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painful necessity, we may call on God for aid, but still conforming to the words of Jesus, "" Not my will, but Thine be done." Our Lord, who thus prayed, provides a way by which, through him, we have, in filial docility, access to the Fatherof Spirits. Conscience has no task to perform more delicate and solemn than that in which it judges of our conformity in wish and supplication to the promises which define and declare his will. Great and precious as they appear upon the sacred page, these promises are bonds given in faithfulness, to be presented by us in prayer, and then performed by him in granting blessings which shall fill, felicitate, and exalt the whole course and operation of our spiritual life on earth. Such prayer changes the supplicant while it transforms his destiny. Before these sacred edicts of Christ's love, a thoughtful study will bring to light, in ourselves, in the churches, and in the world where the churches labour, definite forms of spiritual necessity, to which the promises apply with wonderful exactness, turning the prayer of filial docility into a prayer of faith. Greater love for brethren in the Lord deeper reverence for Divine truth-a more fervent zeal for God in Christ-a more living sympathy with him in his gracious design-a greater exaltation of the Saviour in this guilty world--a more perfect subordination of worldly objects to the glory of his reign-a sweeter hope of its joy, and a more tender compassion for sinners who, by living in unbelief, are in danger of losing its felicity-are objects which believers in Jesus are taught to expect when, raised from worldly indifference, they seek them in the earnestness of a peaceful faith. These promises of our loving Father justify in our prayers bolder petitions and sweeter hopes of spiritual good, than man, with his imagination, most inflamed, is able for himself to dictate or to devise. · Such facts reveal to men their feebleness in prayer. They know not what to pray for as they ought, because they do not know themselves, the world, the Church, nor the purposes of Divine love. Compassionating this our weakness, God has granted to his Church the Comforter, who maketh intercession for the saints with groanings which cannot be uttered. Since the call for special prayer came from Loodiana last year, some have continued day by day in supplication to God. A volume might be written full of interest, describing the discoveries. which have opened to these supplicants, the blessings they have gained, the trials they have experienced, and the discipline which has forced them to trust in God alone. Hoping against hope, they have laboured to hope only in con. formity with his will through the power of the Holy Ghost. Could men see the conflict of a year spent in special supplication, as it is seen from the vicinity of the throne of God, a spectacle full of moral grandeur would be opened to the soul. While spirits of men, ready almost to faint, have again and again returned to the endearing struggle, encountering new discouragement and crying still to God, he would be seen, with more compassion than we can think, bending to listen with paternal love; while between the supplicants and the eternal throne, the Holy Comforter, in all the glory of his intercession, would reveal a grandeur of moral operation, which is destined to be known only at the mercy seat and in the act of prayer!
“It is only a prayer-meeting!" say our brethren in mistake. True, it is only a meeting where souls plead for life, where the Eternal Spirit prompts their prayer, and where the Lord, the Sacrifice, the Great High Priest, with endless life and everlasting righteousness, at the right hand and on the throne of God, negotiates, as for himself, the success of their supplications. He does not say, It is only a meeting for prayer; but, pointing to their conflict, their discouragement, and · tears, he saith, “I pray for them.” “I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me; they are thinē!”
It is not true that children should be discouraged in their efforts to unite in prayer. “Suffer them to come unto me,” &c., is never more ina perative than in the place where youth begin to pray.
It is not true that persons who have violated the rules of propriety recognised by men are excluded from the place of prayer. It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus, the Christ, came into the world to save sinners--sinners against God—the chief of sinners; and he is able to save unto the uttermost all them that come-unto God-BY HIM!
* GOING TO OUR OWN COMPANY."
BY THE REV. ARTHUR MURSELL.
