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hem."

(Matt. xxii. 37–39). Now, if any of you have done all this, I will thank you to tell me when I come out of the pulpit this evening. God often commands His creatures to do that which they cannot do. It is to

prove their weakness and to show them their need of Him who has all power in heaven and in earth. O God bestow upon us Thy gracious Spirit that we may know that without Thee we can do nothing.” I shall now speak to you about the first turning to the Lord.

We must have a Scriptural account of this. Look at the 11th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, and read the 19th and following verses. “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians (or Gentiles) preaching the Lord Jesus.” “And the hand he Lord was with

What was this hand ? Why it was the Holy Ghost accompanying the Gospel which was preached. And a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord,” as the consequence. The disciples preached, the Holy Ghost accompanied the preaching of the Gospel, and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” You see how the thing was brought about. This is the

way the Lord works in turning men to Himself, and to the knowledge of the truth. “ Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem : and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch, who, when he came and had seen the grace of God : he did not see that these men were their own sa viours, but he did see that the Gospel which had been preached had also been accompanied by the power of the Holy Ghost, and that men's hearts had been broken, and that they had been brought to believe and to turn unto the Lord as their only hope of salvation. And when he had seen the grace of God “working thus in them he was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.” Barnabas was not mistaken for “he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith : and much people was added unto the Lord.” 6 Added unto the Lord. Well, the Lord added them unto Himself. I feel that He always fixes the eyes of the needy sinner upon Himself. He breaks his heart, and makes him willing in the day of His power, and then turns him unto Himself. “Mine eyes are unto Thee O Lord God." Now in my text the persons who used the prayer “ turn us again,” understood well what is meant by being first turned to the Lord. They knew what it was to have the Lord on their side, and to be under His fostering care and protection in the hour of their difficulties, trials, and sufferings. “Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts." They cannot turn themselves, they have no power to do so.

But they cry, “Do Thou turn us again, O Lord God of hosts.”

I like this prayer. Let us read a passage or two bearing upon this point from the 31st chapter of the Book of Jeremiah. “ Is Ephraim my dear son ? is he a pleasant child ? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still : therefore my bowels are troubled for him ; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.” What was the mercy that was manifested towards Ephraim ? Read some of the verses which go

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garden of Paradise down to the present time, I have invariably found one thing, and it is this, that man is always inclined to turn away from his God. Look at the 3rd chapter of Genesis and the 8th verse.

We read there that when our first parents transgressed the commandment which God had given them, that they went and “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.” What did they do this for ? Had they been doing something of which they were ashamed? Had they been doing that which God had commanded them not to do? They had—and hence they were glad to get out of the sight of God, and to hide themselves amongst the trees of the garden. You know what followed. They were driven out of the garden. And now as to those who lived after them. Did they improve and become better in their natural state ? We read in the 6th chapter of the Book of Genesis that God looked down

upon

them. 6 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil, and that continually " (verse 5). Some of us may think that we are not so bad as they were. This betrays ignorance. However, the Holy Ghost can teach us that naturally we are altogether evil and that continually. In all time it has been the same with respect to fallen man. Some of you heard these words read to-night out of the 53rd Psalm. 6 The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any that would understand, and seek after God.” To see if there were any that were turning unto the Lord. “ But,” the Psalmist says, “they are all gone out of the way, they are altogether become abominable, there is none that doeth good, no not one." Man never naturally turns to the Lord. He has turned from the Lord, and further still will he continue to do so, if it be possible. God looked to see if He could find “any that would understand, and seek after God.” Did He find any? Not one!

