« PoprzedniaDalej »
the most simple answer would be, “ what is that to us?” God has commanded it, and he has declared that it shall succeed. But the reason is plain ; we must pray, because the very circumstance of our being obliged to do so, makes us search into ourselves, to find out what we want; and God requires that we should know our own wants before he will relieve them, that we may not be ignorant how infirm and imperfect we are in ourselves, nor that all our strength and all our blessings come from him alone.
Thus the very necessity of prayer begets selfknowledge, humility, trust in God, gratitude for his goodness, and steady attachment to him, in hope of the continuance of that goodness. This very necessity naturally produces a longing desire for christian dispositions, and then, by the efficacy which God has been pleased to allow it, procures those very gifts, our need of which we feel and acknowledge in praying. And for what, that is of any importance, have we to pray but spiritual aid, that we may have the will and the power to acquire all those holy affections, and to live in all those holy habits which are necessary to our salvation? Pray but little, my brethren, pray scarcely at all, for any temporal good, your Heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of these things; he knoweth also, it is true, that
you have need of his grace in your hearts, and of his strength to sustain you in your christian course;
you probably would not know this, if you had not to pray for it; therefore let your prayers be almost exclusively for spiritual gifts ; let them be earnest, frequent, persevering; thus you will
Be careful only not to “quench and grieve the spirit” for which you ask, but to cherish and improve all the suggestions put into your hearts, not doubting whence they come, though you know not the manner of their coming ;-diligently use the means already granted you-the sacred scriptures, and the ordinances of religion ;-cultivate, by reflection, and conversation, and reading, the good thoughts, and purposes, and desires, that exist within you. Persist in this course with steadfastness, shunning all temptations to sin, and relinquishing every practice manifestly hostile and dangerous to your hope of advancement in religion, and doubt not that in the end you shall attain to such a christian frame of mind, and be so fruitful in all holy living, as to be thought worthy, through the merits of your Redeemer, of appearing with bim in glory, and partaking with him in happiness, inconceivable and everlasting in his heavenly kingdom.
THE DEATH OP THE RIGHTEOUS.
NUMBERS xxiii. latter part of v. 10.
Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.
I PROPOSE in my present discourse, to draw your attention to the peaceful and happy nature of the christian religion, so plainly exemplified in its powers of preparing man for, and of comforting and sustaining him in, the most important and awful period of his life,-its final close. You have seen what encouragement the gospel offers to the anxious mind of a self-convicted sinner, by assuring him that the natural enmity between a just God and fallen man is removed, “is slain,” (as the apostle expresses it) by the cross of the Redeemer, who paid his ransom; you have seen what consolation it administers to all those, “who are any ways afflicted or distressed (as all must at times expect to be) in mind, body, or estate; and you have seen also how greatly it is able to improve the happiness of human society, by promoting good will and brotherly kindness among all the members of the great family of rational creatures, whom God has planted in the earth. But there is a solemn hour awaiting every one of us, against which, and in which, we shall have more need of its comfort and support, than in any other period or circumstance of life-the hour of death; and on this occasion it is that religion wears her brightest crown, and enjoys her fullest triumph.
Death being an event of most common occurrence, it does not in ordinary cases much affect us, knowing, as we do, that to every one who is born into life, it is inevitable, that he should, at some time or other, depart out of it again ; and it is so often witnessed, that it scarcely excites a remark, except when it bereaves us of a friend, or when there has been something particularly striking and impressive in the manner of it. Still, although so frequent in the world, by every individual it is but once to be experienced : and therefore to every individual it is, in the eye of sober reason, as important an event, as if it never