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non fuit:" "he ate all, and more than all; what was set before him, and what was kept from him." But then, for spiritual things, for the interest of our souls, and the affairs of the kingdom, we pray to God with just such a zeal as a man begs of a chirurgeon to cut him of the stone; or a condemned man desires his executioner quickly to put him out of his pain, by taking away his life; when things are come to that pass it must be done, but God knows with what little complacency and desire the man makes his request: and yet the things of religion and the spirit are the only things that ought to be desired vehemently, and pursued passionately, because God hath set such a value upon them, that they are the effects of his greatest loving-kindness ; they are the purchases of Christ's blood, and the effect of his continual intercession, the fruits of his bloody sacrifice, and the gifts of his healing and saving mercy; the graces of God's Spirit, and the only instruments of felicity: and if we can have fondnesses for things indifferent or dangerous, our prayers upbraid our spirits when we beg coldly and tamely for those things for which we ought to die, which are more precious than the globes of kings and weightier than imperial sceptres, richer than the spoils of the sea or the treasures of the Indian hills.
Under this title of lukewarmness and tepidity may be comprised also these cautions: that a good man's prayers are sometimes hindered by inadvertency, sometimes by want of perseverance. For inadvertency, or want of attendance to the sense and intention of our prayers, is certainly an effect of lukewarmness, and a certain companion and appendage to human infirmity; and is only so remedied, as our prayers are made zealous, and our infirmities pass into the strengths of the Spirit. But if we were quick in our perceptions, either concerning our danger, or our need, or the excellency of the object, or the glories of God, or the niceties and perfections of religion, we should not dare to throw away our prayers so like fools, or come to God and say a prayer with our mind standing at distance, trifling like untaught boys at their books, with a truantly spirit. I shall say no more to this, but that, in reason, we can never hope that God in heaven will hear our prayers, which we ourselves speak and yet hear not, at the same time when we ourselves speak them with instruments joined to our ears ; even with those organs which are parts of our hearing faculties. If they be not worth attending to, they are not worth God's hearing; if they are worth God's attending to, we must make them so by our own zeal, and passion, and industry, and observation, and a present and a holy spirit.
But concerning perseverance the consideration is something distinct. For when our prayer is, for a great matter and a great necessity, strictly attended to, yet we pursue it only by chance or humour, by the strengths of fancy, and natural disposition; or else our choice is cool as soon as hot, like the emissions of lightning; or like a sunbeam often interrupted with a cloud, or cooled with intervening showers; and our prayer is without fruit, because the desire lasts not, and the prayer lives like the repentance of Simon Magus, or the trembling of Felix, or the Jews' devotion for seven days of unleavened bread during the passover or the feast of tabernacles: but if we would secure the blessing of our prayers, and the effect of our prayers, we must never leave till we have obtained what we need.
TREES—so beautiful in their individual attributes, so magnificent in their forest groups—are amongst the most lovely and glorious of the materials which Nature spreads before the poets. Spenser makes his Catalogue of Trees full of picturesque associations, by his wonderful choice of epithets :
And forth they pass, with pleasure forward led,
The builder oak, sole king of forests all;
The laurel, meed of mighty conquerors
yew, obedient to the bender's will,
The birch for shafts, the sallow for the mill,
The fruitful olive, and the plantane round,
Cowper paints “the woodland scene” with a lighter pencil: his outlines are less defined; but his whole picture is true as well as beautiful :
Not distant far, a length of colonnade
Descending now (but cautious, lest too fast)
may record the mischiefs he has done.
The grand retreat from injuries impress'd
The sycamore, capricious in attire,
CowPER. Scott associates the “forest fair” with the feudal grandeur of hunt and falconry :
The scenes are desert now, and bare,
dell what birches hung,
i What alders shaded