« PreviousContinue »
ed none, so he praised none. Sometimes, indeed, he said, “ Thank God !" but it was said in so much thoughtlessness, that it was set down profaneness rather than praise. It is true, at that time he would never allow that he was ungrateful; but he was, and now he sees that he was. He lived, and moved, and had his being in God, and yet was without God in the world. Many and precious were the thoughts of God towards him, but in all his thoughts God was not. Not even when he was in trouble did he ask, " Where is God my maker ?" I wonder the Lord had not become weary of bestowing his bounty on such an one. It is because he is the Lord and chan
But for that, the person of whom I speak would have been cons
nsumed long ago. There is nothing he admires more than the long-suffering of God towards him, and he hopes to spend eternity in admiring it, and exchanging thoughts with his fel. low-redeemed on this and kindred subjects. He
supposes that he is not the only one who has neglected secret prayer. He fears that this neglect is even now the habit of many. They are shy of God. I know not why they should be. He is doing every thing to woo and win them, and to secure their confidence. So much has he done, that he asks (and I cannot answer) what he could have done more. He waits on his throne of grace to be gracious to them, but they come not near to him. He even calls to them to come to him, using too the language of
most affectionate address : "Son, my son ;" but they respond not, “Abba, Father.” It is strange they should treat this Father so. They treat no other father so. What child does not, in the morning, salute his father ? and what father does not expect the salutation of each child as they come into his
presence? Oh, yes, we love our father who is on earth; and we remember with gratitude the favors he does us. And does the Father of our spirits, the giver of every good gift, deserve no daily notice from us, no affectionate salutation, no grateful recognition of indebtedness to him? I am certain he expects it, for he says, “ A son honoreth his father: if then I be a Father, where is mine honor ?" He claims to be a Father; and O, how well he has established that claim ! Truly he is a Father, and “ like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth” his. And to the compassion of the father he adds the tender care and untiring mindfulness of the mother.
“ Can a woman," he asks, "forget her sucking child ??? She may, he says, but He will not. How strange it is that men will not go to the closet to meet and to pray to such a Father! Surely it is not for want of encouragement.
If they have it not in his very nature, yet in his invitations, his promises, and his past acts of unsolicited kindness, they have all they could desire. Nor is it that they have no need of God. Never one of the prayerless will say that. They all know what would
become of them but for that overlooking eye, and that supplying hand, and that supporting arm. And do they not know that God has a heart too—that he can love with all the fervor of a friend? And can they not imagine that in the interchange of affection between God and the soul of man there
and indeed must be, ineffable delight? And who that looks but a little way forward, does not perceive an exigency when, in the utter inadequacy of earthly and human resources for comfort, he will want “ the consolations of God ?"
Ah, it is 'a sad as well as strange thing, that so many enter no closet! seek daily no retirement, either in their houses or elsewhere, where they may be a little while alone with God; where they may look up and meet the light of his countenance as he looks down on them; where they may confess their sins, and receive assurance of his pardoning love; where they may thank him for mercies past, and humbly ask for more; where they may take counsel of him, tell him of their griefs, and have their tears wiped away, and with him leave the weighty burden of
I know not whether this excites more my grief or my wonder. I am not so much surprised that men should neglect a manifest duty, but when I think what a privilege it is, what a happiness, what an honor, to be on terms of intimacy, and in habits of intercourse with God, it amazes me that they should
forego it. How will such reflect upon themselves here. after-how execrate their folly! How will they wonder that they could have deliberately done their souls such a wrong! Then it will be too late to redress the wrong. They sought not the Lord while he might be found—they called not upon him while he was near. Yea, though he called, they refused. Now they may call, but he will not answer. If any one who is living in the neglect of secret prayer shall read this, will he not be persuaded to commence the practice the very day he reads it, aye, that same hour, if it be possible? If it be not convenient, let him make it convenient. Let other things give way for this, rather than this for any thing. Can he think his heart right in the sight of God, or his condition safe in prospect of eternity, while he neglects prayer ? How dare he live without prayer? Without it can he have courage to die? At the mercy-seat of God we may decline to appear, but before his judgmentseat we must all stand. How a frequent access to the first would prepare us for final arraignment at the other ! How it would familiarize us with the presence of God! How it would serve to break the shock of the entrance into eternity!
Does any one, who is not in the habitual and daily practice of secret devotion, pretend to be a Christian ? It is but pretence.
believe the creed of the Christian, but certainly he does not pursue the praclice nor possess the spirit of the Christian. Breath
ing is essential to living, and prayer is the Christian's vital breath. Does he walk with God who never converses with him?
Some spiritualize the direction of Christ, making the closet to mean the heart, and the duty of private devotion to be discharged in mere mental prayer. But Christ did not so trifle. His closet was not his heart: he could not have meant that ours should be. He selected the still morning, and sought out the solitary place for prayer. May we be less attentive to the circumstances of time and place? Shall we talk about entering into ourselves and there thinking prayer ? Jesus, even in his most retired intercourse with his Father, used his voice. That prayer, “ Let this cup pass from me," was vocal—and that petition, “ God be merciful to me a sinner," was expressed in words. Shall we reserve the voice exclusively for our intercourse with men, and not with it also supplicate and bless God ?
Is any one inquiring after truth? What place more appropriate for asking "What is truth," than the closet ? Who so likely to be taught of God as they who ask of God? Some men carry
question to the Bible, and press it there, as indeed they should; but they carry it not to the throne of grace, and press it there also. They read to know what truth is, but do not pray to know it.
Oh, how an hour in the morning, spent with God, prepares us pleasantly and profitably to pass the