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He can say,
all the vacancies, advancing and still advancing, at length replenishes, in regular progress, the whole space. Let the spirit of devotion advance till it fill our whole souls.
Indeed, the truly advanced Christian is known by this mark, as much as by any other. The man after G'id's own heart, is the man of devotion; one who is always in prayer; who says in the morning, “ when I awake I am still with thee;" and in the evening, “ I will both lay me down in peace and take my rest, for thou Lord only makest me to dwell in safety." Ps. xxv. 5. In the midst of his business he is “ fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” Rom. xii. 11.
« On thee do I wait all the day.” Ps. xxv. 5. He,” says Law, “is the devout man, who considers God in every thing, who serves God in every thing, who makes all the parts of his common life parts of piety, by doing every thing in the name of God, 'and under such rules as are conformable to bis glory."
Men of this world, the covetous and the impure, the licentious and the gay, even when outwardly engaged in other things, have their minds full of their particular sins. Let the Christian's heart then be filled with that great work in which he is engaged. As they pollute all their sacred duties by worldly thoughts, so let him consecrate all his common actions, by the constant and heavenly breathings of his soul unto God.
But how often is nature in the believer stronger than grace! Do not Christians sometimes pass a whole day with hardly a single devout aspiration ?
Let me mention particular seasons which seem peculiarly to call for the exercise of this habit of prayer. What Christian can pass along the streets of a great city, and see vanity and sin manifested every where, and hear, almost on every side, oaths and curses, without praying for those whom he thus sees sunk in sin! What miserable objects continually pain his heart! And, though in many cases his judgment may forbid him to think of giving any thing to those who would only squander his bounty away, his piety will yet incline hiin in secret to pray for them, while thus obliged to withhold his alms. It was an excellent practice of a pious minister never to hear an oath froin any one, without praying to God for the offending individual; and, if compelled by his judgment not to relieve a beggar in the street, still to lift up his heart in secret prayer for a blessing on his soul.
In conversing with others on religious subjects, in going to the poor and afflicted, in visiting your own friends, in coming to the house of God, in hearing his word, in these, and the various other circumstances of our lives, the heart of the devout Christian will be sending upward many a secret petition; he will be silently wrestling with God, and gaining that divine blessing on all in which he is engaged, which others lose by carelessness and indifference.
This is the old religion ; this is the good way; these are the old paths. Jer. vi, 16. Thus Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and David walked with God ; and those who walk thus now, find rest to their souls. In inviting the reader to this constant intercourse with God, we are inviting him to his highest privilege-friendship with his Creator; and to his richest enjoyment-delighting himself in communion with bis Lord.
Do you ask, how you are to obtain, and how you are to keep alive this spirit of prayer? You must seek it; you must cultivate it. The grace of God is sufficient.
And first, MEN NEED A NEW RELATIONSHIP TO GOD, being by nature born in sin, and afar off from God, we must first be reconciled to him by Jesus Christ. Can two
walk together, except they be agreed ? (Amos ii, 3.)Lay hold, then, by faith, of the great salvation provided in Christ for guilty sinners; see its fulness, its freeness; accept the offered mercy; and then, being justified by faith, you will have peace with God. One, when unacquainted with real religion, was much perplexed as to the meaning of the expression so often occurring in the Scripture of walking with God. But, having at length embraced free salvation by a crucified Saviour, his heart was continually ascending in devout aspirations, especially in his walks ; and then he said, “Now I know what it is to walk with God.” And they also need THE CONTINUAL AID OF THE HOLY
Outward devotion may be practised by the natural man. The Mahomedans are perpetually counting their beads, and saying many prayers with their lips ; a work of mere self-righteousness, or proceeding from ignorance, pride, or superstition. The Roman Catholics are not without similar superstitious practices. And many Protestants have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. When the Holy Ghost is given, then, and then only, we shall belong to that company, of which the Apostle says, “ we are the circumcision which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Phil. iii, 3. The Holy Spirit alone can enable us to pray spiritually and constantly.
Thus reconciled to God by Christ, thus aided by his Spirit, you have the first principles of this habit of prayer, which must be cultivated by continual watch. fulness, determined resolution, and patient perseverance.
ON THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER FOR THE EN. LARGEMENT OF THE KINGDOM
AMID all that sin and sorrow which the Christian sees in the world, observes in his family, or feels in his own heart, there is one bright prospect on which his eye can dwell with unmingled satisfaction, in the anticipation of which his heart can exult with unbounded joy ; -the promised time when truth and righteousness, and peace shall universally prevail.
That such a time will come, a simple-minded and humble reader of the Scriptures can have no doubt.Such passages as the following plainly point out an extension of the Gospel which has never yet taken place.
Ps. xxii, 27. All the ends of the earth shall remember, and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
Ps. Ixxii, 11. All kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.
Ps. Ixxxvi, 9. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, and shall glorify thy name.
Is. xi, 9. The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
Rom. xi, 25, 26. Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentileş be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved.
Rev. xi, 15. The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our God, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever.
Observe the fulness of each of these expressions. Surely they foretel the universal spread of Christianity. To deny this would, as Edwards has observed, be in effect to say, that it would have been impossible for God, if he had desired it, plainly to have foretold any thing that should absolutely have extended to all the nations of the earth. To suppose that these are merely high-wrought figures, and that events answerable to them are not likely to take place, is little short of supposing an intention to mislead others.
We may, then, rejoice in the delightful prospect which the Bible thus opens before us.
But these promises involve a duty, as well as convey a cheering prospect; the duty of exerting ourselves to promote the coming of this kingdom.
Among other means of doing so, the duty of prayer is of the first importance.
This subject is so little noticed in general, and yet forms so large a part of that prayer which our Lord teaches his disciples daily to use, that, though it has already been in some measure anticipated, when stating the subject of Intercession in the chapter on Private Prayer, it justly calls for distinct consideration,
While it is clear, from various promises, that the kingdom of Christ shall universally prevail, it is no less manifest that there are DIFFICULTIES WHICH ONLY A DI
VINE POWER CAN OVERCOME.
There are many opposing powers of a nature that no arm of flesh cau subdue. Man may contend with man, with some hope of success; but in contending“ with principalities and powers, with the rulers of the darkness of this world, and with spiritual wickedness in high places,"