Images de page
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

No species of writing is more interesting, more instructive and valuable, than the biography of great and good men. Natural talents of the higher order, breaking out from obscurity, and bearing down envy and opposition, never fail to attract and engage attention : but when to superior natural endowments, to original genius, to cultivated intellect and taste, are joined the brightest moral excellencies, the combination possesses a peculiar and irresistible charm.

In perusing the pages of the Old Testament, who is not deeply interested in the history and character of David ? It would be difficult to select, in ancient or modern times, an individual whose life was marked by so many strange vicissitudes and affecting incidents,whose recorded actions and words furnish so rich a fund of counsel, warning, and admonition. But whether we view him as a humble shepherd in Bethlehem, as a sacred and sublime poet, as an inspired prophet, or as the King of Israel, his piety shines out, and gives lustre to every station, every office, every virtue and perform

ance.

When only a stripling, he feared not to encounter the giant of Gath. Was it that he trusted to his own strength or dexterity? No: while the proud blasphemer approached him with insolence and disdain, pouring forth bitter threatenings and curses, David replied, “I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied; and I will smite thee, and take thy head from thee, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel: And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give it into our hands.” When he was driven by the envious and malignant Saul, from mountain to mountain, and from desert to desert, though often betrayed and persecuted by men whom he had not injured, he had constant recourse to God, and found shelter under his powerful protection. The hollow rocks and gloomy caves were watered with his tears, and filled with the echo of his sighs and groans. His wonderful escapes and deliverances,-bis slpendid victories and triumphs, must be ascribed, not to his policy and courage, but to his prayer

and confidence in God. By this means he eluded the snares and plots of Saul, who had a thousand tools of power and mischief at his command, and turned, at a critical moment, the shrewd and crafty counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. It is impossible to examine the character of David, and compare the circumstances of his singularly eventful life with the compositions of his pen, without perceiving that devotion was his ruling passion. Oppressed by enemies, and surrounded with dangers and troubles, prayer was his unfailing resource: rescued from afflictions and perils,— raised to safety, honour, and peace, by remarkable interpositions of the divine hand,---praise was his sweet and delightful work. Christian, wouldst thou lay prostrate thy worst foes ?-take David's sling, which, in the hand of faith, will render thee invincible. Wouldst thou sing in the ways of Zion, and celebrate the wondrons works and marvellous loving-kindness of the Lord !-borrow David's harp, whose melodious notes still cause the chords of devout gratitude to vibrate in the soul.

Another example of holy, ardent, unwearied prayer, may be seen in the Apostle Paul. From the memorable period of his conversion, when it was said, " Behold, he prayeth,” to the time of his martyrdom, under Nero at Rome, his whole course was distinguished, and his

glorious career sustained, by the exercise of fervent devotion. Never were integrity and disinterestedness, magnanimity and courage, condescension and benevolence, active well-tempered zeal, and calm uncomplaining patience, more uniformly and more illustriously displayed, in espousing and maintaining the cause of truth and righteousness, and in promoting the best interests of mankind, than in this exemplary servant of Christ. Yet in all his travels and labours,—in all his perils, conflicts, and sufferings, we find him simply relying upon the divine promises, and seeking guidance, succour, and help from above. Is he buffeted by a messenger of Satan, and pierced with a thorn in the flesh? he has recourse to prayer as his sole defence, his sure remedy. Is he deserted by friends, or slandered and persecuted by enemies ? — he hastens to the throne of grace. Does his bosom heave with longing desire to diffuse the knowledge of Christ, and enlarge the boundaries of his kingdom ?-he prays himself, and intreats the prayers' of his brethren, that the ministry of the Gospel may be crowned with success. Prayer, in the estimation of this Apostle, was a matter of asking and receiving. Whatever may be the moral effect of this exercise, its object is the attainment of immediate, without losing more remote, benefits.

But for nothing was Paul more remarkable,

[ocr errors]

than for the constancy and importunity of his intercessory prayers. We cannot look into any of his letters, either to churches or individuals, without being struck with this interesting trait in his character. As an instance, may be quoted that fine passage in his Epistle to the Ephesians : “ For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named ; that he would grant you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man ; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." (Eph. iii. 14—19.) , Some speculatists, it has been justly observed, have fallen into the extreme of religious refinement; too airy to be tangible,—too mystic to be intelligible. The Apostle Paul's religion is not, like theirs, a shadowy sentiment, but a vital principle; not a matter of taste, but of conviction, of faith, of feeling. It is not a fair idea, but a holy affection. The deity at which they catch, is a gay and gorgeous cloud ; - Paul's is the Fountain of Light. His religion is

« PrécédentContinuer »