« FöregåendeFortsätt »
his daily walk in the world, that on alable and obyious duty. Remember number of occasions when he would that to believe strongly what God has exercise faith he cannot, and feels how promised plainly, brings with it abundifficult it is to realize and to trust the dant comfort and plentiful strength. promises of God-let him remember Remember that to believe strongly that the most eminent believers were what God has promised plainly, honors once as feeble. The way they attained him as much as the contrary dishonors their present strength is a way open to him. Remember that this is what he all who depend on no natural endow. will unquestionably at last bestow. ments, no accidental advantages, no- On the other hand, unbelief, or a weak thing but the sovereign goodness of and partial faith, which taken the form God inviting his creatures to strength, of unbelief with respect to the particuinviting his suffering creatures to peace, lar thing we doubt, is as unnatural as inviting his poor wretched sinners it is unreasonable, is as common as it to all the privileges of believers and is wicked; we easily fall into it. Alsaints. Now, this is open to every soul / most every person around us in the here, and therefore if a child of God world is constantly exercising unbelief, shall be going on from month to month, and not faith. It is as mischievous to or from year to year, complaining our own souls as it is offensive to that he makes little or no progress, God; and these two contrary sets of oh, let him be ashamed, let him be conclusions, both weighing on our ashamed, that he will not enjoy what minds, bring us to this strong deterthe good and gracious Father of heaven mination, that we will seek by earnest is waiting to bestow. May God for- and effectual prayer this blessing from give us for that weakness of faith which God. Our Saviour has taught us how is dishonorable to him, which is inju- to pray-how happy should we be to rious to us, which is absolutely irra- | receive his admonition. He has taught tional, which has no ground in sense, us that “ Men ought always to pray which is repelled by scripture, which and not to faint.” A thousand times the experience of multitudes forbids us we may ask for that blessing, and a to have. Oh, would to God that even thousand times we seem to fail ; and this present narrative might, under his could you observe the history of those gracious influence, lead us to come to men whose experience has been left on Christ in earnest and persevering prayer record, you will often see that their to obtain this blessing. If only this eminent grace was the result of many single practical lesson be learnt by any a conflict, in which, unknown to the of us this night, we have learnt much.world, they were wrestling with God It is easy to learn a theory-Christians, / in secret. They found no pains too have you not often found it difficult to great; they kept their eye on the realize in practice? Whatever be the great attainments before them; they sources of our weakness, we must not would take no denial, and at last they suffer our minds to despond : our bu- succeeded. Go you, dear brethren, siness is to persevere in prayer that and do likewise. God is not satisfied the Lord will grant us this strength of till you have this strength of faith, faith. Bring within your reach all which will introduce you to a thousand possible and suitable blessings. Our and ten thousand blessings, by which faith is apt to be weak and partial. you may be as blessed in your own To obtain this blessing we must get souls, as you may do good to the that strength of faith. Our only mode whole circles of those with whom, in of obtaining it is prayer, and the use the ordinary habits of life, you are by of other appointed means.
