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course, and be glorified." (2 Thess. iii. 1.). And if you read the only inspired history that we have of Apostolic labours, you will find that the Apostles invariably connect preaching and prayer together. They "gave themselves to the ministry of the word, and to prayer." Now as the Gospel method of saving sinners remains the same, it is evident that prayer is of equal importance now as it was in' that day.
3. Prayer is important inasmuch as it is adapted to the case of all believers. In the Church of Christ there are diversities of gifts. (1 Cor. xii. 4—10). But all cannot preach the Gospel; all cannot go to foreign lands to occupy Mission stations; nor have all money to give to send others. Many are without influence or opportunity to instruct others. All have not gifts. But all have grace. Hence, all may pray. The grace of prayer is co-extensive with the love of God shed abroad in the hearts of believers. Every child of God has right of access to the throne of his Father, through Christ his mediator and elder brother; every child of God is constituted a priest to offer up spiritual sacrifices, not only on his own account, but as an intercessor for others; so that he may enter into his closet, "and pray to his Father which is in secret, and his Father which seeth in secret shall reward him openly."
4. Pause, then, and look again at the importance of prayer from its great influence on the prosperity of the Church. In general or partial revivals of religion, we are too prone to attribute them to the visible instrumentality of the agents who may be then and there employed in carrying on the work of God. But there is more than that, though unseen and unheard by men. There are the breathings of all God's chosen ones in their closets and family sanctuaries, when they have prayed for the peace of Jerusalem; and these may have been mainly instrumental in bringing down the influences of the Holy Spirit on those special occasions. For the preachers of the Gospel, and the other active labourers of the Church of Christ, are but a part of the whole, and they can only prevail through the prayers of God's people. Look at the type. It was while Moses lifted up his hands that Israel prevailed over Amalek; but forget not that his hands were stayed up by Aaron and Hur. This is a consideration of great comfort to many of God's people. There are those who mourn that they cannot do more for the cause of God; that they are poor, and cannot give more; that they are afflicted, and cannot labour more; that they have not talents to employ for the good of others. Well, be it so. Yet take courage. Though unknown and unseen by your fellow-men, yet by your prayers you open a great and effectual door for the preaching of the Gospel. By your prayers you may waft the Missionary across the ocean. By your prayers the hearts of others may be moved upon to contribute of their abundance to the support of the Gospel. By your prayers you will bring down upon the Church with which you are connected, the blessing of the Holy Spirit, without which nothing is wise, holy, or good. And then, when God numbers up his jewels, the righteous Judge will judge righteously; and it is yet problematical whether some poor, unknown, yet pious, praying saints may not shine brighter in the kingdom of their Father, than many of the blazing meteors who have attracted much of the popular gaze of the world. Then, for Zion's sake, hold not your peace, and for Jerusalem's sake do not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burnetii. (Isaiah lxii. 1.) Hence, then, for these reasons, we place vast importance on prayer. And if any man be actuated by such a disposition of mind,—an intense love for Zion's peace, so as to lead him fervently to pray for the prosperity of the Church, that very disposition will lead him to consecrate all his other gifts, whether they be many or few, to promote the same end. The pious writer of the Psalms would not only pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but adds, " Because of the house of the Lord my God, I will seek her good." I will consecrate and employ all my other gifts and graces to promote the same end. And although we assumed the possibility of some Christians having no talent but that of prayer, yet how few are such cases, especially in the present day of comparative religious activity. The day is gone by when the laity fearing the threatened punishment of Uzzab, if with unconsecrated hands they touched the ark of the Lord, left it entirely to the priesthood to convert the world. Blessed be God the instrumentalities now in operation are adapted to the capacity and talents of almost every child of God. He may be a Sabbath school teacher; a distributor of tracts; a visitor of the sick and poor; a street, alley, or village Missionary; a collector of the gifts of others for religious and charitable institutions; so that none need stand in the market place all the day idle. Christ lays claim to the services of all; and if we are members of his Church in the sense we have stated, we are not our own, but are bought with a price, and hence must glorify God in our bodies and our spirits, which are God's.
