« AnteriorContinuar »
with prayer; first, the earlier years of childhood; call to mind any sins you committed then, untruths you may have told, cowardly actions, dishonest words or deeds; take on one day the first fourteen or fifteen years of your life; another day go on to your youth; take the period after leaving school, of service, of courtship, and marriage, and, for the sake of your own soul, do not gloss over or make light of the sins revealed to you. Oh, with what a heartfelt cry will you echo the Psalmist's words, "Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to Thy mercy remember Thou me," as the dark sins of that thoughtless time rise up. The temptations of those days are dead to you now, but they were none the less real then; and those , long-forgotten sins, in which, perhaps, others were involved, are written in God's book. Perhaps some who shared in sinful pleasures with you are gone already to their account. Oil, what an agonizing thought it is to have caused the fall of another soul! If you feel guilty of this, I know what bitter remorse will stir you, and that right willingly would you bury that guilty sorrowful past; but first tell it out to your listening Lord, tell Him those sins, and implore Him to wash them away in His precious blood. Don't let it be a mere dwelling on the old days, but let it be a vigorous search after the sins ; remember, too, that it is an all-seeing and strict Judge with Whom you have to do, Who has seen not only every action of your life, but also the secret motive that prompted every action, all the many evils that have been in your heart, though they may never have come to the surface for others to see and judge you.
It is a blessed task thus to bring the heavy burden of past sin and lay it on the Lord, bravely to call forth into the daylight of searching and prayer each of those longhidden sins that poison your true peace and hinder you in your heavenward path. Will you not, therefore, resolve to let an earnest heart-searching be the fruit of our communing? "Search me, O God, and know my heart. . . . See if there be any wicked way in me."
fofo to frag.
jJHEN I am hardest at work," said a busy shopman once, "then my prayers are uttered as when at rest . When I bind up a pound of sugar, my inward prayer is, 'Lord, bind me up in the bundle of life.' As I arrange the candles in the shop, I silently pray, ' Lord, let my light shine before men.' When I weigh an article, my heart prays, 'My God, when I am weighed in the balances, let me not be found wanting !'" and so on.
There was once a God-fearing woman, who, in answer to the question, " How do you manage to pray to God?" said, "My work doesn't debar me; for as I sweep the house, I am reminded of the filthiness of my heart, and pray to have it cleansed. When I lay the table for meals, I think of the marriage-feast, and pray, 'Lord, prepare a place for me, and cover me with the new robe.' While lighting my fire, I pray, 'Lord, light and fan the f1re of love in my soul.' As the clock strikes, I am reminded that I have one hour the less to live in the world, and am one hour nearer eternity. I remember that it is of God's mercy that the clock of my life still goes, and I thank Him. Thus I am reminded of my last end, and I thank God I have a good hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ, and pray, 'Lord, be with me in the dark vale.'"
Such praying souls as these live with God, walk with God, talk with God, and God talks to them, whilst constant streams of blessing in answer to the prayer of faith are poured out upon them daily from the overflowing fountain of Divine fulness.
There may be cases in which it seems a long while before their prayers are answered. But patience must have its perfect work, and faith must be brought into exercise. Often when just ready to give all up, at the very last moment, the Lord comes and answers their prayers, though perhaps in a very different manner from what they expected. When, however, the answer does come, unbelief is put to shame, and they feelingly rejoice in the faithfulness of Him who has said, "If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it." l
Do we talk to them of their experience? They tell us that "they were living to themselves: self, with its hopes, and promises, and dreams, still had hold of them; but He began to fulfil their prayers. They had asked for contrition, and He sent them sorrow; they had asked for purity, and He sent them thrilling anguish ; they had asked to be meek, and He had broken their hearts; they had asked to be dead to the world, and He slew all their living hopes; they had asked to be made like unto Him, and He placed them in the furnace, sitting by 'as a refiner of silver,' till they should reflect His image; they had asked to lay hold of His cross, and when He reached it to them it lacerated their hands; they had asked they knew not what, nor how, but He had taken them at their word, and granted them all their petitions."
"§e still, arft Imoiu tlmt J am dob:'
THe sky was dark with rain-clouds,
And my life oppressed with cares.
I had struggled in vain with my trouble,
I was weary with inward strife,
And the peace of a sinless life.
I heard a sweet sound through the darkness,
A voice seemed to say unto me,
My grace is sufficient for thee."
So, through the pain and the anguish
I learned then that hardest lesson-
Hen thee hast been on thy knees again! Thee dost spend half o' thy time prayin' in that barn. Better by half mind thy work!"
"Susan, hasn't it been better for you since I commenced to pray? Don't you fare better for it now? Do I beat or abuse you now? Do I go to the public-house and drink my money away as I used to do?"
"Never mind. Ye might as well waste time in one way as in another. And I call it a waste o' time to spend so many hours a day prayin'. It's laziness too, anybody can see that. I'd rather have a man as can drink off his pint, and do his day's work after it, than a whining, canting fellow who is always running off to the barn to pray, and so wearing out his knees to save his hands."
"Wife! I work twelve hours a day now, where I used only to work six. You are unjust to me in saying this, because since I learnt to pray I've studied your comfort in every way. I've tried to keep a comfortable house, and have spent my money upon you and the children instead of squandering it away. Now, for the love you once professed for me, let me worship God in peace."
To this the wife answered with a sneer, and the patient,
praying husband turned away to his work. He had just
come out of the old barn, which was his sanctuary, and the
dust on his knees told the story of his errand there. It
seems almost incredible that any wife should oppose a
praying husband. It is unlike a woman to sneer at religion
and make a mock at prayer, yet this is what Susan Dunley
did. Robert Dunley had been, in time past, a very wicked
man; his voice had been loudest on the village green in a
fight, or at the public-house in a drunken debauch. His
family was small, only two children, therefore they did not
at that time know as much want as a larger family would
have done. Further, Susan Dunley liked drink herself, and
not unfrequently she would accompany her husband to the village inn, drinking and carousing with him. But some message of salvation, as proclaimed by a man of God, had found an entrance into his mind, and had caused him to forsake his sinful ways and seek for mercy. He found mercy, and thenceforward his life was that of a new man. Regularly every Sunday morning Robert Dunley might be seen with a little child clinging to each hand going to the house of prayer, after vainly endeavouring to induce his wife to accompany him thither. But she loved drink; the passion for intoxicants mastered and overpowered all the finer feelings of womanhood, and erected an insuperable barrier against all good influences. Supposing that a shilling of Robert's wages remained in the house, it was no uncommon thing for Susan to get drunk upon it before the holy day of rest was closed; while, if no means of getting drink was available, she would gibe and sneer at poor Robert because of his " new-fangled ways," and his " canting hypocrisy," as she termed it, in such a cruel manner, that for very peace sake he would go out into the fields to sit down and meditate. On Sunday afternoons, when his two little children were gone to the Sunday-school, Robert would engage himself in the distribution of tracts from house to house in the parish, a service in which his simple faith and gift for praying with the sick were invaluable. During the few years he lived he was the means of accomplishing much good in this way, and many a poor invalid and bedridden saint was encouraged by him to seek more joy and peace in the Holy Ghost. Robert Dunley had need of much grace, but his faith never seemed to fail. Several times he tried to establish prayer in the family, but as often as he tried his wife frustrated his purpose by her violent and abusive language. She seemed so enraged because he would not run with her to the same excess of riot as before, that no consideration served to restrain her wrath. Accordingly, in default of quiet in his own house, he betook himself to the shelter of the old dilapidated barn, which stood in one corner of the garden attached to his house.