Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

constant ardour of his soul, in praying for the coming of Christ's kingdom.

A BLESSING HAS EVER ATTENDED THIS MODE OF SEEKING THE WELFARE OF THE CHURCH. "The cry of Israel in Egypt came up unto God by reason of their bondage; and God heard their groanings" and he sent them a Deliverer. Daniel's prayer, (ch. ix.) was attended with an immediate answer. Who would have supposed that in the state in which Judea and the world were, when our Lord was crucified, that in so short a time such preachers should be raised up from the selfrighteous or worldly Jews, or the benighted Gentiles, as should carry the gospel into all the known nations of the earth, and almost convert the world. They prayed, and great was found to be the efficacy of prayer. In fact, every period of the revival of religion has been distinguished by the previous spirit of prayer. All the great Societies that have been raised in present times, and that fill and adorn our country, have been raised in prayer; and the way to obtain for them that full benefit to mankind of which, under the blessing of God, they seem capable, is, for those who support them to give them also their continual prayers. St. Paul urges a striking reason why Christians should thus pray: (2 Cor. i, 11.) "Ye also helping together by praying for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf:"-that thus, as he expresses it elsewhere," the abundant grace might, through the thanksgiving of many, redound to the glory of God." 2 Cor. iv, 15.

The importance of this will be more seen, when it is remembered, that THE ENLARGEMENT AND BUILDING UP

OF THE SPIRITUAL CHURCH IS ENTIRELY THE WORK OF

GOD. Who can accomplish all the promises on this

subject? Who can influence the minds of Christians in general to promote their fulfilment? Who can raise up, and prepare, and duly qualify the labourers? Who can open their way before them, and prosper their undertakings? Who can give the Heathen eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to feel? And when the seed is sown in their hearts, who must give the increase? In short, through whose power and mercy must all flesh see the salvation of God? We need not answer the questions. It must be evident how greatly, in any design to promote the kingdom of Christ, the fervent, general, continual, united, and persevering prayers of all the Church of God are needed in every step of our way. The effect to be produced manifests the necessity of a divine power. It is not a mere instruction in a particular system; it is not a mere change of sentiment; but an entire change of heart and life: the fulfilling of that promise, "I will create in you a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within you." Like the work of creation, it requires the hand of God. As it is only His power that makes the seed sown in the earth to shoot and spring up so here, "neither is he that planteth any thing, neither is he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." And the fervency and ardour of prayer is here specially called for. Is it not a proof that the prayer, thy kingdom come, has been coldly uttered, when we look abroad and see the present state of the kingdom of Christ? May we not well suppose that it would have been very different had every Christian that used the prayer, fervently offered up therewith the desire of his heart unto God?

It pleases the Almighty generally to work through prayer, as it is PRAYER that GIVES GOD, who is jealous

of his honour, ALL THE GLORY. When blessings come in answer to prayer, the praise is more generally ascribed to him, to whom alone all praise belongs. The time is hastening on, when one vast song shall fill the earth "from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth;" when shall be heard, "as it were the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Allelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth; let us be glad, and rejoice and give honour to him." And, doubtless, when, through the prayers of many, this happy period arrives, the burden of the song will be, "Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous works; and blessed be his glorious name for ever; and let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen, and Amen.”

May the reader lay these things to heart, and remember how small a sacrifice the thing desired calls for.— You are not here asked to give your silver and gold, or your life, though these all belong to your Saviour; but the duty now pointed out is simply that of remembering a perishing world in your prayers. And in constantly, and faithfully discharging it, you are obeying the two great commands of love to God and love to man. Never, then, think a prayer to be at all complete, which does not include the Heathen World. Never be satisfied with a prayer, either in your closet, in your family, in your walks, with your relatives and friends, or in the house of God, in which you have not asked of God something relating to his way being known on earth, his saving health among all nations. Pray for all the Societies engaged in this work, either at home or abroad; for all the Missionaries sent forth among the Heathen; and all preparing to go; and for all who conduct, or support Missionary efforts. As a real Christian, you will be an immense gainer by the enlargement

of the kingdom of Christ, and the increase of the communion of saints.

And as this is the duty of individuals, so there seems a special efficacy in UNITED PRAYER. Much that has been said on social, family, and public worship, applies here. Let Christian Assemblies, in every part of our land, come frequently together, to pray for the coming of Christ's kingdom; and it would be one of the happiest signs of its approach.

Let love to your Saviour, benevolence towards man, your own interest in this promised and happy era, the remarkable signs of the times, and your plain and positive duty, all combine, and influence and excite you really and often to pray, thy kingdom come.

CHAP. XI.

ON DISTRACTIONS IN PRAYER.*

WHEN the sun is above the horizon, all the stars, which appear so plainly, and in such number, during the night, are no longer visible; and though they are really still in the heavens, they are lost in the blaze of the sun's brightness. This may illustrate a difference often observable between the Christian striving to serve God in all things, and a worldly man who is living in

* See Steele's " Antidote against distractions in prayer," from whom the Author has borrowed several ideas.

habitual sin.

The Christian condemns himself for unnumbered faults. He sees defects more numerous than the stars of heaven, in every part of his conduct. Even his prayers appear full of sins; he discovers in them innumerable wanderings of heart, and perpetual distractions; for there is no great sin in his life, in the blaze of which, all these daily infirmities are lost, as the stars are lost in the more dazzling light of the sun. But the man of the world, whose heart is unchanged and unrenewed, thinks that he performs a meritorious service in the outward worship of God, and is not troubled, though he never feel one holy inclination. Did he but watch his heart, and know its true state, he would have to say, "I was almost in all evil, in the midst of the congregation and assembly." Prov. v, 14.

There are, indeed, many defects in our prayers ; there is often great coldness in our desires, much unbelief in God's promises, improper ends in our petitions; but one principal sin in all our devotion is, the wandering of the heart.

It being of main importance to the right performance of prayer, to attend upon the Lord without distraction, a fuller consideration of this subject may be useful.— Distractions will not, indeed, be entirely cured in this life but as a man who knows not how to swim, may gradually learn that art, so as to keep himself by degrees longer and longer above water; so here, improvements may be continually made. It is possible to be more and more freed from distractions, and more and more to rise above these troublous waves.

Observe THE NATURE OF DISTRACTION. It is the wandering of the heart from God. Some indeed manifest this in public worship by the wandering of the eye, the irreverence of their outward behaviour, unnecessary

« FöregåendeFortsätt »