« PreviousContinue »
An Address to Persons in the different
“Give me," said an ancient, “whatever may be good for me, though I should neglect to pray for it; and deny me whatever may be hurtful, though I should ignorantly make it the object of my supplications.”
This laconic prayer has been much admired. The perfect resignation to the Divine will which it implies, renders it a model for the imitation of christian piety.
The language of a prayer should be natural and warm from the heart, yet
at the same time restrained and chastised by good sense, otherwise it must degenerate to the nonsense of the dotard, or the madness of the enthusiast. Dr. Johnson deserves great praise for the simplicity and energy of many of his prayers. Nothing of his usual style, his long words, or formal periods, is to be observed in them. His good understanding suggested to him the impropriety of all affectation when he laid aside all pretensions to wisdom, and approached the throne of the Almighty, with that humility which must always become even the greatest among mortals.
After all that taste and criticism can suggest, it is certain that uprightness of intention, and fervent piety, are the best beauties of supplicatory writings. He to whom prayer is addressed considers not the form of words, and the structure of periods; but the faith, the sincerity,
the charity of the poor petitioner. If the heart be right, the errors of the understanding and of the lips will pass unnoticed. Yet it is decent and sonable to take care, according to the best of our knowledge, not to offer up prayers in which there is any known defect unworthy a creature furnished by the Creator with those intellectual powers, which surely can never be more honourably exerted than in the service of Him who gave them.