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be a willingness to renounce every sin, and to obey in all things the divine will. The holding fast of any favorite sin shows a disobedient temper,-an heart not yet weaned from its idols;-an heart not fully set upon serving and honoring God. As an holy Being, therefore, he cannot be complacent to such, nor accept their offering. Says David, "if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." The Savior has taught us most impressively that "not every one who saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven."
Here, then, we may perceive what is necessary to acceptable and prevalent prayer. It is a love of holiness and a willingness to obey all God's commands. Thus saith the Lord, to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit and trembleth at my word. Delight thyself in the Lord, and he will give thee the desires of thy heart. The holy Sovereign of the universe regards with infinite complacency those who so believe his truth as to regulate their conduct by it;—who so believe his threatenings as to hasten their escape from the coming wrath; and who so believe his promises as to make them the basis of their hopes, and incentives to the faithful performance of duty. Yea, if we delight in the perfections of Jehovah, and in his perfect government, and the way of salvation by which those perfections are manifested; the desires of our hearts will be for things agreeable to his will, and therefore, they will be granted. With a benevolence which infinitely surpasses that of earthly parents, he bestows good gifts on those who obey and honor him. Accordingly, John says, "whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things which are pleasing to him." This he declares as a matter of actual experience. His brethren, also, knew it to be a fact that they did receive the things they asked for; and the apostle tells them, that the reason of it was their obedience to divine commands, their habitual doing of the things which were pleasing to God. Let the same conscientious obedience to divine instructions prevail in the church now, and the world would soon cease to doubt the efficacy of prayer.
The subject shows us one reason why religion is not more prosperous. Behold the Lord's hand is not shortened that he cannot save ; neither is his ear heavy that he cannot hear; but our iniquities have separated between him and us, and our sins have hid his face from us. God is ever willing to bless his people when he can do it consistently with his glory. But he will not bless them in a way that will encourage them in their slothfulness and sins. They must put away their sins; they must cease to hold fast deceit; and they must return unto
the Lord with full purpose of heart. Return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. God is ready to fulfil his promise. He will not fail to do it, when the conditions are performed on our part.
not enjoyed, we
If, then, the present favor of the Most High is are the cause of this most lamentable deprivation. If he hides his face from us, we make it necessary for him to do it. If the influences of the Spirit are withholden, we have shut up the heavens and made them as brass over our heads.
Who, then, will lay this to heart, and now return unto the Lord? Why should not this be a year of unprecedented mercy and of abounding grace to the churches? Why, beloved brethren, may we not see the visions of the prophets realized, when it shall come to pass that the church shall awake and put on her strength, and deck herself in her beautiful garments; when the watchmen shall lift up the voice, and with the voice sing together, and when they shall see eye to eye ;when the waste places shall break forth into joy and sing together ;when the Lord shall make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God? Who will dare to stay this blessing by holding fast deceit and refusing to return? Who, this year, will do his part toward securing such rich spiritual mercies, by his holy obedience, his fervent prayers, and his persevering efforts?
BY REV. SAMUEL M. WORCESTER,
DYING THE DEATH OF THE RIGHTEOUS
NUMBERS XXiii: 10.-Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.
A MARSHAL of France, mortally wounded in a great battle, exclaimed in madness," I will not die." He invoked the name of Napoleon, as if the mighty emperor could save him from death. But he died. "No man hath power over the spirit, to retain the spirit: neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war."
"What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death?" Die, we all must. We hear of dying like a hero—like a philosopher—like a man. We also hear of dying like a Christian.
It may be profitable to inquire, why we may wish "to die the death of the righteous."
1. Not because there is no pain in his death.
The separation of the soul from the body, is usually attended with great agonies. Every one has been taught to anticipate suffering, perhaps intense and indescribable, at the termination of life. Death is often styled the "king of terrors," and eloquence, both in poetry and prose, has often made its highest efforts in a description of the inevitable hour. God has so ordained it, that there is no essential distinction in respect to physical anguish, between the death of the just and that of the unjust. Although some good men have passed so quietly and calmly into the eternal world, that we might say of them, that "like the morning star," they "melted away into the light of heaven;" others have suffered pain the most excruciating and intolerable. We are not then to desire the death of the righteous, because we shall thereby obtain any exemption from the struggles, and spasms, and throes of expiring mortality.
2. Neither because there is no suddenness in his departure.
Sometimes a lingering, chronic disease slowly wastes away the system, and the dying man is warned "to set his house in order." In general, however, whether death comes by the instrumentality of some fatal accident, or by the assault of some destructive disease, it comes unexpectedly, and therefore suddenly. The hour of the dreadful visitation is unknown to all, whether righteous or unrighteous. No vision or angel announces to the child of God that his days are soon to be finished. And melancholy examples show us, that Christians are often found sleeping, when the voice of the Son of Man is heard at their door.
