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commit unto His delegates as much of that power as was required for the due fulfilment of their ministry. God, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, had chosen Paul, that " he should know His will, and see that Just One, and hearthe voice of His mouth, and be His witness unto all men of what he had seen and heard." An apostle, therefore, so distinguished by heavenly choice, had ample reason for the steady assurance, that God would accompany him, and by his blessing aid the revelation of His will to others—that the “Just One,” whom he knew and had seen, and whose voice he had heard from the inidst of heaven, enjoining him to forbear the persecution of his infant church, would be ever presentwould comfort and protect him throughout the arduous task to which he had thus solemnly been called. Christ, who had “ shown him how great things he must suffer for His name's sake,” he was assured, would sustain him to the uttermost; since it was for His sake and the Gospel's that all was undergone.
But though the Apostle had such especial reasons to depend on Divine support—to look for assistance from the throne of heaven; yet in order to obtain this the more effectually, he deemed it an essential point, that it be implored with prayers and supplications. And lest his own addresses, fervent and frequent as they were, should be powerless for the occasion, he commends his interests to the prayers of genuine Christians, and bids them pray for him. He earnestly solicits their intercessions at the throne of gracehe confides in their efficacy, even while he doubted not the deliverance which himself implored. “In Him," saith he, “we trust, that He will yet deliver us; ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many on our behalf.”
If, my brethren, there were not great efficacy in the prayers of Christian people offered in behalf of the ministers of Christ, no sufficient reason can be assigned, why St. Paul, a man supereminently gifted with the grace of God, should so frequently and earnestly implore the supplications of the faithful. There is no request which he more eagerly repeats--none which he more importunately solicits. Through the whole series of his Epistles you will not discover a greater stress laid upon any point than upon that of praying to God in his behalf. The importance which he attached to it, in the discharge of his apostolical functions, appears from the vehemence, the fervency, the persuasive language he employs, in his letter to the Romans, whom he beseeches as “ brethren for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit,” that they would “strive together with him in their prayers to God for him.” And surely, it could be no inconsiderable benefit, no ordinary favour, for which an inspired apostle invoked so earnestly. the Lord Jesus Christ, and “the Spirit of love"-(that is, the Holy Ghost).
No one ever underwent persecutions for the sake of the Gospel with more unwearied patience and undaunted courage than this laborious missionary. Yet no one had recourse more frequently to the intercessions of holy men for the attainment of greater courage, and for a higher degree of Christian fortitude. He exhorts the Ephesians to pray “always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints”-in general; and he then proceeds to entreat their holy offices for himself also—“that utterance may be given to him that he may open his mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the Gospel”-of that Gospel, for which, at the very time when he implores their prayers, he was
an ambassador in bonds;"—for which he had spoken most courageously, and yet for which he was desirous of their earnest petitions to the throne of God, to enable him to "speak boldly, as he ought to speak.”
St. Paul well knew that the Master whom he served was gracious and bountiful, and that no service would be forgotten or unrequited :
-yet, as if the
recompense could only be procured by the intercession of others, he tells the Philippians that he knows this shall turn to his salvation through their prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” And to the Colossians he says, as he had said to the Ephesians, “ Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving ; withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds—that I may make it manifest as I ought to speak. And again, to the Thessalonians he exclaims “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of God may have free course, and be glorified even as it is
In the Epistle to Philemon, St. Paul omits not to require his prayers ; and to the Hebrews he is equally importunate. It is not possible, therefore, that these solicitations should so often recur, and yet be but random expressions : they never could have been enjoined so solemnly and urgently, if they were designed to convey only an empty form. Can it for an instant be supposed, that this eminent apostle would have been so anxious for pious intercessions at the throne of grace, if he had not known their especial efficacy? Can we imagine that his anxiety arose from an overwhelming sense of his own deficiencies, in defiance of the universal confession that he excelled in all natural and supernatural gifts ? Is it not reasonable to believe, that if ever the prayers
of the faithful might be superseded;
in the case of St. Paul, any supplication for God's assistance in the discharge of his ministerial duties, was utterly superfluous ? In him there wanted neither incessant labour, nor profound learning, nor unwearied endeavour in the cause he advocated; and, therefore, when in addition to his own extraordinary pretensions, he called in the aid of others' prayers, we cannot doubt but that he well knew the peculiar energy and efficacy of united supplication.
May we not justly attribute the success, under Christ, of St. Paul's ministry, to the prayers he so often sought and so faithfully received ? And may not we, with equal truth, impute the singular infelicity of our own attempts-in this less faithful age, to the want of those holy prayers—to the absence of those fervent appeals to Heaven which marked the devotions of the primitive Christians ? It would at least be hard to imagine, why the prayers of true believers should not now be attended with the same efficacy, which, it is certain, once accompanied them. And if the benefit thus procured be really so great—if it may be purchased at a rate so easy—and if Christians are obliged to promote the good of all; then it must be readily acknowledged by those who are “ of the household of faith,” that an indispensable duty urges them to afford the ministers of God the benefit of their zealous and believing prayers. Instead of vilifying and decrying the priesthood,