III. What encouragement have we to employ these instrumentalities?
It will have been perceived that we have merged many of the members of the text, and have confined ourselves to the general principle. Hence we say that the practice of these duties will be attended with individual personal prosperity—" They shall prosper that love thee"— inasmuch as, 1. Every believer receives a vast accession of pleasure when he beholds the prosperity of the Church of Christ. The love of God in the heart, and selfishness, are irreconcilable antagonists. Love like the divine fountain from whence it flows, receives its highest enjoyment in promoting the welfare of others, so that it is intimately wrought up in our best affections to be glad at the prosperity of the Church. To behold the holy zeal and sacred prayerfulness of our fellow pilgrims; to enjoy more of God; to hear the inquiry of newly awakened sinners, "What shall we do to be saved?" to witness the first flowing out of the new born soul, "O Lord! I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me;" these give a refined pleasure to the soul; for in these triumphs of grace the amount of moral evil in the world is diminished; the dominion of Satan is circumscribed; and the Redeemer sees of the travail of his soul and is satisfied.
2. They shall prosper in a positive increase of divine grace, inasmuch as the personal prosperity of every believer is materially dependent on the general prosperity of the Church with which he is connected. The more we are led on to pray for Zion's peace, and to labour for the well being of our brethren, the more are We necessarily stirred up to seek our own spiritual prosperity. For let it not be supposed that to have great care and zeal for the welfare of others will tend to lead to the neglect of our own souls. Oh! no: grace biightens most when most employed. It was a false principle that led Christians of old to retire from the world, and shut themselves up in cells, or caves, or hermitages, thinking thereby to attain eminent sanctity. We have no such examples in God's word. None of the apostles or evangelists did so. They were constrained by Jesus' love to live the servants of mankind. There is, indeed, a reciprocity in blessedness. The more we strive and pray for others, the more shall we be blessed ourselves. Hence, says Solomon, "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty, The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself." (Prov. xi. 24, 25). Of the same import are the words of the Lord Jesus, "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; bnt whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath." (Matt, xiii. 12). That is, a right application of the gifts and graces that God has bestowed upon us, will lead to their improvement and increase; whereas an unfaithful hiding of those gifts and graces will tend to their diminution and loss. This is illustrated in the parable of the talents. The servant who had rightfully employed the talents committed to his trust, had other talents bestowed upon him in addition; whilst he who had suffered his talent to lie idle, had it taken away from him. Thus shall they prosper that love thee.
3. The fulfilment of these duties will secure the approbation of God. With what displeasure did God mark the conduct of Meroz, for the cold neutrality maintained by its inhabitants. "Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty." (Judges v. 23). Similar displeasure is made known to the Church at Laodicea. "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." (Rev. iii. 15, 16). Now contrariwise it is said, "They that honor me I will honor." "Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." And in that summary of the works of faith done by the righteous, contained in the description of the general judgment, Christ says, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." All these instances prove the principle that to have laudable zeal to promote the peace and prosperity of the Church, will effectually procure the Divine approbation, and advance our personal prosperity. "They shall prosper that love thee." And this is a matter not dependent on the conduct of others. We are individually accountable; and whether there be general indifference existing or not, we are not to be influenced thereby; but "whatever 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." (Eccles. ix. 10.)
If such, then, be the individual and general efforts of the members of the Church to promote its peace and prosperity, they will be followed by general prosperity; for the converse of the former argument, that if there be general prosperity, we shall be partakers of it, is correct; for the prosperity of every individual swells the aggregate prosperity of the whole Church. And we may carry the idea still further; that so far as we are promoting the prosperity of that section of the Church to which we belong, we are promoting the prosperity of the universal Church. We are too apt to be influenced by appearances; and if we do not see great results, we are discouraged. But it is not the labours of any one individual, however great and splendid his talents, that will effect the conversion of the world to Christ. Nor will this end be accomplished by any one section of the Church, but by the united efforts of the whole. Every member of the Church may contribute his quota, be it more or less, to the erection of this glorious spiritual temple; and may have a part in the bringing about of that consummation so devoutly to be wished, when it shall be said, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever." And to animate us in the contest, we have the full assurance that such a period shall come. If it were doubtful, we might faint by the way; we might give way to unprofitable speculation as to the probable proximity of that period; but of the time and the season knoweth no man, but the Father only. We have but one day in which to labour. Our duty is to occupy it fully, and we shall not lose our reward. But the prospect is not so dark that we may not be privileged to look at the signs of the times.
