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PRAYER. PRAYER is the very breath of a Christian. It is the first and the last act of the day. A Christian breaks not his fast in the morning till he has prayed, neither does he give sleep to his eyes, nor slumber to his eyelids, at night, till he has bowed his knee and lifted up his heart in prayer. Prayer is the act of asking God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. “ Lord, teach us to pray,” Luke xi. 1.
Encourage the spirit of prayer, for it is a spirit that honours God and lays guilty man in the dust, that humbles the sinner and exalts the Saviour. It is a meek spirit, a peaceful spirit, a loving spirit, a confiding spirit, and a purifying spirit. It seeks all that is good and holy and heavenly, and desires nothing that is contrary to the will and glory of God. " When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret ; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly,” Matt. vi. 6. OCTOBER, 1847.
Practise the duty of prayer. When God commands, man is bound to obey, though it be at his own cost; how much the more willingly, then, when the command is for his own benefit! Well
serve the Lord with gladness.” We cannot serve him without serving ourselves. What kindness, what goodness, what mercy, and what grace in our heavenly Father, to make our duty a privilege, and our obedience a source of enjoyment! The more we pray, the more are our hearts at liberty; the more we ask, the greater the good we obtain ; and the oftener we bend our knees, the firmer are we established in every good word and work. 6. Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them,” Ezek. xxxvi. 37.
Knock at the gate of prayer, whether your hand trembles from the consciousness of your own unworthiness, or feels strong from your confidence of God's goodness. Knock, whether you are rich or poor, arrayed in goodly raiment, or clothed in rags; knock ! and if you are in trouble knock loudly. If your back be overburdened, and your heart overwhelmed ; if affliction hath taken hold of you, and care runs upon you like a giant; if the evils that encompass you be many, and if your iniquities outnumber the hairs of your head, knock the more urgently. God is “ merciful and gracious,” and “ a very present help in trouble."
Ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you,” Luke xi. 9.
Seek the comfort of prayer. Oh, the relief and comfort of taking, a heavy load to the throne of grace and leaving it there! of pouring out our troubles and making known our requests to One who is more ready to hear than we are to pray! and of holding communion with the Almighty Maker of heaven and earth, with the certainty that he is long suffering and full of compassion; yea, that his mercy is everlasting, and that his truth endureth for ever! “ Is any among you afflicted? let him pray,” Jas. v. 13. “ Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
and find grace to help in time of need,” Heb. iv. 15, 16.
Secure the peace of prayer. There is no peace like the peace of God, it passes all understanding, and prayer is the high road to obtain it. He who at a word gave repose to the troubled ocean, is ever ready to impart peace to the agitated hearts of those who seek his aid and rely on his mercy. Whatever be the storms that surround us, how delightful to know that all is well; to be able to commit ourselves
that we may
into the hands of a faithful Creator, and to say, “ This God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even unto death :” this is to enjoy peace.
is worth more than rubies. Be not satisfied till you obtain it.
'Treasure up the promises to prayer. Hard would it be to number up the good things promised to the prayerful follower of the Redeemer, but yet harder to name what good things are not promised, inasmuch as the words of holy writ are; “ All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer believing, ye shall receive,” Matt. xxi. 22. What encouragement is here! Who would not pray? What! If we ask God in faith to deliver us from all evil and to give us all good, to guide us by his counsel and bring us to glory; will he do these things for us? He will; neither is there any good thing that he will “ withhold from those that walk uprightly." Be assured that “ The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him; he will hear their cry, and will save them,” Psa. cxlv. 18, 19.
Enjoy the delight of prayer, for if you have never known that delight, then are you indeed a stranger to a joy of no common kind. Without doubt prayer is a humbling thing; a serious and a solemn thing, yet there are seasons wherein it is a cheerful thing, a pleasant and a delightful thing; for then a sense of forgiveness so animates the spirit, and a consciousness of God's love and mercy so rejoices the heart, that prayer bursts into a song of praise. “ I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being," Psa. civ. 33. Remember the
prayer. Under its hallowed and sustaining influence heavy burdens grow light, crooked ways become straight, rough places are made plain, and gloom is changed to gladness. The power of prayer renders the feeble strong, and the timorous stout-hearted,
Exulting bids the saint expire,
Of flaming fagot and the molten fire! What will not the prayer of faith perform! Love it, value it, practise it, and it will nourish you in holy things, and make you strong in the way of salvation.
