Page images
PDF
EPUB

church of five or six hundred communicants, and all the rest are with one accord absent. They who meet may agree among themselves to ask for an outpouring of the Spirit, but it is, after all, but the agreement of a minority of the church. The majo rity, by their absence, dissent from the request.

2. As all attended, of course the men attended as well as the women. Yes, every male member of the church was present; and I suppose the males were more than one half of the whole number They did not leave it to the women to sustain the prayer meetings. That prayer meeting had not the aspect of many a modern prayer meeting, in which almost all are of the weaker sex.

3. The most distinguished members of the church attended, as well as the most obscure. There were all the apostles, and "Mary the mother of Jesus," and " his brethren.” None of them felt above being at a prayer meeting. How is it now? Let that question answer itself.

4. They were all agreed— "of one accord,” as it is said. Not merely agreed as touching what they should ask, viz. the fulfillment of the promise of the Father," but of one mind generally-aye, and of one heart. They thought and felt alike. They all loved one another. They observed the new commandment. Such cordial union among Christians has great power with God. It does not always exist in our prayer meetings.

5. They persevered in prayer. “ 'These all continued in prayer." First they stirred themselves up to take hold on God, and then they said, “ We will not let thee go, except thou bless us.” They met often for prayer, and all met, and they lingered long at the throne of grace. There were not some who came to the meeting once for a wonder, or only occasionally. No; "these all continued,&c. It is not so now. But how long did they continue asking? Until they obtained; and then they did but pass from the note of prayer to that of praise. They sought the Lord until he came. It is time we all should do it. They were together-holding meeting-when the Spirit descended.

I think if all our church members would habitually attend the prayer meetings, men as well as women, rich as well as poor, and be of one accord in heart, as well as in judgment, and would continue in prayer, they would not wait in vain for “the promise of the Father." O for such prayer meetings! But now they are despised by many. How often we hear it said, It is nothing but a prayer meeting! Nothing but ! I should like, for my part, to know what surpasses a prayer meeting. And often on what unworthy conditions do those called Christians suspend their attendance. They must know who is to conduct the meeting, who will probably lead in prayer,

and from whom a word of exhortation may be expected; and if the meeting is not likely to be

66

[ocr errors]

to their mind, they will not attend it. This thing ought not so to be.

14. Why the World is not converted.

The world is not converted. The melancholy fact stares us in the face. Yet the world is to be converted. That delightful truth shines conspicuous on the pages of the Bible. Why is it not already converted ? It ought to have been converted ere this. Eighteen centuries ago it was well nigh converted. But now the world is far, very far from being converted. It “lieth in wickedness.” What is the meaning of it? Why is it not converted ? Whose is the fault? Look not up to heaven with the inquiry, as if the reason was to be found there, among the mysteries of the eternal Mind. Look elsewhere. The fact we deplore results not from any lack of benevolent disposition in God. No. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that who. soever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” What could he have felt or done more? The object of his love, the world—its gift, his Son! Could it have been more comprehensive, or more munificent ? Nor is the reason found in any deficiency in the atonement made by Christ, for

66

re

power

he is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world,the Lamb of God who "taketh

away

the sin of the world.Nor is it owing to any limitation in the commission of the Holy Spirit; for of him it is testified, that when he should come, he shouid" prove the world of sin”: and the commission to the human agents of the work was as extensive, “Go ye into all the world-preach the Gospel to every creature—teach all nations." And the promise of the presence

and of Christ to be with them is also without restriction. See what goes before, and what comes after that great commission. The words which precede it are, “ All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” The words which follow, are,

" And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." You must look some where else than upward for the reason why the world is not converted. Look beneath, around, within.

I propose to assign a few reasons why the world is not converted.

1. The world does not wish to be converted. That which is to be the subject of conversion, is a foe to it. It resists the influence that would convert it to God. What means that language, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man?" Striving implies opposition offered. The opposition is made by the will. The universal will of man resists the work of the Spirit of God. And that thing, the will, is a tremendous obstacle opposed to conversion. It is

more than a match for all the motives you can bring to bear upon it. It wont move for motives. The Lord alone can master it. 0! if the world had of itself been willing to be converted, it should long ere this have been brought back to God! It is but to be willing and the thing is done.

2. The devil, who in the Bible is called “the god of this world," is opposed to its conversion. Now, it must be very much in the way of the world's conversion, that not only itself but its god is opposed to it. The will is a powerful foe of itself, but when the will is in league with Satan, who is called the adversary, by way of eminence, what an enemy the combination must produce! The devil and the heart, what a formidable alliance! Satan is sincere in his opposition to the conversion of the world, i. e. he is really opposed to it. He does not merely pretend to be. And he is in earnest. His heart is in the work of opposing the world's conversion--and he does all he can to prevent it. The friends of the conversion of the world do not all they can to promote it. Would that they did ! But Satan does all he can to prevent it. Ah, why cannot we do as much for Christ as his enemies do against him ? Why don't Christians do all they can? Satan does all he can—and that is a great deal, for he was one of those angels “that excel in strength,” and though by his fall he lost all holiness, he lost no power. He is as potent as ever-possessed of very great energy,

« PreviousContinue »