Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

manded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing." The liberality on the part of the people of God required to do the work which God has commanded his Church to do for the world will never reach the desired point till the prayer-meetings become of more importance in the eyes of the whole Church. It is in them that the hearts of the people will be stirred up and their spirits made willing to give to the extent required to send the Gospel to every creature. The various institutions formed for the conversion of the world to God have been reared in answer to the united prayers of God's people ; and the limited success which has been realized inust be attributed to the same cause. That success would have been far greater if the prayer-meetings had been better attended. Nor must ve, in estimating the importance of prayer-meetings, overlook the fact that many ungodly sinners have been converted to God in these means of grace. They have feared, trembled, wept and cried out for mercy, while they have listened to the earnest prayers of men and women of God who have prayed “in the Holy Ghost." Many who have sat unmoyed under the most faithful and heart-searching ministry, have been overcome by the uuited prayers of the people of God in the prayermeeting. Prayer has power with God and man, and prevails. In London, of Canada, scores of souls were converted in the prayer-meetings from the year 1848 to 1851. The preached word convicted numbers “of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment;" but they were not converted, nor gathered into the Church, until the prayer meetings were increased and vigorously worked ; then they “ passed from death unto life," and uvited with the people of God, Prayer-meetings, we may add, would be far more beneficial to the world than they now are, if more prayer was offered in them for the conviction and conversion of the ungodly. Tu a public prayer-meeting, we should especially have public objects in view, namely, the prosperity of the Church, the conversion of sinners, the evangelization of the world.

The number that should attend the prayer meetings is great. The whole Church was found at the prayer-meeting spoken of in Acts. * Many were gathered together praying,” in the house of John, whose surname was Mark. If Christians were alive to their duty, to their interest and to their honour ; if they had a proper seuse of the claims of Jehovah upon their time, their talents, their persons and their services; if they rightly apprehended the importance of prayer-meetings to the Church and to the world, they would never be absent from them on light grounds. They would be really ashamed of saying, “ It is only a prayer-meeting--We need not go.” “Only a prayer-meeting !!” What, then, are you so far advanced in piety that you can do without the prayers of God's people and without the presence and blessing of Jesus? “Only a prayer meeting !" What! is the Church in such a peaceable and prosperous state that prayer.meetings are not needed to secure her peace and prosperity ? " Only a prayer meeting !" What! is the world converted—are all the millions of the earth's population brought to God, saved in Christ, and walking in the comforts of the Holy Ghost, that prayer-meetings are such useless gatherings that you need not attend thein? What do you mean by saying, “It is only a prayer-meeting we need not go ?" Until you become so wise, so holy, so happy, that you can become no wiser, no holier, no happier ; until you have done so much for God that he has no more claims upon your love, gratitude and service; until the Church has filled the whole world and all men are saved—it is at your peril to neg. lect the prayer-meetings. All the members of the Church ought to attend some of the prayer-meetings, and as many as possible, which are held during the week. Where there is only one prayer-meeting during the week, every member ought to be present. But, alas! in many places not one half, and in some places not one third, of the members are ever found at the prayer-meetings. Is it any wonder that so many professors do not prosper in their souls-any wonder that our Churches are in a low state—any wonder that iniquity abounds--any wonder that the promises of God respecting the conversion of the world are unfulfilled ? Can God own us, bless us, and make us a blessing to the Church and the world while this criminal indifference to prayer-meetings prevails so extensively among the professed followers of Jesus? He cannot. Oh that the neglecters of prayer-meetings would lay these matters to heart, repent of their sin, and amend their ways. If all the members of the Church would begin and attend the prayer-meetings regularly, in & right spirit, it would be “life from the dead." The Church would be speedily revived ; and God, even our own God, would at once " arise and have mercy upon Zion.” Sinners ought also to attend the prayermeetings. They need to be prayed with, and prayed for, that they may be saved.. The children of God ought to use all their influence, and all their skill, to induce their unconverted relations, friends and neighbours to attend the prayer-meetings. We shall never see great numbers of sinners converted till this is done. We implore you, then, members of Churches ! to attend the prayer-meetings, and to bring all you can with you. If you do not take a part in praying vocally, yet you ought to be present, and unite, with your fellow disciples, in your hearts in praying to God for those blessings which are so imperiously needed, and which he will give if we agree to ask them. Be there; and never let your earnest Amen be wanting to the prayers that are offered in Jesu's name for those things which are agreeable to the will of God.

