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yea, joyfully bore, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for His sake. None of these things moved them, neither counted they their lives dear to them, so that they might finish their course with joy. Their exclusive desire was that Christ should be magnified, and whether this was done by living or dying, they were equally satisfied.
Now the command which was addressed to them, is addressed to us. And is the Saviour's authority less binding, and His claims less imperative, upun us than they were upon them ? Are we to hesitate when they were so decided ? Are we to recede when they advanced ? Are we to be faint-hearted when they waxed valiant for the fight, and went forth conquering and to conquer ?
In order to be followers of them, as they were also of Christ, a spirit of self-denial is indispensable. The great Master pleased not himself, and, by having the mind that was in Him, they clearly shewed that they were His disciples, not in name only, but in deed and in truth, Alas! how great the disparity that exists between us and them, and especially between us and Him. “The best of us," as one observes, “have abundant cause to pray for a deeper baptism of His spirit. Blessed Saviour! blessed pattern ! how didst Thou leave the delights of heaven and Thy Father's bosom, on a mission of most generous mercy! Thy love grudged no labour ; Thine eye refused no pity; Thy ear was never shut against the story of distress ; Thy hand was always ready to relieve the sufferer. From Thy cradle to Thy grave Thy whole life was passed in daily acts of the loftiest self-denial, and, with the blood trickling down thy brows, and the heavy cross on Thy lacerated back upon Thy way to Calvary, to save the vilest wretches and the chief of sinners, how dost Thou turn round on us to say, 'If any man will come after
Christian, listen to His voice, and comply with His injunction. Let thy language be,
“Through duty and through trials too,
I'll go at thy command. And remember, for thy encouragement, that such a course will be attended with the richest compensations. “Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily, I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in the present time, and, in the world to come, life everlasting.”
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which in recret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”—Matt. vi. 6. brrrrt In various ways did the
Saviour set forth the imporF'rayer. tance of prayer. He did so by the form of prayer which He composed; by the example of prayer which He exhibited ; by the miracles in answer to prayer which He performed ; by the promises concerning prayer which He gave; by the instructions on the subject of prayer which He delivered; and by the precepts regarding prayer which He enjoined.
Of those precepts, one of the most important is contained in these words. ic is a precept, the neglect of which cinnot fail to lead to the inost serious consequences.
To live in the habitual disregard of the special exercise to which it relates, is altogether inconpatible with true piety; and to attend to it in an irregular and perfunctory manner, clearly indicates the want of spiritual prosperity.
“Apostasy from God," says Matthew Henry, “begins at the closet door.” If it be so—and we cannot doubt the truth of the observation-how earnestly should the Christian guard against slighting this gracious command of the Redeemer! Let the consideration of all that is solemn in departing from the living God; all that is ruinous in making shipwreck of faith and of a good conscience; all that is overwhelming in the bare possibility of reaching that awful state in which there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries, constrain us, whatever we neglect, to attend with all diligence to the closet of secret prayer.
There is, we believe, nothing invidious or uncharitable in the statement, that the saints of old were in