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you take no pains to avert it? You would possibly answer, “My own care is the appointed means of my continued life.” So, we should add, is prayer the appointed medium of spiritual, and even of present good; and it is just as foolish in you to say, “ It is of no use my praying for that good,” as would be to say, “I will take no care for the preservation of my natural life, because God has fixed the date of its duration, and He cannot change.' But the best and most practical reply we can give is by referring you to God's promises, which assure you that prayer does avail, and by pointing you to recorded facts which testify that prayer has been heard. At almost every step of the church's history there is erected an altar of memorial commemorating some signal answer to prayer.
It is of use to pray. Do you say, I have no relish for the exercise ? But there is One who can teach you to pray, and who can bestow upon you such grace as will even render it a delight. And of Him the Great Teacher said, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?”
Do you further object, “But I have prayed, and my prayers have been unheard ?” Perhaps you asked for blessings which God has nowhere expressly promised, but which are still proper subjects for prayer. In that case, if you asked aright, you left their bestowment or refusal to the wisdom and the sovereignty of God, and only asked them if He saw fit that they should be granted. Or the blessings you sought might be the blessings of salvation-blessings which God has positively promised to those who ask them. Perhaps, however, like Augustine, you did not really desire what you sought. He has recorded the confession, that whilst he prayed that God would convert him he added the mental reservation, “But, Lord, not now.”
Or there might be no recognition of the only medium through which you can draw near to God with acceptance—the intercession of Christ. Or there might be none of that earnest and persevering entreaty with which you ought to have implored the exercise of mercy.
“ Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss."
What weighty motives urge you to pray! the sense of duty; the requirements of gratitude ; the hope of advantage ; the dread of that curse which is denounced against the prayerless! You have every encouragement to prayer. The "Hearer of Prayer” waits to be gracious; the Son of God intercedes for you; many promises assure you that you cannot seek for mercy in vain ; the kindest invitations bid you welcome. If you have never yet began to pray, begin now; begin with the Publican's prayer, 6 God be merciful to me a sinner.” He who sent that Publican “ down to his house justified ;" He who, when Manasseh “humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him, was entreated of Him and heard his supplication;" He who, when He heard Ephraim bemoaning heavily," said, “I will surely have mercy upon him;" He who sent Ananias to the smitten and contrite persecutor, Saul of Tarsus, telling him as He did so, “Behold, he prayeth!” He will receive and bless you! Then, with the hope of His salvation in your heart, resolve that henceforward your life shall be a life of prayer !
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON; AND W.INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH.
London: J. & W. Rider, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close.
“ At evening time it shall be light.”—Zech. xiv. 7. In one of the many lovely villages which lie so thickly scattered along the foot of the Mendip hills, lived, many years since, the excellent Mr. Frector of the parish of W. He resided in the rectory house, which stood, as it were, under the shadow of the church ; but his increasing family rendering it inconveniently small, Mr. F built a larger and more commodious habitation. In the cheerful retirement of this village home passed the early youth of Edward F—, the youngest and darling child of his excellent parents. Reared with the utmost care and tenderness, surrounded by every comfort that watchful love could provide, he was also the subject of wise and gentle discipline; not permitted to indulge in every luxury the large income of his parents might have supplied, for Mr. and Mrs. F-, feeling themselves but stewards of God's bounties, and that, as such, they must one day give an account of their stewardship, sought in the use of His gifts to promote His glory, by advancing His cause on earth, and wisely judged it better for their children to be associated with them in every good work, and by early habits of self-denial to contribute largely to the wants of others. Their family consisted of four children, of whom Edward was the youngest by several years. Affectionate, warm-hearted, and most sincerely beloved by each member of the happy home circle, he appeared, for some years, not only to return that love in large measure, but also to find in the beauty of his native village, and the pleasures of his home, everything necessary to his happiness. Yet, as time passed on, and Edward, no longer a child, began to seek other and graver pursuits, his tender, watchful parents observed that in place of the buoyant spirits he had previously possessed, there were times when his long silence and absent manner marked a degree of thought unusual in him; and the happy, merry expression of his countenance had given place to one of care and uneasiness, for which they could not account. When playfully rallied on the subject of his reflections by his brother and sisters, Edward evaded their inquiries ; and to the graver questioning of his parents gave but unsatisfactory replies. Thus, though all marked a change in him, no one could guess its cause; and Mr. and Mrs. F-, knowing well the privilege of the Christian to cast every burden on the Lord, made it a daily subject of prayer, that whatever might cause the cloud thus gathering on the brow of their boy, he might, in all things, be directed and preserved from falling into error.
