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Prayer. - He, who believes in the all-pervading Soul of Nature, believes that the Spirit, which others call God, dwells in him. What worship shall be render to that existence of which he is a part-to himself? The worshipper of an independent and self-sufficient God, cannot avoid the same difficulty, without denial of his omnipresence. But, even if we allow the contradictory God of Theologians, what is gained in recommendation of prayer? Can Man inform Omniscience what is good or politie; or will his words alter the predetermination of the Foreseeing? To what purpose then does he pray? If we pray for that which God purposes, we do but pray for that which he would give us without the prayer; and if we pray for that which he does not purpose, are we arrogant enough to expect that he will listen to our advice, or be bribed by our words? To pray, then, without the possibility of consequent good, is an idle absurdity, unworthy of a rational creature.
A Look into Church Pews.- If every hassock had a tongue, and might tell the thoughts, reveal the inmost workings of the hearts of those who, in attitudes of humiliation, kneel upon them! Look at this one, this lump of softest wool, covered with cloth of purple: this has borne the bulky mortality of a rich and arrogant man-of one, who, every week, confesses himself a miserable sinner, and in that confession prays aloud for grace-whose son is barred the paternal door, for that he has taken a wife, whose only vice was poverty! Here is another, yet warm from the knees of a domestic tyrant, who comes to church to sacrifice to the humility, the love, and searching tenderness of the Divine Example; and who, returning home, shall make his wife tremble at his frown, and the little hearts of his children quail at his foot-fall. Take a third : this is part of the pew furniture of a man who lives, and becomes sleek, upon the falsehoods, the little tyrannies of the world, who eats the daily bread of heartless litigation, whose whole life is a lie to every Christian precept ; and, Judas to Truth, who kisses it only to sell it! Yet will this man pray, respond in prayer, run through the Creed, and glibly troll the Decalogue-a human clock, wound up on Sunday3—and in this pew will kneel the withered usurer, a most respectable man, and one in parish office, whose heart glows at the worldly cunning of Jacob, and who, losing the spirit in the letter, dotes, above all measure, on the parable of the talents. These come to church tó keep up the farce that their worldly brethren, with themselves, agree to act; they congregate to perform a ceremony, and that over, the week lies fair before them. They come to church deaf adders, and deaf they quit it; and as the weekly hypocrites come and go, the devil stands in the porch and counts them.- Douglas Jerrold.
Predestination.—God made man such as he is, and then damned him for being so: for to say that God was the author of all good, and man the author of all evil, is to say that one man made a straight line and a crooked one, and another man made the incongruity.
A Mahometan story, much to the present purpose, is recorded (in Sale's Prelim. Disc. to the Koran), wherein Adam and Moses are introduced disputing before God in the following manner. Thou, says Moses, art Adam, whom God created, and animated with the breath of life, and caused to be worshipped by the angels, and placed in Paradise, from whence mankind have been expelled for thy fault. Whereto Adam answered, Thou art Moses, whom God chose for his apostle, and entrusted with his word, by giving thee the tables of the law, and whom he vouchsafed to admit to discourse with himself. How many years dost thou find the law was written before I was created ? Says Moses, Forty. And dost thou not find, replied Adam, these words therein, And Adam rebelled against his Lord and transgressed? Which Moses confessing, Dost thou therefore blame me, continued he, for doing that which God wrote of me that I should do, forty years before I was created; nay, for what was decreed concerning me fifty thousand years before the creation of heaven and earth ?-Shelley : Notes to Queen Mab.
Punishment. It is ridiculous to speak of a man or an angel opposing the will of an almighty God. If he is a God of love and goodness, why does he not change evil to good; or rather, why did he create, or allow the creation, of evil? If he cannot alter the evil, why does he punish man for the self-samé sufferance? Either God delights in evil -- then he is not a God of love; or for good purposes he permits evil—which is the same as if he caused it; or he cannot overthrow evil-what then becomes of his omnipotence? In any case, the punishment of man--who surely is not the power that resists him-can not be just, even though there were a mutual contract between him and God. There is none. Man was no party to his own creating; consequently, is not responsible to his maker. All duties and responsibility must be the debt of the Creator to his creature.
"Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
The Poet's Religion.—'Tis not merely
But still the heart doth need a language, still
Schiller: translated by Coleridge.
A PARABLE. And it came to pass after these things, that Abraham sat in the door of his tent, about the going down of the sun. And behold a man bent with age, coming from the way of the wilderness leaning on his staff. And Abraham arose, and met him, and said unto him, Turn in, I pray thee, and wash thy feet, and tarry all night; and thou shalt arise early in the morning, and go on thy way. And the man said, Nay; for I will abide under this tree. But Abraham pressed him greatly: so he turned; and they went into the tent: and Abraham baked unleavened bread, and they did eat. And when Abraham saw that the man blessed not God, he said unto him, Wherefore dost thou not worship the most high God, Creator of heaven and earth? And the man answered and said, I do not worship thy God, neither do I call upon his name ; for I have made to myself a god, which abideth always in my house, and provideth me with all things. And Abraham's zeal was kindled against the man; and he arose, and fell upon him, and drove him forth with blows into the wilderness. And God called unto Abraham, saying, Abraham, where is the stranger? And Abraham answered and said, Lord, he would not worship thee, neither would he call upon thy name; therefore have I driven him out from before my face into the wilderness. And God said, Have I borne with him these hundred and ninety and eight years, and nourished him, notwithstanding his rebellion against me; and couldst not thou, who art thyself a sinner, bear with him one night?-Franklin.
Shelley's Prince Athanase.
INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY FROM RECOLLECTIONS OF
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day,
The Rainbow comes and goes,
The Moon doth with delight
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
But yet I krow, where'er I go,
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
And not in utter nakedness,
From God, who is our home :
Upon the growing Boy,
He sees it in his joy;
Must travel, still is Nature's Priest,
his way attended;
And no unworthy aim,
The homely Nurse doth all she can
Forget the glories he hath known,
Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie
Thy Soul's immensity ;
Thy heritage, thou Eye among the blind,
Mighty Prophet! Seer blest !
On whom those truths do rest, Which we are toiling all our lives to find, In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave; Thou, over whom thy Immortality Broods like the Day, a Master o'er a Slave, A Presence which is not to be put by ;. Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might Of heaven-born freedom on thy being's height, Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke The years to bring the inevitable yoke, Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife? Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight, And custom lie upon thee with a weight, Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!
O joy! that in our embers
What was so fugitive!
Not for these I raise
The song of thanks and praise;
Blank misgivings of a Creature
But for those first affections,
Those shadowy recollections,
Which, be they what they may,
Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
To perish never;
Nor Man, nor Boy,
Hence in a season of calm weather
Though inland far we be,
Which brought us hither,
Can in a moment travel thither,