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WHAT IS PRAYER?
PRAYER is the soul's sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpress'd;
That trembles in the breast.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear,
When none but God is near.
Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;
The Majesty on high.
Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,
The Christian's native air;
He enters heaven by prayer.
Prayer is the contrite sinner's voice,
Returning from his ways;
And cry, "Behold, he prays!"
The saints in prayer appear as one,
In word, and deed, and mind;
Sweet fellowship they find.
Nor prayer is made on earth alone.
The Holy Spirit pleads;
For mourners intercedes.
O Thou! by whom we come to God,
The life, the truth, the way;
Lord, teach us how to pray.
As fail the waters from the deep,
As summer brooks run dry,
His life is vanity.
Man lieth down, no more to wake,
Till yonder arching sphere
And nature disappear.
Oh! hide me till thy wrath be past,
Thou, who canst slay or save !
In my Redeemer's grave!
LOVE OF PRAISE.
WHEN it is only the approbation of the wise and the good which is pursued, the love of praise may be accounted to contain itself within just bounds, and to run in its proper channel; but the testimony of the discerning few, modest and unassuming as they commonly are, forms but a small part of the public voice. It seldom amounts to more than a whisper, which, amidst the general clamour, is drowned. When the love of praise has taken possession of the mind, it confines not itself to an object so limited; it grows into an appetite for indiscriminate praise.
And who are they that confer this praise ? A mixed multitude of men, who in their whole conduct are guided by humour and caprice, far more than by reason; who admire false appearances, and pursue false gods; who inquire superficially, and judge rashly; whose sentiments are for the most part erroneous, always changeable, and often inconsistent.
Nor let any one imagine, that by looking above the crowd, and courting the praise of the fashionable and the great, he makes sure of honour.
There are great as well as small, who are vulgar. Rank often makes no difference in the understandings of men, or in the judicious distribution of praise. Luxury, pride, and vanity, have frequently as much influence in corrupting the sentiments of the great, as ignorance. bigotry,
and prejudice, have in misleading the opinions of the crowd.
And is it to such judges as these that you submit the supreme direction of your conduct ? Do you stoop to court their favour as your chief distinction, when an object of so much juster and higher ambition is presented to you in the Praise of God? God is the only unerring judge of what is excellent. Only his approbation is the substance, all other praise is but the shadow of honour. The character which you bear in his sight is your only real one. How contemptible are you, then, if you are indifferent with respect to this, and are solicitous about a name only, a fictitious, imaginary character, which has no existence save in the opinions of a few weak men !
Men see no farther than the outside of things. They can judge of you by actions alone: not by a comprehensive view of all your actions, but merely by such as you have had the opportunity of bringing forth to public notice. The Sovereign of the world, on the other hand, beholds you in every light in which you can be placed. The silent virtues of a generous purpose and a pious heart, attract his notice equally with the most splendid deeds. From him you may reap the praise of good actions which you had no opportunity of performing, since he sees them in their principle-he judges of you by your intentions—he knows what you would have done. You may be in his eyes, a hero or a martyr, without undergoing the labours of the one, or the sufferings of the other.-Blair.
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.
BORN, 1772; DIED, 1834. Principal Works.—The Statesman's Manual, Sybilline Leaves
The Friend, Aids to Reflection, The Ancient Mariner.
HYMN BEFORE SUNRISE IN THE VALE OF
Tast thou a charm to stay the morning-star
Yet, like some sweet beguiling melody,
life and life's own secret joy;
Awake, my soul ! not only passive praise