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66 Let me
cede for his rebellious countrymen. alone,” said God to Moses. Gracious and precicious words! Thy poor, weak, feeble creatures, may then, O God, if they come before thee in faith and penitence of heart, call down blessings from thy hand, where thou hadst almost purposed to visit with thy vengeance. In the case before us, Jehovah was most justly provoked by the senseless rebellions of his chosen people, no sooner had the commandment to abstain from idolatry been given, than these obdurate offenders made them a molten figure, and turned the image of the invisible God into the likeness of a calf that eateth hay. God then addressed Moses in those remarkable words, which I have selected for our ext to-day. “Let me alone, that I
may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they.” As if the Almighty had said, your prayers are powerful to turn away my wrath, and if you supplicate for mercy, I can scarcely refuse to listen. Do not therefore seek to avert my just indignation upon this stiff-necked aud faithless people: let me alone, and I will destroy them, and transfer to thy posterity the blessings I had designed for their inheritance.
These are gracious words, because they bring home to our hearts the persuasion, that in the expressive language of St. James, “the effectual
a righteous man availeth much.” But the most astonishing part of the history yet remains behind. The man of God, heeded not, if I may so speak, the desire of the Lord, but rejecting the wish for his own aggrandizement by the ruin of bis ungrateful, yet still beloved countrymen, be dared to prefer those petitions in their behalf, which God bad, as it were, commanded him not to offer. How few of us, my brethren, would have felt this confidence in the efficacy of prayer? How few would in this particular, have ventured thus to counteract the designs of God, especially when we knew that those designs would tend to promote our own glory, by the prosperity and exaltation of our descendants. And mark the result, for it will give confidence and comfort to every humble Christian ; it will encourage him to confide in God's mercy, and to draw hope to himself from the loving-kindnesses which he shewed of old. Jehovah vouchsafed to listen to the supplications of his servant. He was moved by his prayer to turn aside from his wrathful indignation : he withdrew his heavy displeasure from the idolatrous Hebrews, and thus shed a blessing upon the firm and undoubting trust of his chosen prophet.
Can you desire, my brethren, can you imagine, a stronger proof of the efficacy of prayer,
than that thus afforded by the words of our text? Nor is it a solitary instance of God's readiness to hear us, when we truly call upon him; and of his gracious goodness in vouchsafing to turn from his wrath, at our humble and anxious request. The circumstances of Abrahani's intercession for Sodom, are well known to most of
You have heard bow the patriarch ventured to plead with God, for a city abandoned to the most direful abominations. You remember how he commenced by entreating the Lord to pardon it that once, if fifty righteous could be found therein. It seemed a great act of mercy in God, to consent to this request; but if we attend to the sequel of the history, we shall see Abraham, emboldened, as it were, by every fresh act of coudescension in the Almighty, asking still greater favours, and obtaining all his petitions. When he found that God was willing to spare the guilty for the sake of fifty righteous; he implored him immediately to extend his compassion, and for the sake of forty and five righteous, if so many could be found therein, to cease from his fiery indignation. When this was acceded to, he begged God's pity for forty's sake. This too was granted; but the patriarch ceased not from his pleading. He obtained that thirty would be accepted as a ransom to ward off the impending destruction from their fellow-citizens ; then that twenty, and lastly that ten would be so received. What human benefactor, my brethren, however kind, however compassionate he might have been, would have listened patiently to such a petitioner. For however anxious we may be to relieve our neighbour's sorrows, yet if one came to our doors to ask a favour, and when that was granted, asked another still greater; and so continued to rise in his demands with every fresh consent on our part; he would in all probability be rudely repulsed from our dwellings, and be severely rebuked for what we should deem his impertinent importunity. And yet we do not perceive in the narrative of Abraham's communing with God on this remarkable occasion, any expression of anger or resentment from the great Jehovah, against his pertinacious servant; although the patriarch, astonished at his own boldness, evidently stood in apprehension of such a result. And herein is another proof most clearly afforded, of the
when offered by a righteous man, and that it may bring down blessings not on his own head only, but on his brethren also who are yet in their sins.
Listen again to the value of prayer, as exemplified in a passage of the history of Hezekiah, related in the second book of Kings. “In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amos came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine
house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.” Yet this decree of God, fixed as it must have seemed to be, was altered by the earnest supplications of the pious King, and Isaiah was sent again to bear him the tidings of comfort. “Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; behold, I will heal thee!"
But there may perhaps be some, who imagine that these instances cannot be made applicable to them. The persons hitherto introduced, wbose prayers we have seen were so powerful in averting God's vengeance, and bringing down bis blessing, were men who had never been presumptuous and wilful sinners, but had been eminent for their piety from their early years. The converted sinner therefore, who bas lived long in guilt and forgetfulness of God, but who has at length seen the error of his ways, may perhaps imagine, that the examples of Abraham, or Moses, or Hezekiah, can afford no encouragement to him. Let us then select one other instance from the pages of Holy Writ; an instance which will remove every doubt from the tender conscience, and convince the returning prodigal, that his prayers too are mighty with God to obtain his loving mercies. Read the character of Manasseh king of Judah, as detailed in the former part of the 33rd chapter of the 2nd book