The prayer of faith, with potent spell,
Encourage the spirit of prayer; practise the duty of prayer ; knock at the gate of prayer; seek the comfort of prayer ; secure the
prayer; treasure up the promises of prayer; enjoy the delight of prayer; and remember the power of prayer. “ Pray without ceasing. In everything giving thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,” 1 Thess. v. 17, 18.
THE HOLY GHOST RESISTED. The Holy Ghost is that blessed Agent, who, with infinite condescension and tenderness, comes from heaven to earth to bring the wandering sinner back to God.
And can this heavenly Visitor be resisted ? and this, too, by the very beings whom he comes to help? Yes, the Holy Ghost may be, and often has been resisted. He was resisted in ancient times by the Jews, Acts vii. 51; he is resisted by many at the present day. Perhaps the reader is among the number. If you are not a Christian indeed, put it solemnly to your own conscience whether you are not resisting the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost has often striven with you. How have you treated his tender solicitations? If you have not yielded, you have resisted.
You resist the Holy Ghost when you despise or neglect the means of grace, through which he operates. The principal of these is the Bible. This is peculiarly his book. The " holy men of God” who wrote it, wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” How then have you treated the Bible? When it has spread before you the character of God in all its excellence, and commanded you to love it; when it has depicted your own guilty character and commanded you to repent; when it has pointed you to the Lord Jesus as the only sufficient Saviour, and invited and urged you to believe on him; when it has presented all the solemn, tender, and alarming motives which heaven, earth, and hell supply, and has besought, entreated, and warned you to flee from the 'wrath to come, and lay hold on eternal life—have you yielded to its expostulations? Have you obeyed its commands? If not, then have you resisted the Holy Ghost.
Sometimes the truths of the Bible have been urged upon your conscience by the living preacher, with all the solemnity of Divine authority, and all the earnestness of Christian benevolence; sometimes by the tender voice of friendship; sometimes by solemn and alarming providences. Have you
still refused to yield ? Oh, then, with what fixed and bold determination have
you resisted the Holy Ghost ! But the Holy Spirit comes yet nearer. He enters the mind, arrests the attention, produces a deep and awful conviction of the reality and importance of eternal things, arouses the conscience, awakens a painful sense of guilt and fearful apprehension of coming wrath, and impresses upon the mind the necessity of immediate attention to the soul and its salvation. Such an influence the reader has doubtless sometimes felt. How have you treated it? Have you yielded, or resisted ?
There are many ways of resisting the Holy Ghost. It is sometimes done by a bold and iinpious resolution to stifle all sense of guilt and danger; and when this alone is not found effectual, by plunging more deeply into worldly business ; by resorting to scenes of pleasure, to the society of the gay, to books of amusement, to anything that will help to banish thoughts of God and eternity, of Christ, and heaven, and hell. Have you never thus resisted the Holy Ghost ?
The Holy Ghost is resisted by refusing to comply with his suggestions. He urges to repent of sin; to give up every unjust pursuit; to relinquish every sinful pleasure; to forsake ungodly companions; to choose the company of the pious; to take up the cross and follow Christ, trusting in him alone for salvation.
The Holy Ghost is resisted by procrastination. The Spirit presses to immediate repentance. The sinner's heart replies, " When I have a convenient season I will call for thee." But the Holy Spirit allows no delay. You cannot defer for a day, an hour, a moment, without resisting the Holy Ghost.
Reader! does not the guilt of resisting the Holy Ghost lie upon you? And what is that guilt ? Oh, who can tell ? What finite mind can grasp it?
In resisting the Holy Ghost, you directly resist God. who or what are you that you should take the attitude of resistance to the greatest and best Being in the universe ? a worm of the dust, a breathing atom, against Him who made and rules the world! a sinner, upheld from perdition by mere mercy, against Him whom angels adore, and all holy beings delight to obey !
You resist God in his most amiable character and loveliest aspect, engaged in the work in which he unfolds his brightest glory. He comes to you as the God of salvation, to trans