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tating upon and enjoying themand in looking forward to higher degrees of attainment in the knowledge and possession of them, that I conclude that I am a Christian. Whilst remembering my past condition, and marking the way by which the Lord has led me, I feel convinced that it is all of grace, that I am what I am.
It is because of the progress of my views and feelings, and the present bias of my soul, that I am led to indulge a “hope which maketh not ashamed.”
PRAYER. "And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”-LUKE xviii. 1.
This application implies a sense of need, of dependence, and of the importance of the blessings sought. It is the expression of faith in God, of desire for his mercy, and hope of success. The great Teacher in the text encourages us to persevere in prayer. He knew the character of his Father, our dangers and wants, and all the encouragement he gives us is worthy of our full and abiding confidence. He was sent by God to teach us our duty, to encourage us to seek his mercy, and to make a way for our access into his mercifúl presence. The parable before us is full of instruction and encouragement on the subject of prayer. The Saviour here teaches us the certain
of importunate prayer.
Now, what is importunate prayer? The importunate are not silenced by the first refusal. This is seen in the case of wrestling Jacob, the woman of Canaan, and the widow referred to in this parable. The beggar in great need comes to your door, and is importunate for relief. The criminal under sentence of death is importunate in his application to his sovereign for deliverance. The child is importunate in seeking some favour from his parent. And so must the suppliant be at the door of Divine mercy. He
PRAYER is the application of the soul to God for any needful favour to be granted to us. The Eternal is a great King, who requires and encourages his subjects to apply to his throne of grace for the rich and precious blessings he has to give. He is a great Giver, and he has vast blessings to bestow upon praying souls. His glorious gospel invites the penitent, the afflicted, and the tempted, to approach his throne, and to present, with filial confidence, their petitions to him. All his subjects are welcome to do this; and if their petitions are presented in the name of his dear Son, they will find in him a kind Father, who delighteth in mercy.
This great King is a bountiful Benefactor, who invites all the guilty, the poor, and the needy, to coine to his inexhaustible stores of grace, where they
must press the suit. He must earnestly desire and seek success. This importunity supposes the importance of the object sought. Sensible persons are not importunate for mere trifles, but for things deemed valuable. The blessings God offers to praying souls are all of immense importance. They must be obtained, or we shall be lost for ever. He offers a free pardon to the penitent, the cleansing influences of his Spirit to the unholy, eternal life to all who receive his Son. He can give strength to the weak, health to the sick, wisdom to the perplexed, comfort to the sorrowful, eternal salvation to the perishing. The blessings of the Gospel are of immense worth, and their attainment involves vast consequences. Importunity in prayer includes frequency of application, earnestness of manner, variety of argument, and resolute perseverance. The importunate widow applied to the unjust judge again, and again, and again, until he attended to her case, and granted her suit. And so it is with the earnest suppliant at the throne of grace. He is resolved on success. He has a pressing sense of need, confidence in the mercy, power, and faithfulness of God, and he is encouraged by the success of others. He feels he must obtain mercy, or be lost for ever. He looks to the scenes of Calvary, the great High Priest within the veil, the instructions of Jesus, and presses his suit in the court of heaven. He feels that this is the day of salvation, and it is now or never. Hence he is earnest in manner, like Daniel, when
he prayed for the captive Jews. Hearken to the expression of his importunity: “O Lord, hear! 0 Lord, forgive! O Lord, hearken and do! defer not, for thine own sake, O my God! for thy city and thy people are called by thy name,” Dan, ix. 19. The importunate suppliant is earnest in his spirit and manner, his prayer is crying to God, and crying prayers prevail, Jas. v. 16. He pleads with God. He pleads the Divine glory, the name of Jesus, the precious promises, the urgency of his case, the success of others. He pleads and prevails, for God has said, “Then ye shall seek me and find me, when ye seek for me with
whole heart.” He resolves to persevere, for he knows that God is pleased with perseverance, and that he often keeps us waiting for a season, to test our faith, sincerity, and humility.
There are hindrances to importunate prayer. There is the unbelief of our hearts : “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth ?" He looks for faith in prayer, but finds much unbelief. Satan is a great enemy to faith in general, and to faith in prayer. He tempts us to doubt its utility. He tempts us to entertain such thoughts as the following: The decrees of God are immutable; the prayers you have offered have met with no answer; what difference is there between your case and the case of those who never pray? Hence he tempts us to give up what he would persuade us is an unprofitable ex
ercise: Why persevere in that which is so profitless ? Some yield to these suggestions, and restrain prayer before God; but the faithful resist, and get the blessing. Success in prayer requires faith, Jas. i. 6. Another hindrance is, want of success. The seed has been sown, but apparently in vain. God has appeared deaf to our cries, and we are tempted to give up in despair, And the cares of life are apt to hinder us. These distract the mind, and expose us to danger. They often unfit the mind for an exercise so spiritual as prayer. The cares of life sometimes become excessive through unwatchfulness. And spiritual declension is another cause of the neglect of the throne of
grace. The soul has lost its relish for communion with God. And has not the spirituality of the Divine essence an influence upon us in this matter? God is unseen with our bodily eyes; hence his reality, greatness, and goodness do not impress us as they ought to do, and this in consequence of our inattention, carnality, and dulness of apprehension.
The words of our Lord imply danger, and our duty to watch against it.