3. The death of the righteous may be desired, not because there are no violent and distressing sunderings of earthly attachment.
The Christian may have many ties, which bind him to life. He may have relations and friends, most near and devoted. Often he leaves a bereaved wife and children to the cold mercies of a selfish world. From these he is summoned away, and it may be under circumstances most trying to the sensibilities of natural affection. The separation is like tearing the heart-strings into shreds.
4. We may wish to die the death of the righteous, not because the chamber of his disease is well furnished with earthly comforts.
The good man is often poor in every thing but piety,-destitute of all treasure, save that which is laid up in heaven. His bed may be of straw or of earth. He may have no cordials to alleviate his bodily sufferings no earthly friend may give even a cup of cold water to cool the fever of his burning frame. All this, and much more may be true of him; or it may be, that he is surrounded with all the luxuries of affluence. Whether the one or the other be his condition, depends not upon the fact, that he is a good man. He may be a friend of God, whether in worldly circumstances he is like Lazarus or like Abraham.
5. We may wish to die the death of the righteous, not because there is renown in his death.
The "everlasting remembrance of the righteous," is in heaven, Some, indeed, who have died the friends of God, have left a memorial, which gathers fresh glory, as it passes down from generation to generation. But of very many whose death was "precious in the sight of the Lord," it must be said, that they died "unnoticed, unhonored, and unsung." While the bard and the orator, the painter and the sculptor, have vied with each other in efforts to perpetuate the fame of some splendid miscreant,—a thousand holy men, of whom the world was not worthy, have risen to their thrones of light, without receiving from these heralds of celebrity the passing tribute of a glance. How little of sacred dust sleeps in abbeys and mausoleums! How few are the statues and portraits of the redeemed, in the galleries of sculpture and painting, or in the saloons of the rich and the noble !
6. We may wish to die the death of the righteous, not because he dies without enemies.
Seldom does the upright man escape the calumnies and aspersions of the malignant; however pure his motives and unexceptionable his conduct, it is rare that the most pious citizen of any community goes down to his tomb with unanimous benedictions upon his soul and his memory. It does not silence the tongue of detraction; and the grave is not the burial-place of enmities.
They who die in the Lord, may leave behind them a legacy of virtuous example. Though dead, they may yet speak to many thousands of their fellow men. And even if no monuments preserve the record of their existence upon the earth, they may live for ages in the silence of useful influences. Still it is a humiliating fact, that their "good"
is often carefully "interred with their bones," while their real or alleged "evil lives after them," in the hearts and upon the tongues of slanderers and liars.
7. We may wish to die the death of the righteous, not because he has confessed Christ before men.
A profession of religion hardly affords a presumption in favor of piety. Who, alas! may not contrive to obtain access to the holy ordinance of the Lord's supper?—A Judas as well as " a beloved disciple," may have a name in the churches. I proceed to say that
8. We may wish to die the death of the righteous, not because he anticipates a future retribution.
Many have died in great agonies of remorse, who would have died like the brutes that perish, if they had not had an anticipation of the realities of eternity. There was within them a fearful looking for of judgment. They could not die like Hume, whose last hours are reported by his companions to have been full of gayety; or like Mirabeau, the leading demon of the French Revolution,-who exclaimed': "I am going to die. When we come to this, we must bind the head with fillets, perfume ourselves, crown ourselves with flowers, and sleep tranquilly the last sleep!" He expired, it is said, "with a convulsive laugh!" Fellow-traveller to eternity, may I ask you,-whether Hume died as a philosopher, or as a fool? Died Mirabeau as a sage, or, as a savage?
Far different, in any circumstances whatever, is the anticipation of a future retribution by the righteous man. Yet this anticipation is often distressing to his soul, from his consciousness of guilt and unworthiness. Hence he fears death: and "through fear of death,” he may be "all his life-time subject to bondage."
9. Neither may we wish to die the death of the righteous, because he may be willing to die.
Men who have no love of God, and no good hope of heaven, may be willing to die. Bereavement, or the failure of ambitious schemes, or the loss of property, or the shame of disgrace, or pain of body, or hope of posthumous renown, or moral stupefaction, or unauthorized expectations of felicity, may make men willing to die. How strange, then, that any should be satisfied with a mere willingness to die, as if such a state of mind in a dying friend were an evidence of favor with God! Surely it is not this, which should inspire a wish to die the death of the righteous.