Weeks passed on, and brought no change. No communication was made by Edward to any member of his family; and Mr. F-, having encouraged his confidence unsuccessfully, thought it better to cease inquiring, and prayerfully to leave the matter in the hands of God. Yet, notwithstanding the strong faith of this good man, who not only hoped, but believed, that all things would work together for his ultimate good, his feelings as a parent were so deeply touched by this unexpected and inexplicable change in his darling son, that a tinge of melancholy shaded his countenance, in place of his wonted cheerful expression, and indeed each member of the family was more or less affected by it.
Ať length, one morning, on Mr. F-- withdrawing to his study, he was surprised to find Edward there before him. He was seated at the table, with his face buried in his hands; but on hearing his father enter immediately rose.
“My boy, my dear Edward," began Mr. Fr, approaching his son with outstretched hands, “ I am glad, very glad
“ Father," interrupted Edward abruptly, and as though he heard him not, “my mind is made up, and nothing but the fear of your opposition and my mother's grief has prevented my telling you long since. You have often asked me to select a profession. I have done so. To go to sea is my choice: give me your consent, or I must brave
refrsal.” " Edward,” replied Mr. F-calmly, endeavouring to hide the emotion which well nigh convulsed his frame, and looking in his son's countenance, where the expression of gloom had given way to one of sullen determination, “demand not my consent in such threatening terms to that which you
my heart will not approve. I say nothing of the earnest wish I have felt to see you, my dear boy, my fellow-helper in the work of the ministry, for if you be not indeed called of God, your
father's voice shall never influence you, from any other motive than the best and purest ; but think what would be your mother's grief, and
sisters' distress.” “ Name it not, father,” said Edward; “I cannot think of it.”
"Well,” replied Mr. F-, seeing his emotion, and hoping much that filial love and reverence, if roused, might influence him more than argument, “ leave it for awhile, my boy. If it be really your choice, and God in His providence make my duty plain, I will endeavour to conquer my own prejudices. Give me a fortnight to ponder on the subject, and to break it to your mother, to whom the news will be as unexpected as distressing. But join with me in prayer, Edward, before you quit this room, where as a child you have so often knelt beside me.
ask of Him who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand' to guide us, for truly my own judgment fails.”
They knelt in prayer, and the distressed father earnestly sought a blessing on his wayward child, and in the full confidence of a Christian cast his burden on the Lord. As they rose from their knees Edward rushed from the room, as if to avoid the interchange of another word; and Mr. F-, again alone, gave vent to the feelings of a father whose hopes and wishes were thus completely blighted. Had his son acted differently, and with openness and confidence expressed his inclination, the disappointment, though great, would have been unmixed with what now formed its bitterest part, the suspicion that the obvious change in the behaviour of his son was caused by some misconduct which he had yet to learn. But prayer is the Christian's refuge; and as disquieting thoughts arose in his mind, so did he dispel them, till in a short space he was able, with almost perfect composure of manner, to seek his wife, and make her the partner of his trouble.
How may the worldling, at the height of prosperity, envy the Christian even in affliction! And why? Because no degree of earthly happiness is unmixed with trial from some source or other, which the votary of the world must bear alone, while the Christian in his day of sorrow and affliction feels but the nearer to his God, whose almighty hand he traces in every event of his life; and, while earthly props fail, leans on that unseen Friend that sticketh closer than a brother, Prov. xviii. 24.
And thus it was with Mrs. F- for God's word cannot fail, and He has said, “ As thy day so shall thy strength be.” She received the intelligence with sorrow, indeed, as a parent, but with submission as a Christian ; and almost to the surprise of her husband, who scarcely anticipated such composure and resignation, meekly said, “This trial, heavy though it be, is sent in wisdom ; it is from the Lord. Shall we receive good at His hands, and shall we not receive evil ?” Job ii. 10.
Thus passed a change over all things in this late happy family. The silent determination of Edward's manner contrasted strangely with the forced cheerfulness of the others. His irregularity in the observance of family regulations had so increased, that his absence one morning at the usual hour of breakfast was unremarked, otherwise than that all assembled, feeling unrestrained by his presence, had made no effort to assume a cheerfulness they could not feel, and the meal was nearly concluded in silence, when Mr. F-, suddenly rising, left the room. It seemed as though this movement inspired all with a feeling of apprehension; many were the con