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ON SITTING DURING PRAYER. A DIALOGUE*. In one of our large sea-ports Do you not think that God is a lived two families; the younger spirit, and that the mind is every sons of which, William and Henry, thing? The body matters little attended the same school, and whether we kneel or sit. For my there contracted a friendship which part, it appears to me not only continued until death. The basis formal but pharisaica! to kneel, as of this attachment was formed in if we wished to be taken notice of. their boyish games; but as they I assure you, my dear Henry, I grew up, the minds of both were do not sit from want of reverence; influenced by the love of God, but I have seen many good people which conduced more than any adopt this posture; and their arguthing else to rivet that friendship ments in defence of the practice which had commenced in their appeared to me so very plausible, childhood.
that I have now for some time sat, The parents of William sent although my heart has been, I their son to an attorney in the me- trust, prostrate.” tropolis at the age of seventeen; “I know,” replied Henry," that, while Henry continued in his na- my dear William, you are open to tive place.
conviction, and fully do I believe Six years passed away, and at your statement; but do let me exlength William returned to reside plain to you my views on this imand practise in his own immediate portant subject. It will be readily neighbourhood. On the first Sun- acknowledged, by every consideday after his arrival, the young rate person, that we cannot apfriends attended a neighbouring proach the Divine Presence too church together. Their conversa- devoutly; and as the mind and tion while going there was such as body are so closely allied, when becometh Christians. They spake the latter is in a devout posture, of Him who was so abundant in though I do not say the former will goodness, that he left his heavenly also be devoutly engaged, yet this glory to suffer and die for the guilty I will say, that the probability is sons of man; and while they spoke, greater than if the person remained they hoped that their hearts might sitting-a posture ever conceived be influenced to walk in his steps. too familiar for the presence of an But during the service, Henry ob- earthly sovereign. But supposing, served that his young friend sat William, for a moment, that whilst during the whole of the prayers. we this morning were in the act of At first, he conjectured that this supplicating the Divine Majesty, might proceed from some weakness one VISIBLE RAY of the excellent or infirmity which he had not men- glory had shone supernaturally tioned to his friend; and accord- over the people, would not your ingly, on their return, he embraced knee, would not the knee of every an opportunity of speaking to him one there, spontaneously have bent upon the subject, expressing his in the most lowly prostration ? surprise and apprehensions on be- This granted, and you grant all; half of his friend.
for we should always so act as if “I perceive," replied William, the Lord were immediately pre“ that in these things, my dear sent, especially as he hath said, friend, you are too scrupulous. Where two or three are gathered
together in my name, there am I in * Principally extracted from, "A Dia- the midst of them *.' • Behold the logue between two Friends, on the undevout Custom of sitting during Divine Worship." Plymouth. Price 3d.
* Matt, xviii. 20.
host of heaven celebrating the so, is one of the heart; and, blessedness of the Divine Majes- cept that heart is renewed by the ty, they fall down prostrate and Spirit of God, I fear, I exceedworship Him who liveth for ever t.' ingly fear, that, with all your reliAgain, • Come with me to the gar- gious and righteous acts, you can den of Gethsemane, and there be- never see the face of God in peace. hold the Saviour of sinners; there When, this morning, you confessed behold our bright Exemplar, with- yourself a miserable and guilty drawn from the disciples, a stone sinner, the lips gave utterance to a cast, and kneeling dowu and pray- sentence to which the heart was a ing. If he who was in the form of stranger. Vain is our kneeling, God, and thought it no robbery to vain are all our services, without a be equal with God-it he in bis in- sense of our own unworthiness, and ferior nature, at the time of his a total renunciation of our own deepest humiliation, knelt, how righteousness. It is only in that much more does it become us, who fountain which is open for sin and are dust and ashes, reverently to uncleanness that we can find peace approach the Father of mercies! and reconciliation.' But let us go farther. Look at So- “ This is a subject,” said the genlomon, in the public dedication of tleman, somewhat chagrined, “ this the temple, surrounded with thou- is a subject I am not very fond of. sands of worshippers : and · Solo- By your system, you will reduce mon kneeled down on his knees
man to nothing.”—Saying which, before all the congregation of Is- he hurried away, rael, and spread forth his hands “ Now, my dear Henry," said towards heaven, and said, 0 William,“ do not you see the Lord God of Israel, there is no danger of the posture for which God like thee in the heaven, nor in you plead ? how it is calculated to the earth + Moreover, the case of engender pride. You perceive that Daniel and Abraham kneeling, I the gentleman who has just left us, question not, is known to you:". because he kneels and does a few
At this instant their conversa- other righteous acts, thinks he tion was interrupted by a young shall merit heaven.” man, with whom they were ac- “ That this practice may occaquainted, and who had heard part sion pride in some instances, I alof their discourse.
