Imatges de pÓgina
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in his hallowed presence indulging the pious feelings with which his heart was so abundantly replenished? when he hears from his lips the words of thanksgiving, the heart breathed accents of deep resignation and the most affectionate supplications for others, which ever rose on the spirit of devotion to the adorable presence of God? Prayer nothing to him! Weak and mistaken being! Were he to employ it as the expression of his gratitude, and the means of his spiritual strength and solace; were he earnestly to seek some portion of that lovely spirit of piety, which was like the vital air to our Saviour, he would find that it was almost every thing to him, and obliterate the rash expression with the tear of penitence.

Let men debate even to weariness, concerning the uses of prayer, we say of all these examples, that they lend évery encouragement to the practice. If the best of men, whom the world has ever known, found in their lives the advantage of a certain habit-such a habit comes recommended to the young, by the force of their example. But when that habit is the habit of prayer-of praise and thanksgiving for the mercies which are ever rich and ever near-of affectionate supplication for the goodness and happiness of those we love of humble entreaty for the wisdom which is profitable to direct, and the pardon which shall blot out the sins we have committed-of resigned submission to the divine will, when sorrow troubles our soul and oppresses our tortured spirit-we feel that example is scarcely necessary to enforce the authority of it; and humbly, but sincerely, desire that the youthful disciples of Jesus

-it is for their benefit particularly that we write—may never entertain a low and unworthy opinion of it, nor rob themselves of its sacred pleasures. Good men lead the way for them, to the footstool of the divine grace; their Saviour stands pre-eminently forward as an example of piety and devotion; and God himself beckons them onward, and says to them, even with parental tenderness and love, "Seek ye my face!"

A forcible sentiment of Milton, it appears in his Eikonoclastes, shall end this paper. "He who wants a prayer to beseech God in his necessity, it is inexpressible how poor he is; far poorer within himself, than all his enemies can make him."

On Weakness of Character.

The author of one of the Gospels, the second, is Mark or John Mark. He was the nephew of Barnabas, and, sometimes, the companion both of him and the Apostle Paul. It was to the house of his mother that the Apostle Peter withdrew, when he escaped from the prison into which Herod had cast him. He became the companion of Paul and Barnabas on the following occasion. These eminent Apostles had been deputed by the Christian church at Antioch, to bear their benevolent contribution to Jerusalem; here they, of course, frequently saw the Evangelist and his mother, and when they departed from the city, on their return to Antioch, he accompanied them.

The Christian world is greatly indebted to him for the gospel he composed, and is justified in receiving it as the testimony of one who was accurately informed of the circumstances of which he wrote; for although he was not numbered among the twelve disciples and Apostles of Jesus, and there is no evidence to prove that he was an attendant upon the ministry of Christ, indeed he must have been exceedingly youthful at the time of our Saviour's preaching ; his mother's house was the resort of the Apostles and other members of the Christian church, a presumptive proof that he himself was, at that time, well acquainted with the history and doctrines of our sacred religion; and he was, in turn, the companion of Barnabas and Paul, and Peter, by the last of whom, especially, he is honored with the affectionate title of " son." He enjoyed, therefore, the best opportunities for gaining the most accurate information and learning the exact truth of "those things which are most surely believed among us ;" and it is, moreover, the united testimony of antiquity that he composed his gospel under the immediate superintendence and direction of Peter; and, if so, it must be received rather as the work of Peter than his own. Coming to us with the sanction of the chief of the Apostles, its authority is most unquestionable; and this authority is increased by a consideration of the contents of the book, and of their harmony with those of the other Evangelists.

To John Mark, then, we owe an instructive and delightful epitome of our Saviour's life and doctrines, which unites with the others in assuring us that we have not re

ceived " a cunningly devised fable," justifies our faith in the Redeemer, and sanctifies it with the word of God. To him, also, we now proceed to say, and, in his personal character, we owe a lesson, which we shall do well to imprint on our minds, and to employ for the government of our own behaviour. We have said that he was the companion of Barnabas and Paul. He joined them on their journey to the east, but accompanied them no farther than Perga in Pamphylia: at this place he took his leave of them and returned to Jerusalem. No particular reason is given for this change, but the strong displeasure which Paul felt at it, shews that it was culpable; and the probable interpretation of the matter is, that the young man's zeal began to cool. When he left Jerusalem, he felt as warmly disposed as the two Apostles to propagate the gospel among distant nations, but he was not aware of the difficulty and hazard of the undertaking; he had not counted the cost; and he was not ashamed, after having put his hand to the plough, to look back. But it would be unbecoming in us to speak with severity of this instance of infirmity. The Evangelist was, at the time of the journey, a very young man; he was not fully acquainted-no uncommon case with his own character; he knew neither where its strength nor its weakness lay, but he was sincerely desirous of being useful when he commenced the undertaking, and if he did not carry it through to its completion, such an issue was as opposite as possible to his expectations. He meant well; he intended to render the kindest assistance to Barnabas and Paul, to minister to them, whilst,

with untiring zeal, they preached the glad tidings of salvation, and with steadfast courage resisted all opposition: if his resolution gave way and his heart failed him, it is but one instance of many in which good resolutions have not been kept. We have not introduced his name in this paper for the purpose of passing a severe judgment upon him, but that we may advise others to avoid similar errors. It would betray ignorance of the human character, if we were to say that such an instance of weakness as the writer of the Acts relates, is uncommon. Facts to the contrary are continually presenting themselves before our eyes, and there are feelings within us which make us confess that we have not been always free from it. Nor is it confined to the young-in which case it would admit of some excuse; but we sometimes see persons of more mature age and longer tried virtue, withdraw from an undertaking that was commenced with vigour, and was as worthy of completion as when they first engaged in it, and lose their courage and firmness at a time when they are most needed. Such instances are greatly to be lamented; for those who have been long engaged in active pursuits, and gained more experience both of themselves and the world, who have undergone for a considerable period, the moral discipline of Providence, and seen the advantages of a continued devotion to good and virtuous pursuits, ought to show some firmness and consistency, to do credit to their years, and to prove that they have been anxious, not only to commence, but to complete works of usefulness to themselves and others.

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