"And being let go, they went to their own company.”-Åcts iv. 23. ALTHOUGH these words occur only in / of Naples; and that the palm, the plantain, connection with a purely historical narra- , and the cinnamon-tree, will only thrive and tive concerning the liberation of Peter and breathe forth their odours on the hot soil John from prison, they appear, I think, of India or Ceylon, or bend over the spring rather strikingly, to illustrate a certain great which ripples on the oasis in the Libyan and universal law which pervades the na desert. And not only do we find them tural world, and which forms a governing affecting a particular soil and climate, but principle in the economy of things. This also clustering together in the copse and in is the great law of affinity, or association, 1 the forest. They do not grow isolated and by which similar dispositions, tastes, and alone, but congregate together in obedience habits, will be always found seeking to to the great law of affinity. So with the classify and combine together. It is that | flowers. Not to wander from our own kind of natural magnetism by which one dominions, look at the meadows white with property will be attracted towards, and a galaxy of daisies spangling the grass like identified with, a like and kindred element. a little earthly firmament; look at the It is that spontaneous tendency towards a 1 hedgerows where the hawthorn blossom congenial sphere of influences which we see and the dog-rose blend their scents, and universally prevailing in the arrangements | the primrose and the violet embroider and of nature. In short, it is that propension bedeck the bank; climb the stile and leave towards combination and alliance, amongst the glen to pierce the mazes of the wood, identical organisms, which determines the and, smiling from amongst the brushwood convolutions of matter, and directs the and the moss, gleams the delicate anemone, aspirations of mind; which forces the the drooping hare-bell, and the creeping developments of inanimate creation; biases woodbine; go to the spot where the foot and guides the instincts of the inferior of the drowsy mountain is cooled by the animals; and sways the desires and voli- | limpid waters of the lake, and on that tions of mankind.
mountain's top a crimson crown of heather Nature in its wild and undistorted state, rests like some "blushing honour"; and in her own simple garb, uncontaminated | at its base, around the margin of the stream, by the interference or the restraints of art, the sweet arbutus-berry pouts its pretty strongly illustrates this all-prevailing law ) lip to meet the kisses of the sun; and on of affinity. We have only to look cursorily | the bosom of the lake itself, the water-lily round us, to find that certain trees and floats like a fairy shell, with the dew-drops shrubs, and fruits and flowers, are indi of the morning still gemming its petals genous to a certain soil, and favour a 1 and shining in its cup. certain climate; that the gnarled and 1 Neither are these illustrations of this knotty oak will only flourish in a temperate | great law of affinity confined to the vegeclime; that the sombre fir-tree casts its table kingdom. Ask the geologist if it is thickest shadow upon the snowy slopes of not borne out in the mineral world. He Norway, and waves its plumes most gal- will bring his diagrams to show you how tantly before a bleak and northern blast; / the earth's crust is massed together that the trailing vine hangs forth its most different strata, and how the convulsions of Luscious clusters under the mellowing akies | nature, the throes of earthquakes, or the
vibrations of volcanic action, instead of , and the little humming-bird will only poise mingling all the various mineral formations its insect-wings upon the air warmed by together in one confused and heterogeneous | the beams of an oriental sun. If we were mass, have only caused them the more to take a pair of every kind of animals, strikingly to assimilate and cement their | and confine them for a season in some own exclusive properties. Hence we find, prison-house in our own land, like a second stretching for miles away, a long and solid Noah's ark, and then set them free to stratum of flint or granite; hence it is wander at their will, should we not soon see that the excavator has sometimes to hew the tropical animals seeking our southern his way for miles through the solid rock, shores, and pining away because they could and sometimes through the yielding sand; 'not cross the ocean to the lands where hence it is that the gold seekers all flock to their own race were gambolling in the the same spot to lay open the more precious African jungle or the Arabian desert ? ? vein in the mysterious anatomy of mother | should we not see the birds of other climes I earth; and those who seek for other metals each wing their way to where their mates do not go to seek it promiscuously in any were warbling under the mellowing light of spot, but in those regions where it has been eastern skies? should we not, in short, see in found before, and where the universal lavy each and every instance, that instead of of affinity warrants them in expecting it associating promiscuously together, or re. again.
