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much from the power of Christ, working in us mightily; we cannot but believe that both sinful propensities may be destroyed, and anxious fears quelled within our breasts ; we must not, in any kind or degree, limit the Holy One of Israel ; we may always be looking for greater things, and bewailing past shortcomings and present deficiencies; we may be very hopeful, very strong in the Lord, and very happy; we may be able to say, “For me to live is Christ,” and “I am crucified with Christ;" we may live through Him a constantly victorious, or triumphant life; but still we must never stand still, and say “I have now reached perfection,” but our attitude must always be that of “ going on" unto perfection, and waiting for the Lord Himself in His own time and way to end the struggle, and say, “Well done, good and

, faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”


The Natural Basis of Prayer. Is there any natural, rational grounds for prayer? Isn't it a superstition that we can have any such converse with God? Or isn't it, at any rate, a thing to be taken on testimony purely, or on the bare word of the Bible?

Personal experience is enough for those who really pray, and the Bible is enough for those who have no doubts. But there are multitudes who do not pray, and who have doubts, and they are asking whether there is any reasonable basis for the exercise of prayer that they can comprehend or feel. For the sake of such, let us look into the depths of human nature and see.

I. Observe some of the faculties of humanity, and their meaning. Man is an animal. As an animal, he has various physical faculties that fit him to enter into communication with the physical and material facts about him. For instance, he has a hand. Now the very structure and make of the hand supposes something outside of the hand to be taken hold of and handled. It could not be the work of an intelligent Creator, otherwise. He has eyes—their very structure supposes the existence of light, and of objects to be seen. They were a useless waste of ingenuity otherwise. In like manner the ear supposes sounds to be heard; and the sense of smell supposes the existence of odours.

Thus every faculty and part of the human body exist with reference to something which is the appropriate object of their action, and wherever you find these faculties and capacities, you may reasonably conclude that they exist for something, and that the something for which they exist is a reality.

Passing across B Common last summer, I saw a telescope pointing


to the sky. It needed no argument to prove to me that it was there to look through ; and that, by looking through it, something could be seen. If not, the whole thing was an absurdity and the man who tended it a fool.

It is an argument like this that enables the geological anatomist to reconstruct the past. Let him see the bones of an animal and he can give you a picture of his life and habits. These teeth, he says, were made—as I can tell by their shape and size-to eat animal food. The claws to capture prey.

The hair is a covering to keep out the cold. So he did not live in a torrid zone--and thus he goes through his whole list of parts and surroundings. Now all this means that where there is a faculty it is reasonable to suppose some appropriate use for it, and an object on which it may act.

The same truth comes out in a survey of the higher parts of manhood. Brains were of little use, unless there were objects of thought, study, knowledge. The simple existence of thought would prove these objects. The affectional nature of man were meaningless, were it not that there are things and persons to be loved, to be pitied, sympathized with, cared for.

What stretch of logic is it to carry the argument one step higher? It seems to me the simplest common sense—the only rational thing—to argue that the religious faculty was not made for nothing, is not an absurdity, has some part to play, and reaches out toward something real. You stand on the bank of a river, at one end of a bridge, on a foggy morning The mist is so thick that you can see out from the end no more than fifty feet. What would you say to the sense of one who should argue that the bridge went nowhere, and stood for nothing, simply because he could not see the other end? You would say, "Why, the simple fact that here is an abutment, and there is a span reaching out, proves that the span stretches across, and that there is another abutment on the other side. Spans do not rest on nothing, and reach nowhere," and you would be right. So I say, here is the religious faculty, natural and universal, in man, and, springing from it, the instinct of prayer stretches out--toward nothing. Then here is an anomaly in human nature wholly unparalleled, stranger than miracle ; and the Creator, or Nature—whatever you choose to call Him or it—is convicted of absurdity and folly. It is one of the fundamental postulates of science, that a faculty or power supposes its correlate, or correspondent. So, if the universal outreaching of the religious faculty of man does not mean anything, then the very corner-stone of science itself is gone, and knowledge is impossible.

It is then not only unreligious, it is equally against nature and science, to deny prayer. The religious faculty is just as much a part of man as

his intellect or his affections, and as reason demands that they mean something, so it equally demands that this shall point to something real. This is not saying that every theory of prayer is agreeable to science and truth. But only that there is a place for the fact.

Here, then, is a natural and reasonable basis for prayer, as impregnable as the force of gravitation. This is the subjective ground, in man's own nature. It has

II. Another ground in the fatherhood of God, and this is not a mere matter of book revelation.

The very idea of God implies His fatherhood. It is part of our definition of Him that we call Him all perfect; so He must be a perfect Father. The instinctive thought of the world has guessed at this truth; for the oldest name applied to Him in heathen literature is “ Heavenfather,” in the Veda of the old Hindoo race; and whatever of imperfection men have mingled with this true thought of God has come from their low ideas of right, and truth, and power.

If, then, God is our Father, prayer becomes the most reasonable thing in the world. And that He is our Father, that the instinct of man's child-heart is right, is proved also by the instinct of prayer already explained. This reaching forth of the human heart toward God supposes that God is a Being who can and will respond to the filial uplooking,-a Father listening to, and looking down upon a child. It is no more natural and true to suppose that the eye was made for the gentleness and mildness of daylight, and not for midnight gloom, or the glare of the lightning, than it is to argue that the trembling, hoping, fearing, loving heart of man was made to look up toward the sympathy, and gentleness, and love of a Father, and not be met by the bare power, majesty, justice, of either law or King.

