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impatient, and construe apparent delays, as if they were absolute denials. The servant of Elijah, when his master prayed for rain, went seven times down to the sea, to make his observations; and at last only saw a cloud, not larger than a man's hand. It ill befits as to dictate the moment, or the manner, in which God shall work, to accomplish our desires, as though we were weary of waiting for him : we ought rather to say, with the devout Baxter, “ Lord, what thou wilt, when thou wilt, and how thou wilt.” The blessings of the everlasting covenant are called the sure, not the swift, mercies of David. There is a spiritual seedtime ; and shall there not be a harvest ? Yes; the precious produce cannot be lost. Here is the faith and patience of the saints. Praise waits for God in Zion; waits the arrival of supplicated mercies, to celebrate and honour the Giver. It is this exercise of strong faith and calm resignation, this alternate movement of the heart in prayer and praise, which constitutes the blessedness of the Christan life.
“ Praise, the sweet exaltation of our joy ;
That joy exalts, and makes it sweeter still :
ON EVIL PASSIONS IN PRAYER.
The passions are either advantageous or injurious, according to the direction which they take, and the nature of the motives by which they are actuated. The heart, unreservedly devoted to God, pours all its warm feelings into devotion. Prayer may be attended, but cannot be profitably performed, while corrupt passions are cherished ; for these, like hostile legions, lay waste the soul, which ought, according to the beautiful imagery of the prophet, to be like a watered and fruitful garden.
It has been already remarked, that the Pagans themselves thought it necessary to wash their bodies, and change their raiment, ere they went into their temples to worship; which indicated that they had some idea of the impropriety and unsuitableness of mingling things sacred and profane. But a most exact and punctilious compliance with devotional rites, divinely instituted, will prove utterly unavailing, and even offensive to God, if our desires and our doings are directly opposed to his will. The laver of the true sanctuary could not remove the deep stains of gross and glaring immorality. Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me: the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with ; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear : your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean ; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do well.” (Isa. i. 13— 16.)
This," saith Tertullian," is the true purification, not that which they most superstitiously use, cleansing their hands, and washing when they go to prayers ; but cleansing the soul from all impiety, and leaving every affection to sin.”
The Apostle Peter exhorts Christian husbands to treat their wives with all respect, tenderness, and affection, as being heirs together of the grace of life; that their prayers might not be hindered. (1 Pet. iii. 7.)* What
The comments of Calvin and Grotius on this passage, are well worth attention :
“ Ne impediantur preces, i. e. precum vis atque efficacia, jurgiis et rixis, quæ ex dura tractatione sequuntur. Non enim placent Deo preces nisi quæ ex tranquillo proficiscuntur animo. Insani autem estis, si viam vobis ad invocandum Deum precludatis, quum sit unicum salutis nostræ asylum."—(See Poli. Synop.) « That
is here said, with reference to one of the dearest relations of humanity, not only furnishes a special direction to promote spiritual prosperity in the domestic circle, but also supplies us with a general principle, which may be applied under a great,variety of circumstances. The Christian's grand aim should be to live near to God, and hold intimate communion with him ; and whatever tends to keep his soul back from the throne of grace, or interrupt his sacred duty there, is to be deprecated and avoided. He who is intent upon rising in the world, so lays his plans, and makes his arrangements, that his proper business may not be hindered, but that every effort, and every combination of efforts, may bear upon the main object he has in view; and surely it is to be regretted, that the children of this world should be wiser in their generation than the children of light.
1. Sensual passions greatly hinder and disturb a man in prayer. By sensual passions, are meant those low, gross, impure propensities, which terminate in the short-lived gratification of the senses. The Christian is no longer his i the force and efficacy of prayers may not be disturbed by the domestic strifes and contentions, which are the consequences of unkind and harsh treatment; for those prayers cannot be pleasing to God, which do not proceed from a tranquil mind. And they are insane, who obstruct the way of access to God, seeing it is the only asylum of our safety."
own; but, being bought with a price, is bound to glorify God, both in the spirit and in the body, which are his. In those who have assumed the name and yoke of Christ, intemperance and wantonness are represented as a kind of sacrilege, which not only spoil the worship, but pollute the temple of God. Can the slave of fleshly lusts have the glorious liberty of the sons of God? Can the reeking fumes, the darkening clouds, and the poisonous exhalations of luxury and lewdạess, be congenial with a holy, heaven-born spirit ? Is this an element in which a saint can breathe out his ardent aspirations? It has been affirmed by grave writers, that plants will not grow on the borders of the Dead Sea, on account of the salt, sulphur, and bitumen, which both infect the air, and impregnate the accursed soil. Whether this be true or fabulous, it is certain the graces of the Spirit cannot flourish amidst the noxious heats and fumes of voluptuousness. Sobriety and chastity are the constant companions of genuine devotion. Hence Paul, exhorting the Ephesians, says, “ Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is; And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things