Page images

receive long epistles from him, and besides the regular packet of the post, welcomes a few lines, or a verbal message by a friend, when want of opportunity forbids a fuller communication. And surely, our heavenly Father graciously accepts even the shortest and poorest effusions of our filial affection.

II. We shall point out the use of ejaculatory prayer.

in our

It is of great use, as a remedy to repel and cure the sudden out-breakings of that dangerous spiritual malady, which is deeply seated

nature. Sin, the moral distemper introduced by the fall of our grand parents, works in our members, and appears in various forms. When the tumours of pride begin to rise, or the ferocious heats of passion to inflame the mind, or levity and giddiness to seize the imagination, or a paralyzing torpor to deaden the fine feelings of the soul, there is not a moment to be lost; the only means in such cases, is to have immediate recourse to prayer; as a traveller taken ill on his journey, does not wait till he gets home, but at once applies the remedy he carries with him, the efficacy of which he has been taught by experience.

This kind of prayer is of use as an antidote

to the evils of the world. You may be cast among profane and impious men. How dangerous to breathe the infected air of vicious company, though but for a short time, and in circumstances which render it unavoidable ! And do you not need a bridle for your tongues, and a spur for your devotions, while the wicked are before you? When they openly blaspheme, you ought secretly to pray; when they call down vengeance, you should supplicate mercy.

This kind of prayer is of use, as a weapon of defence against the agents and assaults of hell. When the messenger of Satan buffeted Paul, and a thorn in the flesh filled him with anguish; for this thing, said he, I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. All God's people are more or less assaulted by the subtle and malignant enemy of souls. Hence the command, “ Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” And do you ask, when this enemy pours forth his fierý darts, how shall we resist him? I reply, grasping the shield of faith, you must instantly take your stand on the holy ground of promise, and employ the last and best weapon of your warfare-prayer. While you are crying, “The Lord rebuke thee, Satan!" and are earnestly darting your desires to heaven, the arrows of hell shall fall blunted at your feet, and the fiends of darkness be put to flight. Indeed, it

is necessary to employ the same means of defence, both against our external and internal foes. Prayers,” says Dr. Isaac Barrow, are the bulwarks of piety and good conscience; the which ought to be so placed, as to flank and relieve one another, together with the interjacent spaces of our life: that the enemy (the sin which doth so easily beset us) may not come on between, or at any time assault us, without a force sufficient to reach and repel him.”

Ejaculatory prayer, is of use to open our way obstructed with difficulties, and ensure success in every lawful and important undertaking. Worldly wisdom, though proud and boastful, is a poor pioneer. There are obstacles, which no engine of man's contrivance can move, yet are they speedily cleared away by the arm of Jehovah. When Jacobsent his sons into Egypt to buy corn, they were afraid to go; but as they set out on the journey, the patriarch uttered this ejaculation: “God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother and Benjamin." We cannot but admire the spirit in which the pious servant of Abraham executed his com. mission ; seeking the direction and blessing of heaven upon the business he had in hand, in every new step of his procedure. Thus, while his camels halted to drink at the well of Nahor, he said, “ O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee send me good speed this day, and shew kindness to my master Abraham.” Gen. xxiv. 12.

We have another striking example of this species of devotion in Nehemiah. He fasted, and wept, and prayed, when he heard of the desolation of Jerusalem. Though he was cupbearer to the king of Persia, in the palace of Shushan, he could not exult in his own ease and honour, while his brethren were afflicted and covered with reproach and contempt. His royal master perceived his sadness, and, learning the cause, said, “ For what dost thou make request?

So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it.” (Neh. ii. 5.) If we have any delicate and momentous concern to transact with persons of dignity, or even princes, let us seize every juncture to supplicate the God of heaven, in whose hand are all hearts.

Ejaculatory prayer, duly and properly performed, gives a peculiar and most lively interest to the various offices of kindness and friendship among good men. I am well aware how much caution is needed in speaking ou this point. Many abruptly take the Divine Name

into their lips with such gross irreverence, that it would be a violation of all propriety to call it prayer.

“God be with you!” or “ God bless you!" are with them mere forms of speech, which custom has introduced, and are generally, if not always, uttered without so much as thinking of that Being, who will require men to give an account of every idle word in the day of judgment. But what is good in itself, ought not to be laid aside, because it bas been abused and perverted. When Joseph beheld Benjamin, he exclaimed, “God be gracious to thee, my son!” and when Boaz went into the field, he said unto the reapers, “ The Lord be with you;" and they in return said, “ The Lord bless thee!" At our rising or reclining, our meeting or parting, a short ejaculation may lodge serious thoughts in the mind, or leave a sacred perfume behind it. Will it be going too far, if I say, that even a letter on ordinary business, from one Christian to another, besides bearing secular intelligence, ought to carry some seasoning of piety, or some short supplication to heaven, as that of Paul in behalf of Timothy—“ The Lord Jesus be with thy


Every one must perceive, that devout wishes for blessings which are appropriated to the Deity to bestow, are indirect prayers. Such are the ancient forms of salutation, the vestiges of which still remain in many languages; and such especially is

« PreviousContinue »