maining away from their native soil, how. And this law is more powerfully exem ever widely they might have been sundered plified still in the animal kingdom. The apart, no sooner do they gain their very lowest forms of animal creation have freedom than they first seek each other out their chosen baunts. The loathsome and amongst the motley group, and then direct in repulsive reptile species are to be found their instinctive efforts to go to their own in infesting the swamp and the morass. It is company" ? only amidst the damp and seething reeds And if this law of affinity is thus in- ! and rushes of the prairie that the serpent's variably illustrated in the habits of inferiore baleful hiss is heard, and from the slime animals, it is borne out with even greater and stagnant scum of the tropical river prominence, and illustrated in subtler that the scaled alligator drags its slow phases, in the natural propensities of manlength along. It is chiefly from the waters kind. We need scarcely pause to point of the northern seas that the great le. out how the love of country endears men: viathan of the deep is taken ; and most of to their native land. Suppose we could its tribes disperse themselves, not in single | bring together a thousand of the inhabit. specimens through the ocean, but according ants of each nation in the world ; suppose to their tribe. The fierce and untamed we not only took them far from their own beasts of the lion, and the leopard, and the | country, but separated them widely from t tiger kind, cause the forests of Africa and each other, what should we see upon their , Arabia to reverberate with their roar; | first restoration to freedom? We should while the bear leaps in ungainly glee | see the unclad Otaheiteian brandish his rude among the icebergs of the arctic and club and raise the jarring war-whoop, and antarctic seas. The feathered tribe, too, hear it echoed by a hundred voices from have homes of their own. The russet-ben, the scattered crowd, until they all had the unpretending sparrow, and the simple found each other, and rallied round & robin, brood in our native land. The common standard. We should see the swallows visit us in flocks, and leave us too yellow-visaged Laplander seeking his own in company, but only with each other. companions ere he set forward to his bleak The lark will not blend his morning carol domain. We should see the tall Circassian, with the midnight serenade of the nightin. the fierce Malay, the swarthy Cyrenian, gale; neither will the linnet lend his aid to the muffled Icelander, the whiskered Panaccompany the song of the thrush, or the dore, and the shaven Chinaman, clustering solitary chirrup of the cuckoo. The stately together, and turning in long procession swan breasts the water of the pool most towards their various climes." And when joyously and proudly when he swims in they were let go, they would go to their company. The flaunting peacock struts dis own company." dainfully away from any other species but Nor is the exemplification of this law his own. The hues of the bird of paradise confined to the mere ties of blood, or will only shine beneath a southern sky; ' national affiliations. It pervades the
various dispositions of the human mind, 1 ually making its malignant onslaughts and the different tendencies of social upon the empire of religion and truth. A and intellectual taste. The society and man may indeed be known by the company pursuits which are agreeable to one | he keeps. There are tendencies in all of mind, are not congenial to another. The us to draw us into the vortex of sin and of associations which gratify this individual pollution ; but thank God there are higher taste, are repugnant and obnoxious tol and holier restraints to keep us back, and that. Place a man of ordinary tastes unite us into a happier and a purer band. amongst a company of scientific men or a It is to weaken and dissever these purer coterie of profound philosophers, and he influences, and to restore to us our natural will be uncomfortable and restless; he will earthward bias, that the powers of darkfeel that he has little or nothing in com ness are working through the agency of this mon with those into whose society he is great law of affinity. Silently and seducthrown. Introduce the abstracted student tively are the chains forged and riveted, of occult or recondite themes into the and noiselessly and gently are the meshes busy, superficial jargon of the mart or the twisted and entwined around us, in which exchange, and he will be bewildered and we are to be led, like the decorated victims disgusted. Hence it is that we feel after of old, to the sacrifice, to be bound in a congenial society, and form our own pecu hopeless slavery to Satan's car, and ofliar or select range of associations. The fered as the hapless subjects of a hellish generous man seeks for a generous friend; immolation. Through what more alluring and the niggard, the cynic, or the recluse, medium could the adversary of souls ap. cast in their lot with one another ; while peal to us than through our social afthe anchorite and misanthrope seeks com fections ? How could he better recommend munion with himself, because he cares for his service to us than by smiling on us no other company than his own.
through the eyes of those we love, But the various cords which bind our or speaking to us with the rallying interests and affections together are of voice of some old playmate fondly different power and attraction. In such cherished? And this is his favourite an imperfect state of society as ours, it is medium of enticement. He knows the impossible to find in any two minds precise terrible power of the spell under which he community of feeling or identity of interest. lays us, and he plies it with all the fiendishi In forming our associations, therefore, we energy of his nature, and all the damned naturally have to seek out those whose malignity of his hate. Let those who are natural aspirations and desires, and whose necessarily associated with companions social tendencies and aims, approach most whose pleasure lies in sneering at religion, nearly to our own. And just as the ties 1 or laughing at the professors of Christ's which unite us vary in the degree of their Gospel, bear it in mind, that when some power, so also do they vary in the nature shopmate or dissolute associate seeks to of that power. That intimacy which is decoy them into some unhallowed dissipaonly based upon the mere associations of pation, or lead them but a little step out of worldly business, although it may be strong the path of conscience or of duty, it is the in a certain sense, is at best but an inferior favourite lure of the great enemy of soulskind of alliance. It contains in it none of Satan is throwing out his choicest and the deeper or subtler elements of union. I most tempting bait-he is practising upon
