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dently of all other considerations, they would find it a most excellent discipline for the mind.
John. I find by experience, that when I wish to consider any thing attentively, I can do it best in silence, and it seems reasonable that our tongues should be still when we undertake to examine our hearts. *
Father. There is a very instructive fact mentioned in the history of the prophet Elijah, when he was in a cave on Mount Horeb. He was commanded to go forth and stand upon the mount before the Lord. “ And behold the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountain, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire, a still small voice. And it was so when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entering in of the cave, And behold there came a voice unto him and said, What doest thou here Elijah ?” Thus it appears that Elijah knew that the word of the Lord (to which he had long been accustomed) was not to be heard in the noise and confusion of the outward elements,but as soon as he heard the still small voice, he wrapped his face in his mantle and listened to the Divine Monitor. We have no reason to believe, that this “word of the Lord,” which came to the prophets, was conveyed in sounds to the outward ear; for God is a spirit, and the soul of man is spiritual; therefore the word by which he speaks to the soul is also spiritual.
* A late writer, in speaking of what is termed "the Lord's Supper," makes this remark: “In all other instances of social worship, your attention is required without ceasing; to some external process, and you pass on from one part of the service to another with little opportunity to reflect as you proceed, or to pursue the suggestions which are made, in the manner that your own peculiar condition may require. But in this, the leisure is given for thoroughly applying to your own personal state, all that has met your ear, and for pouring out freely the devotional feeling which has been excited. And if there be any thing favourable to the soul, as multitudes of devout persons have insisted, in occasions for contemplative worship in the presence of other men, then in this respect the Lord's Supper may claim a superiority over every other season of social devotion.” Now, if the pauses which occur during the administration of the Supper are found to be so salutary, why may they not be introduced at other times with equal advantage ?
The apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians, saying, “ Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17.
And the apostle Peter advises the Christians of his day, to "desire the sincere milk of the word, that," says he, “yè may grow thereby. If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious; ye also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God, by Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter ii. 3-6. Thus it appears that the soul of man is the temple of God, and that his church is a spiritual house, built up of living stones, of whom Jesus Christ is the “chief corner stone, elect, and precious.” The temple of Solomon, with all its glory, was but a faint emblem or figure of this spiritual house, which God is preparing for himself to dwell in, and in which he manifests his glory and his power.
It is written of Solomon's temple, that "it was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.” i Kings, vi. 7. How striking a figure was this of the beautiful order and holy solemnity that ought to prevail, when the living stones are brought together in the assemblies of God's people. When we approach his awful presence to worship him in spirit and in truth, we should be
careful not to employ the tools or ceremonies of man's invention; for the Lord, in directing his chosen people to build an altar, said, “ An altar of earth shalt thou build unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt-offerings and thy peace-offerings: and if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it." Exodus xx. 24. Deut. xxvii. 5.
The offerings in God's temple are no longer of an outward nature, for “he is not worshiped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing.” He requires us to give him the “first fruits” of all that we possess: we must serve him before all others, and give him the first place in our affections. The sacrifice which he accepteth is a broken and a contrite spirit;” and the smoke of the incense which ascends up before him, is "the prayers of the saints." Rev. viii. 3.
I shall conclude this subject with a quotation from the writings of that great and good man, William Penn. “ If,” says he, “we are not to take thought what we shall say when we come before worldly princes, because it shall be given us, and that it is not we that speak, but the spirit of our Heavenly Father that speaketh in us; (Matt. X. 20,) much less can our ability be needed, or ought we to study to ourselves forms of speech in our approaches to the great Prince of princes, King of kings, and Lord of lords. The psalmist says, 'Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble, thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear;' and says Wisdom, "The preparation of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.' Here it is: thou must not think thy own thoughts, nor speak thy own words; which indeed is the silence of the holy cross; but be sequestered from all confused imaginations, that are apt to throng and press upon the mind in those holy retirements. It is not for thee to think to overcome the Almighty by the most composed matter cast into the aptest phrase: no, no,-one groan, one sigh from a wounded soul; an heart touched with true remorse, a sincere and godly sorrow, which is the work of God's spirit, excels and prevails with God. Wherefore, stand still in thy mind; wait to feel something that is divine to prepare and dispose thee to worship God truly and acceptably. And thus taking up the cross, and shutting the doors and windows of the soul against every thing that would interrupt this attendance upon God,-how pleasant sóever the object be in itself, -how lawful and needful at another season,--the power of the Almighty will break in,-his spirit will work and prepare the heart, that it may offer up an acceptable sacrifice.”
ON THE ORIGINAL AND PRESENT STATE OF MAN.
James. Brother John and I have lately been conversing about the original and present state of man, but we cannot agree in opinion, and have concluded to ask thy views upon the subject. He contends, that the transgression of Adam, in eating the forbidden fruit, produced an entire change in the nature of man, so that we are all born in a corrupt and sinful state; and that we are liable to punishment, not only for our own transgressions, but likewise on account of the guilt of our first parents, which he says is imputed to all their offspring. This doctrine I cannot believe; for it appears to me to be entirely inconsistent with the justice and mercy of the Divine Being, to impute to me a sin which I never committed; nor can I understand how the nature of man could be so completely changed by that one transgression of Adam; for we do not find any inherent difference now between the children of the righteous and the children of the wicked; they appear to be all born in the same state, though it is acknowledged that the example and teaching of their parents have a great influence upon their characters.
John. I do not reason in this way upon subjects of so momentous a character, but am content to refer to the Scriptures of truth, which, being written by inspired men, are a much safer dependence than the fallible reason of man.
Father. I believe that all Scripture, “given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." The truths contained in the Scriptures, if properly understood, and made the rule of our actions, are of inestimable value to man; but it is very evident that they cannot be understood without the exercise of reason; for a man deprived of reason could not derive the least benefit from them. They are addressed to the understandings of men; but owing to the imperfection of human language, they are liable to be misunderstood, espe cially by those who have no experimental knowledge of the things to which they relate. The most valuable parts of Scripture are those which relate to spiritual things; but in order to understand them clear. ly, we must come to the knowledge of the things themselves. When we undertake to study any natural science, we are not satisfied with merely reading descriptions of natural objects, but we examine the objects for ourselves. For instance, the science of botany describes the various plants and flowers which the great Creator has so profusely scattered over the face of the earth; but we cannot obtain an accurate knowledge of them, merely by reading descriptions; we must ourselves examine the things described; and