The parable teaches us the success of importunate prayer: “Shall not God avenge his own elect,
cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them ?” The Scriptures show our grounds of hope of success. There is the paternal character of God. The widow was successful with an unjust judge through her importunity, and shall not a child of God be successful with his father in
heaven? His eye sees his child at his throne. He has a heart to feel, and a hand to help. Faith makes use of his paternal relationship, and cries, “ Abba, Father." His promises encourage hope of success. The poor widow had no promise to encourage her application, but we have many, and they are all faithful. And the mediation of Christ encourages hope. The widow had no friend to plead her cause, but we have a merciful and faithful High Priest in the court of heaven, 1 John ii, 1. And then we are encouraged to press our suit by the command of God, his infinite resources, and the numbers who have been successful.
The parable was uttered by the Great Teacher, and is recorded by Luke, to encourage us to pray, and to continue in prayer. Jesus was well qualified to instruct and guide
He had the words of God. Here let us see the true character of God's people. They are a people that cry unto him, as children to a Father. The life of religion is a life of faith. This overcomes all difficulties. The character of God, the mediation of Christ, the work of the Spirit, encourage us to pray. Seek, and ye shall find."
CONTENTMENT. I should marvel that the covetous man can still be poor, when the rich man is still covetous, but that I see a poor man can be content, when the contented man is only rich; the one wanting in his store, whilst the other is stored in his wants. I see, then, we are not rich or poor by what we possess, but by what we desire.-- Arthur Warwick.
PRESSING TOWARD THE MARK. “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
Phil. ii. 14. The most remarkable parts of the conclude the race by regaining the stadium were its entrance, middle, other extremity of the lists from and extremity. The entrance was whence they started. It is, there. marked at first only by a line drawn fore, to the foot-race the apostle on the sand, from side to side of the alludes, when he speaks of the race stadium. To prevent any unfair set before the Christian, which was? advantage being taken by the more a straight course, to be run only vigilant or alert candidates, a cord. once, and not, as in the other, sevewas at length stretched in front of ral times without stopping. the horses or men that were to run, According to some writers, it was and sometimes the space was railed at the goal, and not in the middle in with wood. The opening of this of the course, that the prizes were barrier was the signal for the racers exhibited; and they were placed in to start.
a very conspicuous situation, that The middle of the stadium was the competitors might be animated remarkable only by the circum- by having them always in their stance of having the prizes allotted sight. This accords with the view to the victors set up there. From which the apostle gives of the Christhis custom Chrysostom draws a tian life: “ Brethren, I count not fine comparison :-" As the judges, myself to have apprehended; but in the races and other games, ex- this one thing I do, forgetting those pose in the midst of the stadium, to things which are behind, and reachthe view of the champions, the ing forth unto those things which crowns which they were to receive; are before, I press toward the mark in like manner, the Lord, by the for the prize of the high calling of mouth of his prophets, has placed God in Christ Jesus." L'Enfant the prizes in the midst of the course, thinks the apostle here compares which he designs for those who have our Lord to those who stood at the the courage to contend for them."
elevated place at the end of the At the extremity of the stadium course, calling the racers by their was a goal, where foot-races ended; names, and encouraging them by but in those of chariots and horses, holding out the crown, to exert they were to run several times round themselves with vigour. it without stopping, and afterward
The Counsel Chamber.
THE ANTI-TOBACCO REFORM.
(From the American Teacher.) 1. It is a fact that many clergymen 2. It is a fact that ecclesiastical see the evil of using tobacco in a bodies are beginning to denounce new light, and say so; and more the use of this fashionable poison, clergymen have renounced its use as thirty years ago they denounced within seven years than any other intoxicating drinks. branch which the Education Society 3. It is a fact that many doctors, has educated.
lawyers, teachers, deacons, and
11. It is a fact that many ministers of the gospel of Christ demand of sinners, in the name of the Lord, that they leave their sins, and abandon habits deeply based in their moral nature, and threaten them with the wrath of God if they do not do this, and yet have not the strength and grace to quit this pernicious habit.
others—a great company in all"have dropped the habit in all its forms, and are right glad they have done it.
4. It is a fact that storekeepers, :0 some extent, hare relinquished the sale of this pernicious article, regarding it as immoral as to traffic in strong drink.
5. It is a fact that bequests to bepablic institutions now made are
often restricted to students who are pledged against tobacco and kindred evils.
6. It is a fact that books and tracts, in unprecedented quantities, showing the frightful cost and deadly effects of this narcotic, have been spread-spread as far as there has been a dollar to do it with.
7. It is a fact that newspapersreligious and secular-rebuke this nuisance with more frequency than aforetime. They begin to treat it as no joke, but a national miasma
“NO TIME TO READ!” How often is this exclamation heard from the lips of those engaged in business and manual labour! No time to read, no time to think, no time to meditate, no time to study, no time to improve the mind-in fine, no time for self-culture. You all find leisure to do, or indulge in, what you most desire, what you really hunger and thirst for. You experience and will bear testimony to the truth of this. And yet, notwithstanding these facts, you continue to assert, “ I have no time to read;" adding, perchance,“Neither have I any money to invest in papers and books, provided I had time.” Yet that same objector spends money daily for things to pamper the appetite, that serve to enfeeble the body and enervate the mind; things that should therefore be entirely eschewed. Time and money are both wasted also in fashionable extravagance in dress. Not one word is uttered against all necessary attention to dress, for this is important. But, in the words of an apostle, let “women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety ; not with broidered hair, or gold, or
8. It is a fact that many have found this drug a powerful absorbent of religious sensibility, an idol in the place of God; and on giving it up, they have become happier and more active Christians,
9. It is a fact that preaching the truth on this subject has been blessed to many; in some cases producing convictions of sin which have sunk deeper and deeper into the soul, and hopefully resulted in salvation.
AND MORE: 10. It is a fact that many ministers acknowledge that the use of tobacco is a foolish, ungentlemanly, and unbecoming habit, and yet continue