« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
eglect 1 back
than his constant regard of this duty. The reader is referred to the following passages: Matt. xiv, 23; Mark i, 35; vi, 46; Luke v, 16, 19, 26; vi, 12; xxii, 39-45; Heb. v, 7; vii, 25.
Prayer is also an INDISPENSABLE MEANS TO BE USED IN ORDER TO OBTAIN SPIRITUAL BLESSings. The good things of this life are given indeed indiscriminately to good or bad men: God thus shewing how little value we ought to set on those things which the wicked often abundantly possess. But grace and pardon, mercy and salvation, are promised expressly to those who pray. If thou shalt pray unto God, he shall be favourable unto thee. Job xxiii, 26. Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all that call upon thee. Ps. Ixvi, 5. No excellencies can compensate for the want.of prayer. In fact, it lies at the root of the real benefit of all the other gifts of God to man.
But religion is in a low state in the heart of that man on whom prayer must be urged as a duty. It ought ever to be considered as the greatest of all mercies that we are permitted to pray to God, and assured that every one that asketh, receiveth. We shall, therefore, in the following Chapter, conside prayer cather as a privi. lege than as a duty.
ples 105€ me:
The Privilege of Prayer.
THE true happiness of every Christian,” says Bishop Wilkins, “ does properly consist in his spiritual communion with God." Prayer is, then, a necessary part of the Christian's happiness, for it brings him into the presence of God, and is the most direct act of com. munion with him.
PCITIC Every one that prays aright can adopt David's expression, it is good for me to draw near to God. It is pleasant, it is honourable, it is advantageous. Ifl.** have riches, they may or may not be good for me. If you have human knowledge, power, eloquence, talent, and earthly glory, or any of the good things of this life, they may or may not be good for me: but if I have the grace of prayer, the heart to draw near to God, it is unmixed, unqualified good. It is certainly and unquestionably there good for me.
Consider some of THE ADVANTAGES of prayer.
Prayer is THE MEANS which GOD HAS APPOINT ED FOR YOU TO OBTAIN EVERY GOOD, AND TO. ES
ES. ROD CAPE EVERY EVIL.-It has pleased him to appoint this means for various wise and holy purposes ; and the ga especially that we may acknowledge and glorify his than attributes; that we may see our dependence on him, and prove our obedience to him. There is no evil that you may now suffer, or that you may expect to
suffer, which prayer is not the appointed means to aileviate or 'avert. Our Lord declares, ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Greater blessings than, we can think of may thus be obtained. Call upon me, and I will answer thee, and will sheve thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not. Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel. . . .
WE ARE CERTAIN OF OBTAINING WHAT WE ASK IN FAITH, ACCORDING TO GOD'WILL.-The numerous promises made to faithful prayer fully contirm this
remark. He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all f.com' that we can ask or think. Ephesians üi, 20. You may
labour for riches, and lay by money year after year, and El's els after every care your money may be lost, and you die
“poor; or it may bring you trouble and sorrow rather - than any advantage. You may pursue the pleasures
or favor of the world, and live miserable and die despised. But if you seek the blessing of God in feryent
prayer, you cannot be disappointed. This has been the grace testimony of every servant of God from the beginning. niken, How differently meo reason about earthly and spiritual
things. If a great and faithful and gracious monarch were to promise riches, pleasures, or honours, to those who come to him, his court would soon be crowded; men would anxiously ask, “what bas he promised?' how may I go to him?? . But God himself has earnestly invited us to come to him, bas promised to supply all our wants, and to give us durable riches and righteous. ness. It is the solemn declaration of Jesus Christ to his disciples, Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you; ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. You
may not indeed obtain the first time you ask; the promise gives no assurance that you shall. St. Paul had a thorn in the flesh, and besought the Lord thrice, or frequently, before he was heard. You may not obtain the very thing which you ask, but asking aright you will obtain that which will fully satisfy the spiritual mind. 1 John v, 14, 15; Rom. viii, 27, 28. St. Paul's thorn in the flesh was not removed, but he was enabled to take pleasure in his infirmities. No prayers offered up aright will ever be made in vain. . .
The privilege of prayer was PURCHASED EOR US AT THE COSTLY PRICE OF THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST, (Eph. ii, 13; Heb. x, 19.) and therefore we may easily imagine what a great and vast advantage it must be, and how excellent is that liberty of access unto God which was thus obtained. Souls now in eternal • ruin are not privileged to pray. They have irrecoverably lost this good. The fallen angels have no way of access to God. Jesus took not on him the nature of angels. Shall we, then, slight or despise the distinguishing privilege of our present life?
Prayer is A SATISFACTORY EVIDENCE OF OUR HAVING OBTAINED THE SAVING GRACE OF GOD. Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his son into our hearts, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Galatians iv, 6. It is the breath of the spiritual life in the soul. Lamentations iii, 56. Whatever has life must breathe, and if the life be strong it will breathe freely. If prayer be faint, weak, and disordered, the person is not in full life and health; if there be no prayer, there is no spiritual life at all; the first mark of it is, behold, he prayeth; Acts ix, 11.) and the last account of one is his prayer, Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit. Aces vii, 59. It
is to the spiritual Church the promise belongs--I will pour upon the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication. Zech. xii, 10. If you have a fervent persevering spirit of prayer, you have a sure evidence of being born again; of the life of God begun in your soul. When you can feel with David, my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, in a dry and thirsty land, to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary; then you may also say, with humble yet believing confidence, O God, thou art my God.
PRAYER ĠAINS FOR US SPIRITUAL STRENGTH.-It is that singular duty in which every grace is exercised, every sin opposed, every blessing obtained, the whole soul revived, strengthened, and invigorated for the Christian race. Just in proportion to your prayers, so is your holiness, so is your usefulness. The praying Christian is the strong, the thriving Christian, strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. As the naturally weak ivy, which if it had no support would only grovel on the earth, by adhering to some neighbouring tree, or building, and entwining itself about it, thus groups and flourishes, and rises higher and higher; and the more the winds blow, and the tempests beat against it, the closer it adheres, and the nearer it' clings, and the faster its fibres embrace that which supports it; and it remains uninjured: just so the Christian, naturally weak, by prayer connects himself with the Almighty; and the more dangers and difficulties beset him, the more close they unite him to his God; he reaches towards and leans upon, and clings to him, and is strengthened with divine strength. High is the privilege of prayer, which turns our very wants to our