Divine Providence connected, Our conclusion is inevitable. Oh,
ERRATATUM. The date to Rev.J. Stratlen's that God the Father would fix our
Sermons shoold have been '18:30'instead of 1822. minds on that conclusion, and not suffer it to expire in mere ineffective London : Published for the Proprietors, wishes, but bring us to a resolution by T. GRIFFITHS, Wellington Street, and strength of purpose, by which we | Strand; and Sold by all Booksellers in might realize the blessing. Remem
Town and Country.... ber that to believe strongly whatever Printed by Lowndes and White, Crane Court, God has promised is our most reason
2 Thessalonians, iii. 1.—“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord
may have free course, and be glorified.” WHEN we remember, my friends, that of his absolute dependance upon the the words which I have just read were continued kindness of the God that delivered, not by an ordinary minister had clothed him with apostleship, that of the gospel of Christ to the people we find him on this occasion throwing of Thessalonica, but by one infallibly himself on the ordinary basis on which inspired to direct the churches, and the ministers of the gospel cast themto minister the gospel of the kingdom, selves, and inviting the prayers of the by the spirit of glory and of God, we people. “ Brethren, pray for us, that might feel startled at the request which the word of the Lord may have free the text contains, when the apostle course, and be glorified." calls upon the people to pray for him, The apostle, however, must not only “ that the word of the Lord may have be regarded as exercising, on this ocfree course and be glorified.” He had casion, feelings of genuine humility, been armed with the most awful and when he overlooks the extraordinary majestic powers that the God of heaven commission he bears, and the exever committed, either to angels or to traordinary powers he was apmen. He had been clothed with the pointed to wield, and asks for the highest authority ever bestowed on an prayers of the people ; but we must inhabitant of the earth. He had been regard him, also, as placing in a just endowed with the greatest attainments point of light the character of the --he had been filled with the spirit of gospel dispensation. He was aware, glory and of God-he had been made that not by the might or the power especially his temple, and he had been that man could wield, even when that made so for the express purpose of might and that power came by extralaying down, not only by his own tes-ordinary commission from heaven-he timony, but by the inspired record, the was aware that not by the might or foundations of the church of Christ, for the power that man could wield, under regulating the spiritual economy of any circumstances, did God intend to heaven till the close of time. Under secure the success of his gospel. He these circumstances, reasoning accord- knew that though God appointed ing to the wisdom of men, we should be the apostles to bring the dead from disposed to infer, that the freedom of the another world, and to command disgospel of Christ, the wide extension of eases to fly from those who had the knowledge of the Redeemer's name, been visited by them he knew that had been infallibly secured; and yet though God bad appointed the apostles so humble was this individual, so to bear rule in the church in the ad. clothed with the true characteristics of ministration of his kingdom, he had an ambassador of Christ, so conscious still reserved in his own power, and in
his own power exclusively, the grand | the views which the word of God gives energy by which the soul is quickened us of this holy exercise. Prayer is not together with Christ, that by grace it the offering of an empty form—it is might be saved. He looked, there- not the words that proceed from a fore, to the fountain whence this energy heart untouched—it is not the expresmust spring—he looked to the great sion of mere sentiment, or the indicasource whence spiritual power must tion of existing feelings—it is not the still be derived ; and whilst he minis- creature of unsanctified desire, howtered the energies of his apostleship | ever fervent that desire may be-it is under the commission and the sanction not the cry of those who wish to see of the God of truth, he still looked some grand object achieved in connecthrough the ordinary channels in which tion with the renovation of the world, grace was still to be measured out, whilst they rest not on the mediation he still looked through them for the of a crucified Redeemer, as that mediainterposition of the power by which tion is set forth in the word of truth : God would make his people willing in but Prayer will be found to involve in the day of his power. Thus he, at it certain circumstances, and views, and once, lays before us an expression of states of mind, by which those who his own humility, and a recognition of really pray must always be characterthe peculiar character of the gospel ofized. We are committing a crime Christ, as a demonstration of divine against the dearest interests of an unpower coming direct from God; and in godly people, when we are telling them both of these he at once conveys in- they are able to pray; and that they struction, and sets us an example are the spiritual priesthood on whom
If, therefore, my friends, we find the God lifts the light of his countenance. apostle of the Gentiles, notwithstand - We are soothing them in the midst of ing the authority of his office, and a state which ought to induce us to the power by which that office was sound the loudest alarm, when we are sustained, casting himself upon the connecting with them any of the feaprayers of the people, and connecting tures that belong to the gospel of the triumphs of the gospel of Christ Christ. We are telling them they have with the holy breathings of those who passed within the portals, and are now had already been made the subjects of competent to minister at the altar, its power, much more should we, when when we know they are standing aloof we consider our vast inferiority, both from the glory of God, and of his Son in office and powers and endowments, Christ Jesus. We are healing their to the great apostle, cast ourselves, wounds slightly, and we are daubing and the gospel we proclaim, into the them with mortar which has never been arms of a people presenting in holy tempered. We are saying, “The desires their fervent breathings to the temple of the Lord, the temple of the God of prayer.