The disposition of the mind with which prayer-meetings should be attended is very important. We should ever go to the prayer-meeting with an humble spirit. Pride very ill becomes us when we are going to pray to God, or to attend a meeting where others are to be engaged as suppliants before the throne of grace. We should also remember that we are all on a level in God's sight; therefore we should never think we are slighted if others engage in prayer and we are not invited, or have not the opportunity, to do so. Forget not, when you go to a prayermeeting, that “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” Study thoroughly the parable of the publican and the Pharisee. We should attend these means with a loving spirit. We must put away from us from all malice, uncharitableness and hard feelings, or we cannot be blessed in a prayer-meeting. The Saviour says, “If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. ... For if yo forgive men their trespasses, your

heavenly Father will also forgive you ; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses." Were we to think rightly on these words we should never harbour bitter feelings towards any human being. God will not hear our prayers, either in public or private, if we live in malice and envy with any of our fellows. When we pray to God without forgiving men their trespasses we are actually praying to God not to forgive us. Dreadful conduct! How many are guilty of this sin against their own souls! They will not forgive those that have injured them; therefore, in every prayer they offer, and at every prayer-meeting they attend, they beseech God, in reality, nerer to forgive them their trespasses.

Prayer-meetings should be attended with a devout spirit. When we come to appear before God, our thoughts should be fixed on spiritual and eternal things. We should banish from our minds all worldly thoughts, all trifling thoughts, and especially all profane thoughts. We should make a vigorous effort on the way to the prayer-meeting to compose our minds and to fix our thoughts on the best things, or we are not likely to feel happy when we get there, for we shall not be able to worship God aright. Prayer meetings should be attended with a considerate spirit. “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools; for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven and thou upon earth : therefore let thy words be few." We should never rush to the prayer-meeting like a horse rusheth to the battle. We should think seriously about where we are going, what we are going to do, what we need, what the Church requires, what the world wants; and if we think rightly about these important matters, the prayer-meeting will be both interesting and profitable.

Prayer-meetings should be attended in a believing spirit. We should go to them relying upon the promises of God, expecting the presence of Jesus, expecting the Holy Spirit to help our infirmities in prayer, expecting our prayers to be heard and answered, expecting great good to be done in and through the meeting. We should never go to the meeting with an unbelieving or doubting mind. We had better stay away than go with an unbelieving heart. Such a spirit in us will bring coldness and death into the prayer-meeting, and prevent Christ from doing “mighty worl.” These meetings should be attended with a thankful spirit: thankful that we are not in hell, where prayer is made in vain-thankful that we have a desire to be found where many are gathered together praying--thankful that we have the opportunity and are in a condition to go to the place “ where prayer is wont to be made" --thankful, above all, that the eternal and infinitely blessed God will condescend to meet with us and bless us in the prayer-meetings. Did we always attend these means of grace with a thankful heart they would always be “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord."

Before closing this article, we think it needful to refer to the manner in which prayer-meetings should be conducted. Order should be maintained in a prayer.meeting. “Let everything be done decently and in order," is the inspired injunction. There should be all that decorum, seriousness and solemnity which become a company of persons worshipping the living God; but remember that decorum does not mean

stiffness, seriousness is not formality, solemnity is not death. By order, we understand doing anything properly, as it should be done. The prayer-meeting, we think, should commence with singing two or three verses of a hymn, then a brother or two should pray ; the leader would do well to direct the people what to pray for, and then the people should keep to the object before them. We call it most disorderly conduct when we meet in a prayer-meeting to pray for those public blessings which are needed, those who wander all over the world and pray for anything and everything that comes next. When the leader does not state any object as the matter for prayer, then let each person pray for that, either for the Church or the world, which lies most upon his heart; and when he has done this let him stop and give place to others. Order does not cousist in praying in a certain way, with a peculiar tone of voice, or for just so many minutes. In these respects let all pray as the Spirit gives them utterance; but never should two, or three, or teu, or twenty, as we have heard before now, pray at once. Let one pray, and all the rest say Amen to each petition, confession, or thanksgiving. We are truly sorry to find that in many Churches the truly scriptural practice of all the people saying Amen in an audible voice to the prayers offered has ceased. It ought to be revived, and must be rerived before our worship is of a truly scriptural character.

