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be well weighed and carefully explained ;” and, that, because of the fulness of meaning they will generally be found to involve. And, further, Scripture proof for each statement put forth in the Collect being required, that continual examination of the word of God, which would be necessary in order to the production of such proof, would eventually lead to a far more enlarged acquaintance with the inspired records, and a more comprehensive view of Divine Revelation as a whole, than any course of simple, continuous reading could ever produce. On these accounts alone, the Collect Lesson seems worthy of a greater degree of attention than it has hitherto received.
But this is not all. There is another point from which these lessons may be viewed, and from which their importance is still more clearly seen. That point is, their fitness as channels for the communication of instruction, — regular and systematic instruction-on the all-important subject of prayer. The subject of prayer, so important in its bearing on the welfare of the Church, both as respects the temporal and the spiritual prosperity of that Church, is a too-much neglected one. By this the writer means, neglected as respects instruction on the subject, not neglected as respects the practice, that being a point on which it does not become him to speak so decidedly, although it is much to be feared that here, too, the neglect has been also great. But, to say nothing about the neglect of the habit of prayer, which is a matter between man and his God for which he will one day be called to an account, it must be confessed, that, as respects instruction on the subject of prayer, that is, instruction as to the essential elements of prayer, as to the proper object of prayer, the proper matters of prayer, and the right manner of prayer, little or nothing has hitherto been done. Hence, as a necessary consequence, the grossest ignorance and misconception on this vital subject prevails around us, as all who know anything of parochial and pastoral visitation can abundantly testify. How often do we find per: sons, especially among the aged poor, who, when spoken to upon the subject, will openly confess that they know not how to pray, even if they have a proper idea of what the inquirer means, which is at times to be doubted! How many others who profess to understand the subject, and talk about “saying their prayers," or “ praying hard,” as some say, shew equally by their manner of speech that they have no correct ideas of what prayer really is, nor how, nor to whom, nor for what, nor through whom, prayer must be offered! This ignorance and misconception on a subject of such vital importance is greatly to be lamented, and should lead us to ask whether any steps can be taken to prevent another generation from falling into the same state; whether it is not possible to implant in the minds of the young, who will soon stand in their parents' places, more correct notions and more accurate ideas upon the subject. May it not be that our systems of education in past years, have been defective in this particular ? Or will it be maintained that all has been done which the nature of the subject will allow ?
The writer is inclined to take the former view, and to think that all has not been so well done here as it might have been. We have taught the young to read the Word of God, and to frequent the House of God, and have accustomed them to hear prayers offered,—but nothing more ; direct instruction on this subject has seldom or never been given. It appears to have been left altogether to the discretion of each particular teacher, under the presumption, it is supposed, that it would be introduced whenever the subjectmatter of any particular lesson naturally led to it, but too frequently never to be touched on at all ; or, if so, yet in so casual, and irregular, and imperfect a manner, that the value of the instruction has been of the smallest possible amount. That this is a necessary part of a Christian education none surely can deny or question, except it be on the ground that men can do nothing in the matter,—that it must be left altogether to the Spirit of God, who will both teach us how to pray, and help us when we pray. But, granting this, that the aid of the Spirit is promised, still this promised aid of the Spirit is no reason why we are to neglect our part of the work, and to lay aside all care and attention thereto. It is no reason that we should cease to do anything. because we cannot do everything. The disciples asked their Master to teach them to pray, “as John also taught his disciples," and that Master complied with their request, giving them at once a prayer for their use, and a model after which they might frame other prayers for themselves. Teaching, therefore, was necessary then ; is it not equally so now? Assuredly it is ; and, therefore, ought not to be neglected ; more es. pecially as there is so much we may do in the matter,—as there are so many points which our teaching may be made to embrace. We can, at least, teach what prayer should be, and inculcate its necessity, if we cannot induce its practice.
already possessed of, and that they need not to be taught how to make prayers for themselves, the writer would still be of a different opinion. True, we have a multiplicity of Forms, beautiful, though simple, comprehensive, though brief; never Church before so richly provided for. But no forms can be so framed as to meet every possible case. Peculiarities are found everywhere ; and in the case of every individual there is something special. Forms are for common and public prayer, rather than for private and personal prayer. Hence, every individual needs to know how to frame a prayer as well as how to repeat a prayer, or a prayer to repeat. And hence the necessity for some instruction on the subject,instruction not casual and irregular, the result of a chance thought in the teacher's own mind, but stated and systematic as one of the regular lessons in the course adopted in the School.
It is from its supplying a fitting agency for the accomplishment of the above desirable ends, that, in the writer's opinion, the Collect lesson derives no small proportion of its value. No new lesson or lesson-book needs to be introduced into our Schools, but only an old one to be a little extended and improved. The Collects themselves will supply an abundance of matter, and the Collect lesson will furnish an excellent channel