They are altogether become abominable, there is none that doeth good,
no not one.” Man was no better in the Apostle's time.
the very words of the Psalmist in the 3rd of Romans, showing that man
is altogether, and without exception, vile and corrupt. He then gives
us another Scripture to confirm his view as to the corrupt nature of
He then arrives at this conclusion that

every
mouth

may

be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” After this picture of fallen humanity.what is the use of calling upon man to repent and to turn to the Lord ? Has not the Lord said, “Repent and turn from all your transgressions, so iniquity shall not be your ruin ?" And again, “ Make you a new heart and a new spirit : for why will ye die, O house of Israel ?”. “ Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die ?” Now, did they turn? Did they repent? Did they make for themselves a new heart ? Did they create in themselves a new spirit ? Did any one of them ever do any such thing ? No! No!! But Jehovah uses this language when He is appealing to His fallen creatures who are, and always have been utterly helpless to help themselves. well that I shall be told by some that God never commands a person to do a thing which he cannot. But He has commanded us all to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind, and with all our strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves

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man.

I know very

(Matt. xxii. 37–39). Now, if any of you have done all this, I will thank

you to tell me when I come out of the pulpit this evening. God often commands His creatures to do that which they cannot do. It is to prove their weakness and to show them their need of Him who has all power

in heaven and in earth. O God bestow upon us Thy gracious Spirit that we may know “ that without Thee we can do nothing.”

I shall now speak to you about the first turning to the Lord. We must have a Scriptural account of this. Look at the 11th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, and read the 19th and following verses. “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians (or Gentiles) preaching the Lord Jesus.” “And the hand of the Lord was with them.” What was this hand ? Why it was the Holy Ghost accompanying the Gospel which was preached. “ And a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord,” as the consequence. The disciples preached, the Holy Ghost accompanied the preaching of the Gospel, and “a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord." You see how the thing was brought about. This is the

way the Lord works in turning men to Himself, and to the kuowledge of the truth. “ Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem : and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch, who, when he came and had seen the grace of God: he did not see that these men were their own sa viours, but he did see that the Gospel which had been preached had also been accompanied by the power of the Holy Ghost, and that men's hearts had been broken, and that they had been brought to believe and to turn unto the Lord as their only hope of salvation. And when he had seen the grace of God “working thus in them he was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.” Barnabas was not mistaken for “he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith : and much people was added unto the Lord.” “ Added unto the Lord.” Well, the Lord added them unto Himself. I feel that He always fixes the eyes of the needy sinner upon Himself. He breaks his heart, and makes him willing in the day of His power, and then turns him unto Himself. “ Mine eyes are unto Thee O Lord God.” Now in my text the persons who used the prayer “turn us again,” understood well what is meant by being first turned to the Lord. They knew what it was to have the Lord on their side, and to be under His fostering care and protection in the hour of their difficulties, trials, and sufferings. “Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts.” They cannot turn themselves, they have no power to do so.

But they cry, “Do Thou turn us again, O Lord God of hosts.” I like this prayer. Let us read a passage or two bearing upon this point from the 31st chapter of the Book of Jeremiah. “ Is Ephraim my dear son ? is he a pleasant child ? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still : therefore my bowels are troubled for him ; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.” What was the mercy that was manifested towards Ephraim ? Read some of the verses which go before. “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus ; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke : turn Thou me, and I shall be turned ; for Thou art the Lord my God.” Ephraim wanted the Lord to do the thing for him, and then he was sure it would be effectually done. He knew that no one else could do the work of the Lord of hosts. “ Turn Thou me, and I shall be turned ; for Thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned,”-after that I was brought to my God—“I repented."

A man does not repent before, but after he is turned to the Lord his God. “ And after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh : I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.” In keeping with Jeremiah you may read a portion of the 14th chapter of the Book of Hosea. Israel is directed how to go before the Lord. “O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord; say unto Him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously ; so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses ; neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, ye are our gods ; for in Thee the fatherless findeth mercy.” Then the Lord's voice is heard in the words of love and mercy. "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely : for Mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel : and because of all this Israel shall be happy, blessed, and prosperous.'

6 Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts."