Lord, the temple of the Lord are we,” With this view of the passage I have on their behalf, and we are inviting just read, let me direct your attention, them to unite in the cry, when we in the first place, to the nature of know they are aliens from the common Prayer generally. In the second place, wealth of Israel, if we are telling them to Prayer for Ministers in particular. they can pray, and that the incense In the last place, to the Influence of a they offer ascends with acceptance bepraying people on the state of the fore heaven's high throne, if we know church and the world with regard to they have not tasted that God is grathe diffusion of the gospel.
cious. It becomes essential, therefore, In the first place, let me direct your to just views of the duty enjoined in attention to THE SUBJECT OF PRAYER the words of the text, to have just views GENERALLY. “ Brethren pray for us,” of the exercise of prayer. is the request made by the apostle, and Prayer, generally, then, we should is the request which we would still, say, implies, in the first place, Sincere after his example, continue to make to Desire. There can be no petition ac. the people of God. But when we call ceptable in the sight of a heart searchupon any to pray that the gospel maying God that proceeds not from the have free course, and so be abundantly inward state of the mind with regard glorified, it is necessary we should state to the object of request before Jeho
vah's throne. If in any instance we gospel of Christ, as it has been refind God commanding us to request a vealed as the foundation of our apblessing, and if we find we can duly proach to God, we must be selecting appreciate its value, we are not pray-. some way of our own. One is sincere, ing for that blessing, unless we em and he conceives that to be enough: body in our supplications that sincerity the confidence which he places in the of desire that will give them reality and sufficiency of this sincerity actually character in the esteem of Him who sets aside the whole administration of sees not as man sees, but who searches the gospel. Another believes his chathe heart and tries the reins of the racter is good, and he deems this a children of men. There must be, then, sufficient plea for expecting an answer the sincerity of desire, there must be of peace to his prayers. This is only the fervour of feeling, there must be the substituting the character of the petiardour of the mind itself, embodied in tioner for the merits and the glory of the request that seeks a blessing at the the great Advocate for sinners at the footstool of the throne of God.
right hand of God. Another believes But there must not only be sincere that because he has attended the ordidesire in real and scriptural prayer | nances of worship he can offer prayer : there must also be Believing Expecta- he is a keeper of the sabbath, he meets tion of the blessing for which we sup when the assemblies unite together to plicate. The prayer of the man who offer common supplication to a comdoubts—the prayer of the heart that mon God in the name of a common wavers, is a prayer that refuses to give mediator ; but still his mind is desGod glory by confiding in the promise titute of the spiritually renewing power he has made. If we ask of God, and which gives the image of God, and doubt his willingness to bestow-if we which gives the light of the knowledge ask of God, and disbelieve the testi- of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ. mony on which we profess to ground Now, this individual conceiving that our plea, the state of our minds is be- these observances may furnish a ground, lying the request of our lips; we are on which he can lift his voice as a offering what is in utter inconsistency supplicant before God, is actually setwith the condition of our hearts : ting aside the great substance of the and thus the inner and the outward gospel for the external means by which man are at positive and direct warfare ; we approach its glory and its power. thus are unbelief and professed con All the ordinances connected with the viction conflicting at the throne of gospel are only so many avenues into God, whilst the man who is the sub the immediate presence of the Saviour's ject of the conflict professes to be a glory; but they are to be regarded in petitioner at his footstool. There must no other point of light. They are the be, therefore, a believing expectation ways of access to the Majesty of heaof the blessing we deşire, associated ven; but they are not the objects of with the request that expresses the de- the affections of those who would trasire we feel.
vel into his presence. If we have Again, there must not only be believ found ourselves approaching some high ing expectation of the blessing, but destination-if some lofty achievement there must be some ground on which is in our eye-if we are found on the this believing expectation rests; and wing of ardent expectation, hastening, that ground is the belief of the testi- or professedly hastening, to that obmony of God concerning his Son Jesus ject; and if our minds are more alive Christ. If I throw any qualification to the scenery around us, to the aparound the testimony of God concern-proaches to the object we profess to ing his Son-if I have any mental re- regard as the grand point to which servation when I express my belief of every thing is tending; are we not that testimony, Lam casting a cloud proving to a demonstration that we over the brilliancy of discovery which have lost the end in the means-that God has associated with the testimony we have forgotten the great, the ultithat forms the basis of his kingdom; mate object of our desire, in the interI am casting a reflection on the inte vening medium through which we are grity and moral glory of all his attri- passing to the professed enjoyment of butes. Besides, if we believe not the | it? So it is with regard to the gospel
of Christ. Never upon any occasion truth. “ If any man has not the Spirit can we rest in the ordinances of the of Christ," says the word of God," he gospel, and say, that we are glorying is none of his.” Without the Spirit's in the Lord Jesus, and in him alone. regenerating power we can have no When the apostle Paul wrote to the distinct spiritual vision, and we can Corinthians on baptism, and to the have no believing confidence. We are Hebrews on laying on of hands, we distinctly informed that the heart is find him in both cases making Christ enmity against God, and cannot be the grand and prominent object he had subject to his law, distinctly refuses it, in view. And to the church at Corinth, rebels against all his moral acquirewhen he has gone over the names of ments, and is totally incapable of exCephas and Apollos, and the baptisms ercising toward him any holy and afby which individuals had listed them- fectionate sympathies. Under these selves under the name of men, who had circumstances, there can be no sincere ministered to them on those institu- desire associated with believing expections, he says, “I am determined to tation. The Spirit of God, therefore, know nothing among you save Jesus must create again : except a man be Christ, and him crucified.” He re- born of the Spirit he cannot enter the garded, in this instance, the conduct kingdom of heaven; he cannot be a of some of the Corinthians as setting member of it on earth; he cannot come the ordinances above the design of within its limits below, nor look to its their appointment; and therefore he glory, on just and enlightened grounds, comes forward, and with holy bold. when that glory shall be revealed above. ness he bounds over them all, and without the influence of the Spirit of plants himself as a devout admirer at God, therefore, there can be no prayer. the foot of Calvary, that he may sing Let us remark, that this same aposto the glory of the Saviour. This tle, in another passage, speaks of the is the way we should all approach | Spirit of adoption by which we cry, the Redeemer; the believing expecta- " Abba Father.” Now, the Spirit's tion of those who would really pray operation referred to in this passage is must rest upon enlightened views, and obviously the cause of the filial love, fixed convictions, of what Christ has the feelings of son-ship, by which the done, and what he has undertaken yet believer is able to cry, with a holy conto accomplish for the salvation of his sciousness that the relationship is real, people.
“Abba, Father.” Then, as we canBut, again, prayer must not only not call God our Father but by the consist in sincere desire, in believing Spirit of adoption, we cannot offer the expectation; but it must consist, also, prayer of children without that Spirit. in the offering up of spiritual desires If without the Spirit we are dead in influenced by the Spirit of God. There trespasses and sins, we must be quickmust not only be sincere desire, there ened by him ere we can live unto God. must not only be believing expectation, These views of the Spirit's operation but there must be the desires over directly tells us, that there must be, which the Spirit of God exercises a connected with desire and with faith, holy, and sanctifying presidency. If the influences of the Spirit of God, we are offering only the convictions of which are, in fact, the spring of both logicfounded upon arguments, and con- the desire and the faith of which we victions of philosophy derived from a have been speaking. Hence the prayer survey of facts, and an induction of of the wicked is described to be “an particulars drawn from the generalities abomination to the Lord;" and is conof revelation, whatever may be the fixed nected with his ploughing, which is character of that conviction so founded, said to be sin. Under these circumand derived from such sources, these stances, we must regard that as prayer, convictions are not connected with the and that only, which proceeds from a influence of the Spirit of truth, and mind of which the Spirit of truth has form no part of that believing expec- taken possession, which he has created tation of divine benefits of which we for himself, and which he directs in have been speaking. There must be, holy aspirations to God, while it rests if we would really offer the prayer of on the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ faith, the influence of the Spirit of for a response to its aspirations.