This instinct of prayer then points to a Father with bent ear, and sympathizing heart. The flukes of a ship's anchor no more suppose the crags of the bottom rock to which it may cling while the sailor outrides the storm, than does this instinct of prayer tell of a sure hold for the heart of humanity in the midst of its struggle and trial.

But this instinct of prayer, say some, has run into such credulity, and childishness, and folly, that it is unreasonable to put confidence in it any more. The same objection would kill out or invalidate every faculty of man. The eye has cheated people into a belief in ghosts. The ear has heard sounds, never uttered. The touch tells lies; and the reason, who can number its absurdities? It led men into foolish metaphysics, into astrology, into alchemy, into search for perpetual motion, into witchcraft, into a thousand follies. Do these facts invalidate astronomy, chemistry, mechanics, and all the grand achievements of man? Just as much as a false use of the religious faculty invalidates the true



In the native religious faculty of man, and the fatherhood of God, then, there is a reasonable and natural ground for a belief in prayer and nothing can shake this ground until there is a radical change in the constitution of man.


A plea for tặe After-Meeting." Much has been said and written of late about the after-meeting. Wherever the American evangelists laboured after-meetings were held, and no one can deny that those who entered into this part of the work do, as a rule, speak in the highest terms of such meetings when wisely conducted. Nor has this method of working been confined to the gatherings where Messrs. Moody and Sankey have been present, but in scores of towns and villages where revival services have been held it has been found necessary to provide means of dealing with the anxious after the general meeting was over. There may be, as there doubtless is, a difference of opinion among us as to the propriety of holding such meetings, but it surely is one of the hopeful signs of the times in which we live that our ministers and churches are not afraid to look at new methods of working and to adopt them so far as they commend themselves as aids in doing God's work more successfully. Men are terribly in earnest in the days in which we live, and very many, while intelligently and zealously employing the ordinary means of spreading God's truth, are eagerly watching for new and improved methods (if such there be) of pressing home and fixing in the conscience and heart the soul-saving truths which are so ably preached on all hands. Just now the aftermeeting is urging its claim for notice and adoption as one of the most convenient and effectual means, if not the only means, of dealing successfully with a large body of men who, deeply anxious, are often to be met with where special evangelistic services are held, and the ministers and churches generally throw themselves into the work.

It will be readily admitted that in its present form the after-meeting is a new thing in our church life. Still it is not new in principle. As we look at and consider the underlying principle we discover that it turns out to be an old acquaintance with whose existence in other fornis we have long been familiar. This being the case, there surely ought not to be any objection taken to it on the ground that it is a novel movement destined to pass away with the somewhat feverish condition into which some churches have been brought by exciting addresses and exaggerated reports of what is being done in other places. Granted that in ordinary times, when there is little movement in the churches, such a thing is not required, still the question returns upon us, is it not absolutely necessary that this, or something like it, should be introduced to meet the neeessity which has happily arisen in so many places where there are scores or even hundreds waiting to be dealt with after they have listened to the Gospel faithfully and lovingly preached? Are ministers and others whose labours God seems to be smiling on to tell the people young and old who linger behind that they must not give way to the feelings of anxiety which fill their breasts, but go home and read their Bibles quietly and calmly, and pray God to give them light and lead them to the Saviour ? or are they to take them by the hand there and then," striking the iron while it is hot,” and point them to the Saviour they desire to find ?

An earnest ministry has always adopted some method of getting into personal contact with the hearers—church members and others—that the pastor might speak to the people individually, and, as far as possible, ascertain if they were safe and happy in the service of their God. To effect this a great variety of methods has been tried, and in many cases with great benefit and marked success. Some who have possessed great facility in letter-writing have addressed their hearers in this way, and not a few have gladly responded—the issue being a personal interview, a clearer understanding of God's truth, a hearty acceptance of Christ, and a life-long consecration to His service. Others have observed the growing interest manifested by hearers in their regular attendance at the house of God, and in their thoughtful and devout attention to what was said, and have made it their business to see them privately, without previous warning or formal reference to the fact at the time, with the happiest results; while others have intimated from the pulpit that they would be in the vestry or at home at a given time should any desire to see them. The late John Angell James tells us that once and again in the course of his lengthened ministry he was led to feel there were those in his congregation who needed closer and more personal dealing than he could give them from the pulpit, he therefore invited all who desired further instruction to meet him on a given evening, when he would address to them such words of counsel as they specially needed. The result surprised him because of the large numbers which came to the meeting, and greatly cheered his heart, as many were led to full decision to serve the Lord. Now it seems to us that all these methods are good as far as they go, and any one of them in the hands of a wise and earnest man will lead to much blessing. But do they meet the case when there is a deep and general movement in a congregation ? When a large number are brought under strong conviction at a single service, it is palpably beyond the power of any minister to deal with them successfully. He must have helpers who, along with himself, shall speak personally to the anxious. In ordinary times, such as we have had in

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