" in the same “ I perfectly agree with you, manner as every good thing may be Mr. Henry,” said this gentleman; perverted to a bad use. Look at
should do every 'thing to re- the various bounties of Heaven, commend ourselves to God, and all good in themselves, but, alas! no doubt he will accept us for our how often abused ! still, surely, you righteous deeds ; for my part I al- would not blame the giver, or the ways kneel-I always keep my gift, but the abuser of it. So, in mind perfectly still-I suffer no like manner, kneeling is not only worldly thought to intrude there."
the most proper posture of devo“ Ah, my dear Sir," said Hen- tion, but likewise a help to it. ry, interrupting his self-gratula- You will not, surely, refrain from tion, “I was, indeed, differing the practice because some make a with my yonng friend on the subject bad use of it, and pride themselves of not kneeling during the most so- on their services." lemn parts of the Liturgy. But his The two friends here met an is, I trust, only an error in judg- elderly gentleman, with whom they ment; your's, forgive me for saying had often taken sweet counsel; and
after welcoming each other, WilRev. x. 14. + 2 Chron, ri. 13.
liam, hesitating, said to him,
“Dear Mr. Antony, my friend like Joshua, is surrounded with his Henry and myself are discussing fainily in your regular devotion, the propriety of kneeling during tell me, do you sit while all the divine service. Pray give us your rest kneel? And again, when reopinion on the subject. The time tiring to rest, do you not bless God was, when we sought your advice in your own room for his mercies, even as a father; and surely you will and do you sit to do this ?" again grant it unto us."
" No,” said William, 66 certain Yes, indeed," replied the aged ly I should kneel.” Christian, “ I always considered “ Then why not at his public you as my children, and gladly worship?" replied the old man. would I spend and be spent to do “ Observe, the Scriptures which I you service; but how is it that have quoted bear more particularly even a doubt could arise in your on the public worship of God than minds relative to the subject? The otherwise. My dear boy, think on most lowly prostration of body the subject. Some, doubtless, blends spontaneously with the very have told you that God is a spirit, , idea of adoration and supplication. and the mind is every thing. How I am always shocked when I see fallacious is this reasoning! Why the Supreme Being addressed, by use the lips then? why the speech? worms of the earth, in a posture both are equally corporeal memwhich the highest archangel would bers as the knees. If, then, the blush to imitate. O my dear chil- words of our lips are poured forth dren! give not way to such, I must in the language of adoration, unsay at the least, profane ideas. questionably the knees should be Care not in this matter for the opi- bent too: but,” said the old man, nions or scoffs of others, but act “ the practice of sitting is quite inas if the visible eye of Jehovah was defensible; it is contrary to the shining upon you.
Always, al- voice of Revelation and reason, the ways, I repeať it, are we in the custom of the primitive churches, presence of God; but when we and the express instruction of our enter his sanctuary, or meet to- own. To me it is a strangé anogether for social prayer, or alone maly, that so many persons who in our closets, then especially do boast themselves strict members of we call upon the Almighty to look the Establishment, should choose upon us. Look at Abraham fall- to sit during those parts of the sering on his face before God; look vice where the church in her rubric at Moses; look at Daniel, fear positively enjoins them to kneel.” lessly before bis enraged enemies, " Do you then," said William, opening his windows, and kneeling “ think it absolutely unlawful in and praying towards the temple; all cases to sit during prayers, and look at the Apostle Paul on the sea condemn all without exception who coast, surrounded by the Ephe- decline kneeling?" ; sian church; there, even there, in “ Believe me, my young friend,” a place as inconvenient as can well replied Mr. Antony, “ I do no such be conceived, did he kneel down thing. It appears to me the duty and
pray aloud; nay, so uniformly of all who are able, to kneel in the was this his practice, that he worship of God. I consider this makes use of the expression, “I practice as expressive of humility, bow my knees," as synonymous
as conducive to devotion, as calwith, I pray But tell me,
culated to exclude wandering William, to-night, when you re- thoughts and vain imaginations, turn home, and your pious Father, which often enter by the eye while
persons are sitting or standing; * Eph. iii. 14.
but I should be acting very wrong NOV. 1823.
I to censure all who do not pedient to sit, and are unquestioncomply with my views; and it ably blameless in His sight who would be a very rash and unlawful desireth mercy and not sacrifice. judgment were I to pronounce, But even such persons, while justhat all those of our fellow-wor- tified in sitting when others kneel, shippers who sat this morning while will do well by bowing down their others kneeled had done amiss. heads, closing their eyes, or in any Many persons come from a dis- way most convenient to themselves, tance, and are glad to sit, that they to avoid looking round, so as either may worship God with less distrac- to attract the attention of others, tion; others are old and infirm, or be themselves disturbed by any and are therefore justly entitled to of those little occurrences which copy the example of David, who necessarily take place in large conwent in and sat before the Lord *; gregations though most persons suppose the
A CONSTANT READER. expression only means that he continued some time in worship. And * In some places, the pews are so narrow there are some young persons, espe
as to render kneeling somewhat inconvecially females, who from weakness nient; and in others, persons excuse them
selves for want of hassocks, cushions, &c. and various other causes find it ex
but a very few shillings would in most in
stances reniedy the defect complained of. 2 Sam. vii. 18.
