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when he said, “Wo is me, for I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” (Isaiah vi. 5.) · Then mark the description given of the Lord's faithful people. They are " the salt of the earth," “ the light of the world," "a city set upon a hill ;” they “ have their conversation in heaven;" they are directed “ to hold forth the word of life, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation;" to be followers of God as dear children; to walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and given himself for us; to be “ as servants who wait for their Lord, that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately."
If it be asked where shall we meet with Christians of this scriptural standard ? Will not the most devoted among the Lord's people be ready to say, “ My leanness, my leanness. Wo unto me, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.” (Isaiah xxiv. 17.) How necessary, then, is it, when we enter upon this spiritual service, to bear in mind the scripture to which I have referred.
For the new year approaches under such interesting circumstances, as may well call forth our most ardent prayers. Thus, through the good providence of God, there is at this moment peace throughout all the world. The Sovereigo Ruler of the Universe, also, has given to our gracious Queen so large an extent of territory, and such a commanding influence among the nations, that there is scarcely a portion of the habitable globe, into which either our Christian missionaries, or the pure Word of God, may not find an entrance. Such is the present posi
tion of the British empire, so peculiarly favourable for the spread of divine truth.
Further, whilst in England there are, alas, many things—which, to use the words of the Prophet Ezekiel“ are for a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation,” still the new year will come in, under these encouraging auspices. That there is a general feeling amongst the influential orders of society, that the prosperity, if not the absolute safety of our country depends upon diffusing sound Scriptural religion among the working-classes; raising their moral condition by encouraging them in habits of industry, temperance, and frugality ; and in promoting their general comfort by shortening their hours of labour, improving their dwellings, and assisting them in husbanding the resources which their own good conduct may supply. Various steps have been taken for carrying these benevolent sentiments into effect. May we not expect that these plans, if the Lord be entreated, may prove the germ of far greater blessings; that they may produce kindlier feelings among all classes, a closer anion among the members of our Church, and especially a greater readiness to receive the glorious truths of the Gospel of Christ.
In Scotland also the dawn of hope appears. For whilst at the close of tbe last year, we had but to lament a disruption in the Established Church ; during this year, we might have seen the General Assembly of those who left her communion, meeting in a truly Christian spirit, without using any reproachful words against their brethren, but, in deep abasement of heart, humbling themselves before the God of their Fathers, for their own personal short-comings, and for the low state of Religion throughout the land.* Surely this is a favourable sign-for if humility be the soil in which Christian love flourishes, may we not bope that this lowly spirit, if earnest prayer be made, will lead to a fervent desire that every separating cause may be removed, and that all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, may as His Disciples of old, “ be knit together in love,” and brotherly union. Oh! that it may be thus, that He “ who devises means, that his banished ones be not expelled from Him,” t would yet so unite the two Churches, that they might, like Epbraim and Judah, be “as one stick in the Hand of the Lord.”
In our sister land also more pleasing prospects appear. Those“ Monster Meetings,” as they have been termed, which last year distracted the country, are now no more ; and by the blessing of God, upon the Society for educating the native Irish in their own language, and other Religious Institutions, a deep impression has lately been made in several places, and a great desire produced for the Holy Scriptures, and for the faithful preaching of the Gospel of Christ.
The cause of God's ancient people also is assuming a more interesting state. The influx of the Jews into the Holy Land has been very great of late. There is no more room in Jerusalem for them, and they have already spread over a part of the Turkish quarter. The numbers of enquirers after the truth are increasing. Some have been publicly baptized under most trying circumstances ; permission also has been given to erect our Protestant Church in Jerusalem; the building of which will be again resumed. Added to these tokens of God's returning favour to bis people, the Sultan has issued a decree, withdrawing in some cases the punishment of death from those who renounce Mahomedanism, thus abrogating to that extent the laws of their Prophet, and this in the 1260th year of the Hegira !
* See the published Reports of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, in May and August, 1844. + 2 Sam. xiv. 14.
# Ezek. xxxvii. 19: I See their Report, particularly that of the Irish Society for 1844.
Such are the circumstances with which the new year approaches.
Do not these favourable tokens afford powerful reasons for our again uniting in fervent prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and for doing this under a sense of our own manifold short-comings, with humble confession of our sins, and with earnest supplication, that nothing may separate between God and us; but that having all our sins put away through “ the blood of the Lamb,” and our souls clothed with his perfect righteousness, we may“ draw near to the Throne of Grace with a true Heart, in full assurance of Faith,” remembering that the Lord has said “open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." “Ask what thou wilt, and it shall be done unto thee.”
Allow me then to renew my annual invitation, and to request all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity, to commence THE NEW YEAR, by uniting in the GENERAL CONCERT FOR PRAYER FOR THE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, ON WEDNESDAY, 1st Of JANUARY, 1845.
The following suggestions are respectfully offered, to assist those who are desirous of a similar union :
1st. Let Christians follow the example of our
blessed Lord, (Mark i. 25) who rose up a great while before day for secret prayer. Let them thus secure the blessing of Him who says, “ Pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
2nd. Let them call upon the Lord in their families, for his Spirit to be poured upon themselves and their households, their neighbours, their country, including Great Britain and Ireland and our Colonies, the ministers of the Lord, the churches of Christ, the remnant of scattered Judah and outcast Israel, and upon the Gentile world.
3rd. Where circumstances will admit of a morning service, let the congregation be assembled, and, in addition to the appointed prayers and a suitable sermon, let all who are devoutly disposed partake together of the Supper of the Lordmor, as may be more convenient, let the whole congregation meet in the evening for public worship, and let an appropriate discourse be preached.
4th. Let the Ministers of the Lord meet on the following day, with their brethren of their own communion, in earnest prayer for themselves, their flocks, the whole body of Christ, and the world at large ; and then especially consult together upon the most effectual means for hastening the coming of the Lord's kingdom, and particularly for the continuance of such a general concert for prayer, that the year may proceed according to this devout commencement.
May the Lord accompany these means of grace, or such others as may be adopted, with his abundant blessing! Oh! may it indeed be a season of special refreshment from the presence of the Lord !