These meetings should be conducted in a lively, interesting manner. Nothing destroys so much the good of a prayer-meeting as long singing and long praying. To keep a prayer-meeting lively and interesting, only one verse should be sung at a time after the opening hymn, and then two or three should engage in prayer. By praying short, and to the point, the people will not get weary upon their knees. We have often seen the good of a prayer-meeting completely destroyed by singing after every prayer. There is so much singing at some so-called prayer-meetings that we have thought singing-meetings would be by far the most appropriate name. The deep devotional feeling which wrestles with God, and prevails, has often been destroyed in our heart by so much singing. To keep up the interest of a prayer-meeting, it is well occasionally for the leader to drop a word to quicken or sustain devotional feeling. If something serious, short, and to the point is said, much good will be the result.

Earnestness is especially required in a prayer-meeting. It ill becomes us to be indifferent in any act of worship, but indifference in a prayerineeting is monstrous. We should be in earnest in pleading with God. When we think of the worth of souls, the uncertainty of life, the near ness of death, the solemnities of the judgment, the everlasting joys of heaven, the eternal torments of hell, can we be too earnest in a prayermeeting? Ah, no! Let the leader be in earnest, and give to the meeting an earnest character. Do not be afraid of what people whose hearts are as cold as ice may say about your earnest praying. Throw your whole soul into your prayers, and, like the importunate widow, be determined to have what you pray for.

Prayer-meetings should be conducted with especial reference to the conversion of the sinners present. If no unconverted men and women are present, the meeting may assume a joyous character ; but if siuners are present something different is required. More attention should be paid to them. We should forget ourselves, and sing and pray for their

couversion. The prayers should be such as to make them feel that they are in imminent danger of losing their souls --that it is their own fault that they are thus in danger--that it is their duty at once to repent, to believe in Jesus and be saved. We have often been pained in prayermeetings in hearing Christians praying for themselves when they ought to have been praying for the conversion of the sinners present; and still more deeply have we been grieved to hear Christians praying for sinuers in that way that they have received the impression that they are poor unfortunate creatures that cannot help themselves; instead of being inade to feel that they are wilful, uugrateful rebels against God, who deserve perdition more for rejecting salvation by Christ and resisting the Holy Spirit, than for any other sins they ever committed. In conducting prayer-meetings, we should ever so sing and so pray that sinners may be converted as well as believers established. Prayer-meetings should be conducted under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We should ever follow his leadings, and never scruple for a moment to act as he suggests.

Oh for improvement in the prayer-meetings! They must be more numerously attended, and in a better spirit too, before many souls will be converted, before our Churches will be in great prosperity, before God's kingdom will come and his will can be done on earth as in heaven. Come up to the prayer.meetings, all ye professed followers of the Lamb! and soon shall your hearts be gladdened by a revival of religion in the Churches and by the more rapid spread of religion in the world. “God be merciful unto us, and bless us ; and cause his face to shine upon us. Selal. That thy way may be known upon earth, thy savivg health among all nations."

---

THE GREAT POLAR OCEAN.-At the last meeting of the London Geographical Society, Lieut. Osborne, a member of one of the British Arctic expeditions, argued at some length in support of the existence of a great Polar Ocean. He said that in Wel. lington Channel he had observed immense numbers of whales running out from under the ice, a proofthat they bad been to water and come to water, for everyone knew they must bave room to blow. He further said that there were almost constant flights of ducks and geese from the northward, another proof of water in that direc tion, since these birds found their food only in such water. He added that it was his deliberate opinion, from observations made on the spot, that whales passed up Wellington Channel into a northern sea. In reference to the abundance of animal life in the latitude of this supposed Polar Sea, he remarked that while on the southern side of Lancaster Sound he

never saw game enough to keep his dog, Melville Island, one hundred and fifty miles to the northward, abounded in deer and musk oxen. It was thus clear, he continued, that animal life did not depend on latitude, but increased, if anything, after passing the seventieth degree. Moreover, while in Baffin's Bay, the tide made for the southward, coming from the Atlantic; in Barrow's Straits, it made for the northward, which could only be explained on the hypothesis of a sea in that direction. All this seems to us proof on proof of a great Polar Ocean.

TEMPERANCE WILL BEAR REFLEC TION.- What is a man the worse for the last year's plain diet, or what now the better for the last great feast! What's a voluptuous dinner, and the frothy vanity of discourse that commonly attends these pompous entertainments? What is it but a mortification to a man of sense and virtue to spend his time among such people?

« ZurückWeiter »