1. The past history of the Church is sufficient evidence of its great and immutable principles being fully adapted to the purpose designed. It was the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands, and it has smitten the images of idolatry, superstition, ignorance, depravity, and worldly power. The wave sheaf has been gathered out of every, cast and section of the human family, proving that it is united to the moral constitution of the whole; and kings, and statesmen, and phi-, losophers, as well as the mere savage, have equally bowed at the feet of Jesus, and crowned him Lord of all.
2. The prophecies of the future throw a heavenly halo around, and assure us that the effects which we have been called to witness to thi9 partial extent, shall become universal, when to Him every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, and Christ shall reign in every heart, the Lord of all. What a stupendous and yet what a delightful thought! How exhilirating to every true Christian! And what a stimulant to renewed zeal in so great a cause I Have I the love of God shed abroad in my heart? Has the religion of the Gospel proved itself to be to me the power of God to my salvation? And do I in the bowels of Divine love, long that all my fellow.men should be partakers of like precious faith? Then "pray for the peace of Jurusalem." And now "let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us; and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it." (Psalm xc. 16, 17).
REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.
Christian Missions To Heathen Nations. By Baftist W. Noel. Post 8vo. pp. 415. J. Nisbet And Co.
The author of the work before us is an excellent minister of the established church; he is well known, and deservedly much respected and admired for his catholic spirit, his talents, and devotedness to the advancement of the best interests of humanity and Christianity. Notwithstanding there have recently appeared several admirable volumes, written professedly upon the subject of Christian Missions, yet, we have not seen any which can be regarded as having rendered the publication of the one before us unnecessary. In fact, it contains much information which the others do not supply, and will, we doubt not, be productive of very beneficial results.
In the first chapter of the work, the author considers, "The duty of Christians with regard to the heathen," and shows that as " God so loved the world, and gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," that it is the duty of all Christians to endeavour to make the world acquainted with the love and purpose of our heavenly Father in the bestowment of his unspeakable gift. The obligation resting upon Christians to engage in this all important work is acknowledged by nearly all professing Christians. Whatever may be the differences by Mhich the different sections of the church are distinguished, they agree in this, that it is their duty to proclaim to the world the glad tidings of the Gospel of Christ. On this topic Mr. Noel makes the following appropriate remarks: —
"If, therefore, any one who bears the Christian name, can find it in nis heart to despise these missionary efforts, or to deny that we are called t0 make them, his views and practice, supported as they are by the indolent, the thoughtless, the selfish, and the profane, are opposed to the views and practice of the great body of the disciples of Christ. He sets up his heartless scepticism against the universal conviction of the church of God. All who are animated by gratitude to the Redeemer, and by compassion towards sinners, are compelled, by the sacrifice of Christ, by the value of salvation, by the practice of the early Christians, by the language of prophecy, and by the express command of God, to engage in this work: and he who, rejecting these considerations, and dissenting from the universal practice of real Christians, will do nothing to promote it, too plainly shows that he knows little of the Gospel, and may well fear that he has no part in its promises. Not to aid, if we have the power, in sending forth missionaries, is to live in violation of Christ's express injunctions. He has loved us, and given himself for us; he is Lord, both of the dead and the living; his will is the law of the church; his pleasure ought to be our happiness; and if we disregard his authority, and despise his command, we are no Christians. Whatever, therefore, others may think, those who engage in this work need not falter. They go with his sanction; they act under his orders: The eternal God is their refuye, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and he shall thrust out the enemy from before them; and thall say, Destroy them. They are now in the path of duty, and they will ultimately reap their reward."