« PreviousContinue »
lows, that if we have not more grace, it is because we pray so little. Prayer increases religion by its very exercise ; it naturally promotes resignation, cherishes hope, and strengthens faith; our intercourse with God will naturally diminish worldly impressions on the mind, and refine and elevate our powers; it will increase our resemblance of God, and we shall come forth from his presence like Moses, shining in his rays. Prayer also is rich in promise; “I never said to the seed of Jacob, seek ye me in vain.”
“ The Lord is nigh unto all them “ that call upon him, to all them that call upon him in 66 truth: he will fulfil the desire of them that fear him ; “ he will also hear their cry, and will save them.” On these two principles prayer ranks highest among those institutions which we call means of grace;
and will be incessantly regarded by all those who are concerned to enjoy foul-prosperity.
Fifthly, It would be profitable for you to “call to remembrance the former days," and especially to
THE BEGINNING YOUR RELIGIOUS
It is said of Jehosaphat, that “ he walked “ in the FIRST ways of his father David ;” it is an intimation that he was not so zealous, and so accurate in his conversation afterwards. Our Saviour tells the church of Ephesus, “ I have somewhat against thee, “ because thou hast left thy first love; remember “ from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do thy “ FIRST works.” Ah! christians, do not your minds appropriate this reproach? O how you abounded in the duties of obedience then! O how you prized ordinances! O how you longed for the fabbath ; and how glad were you " when they said, let us go into
“ the house of the Lord !” How much of your time was employed in meditation, and prayer, and praise ! And all was deemed a privilege! There was nothing like burden or bondage. How did the bitterness of repentance make you loathe fin; and at what an awful distance did you keep yourselves from its approach ! How glorious did the Saviour appear ance; and with what vigour did you say, “ Lord, I will “ follow thee whithersoever thou goest!” Must I “ cry “ in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, thus faith the Lord, “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, and the “ love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me “in the wilderness, in a land that was not fown." Alas! is it necessary to lead you back in the history of your religion, and to derive from yourselves in former years examples to excite you now? To make you blush at a change not for the better, but the worse; to cover you with confusion, by comparing the slackness of your progress, with the ardours of your commencement?
Finally, It will not be less profitable for you to LOOK FORWARD, AND SURVEY THE CLOSE OF ALL. Christians, “ it is high time to awake out of sleep, for “ now is your salvation nearer than when ye believed; "the night is far spent, the day is at hand.” Would you slumber on the verge of heaven? The stream increases as it approximates the sea ; motion accelerates . as it approaches the centre. You have beheld dying faints, and have often heard them mourn that they had been so negligent, and that they had done fo little fór God in their day and generation ; and are you resolved to fill a dying hour with similar regrets ? Did
you know that “the time of” your "departure was at hand,” you instantly would arise, and have “
your “ loins girded, and your lamps burning.” But the season will come foon, and may come immediately. Therefore " whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it “ with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, “nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither " thou goest.” Yes, this is the only opportunity you will have to do good to others, and to get good for yourselves. Joshua had the day protracted, to enable him to complete his victory; but no addition will be made to yours; no sun will stand still while
finish your course; see! the shadows of the evening are closing in ; and “ the night cometh, wherein no man “ can work.” Will you always be in a condition which will render reprieve anxiously desirable ? Will you be always praying when you apprehend the summons, “O spare me, that I may recover strength be“fore I go hence and be no more?” Does it require no more mortification than you now possess, fubmissively and cheerfully to bid farewell to the world ? Does it require no more assurance of hope than you now feel, to pass fearlessly the dark “valley of the shadow “ of death ?” And what a trial awaits you beyond the grave! For there is a tribunal, before which superficial tears will not be considered as repentance; a happy temper will not pass for conversion ; a few sluggish endeavours will not be accepted in the room of vital godliness ; nothing will be crowned but a faith that “overcomes the world ;” a “hope that purifies even “as He is pure;" a love that “constrains us to live “not to ourselves, but to Him that died for us, “ and rose again ;” a patience “ that endureth to “the end;"a perseverance that keeps us from “ being weary in well-doing.”
For the Lord God is a fun and shield; the Lord will
give grace and glory: no good thing will be withhold from them that walk uprightly.
was remarkably distinguished by the fervency of sacred affections. He could say with propriety,“ the zeal of thy house hath eaten me “up.” Hence his anxiety and resolution to establish a residence for the ark; “Surely I will not come into “ the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I < will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine
eye-lids, until I find out a place for the Lord, an “ habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.” Hence his peculiar distress, when deprived of public privileges ; " when I remember these things, I pour out my • soul in me; for I had gone with the multitude, I
went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.
When by the unnatural rebellion of Absalom he is driven from his throne, he feels the loss of his palace much less than the loss of the sanctuary; and