But the universal law of affinity, whose the tenderest and most yielding element of prevalence and predominance we have thus life, and choosing the most salient point sought to exemplify, manifests itself in at which to attack the ramparts of the soul, ways which ought to put us upon our by mounting the breach upon the most guard against the deceitfulness of sin. We sacred and lovely affections of the heart. not only find men of similar and honour Let those then, especially, who are rising able pursuits attracted towards each other, into life, be careful in the choice of intimate but we see this same element at work friends and companions. Free, and geneamongst the haunts of sin and the recogses rous, and affable to all, let them reserve the and lurking-places of crime. Profligates jewel of their confidence and friendship for will herd with profligates ; and wicked a few; and let that few be chosen well. ness in various forms is arraying itself into | Having first sought to make a friend of a phalanx to which it is every day seducing Christ, let our earthly associates be selected fresh recruits, and in which it is perpet- | from his followers ; and do not cast in your lot entirely with any man, until you have ment to the sin, it will not afford any alletaken knowledge of him, that he hath been | viation to its punishment. For there is with Jesus ; for there is no more certain | one place, and only one, where this law means by which you may determine your will be subverted—there will be no law of own spiritual state, than by asking your. affinity in hell ; but those who have been selves what society you most prefer. Do the closest associates in guilt, those who you, then, when you quit the place of busi have clasped each other's hands most ferness, wherever it may be, and go to your rently over the midnight revel or in the own company-do you seek out the com dark conspiracy-these will be loudest in panionship of the good and of the pure ? or their mutual recriminations, these will be do you resort to that of the dissolute and fiercest in their deadly animosity, these will vile? Are you most at home in the society be the most implacable in their despairing of those who will sometimes fondly dwell hate. The only affinity there can be there, and talk of high and sacred themes ? or do will be the affinity of discordant elements, you turn away from such associations with kindred in nothing but the dark bond of a sneer, and seek your pleasure where the despair, and sympathetic only in a common ribald jest accompanies the circling bowl, abhorrence! and the brutal oath and idiot laugh give a But there are higher and holier ties bestial zest and an infernal leaven to the which are able to band us together in this social orgies ? Have you any pleasure in world, and which the revolutions of eterjoining in the songs and supplications of nity will never be able to dissolve. There the house of God? or are you among that is one tie, at least, which is so superior and disgusting set of spiritual fops with which powerful in itself, that it can unite together our cities teem so thickly, who lounge into the most dissimilar elements. This tie is the sanctuary as they would go into a diran, the Gospel of the grace of God. This tie and seem to think they have performed is the Cross of Christ. This tie is the fact come wondrous stoop of condescension to that Jesus Christ came into the world to save show their stupid faces there at all? Do | sinners. It is powerful enough to overcome you leave the society of the base and the | all minor social or intellectual distinctions, depraved, glad to escape and get to your and give a common aim and object to every own company ? or do you quit the com thought and aspiration. Christianity has panionship of the wise and of the good, to already banded strange social contradics seek your own company elsewhere? Just tions together ; but in this, so far from disask yourselves these questions, my brother solving the great law of affinity, it is only youth; you know what they mean, and giving the noblest possible realisation of it. can supply the answer. Satisfy your own Its tendency (that is, the tendency of Chris. conscience upon the point ; and see to it tianity) is, to make this law centre in Christ, that, when you are going to your own com and turn--as it were, upon a grand sacri. pany, you are not forsaking the company ficial axis--on his Cross. In him all natures of Jesus Christ.
and dispositions unite, and towards him the And think, too, I entreat you, that the eyes of the sage and the ignorant, the rich associations which you form now will pro and the poor, the feeble and the strong, all bably exert an influence, and possibly a turn, as to a grand effulgent focus, where decisive one, over all your after life and the brightness of the Father's glory has your future destiny. It is an exceptional been concentred, and whence it is reflected case to find a man dissolving the associa back again on the waiting spirits of his tions of his early life during his after ca children. Look within the pale of the reer. He would rather forego the remon Christian Church, and see what a confused strances of conscience than give up his medley of dispositions and of natural tastes cherished companionships. A badly chosen have been blended into beautiful harmony circle of friends in youth will often be the | by the power of the Gospel. See how it means of preventing an amendment of the | has given form and shapeliness to the chaos habits of mature life. So that the proba 1 of discordant natures, by bringing each into bility is, that we shall carry with us through | obedience to faith, by baptizing each heart life the tastes and predilections which we | in the blood of sprinkling, and by enrolling form in youth. This law of affinity may | each name in the Lamb's book of life. give us a sort of zest after, and sense of And this law of affinity shall continue to security in, the commission of sin. But develope, until it consummates its triumpl.e al though it may help to impart an enjoy- | in the church above, the church where