Page images
PDF
EPUB

known, and by whom the privilege of prayer is unfelt ; or he by whom it is neglected; or he who uses it for form and not from feeling, may probably say, Will this work, wearisome if necessary, never know an end? Will there be no period when God will dispense with its regular exercise? Will there never be such an attainment of the end proposed, as that we may be allowed to discontinue the means ? To these interrogatories there is but one answer, an answer, which shall be also made by an appeal to the inquirer himself.

“ If there be any day in which we are quite certain, that we shall meet with no trial from Providence, no temptation from the world ; any day in which we shall be sure to have no wrong tempers excited in ourselves, no call to bear with those of others, no misfortune to encounter, and no need of divine assistance to endure it; on that morning we may safely omit prayer.

“ If there be an evening in which we have received no protection from God, and experienced no mercy at his hands; if we have not neglected a single opportunity of receiving or doing good ; if we are quite certain, that we have not once spoken unadvisedly with our lips, nor entertained one vain or idle thought in our heart; on that night we may safely omit to praise God, and to confess our own sinfulness; on that night we may safely omit humiliation and thanksgiving. To repeat the converse would be superfluous.” *

If prayer is neglected, the Christian virtues and graces cannot grow and expand. Let the spirit of prayer be restrained, and the mind lowers in its tone, and in due

* Hannah More's Devotional Exercises.

tian,

time its harmony will become “ horrible discord.” The good Mr. Newton truly said,

“Restraining prayer, we cease to fight :

Prayer keeps the Christian's armour bright.” The soldier who neglects his armour and his exercise, is not prepared for the day of battle. Let the soldier of the cross remember this, and cease not to pray.

Unbelief comes in where secret prayer is neglected. Speculative faith, nominal belief, never yet made a Chris

only in name. To do God's will is to be a Christian ; and a true Christian is a praying one.

If the duty of prayer is neglected, the more occasion is given for doubt and darkness to approach and envelope the soul. I shall never forget the remark of a young friend, who had been converted to the Gospel from infidelity. “Neglect prayer, and you neglect duty; and the neglect of both will make any man a practical atheist.”

In regard to seasons of prayer, every person must be his own judge. If all duties are justly considered ; if their importance and bearing on the whole life be duly weighed, an appropriate season will be found for habitual, sincere, fervent prayer. Whether that season be in the niorning or evening, or both ; or at stated times during the days; whatever may be the decision of the conscience on this point, let prayer be attended to, and let every individual have his season marked out, and observed with fidelity amidst all the opposing and counteracting influences which life will bring in his way. And in all his petitions, let it be remembered, that the heart should be suitably prepared by right views of God and the word of his truth. We should pray in the language of the Psalmist. “Let the words of my mouth, and the medi

tation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.”

In the duty of prayer, let it be remembered; — 1. That God will hear the sincere petitions of his creatures. Ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” Matt. vii. 7. 2. That prayer should be in agreement with the will of God. “If we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.' 1 John v. 14. 3. It must be offered in faith. « But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” James i. 6. 4. It should be offered in the name of Jesus Christ. “ Whatsoever ye shall ask in my náme, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." John xiv. 13. 5. It should be offered with earnestness and perseverance. “He spake a parable unto them, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” Luke xviii. 1. These are all suggestions made by the Scriptures, and let us heed them. So shall our hearts be made holy by that influence which has sustained all true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and which will never cease the operation of its renovating power, while there is a soul unredeemed, or a sin unforgiven. Child of the Almighty! heir of eternity! Restrain not prayer. Let it rise to the throne of heaven, and it shall return in blessings on your head. Why not pray?

“ Have you no words ? Ah, think again;

Words flow apace when you complain,
And fill your fellow-creatures' ears
With the sad tale of all your cares.

66 Were half the words thus vainly spent,

To heaven in supplication sent;
Your cheerful song would oftener be,
Hear what the Lord hath done for me."

I have thus spoken of watchfulness and prayer. They are both necessary, in order that we may grow

in

grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one will not succeed without the other. The Master commands us to “watch and pray"; and his faithful apostle, in the same spirit of truth, desires his brethren to pray “always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication.” If we would receive their instructions, our duty is plain ; and may God help us to perform it.

CHAPTER IV.

GOVERNMENT OF THE TONGUE.

No duty is of greater importance in Christian practice, than the government of the tongue.

However much of moral goodness an individual may possess, he will fail to obtain full credit for it, if he neglects to guard his speech. It is for his interest, therefore, to understand this duty, and strive with all his heart to perform it.

By the tongue we communicate our thoughts, ideas, words, to each other. It is capable of doing much good, or much evil. The apostle has given a faithful description of it. “Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us, and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which, though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth. And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature, and is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind. But the tongue can no man tame. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, and therewith curse we men, who are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought

« PreviousContinue »