Page images
PDF
EPUB

upon me? I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, and let me not see my wretchedness. How different are the sentiments and language of the most eminent servants of God, under the dispensation of the Spiritof the apostle Paul, for example! The only joy he seemed to derive, when he was pressed out of measure, beyond strength, was, that others might be comforted by the manner in which he was enabled to endure his sufferings; whilst he rests satisfied with the answer that he received, when he thrice solicited deliverance from one which he felt more grievous than all that he had formerly enduredMy grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. And how have Christians, in answer to prayer, in every age, felt the promises and examples of scripture so powerfully impressed upon their minds by the Holy Spirit, as to enable them in every thing-in their afflictions as well as in their comforts—to give thanks, knowing that this is the will of God, in Christ Jesus, concerning them!

Nor is the assistance of the Spirit of God in prayer, a doctrine so very unphilosophical and irrational as those who deride and reject it impiously allege. Our holy religion is a reasonable service, and its doctrines will ever be found to accord with the dictates of the soundest philosophy.—A correspondent at a distance communicates to me his sentiments by written symbols : on perusing his letter, the sentiments of his soul are conveyed to mine: I feel joy or sorrow, pain or pleasure awakened, excited, cherished in my breast. This is one human mind operating upon another. It cannot, therefore, be either rational or philosophical, it must be extremely absurd and impious, to admit that the mind of man can operate upon the mind of man, even at a distance, and to deny that God, who is a Spirit, every where present, has immediate access to it. There remains no other alternative, than either to admit that the Spirit of God can act upon the spirit of man, or to concede to the human intellect greater power than belongs to him who created it-a conclusion from which every sound and unprejudiced mind will shrink back with horror and dismay. Let us not, then, deprive ourselves of the comfort which we may derive from the consideration, that, as we know not what things to pray for as we ought, the Spirit of God will help our infirmities, and make intercession for us with groanings (fervent breathings and desires) which cannot be uttered. Communion with God is the believer's privilege. We have boldness to enter into the holiest by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us. Under the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we shall offer up no petition but what has a corresponding promise to support it, and none which will not be answered in that time and way which is most consistent with the honour of God, and most conducive to our best interests and happiness. It is by continuing instant in prayer, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication in the Spirit, that the mind is illuminated with bright conceptions of the divine perfections; that God causes his goodness to pass before us; and makes us taste and see that he is good, and that blessed are all they that wait upon him. It is his office to actuate the habits of grace where they are already planted ; to hold our souls in life, and to seal them unto the day of redemption. And to illustrate the readiness of our heavenly Father to bestow this most precious of all gifts, our Lord borrows a comparison from the instinct of parental affection. What man is there of you, whom, if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall

your Father which is in heaven give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? This is a promise which should be rendered familiar to our minds, and deeply impressed upon our hearts, from the first rising desire of obtaining reconciliation with God, through all subsequent difficulties, temptations, and trials. Nor should we ever engage in prayer, or in any other religious duty, without a serious and deliberate recollection of our weakness and insufficiency for any good work, and our need of the Spirit to help our infirmities, and to raise our affections to heavenly things. Dictated by the Spirit, our prayers will be fervent--and presented by the mighty Intercessor, they will be effectual. Hence I observe,

In the 6th and last place, That, in order to their acceptance, our prayers must be offered up in the name of Christ; that is, we must depend upon his merits and intercession alone for all those blessings which we stand in need of.

As the Spirit of God foresaw the great Antichristian apostacy, which began to manifest itself in the days of the apostles, by a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels; so there is nothing against which we are more frequently and faithfully warned in scripture, than the placing of any dependence upon the merits of any created being, or the intercession of any other mediator than Jesus Christ. I am the way, says he, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me. Verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Ask that ye may receive, and that your joy may be full.Such is the animating language of that compassionate Saviour, who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows; who suffered, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us unto God; and who is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

The intercession of Christ, let it be observed, is essentially different from the supplications which we make for one another. When we pray for a fellow-creature in distress, we are affected with a sense of his sufferings and infirmities. We bear his burden, as the apostle expresses it, and so fulfil the law of Christ the royal law of Christian charity or love, which is the great bond of union among all the members of that body of which he is the head : and we are thereby reminded of our own frailties and infirmities, as being ourselves in the body, and subject to the like sufferings and calamities with others. We do not plead in our own name, we have no claim to the mercy we ask, nor any complete assurance that our petitions will be granted. As God only knows what is really good for those whose good we may have sincerely at heart, it may please him to accept our prayers as a matter of duty, a sacrifice well pleasing in his sight, when he does not grant the specific object of our petitions, nor answer our requests in the time and manner that we may have desired. But the intercession of Christ for those for whom he pleads, is made in his own name, on the foundation of his own merits and dignity, according to the covenant ratified with and by him, and with the absolute certainty of

What need, then, have we of any other Mediator? Or who is there in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, that we should desire in comparison with him ? The highest saint in heaven was once a sinner, and owes his salvation to the merits and intercession of Christ alone. Angels, as they are not partakers of the same nature with us, are also utterly destitute of every plea which they may urge in our behalf-having never been appointed to the mediatorial office, and never having thought of intruding into it. Besides, none but He who is God as well as man, is present every where, to hear the prayers of men at all times, and in all places; and none but He can know those

success.

« PreviousContinue »