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Mrs. Watham looked on anxiously as the old familiar name brought on another violent fit of crying; when it grew quieter Georgie spoke again,—
"I think I must go; there is so much to do. He will want me. You have been so kind! I shall always remember it. Will you come again?"
Mrs. Watham's voice was almost as tearful as Georgie's own when she said her short "Good-bye. Yes, I will come whenever you please, of course."
“Thanks,” said Georgie, and turned to Clara; “I was sure you would be sorry when you heard about Lottie; she liked you."
"I don't think I was very sorry for Lottie," said Clara struggling to speak quietly; "only for you. Not for her."
Georgie said no more; only stood looking after the two figures through the small open space in the middle of the closed shutters. The hysterical feeling came on again, only with a horrible inclination to laugh, instead of cry; and it was almost more than she could do to keep back a violent fit of laughing-though Lottie was lying in her cold, deep sleep-though she herself was so strangely miserable.
NEW AND OLD LIGHTS OF PRAYER.
BY REV. E. G. CHARLESWORTH.
THERE is an idea abroad that science, with its searchings and reasonings, has reduced the old value of prayer, and that now it is something like a worn sovereign declared at the bank to be under weight.
The idea could not exist if there were not in the world short sighted persons, who take into their minds almost any report which comes to them without examining into it, or irreligious persons who like a report of this kind. The idea lives amongst these as much other kind of infidelity lives-because it is pleasant to the eyes.
It is true that, latterly, prayer has come to appear in somewhat new lights; or, perhaps, more correctly speaking, that lights are coming to appear from it which are not really new ones, but old ones more clearly and distinctly recognised. For instance, the eyes of thinking and religious persons are now more upon the inward vision, or insight, and other inward results of prayer, than they used to be. The beautiful sympathy which is created by it in the heart, the high and hallowing love which is its offspring, are more noted. Of course, these answers to prayer have always been, but they have come of late to be more clearly recognised as answers to it, and along with the recognition has come naturally into the religious world a greater contentment.
Religious people have been too much in the habit of looking outside of themselves for the answer to their prayers, and have not gone enough into "the holy of holies" of their own hearts to seek and find an answer, where one is always found after true prayer. They have looked for Christ here and there, instead of looking for him within, and the consequence has been a weakening of their faith, and the too hasty exclamation, "Hath God forgotten to be gracious?" The fastness of the age has infected even religion with its spirit, and from it has come, zigzag as it were, a kindred influence which has, perhaps, unconsciously to its subjects, helped to turn the eyes of the prayerful more upon
outward signs, and, in proportion, too little on inward ones, of the grace of God.
True prayer always brings after it, or with it, an inward vision, the answer of "love and insight" into the heart; the former the anointing oil, as it were, of the latter, twin sister angels joined together never to be put asunder. This immediate answer expels from us all latent bitterness, all germs of ill-temper lying in corners of the heart, waiting only for some congenial sunshine to burst into sight and form, and it also destroys or greatly modifies in us that inheritance of our fallen nature which goes by the name of Caste," and which, whatever smooth name or title to existence may be given it in some circles, is an enemy of Christ, and an obstruction in the way of the advancement of His religion.
It is by prayer that we get to understand prayer, for it clears the mental eyes so that we see an immediate effect of it or answer in ourselves in the shape of vision and elevated love. A more detailed answer may, or may not, afterwards come, but if not, it should be concluded that the first (which always comes) is enough for us, and the best. Yet the first answer often leads up to the second, this way-you desire, we will say, this or that blessing for yourself or your relations, or for the world. You pray earnestly for it, and you obtain an increased and calm energy, and an increased inner light, which enable you to fulfil, as it were, your own prayer. You see your way up to your object so clearly, and have such extra strength given you, that your object comes to you by your coming to it. This was the psalmist's experience. "My prayer," he says, “shall turn into my own bosom-shall return into it from God in the shape of a divine energy and insight." Thus God fulfils our request by enabling us to fulfil it ourselves, and these indirect answers to prayer show His hand in them as distinctly as those more direct ones, which seem to come to us ready formed without effort, or with little effort of our own, and which are not really the highest kind of answer to prayer, though on the surface they may seem to be so.
Prayer, so far from being opposed to science, is itself a kind of science, and a distinguished relation of science. View it now for the moment in connection with the marvellous gifts of insight and energy which it procures, and you will see that a power (for inward vision includes these things) which enables us to look far into the future, makes even the simple and unlearned
wise, which oftentimes transplants the mind, at a single bound, as it were, into the enjoyment and understanding of light which the logician and student, by hard and painful efforts in their line, cannot approach to, and which inspires a majestic calmness above the strife of casual reasonings, merits the title to be a relation of science, and to be put at the head of the list of sciences as a kind of patriarch of them all.
This immediate gift to prayer of divine vision and energy, though it may at different times have gone under different names, and though it may not have been recognised as it ought to have been, is not, as before said, a new one. Ancient prophets and ancient lawgivers recognised it, evangelists and apostles recognised it, and, above all, our Lord recognised it in the words, "Whatsoever things ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."
It may be, or it may be taken to be, that in the providence of God, the re-appearing of, or the increasing recognition (which in effect are the same thing) of these lights of prayer, is intended as somewhat of a rebuke to that spiritual pride which is often sure to come from favourite ideas of prayer, an element the more dangerous because it proceeds from it invisibly and with subtlety, under cover of the notion that nothing evil can come from such a sacred act as prayer. We all know how easily Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, and prayer has often been, and is made into a kind of swivel upon which such passions as pride, the love of power, jealousy, and even malice, have been made to
Our prayers for others should be especially examined into at their roots, lest there be concealed in them some undercurrent evil of this kind: some stealthy murmur of the blood which has nothing to do with Christ. It is an old evil, for we find the psalmist complaining that the self-righteous sought with their precious balms to break his head.
We cannot be warned too often, or be on the alert too much, about our passions. There is in each of us a tree of knowledge of good and evil, and we shall do well to suspect, whenever prayer inclines to be loud or rapturous, or exciteable in any other way, that the passions of the mind are more or less at play. We must be calm and still in our prayers, or we shall not reap from them "inward vision" and "divine love." We shall be calm and still, if in our prayer we are rising near to "the Throne," and our spirit will grow in calmness and stillness as we come nearer and nearer to it, until at last, our words seem to die
in the immediate presence of the awful yet exalting light of God.
We may expect to receive, and shall receive in large measure, the gift of inward vision, and holy love from our prayers to God on "the intercession day" lately appointed by elders of the Church for the spread of the truth of Christ on the earth. In an individual sense we shall receive this gift, and in a collective sense, the Church of Christ will be richer with true riches from it for she will go forth fresh equipped, as it were, with love and wisdom upon right paths to evangelize and to enlarge the kingdom of God.
Thus shall this our joy be fulfilled, and thus shall God give us grace and strength to work out an answer to our prayers ourselves, not the less His answer because of our share in it. It is the way in which He very often answers the ordinary requests of prayer, and this special one, made in the dawn of the season of advent, will have brought into the Church a spring-tide of grace to the benefit of souls which no man can number.
When Christ comes into the hearts of His people, in the form of a fresh wave of spirit and power, it is a kind of sacred advent. May it flow on and on to fulfil that most pathetic prayer, half plaintive, yet trustful, written on the last page of ancient revelation; "Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! Amen!"