I shall take up a few other petitions in this same Psalm in connection with this prayer in the text. Look at the 1st verse

What a grand thing it is to get the ear of the Lord ! The Psalmist knew this, and he tells us that he got the ear of the Lord. He cried unto the Lord, and the Lord heard him. You read in that 50th Psalm—“Call upon Me in the day of trouble : I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me" (verse 15). This was the promise, and he believed the promise. In the 39th Psalm you have bitter cries and tears going up to the Lord. “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not Thy peace at my tears; for I am a stranger with Thee, and a sojourner as all my fathers were" (verse 12). This is just the poor pilgrim's cry. He feels that he is not at home, but that he is absent from it for a short time, while passing through this “vale of tears." He cries in his needs unto the Lord his God, and an answer is given at the right time. David said, "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me and heard my cry.” God heard and answered his

prayer. “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise”—and thanksgiving

-“unto our God : many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.” God's children have often to cry out of the depths, but what does it matter, the Lord hears them and delivers them out of all their troubles. He hears their cries and helps them.

In the middle of the 2nd verse there is another petition of the Psalmist- .Stir up Thy strength, and come and save us. It is as if he had said—“Lord be not indifferent towards us, but manifest Thy power,

“ Give ear.

166 Give ear.

answers.

and reveal Thy presence ; come, Lord, with all Thy quickening power into our midst, deliver us, and save us for Thy name's sake.' Thus Israel cried of old, and thus Israel has to cry frequently now, but when the deliverances come, we feel that we would not have been without the trial of darkness, because of the blessing of light which follows. We learn that “our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.” Another petition of the Psalmist's is this, "Return, we beseech Thee, O God of hosts. It is clear from these words that the Psalmist knew the Lord, and had before felt His presence.

Now there was the hiding of His countenance. David had an experience of this sort, as we learn from his words. “ And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. Lord, by Thy favour Thou hast made my mountain to stand strong." Here is the enjoyment of God's presence and favour. But what does he say in the words which follow ? “ Thou didst hide Thy face and I was troubled” (Psalm xxx. 6, 7). Here then is an experience which agrees with that of Asaph, and with the children of God generally.

Return, we beseech Thee, O God of hosts !” Examine portions of the 77th Psalm. We have a petition in our Services—“We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.” When the Holy Ghost moves a man to utter these words, they are real prayer. Prayer does not consist of so many words dropped from the lips, but it is the expression of the heaven-born desires of the heart. When prayer is right, the Spirit of God is moving and working within. All real prayer God hears and

Believers know that although God is the Holy One dwelling in the high and lofty place, yet He dwells also in “contrite and humble spirits, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones (Isa. lvii. 15). “Return, we beseech Thee, () God of hosts : look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine." Visit it, we beseech Thee. Thou didst visit Noah, and saved him and his family from perishing by water. Thou didst visit Abram and saved him out of the land of the Chaldeans. Thou didst visit Lot and saved him. Think Lord of Thy visits to Jacob and Joseph, and to Thy people Israel when in Egypt, and how Thou didst deliver them. “Look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine,” thy people ; the vineyard which Thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that Thou madest strong for Thyself.” They are Thy people. Lord, Thou hast loved them, cast them not away from Thy presence for they are Thine. Visit them with Thy salvation. They are being consumed with fire like refuse, they are cut down. “ When Thou hidest Thy face they perish at the rebuke of Thy countenance, O Lord.” Lord in mercy look down from heaven upon Thy afflicted Israel, and behold them with an eye of pity, and visit them with Thy great salvation, and then will they offer unto Thee the fruit of their lips and the thanksgivings of their hearts which are always acceptable unto Thee through Jesus Christ our Lord.

There is a very remarkable petition in the 17th verse. Hand be upon the Man of Thy right Hand, upon the Son of Man Whom Thou madest strong for Thyself." I scarcely think that these words refer to Israel, but to Israel's Saviour, the God-man, Mediator, Jesus Christ. Let Thy hand of divine justice be upon Him and not upon us.

66 And

6 Let Thy

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