« AnteriorContinuar »
her son Samuel (meaning asked of God) told all Israel, and tells the Church in every age, that God hears and answers prayer! How openly were Jacob's secret prayers answered, when Esau publicly received him so graciously! Our heavenly Father will also before men and angels hereafter reward thy secret devotion. Now it is unknown to man, but it will all be known, and known by the greatness of its reward. Every tear of godly sorrow, shed in secret, will then be a brilliant gem in the crown of glory surrounding the brow of the Christian. The Christian's reward comes from a Father of infinite power, riches, wisdom and love; and therefore cannot be a small reward, or an unsatisfying portion.
May every reader, then, be encouraged to begin, or more constantly to practise, and persevere in, this sacred duty. However dull our spirits, however wearied our body, however wandering our minds, let us never wholly omit this duty, never put it off with a vain excuse to another season. To do so is Satan's temptation. It is better to attempt to pray in the best way you can, than not to pray at all. And you will sometimes fird, the Lord will come in with the supply of his Spirit, enliven your soul, fix your mind, and draw and raise your heart to himself.
One of Melancthon's correspondents gives this account of Luther's private devotions, in one of the most trying and critical times in the course of the Reformation. “I cannot enough describe the cheerfulness, constancy, faith, and hope of this man in these trying and vexatious times. He constantly feeds these good affections by a very diligent study of the word of God. Then, not a day passes in which he does not employ in prayer, three at least, of his very best hours. Once I happened to hear him at prayer. Gracious Lord! what spirit, and what faith there is in his expressions. He petitions God with as much reverence as if he was actually in the divine presence, and yet with as firm a hope and confidence as he would address a father or a friend. “I know,” said he, “thou art our Father and our God, therefore I am sure that thou wilt bring to nought the persecutors of thy children. For shouldest thou fail to do this, thine own cause, being connected with ours, would be endangered. It is entirely thine own concern: we, by thy providence, have been compelled to take a part. Thou, therefore, wilt be our defence.” While I was listening to Luther praying in this manner at a distance, my soul seemed on fire within me, to hear the man address God so like a friend, and yet with so much gravity and reverence; and also to hear him in the course of his prayer, insisting on the promises contained in the Psalms, as if he were sure his petitions would be granted.” (See Milner's History of the Church of Christ, vol. 5.) No wonder that Luther was such a blessing to the world. All men of great usefulness to the church have much abounded in prayer.
But why speak we of others : let us notice only the extraordinary spirit of devotion which adorned our
This part of his character has been well described : “ When twelve
years age, engaged in the Temple with the Doctors, in his Father's business. When he entered on his public ministry, he committed himself in solemn prayer to God. Before he chose his twelve Apostles, as well as at his transfiguration, he spent a considerable time in devotion. During his ministry, he resorted to the synagogue on the Sabbath. He devoutly referred every act of his life and ministry, his mission, his doctrine, his miracles, his suf
ferings, his resurrection to the will and appointment of This Father. He encouraged a spirit of prayer in his disciples, by commanding them to pray, and by supplying them with a model of prayer. He sanctioned these encouragements to prayer by his own example; by going out into a desert to pray; by rising up early, and by continuing all night in prayer to God; by pouring out earnest and frequent addresses to his heavenly Father, as new exigencies arose; by his solemn intercessory supplication previous to his last sufferings ; by his strong crying and tears during his agony; and by commending his soul to his Father as he expired on the
If the Saviour of the world thus prayed, and was heard, and carried through his stupendous work, can we have a stronger motive to abound in prayer
See Wilson's Sermope,
ON PUBLIC WORSHIP,
MANY are the advantages, and great is the necessity, of private prayer; but it will not be difficult to shew, that public worship is also a duty of plain and vast im. portance.
We will consider, first, the duty and advantage of public worship; and then the mode of duly performing the duty.
THE ASSEMBLING OURSELVES TOGETHER IS RE-. QUIRED IN THE SCRIPTURES OF ALL Christians—The Apostle exhorts us to it as a great means of strengthening our love to God and man: “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is.” Heb. x, 24, 25. The invitation runs, “O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. Ps. xcv, 6. Come into his courts, O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” Ps. xcvi, 8,9. The direction is Praying always, with all prayer. Eph. vi, 18. It is plainly pointed out as a means to avert God's judgments ; “ Call a solemn assembly, gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people.” Joel ii, 15-17. These things, and the practice of all holy persons, from the time when men began to call on the name of the Lord, (Gen. iv, 26.) with the
SION OF HOMAGE TO OUR CREATOR,
example of our Lord and his disciples, give us sufficient scriptural authority for the practice of public worship. Nor should we forget the appointment of a particular day for the solemn worship of God, and of a particular place for the Jewish nation, the various regulations, and directions respecting their public worship; all which things shew that it is a divine ordinance, pleasing and acceptable to God. Public worship is A SUITABLE AND PROPER EXPRES
In him we live, and move, and have our being ; and it is just and right that we should publicly and unitedly give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name. We all depend on him, and it is right that we should join in acknowledging this, and in praying to him. We have in common sinned against him, and right it is that we should in common confess our sins before him. We need the same supplies, we have received the same mercies, and may therefore unite in the same prayers and praises. Reasonable and immortal creatures are engaged in an object worthy of their nature and character, when they unite together to exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool. Ps. xcix, 6. The angels and spirits of just men made perfect, unite in surrounding the throne of glory with hymns and praises. We are to do his will on earth as it is done in heaven. If we, then, expect to join the society above, we should obtain a meetness on earth for their blissful employment.
It is also A PUBLIC TESTIMONY AND PROFESSION OF OUR RELIGION.- We hereby shew “whose we are, and whom we serve.” The religion of a nation is known by its worship. “All people walk every one in the name of his God, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever. Micah iv, 5. If heathen nations assemble