the church, will naturally conclude, that David is lamenting his worldlymindedness, instead of his afflicted state. The word dust in the Book of Psalms, and in other parts of the Old Testament, signifies the earth or ground; as in the following expressions : “Going down to the dust,”—
sleeping in the dust,”—“ rising from the dust ;” and the Hebrew word which is here translated soul, signifies a thing that breathes, from the verb to breathe or respire ; as also does the word tuxn, which is put for it in the Septuagint. In the account of the creation of animals, in the first chapter of Genesis, this word is applied to every species of living creatures ; to every thing that breathes : and it is never used in any other sense in the Old Testament, but when it is taken figuratively; as in Job xli. 21 *, where it is put for the breath. Bishop Horne, in his commentary on the xvith Psalm, translates animal frame, which gives the true sense in that place; but breathing frame, or respiring body, would have better expressed its general meaning; it being applied to plants, as well as to animals, which also respire, although in a different manner. under consideration, therefore, represents the state of a person reduced to great weakness of body, fallen to the ground, and not having sufficient strength to raise himself, to overcome the attraction of the earth, by which he cleaves to it. That this is the true literal sense of it, is confirmed by the 25th verse of the xliv th Psalm ; where the same thing is expressed in different terms: “ Our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly cleaveth to the earth.” If the passage be taken in a figurative sense, it will describe the state of a person in great affliction or distress, which is well expressed by Bishop Hall; “ I am brought exceeding low, by thy afflicting hand ; do Thou raise and comfort me.' That David was in trouble and affliction, when he composed this Psalm, appears from the 28th, 83d, 143d, and 107th verses of it; the last of which may be considered as a commentary on the 25th verse. Surely then the interpretation of this text of Scripture, by some modern writers, in which all the authors of the prayers above-mentioned seem to have acquiesced, is erroneous.
I have not mentioned the names of the authors of the forms of prayer to which I allude ; not wishing to diminish the estimation in which they are held by religious persons; but I have thought it desirable to invite their attention to the point, with a view to future correction.
N. T. +
Ver. 13 of the Hebrew Bible. + We have inserted the above paper for the sake of the principle involved in it, that family prayer, and indeed all prayer, ought to be simple and intelligible, without undertaking to say that our correspondent is not too fastidious, and perhaps not correct in some of his details. Was not the allusion to a fountain quite as likely to have been grounded on that appropriate passage, Zech. xiii. 1, as on Cowper's hymn ? And besides, where did Cowper himself get the allusion? Does not N. T. know, that the expression was employed perbaps thousands of times before Cowper was born ? And is he not also aware that Dr. Johnson defines a fountain to be, not merely “ a jet,” but “ a well,” and “ a small basin of spring water," and “ the head of a river." Again, no well-instructed Christian family would be at any loss to understand the phrase of spreading our wants before the mercy-seat of God; or of the outgoings of morning and evening praising him. We could easily point out difficult and undesireable allusions in hymns and prayers, but we forbear. propriate Scripture allusion is eminently beautiful, and, we may add, simple. Our correspondent's caution may, however, be useful in substance, even though it should be overstrained or hypercritical in the letter, and we have therefore laid it before our readers.-Editor.