Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, 1st Baronet (1786-1845) was an English Member of Parliament, brewer, abolitionist and social reformer. Buxton was born at Castle Hedingham, Essex, England.
“When in Norfolk the woods were his chosen retreat for the enjoyment of the “divine silence,” as he called it, of the country. He would take his small well-marked Bible, and wander among the trees reﬂecting deeply on what he read, and if his retirement were broken in upon, he would say it was much too soon, he had not gone through half his subjects of thought. Although he never kept a diary, yet after his illness he was in the habit of frequently committing his thoughts to paper, and a very large number of these communings with his own heart still remain. Many of them are preparations for prayer, according to a habit which he thus mentions in one of his papers about this period:-
‘There is a practice which I have found highly beneﬁcial, and should any of my children ever see this memorial, I earnestly advise them to adopt it.
‘I am in the habit of preparing the substance of my private and family prayers. I believe that we are far too extempore in that duty; not that I recommend any verbal preparation, but a meditation upon the points on which we wish to ask the help of God. The want of this seems to me to lead the mind to wander about, and rather to ﬁll our mouths with a train of words to which we are accustomed than our hearts with a sense of our necessities. I, at least, have found the habit of reﬂecting on what I shall ask for, before I venture to ask, highly serviceable.
‘I am bound to acknowledge that I have always found that my prayers have been heard and answered-not that I have in every instance (though in almost every instance I have) received what I asked for, nor do I expect or wish it. I always qualify my petitions by adding, provided that what I ask for is for my real good and according to the will of my Lord. But with this qualiﬁcation I feel at liberty to submit my wants and wishes to God in small things as well as in great; and I am inclined to imagine that there are no ‘little things’ with Him. We see that his attention is as much bestowed upon what we call triﬂes, as upon those things which we consider of mighty importance. His hand is as manifest in the feathers of a butterﬂy’s wing, in the eye of an insect, in the folding and packing of a blossom, in the curious aqueducts by which a leaf is nourished, as in the creation of a world and in the laws by which the planets move.
‘To our limited powers some things appear great and some inconsiderable; but He, inﬁnite in all things, can lavish His power and his wisdom upon every part of his creation. Hence I feel permitted to offer up my prayers for everything that concerns me. I understand literally the injunction, ‘Be careful for nothing, but in everything- make your requests known unto God;’ and I cannot but notice how amply these prayers have been met. Grant then, O Lord, that I may never fail to pour forth all my burdens, cares, wishes, wants, before thy throne, that I may love to seek thy help.’”-Taken from a Memoire of his life.
This prayer was offered at a time of great unrest and danger when he was anticipating the rioters would come to his own home and cause harm and destruction. As it were, one man came with malevolent designs, but Buston was able to dissuade him of his nepharious mission.
“Accept, O Lord, my thanks for that indulgent mercy which has followed me all my days. I thank thee that I am in vigour of body and mind; that I am not under the inﬂuence at this moment of any sore calamity; that I am not racked with pain, nor tormented with grievous apprehension; but that it is a time of some peace and serenity.
“I bless thee that, in all the outward circumstances of life, thou hast dealt bountifully with me; that thou hast given me, not indeed great talents and endowments, but a sound mind and enough force of understanding for the performance of my duties; that thou hast placed me in a reputable station, given me a good business, fair health, competence; in short, that in these things I am more prosperous than many that deserve them better; that if not placed on the hill, I am not cast down into the valley. In my family I have been happy. Severe afﬂictions have come; some of those most dear to me have been snatched away in the dawn of their days, and one is lately gone whom I unceasingly deplore; but he is gone to his God; he is in peace; he is an inhabitant of those mansions prepared by thine Almighty power for those who love thee. Then hast thou not rescued me from a thousand perils, from temptations, from sins? Can I not respond to the thanksgivings of the Psalmist (Psalm ciii. 1-5). Am I not within reach of great spiritual advantages? I thank thee, O Lord, that thou hast led me to read my Bible, and hast supplied me with thy Spirit while I read, so that my heart and mind have been ﬁxed on the power of prayer, on the inﬂuence of the Spirit, on the mercies of my God, on the deliverance of mankind through a blessed Saviour. Yes I thou hast offered to me that ‘living bread which cometh down from heaven,’ and giveth eternal life to those who feed on it. Thy mercies, in truth, have been to me abundant and innumerable, as the leaves of the forest, as the sands of the sea. Benignant and bountiful hast thou been to me all the days of my life, and may it please thee evermore to be so, to continue to bless me in body, in mind, in estate, in pursuits, in family, in friends, in business, in prayer, in meditation, in thankfulness for the visible mercy of God, and in the atonement of Christ.
“We stand now in a peculiar crisis; though I am not troubled with care, or depressed with apprehension, there is reason for alarm. It is, both in private and public matters, a time of trouble, and I have good reason to seek thee with earnestness of supplication in this perilous period. As for public matters, have I not reason to turn steadfastly to Him who can shield us from dangers, however imminent and however terrible? Last week the Bristol riots prevailed, and the same spirit may spread through the country. In this neighbourhood the incendiary has been briskly at work. Last night the news arrived that the cholera had really commenced its ravages in England; and to-morrow a meeting of the working classes is to take place in London. Storms seem gathering in every direction, and the tempest may soon break upon my own house. Assist me then, O Lord, to prepare for events which may so soon approach. Let my house be planted on a rock which shall stand ﬁrm in the buffetings of the winds and the waves. O my God, I feel that there is no security, save the perfect security which belongs to thee. Vain is the help of man; folly is his wisdom; feebleness his strength; but in entire unshaken conﬁdence I desire to commit and commend to thee myself, my family, my friends, my neighbours, my country.
“Give us wisdom to act aright; preside over our councils; lead us to the right path, and to do the right thing. Let thy Spirit be poured forth upon us in rich profusion, prepare us for outward danger by inward grace. Teach us that no real calamity can befall us if we are in the hands of our God, that we are safe under the shadow of His wings. Give us the spirit of true prayer, and let it abide with us; and if death be coming, ‘in the hour of death and in the day of judgment, good Lord deliver us,’ for the sake of our blessed Redeemer, Christ Jesus.”—Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton