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it may be remarked further, that now placed, as unworthy of being asprayer is not only sincere desire, it is sociated with the lofty demand on not only believing expectation, it is not you which I am making, any farther only an offering presented under spi- than as I am connected with my ritual influence; but it must be accord-brethren in this holy work, to whom ing to the revealed will of God. It is many, perhaps all of you, are in the possible that we may ask for things habit of occasionally listening. The which God has never promised—that object of introducing it is to create a in the error which frequently mixes it-spirit of supplication among the peoself with just views of truth, we may ple, who are looking for the instruction ask for things which he has distinctly which the word of truth ministers forbidden. It is necessary, therefore, through the service of the sanctuary. not to trust to our own feelings, how | In the first place, then, I would say ever fervent they may be not to trust that Prayer for Ministers connects devoto our own affections, however strong tion with public instruction. There is, these may be ; but to come at once to perhaps, no danger to which the hearer the word of God, and to ask what of the gospel is more fearfully exposed, those things are which God has made than the danger of attending as an important, which he has promised to unsanctified critic on the ministrations give, which he has commanded us to of the truth. There is something in request, and which he has pledged his this which calls forth, it is true, all inviolable veracity shall be enjoyed, the acumen of the intellectual powers ; wherever they are prayed for accord. there is something that brings the ing to his word. We have the word taste, that brings the wit of the indi. of God in this instance, as in many vidual, into an exercise by which both others, to check all the extravagancies are materially strengthened; but, being of our imperfect nature: we have strengthened alone, are strengthened the word of God to direct all the only as the enemies of his edification doubts and difficulties of our still be and his spiritual improvement. When clouded minds. We have the word of the understanding is expanded and God to cheer us onward in the path, conscious of the expansion when it which it has beaten out for us toward feels that this expanded condition fits the throne of God. When we are in it for receiving, more largely, discothe exercise of prayer, and looking toveries which are perhaps stated genethe word of truth as the great basis on rally—when it knows its pinions are which we ground all our requests, our strengthening, that it can spread its desires grow in strength, our belief be wings with growing confidence, that it comes positive confidence, our requests can soar to a loftier elevation without increase in urgency, the spirit of adop- the fear of being sunk by the efforttion grows into a holy tenderness, we when it knows that it can maintain offer up our supplications with a greater this elevation—when it feels that it confidence that God will return an can examine the peculiar character of answer of peace, while we are thus this individual, and of that, who may walking onward bythe still waters which be ministering in the things of God the word of truth has spread out, at when it knows it can take a range once for our guidance, our strength, and a review through all the objects and our refreshment, in the wilderness that the servants of God can bring through which we have to pass. before its attention-there is some
If then, my friends, we regard thing in all this that very naturally prayer in the light in which we have tends to an alienation from the spijust placed it, we may, perhaps, now ritual and sanctifying power of the be prepared to consider, in the se truth as it is in Christ. In this case, cond place, THE DUTY OF PRAYER FOR as in the case of ordinances, the brilMINISTERS, to which we have already liancy of discovery, the consistency of directed your attention. In consider argument, the beauty of oratorial reing this part of the subject before us, | presentation, all flash on the mind, it is not, my friends, my wish to direct and gain possession of it; or if these yon especially to myself; I consider are wanting, or if these are supposed myself, notwithstanding the novelty to be distorted, or misplaced, or exhi. of the circumstances in which we are bited in such a point of light as meets
not the taste of the individual in ques. , affection which will furnish an element tion, there is a recoil from the whole ob- in which they may grow, and in which ject thus set before him, and truth is lost the preacher may increase his strength. in the midst of a fancied or real defi- | Associating devotional feeling, coming ciency in the mode of representing it. at once, not only before the preacher,
Under these circumstances, then, it but before the preacher's God, and is the duty of those who regard their looking from the pulpit beneath to the own edification, and the improvement throne above, and linking the expresof those who minister among them, sions of truth, however feeble those to rise above these views and these may be, with the great energies of feelings; and in connecting prayer that God, who is able to give to that with the ministrations of the sanc truth all the realities of the wisdom tuary, they are necessarily associating and the power of heaven; there is a devotion with the instruction which solemnity which will be found pervad. they are endeavouring to receive. They ing the whole of the inner man, that are then not calling forth one of those will leave no power unoccupied, and powers only, nor one department of that will give to every faculty of reatheir mental constitution; they are son, every faculty of intellect, every bringing the whole range of the hu- | power that can exercise moral feeling, man faculties to bear upon their case. an interest in the grand theme by They are inviting the affections—they which Christ is celebrated as the Lamb are enlisting the feelings—they are of God who taketh away the sin of the summoning all the sentiments and all world. the sympathies of their nature, to the | But, again, prayer for ministers will work of God, and to the work of edi. not only be found to connect devotion fication as well as instruction. They with public instruction, but it will are uniting, with an intellectual per be found also to associate ministerial ception, the ardour of constraining love. success with its true cause. Very freThey are combining with the exercise quently, my friends, the success of the of a sound and cultivated judgment, the minister is ascribed to causes very exercise of an ardent zeal and a grow. foreign from those, which should at ing animation of mind. They are unit-once arrest the attention of the man of ing with all they see in the preacher, God. The talents of the man, perall they see in the God who is above haps, and they may consist in wisdom him. They are associating in the adorned with eloquence, or something testimony that he imperfectly an- substantial in reason set forth with all nounces, all the record of which that that is attractive in language the ta. testimony is a part. They are look- lents of the man are very frequently ing to the representation he opens, looked to as the grand source of minisand to the Redeemer, who has shed terial success. By his talents, it is over it a glory which no preacher, true, he may have succeeded; but still and which no talents, can ever give to his success in the occupation of these it, which it can never rival, much less instruments, may be a success of a exceed. They are not looking through very doubtful character, unless we some fallacious medium for some con. consider his labours in connection with comitant of the gospel ; but they are the God of truth. He may have suc. looking through the imperfect man, ceeded in kindling sympathies in his who is offering himself to their atten- favour-he may have succeeded in tions as the minister of God—they are raising feelings of attachment to him. looking through him to a splendour, to self-he may have succeeded in de. a glory, to a spiritual beauty, to a stroying external waywardness and hallowed colouring in the gospel itself, profligacy-he may have succeeded in as it shines in the face of Jesus, which beating down the hardihood of in. gives to his ministrations all their fidelity-he may have succeeded in power, and effect, and influence; and throwing a garniture around Chris. however imperfect those ministrations tianity that may have commended it be, they have associated their affections to the taste, instead of the consciences with the grand and splendid object of men and yet the whole of this which he has before him : and thus success may rest merely in the effect they kindle and interchange a mutual that he has produced on their minds
by this secondary instrumentality, I glory increasing and decreasing. “ He while the great and primary instru- | must increase, but I must decrease," is mentality of God has never gone forth language which must be employed by to the people.
every minister of Christ at some pe. Now, my friends, if we are foundriod of his earthly ministration. The praying for our ministers we will not sun may rise-recent events have associate their success with them taught you that its glory may also go selves; but this very exercise will lead | down, nay, that it must set, and set us to associate that success with its for ever. Either, then, in the decline of true and proper cause-God himself. human powers, or in the mysterious We will not rise from the throne of change in the direction of God's own grace, and admire the talents of the administration, or in the hand of the man for whom we have been praying King of terrors, every minister must as a humble dependant on a God whose cry out, “I must decrease." glory we have been commanded to Under these circumstances, my behold. We will not come from com- friends, what is the duty, and what munion with the great head of the the interest of the people of God? If church, through the avenue he has they have been in the habit of looking opened to all his people the avenue to the instrument only, and are passing of prayer—in order to lift above the by the Great and Supreme Cause, the glory of his cross the man who should moment the ministerial powers begin only stand to point to the place where to droop, that ministerial energies his honor dwelleth. We will not begin to show an approaching feeblelook to the operation of secondaryness, that ministerial influence apcauses, when we have, with believing pears to contract its limits, that public ardour and holy desire, been suppli support withdraws any of its patronage, cating the throne of grace for the there will be a feeling of despondency, operation of the power of the great there will be an immediate creation of First Cause. We have just left the doubt; and that very instrument that footstool of Heaven, and have come was once regarded as the signal for into the sanctuary with the impres-success, and the rallying post of trision which our enjoyments there may umph, then becomes the spring of dehave kindled ; and we are not likely clining feelings, and desponding cares. under those impressions, whatever Let, however, the habit of prayer for may be the success of the instrument ministers be created among the people, in the hands of God, we are not likely and we do not find any tendency to with those impressions, either to at this state of mind. We sought the tach an undue regard to the success success of the instrument that has itself, or to ascribe it to a cause in laboured among us, (will then be their ferior to that, the interference of which feeling) and we have long enjoyed that we have been so ardently seeking. success; and if he who putteth down We are relieved altogether from the kings and setteth up kings, and who man, when we come to seek his success putteth down ministers and setteth up from God, except so far as we may ministers, having, in his all-wise arconnect his instrumentality with the rangements, raised a cloud in the blessing for which we have been midst of our hitherto unclouded sky, praying.
our prayers are recorded above, our But, further, prayer for ministers memorial is with the God that presides will not only be found to connect de-overwhat appears to us to be a brooding votion with public instruction, will storm : and now that failure has taken not only be found to associate minis- | the place of triumph, we shall betake terial success with its true and proper us to our wonted refuge; our energies cause ; but it will be found also to shall grow in prayer, as our prospects create a right state of mind in connexion blacken in the vista which seems to with ministerial failure. In all the lower before us; until that same God, ages of the church, my friends, there who had before opened heaven's winhave been, as was the case in the days dow, and sent us a blessing which we of John the Baptist, when contrasted could not contain, shall again lift with the Redeemer, there have been the light of his countenance; and until the instruments for diffusing God's those who are walking in darkness
and have no light, again behold the be followed by an abundant harvest. sun of righteousness arise with heal. We wish to see the character of pering in his wings. The spirit of prayer, sonal and congregational devotion thus thus created on behalf of ministers, standing forth, embodied in the conwill be found to associate itself with stant feeling and habitual exercise of your most forbidding circumstances; the community; and then we can stand and your direst moments of any rising on this element, without a bulwark, doubt will be found to be subdued, without a defence, for over all the while devotion gives strength to its glory a defence will be created by God wings, and soars higher in its flight, and himself. leaves the fervour of the footstool to But, in the last place, let me now burn like a seraph in prayer before direct your attention to a few remarks God.
on THE INFLUENCE OF A PRAYING My friends, we consider this holy PEOPLE ON THE STATE OF THE CHURCH, exercise to be of the very highest im- | AND THE WORLD. portance in connection with any reli In the first place, a praying people gious belief; and most readily would must exercise an important influence we set it down to the want of a praying on the state of the church, and the disposition on the part of a church and world, because its exercise must increase congregation, if we find its candle- and maintain their love to God. When stick about to be removed, or if we find there is any object which commands its light glittering, without giving any our admiration, and which possesses distinct and perceptive radiancy of the qualities fitted to secure our affection glorious gospel of an ever-blessed God. and esteem, the more we dwell on its We do not think that mere circum-excellence, the more distinctly it is restances should be regarded as the great collected by us, the stronger the im. anchor of success, or as a strong hold pression it produces on our minds; in the day of disappointment. We and the more habitually it is presented wish to see an element formed, an to our feelings, the more are we atelement in which the church may have tached to the object itself.. Now, its being, and in which it may move when we apply this to God, and the and live-an element which will cha- exercise of prayer must be regarded as racterize its every day doings-an ele- a constant application to him,) it is ment that will come down on its ordi- the meditation of the soul directed to nary feelings, and ordinary operations, God in expectation and desire, it is the and that will cast them all in the meditation of the soul carried by the mould of prayer; and when we find wings of hope into the presence of these elements distinctly marked, and that God who is the object of its constrongly operative, we have no hesita- fidence; and while we regard prayer tion then in saying, that while God is | in this point of light, and connect the a God whose ear is 'ever open to the exercise always with the recollection righteous, and whose eye is ever watch that God is immediately present, and ful of their circumstances—we have no with devout contemplation of the illushesitation in saying, that while this is trious character we are addressing, we the standing characteristic of the great must grow in our attachment to him. Jehovah, that prayer shall not be in Were we thus to dwell on the excel. vain, and that element must tell to the lency of any creature in this our fallen diffusion of the truth as it is in Christ, world, we should discover defects in among all the members of his church; the midst of the worth which we at we wish to see such an element- first , descried; and perhaps connot like some passing cloud which stant fellowship with that creature an electric shock may throw into a would cool down, instead of increasing blaze, and which, perhaps, in a few our regard, and would shake instead moments, may dissolve itself into 'an of confirming our belief. When we almost useless, if not an injurious come to God, however, we have a sun shower—but we wish to see a cloud on whose disk there is no spot, we rise like the cloud of the prophet, as have a heaven which has no cloud, the hand of a man, and we wish to see a moral excellence that has no defect, its steady growth till it covers the beauty in his attributes that shine with whole face of the heavens, which must no dubious or equivocal lustre. The more intimately we are acquainted and increase as the increase of God. with him the more are we disposed, God himself in every reply, that he can not only to admire, but to love and give to such supplication, is only makadore. When we are, therefore, en-ing ampler room for the exercise of gaged in presenting prayer before God these holy feelings of brotherly kindon behalf of his ministers, connecting ness and charity. their success with the diffusion of his But further, prayer for Ministers, truth, we are cultivating that holy in connection with the diffusion of the feeling which is described by the Apos truth, will be found not only to create tle himself as “the constraining love love for God, and for the souls of men, of Christ,” and which bore him in his but will be found also to create holy ministrations until he felt that he was zeal; an element absolutely essential always led to triumph in his name. to successful effort in the field in which Now, wherever prayer is thus con divine truth is to be diffused, and no nected with the ministration of the distinct or separate faculty of the word of truth, that the gospel may mind, if it be considered as a flame have free course and be glorified, this that pervades all our powers, if it be feeling of love to God must necessarily considered as an energy that diffuses be increased; and hence a sure basis is itself through all the affections, and laid for acting both on the church, and through all the intellectual faculties of the world, for the edification of the one, the mind, if it be regarded as an imand for the conversion of the other. petus that propels all the powers that
But there is not only, my friends, we enjoy, and that leads them onward a love to God created by the habit of in the work that is the object of our prayer for ministers in connection with affections and desires. Let us apply the diffusion of the gospel of Christ, this zeal to the things of God. Prayer there is also a love created to the souls to God creates love to him, and creates of men. It was the obvious design of love to the souls of men ; for the obheaven that when man was first formed ject of that prayer is the diffusion of he should be a creature of society. truth through the ministry of the word; All the faculties and functions of his and these elements are so akin to the mind prove this all his wants prove elements of zeal, that they cannot exthis-everything connected with his ist without it. Love becomes concircumstances in the world continue to straining because zeal constrains. Phiestablish this to demonstration; and lanthropy becomes power because zeal as it was necessary that man should gives its energy. Our love to God, be associated with man, and as he has and our love to man, must be a feeble faculties by which feeling may be emotion which can exist only for a blended with feeling, and sympathy moment, or which to endure must exmay kindle sympathy, the more we ist in useless inactivity, were it not are engaged in prayer the more are we influenced by the zeal of the Lord coming up to this original design of which swallows up his people. If we the Creator of man, the more are we regard zeal, therefore, as connected identifying ourselves with his own with offering our prayers for ministecounsel concerning us. And when rial usefulness in the diffusion of the We are thus engaged in prayer for the truth as it is in Christ, we have come diffusion of truth, we are always asso- | to another result of this mental, and ciating, with that diffusion, the interests this devout, and holy exercise in the of the souls that are to be edified, and church's operations, and in the state that are to be saved. We are bring of the world and of the church itself. ing the world in our arms, as it were, But, again, there is not only conto the throne of God; we are bringing nected with the influence of the people the world, and the church, in our af of God, and the state of the church fections to the throne of God; we are and the world, when they are found presenting both with a professed ar- engaged in the habit of prayer, love dour of attachment to their souls, both to God and man, and the exercise which compels us to come and present of holy zeal to give character and that ardour in holy supplications be- spring to that love; but there will be fore the throne of God; and while we found practical activity arising from are doing this, our ardour will grow this habit of devotion. Love, my friends,