LETTER FROM THE LATE REV. HENRY VENN TO
THE REV. MR. T. The love, my dear friend, which to speak as the Apostles, from a sprung up in my heart towards you rich, inestimable experience of the when first we met at Ledbury, has reality of the blessedness of benot waxed
cold. No sooner, there- lieving in Jesus. fore, did I hear of your providen- Secondly, I beg of God, that in tial removal to another and a larger the discharge of your office you flock, than my heart was engaged may exert yourself, not injure your in prayer:
Whether I shall, not- valuable health, but as far as your withstanding my purpose, be able strength will hold, to go on imito see you, is still uncertain ; for I tating the great Shepherd himself, am so much enfeebled, that bad who was taken for fifty when little weather is more than I can bear more than thirty; for from bis inin travelling. I sit down now, cessant labours his very countetherefore, on purpose to send you nance was aged. some account of the things which I Thirdly, I pray you may be ask of my God in your behalf. filled with. bowels of mercies; that
In the first place, I beg of him to not only the counsels you give, and enable you to preach Jesus Christ the consolations you administer to in the glory of his person, in the the faithful, but even all your
defulness of his grace, and in the nunciations of wrath to come, may length, breadth, height, and depth breathe a tender love to the souls of of his love; to preach him as a free, present, almighty Saviour of Fourthly, I pray that you may the sinful sons of men ; to preach be bold as a lion to encounter rehim with increasing clearness : and proach and bear all reviling, and to this end I pray, that you may be willing to be as a monster unto have more precious discoveries of many, for His sake whom the nayour own salvation in Him, so as tions abhorred.
Fifthly, I pray that you may hath fixed us in such distant parts serve God with all huinility and of his vineyard, that probably we many tears, feeling the plague of shall seldom meet here; it is in your own heart, and yourself to be this case no small gratification to the chief of sinners; for then the spi- Christian love, that our meeting rit of God rests upon us, and our never to part cannot be far off. fellow-sinners are melted down. We shall both appear amongst the
Sixthly, I pray that all the dis- brands plucked out of the firecouragements you may meet with, both be numbered amongst those all the opposition from your own who have turned sinners from the people speaking perverse things, error of their way, and been witand all the various trials which nesses for a crucified God in a day occur in your new situation, may of rebuke and blasphemy. That be more than counterbalanced by meeting I reckon much upon.
I finding the word of the Lord in want to have it vastly more reyour mouth, mighty to convince alized to my mind; I want to shout and to convert; by seeing seals for joy, uttering the heathen's celeadded to your ministry, and pre- brated saying, with the faith of assurcious souls your epistle of com- ance, “ O præclaram illam diem !” mendation known and read of all I beg my Christian love to dear nien.
Mrs. T. I trust there are some Lastly, My prayer to God for you ladies at Reading that will find, and for myself is, that our death that as Miriam sung with Moses, may crown our ministry; that we and led the solemn concert of may with our latest breath so testify praise, so your lady can preach, of Christ as to add fresh weight to though not an ordained pastor. every discourse we have ever made You receive with this two of my to our people in defence of the Gos- dearest friends, a brother and a pel. These petitions I have, and daughter in the Lord. Him you I trust I shall often, put up for my well know and love; his other self dear friend. Having almost lost is too reserved and diffident to dismy voice, and retiring from the cover the treasure she possesses. rank of a standard-bearer in the Perhaps Mrs. T. may encourage camp of Israel to that of a private her to speak, and they may exhort soldier, I have, abundantly more and comfort one another. Wishing for
compa- you every blessing, I conclude mynions, with whom I was once a self your affectionate friend and fellow-labourer in the kingdom and brother in Christ Jesus, patience of Jesus Christ. And though his all-wise appointment Oct. 17, 1768.
time to pray
HYMN. On the dust I'm doom'd to sleep, What though o'er my mortal tomb But shall not sleep for ever ;
Clouds and mists be blending ! Fear may for a moment weep, Sweetest hope shall chace the gloom, Christian courage--never.
Hopes to heaven ascending. Years in rapid course shall roll, There shall be my stay, my trust, By time's chariot driven,
Ever bright and vernal; And my re-awakened soul
Life shall blossom out of dust, Wing its flight to beaven.
Life and joy eternal.